The Solace of the Sacraments

With my gratitude to Bellator Dei for the graphic …

Today we have another extract from my upcoming book Cor Jesu Sacratissimum about suffering and the incredible solace one can find in the Sacraments.

To further clarify this extract – ripped as it from the greater context of my manuscript – I should say it occurs in a section of the book where I am very much writing as someone who needs the Mass daily (a familiar theme at this website – see here, for example).

In that section, I am also writing about the ways one can become conscious of the often very subtle experience of the Sacraments …

Enough context. The extract follows below this advert for my book, which has now been published since this entry was originally posted.

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Book Extract:

There is yet another way to identify the quiet Sacramental experience. This can happen via noting its absence in one’s soul when one has not received the Sacrament.

And how the absence can be felt when Holy Communion is missed! For some, a day suffices to register the loss.

But it becomes all the more obvious, where the absence of the Sacrament has been forced for several days – for example, due to illness. The loss may then feel particularly acute.

Something may be felt as palpably missing from one’s life. One may even feel a sense of rupture – a rupture, which is all to do with these words we noted earlier from Ven. Pope Pius XII:

In the Holy Eucharist the faithful are nourished and strengthened … and by a divine, ineffable bond are united with each other and with the Divine Head of the whole Body.

And I now interject: This is exactly how it seems in my own experience. When I have not been in frequent regular communion, I feel cut off – to one degree or another – from the Church. And when I return, there is the real relief and joy of reconnexion! I no longer feel cut off from that which is far greater than myself.

Now, in continuing this very personal vein, dear Reader, I should like to speak of suffering. In most lives, there are occasions of great fear, desperation and sorrow.

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How I have been helped in such times by the daily reception of the Sacrament! How much I have felt strengthened to proceed. ‘Strengthened’: the same word is used by both the Venerable Pius XII and Valentin Tomberg [whom I have quoted earlier in the manuscript – RB]

They say it because it is absolutely true – you will be strengthened, as well as comforted and healed, by frequent or daily participation in the Sacraments of the Church.

And so, dear Reader, if you are a Catholic and you suffer real burdens, but you do not know the solace and strengthening of daily communion, may I suggest an experiment to you?

I propose that after Confession, you resolve to go to daily to Communion for an extended period, perhaps two or three weeks. If, during this period, you need to return to Confession, then do so. Simply keep to the rhythm of the daily Eucharist.

After this period has finished, I encourage you to review your experience. If your experience is akin to my own, this review could even reveal something of life-changing import.

Although, if you are like me, you may have no need for such a review! For you may find it all-too-evident, the difference this daily Communion has made in your soul.

But if indeed you are like me, dear Reader, you may find something difficult to bear, if your circumstances are unfortunate.

For in our day and age, it is entirely possible that you must needs endure a Mass that seems lacking indeed. It is even possible you will need to bear a zany celebration of the new Mass, which may feel as though it afflicts your soul.  (I think that those who see no problem with the new liturgy are often those who do not endure it frequently!)

Yes, the celebration of the Novus Ordo is sometimes truly dreadful – even while Our Lord remains present within it. You may need to suffer, particularly if you live in a rural area, where you have few choices for daily Mass.

However, if you live in the city, there may be a variety of Novus Ordos from which to choose. Tragically, it can be difficult these days to find good liturgy anywhere on a Sunday.

However, the weekdays may be different. During the week, you may find a noble Priest celebrating a simple twenty-five minute Novus Ordo with dignity and reverence. What deep gratitude is owed to such Priests for standing against the tide!

This being said, the ideal to my mind is the Extraordinary Form of the Mass in Latin. For it is in this Mass, most of all, that one hears the clearest affirmation of the Catholic Mystery  – as well as the firm refusal to compromise that Mystery.

For there is a world of difference between the attitude in most modern Masses and the spirit you will find in the prayers of the Latin Mass:

Supplices te rogamus, omnipotens Deus, iube haec perferri per manus sancti Angeli tui in sublime altare tuum, in conspectu divinae maiestatis tuae; ut quotquot ex hac altaris participatione sacrosanctum Filii tui Corpus et Sanguinem sumpserimus, omni benedictione caelesti et gratia repleamur. Per Christum Dominum nostrum. Amen. 

Humbly we beseech thee, almighty God, command that these gifts be borne by the hands of Thy Holy Angel to Thine Altar on high in the sight of Thy divine majesty, so that all of us, who through this participation at the altar receive the most Holy Body and Blood of your Son, may be filled with every grace and heavenly blessing. Through Christ Our Lord. Amen.

However, the ideal of the Extraordinary Form is often not possible. As these words are written in 2013, it is being tragically resisted by Bishops, Priests and laity around the world – despite the express wishes of the Holy Father.

On the other hard, there are certain Catholic Traditionalists who will likewise tragically advise you to avoid the New Mass. Such people, I think, can have little idea as to the true wonders of daily Mass.

Thus, dear Reader, I pray that you do not scorn any Mass – no matter how dreadful the liturgy. And if you have not yet experienced the miracle of daily communion, I hope that you can find a dignified daily celebration of the Novus Ordo that will cost little of your time, yet multiply riches in your soul …

Finally, I have written these notes on Eucharistic experience, supposing that there are many Catholics who do not pay sufficient attention to the Sacraments. But I am certainly aware that you, the Reader, may venerate this daily miracle of Mass more than I myself do.

If so, dear Reader, I encourage you to consider tendering your own witness to this daily Miracle, this Miracle which is now so obscured by every manner of mediocrity …

End of extract.

As a final note, I will continue from the last sentiment above, by noting that this blog has been very much enriched by comments from people about their Sacramental experience. See for example the very beautiful and moving comments here …

Although I am very slow at present in responding to both comments and correspondence, I find these thoughts helpful indeed and I think they can help others too. So if anyone else cares to comment on their experience of the Holy Sacraments, I very much want to throw open the comments …

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2 responses to “The Solace of the Sacraments”

  1. Sharri O Avatar

    As new as I am to the Catholic faith, I just saw this. I can already attest to the fact that something is definitely ‘missing’ if I miss daily Mass. My pastor advised me to use feast days (approximately monthly) as a guide to frequency of Confession; it seems that I need it more often, and I’m blessed with a wonderful confessor. I’m also blessed with a beautifully reverent Novus Ordo Mass every day. Thanks for all that y’all post, and also for the encouragement I often find here. Blessings!

    1. roger Avatar

      Sharri, despite my belated response (as usual with everyone) I really appreciate your testimony here.

      Daily Mass is in incredible … If you haven’t seen it already, I have a post here as to something very interesting that J.R.R. Tolkien said about this.

      His testimony, your testimony, anybody’s testimony to this is incredibly important.

      Daily mass could save the Church and the world and we need people who are alert to this miracle and speak about it. God bless you … and your priest!