The Hidden Treasue of the Holy Mass:
AUTHOR’S NOTE TO THE READER
Treasures, however great and precious, are never appreciated until examined, counted over, and summed up. Hence it is, dear reader, that by many there is formed no due estimate of the holy and awful sacrifice of the Mass. Though the greatest treasure which glorifies and enriches the Church of God, it is still a hidden treasure, and known to few. Ah, if this jewel of paradise were but known, who would not give up all things to obtain it! No one would then permit to escape from his mouth the scandalous words, “A Mass more or less makes little difference.” Rather, like the merchant in the Gospel, would each man sink his whole fortune to render himself master of a treasure so precious: Albiit, et vendidit omnia quoe habuit, et emit earn, “he went and sold all that he possessed, and bought it” (St. Matt. xiii. 46).
To enlighten, therefore, him that liveth in darkness and hath no due conception of this thrice-holy mystery, is the present little work composed. But if you judge it by first appearances to be something either superfluous or presumptuous—–superfluous, there having already issued from the press so many small works which teach so systematically and beautifully how to hear holy Mass with profit, that it would seem impossible to wish for more; or presumptuous, on the ground that a far other order of talent is needed for the illustration of a mystery so venerable as to surpass the apprehension of the very seraphim—–I must with all ingenuousness allow that you speak the truth, and confess that I have nothing to reply. Indeed, these two considerations have held me back for some time, and I have experienced no slight repugnance to a work so likely to be received as something quite unneeded, as an attempt beyond my strength—–and, therefore, a public stain on one’s credit.
Two motives have, however, afforded an impulse sufficient to overcome the obstinate reluctance of my heart. The first is an exhortation, which I have venerated as a command, from one whom, by many titles, I hold myself bound to obey. The second motive is the hope that I might extend some little aid to the people whom I have already cultivated by missions. One of the greatest benefits resulting from these is the increased habitual homage and veneration toward the Most Holy Sacrament. Missions excite a holy fervor, spurring on the hearers to seek more frequent nourishment from the Bread of Angels, and to escort the most holy Viaticum whenever it is borne to the sick, so that it may be beheld accompanied by crowds of people and by multitudes of lights; in short, with all dignity, solemnity, and decorum. Still greater is the diligence used in these missions to induce all daily to hear holy Mass. Now, it cannot be easily imagined how much it assists the attainment of this holy end to place in the hands of the poor some little book composed in plain and simple style, and thus adapted to their capacity. Such books clear away difficulties in the way of devotion, affording light to the understanding and fervor to the heart, and not seldom bring about greater gain than all the efforts of preachers. Our poor words take flight and are gone, while written exhortations remain before the eye. Were this little work thus to turn out an aid to but one single soul, it could not be called quite superfluous.
In order that it may become more profitable to the unlearned, it shall be divided under three distinct heads. In the first place, there shall be set forth a short instruction upon the excellence of, and necessity for, holy Mass. In the second, there shall be taught a practical and devout method of hearing it with profit. In the third, there shall be narrated some examples, which may act upon the hearts of persons of every condition, as stimulants to the hearing of it daily.
Such, then, are the motives which should excite in you some sympathy for me, if the attempt still appear too ambitious, and which awaken in me the hope of being useful even to you, who, perhaps, are not very complacent toward it, because, before the close, I shall reveal to you a hidden treasure which, if you but know how to avail yourselves of it, will enrich you with all good in life and in death, in time and in eternity. Farewell, and may all blessings attend you.