Page:Catholic Encyclopedia, volume 10.djvu/41

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MASS


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MASS


Mass remains essentially a spotless and untarnished sacrifiee before (!od.

We are thus compelled to concur in another view of De Lugo, namely that the greatness and extent of this ecclesiastical service is dependent on the greater or less holiness of the reigning pope, the bishops, and the clergy throughout the world, and that for this reason in times of ecclesiastical decay and laxity of morals (especially at the papal court and among the episco- pate) the fruits of the Mass, resulting from the sacri- ficial activity of the Church, might under certain cir- cumstances easily be very small. With Christ and His Church is associated in the third place the celebrat- ing priest, since he is the representative through whom the real and the mystical Christ offer up the sacrifice. If, therefore, the celebrant be a man of great personal devotion, holiness, and purity, there will accrue an additional fruit which will benefit not himself alone, but also those in whose favour he ap- plies the Mass. The faithful are thus guided by sound instinct when they prefer to have Mass celebrated for their intentions by an upright and holy priest rather than by an unworthy one, since, in addition to the chief fruit of the Mass, they secure this special fruit which springs ex opere operantis, from the piety of the celebrant.

Finally, in the fourth place, must be mentioned those who participate actively in the Sacrifice of the Mass, e. g. the servers, sacristan, organist, singers, and the whole congregation joining in the sacrifice. The priest, therefore, prays also in their name: Offerimus (i. e. We offer). That the effect resulting from this (metaphorical) sacrificial activity is entirely depend- ent on the worthiness and piety of those taking part therein and thus results exclusively ex opere operantis, is evident without further demonstration. The more fervent the prayer, the richer the fruit. Most inti- mate is the active participation in the Sacrifice of those who receive Holj' Communion during the Mass, since in their case the special fruits of the Communion are added to those of the Mass. Should sacramental Communion be impossible, the Council of Trent (Sess. XXII, cap. vi) advises the faithful to make at least a "spiritual communion" (spiriluali effectu communi- care), which consists in the ardent desire to receive the Eucharist. However, as we have already empha- sized, the omission of real or spiritual Communion on the part of the faithful present does not render the Sacrifice of the Mass either invalid or unlawful, where- fore the Church even permits " private Masses", which may on reasonable grounds be celebrated in a chapel with closed doors.

(ii) In addition to the active, there are also passive participators in the Sacrifice of the Mass. These are the persons in whose favour — it may be even without their knowledge and in opposition to tlieir wishes — the Holy Sacrifice is oiTered. They fall into three catego- ries: the communit.y, the celebrant, and the person (or persons) for whom the Mass is specially applied. To each of these three classes corresponds ex opere operato a special fruit of the Mass, whether the same be an im- petratory effect of the Sacrifiee of Petition or a propi- tiatory and satisfactory effect of the Sacrifice of Ex- piation. Although the development of the teaching concerning the threefold fruit of the Mass begins only with Scotus (Quaest. quodlibet, xx), it is nevertheless based on the very essence of the Sacrifice itself. Since, according to the wording of the Canon of the Mass (q. v.), prayer and sacrifice is offered for all those present, the whole Church, the pope, the diocesan bishop, the faithful living and dead, and even "for the salvation of the whole world", there must first of all result a "general fruit" (frucliis genendi.-i) for all mankind, the bestowal of which lies immediately in (lie will of Christ and His Church, and can thus l)e frustrated by no contrary intention of the celebrant. In this fruit even the excommunicated, heretics, and infidels par-


ticipate, mainly that their conversion may thus be ef- fected. The second kind of fruit (fruclus personalis, specialissimus) falls to the personal share of the cele- brant, since it were unjust that he — apart from his worthiness and piety (opiis operantis) — should come empty-handed from the sacrifice. Between these two fruits lies the third, the so-called "special fruit of the Mass" {fruclus speciaKs, medius, or ministerialis) , which is usually applied to particular hving or de- ceased persons according to the intention of the cele- brant or the donor of a stipend. This "application" rests so exclusively in the hands of the priest that even the prohibition of the Church cannot render it in- efficacious, although the celebrant would in such a case sin through disobedience. For the existence of the special fruit of the Mass, riglitly defended by Pius VI against the Jansenistic Synod of Pistoia (1786), we have the testimony also of Christian antiquity, which offered the Sacrifice for special persons and intentions. To secure in all cases the certain effect of this fruclus specialis, Suarez (De Euch., disp. bcxix, sect. 10) gives priests the wise advice that they should always add to the first a " second intention ' ' (intentio sccunda) , which, should the first be inefficacious, will take its place.

(iii) .\ last and an entirely separate problem is afforded by the special mode of efficacy of the Sacrifice of Expiation. As an expiatory sacrifice, the Mass has the double function of obliterating actual sins, espe- cially mortal sins {effectus stride propitiatorius) , and also of taking away, in the case of those already in the state of grace, such temporal punislmients as may still remain to be endured (cffectns satisfactoriiis). The main question is: Is this double effect ex opere operalo produced mediately or immediately? As regards the actual forgiveness of sin, it must, in opposition to ear- lier theologians (Aragon, Casalis, Gregory of Valentia), be maintained as undoubtedly a certain principle, that the expiatory sacrifice of the Mass can never accom- plish the forgiveness of mortal sins otherwise than by way of contrition and penance, and therefore only mediately through procuring the grace of conversion (cf. Council of Trent, Sess. XXII, cap. ii: "donum poenitentiiB concedens"). With this limitation, how- ever, the Mass is able to remit even the most grievous sins (Council of Trent, I. c, "Crimina et peccata etiam ingentia dimittit"). Since, according to the present economy of salvation, no sin whatsoever, grievous or trifling, can be forgiven without an act of sorrow, we must confine the efficacy of the Mass, even in the case of venial sins, to obtaining for Christians the grace of contrition for less serious sins (Sess. XXII, cap. i). It is indeed this purely mediate activity which consti- tutes the essential distinction between the sacrifice and the sacrament. Could the Mass remit sins im- mediately ex opere operato, like Baptism or Penance, it would be a sacrament of the dead and cease to be a sacrifice (see Sacra.me.nt) . Concerning the remission of the temporal punishment due to sin, however, which appears to be effected in an immediate manner, our judgment must be different. The reason lies in the intrinsic distinction between sin and its punishment. Without the personal co-operation and sorrow of the sinner, all forgiveness of sin by Cod is impo.ssible; this cannot however be said of a mere remission of punish- ment. One person may validly discharge the debts or fines of another, even without apprisi[ig the debtor of his intention. The same rule may be applied to a just person, who, after his justification, is still burdened with temporal pvuiishmcnt consequent on his sins. It is certain that, only in this immediate way, can assist- ance be given to the poor souls in purgatory through the Sacrifice of the Mass, since they are henceforth powerless to jjcrform personal works of satisfaction (cf. Council of Trent, Se.ss. XXV, de purgat .). From this consideration we derive by analogy tfie legiti- mate coneUision that the case is exactly the same as regards the living.