Prayers Before and After Mass. It is a good and very helpful practice to arrive a little early before Mass to pray in preparation, and also to remain a while afterwards to pray in thanksgiving. Of course, you can pray in whatever words you want, but to assist us, the Church has handed down various prayers we might want to say. In particular, these two beautiful prayers of St. Thomas Aquinas are commended to us in the Roman Missal (feel free to cut these out and save them, these can also be found in the back of the St. Michael Hymnal):
Before Mass. Almighty eternal God, behold, I come to the Sacrament of your Only Begotten Son, our Lord Jesus Christ, as one sick to the physician of life, as one unclean to the fountain of mercy, as one blind to the light of eternal brightness, as one poor and needy to the Lord of heaven and earth.
I ask, therefore, for the abundance of your immense generosity, that you may graciously cure my sickness, wash away my defilement, give light to my blindness, enrich my poverty, clothe my nakedness, so that I may receive the bread of Angels, the King of kings and Lord of lords, with such reverence and humility, such contrition and devotion, such purity and faith, such purpose and intention as are conducive to the salvation of my soul.
Grant, I pray, that I may receive not only the Sacrament of the Lord’s Body and Blood, but also the reality and power of that Sacrament.
O most gentle God, grant that I may so receive the Body of your Only Begotten Son our Lord Jesus Christ, which He took from the Virgin Mary, that I may be made worthy to be incorporated into His Mystical Body and to be counted among its members.
O most loving Father, grant that I may at last gaze forever upon the unveiled face of your beloved Son, whom I, a wayfarer, propose to receive now veiled under these species: Who lives and reigns with you for ever and ever. Amen.
After Mass. I give you thanks, Lord, holy Father, almighty and eternal God, who have been pleased to nourish me, a sinner and your unworthy servant, with the precious Body and Blood of your Son, our Lord Jesus Christ: this through no merits of mine, but due solely to the graciousness of your mercy.
And I pray that this Holy Communion may not be for me an offense to be punished, but a saving plea for forgiveness. May it be for me the armor of faith, and the shield of good will. May it cancel my faults, destroy concupiscence and carnal passion, increase charity and patience, humility and obedience and all the virtues, may it be a firm defense against the snares of all my enemies, both visible and invisible, the complete calming of my impulses, both of the flesh and of the spirit, a firm adherence to you, the one true God, and the joyful completion of my life’s course.
And I beseech you to lead me, a sinner, to that banquet beyond all telling, where with your Son and the Holy Spirit you are the true light of your Saints, fullness of satisfied desire, eternal gladness, consummate delight and perfect happiness. Through Christ our Lord. Amen.
August: The Month of Saints. This time of year that falls between the great liturgical Seasons of Easter and Advent is called “Ordinary Time”. Some think we call it “ordinary” because nothing “special” happens during this time. But the term “ordinary” here refers simply to the fact that we count off the weeks of this part of the year according to their “ordinal number” (“first,” “second,” “third”… “eighteenth”).
In fact, there is nothing at all ordinary this time of year, especially this month of August, which is filled with more liturgical feast days (26 out of 31 days) than any other month.
Of course this coming Tuesday, the 6th, we celebrate the Feast of the Transfiguration, and later on we celebrate the Assumption of Mary (15th), and the Queenship of Mary (22nd). But the month also contains feasts of some of the Church’s most extraordinary and important saints.
Today (Sunday, the 4th) is the feast of St. John Vianney, patron of parish priests. (Pray for your priests especially today!)
Then there’s the great founders or reformers of religious orders. St. Dominic (8th): founder of the Dominicans and friend of our own Dominican, St. Raymond. There’s St. Claire of Assisi (11th), founder of the Poor Clares. And of course the great St. Bernard of Clairvaux (20th), Doctor of the Church, great reformer of the Benedictines and the whole medieval Church. Also: St. Jane Frances de Chantal (12th) founder of the Visitation Sisters; St. John Eudes (19th) (my name saint and patron), founder of the Eudists and first promoter of liturgical devotion to the Sacred and Immaculate Hearts; St. Cajetan (7th), founder of the Theatines; and St. Peter Julian Eymard (2nd), founder of the Congregation of the Blessed Sacrament.
We have the great saints of ancient times: St. Bartholomew the Apostle (24th), and St. Eusebius (2nd); and St. Lawrence (10th) who was martyred over a fiery pit, making light of his suffering: “I’m done on this side, you can turn me over!” And we have great saints of modern times: St. Edith Stein, also known as St. Teresa Benedicta of the Cross (9th) and St. Maximilian Kolbe (14th)—both powerful witnesses to the truth and love of Christ, and martyred in the Nazi concentration camps.
Also the illustrious saintly kings: St. Stephen (16th) first king of Hungary, and St. Louis (25th), the pious king of France. And the holy Popes: St. Sixtus II (7th), St. Pontian (13th), and St. Pius X (21st). And lest we forget the tiny but magnificent flower of Peru, patroness of all Latin America, St. Rose of Lima (23rd).
And then there’s the Dedication of St. Mary Major (5th), honoring Mary under the title of Our Lady of the Snows; and St. Hippolytus (13th). who was the first anti-pope, but who repented, in the 3rd century.
And we close the month in a flourish: St. Monica (27th) patroness of parents whose children seem to be lost to sin, and mother of St. Augustine (28th) who was the worst of sinners before becoming the most revered Church Father and the Church’s greatest theologian. And finally, we celebrate the Beheading of St. John the Baptist (29th), of whom Christ said there was “no greater man born of a woman.”
There is nothing ordinary about “Ordinary Time”—especially August, this month of incredible saints. Each of them is our brother and sister in Christ, living in heaven with Christ—and from there loving, protecting and interceding for us. And each is teaching us something special and unique about what it means to follow Christ, and to love Him above all things. These holy ones call to us from the ages and from heaven to talk to them in prayer, study their lives and imitate their example. Take time to answer their call—each day in this extraordinary and holy month of August!
Oremus pro invicem. Fr. De Celles