Qua reverentia I

Thumbing through Bona's practical and ascetical treatise on the Sacrifice of the Mass, one chapter heading struck me as of interest and indeed promised contents that might well be of practical benefit: Qua reverentia celebrandum sit. (With what reverence it should be celebrated.) Here is my on-the-fly translation of the first part of the chapter:
Reverence is twofold: internal and external. Internal reverence consists in fear and trembling, in humility and compunction of heart. To external reverence pertains the composition and gravity of the whole man, and the observance of all the ceremonies and the prescribed rites. The priest will easily understand what great care should be used, to celebrate this most august sacrifice with all respect and reverence, if on the one hand he should consider that no work more holy and divine could be handled by the worshippers of Christ, than this tremendous mystery: and if on the other hand, he should ponder that he who does the work of God negligently is called accursed in the sacred scriptures. Indeed, if he were going to speak to a King, he would stand before him with great fear, nor would he dare to avert his eyes from him: with how much greater trepidation, humility and solicitude should he stand in the sight of the divine majesty, with his whole mind intent on God himself, who not only perceives the external appearance but even the most intimate secrets of the soul?

What would be more filthy and worthy of punishment than for a sinner to assist irreverently at the altar where the saints fear, the Angels quake, the Powers tremble, and the highest Spirits veil their faces in shame and confusion? The night approaches to the light, the sick to the almighty, the slave to the Lord, the creature to the Creator: and he does not fear, does not tremble?

The joy which the Holy Trinity and the heavenly powers take from the devout and reverent celebration of the Mass will also be of benefit in exciting our feelings of reverence: both because that sacrifice was left by Christ as a testament, as a pledge of the love by which he loved his own until the end; and because it is the commemoration of his death by whose intercession our sins are blotted out, men are redeemed, saints are saved, and we who are living are loaded with innumerable benefits. Therefore, he who sacrifices should take care lest he admit anything which would diminish this joy of God and the Saints which flows forth from the sweet odour of this sacrifice.

[to be continued]

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