St. Leonard was a Franciscan friar, preacher, and mystical writer. Apparently he was very influential because St. Alphonsus Liguori, himself a Church Doctor, called him "the great missionary of the 18th century."
One of the things St. Leonard became well-known for was his great promotion of the Stations of the Cross; he reportedly set up hundreds of the stations across Italy.
In this mystical writing, The Hidden Treasure, Holy Mass, St. Leonard describes the many spiritual benefits of the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass.
This is interesting because we often hear and read many things about the benefits of receiving the Body and Blood of Christ, which are great and profound; but this book associates many graces and benefits with simply attending Mass itself, not just receiving the summit of the Mass which is the Holy Eucharist.
This should be a great comfort for those who cannot receive Holy Communion at Mass, for example, those who are not yet in full communion with the Catholic Church (such as those in RCIA classes now, or for whom starting RCIA is delayed) or those Catholics who for whatever reasons have not yet been restored to a state of grace following grave sin by receiving the Sacrament of Reconciliation.
There is great benefit in hearing Holy Mass (which is the greatest prayer of the Church) even for those who cannot partake of the Eucharist; there are still graces to be gained!
According to St. Leonard these benefits apply to the priests who celebrate Mass, to the acolytes who serve at Mass, and to the faithful who hear Mass with devotion; he even says that hardened sinners will benefit from attending Mass:
"Mass is the sun of the human race, scattering its splendors over good and wicked; nor is there a soul so vile on earth who, hearing holy Mass, doth not carry away from it some great good, often without asking, often without even thinking of it."
In this book he also describes how St. Thomas Aquinas (who had a deep love and reverence for the Holy Eucharist, and who wrote definitely on the doctrine of transubstantiation), after attending Mass himself as the celebrating priest, would go to assist at a second Mass that same day simply for the great honor and graces associated with doing so.
Here are a few great benefits St. Leonard attributes to the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass as written in this little treasure of a book (again, these graces are associated with simply attending or serving at Mass even apart from receiving Holy Communion):
- The Holy Mass calls down spiritual graces such as repentance for sins, victory over temptations, and the grace to walk in the ways of God.
- Mass gives us good and holy inspirations and impulses which helps us to shake off spiritual tepidity and increase in spiritual fervor.
- Hearing Mass gives us more upright and pure intentions.
- Holy Mass is the most effectual means for obtaining from God the grace of final perseverance of eternal salvation.
- The Holy Mass calls down temporal blessings, so far as these may not oppose the salvation of the soul.
- In addition to those graces we ask for, God grants us many that we do not ask for too.
- It is possible to gain more favor with God by attending with devotion one single Mass than by opening the treasure of your wealth to the poor.
And the points above were just a few of the many profound graces described; I pulled these out in just a quick glance through the book. In the book I also found these great quotes about the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass from the saints:
- "It is most true that he who attends holy Mass shall be freed from many evils and from many dangers, both foreseen and unforeseen" ~ St. Gregory
- "In Mass are contained all the fruits, all the graces, all those immense treasures which the Son of God poured out so abundantly upon the Church, His Spouse, in the bloody sacrifice of the Cross." ~St. Thomas Aquinas
- "Without doubt the Lord grants all the favors which are asked of Him in Mass, provided they be those fitting for us; and, which is a matter of greater wonder, ofttimes He grants that also which is not demanded of Him, if we, on our part, put no obstacle in the way." ~St. Jerome
With such great graces associated with hearing Holy Mass (even if we do not have perfect devotion in our hearts every time) in the words of St. Leonard, "Holy Mass is the golden key of paradise; and while the eternal Father gives us this key, which of all His other benefits can he refuse?" Mass is a gateway of God's grace, let's not forget that and go as often as we can!