“When you shall see the abomination of desolation,
which was spoken of by Daniel the prophet standing in the holy place; (he
that readeth, let him understand).”
Ordinary of the Mass
Mass Text - Latin
Mass Text - English
That's an interesting phrase, “abomination of
desolation,” and one which our Lord seems to be commanding us to make a
special effort to understand the meaning of. As He tells us, it comes from
Daniel the prophet.
To the religious Jew of the Old Testament, it referred
to the loss of the actual Presence of God in the Holy of Holies in the inner
court of the temple, and of the continuous string of sacrifices offered
there by the Jewish priests of the Old Law for the sins of their people.
The life of the Jew revolved around that Presence and those sacrifices in
the temple. The Presence of God brought meaning to his life and consolation
in time of trouble. This “abomination of desolation” that Daniel predicted
came about when the Jews became indifferent to Gods laws and even to God
Himself. Because of this indifference, God allowed invaders to come in and
destroy the temple. The “abomination of desolation” brought the loss of
God's Presence and the end of the continual sacrifice. Meaning and
consolation turned into chaos and anguish.
But, God in His divine providence saw to it that those
who were faithful to Him—Jew and Gentile alike—would still be able to have
His comforting Presence and sacrificial deliverance from sin by establishing
the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass and by dwelling in the tabernacles on our
altars. Indeed this is a more tangible presence than that which was only
felt in the temple—and certainly the sacrifice of His only Son is of
infinitely greater value than the sacrifices of lambs and sheep under the
But our Lord's statement about the “abomination of
desolation” clearly refers to the end times, and not to something that
happened two thousand years ago. And throughout history, Christians have
also had to reason to fear the loss of the Holy Sacrifice and of the Real
The brave martyrs of the early Church gave their blood
rather than abandon the true worship of God in the Holy Sacrifice—they died
horrible deaths rather than offering sacrifices to the false gods of the
For seven or eight hundred years they resisted the
Moslem invasion of Europe, knowing that to give way was to be converted by
the sword to religion of Mohammed; to lose the perfect Sacrifice and the
holy Presence at the hands of those who denied the very divinity of Jesus
Perhaps no period of history points to Catholic
devotion to the Mass and the Blessed Sacrament better than that of
post-Reformation England and Ireland. People rioted for the return of the
Mass. Priests and those who hid priests in their homes were drawn and
quartered for the awful “crime” of offering the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass.
Yet somehow, English and Irish Catholics resisted the “abomination of
desolation”; they persisted in training and ordaining priests clandestinely
and in providing secret places where Mass might be said and where the Real
Presence of our Lord might be adored.
In our own time we have seen a less violent but similar
attempt to turn the Holy Sacrifice into a communal meal, and to ignore the
Real Presence of God in the Blessed Sacrament. The Modernists have replaced
the true Mass with an ambiguous ritual—one that may not even be the Mass
at all, depending on the inclinations of the priest-presider, who may make
up his own prayers as he goes along; or who may try to consecrate cookies
instead of the necessary bread; or who may intend to read a “narrative” of
the last supper instead of being “another Christ,” doing what Christ did;
or any one of a dozen other things to ensure that the Sacrifice is not
offered and Jesus Christ does not become present.
Yet here again, divine providence has stepped in, and
God has allowed true priests to be ordained and true bishops to be
consecrated, so that His faithful people will not be deprived of His
Sacrifice and His Presence. They may have to travel a bit more; they may
attend Mass in hotel rooms and private homes; they may have to put some
effort into setting up and taking down temporary altars; they may have to
dig a bit more deeply into their pockets to build even small churches to
replace those taken over by the Modernists; the surroundings may be a bit
primitive at times. But they have that same “meaning and consolation” that
God's people have always received from God's Presence and from offering
Sacrifice to Him. So the “abomination of desolation” is again kept at bay.
However, we should never lose sight of the possibility
that we might bring the “abomination of desolation” upon ourselves.
Because, you see, even if there is no persecution, and even if the Mass is
abundantly available, we bring about our own personal “desolation” if we
ignore God and His Commandments; if we fail to make the Mass the center of
our lives; if we try to find meaning and consolation in the world instead
of in His Holy Sacrifice and Real Presence; if we view the Mass as
something that we must do on Sundays rather than the source of our life and
strength, every day of the week.
So—all of you that read or hear—understand the words of
Daniel the prophet. Make God and His Holy Sacrifice and His Real Presence
the focus of your lives. Attend Mass as often as possible. When it is not
possible, at least unite your intentions and your prayers with the priests
throughout the world who are offering Mass at that moment.
Ignore God and His Mass—and it may be taken away from
you, and you will experience the terrible loss that was spoken of by Daniel
the prophet, standing in the temple, this “abomination of desolation.”
Love God and love His Mass—and you will have meaning in
your life and enjoy God's consolation, both now and in eternity.