One of the areas in which the Mass of All Times excels is in the devotion to the saints.
“The Church has connected with the divine sacrifice a copious rite, in which the veneration of the Saints finds manifold expression” (Rev. Dr. Nicholas Gihr)
The devotion to the saints finds itself in the ancient rite in four ways.
The first is the mention of the saints in the various prayers throughout the Mass, such as the Confiteor and the Suscipe, sancta Trinitas in which Our Lady, St. John the Baptist, St. Michael and Sts. Peter and Paul are mentioned. Of course, there is the mentioning by name of the many saints in the Canon both before and after the consecration. The relics of the saints that lie in the altar are mentioned in the Oramus te Domine as the priest venerates the altar after he has ascended following the prayers at the foot of the altar. There is the mention of St. Michael the Archangel during the blessing of the incense prior to the Offertory. During the Libera nos, quaesumus after the Our Father there is the mention of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Sts. Peter, Paul and Andrew.
The second way is by virtue of the magnificent sanctoral calendar of the ancient rite of Mass. The number of the feast days of the saints fills the calendar year, providing the faithful a constant reminder of the example of the saints. Also, the division of the saints into categories such as confessor and virgin provides the priest and the faithful with an understanding of the Will of God in the lives of individuals – i.e. that He does not distribute his graces evently but ‘as He will’. In the calendar, with what is effectively a four-class system, one gets a strong sense of the hierarchy that we will see once we enter into heaven.
Moreover, the fact that the sanctoral cycle at times takes precedence over the temporal cycle provides a profound understanding of venerating God through His saints.
The third way in which devotion to the saints is fostered is in the recognition of their role in the development of the ancient rite. To make changes to the liturgy is the prerogative of saints. During the Mass, the faithful enjoy a certain devotion to the saints who slowly fashioned this venerable rite through time. From the beginnings with St. Peter and its slow growth until the codification of St. Gregory the Great. Then from that time on the ancient rite of Mass remained relatively unchanged except in a few accidentals until 1964. In other words, the Mass – throughout history – had minor modifications made by saints such as Pope St. Pius V.
The fourth way in which the devotion to the saints is fostered is in the consideration of the saints who attended and offered this Mass. In substance, this is the same rite of Mass offered by such great saints as Albert the Great, Gregory the Great, Alphonsus Liguori, Ambrose, Anselm, Augustine, Robert Bellarmine, Benedict, Bonaventure, Charles Borromeo, Dominic, Ignatius, John of the Cross, Louis Mary de Montfort, Pius V, Pius X, Thomas Aquinas, Thomas More, John Mary Vianney, John Bosco, Padre Pio and a whole host of other priestly saints. This is the rite of Mass attended devoutly by saints such as Bernadette Soubirous, Catherine of Siena, Scholastica, Gianna Beretta Molla, Katharine Drexel, Francis of Assisi, Hermenegild and Dominic Savio. When we consider ourselves in the company of a lineage of saints, martyrs and holy virgins whose devotion to this rite of Mass was exemplary and who are certainly present during the sacrifice of the Mass, there is no doubt whatsoever that our devotion and affinity for the saints is strengthened.