The Mass


1. Why do Catholics think the Mass is a Sacrifice?

Because the Bible teaches it plainly, and also our Holy Tradition demonstrates its truth. At the Last Supper, Jesus was celebrating the Passover meal, which is a sacrifice, and He told us to do it in memory of Him: that means we have to do the sacrificial meal He was presiding at as a memorial of what He did. Plus, He clearly used sacrificial language to talk about what He was doing: "[And] He took the cup after they had eaten, saying, "This cup *which is poured out for you* is the new covenant in My blood." (Luke 22:20 NASB) Notice how it says the cup is poured out for you, because that is called a libation, a type of drink-offering made in ancient Israel and other religions. It is a sacrificial term that Jesus uses to show that what He is doing is a sacrifice: the sacrifice of His blood. He also said: "This is my body which is given for you: this do in remembrance of me." (Luke 22:19) To give up something for the sake of someone else...what does that sound like? A sacrifice! And Jesus says that is what the bread is: His body, given or *offered* up for us: thus the Mass is the Sacrifice or offering-up of His Sacred Body and Blood for the sake of all men, and God looks at the goodness of His Body and Blood offered for our sake and therefore forgives our sins.

There is also sacrificial language in "Do this in memory of me." One of the words for "to offer" in Hebrew was "to do" or "to effect," so this could be translated "Offer this in memory of me." And the word "memory" in Greek is anamnesis: a word commonly used in Judaism for sacrificial ceremonies remembering past events. For all these reasons and for many more, Catholics believe the Mass to be a Sacrifice.

2. The Old Testament is fulfilled -- we need no more sacrifices.

First, if we need no more sacrifices, then why does Scripture give us a sacrifice to do in the Lord's Supper? The Bible wouldn't show us this sacrificial meal and tell us to do it in remembrance of Christ. Why would it do that, if it wasn't good and necessary? Secondly, the Old Testament sacrifices are fulfilled but a New Testament Sacrifice replaced them, and there is no contradiction there. One thing can depart and be replaced by another, greater thing, and you can't just point out that they are similar in one respect and say that's unbiblical. Jesus is the one Who made the Mass a Sacrifice, and He is the one Who told us to do it in remembrance of Him. If you think the fact that the Old Testament is fulfilled precludes that, take it up with Him, but know beforehand that He disagrees with you.

3. The Mass can't be a sacrifice -- Jesus' sacrifice on the Cross is the only one Christians need.

First, Catholics agree that Jesus' sacrifice on the Cross is the only one we need because Jesus' sacrifice on the Cross was the offering up of His Body and Blood for our sake, and that's all we need. The Mass is not different from that but is a participation in it. We offer up His Body and Blood because that is what He did and that's all we need. The Mass is not a different sacrifice than the Cross, but the same offering brought to the present by the power of the Holy Spirit and made new for us, though it remains the same one. It is as though the Holy Spirit took our offering at the Altar of the Mass, and united it back through time to the offering at the Altar of the Cross: He can do that because He is God, Who dwells in eternity, where all events of any time are present to His action all at once. So if He says that the Mass is a sacrifice that we need to do in remembrance of Him, then He can take that sacrifice and unite it to His Son's to make them one holy offering to God.

4. The Bible says Jesus' sacrifice was offered once for all.

And it was. The Mass is not a different offering; it is the same offering re-presented to us today. It is the same offering because the same substance is offered, Jesus' Body and Blood, and the same Priest offers it, Jesus Christ present in His flesh and present in the priest's actions at Mass. The only thing different is the manner of offering, and that is where the Holy Spirit unites modern action to ancient action in one moment where those present at Mass are really at Calvary gazing, hopefully in awe, at Jesus' offering-up of Himself, for that action transcends all time and rises to the Father's eternity, where it can be participated in by all whom God wills, at Mass.

5. "Re-presented today" is just a wordy way of saying "re-offered continually."

Wrong. Offering is not re-offering if the event is the same. Jesus offered up His Body and Blood while on the Cross, but at the same time in eternity; and the Mass participates in that eternal offering by presenting it to us but keeping it the same: the same Body, the same holy Blood, the same Lord and Master of all, present anew in His glorified body, but still offering His own goodness for our wickedness, now in a hidden way, then in a public way, but the same offering of the same substance by the same Lord. The Mass is not a continual re-offering, it is one offering participating in eternity.

6. The Book of Hebrews is totally against your daily sacrificial system.

The Book of Hebrews is totally for it. The Book of Hebrews teaches that in our time God accepts "better sacrifices" than those in the Old Covenant (Heb. 9:23), not *no* sacrifices as the Protestants say. And where do Christians claim to offer sacrifice to God, except in the Catholic Mass? And Hebrews 8:3 says, "For every high priest is appointed to offer both gifts and sacrifices: wherefore it is necessary that this high priest [Jesus] also have somewhat to offer." What does Jesus offer to the Father, if His own self-offering can no longer be offered to God? For He is a priest forever, not only once; He is even today "a minister of the sanctuary" in heaven (Heb. 8:2), and what does He offer as its minister, if there is no sacrifice ascending to the Father to be offered there in tandem with us by Christ in heaven? No, the Book of Hebrews presupposes the Catholic doctrine of the Sacrifice of the Mass, and does not make sense without it. And all those passages in it which say that Christ's sacrifice was "once for all," and "offered once," those are all in accord with our teaching, for we do not say the Mass is a different sacrifice than Jesus', but the same one, offered as one with His; and this is what the other Scriptures teach as well.

7. You say the Mass is the "unbloody sacrifice." I thought you said the wine was His Blood.

The Church says the Mass is an unbloody Sacrifice because Jesus is not bleeding during it like He was on the Cross. It does not mean blood is not present, but that blood is not gushing. A "bloody" scene in a movie is not one where living men go about as usual, though living men also require their blood to be present; but a bloody scene is where blood is spilt, and that is not what happens at Mass. So we say it is unbloody, though Jesus' Body and Blood are present, just as we would say you are unbloody, though your Body and Blood are not absent.

8. Where does the Bible say you can offer a Mass for someone?

It implies it by teaching that it is a Sacrifice, because all Sacrifices are the offering up of some good thing on behalf of another or others. If during Mass you think specially about some person, and add your prayers to the Sacrifice; or if beforehand you ask the priest offering it to keep that person in mind, then the Mass is offered up for that person especially by the nature of what Sacrifice is. The offerer can direct who it is being offered for as much as a sailor can direct where he is sailing for. And therefore the Mass can be offered for special persons who need it, though all others are not excluded by that fact.

9. Why is your Mass such a boring ritual? The Bible says true believers are to worship God in spirit.

It is not the Mass that is boring, it is the participants who are bored, and not all of them, but only those who do not participate well, or do not realize what is going on; for the presence of God cannot be boring. But as for its being a ritual, that is because it is Biblical: the Bible gives us a *ceremony* to do in remembrance of Christ, centering on the offering of the Eucharist. Around it we have readings and songs from Scripture and hymns based on Scripture and other pious writings, and the reason why we have that is because Scripture is holy and good for reading, and hymns are holy and commanded by the Apostle Paul. In fact, if we didn't have the readings, songs, and the Eucharist at Mass, we would be disobeying good sense, St. Paul, and Jesus in that order! So it is from the spirit of the Gospel that we let the ritual fall into place; these three things must be kept, though other things may change around them.

10. Congregations are to be led by the Spirit. Your ritual stifles the Spirit.

It does not stifle the Spirit, it does what the Spirit says in Scripture to have done in the Church. St. Paul in 1 Corinthians 14 had to regulate the form of worship in his day because people were departing from it on the basis that they felt the Spirit was leading them to do other things; he responded, "All things are to be done decently and in order." "If any man thinketh himself to be a prophet, or spiritual, let him take knowledge of the things which I write unto you, that they are the commandment of the Lord." (1 Cor. 14:40, 37) Thus those who wish to disrupt the ordered form of worship assigned by the Lord are actually not doing what He says. But it is not that being Spirit-led is bad; it is good. But the Spirit leads you to do what He Himself has assigned for the Church in Scripture, and not to do something incompatible. If you really want to be Spirit led, be Bible led, and Church led; and let your passions pour over into participating at the Mass with your whole mind and soul. Then you will truly have something spiritually uplifting. Mass is supposed to be a time of praising God and hearing Him proclaimed, and the best way to do that is in what the Mass gives us: in Scripture, in inspired hymns, and, most especially, in Jesus' Blessed Presence in the Eucharist.