The Mass - Christ's One SacrificeThe Problem: Most Christian denominations deny the Real Presence of Jesus Christ in the Eucharist. Consequently, they assert that the Mass is either idolatry or a re-sacrifice of Jesus Christ. Since Christ died once and for all, He cannot be re-sacrificed at daily Mass.
The Truth: Jesus Christ is truly present, Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity in His Glorified Body in the Eucharist. The sacrifice of the Mass is not a re-sacrifice of Jesus Christ, for such a thing is an impossible blasphemy, nor is it true that the sacrifice of the Cross is in a mysterious way across all time and space, numerically identical to the Mass (cf. Pope Pius XII, Mediator Dei, 1947), but rather, through the separate consecration of bread into His Flesh and wine into His Blood, Jesus Christ presents Himself in His glorified Body to God, in atonement for our sins and the sins of the whole world. The Eucharistic Celebration is thus one single sacrifice with the sacrifice of Christ because it makes present the sacrifice of the Cross, because it is its memorial, and because it applies the fruit of the Cross. Through the Mass, the sufferings of every member of the Body of Christ are united with the sufferings of Christ on the Cross, and all with the glory of every member of the Body of Christ in heaven, made glorious by Christ. The entire heavenly portion of the Body of Christ, angels and saints, is present at every Mass, celebrating the mystery in which God gave each of them a part, and the God in whose divinity they partake through the sacrifice.
Gen 14:18 And Mel-chizedek king of Salem brought out bread and wine; he was priest of God Most High.
This prefigures the Mass.
Gen 22:13 And Abraham lifted up his eyes and looked, and behold, behind him was a ram, caught in a thicket by his horns; and Abraham went and took the ram, and offered it up as a burnt offering instead of his son.
Abram's sacrifice of Isaac prefigures Christ's death on the cross, and therefore, the Mass.
Mal 1:10-11 Oh, that there were one among you who would shut the doors, that you might not kindle fire upon my altar in vain! I have no pleasure in you, says the Lord of hosts, and I will not accept an offering from your hand. 11 For from the rising of the sun to its setting my name is great among the nations, and in every place incense is offered to my name, and a pure offering; for my name is great among the nations, says the Lord of hosts.
The universal sacrifice of the Mass is prefigured and prophesied in the Old Testament, and consummated in the New.
Lk 22:19-20 And he took bread, and when he had given thanks he broke it and gave it to them, saying, "This is my body which is given for you. Do this in remembrance of me." 20 And likewise the cup after supper, saying, "This cup which is poured out for you is the new covenant in my blood.
The verb used, anamnesis, does not simply mean "remember," it means "to make present."
1 Cor 10:16-21 The cup of blessing which we bless, is it not a participation in the blood of Christ? The bread which we break, is it not a participation in the body of Christ? 17 Because there is one bread, we who are many are one body, for we all partake of the one bread. 18 Consider the people of Israel; are not those who eat the sacrifices partners in the altar? 19 What do I imply then? That food offered to idols is anything, or that an idol is anything? 20 No, I imply that what pagans sacrifice they offer to demons and not to God. I do not want you to be partners with demons. 21 You cannot drink the cup of the Lord and the cup of demons. You cannot partake of the table of the Lord and the table of demons.
Heb 13:10 We have an altar from which those who serve the tent have no right to eat.
The altar of the Mass is an altar unlike that of the Temple, for those who serve in the Temple have no right to eat at this altar.
Heb 7:27 He has no need, like those high priests, to offer sacrifices daily, first for his own sins and then for those of the people; he did this once for all when he offered up himself.
Heb 9:24-28 For Christ has entered, not into a sanctuary made with hands, a copy of the true one, but into heaven itself, now to appear in the presence of God on our behalf. 25 Nor was it to offer himself repeatedly, as the high priest enters the Holy Place yearly with blood not his own; 26 for then he would have had to suffer repeatedly since the foundation of the world. But as it is, he has appeared once for all at the end of the age to put away sin by the sacrifice of himself. 27 And just as it is appointed for men to die once, and after that comes judgment, 28 so Christ, having been offered once to bear the sins of many, will appear a second time, not to deal with sin but to save those who are eagerly waiting for him.
Heb 10:10 And by that will we have been sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all.
Christ's sacrifice on the Cross is final and complete. The sacrifice of the Mass is the witness we, the Body of Christ, bear to that one sacrifice, and through which we are joined to His Body, in spirit and in truth. Just as we are all cells in the Body of Christ, so every offering of the Mass is a cell in the Sacrifice of Christ. Through Christ's grace, we can become perfect images of Christ. Through God's grace, each Mass IS a perfect and therefore real presentation of Calvary.
Col 1:24-26 Now I rejoice in my sufferings for your sake, and in my flesh I complete what is lacking in Christ's afflictions for the sake of his body, that is, the church, 25 of which I became a minister according to the divine office which was given to me for you, to make the word of God fully known, 26 the mystery hidden for ages and generations...
Though there is One Body, there are many parts. Though there is One Sacrifice, there are many parts, but all One in Christ Jesus.
Acts 2:42,46-47 And they devoted themselves to the apostles' teaching and fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers... And day by day, attending the temple together and breaking bread in their homes, they partook of food with glad and generous hearts, 47 praising God and having favor with all the people. And the Lord added to their number day by day those who were being saved.
Acts 20:7 On the first day of the week, when we were gathered together to break bread, Paul talked with them, intending to depart on the morrow; and he prolonged his speech until midnight.
The sacrifice of the Mass takes place on the first day of the week, Sunday, not the Sabbath.
1 Cor 2:14 The unspiritual man does not receive the gifts of the Spirit of God, for they are folly to him, and he is not able to understand them because they are spiritually discerned.
1 Cor 5:7-8 Cleanse out the old leaven that you may be a new lump, as you really are unleavened. For Christ, our paschal lamb, has been sacrificed. 8 Let us, therefore, celebrate the festival, not with the old leaven, the leaven of malice and evil, but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth.
1 Cor 11:23-29 For I received from the Lord what I also delivered to you, that the Lord Jesus on the night when he was betrayed took bread, 24 and when he had given thanks, he broke it, and said, "This is my body which is for you. Do this in remembrance of me." 25 In the same way also the cup, after supper, saying, "This cup is the new covenant in my blood. Do this, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of me." 26 For as often as you eat this bread and drink the cup, you proclaim the Lord's death until he comes.
27 Whoever, therefore, eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner will be guilty of profaning the body and blood of the Lord. 28 Let a man examine himself, and so eat of the bread and drink of the cup. 29 For any one who eats and drinks without discerning the body eats and drinks judgment upon himself.
Why examine yourself if the Eucharist is only a symbol and not really Christ? How can eating a symbol unworthily cause you to need to answer for the sacrifice of the Cross, "the body and blood of the Lord"? Because it isn't just a symbol - through the Mass God makes the body and blood of the Lord present.
The following isn't Scripture, but it is useful to know:
Ignatius of Antioch to the church at Smyrna 7:1 (AD 110) "They [the heretics] even absent themselves from the Eucharist and the public prayers [cf. Acts 2:42], because they will not admit that the Eucharist is the flesh of our Savior Jesus Christ which suffered for our sins and which the Father in his goodness afterwards raised up again." Antioch is the city where Jesus' followers were first called Christians (Acts 11:26). Ignatius was taught by the Apostle John, who wrote the Gospel of John (cf. John 6:48-58).
Ignatius said to the church at Ephesus "to obey [the] bishop and clergy with undivided minds and to share in the one common breaking of the bread - the medicine of immortality and the sovereign remedy by which we escape death and live in Jesus Christ for evermore." (20:3) "the sole Eucharist you should consider valid is one that is celebrated by the bishop himself or by some person authorized by him. where the bishop is to be seen, there let all his people be, just as wherever Jesus Christ is present, there is the Catholic Church." Ignatius' Epistle to the church at Smyrna 8:1-2 Didache (A.D. 60-140)
Is 6:3 "Holy, holy, holy is the LORD of hosts!" they cried one to the other. "All the earth is filled with his glory!"
Rev 4:8 The four living creatures, each of them with six wings, were covered with eyes inside and out. Day and night they do not stop exclaiming: "Holy, holy, holy is the Lord God almighty, who was, and who is, and who is to come."
Rev 19:9 Then the angel said to me, "Write this: Blessed are those who have been called to the wedding feast of the Lamb." And he said to me, "These words are true; they come from God."
Early Christians' comments on the Sacrifice of the Mass
Lk 24:27-32 And beginning with Moses and all the prophets, he interpreted to them in all the scriptures the things concerning himself.
28 So they drew near to the village to which they were going. He appeared to be going further, 29 but they constrained him, saying, "Stay with us, for it is toward evening and the day is now far spent." So he went in to stay with them. 30 When he was at table with them, he took the bread and blessed, and broke it, and gave it to them. 31 And their eyes were opened and they recognized him; and he vanished out of their sight. 32 They said to each other, "Did not our hearts burn within us while he talked to us on the road, while he opened to us the scriptures?"
Acts 10:39-41 And we are witnesses to all that he did both in the country of the Jews and in Jerusalem. They put him to death by hanging him on a tree; 40 but God raised him on the third day and made him manifest; 41 not to all the people but to us who were chosen by God as witnesses, who ate and drank with him after he rose from the dead.
Christ is encountered through the liturgy. The liturgy is the living, active word in which we meet the Word. It teaches us about God, so that we may recognize Him when we meet Him. The only people who physically meet Him after His resurrection are those who eat and drink with Him. That continues to be true today.
The following is loosely modelled on the much superior analysis presented by Peter M. J. Stravinskas in The Catholic Church and the Bible, pp. 83-106. While my commentary below covers only the bare bones of the Mass, Father Stravinskas sets aside one section of his book to go through essentially all the possible variations in the liturgy, showing the Scriptural components of each variation, and including cross-references to the Catechism. In addition, his book provides an excellent analysis of the relation between Scripture and the Church.
The Order of Mass
Introductory RitesPriest: In the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit (1 Jn 4:13-14 By this we know that we abide in him and he in us, because he has given us of his own Spirit. 14 And we have seen and testify that the Father has sent his Son as the Savior of the world.)
People: Amen (Neh 5:13 And all the assembly said "Amen")
Priest: The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ and the love of God and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all.
People: And also with you (2 Cor 13:14 The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ and the love of God and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all.)
All: I confess to Almighty God, and to you my brothers and sisters, that I have sinned through my own fault (James 5:16 Therefore confess your sins to one another, and pray for one another, that you may be healed.) in my thoughts (Mk 7:15 there is nothing outside a man which by going into him can defile him; but the things which come out of a man are what defile him.) and in my words, (James 3:6 The tongue is an unrighteous world among our members, staining the whole body, setting on fire the cycle of nature, and set on fire by hell) in what I have done and what I have failed to do (James 4:17 Whoever knows what is right to do and fails to do it, for him it is sin.) and I ask Blessed Mary Ever-Virgin, all the angels and saints, and you, my brothers and sisters, to pray for me to the Lord Our God. (2 Thess 3:1 Finally, brethren, pray for us.)
Priest: May Almighty God have mercy on us, forgive us our sins, and bring us to everlasting life. (1 Jn 1:9 If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just, and will forgive our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness.)
All: Lord have mercy, (Mt 20:31 "Lord have mercy on us, Son of David!") Christ have mercy (Jude 21 wait for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ unto eternal life.)
GloriaAll: Glory to God in the highest, and peace to his people on earth (Lk 2:14 "Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among men with whom he is pleased!"), Lord God, Heavenly King, Almighty God and Father (Rom 15:6 that together you may with one voice glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.) we worship you (Rev 19:10 Worship God..) we give you thanks (Eph 5:20 always and for everything giving thanks in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ to God the Father..) we praise you for your glory (Phil 1:11 filled with the fruits of righteousness which come through Jesus Christ, to the glory and praise of God.) Lord Jesus Christ, only Son of the Father (1 Jn 4:9 In this the love of God was made manifest among us, that God sent his only Son into the world, so that we might live through him.), Lord God, Lamb of God, you take away the sins of the world, have mercy on us (Jn 1:29 Behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world), you are seated at the right hand of the Father, receive our prayer, (Rom 8:34 It is Christ (Jesus) who died, rather, was raised, who also is at the right hand of God, who indeed intercedes for us.), for you alone are the Holy One, (Mk 1:24 I know who you are the Holy One of God.") you alone are the Lord (Rev 15:4 Who shall not fear and glorify thy name, O Lord? For thou alone art holy..) , you alone are the Most High, Jesus Christ (Lk 1:32 He will be great and will be called Son of the Most High, ), with the Holy Spirit, in the glory of God the Father. (1 Cor 6:19 Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, which you have from God? You are not your own..)
Liturgy of the Word
- Old Testament reading,
- Responsorial Psalm taken from the Book of Psalms,
- on holy days and Sundays, a second reading from the Epistles,
- Gospel reading.
Profession of Faith (Nicene Creed)
Liturgy of the EucharistPriest: Blessed are you Lord God of all creation. Through your goodness we have this bread to offer, which earth has given and human hands have made (Gen 3:16 In the sweat of your face you shall eat bread till you return to the ground.). It will become for us the bread of life. (Jn 6:35 Jesus said to them, "I am the bread of life...).
People: Blessed be God forever (Psalm 66:20 Blessed be God, because he has not rejected my prayer or removed his steadfast love from me!)
Priest: Pray, brethren, that our sacrifice may be acceptable to God, the Almighty Father. (Heb 9:24 For Christ has entered, not into a sanctuary made with hands, a copy of the true one, but into heaven itself, now to appear in the presence of God on our behalf.)
People: May the Lord accept the sacrifice at your hands, for the praise and glory of His name, for our good, and the good of all his Church. (Heb 12:28 Therefore let us be grateful for receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, and thus let us offer to God acceptable worship, with reverence and awe)
Eucharistic PrayerPriest: Lift up your hearts.
People: We lift them up to the Lord (Lam 3:41 Let us reach out our hearts toward God in heaven!)
Priest: Let us give thanks to the Lord our God (Psalm 75:1 We give thanks to thee, O God; we give thanks; we call on thy name and recount thy wondrous deeds.)
People: It is right to give Him thanks and praise (Col 1:3 We always give thanks to God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, when we pray for you,)
Preface AcclamationAll: Holy, holy, holy Lord, God of power and might, heaven and earth are full of your glory. Hosanna in the highest. (Is 6:3 "Holy, holy, holy is the LORD of hosts!" they cried one to the other. "All the earth is filled with his glory!") Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord. Hosanna in the highest. (Mt 21:9 Hosanna to the Son of David! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord! Hosanna in the highest!")
Eucharistic Prayer II(Of the four Eucharistic prayers, this is both the oldest and the shortest. The other three are similarly Scriptural.)
Priest: Lord, you are holy indeed, the fountain of all holiness. (Jn 4:11 whoever drinks of the water that I shall give him will never thirst; the water that I shall give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life." ) Let your Spirit come upon these gifts to make them holy, so that they may become for us the Body and Blood of our Lord Jesus Christ. (Lk 1:35 The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; therefore the child to be born will be called holy, the Son of God.) Before He was given up to death (Phil 2:8 he humbled himself and became obedient unto death, even death on a cross.), a death He freely accepted (Jn 10:17-18 For this reason the Father loves me, because I lay down my life, that I may take it again. 18 No one takes it from me, but I lay it down of my own accord. I have power to lay it down, and I have power to take it again), He took bread and gave you thanks. He broke the bread, and gave it to his disciples and said: Take this all of you and eat of it: this is my Body, which will be given up for you. When supper was ended, He took the cup. Again He gave you thanks and praise, gave the cup to His disciples and said: Take this all of you and drink from it: this is the cup of my Blood, the blood of the new and everlasting covenant. It will be shed for you and for all men so that sins may be forgiven. Do this in memory of me. (Mt 26:26-28 Now as they were eating, Jesus took bread, and blessed, and broke it, and gave it to the disciples and said, "Take, eat; this is my body." 27 And he took a cup, and when he had given thanks he gave it to them, saying, "Drink of it, all of you; 28 for this is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins.)
Let us proclaim the mystery of faith. (Eph 1:9-10 For he has made known to us in all wisdom and insight the mystery of his will, according to his purpose which he set forth in Christ 10 as a plan for the fulness of time, to unite all things in him, things in heaven and things on earth.)
All: Dying you destroyed our death, rising you restored our life, Lord Jesus come in glory. (Heb 2:14-15 Since therefore the children share in flesh and blood, he himself likewise partook of the same nature, that through death he might destroy him who has the power of death, that is, the devil, 15 and deliver all those who through fear of death were subject to lifelong bondage.)
Priest: In memory of His death and resurrection, we offer you, Father, this life-giving bread, this saving cup (Jn 6:51,54 I am the living bread which came down from heaven; if any one eats of this bread, he will live for ever; and the bread which I shall give for the life of the world is my flesh... he who eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day."). We thank you for counting us worthy to stand in your Presence and serve you. May all of us who share the Body and Blood of Christ be brought together in unity by the Holy Spirit. (1 Cor 10:17 Because there is one bread, we who are many are one body, for we all partake of the one bread..). Lord, remember your Church throughout the world; make us grow in love, together with N. our Pope, N., our bishop, and all the clergy. (Heb 13:17 Obey your leaders and submit to them; for they are keeping watch over your souls, as men who will have to give account. Let them do this joyfully...) Remember our brothers and sisters who have gone to their rest in the hope of rising again. Bring them and all the departed into the light of your presence. (2 Mac 12:45 But if he was looking to the splendid reward that is laid up for those who fall asleep in godliness, it was a holy and pious thought. Therefore he made atonement for the dead, that they might be delivered from their sin..) Have mercy on us all; make us worthy to share eternal life, together with Mary, the virgin mother of God, with the apostles, and with all the saints, who have done your will throughout the ages. May we praise you in union with them and give you glory through your Son, Jesus Christ. (2 Thess 1:4-5 Therefore we ourselves boast of you in the churches of God for your steadfastness and faith in all your persecutions and in the afflictions which you are enduring. 5 This is evidence of the righteous judgment of God, that you may be made worthy of the kingdom of God, for which you are suffering.)
DoxologyPriest: Through Him, with Him, in Him, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, all glory and honor is yours Almighty Father, forever and ever.
People: Amen. (Rom 11:36 For from him and through him and to him are all things. To him be glory for ever. Amen.)
Communion RiteLord's Prayer (Mt 6:9-13 Our Father who art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name. 10 Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done, On earth as it is in heaven. 11 Give us this day our daily bread; 12 And forgive us our debts, As we also have forgiven our debtors; 13 And lead us not into temptation, But deliver us from evil..)
Priest: Deliver us Lord from every evil, and grant us peace in our day. In your mercy keep us free from sin and protect us from all anxiety, as we wait in joyful hope for the coming of our Saviour, Jesus Christ. (Jn 17:15 I do not pray that thou shouldst take them out of the world, but that thou shouldst keep them from the evil one.)
People: For the kingdom, the power, and the glory are yours, now and forever (Didache - teaching of the Apostles, first century and 1 Chron 29:11 Thine, O Lord, is the greatness, and the power, and the glory, and the victory, and the majesty;)
Priest: Lord Jesus Christ, you said to your disciples: I leave you peace, my peace I give you. Look not on our sins, but on the faith of your Church, and grant us the peace and unity of your kingdom, where you live forever and ever. (Jn 14:27 Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid.)
Priest: The peace of the Lord be with you always. (Jn 20:19 Jesus came and stood among them and said to them, "Peace be with you.")
Breaking of the BreadPeople: Lamb of God, you take away the sins of the world: have mercy on us. Lamb of God, you take away the sins of the world: have mercy on us. Lamb of God you take away the sins of the world: grant us peace. (Jn 1:29 "Behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!")
CommunionPriest: This is the Lamb of God, who takes away the sins of the world. Happy are those who are called to His Supper. (Rev 19:9 "Write this: Blessed are those who are invited to the marriage supper of the Lamb." And he said to me, "These are true words of God.")
All: Lord, I am not worthy to receive you, but only say the word and I shall be healed. ( Lk 7:6-7 "Lord, do not trouble yourself, for I am not worthy to have you come under my roof; 7 ...But say the word, and let my servant be healed).
DismissalPriest: Go in peace, to love and serve the Lord (2 Chron 35:3 Now serve the LORD your God and his people Israel.)
People: Thanks be to God. (2 Cor 9:15 Thanks be to God for his inexpressible gift!)