The Roman Catholic Sacrifice of the Mass


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The sacrifice of the Mass is the very heart of the Roman Catholic faith. It is the most sacred part of Catholic worship. “It is the secret of her holiness and vitality.” Saint Francis De Sales called it “the mainspring of devotion.” According to Pope Urban: “If the angels could envy man anything, it would be his power to offer the Holy Sacrifice.” Cardinal Newman called it, “The greatest action on earth.”

Official Catholic Teaching—The Church of Rome teaches: (1) that at the Last Supper, Christ instituted the Mass, a true, visible sacrifice; (2) that Christ bequeathed the Mass to his Church to be of avail for the remission of sins and the punishment due them, and for the benefit of the living and the dead; (3) that Christ established a special priesthood for its celebration; (4) that Christ, through the ministry of his priests, offers himself in the Mass as he offered himself on the cross; but that, whereas he offered himself in a bloody manner on the cross, he offers himself in an unbloody manner in the Mass; (5) that, this difference apart, the sacrifice of the Mass is the same sacrifice as that of the cross, for there is the same priest, the same victim and the same offering.

Rome teaches that just as the sacrifice of Calvary was prefigured in the Jewish sacrifices, so it is continued in the Mass in its essentials as a sacrifice. The Catholic doctrine is that through the sacrifice of the Mass a friend of God receives the appeasement of God’s anger, the extinction of the debt of temporal punishment and the reception of blessings, which include an increase of sanctifying grace. Through the Mass, one’s acts of adoration, praise, thanks­giving, atonement, satisfaction, and petition receive a new and special efficacy. In the sacrifice of the Mass one is said to receive, more surely than through any other means, the grace of contrition in the hour of need, the grace of more perfect sanctity, and all temporal blessings not in conflict with one’s spiritual well-being.

Fifth Article of the Creed of Pope Pius IV—”I profess likewise that in the Mass there is offered to God a true, proper, and propitiatory sacrifice for the living and the dead. And that in the most holy sacrament of the Eucharist there is truly, really, and substantially the blood, together with the soul and divinity, of our Lord Jesus Christ; and that there is made a conversion of the whole substance of the bread into the body, and of the whole substance of the wine into the blood, which conversion the Catholic Church calleth Transubstantiation. I also confess that under either kind alone Christ is received whole and entire, and a true sacrament.”

The Council of Trent—The canons of the Council of Trent on this subject passed in session XXII cap. n are as follows:

(1) “If anyone shall say that in the Mass there is not offered to God a true and proper sacrifice, or that what is offered is nothing else than Christ given to be eaten, let him be anathema.”

(2) “If anyone shall say that in those words, ‘This do in remembrance of me’, Christ did not make the apostles priests, or did not ordain that they themselves and other priests should offer his body and blood, let him be anath­ema.”

(3)  “If anyone shall say that the sacrifice of the Mass is only of praise and thanksgiving, or a bare commemoration of the sacrifice performed on the cross, but not propitia­tory; or that it is of benefit only to the person who takes it, and ought not to be offered for the living and the dead for sins, punishments, satisfactions, and other necessities, let him be accursed.”

(4)  “If any one shall say that blasphemy is ascribed to the most holy sacrifice of Christ performed on the cross by the sacrifice of the Mass, or the latter derogates from the former, let him be accursed.”

Pronouncement from Vatican II—”At the Last Supper …our Saviour instituted the Eucharistic Sacrifice of his Body and Blood. He did this in order to perpetuate the sacrifice of the Cross…” (p 154, The Documents of Vatican II, Walter M. Abbott, S.J.).

Pagan Origin—It is shocking for Roman Catholics to learn that the proposal of the Lord’s Supper as a sacrifice was first made by a Benedictine monk, Radbertus, in the ninth century and was the subject of many fierce verbal battles by the bishops until Pope Innocent in declared it an official Roman doctrine in ad 1215. The very principles found in the bloodless sacrifice of the Mass as it is in the Church of Rome today can be traced back through the labyrinth of paganism to the fountain of idolatry, ancient Babylon.

Has The Mass Really Changed?—Today many are expressing hope that Rome is turning toward scriptural Christianity. They are happy with her changes while fail­ing to realize that all this is only superficial. The Church of Rome will never reject the sacrifice of the Mass; she will merely streamline it enough to fool the unlearned and scripturally ignorant. Pope John XXm made it clear that his church is bound “to all the teachings of the Church in its entirety and preciseness, as it still shines forth in the Act of the Council of Trent and First Vatican Council…” (The Documents of Vatican II, Abbott, S.J.).

Catholic Proof-Texts Explained

Malachi 1:11 —”From the rising of the sun even to the going down of the same my name shall be great among the Gentiles; and in every place incense shall be offered unto my name, and a pure offering.” Roman Catholic authorities claim that this prophecy is fulfilled in the sac­rifice of the Mass. However, a close look at the meaning of this verse indicates not a literal, external offering, but a spiritual, internal offering. David declared, “The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; a broken and a contrite heart” (Psalm 51:17). Peter admonished the people of God to “offer up spiritual sacrifices” (I Peter 2:5), “praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvelous light” (v9). The author of Hebrews speaks of spiritual sacrifices as praise, thanksgiving and alms-giving (13:15-16). The Chris­tians in Rome were admonished to present their bodies (their whole being) as living sacrifices (Rom 12:1). Catholic authorities say that the Hebrew word for offering (minchd) refers to the unbloody sacrifice of the Mass, but in 1 Samuel 2:17 the word mincha is used in reference to a bloody sacrifice, and in Isaiah 66:20 the company of God’s people constitutes the mincha. One cannot, therefore, use this verse to substantiate evidence in favor of the sacrifice of the Mass.

Romans 15:16—.. that the offering up of the Gentiles might be acceptable, being sanctified by the Holy Ghost.” Again the offering of the Gentiles was a spiritual, internal sacrifice, that of obedience in word and deed (vis).

Genesis 14:18—”And Melchizedek king of Salem brought forth bread and wine: and he was the priest of the most high God.” One cannot assume that this verse speaks of a sacrifice that was offered to God. Melchizedek was a priest of God and he brought bread and wine, not for a sacrifice, but for the refreshment of Abram and his men returning from battle. Cyprian was the earliest of the post-apostolic fathers to teach that Melchizedek was a sacrificer; but there is no biblical reference of Melchizedek offering sacrifice (see Heb 7).

1 Corinthians 11:24—”This do in remembrance of me.” Catholics are taught that in this verse Jesus was, in effect, saying, “As I have now offered my body and blood under the appearances of bread and wine as a sacrifice, so must you offer in sacrifice my body and blood in every celebration of this sacrament.” Rome teaches that with these words Jesus made the apostles priests and gave himself as a perpetual victim whom they were to sacrifice daily. It is estimated that there are more than 200,000 sacri­fices offered on Roman altars around the world each day of the week. What a perversion of the common expression, “This do in remembrance of me,” which in this context simply means that God’s people are to partake of the bread and wine as a reminder (not a perpetuation) of Christ’s atonement.

John 19:30—”It is finished.” According to Catholic priest, Richard W. Grace, in his book, The Sacrifice of Christ, “These words do not declare that his sacrifice was finished, but that he had finished his former, normal, earthly life and was now fixed in the state of a victim.. .He then began his everlasting career as the perpetual sacrifice of the New Law.” According to Rome, the sacrifice of Christ was completed on Calvary, but not finished; that is, he must be perpetually sacrificed in the Mass. Rome teaches that it is not the blood sacrifice of the cross that is repeated, but the so-called unbloody sacrifice of the upper room, the sacri­fice of his flesh and blood under the appearance of bread and wine. But we know it was the shedding of Jesus’ blood that brought remission of sin. That sacrifice was finished, as he declared, “It is finished.” And the Scriptures are clear: “Without the shedding of blood is no remission of sin” (Heb 9:22). Therefore, what took place in the upper room was not a sacrifice, but an explanation of the sacrifice that was to take place, and since admittedly, there is no blood in the sacrifice of the Mass, it cannot be a sacrifice for sin.

John 6:54-55—”Whoso eateth my flesh, and drinketh my blood, hath eternal life; and I will raise him up at the last day. For my flesh is meat indeed, and my blood is drink indeed.” Meat is to satisfy hunger. Jesus said, “He that cometh to me shall never hunger” (v35). To come to him is to eat. Drink is to satisfy thirst. He said, “He that believeth on me shall never thirst” (v35). To believe is to drink. No one can say that Jesus here was establishing the literal eating and drinking of a sacrifice for sin, especially not after what he said of this whole discourse in verse 63: “The words that I speak unto you, they are spirit, and they are life.” Christ’s teaching in this entire context concerns the spiritual reception of him by faith, not partaking of any­thing in a literal, physical fashion. In Levitical law, not only was the blood not eaten, but the sin offering was not eaten. Yet Catholics believe that they really eat Christ’s body and drink his blood in their communion. If they insist on a literal meaning in this verse, then they must also believe that all who receive their communion are saved, for Christ said, “He that eateth of this bread shall live for ever” (tst); but they don’t believe that. To consistently literalize this passage involves some impossible interpretations.

Matthew 26:26,28—”This is my body…this is my blood.” No one can deny that this is figurative language. Jesus did not say touto gignetai (this has become or is turned into) but touto esti (this signifies, represents or stands for). Christ also said, “This cup is the new testament” (Luke 22:20). “This cup” refers to its contents and certainly neither the cup nor its contents constitutes the new covenant, but symbolizes it. Throughout Scripture we find similar meta­phorical language: Jesus referred to himself as “the door,” “the vine,” “the light,” “the root,” “the rock,” “the bright and morning star,” as well as “the bread.” If I were to show someone a photograph of my son, and say, “This is my son,” they would not take the words literally. The Bible is written with such common language that it is obvious to any observant reader that the Lord’s Supper was given as a memorial and in no sense a literal sacrifice. In taking Biblical statements literally, we must be sure that doing so is consistent with the context and not in contradiction to other clear teachings of Scripture.

The Finality of Christ’s Sacrifice

The Bible teaches that the priesthood of Jesus Christ is unique. “Thou art a priest for ever after the order of Melchizedek” (Psalm 110:4 & Heb 7:17). “But this man, because he continueth ever, hath an unchangeable [nontransferable] priesthood” (Heb 7:24; see v3). “There is…one Mediator be­tween God and men, the man Christ Jesus” (I Tim 2:5). There is an obvious superiority in Jesus Christ, the one who is approachable and can be touched with the feeling of our infirmities (Heb 4:15). The human sacrificing priesthood was weak and unprofitable being made up of “many priests” and men of infirmity, but Christ was holy, undefiled and separate from sinners (Heb 7:23,26).

Rome teaches that her priests discharge the priesthood of Jesus Christ, that they are other Christs (Alter Christus). The French Catholic saint, J. B. M. Vianney, said, “Where there is no priest there is no sacrifice, and where there is no sacrifice there is no religion…Without the priest, the death and passion of our Lord would be of no avail to us… See the power of the priest! By one word from his lips, he changes a piece of bread into a God! A greater feat than the creation of the world… If I were to meet a priest and an angel, I would salute the priest before saluting the angel. The angel is a friend of God, but the priest holds the place of God.. .Next to God himself, the priest is everything!”

The epistle to the Hebrews speaks of the “once for all” sacrifice of Christ on the cross, not a daily sacrifice on altars. It cannot be argued exegetically that the Mass is a real and true sacrifice of reconciliation and that Christ still sacrifices himself daily by the hands of priests (Council of Trent). The Bible is clear that Christ’s sacrifice on Calvary was finished and complete and never to be repeated. “Who needeth not daily, as those high priests, to offer up sacri­fice, first for his own sins, and then for the people’s: for this he did once, when he offered up himself” (Heb 7:27). “By his own blood he entered in once, into the holy place, having obtained eternal redemption for us” (Heb 9:12). “With­out shedding of blood is no remission…Nor yet that he should offer himself often, as the high priest entereth into the holy place every year with blood of others; for then must he often have suffered since the foundation of the world; but now once in the end of the world hath he appeared to put away sin by the sacrifice of himself.. .So Christ was once offered to bear the sins of many; and unto them that look for him shall he appear the second time without sin unto salvation” (Heb 9:22-28). “By the which will we are sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all. And every priest standeth daily minis­tering and offering oftentimes the same sacrifices, which can never take away sins; but this man, after he had offered one sacrifice for sins for ever, sat down on the right hand of God; from henceforth expecting till his enemies be made his footstool. For by one offering he hath perfected for ever them that are sanctified” (Heb 10:10-14).

Loraine Boettner, in his classic book, Roman Catholicism, asks the reader to “Notice that throughout these verses occurs the statement ‘once for all’, which has in it the idea of completeness, or finality, and which precludes repeti­tion. Christ’s work on the cross was perfect and decisive. It constituted one historic event which need never be repeated and which in fact cannot be repeated. The lan­guage is perfectly clear: ‘He offered one sacrifice for sins for ever’ (Heb 10:12). Paul says that ‘Christ being raised from the dead dieth no more’ (Rom 6:9); and the writer to the Hebrews says, ‘By one offering he hath perfected for ever them that are sanctified’ 110:14)… We are told that Christ ‘sat down’ (10:12) as the token that his work was finished. De­pend upon it, he never descends from that exalted place to be a further sacrifice upon Rome’s altars or on any other; for of such sacrifice there is no need.. .Thank God we can look back to what our Lord did on Calvary and know that he completed the sacrifice for sins once for all, and that our salvation is not dependent on the whim or arbitrary decree of any priest or church. Any pretense at a continuous offering for sin is worse than vain, for it is a denial of the efficacy of the atoning sacrifice of Christ on Calvary.”

Conclusion—The Catholic doctrine of the repeated renewal of Christ’s sacrifice keeps many from heaven because it infers that Christ’s sacrifice on the cross for our sins was insufficient. If not, why would it need to be repeated many times? The idea that Christ’s sacrifice was not enough is then used to lead people to believe that the person who dies must suffer in purgatory to pay for his own sins until Christ has been offered enough times to work up the merit necessary to finish off the payment. But the truth is, “By one offering he hath perfected for ever them that are sanctified” (Heb 10:14). Put your trust in Christ and his ability to perfect you by one offering, instead of denying his salvation thinking his sacrifice is insufficient.

Our Lord’s sacrifice took care of our sins so completely that God is able to forgive them and forget them: “Their sins and iniquities will I remember no more. Now where remission of these is, there is no more offering for sin” (Heb 10:17-18). Believe the promise of God that he really will forgive you and forget all about your sins as you trust in the sufficiency of the one sacrifice that his Son made on Calvary’s cross. □

—by Bartholomew F. Brewer

Former Roman Catholic Priest

THE STORY OF MARTIN BOOS

MARTIN Boos, a man of unspotted character, was ordained a Roman Catholic priest in 1781. He tells what “immense pains” he took to become a really good and righteous man. “For years, even in winter, I lay upon the cold floor; I scourged myself till I bled again; I fasted and gave my bread to the poor; I spent every hour I could spare in the church; I confessed and took the sacrament almost every week; in short, I gained such a character for piety that I was appointed prefect of the congregation of the ex-Jesuits. But what a life I led!

“The prefect, with all his sanctity, became more and more absorbed in self, melancholy and formal. The ‘saint’ was ever­more exclaiming in his heart, ‘Oh, wretched man that I am! Who shall deliver me?’ And no one replied, ‘The grace of God through Jesus Christ our Lord’ (Rom 7:24-25). No one gave the sick man that spiritual directive: ‘The just shall live by faith’ (Gal 3:11).”

In 1788, God was pleased to open the eyes of Martin Boos in a most unexpected manner. He visited a sick person who was respected for her godliness and deep humility. He said to her, “ You will die very peacefully and happily. ” “ Why so?” she asked. “Because you have led such a pious and holy life, ” he responded.

The good woman smiled at his words, and said, ‘If I leave this world relying on my own piety, I am surely lost; but relying on Jesus my Savior, I can die in comfort. What a clergyman you are! If I listened to you, what would become of me? How could I stand before the divine tribunal, where every one must give an account even of their idle words? Which of our actions and virtues would not be found wanting if laid in the divine balances? No; if Christ had not died and made satisfaction for me, I’d be lost forever, regardless of all my good works and pious conduct. He is my hope, my salvation, and my eternal happiness.”The young priest was astonished. He had gone to the bedside of this dying woman to console her, if possible, while he himself knew not the true consolation found only in Christ, and not in religious rites and ceremonies. With all his learning, he was ignorant of that which this simple-hearted women knew so well.

Fortunately for him, he did not refuse to be taught by so weak an instrument. The dying woman’s testimony made a lasting impression upon his soul, and in the course of time, he was led to reject the whole system of teaching that we are saved “by works of righteousness that we have done” (Titus 3:5), and rested his soul entirely on the merits of “Jesus Christ the righteous” (I John 2:1).

How perfectly vain are our efforts in the matter of our soul’s salvation (Rom 3:10-12)—all of our fancied “righteousnesses are as filthy rags” (Isaiah 64:6). Martin Boos learned at last to count all his learning and acquirements as dross and dung as a means of securing a fitness to stand before the judgment-bar of God.Nothing we can do will avail anything towards settling the great account between our soul and God. To enter into his rest you must “cease from your own works ” (Heb 4:9-10), and rely alone upon the finished work that Christ accomplished at Calvary (Rom 4:4-5). God accepts that work; and he accepts us only upon the ground of what his Son has done, and not because of anything we could ever do. Cast yourself upon Christ alone, and his merits, and you shall be forever “accepted in the Beloved” (Eph 1:6).

A Church without chance ?

The long held Roman Catholic claim that they are the only unchangeable church is not supported by church history— not even Catholic history. How sad to realize that this false claim influenced so many to join or to stay in this church, a church that is actually the product of centuries of changes. Most of these changes resulted from the Catholic Church’s yielding to heathen customs and practices that were subsequently incorporated into Catholic teachings and worship. The following is a partial list of heathen, unscriptural practices that became a part of Roman Catholic dogma over a period of seventeen centuries. None of these heresies have officially been repudiated, and all continue to be practiced by millions of Catholics around the world.

  • Prayers for the dead AD300
  • Making the sign of the cross AD300
  • Veneration of angels and dead saints AD375
  • Use of images in worship AD375
  • The Mass as a daily celebration AD394
  • Infant baptism regenerates the soul AD431
  • Beginning of the exaltation of Mary; the term,

“Mother of God” applied at Council of Ephesus AD431

  • Extreme Unction (Last Rites) AD526
  • Doctrine of Purgatory — Gregory 1 AD593
  • Prayers to Mary and to dead saints AD600
  • Worship of cross, images and relics AD786
  • Canonization of dead saints AD995
  • Mortal sin the penalty for failure to attend Mass AD1000
  • Celibacy of priesthood AD1079
  • The Rosary invented by Peter the Hermit AD1090
  • Indulgences to reduce time in Purgatory AD1190
  • Transubstantiation — Innocent 111 AD1215
  • Auricular confession of sins to a priest AD1215
  • Adoration of the wafer (Host) AD 1220
  • Cup forbidden to the people at communion AD1414
  • Purgatory elevated from doctrine to dogma AD 1438
  • The Doctrine of the Seven Sacraments confirmed AD 1439
  • Tradition declared of equal authority with the Bible by the Council of Trent AD1545
  • Apocryphal books added to the Bible AD1546
  • Immaculate Conception of Mary AD 1854
  • Infallibility of the pope in matters of faith and morals, proclaimed by the Vatican Council AD1870
  • Virgin Mary proclaimed co-Redeemer with Jesus — Benedict XV AD 1922
  • Assumption of the Virgin Mary (bodily ascension into heaven shortly after her death) — Pius Xll AD 1950
  • Mary proclaimed Mother of the Church AD 1965

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