The Evangelization Station
Pray for Pope Francis
Scroll down for topics
Scriptural Foundations for the Mass
(Actual answer to a letter from Mr. Born Again.)
Dear Mr. Born Again,
The foundations for the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass are both historical and Scriptural. Most of the doctrinal teachings of the Catholic Church have their roots in Judaism, Let me try to explain as simply as possible what the Catholic Church teaches about the Mass.
To begin with, the Mass is both biblical and historical. In Genesis 14:18, "And Melchizedek king of Salem brought out bread and wine; he was priest of God Most High."
Melchizedek was a priest who offered bread and wine in sacrifice to God.
Psalm 110 tells us the Messiah will be a priest of the order of Melchizadek. In other words, He will offer a sacrifice of bread and wine: "The Lord says to my lord: "Sit at my right hand, till I make your enemies your footstool." The Lord sends forth from Zion your mighty scepter. Rule in the midst of your foes! Your people will offer themselves freely on the day you lead your host upon the holy mountains. From the womb of the morning like dew your youth will come to you. The Lord has sworn and will not change his mind, "You are a priest for ever after the order of Melchizedek." The Lord is at your right hand; he will shatter kings on the day of his wrath. He will execute judgment among the nations, filling them with corpses; he will shatter chiefs over the wide earth (Psalm 110:1-6).
The last book of the Old Testament, Malachi, speaks of a clean sacrifice that will be offered among all nations: Malachi 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. 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.
To sum up, the Messiah will be a priest who will offer a sacrifice of bread and wine and this clean sacrifice will be offered throughout the world.
Hebrews also verifies this premise: Hebrews 7:15-18, 'This becomes even more evident when another priest arises in the likeness of Melchizedek, who has become a priest, not according to a legal requirement concerning bodily descent but by the power of an indestructible life. For it is witnessed of him, "Thou art a priest for ever, after the order of Melchizedek." On the one hand, a former commandment is set aside because of its weakness and uselessness (for the law made nothing perfect); on the other hand, a better hope is introduced, through which we draw near to God." There is only one sacrifice "for all" and that sacrifice is the Mass.
When Moses met God on Mount Horeb, Moses asked God his name and He answered, "I am, who am". Theologians understand this to mean the God is the "eternal now". What is meant by this expression is that for God there are no restrictions, no time or space. Everything for God is now. 2,000 years in our future is now for God. The sacrifice that took place on Calvary, 2,000 years ago is ongoing now before God in heaven.
Through the power of the priesthood, when the priest speaks the words of Jesus, heaven opens and the Holy Spirit makes the sacrifice that is perpetually ongoing in heaven present on the altar, and we are, in a sense, transported back in time to Calvary. We are kneeling with Mary, the Mother of God, John, and Mary Magdalene. It is not another sacrifice, it is the one same sacrifice that Jesus offered almost 2,000 years ago.
The bread and wine are changed by the Holy Spirit into the Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity of our Lord Jesus. We call the change in substance "Eucharist" and the process “transubstantiation”.
The argument will be that Jesus could not have meant his statement literally. How can He give us His flesh to eat?
Paul writes in 1 Cor. 10:16-18, "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? Because there is one bread, we who are many are one body, for we all partake of the one bread.
Again in 1 Cor. 11:27-30, "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. Let a man examine himself, and so eat of the bread and drink of the cup. For any one who eats and drinks without discerning the body eats and drinks judgment upon himself. That is why many of you are weak and ill, and some have died."
How much more specific could Paul have been?
Yes, Jesus is truly present in the Holy Eucharist. The Mass is "The source and summit of the Christian life" and the Eucharist is the heart of the Mass.
So, Mr. Born Again, Jesus is saying to you, "'Truly, truly, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of man and drink his blood, you have no life in you; he who eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day. For my flesh is food indeed, and my blood is drink indeed. He who eats my flesh and drinks my blood abides in me, and I in him. As the living Father sent me, and I live because of the Father, so he who eats me will live because of me. This is the bread which came down from heaven, not such as the fathers ate and died; he who eats this bread will live for ever'" (John 6:53-59).
The word Host comes from the word hostia which means victim, but it has the secondary meaning of hostage. Jesus, the God of the universe allows himself to be held hostage in this most vulnerable way, because He loves us.
Please do not ridicule something you do not truly understand, it is unChristian. This is just a brief explanation. There is an avalanche of evidence to support the Catholic position going back to the Apostles. The first time this theology was denied was in the year 1,049, and the priest involved retracted his statements and died in the good graces of the Catholic Church. The next time this doctrine was denied, for all practical purposes, was during the Protestant Revolt.
There is no historical evidence to support your position that Jesus was speaking figuratively, spiritually, or symbolically. Think about it, what if the Catholic Church is right about this and you are denying the greatest gift that Jesus gave us, save our redemption.
© 2002 – Victor R. Claveau
Part or all of this article may be reproduced without obtaining permission as long as the author is cited.
" Great is this mystery, and great the dignity of priests,
to whom that is given which is not granted to the angels.
For priests alone, rightly ordained in the Church,
have the power to celebrate and to consecrate the body of Christ.
-Thomas a Kempis