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Replies To Objections To The Mass

May 20, 2018 Our Catholic Faith No Comments


Part 29

In this article, we respond to objections against the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, which non-Catholics are wont to raise in order to attempt to justify their many different doctrines about the Eucharist. They do not agree among themselves on a great many points of doctrine — see how many thousands of sects, churches, and denominations exist today — but in only one point they all agree: The Catholic Church is wrong!
In Jesus’ times, the Jews were also divided into many sects, Pharisees, Sadducees, Herodians, Zealots, etc., etc. They disagreed among themselves in many points of doctrine, but on only one point they agreed: Crucify Him! Amazing how history repeats itself: What happened to Jesus’ Physical Body today happens to His Mystical Body, the Church.
The first objection commonly leveled against the Sacrifice of the Mass says that “anyone who reads the Epistle to the Hebrews can see that there were many sacrifices in the Temple of Jerusalem under the Old Law. They sacrificed in the morning and in the evening, every day, and the sacrifices were offered by a succession of priests of the family of Aaron.
“But that sequence was finished in the New Testament. Now there is only one High Priest, Jesus Christ, and there was only one sacrifice, which happened on Good Friday on the hill of Golgotha. And since Christ has no successors in the sacrificial mission as High Priest, therefore, the Catholic idea that there are many priests offering many sacrifices of the Mass every day in the world contradicts the teaching of the Epistle to the Hebrews.”
Reply: The objection is correct in saying that we have but one High Priest, Our Lord Jesus Christ, and He has no successor in that capacity. But its correctness stops here, because it omits the fact that Jesus established representatives on Earth who act with His power and authority. To Peter He gave the Keys of the Kingdom of Heaven, to the other apostles the authority over the flock of His Church, and so on.
He founded a Church, the Catholic Church. He did not give us a book to follow, but a Church to belong to, a Church with a mission to govern, teach, and sanctify the people in His Name (“Feed my sheep”). He is always and still with us, even though we do not see Him, because He promised that He would be with His Church till the end of times. He can neither deceive nor be deceived.
He still acts as our High Priest, and His earthly priests are only His ministers, His visible agents. But, more important, they do not offer many sacrifices, but the one and the same sacrifice. Under the Old Law, one High Priest succeeded another in a sequence through the decades, and at each sacrifice a new victim was offered.
But under the New, in the Sacrifice of the Mass, Christ Himself, the same forever, fills the office of High Priest and Victim. It is the same sacrifice, the same Victim, the same High Priest.
He commanded His apostles: “Do this in memory of me,” and to this day, His successors, the bishops, and their auxiliaries, the priests, obey Him and do exactly as He did: They offer bread and wine for the consecration, separating the Blood from the Body, His mystical death, which happened on Calvary, when He physically died.
Second objection: “The Catholic Church says that man is bound to offer frequent sacrifice to God to adore, praise, thank Him, and beg His blessings, and the Mass is the sacrifice by which all this is done. But Christ’s death on the cross has already done it, once and for all, and in so doing He discharged all these duties for us. Consequence: No subsequent sacrifice is required.”
Reply: Not so. This objection is misleading, because if one takes it to its ultimate consequences, one lands in total nonsense. For instance, one might say that, since Jesus prayed for us, He has done the job of praying, so we do not need to pray for ourselves. Since Christ prayed for us, we need never say a prayer.
Or: Jesus adored God the Father, therefore we are free from that obligation. We do not have to adore God. Jesus practiced charity toward the neighbor: Therefore, we do not have to do any works of charity, either, since He has already done it for us. Jesus preached the Gospel to the people. Therefore, the job of preaching is already done, and we do not have to evangelize anybody.
Of course, this is utter nonsense. Jesus’ Sacrifice has not dispensed us from the duty of offering sacrifice to God. The sacrifice we offer Him is precisely the same one He offered to God the Father, the Sacrifice of the Cross. We must be imitators of Christ in regard to His outward acts as well as His inward acts. We imitate Him in respect to both by means of the Sacrifice of the Mass.
The Mass was given to us by Christ, both at the Last Supper and on Calvary, which are the two sides of the same medal. In its essence, the Mass basically consists of the consecration and the Communion. The essence of the Sacrifice of the Mass is found in the consecration, when the priest, using the power of Christ, transubstantiates bread into the Body of Christ and wine into His Blood. That is Christ’s mystical death on the altar, because when the blood is separated from the body the person is dead. The priest’s Communion may be compared to the eating of the Paschal Lamb, which ceremony was not the sacrifice proper, but the sacred banquet that followed it.
At the very moment when the twofold consecration of bread and wine has been completed, the Sacrifice is offered; the divine Victim is handed over to God by the priest in the name of the Church.
The Holy Sacrifice of the Mass is the greatest reality on this side of eternity. In Heaven, there is no celebration of Mass — the Beatific Vision, the becoming one with God in Christ, will be the reward, the superabundantly great reward that our Lord promises to those who love and serve Him.

To Serve And Worship

Let us benefit to the maximum from the graces offered at Mass. Our Lord invites us to do it, and our own personal interest demands it.
Today there is a tendency among Catholics who have been influenced by modernism to — as they say — make the Mass “relevant to the people.” In so doing, they introduce musical instruments and liturgical innovations that render the Mass more like a Protestant service than the renewal of the Sacrifice of Calvary and the Last Supper.
Pope Benedict XVI taught in his apostolic letter Sacramentum Caritatis that we must rediscover the sense of the sacred in the liturgy, lest it become a worldly celebration of our own faith, instead of the celebration of a higher reality.
We know a tree by its fruits. The increasingly low Mass attendance in so many Catholic parishes today is a firm indicator that the Protestantization of the liturgy has not and could not bring about the reinvigoration of reverence, piety, and respect of times past.
The liturgy must be relevant to God, who is its center. Not relevant to the people, who are there to serve and worship, not to be served and be worshiped.
Next article: The Sacrament of Confession.

+ + +

(Raymond de Souza, KM, is a Knight of the Sovereign and Military Order of Malta; a delegate for International Missions for Human Life International [HLI]; and an EWTN program host. Website: www.RaymonddeSouza.com.)

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