The Sacrifice of the Mass -- Blessing or Bondage?
Mike Gendron

Many former Catholics have described their experience of going to weekly Mass as a prison sentence, something they had to do in order to avoid the penalty of a serious sin. Others remember it as a mindless ritual of standing, sitting, kneeling and reciting as the priest performed his religious duties. There are many practicing Catholics who feel the same way but are bound by the laws of their church to attend church every week: "On Sundays and other holy days of obligation the faithful are bound to participate in the Mass" (paragraph 2180 of the Catechism of the Catholic Church). With this law so explicit and demanding, the question that begs an answer is: Why is participation so compulsory for Catholics? The answers are complex, controversial and authoritative. They are also found in the Catholic Catechism and are noted by paragraph numbers in parenthesis.

First let us look to the Catechism for the definitions of the Mass and the Eucharist.

The Mass is...the sacrificial memorial in which the sacrifice of the cross is perpetuated (1382).

The Eucharist is thus a sacrifice because it re-presents [makes present] the sacrifice of the cross...and because it applies its fruit...the forgiveness of the sins we daily commit. The sacrifice of Christ and the sacrifice of the Eucharist are one single sacrifice: The victim is one and the same. In this divine sacrifice which is celebrated in the Mass, the same Christ who offered himself once in a bloody manner on the altar of the cross is contained and is offered in an unbloody manner (1366,1367). It is the seed of eternal life and the power of resurrection (1524).

Catholics are given no choice but to believe these inconceivable teachings. Is the Lord Jesus really physically present in the Eucharist? How Catholics answer this question has serious consequences. If they deny the presence of Jesus they are condemned by their church. Canon I of the Council of Trent states, "If anyone denies, that in the sacrament of the most Holy Eucharist, are contained truly, really and substantially the body and blood together with the soul and divinity of our Lord Jesus Christ, and consequently the whole Christ, but says that He is in it only as a sign, let him be anathema." Conversely, if they believe Jesus is present in the Eucharist they are committing the most serious sin of idolatry, showing their hatred toward God and breaking His second commandment (Deut. 5:8-9).

Based on these teachings Catholics are taught their redemption comes not from the perfect and finished sacrifice of Jesus Christ on Calvaryís cross but through the liturgy of the Eucharistic sacrifice.

For it is in the liturgy, especially in the divine sacrifice of the Eucharist, that the work of our redemption is accomplished. Every time this mystery is celebrated, the work of our redemption is carried on (1068, 1405).

Incredibly the Vatican teaches the Eucharist has the power to produce divine life and to unite the people of God.

The Eucharist is the efficacious sign and sublime cause of that communion in the divine life and that unity of the People of God. It is the source and summit of the Christian life. For in the blessed Eucharist is contained the whole spiritual good of the Church, namely Christ himself (1324,1325).

Yes, the Catholic Church teaches the Lord Jesus Christ returns to the earth every day to be worshipped and sacrificed.

In the most blessed sacrament of the Eucharist the body and blood, together with the soul and divinity, of our Lord Jesus Christ and, therefore, the whole Christ is truly, really, and substantially contained (1374). In the liturgy of the Mass we express our faith in the real presence of Christ by genuflecting or bowing deeply as a sign of adoration of the Lord (1374, 1378). The Church knows that the Lord comes even now in his Eucharist and that he is there in our midst (1404).

How can that be? Why would Jesus return to the earth in a different way and not to the Mount of Olives as God pre-ordained? This Jesus, who has been taken up from you into heaven, will come in just the same way as you have watched Him go into heaven (Acts 1:11). Why would Jesus change His mind about how and when He would return to the earth? He said, "For just as the lightning comes from the east, and flashes even to the west, so shall the coming of the Son of Man be...immediately after the tribulation...and then all the tribes of the earth will mourn, and they will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of the sky with power and great glory" (Matt. 24:27-30). Father John OíBrien answers these questions from his book, The Faith of Millions:

When the priest announces the tremendous words of consecration, he reaches up into the heavens, brings Christ down from His throne, and places Him upon our altar to be offered up again as the Victim for the sins of man. It is a power greater than that of saints and angels, greater than that of Seraphim and Cherubim. The priest brings Christ down from heaven, and renders Him present on our altar as the eternal Victim for the sins of manónot once but a thousand times! The priest speaks and lo! Christ, the eternal and omnipotent God, bows his head in humble obedience to the priestís command.

As preposterous and unthinkable as this may sound, the Catholic priest is said to have the power to call almighty God down from heaven to continue to do what the Lord Jesus said was finished. Over 200,000 times each day, on Catholic altars throughout the world, priests believe they re-present Jesus as a sacrificial victim for sins. When we reflect on the excruciating pain and torture Jesus endured to redeem mankind, it is unconscionable that Catholics would want to continue His suffering and agony.

His tribulation began the night before He was crucified. In the garden He agonized over His Fatherís wrath that would soon come upon Him. Hours later He was whipped, scourged and spat upon. After His beard was plucked from His face, He humbled himself and became obedient to deathóeven death on a cross (Psalm 50:6; Phil. 2:8). Like a lamb He was led to slaughter (Isaiah 53:7). Bystanders sneered at Him and He was mocked as a Roman legionnaire hammered heavy, square, iron nails through his wrists and feet producing excruciating pain. He was pierced through for our transgressions and crushed for our iniquities (Isaiah 53:5). Later, as the King of Glory hung in torment on the cross, His arms began to fatigue, and great waves of cramps swept over his muscles, knotting them in throbbing relentless pain. He could draw air into His lungs, but it was nearly impossible to exhale. Jesus strained to raise Himself for each dying breath. But as He moved up and down against the rough timber, tissue was torn from His lacerated back, adding to His agony. His compressed heart struggled to pump the blood that was being shed for the redemption of man. His bones were out of joint and His heart was like wax (Psalm 22:14). After several hours of this agonizing and horrifying pain, with all His strength dried up and His tongue cleaving to His jaw, Jesus gasps, "I am thirsty" (Psalm 22:15; John 19:28). After a sponge full of sour wine was shoved into His mouth, Jesus said in anguish, "It is finished" (John 19:30). Then, with one last surge of strength, He pressed His torn feet against the nail, straightened His legs, took a deep breath, and cried out, "Father, into thy hands I commit my spirit" (Luke 23:46). To ensure His death, the legionnaire drove a lance through His ribs and into His heart. Immediately there came out blood and water (John 19:34).

Not only does Rome purport to continue this horrific sacrifice with Jesus as its "victim;" it dares to say the sacrifice on its altar forgives sins.

As sacrifice, the Eucharist is also offered in reparation for the sins of the living and the dead and to obtain spiritual or temporal benefits from God. Holy Communion separates us from sin. I should always receive it, so that it may always forgive my sins. Because I always sin, I should always have a remedy (1393, 1414).

What absurdity! The perfect and actual sacrifice of Jesus, who poured out genuine blood and died a real death is said to be insufficient to forgive all sins, but its blasphemous re-presentation on Catholic altars is said to forgive sins that Jesus could not. Yes, the Catholic Mass blatantly denies the sufficiency of Christís atonement that is so clearly stated in Scripture. In the book of Hebrews we read the believerís redemption is eternal because of a finished transaction. "By His [Christís] own blood He entered in once into the holy place, having obtained eternal redemption for us" (9:12). We also read, "So Christ was once [not many times] offered to bear the sins of many" (9:28). Again, "we are sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once [no re-presentations] for all" (10:10). Continuing, "But this Man [Jesus] after He had offered one sacrifice for sins forever, sat down on the right hand of God.... For by one offering [not many] He hath perfected forever them that are sanctified" (10:12,14). It is perfectly clear that this one offering of Jesus took away sins. We also read: "And their sins and iniquities will I remember no more. Now where remission of these is, there is no more offering for sin" (10:17,18).

Godís promises revealed in the Gospel are null and void to those who teach and believe the doctrine of the Mass. Those deluded followers who faithfully participate in the Mass throughout their lives are not offered the peace of heaven on their death bed, but the fires of purgatory. Once they die, purgatory demands more Masses to get them out, and so the deception and bondage perpetuates.

The sacrifice of the Mass more closely resembles the Old Testament animal sacrifices which had to be repeated and could never take away sins. By re-presenting Jesus as a sacrificial "victim" in the Mass, the Catholic Church keeps Him cursed on the cross and forsaken by God instead of glorified at His Fatherís right hand. Catholic priests have robbed the Lord Jesus of His highly priestly office of intercession, assuming the responsibility themselves. Yet, their role as priest is spurious and fraudulent. The only true priesthood on earth that is recognized in the New Testament is the spiritual priesthood of all believers (1 Pet. 2:9).

When the doctrine and practice of the Mass is tested against the word of God, the only standard for measuring truth, we find definite and conclusive misinterpretations, errors, fallacies and heresies:

1. Jesus was never a "victim" but went to the cross in humble obedience to His Father (Phil. 2:8).

2. When Jesus demand that men eat His flesh and drink His blood, He said it had a spiritual meaning, not a literal one (John 6:63). He often spoke to them in figurative language (John 16:25). The Jews were familiar with "eating and drinking" being used figuratively to describe appropriating divine blessings to oneís innermost being (Jer. 15:16; Isa. 55:1-3). To take His words literally would cause everyone to become cannibals, that is, to eat human flesh.

3. If we take Christís words literally then "eating and drinking" is necessary for eternal life. This directly opposes hundreds of scriptures that reveal salvation is by grace alone through faith in Jesus Christ alone. If eating and drinking is necessary for salvation it presents a dilemma, "What is a person eats and drinks but does not believe?" Or "what if a person believes but does not eat and drink?"

4. Jesus instituted the Lordís Supper as a memorial not a sacrifice (Luke 22:19; 1 Cor. 11:24).

5. The sacrifice of Christ was a once for all event (Heb. 9:12,26,28; 10:10,12,14).

6. A sacrifice without blood cannot atone for sins (Lev. 17:11; Heb. 9:22).

7. Catholic priests violate Christís unique role as mediator between God and men (1 Tim. 2:5).

8. No where in the first century Church do we find priests offering sacrifices for sin or Masses for the dead (Acts).

9. Prayers and rituals for the dead are abominations before God (Deut. 18:9,11; 26:13-14).

10. The alleged changes of bread and wine into flesh and blood are not miracles but counterfeits because they remain unchanged in appearance, substance and taste. True biblical miracles were real and observable.

11. Worship of the elements of the Mass is idolatry (Ex. 20:4-5).

12. Jesus will return to earth the same way He left, not in the form of a wafer (Acts 1:11).

13. Drinking blood was forbidden. Jesus would not have asked the Jews to break the law (Lev. 17:10-14).

Clearly the Mass violates biblical integrity and is a powerful deception that holds its adherents in bondage. May the truth of Godís word set Catholics free. His word promises eternal life through Christís once-for-all and finished sacrifice. The Lordís Supper is a blessed memorial for all who believe this!

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