Hebrews 10 and the Sacrifice of the Mass


#1

Dear all,

The most common points brought against the Sacrifice of the Mass are perhaps Hebrews 7 and 9, and they are answered either by saying:

  1. The Mass and the Cross are the same sacrifice eternally present, so they’re the one and the same once-for-all sacrifice (many popular Catholic apologists)
  2. The Mass is a continuation of the one total sacrifice of Jesus that started on Holy Thursday, was completed on earth on the Cross and continues in an unbloody manner in the Mass. (Hahn)
  3. Jesus’ bloody death was once(and for all), but his unbloody sacrifice is repeated (Gibbons)
  4. Jesus entered the Holy of Holies once, but there he goes on offering sacrifices, continually offering his sacrifice of the Mass. (Sungenis)

In addition to asking which one you think is the best explanation and WHY (though some of them overlap and aren’t mutually exclusive), I’d like to raise the issue of Hebrews 10. Now there the contrast is made between the OT sacrifices that were a reminder of sin (10:3) and the perfect once-for-all NT sacrifice that takes away sin. Problem: in the Mass there’s a reminder of sin. Secondly, in 10:18 it says where sins have been forgiven there is no more offering for sin. Problem: we’ve been forgiven, but there is the Mass. 10:14 says the sacrifice has perfected for all times those who are sanctified. Problem: if so, why do we need to partake of the sacrifice many times and yet be imperfect? Those of you who’ve heard debates of Sungenis and White know some of these issues. But is there a good, plausible, coherent Catholic understanding of all these passages? Personally I’m perhaps finding most trouble with 10:18, then 10:3, then 10:14. I can elaborate on some thoughts on responses later on. Anyway I think in building a positive case one could start with 10:5 that talks about the body of Christ and sacrifice- well that’s of course what the Mass is about… Anyway appreciate your insights - especially if they’re good ones:)


#2

It is important to remember that there is no time in eternity. Jesus offered himself once and for all on the cross in time. Nevertheless, his sacrifice is on going in eternity. Jesus “holds His priesthood permanently” (Heb 7:24; cf. 8:3), and St. Paul affirms that Jesus’s ministry continues now in the heavenly sanctuary, for He “indeed intercedes for us…at the right hand of God” (Rom 8:34).

Jesus sacrifice is once and for all, and it is on going. We see the flip side of this in Hebrews 10:26-27 which says:

“For if we sin deliberately after receiving the knowledge of the truth, there **no longer remains a sacrifice **for sins, but a fearful prospect of judgment, and a fury of fire which will consume the adversaries.”

It is the joining of heaven and earth in a great mystical mystery when we celebrate the mass and Jesus “once and for all sacrifice” before the Father in heaven is “re-presented” on earth. This is the fulfillment of the prophecy in Malachi 1:11-12 which says:

“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. But you profane it when you say that the Lord’s table is polluted, and the food for it may be despised.”

It is the mass that contains the perfect offering, and it is the mass that is offered everyday throughout the world from the rising of the sun until its setting.

Likewise, Jesus promises to give us his body and blood as true food and true drink in the discourse on the bread of life in John 6. He institutes this promise at the Last Supper. At the Last Supper it is bread and wine made into the body and blood of Jesus and Jesus “commands” that this continue and that it be a “memorial” sacrifice. Likewise, in Hebrews we read of Jesus as a priest in the order of Melchiezedek. The connection of bread and wine is thus made again in connection to our high priest Jesus.

We are able to participate in the once and for all sacrifice of Jesus through the mass where the risen Christ in Heaven is joined with us on earth in the re-presentation of the Eucahrist.
I quoted Hebrews 10:26-27 which once again says:

“For if we sin deliberately after receiving the knowledge of the truth, there **no longer remains a sacrifice **for sins, but a fearful prospect of judgment, and a fury of fire which will consume the adversaries.” What is the deliberate sin spoken of in this passaage. Verse 25 tells us what it is. Verse 25 speaks of “neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some.” This is a reference to failing to meet together at mass in worship and receiving the Eucharist. We know this because of the context before it that speaks of Jesus sacrifice. The Eucharist is that sacrifice.

My explanation may not be all that well stated, but I hope that it gets you started in the right direction.


#3

In the mass there is forgiveness of venial sin and not merely a reminder of sin.

Attending mass does not necessarily mean that you are forgiven. Repentance is also required. Likewise, scripture indicates that sanctification is a process. Yes, we will be sanctified and perfected for all time, but that is in eternity. That is why the book of Hebrews also says that we must “Strive for peace with all men, and for the holiness without which no one will see the Lord”[see Hebrews 12:14].

It is important to put all of these things in the full context of the book of Hebrews as well as that of the whole bible.

I hope this helps.


#4

I’m sorry to say it didn’t help much. You seem to support the 1) view I presented. First of all I’d disagree there is no time in eternity, I think the opposite is true, there is ALL time in eternity.
Anyhow.
10:3 - whether the Mass forgives venial sins is quite irrelevant, Paul is drawing a contrast between the OT sacrifices and the NT and the point is sort of lost if there is a continuous sacrifice in the NT.
10:14 - it says the one offering has perfected forever those who are sanctified. I agree we must read all of Hebrews and I think this means that those who are in the state of grace (being sanctified) have been perfected forever by that sacrifice in the sense that if they die they’ll be forever saved, but again, they’re being sanctified, which means the sacrifice is continually making them more holy and pure, and that will be valid even in purgatory.
10:18 - I think the point is very different from 10:26-27 which I take to mean there is no longer an application of Christ’s sacrifice for those who have mortally sinned. 10:18 seems to say there is no more sacrifice after the Cross since the Cross forgave sins.


#5

The element of time is important in so far as eternity is one big moment of past, present, and future. The sacrifice of Jesus is not repeated; Jesus died once. Nevertheless, the sacrifice of Jesus is forever part of eternity in that he stands at the altar as the lamb that has been slain.[see Rev for this] As a result, his sacrifice is perpetual. We share in that when heaven touches earth in the re-presentation of that sacrifice at the mass. There is no different or new sacrifice after the cross. There is only the re-presentation of the one sacrifice at the mass. This makes Jesus sacrifice both perpetual in time and in eternity.

You might find the following link helpful:
haydock1859.tripod.com/id254.html


#6

WOW!

My goodness I’ve been dreaming and wishing I’d find a GOOD CATHOLIC BIBLE COMMENTARY for who knows how long and almost despaired already thinking there is no such thing, that one is truly a treasure! It answered 10:18 for me to be sure as well! But my goodness, a pre-liberal/modernist Catholic Bible commentary! Just what I need! And by a priest too, and an English one at that as well! As in he’ll have an apologetic approach since he knows the Prot. arguments;) Wow. Thanks!


#7

I agree…Haydock rocks:thumbsup:


#8

“why do we need to partake of the sacrifice many times and yet be imperfect?”

I think it’s important to note that we constantly*** need the sacrifice of Christ on the cross (which Protestants acknowledge) to provide us forgiveness every time we sin. Most of us lead imperfect lives, regardless of how many times we accept that sacrifice again. We sin alot, and must plead that sacrifice again and again.

Does that mean that the sacrifice of Christ on the cross is imperfect? Never. It means that we are imperfect, though it is perfect–perfectly able to heal our every imperfection, every time. This is what makes Christ’s sacrifice unique: not that it will suddenly stop us from sinning, but that as often as, and every time, we sin, it is able to heal us. That one sacrifice is enough to forgive us every time we fall throughout our lifetime.

Now, the sacrifice of the Mass is the one sacrifice of Christ on the cross: it makes His *one *sacrifice constantly present to us. Every time I sin, I flee to it. It is perfectly capable of healing my every sin, every time I sin. I am imperfect, it is perfect. I need no other.


#9

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