Some of you may have quite a bit of background in this area. Truthfully, I do not. I have been reading a lot on both sides of the issue related to the Mass and my question and primary concern is below:
In the Book of Hebrews, Jesus is presented as the new and everlasting High Priest who enters into the tabernacle in Heaven to atone for the sins of the world. Then, Hebrews 9 reads as follows (pay special attention to the bolded text):
For Christ did not enter a sanctuary made with human hands that was only a copy of the true one; he entered heaven itself, now to appear for us in God’s presence. 25 Nor did he enter heaven to offer himself again and again, the way the high priest enters the Most Holy Place every year with blood that is not his own. 26 Otherwise Christ would have had to suffer many times since the creation of the world. But he has appeared once for all at the culmination of the ages to do away with sin by the sacrifice of himself. 27 Just as people are destined to die once, and after that to face judgment, 28 so Christ was sacrificed once to take away the sins of many; and he will appear a second time, not to bear sin, but to bring salvation to those who are waiting for him.
The Catholic Mass is a re-presentation of Christ’s original sacrifice. According to Catholic teaching, at the words of institution, the real body and blood of Christ mysteriously become present on the alter and are then offered up as a sacrifice to God for the forgiveness of sins of the Christian people. NOTE that I understand that the Mass is NOT a new sacrifice. There is, however, a NEW offering. Why? Catholics say continuous offerings are necessary because God’s people continue to sin and are continuously in need of redemption.
However, doesn’t this violate the clear teaching of Hebrews, which says, in part, “Nor did he [Jesus] enter heaven to offer himself again and again”?
I think you may be getting some terminology confused
yes, the mass is the re-presentation of Christ’s sacrifice. it’s also the memorial of the last supper, which he wants us to repeat
if I understasnd correctly, there are three parts to the jewish concept of sacrifice, the bringing of the gift, the slaying of the animal used and then the consumption of the meat. all of that together is the whole package ofoffering and sacrifice
so how do you tie those things together? well, we have the unconsecrated bread and wine, which is our offering, if you will. note that, God does not say we don’t need to offer anything, the book of malachi says he will reject jewish offerings in favor of gentile ones.
then after the consecration, it becomes the body and blood of Christ, which is mystically tied to his passion, which was completed only once. this is what Jes smeant in the gospel of john when he said we needed to eat and drink his flesh and blood. he didn’t mean his actualy flesh on his human body but he was going to give us a way to partake of his glorified self
and we know that jewish sacrifices were just a prefigurement of Christ’s sacrifice, and no sacrifice is complete without the consumption of the gifts brought and killed
so in this way, we offer our simple human gifts of bread and wine, then they are transformed by the grace of God to the body and blood of Christ. but of course, Christ is an eternal sacrifice, so it doesn’t need to be done again. it applies to all time periods.
remember the passage in revelation, where JOhn sees an eternal lamb in front of God’s throne? his passion was only once, so we’re not killing Christ over and over again. which is what Hebrews is referring to. and yes, Christ is the high priest, the priests are just acting out the ministry on earth, they are simply sharing in his priesthood, it’s not their own power
we need new offerings because they keep getting consumed at communion time essentially.
does it makes more sense? I don’t know if my explanation is really that good. I’m sure someone who understands better will come along.
Your answer for why we celebrate the mass is incorrect. We celebrate because Jesus Himself asked us to, a request recorded in each of the Gospels, and Saint Paul’s first letter to the Corinthians:
While they were eating, Jesus took bread, said the blessing, broke it, and giving it to his disciples said, “Take and eat; this is my body.” Then he took a cup, gave thanks,* and gave it to them, saying, “Drink from it, all of you, for this is my blood of the covenant, which will be shed on behalf of many for the forgiveness of sins. I tell you, from now on I shall not drink this fruit of the vine until the day when I drink it with you new in the kingdom of my Father.” Then, after singing a hymn, they went out to the Mount of Olives.
1 Corinthians 11:25:
In the same way, after supper he took the cup, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood; do this, whenever you drink it, in remembrance of me.”
In Matthew, we find Christ setting an example of liturgy, singing a hymn following the consecration of the Host and Chalice. In Saint Paul’s letter, we are taught that we celebrate the mass “in remembrance” of Christ.
We celebrate the Mass due to the positive command to so, a command recorded in scripture. It is thus illogical to suggest that the Mass contradicts scripture.
Catholics see God as transcending time, unaffected by the changes that the unfolding of history bring.
As the Creator of time and space, Catholics believe that God is not subject to the timeline he created. Just like all the letters of this sentence are available to you and me at the same time, all the events and free choices of human history were/are equally present to God. God does not foresee the future or make it happen as he foretells as much as he is telling us about what is immediately present from his unique vantage point.
Because of this transcendent position the patriarchs are not dead to God though their passing occurred centuries ago. (Matthew 22:31-33) The spilled blood of Abel and all the martyrs is just as fresh to God as the day these died even though these events are no longer present to you and me.–Genesis 4:10; Revelation 6:9-10; Luke 11:50-51; Hebrews 12:24.
Because of this too, the Sacrifice of the Cross was an ensured event of history even before the earth supported life. (1 Peter 1:18-20) God could and did act with forebearance on behalf of those who sinned before the actual event of the Crucifixion even when it was still a future event for these sinners. (Romans 3:24-25) In the same way the Blood of Christ is still a fresh sacrifice before God that can be applied to us some 2000 years later. For it is written that the Blood of Christ cleanses us from all sin even though it has spilled and disappeared into the ground far off in the past.–1 John 1:7.
The Mass makes this one event of the Sacrifice of the Cross present in Sacramental form. It is the same sacrifice that transcends time and space to make itself present on all the altars of the world whenever and wherever Mass is celebrated. What Christ offered on the Cross in the past is now, by sacramental action, miraculous offered by Him for you. Just as it is not another Christ that is being offered to you, neither is it another sacrifice. If the bread and the cup we all share is one over all the generations of Christians, why is the sacrifice not the same one as well?–1 Corinthians 10:16-17.
[FONT=Comic Sans MS]Heb 10:25-29 is about the mass on Sunday (the day), & [/FONT]CCC [/FONT]2178
[FONT=Arial Black]Heb 10: (all emphasis mine)
23 Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for he who promised is faithful; 24 and let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, 25 not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the moreas you see the Day drawing near. 26 For if we sin deliberatelyafter receiving the knowledge of the truth, there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins, 27* but a fearful prospect of judgment, and a fury of fire which will consume the adversaries. 28* A man who has violated the law of Moses dies without mercy at the testimony of two or three witnesses. 29* How much worse punishment do you think will be deserved by the man who has spurned the Son of God, and profaned the blood of the covenant by which he was sanctified, and outraged the Spirit of grace?
So dissecting that
“after receiving the knowledge of the truth”,
*]by deliberately missing mass on Sunday, is already a very serious sin worthy of judgment, and a fury of fire which will consume the adversaries
*]because there is no sacrifice for sins as a result of one deliberately missing mass.
*]It is a profaning of the blood of the covenant for deliberately missing mass
*]It spurns the son of God and outrages the spirit of grace for deliberately missing mass
[/LIST]I can sense the question you are asking yourself now is, WHY does deliberately missing mass on the “Day” (Sunday) do all that to a soul?
[LIST] ]When Hebrews mentions the sacrifice for sin and blood of the covenant it refers to the Eucharist. The summit of our faith. Why you ask?
[LIST] ]Jesus used that language in Matthew 26:26-28. This is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins when instituting the Eucharist. Jesus further describes the importance of the Eucharist for the soul. ]Jn 6:53 unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you have no life in you. 54 Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise them up at the last day. Life of the soul is grace in the Eucharist.*
[/LIST]Therefore, the person who "after receiving the knowledge of the truth " then deliberately misses the Eucharist on Sunday, has those consequences described above, befall them.
so for them, who deliberately miss mass (the Eucharist) on Sunday,
*]no sacrifice for sin is left for THEM.
*]they profane the blood of the covenant
*]they spurn the son of God & outrage the spirit of grace
*]judgment awaits them
[/LIST]THAT’S a calamity of consequences on one’s soul…agreed?
I think your explanation is just fine. I understand it very well.
The issue I am having, however, is NOT in the concept of multiple sacrifices. I agree that only one sacrifice has occurred and that this is the Catholic teaching. Where we get into trouble is at the very end of your comment, when you said “we need new offerings because they keep getting consumed at communion time essentially.”
I think, from the Catholic point of view, we need new offerings because we have new sins, but the point I am making is that in the section in Hebrews I referenced in my first post, it says very clearly that Jesus did NOT go to Heaven to offer himself more than once. So, how then can Catholics claim to do that? Essentially, it seems to be violating the plain reading of Hebrews, but I am absolutely willing to hear an alternative interpretation since this is a very complicated issue.
Those are all fair points according to Catholic theology, but it doesn’t really get at my question. I am not concerned with multiple sacrifices, I recognize that this is not the case. I am concerned with multiple offerings of that same sacrifice. The Hebrews text seems to suggest that multiple offerings are not needed. In one sense, you are right that it is the same offering, but I don’t think that’s what Catholics believe. I think Catholic teaching is that it’s the same Christ sacrificed, but offered multiple times…Perhaps I am wrong.
But, you never addressed my question. My question was: How can Catholics make MULTIPLE offerings of Christ as a sacrifice when Hebrews specifically says Christ did NOT go to Heaven to offer himself up multiple times, as I cited in the text? That’s the question I am concerned with. I have no doubt that if Christ is actually being offered up, all of your points hold true.
For from the rising of the sun even to the going down, my name is great among the Gentiles, and in every place there is sacrifice, and there is offered to my name a clean oblation: for my name is great among the Gentiles, saith the Lord of hosts.
we need new offerings because we need to consecrate the hosts, our offerings doen’st take away our sins, Christ’s sacrifice does. we need new bread and wine to replace the ones that get eaten.
we’re offering bread and wine, not Jesus. when the offering is made, the consecration hasn’t happened yet.
Christ’s sacrifice covers all time, which is how he is able to unite himself with our offerings without it being a new one because he is eternally offering himself. his offering did not end after he died, it’s still going on
God lives outside of time, we don’t, the gifts we bring are perishable and need to be replaced, but the mystery of the eucharist allows us to join to Christ’s eternity
According to Catholic theology, each time the Mass is celebrated, the one and only Sacrifice of the Cross is made present in our time. In layman’s terms Christ makes a reality of the past miraculously present in a sacramental form. Christ is not offered many times, but instead the One and Only Sacrifice is constantly being made available for all.
It like when a movie theater offers a movie again and again. The actual action in the movie happens only once but the cinema offers the same film again and again.
Still think I am somehow misrepresenting Catholic doctrine or got it wrong? It’s okay. I’ve been there myself.
I used to be one of Jehovah’s Witnesses, and this was one of my favorite points to “attack” Catholics about. I was so sure I was right with my Watchtower doctrine because I wanted to see things not from the official Catholic Church’s point of view but from my own. Like you I even was ready to say that the official Catholic doctrine may be one thing, but that since individual Catholics might believe another then that is what proved my point. I also didn’t want the Catholic teaching to be correct knowing that if it was then I had to leave the JWs and become a Catholic. And I definitely didn’t want to do that because I was already convinced that Catholics had to be wrong.
If you have a similar view then nothing I can say will do. We keep telling you one thing but you don’t want to believe us, as if we a lying or don’t know our own doctrine. Believe me, I made sure I knew what it was. I didn’t accept it lightly or even easily. I wanted to believe that what was happening in the Mass fit the Watchtower teaching even up to a year after I left the JWs…and I was attending Mass soon after I left the JWs, hovering in the background wanted to believe that Catholics might say one thing, but it’s was really multiple sacrifices!
I would even read the Catechism and other publications from the Church and just not let what I was reading convince me. The JW that was still inside me kept telling me that these written explanations were somehow contrived to trick me into accepting the “real” multiple-sacrifice Mass that all Catholics knew they were really celebrating.
But I had to painfully admit that I was my only stumbling block to accepting what Catholics were telling me. I didn’t believe what they were saying about their own doctrines because I didn’t want to believe. If Catholics didn’t believe like the JWs claimed they did then I had wasted 11 years preaching anti-catholic doctrine.
Guess what? I wasted 11 years publicly going door-to-door preaching anti-catholic doctrine and even that the world was going to end before the 21st century arrived! The moment I swallowed my pride was the moment I could trust what Catholics were saying about their own beliefs about the Mass.
Despite what I’ve said you admit that you don’t think it’s what we really believe. Sorry, that I can’t help you with. You are your own stumbling block if that is the case. It does not make you a bad person, it only makes you as human as I am.
The hardest thing for me was not admitting that Catholics were right about this or that. No, for me the hardest thing was realizing I was incorrect. Many of us find such a possibility so revolting that we just don’t want to deal with it. Catholic teaching is that there is only one Sacrifice, but if you want to believe that I am either lying or don’t know my own doctrines, then all I can say is: Hey, I understand. I’ve been there.
I also think you are hung up with our interchange of the use of “offering” and “sacrifice.” They can be synonymous, which is the way we as Catholics generally use the terms.
While Mass is an offering, what is offered is the Sacrifice of the Cross by Christ and not a new sacrifice of Christ. Christ is not offering himself on the Cross again. The offering of Mass is not a new offering of Christ either.
I am a Catholic of Jewish origin. As such I celebrate Passover each year (yes,with full permission and approval of the Church). For Jews our celebration of Passover is not a memorial of the event but a participation in the Exodus. Not only did my forefathers leave Egypt, but because I was still in their loins at the time and they are now in my DNA that can be confirmed by science, it was I who left Egypt on that night. The Passover is not a mere reminder of what once was. We Jews believe it is a reality we are still living today, from the Fall of the Second Temple to the Spanish Inquisition to the horrors of the Holocaust and our struggles today…I am still making that march to freedom and to the Promised Land. It is one event but I actively participate in the offering each year.
Catholics view the Mass in the same way. This is no multiplication of offerings, it is the participation in the one and only Offering of the Cross. Just as Jews celebrate the Passover many times but view it as a participation in the one Passover and Exodus, so too Catholics view the many observances of Mass as a participation in one single historic event.
I think you misunderstand the Catholic theology of the Eucharist. The Church teaches we do need new offerings because the Eucharist is the very body and blood of Christ, continuously being offered up to God for the forgiveness of sins. That’s precisely why engaging in the sacrament is said to forgive venial sins. It cannot forgive mortal sins because a mortal sin separates a person, by definition, from Christ and the Church completely.
Part of the problem is that we are using “offering” in two different ways. You are referring to the part of the service when the “offering” is brought forward by the people of God, but I am referring to the part of the service where Christ’s sacrifice is actually made present on the alter and “offered up” to God. The liturgy is crystal clear. The Mass offers a sacrifice to God. Yes, it’s the same sacrifice, but it is being offered numerous times. That’s my point.
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