Issue 1: Questions About The Mass


#1

One of the most central things in the life of a Catholic is the Celebration of the Mass and I don’t understand it very much at all.

Couple of Questions:

  1. Why the emphasis on Latin? Is having the worship service in Latin something that was handed down from the Apostles? If not, then why has there been so much resistance, historically, to using the language of the people actually attending it?

  2. Why does it have all the form & ritual that it has? I mean, is the “Catholic way” the only way to have a true worship service? I love the church services at my current church and my former (I changed to my husband’s church when we got engaged), and it’s **nothing **at all like a Catholic service. Did Christ or the Apostles teach that we must worship in the Catholic style?

  3. Last thing, for now… How is the Mass a “sacrifice”? How can we, as human beings, present Christ again when it was He who laid down His own life once and for all?

I know what I wanted to say and ask and I’m not sure I used the best wording here. Trying to type out my thoughts/questions is a lot harder than I thought I would be.

Please do not take offense to my questions. I know that Discussion Boards tend to get pretty heated, in general. But I promise that I am only someone who’s seeking to know God more intimately than I ever have in my life, so I speak (*I guess I should say, “I type”) *with a genuine heart and pure intentions.

So, if something seems to be rude or harsh, assume that I just made a poor choice of words or simply don’t know how to best ask my questions.

Thx, in advance!


#2

I’m sure you’ll get some very good answers and links to some very good resources.

Unfortunately, your not going to get short and simple answers that will really explain these issues fully. I’d suggest you take the time to follow the links that I’m sure somebody with better resource gathering skills than I will provide.

But essentially:

1.) Latin was the universal language of scholarship and theology for quite some time. With the mass in Latin, it was the same mass everywhere in the world. (This has its appeal.) Now of course most Masses are not held in Latin but in the local language but I’d recommend attending a Latin Mass sometime. It has a “feel” all it’s own.

2.) The basic form of the Mass can be traced back to apostolic times. Every aspect of the Mass from it’s basic structure, motions, prayers, liturgical vestments etc. is full of meaning which can be traced back to very ancient practices that have been maintained for millennia.

3.) The Mass is His sacrifice presented again, in remembrance on Him as He commanded.

Chuck


#3

What was one of the first things Jesus did after His Resurrection?

The Mass!

On the way to Emmaus, Jesus unlocked the OT Scriptures and told the disciples how they related to him. To Catholics this is the Liturgy of the Word, where we read the OT Scriptures, recite a Psalm, read a NT Scripture and then the Gospel. The priest then talks of how the Gospels teach us today.

Then Jesus blessed the bread, gave thanks, broke the bread. This is the Liturgy of the Eucharist. It’s interesting to note that the Disciples recognized Jesus “in the breaking of the bread”.


#4

Re: Latin - it wasn’t so much that there was “resistance” to using the local language, it had more to do with the unity of the Church and being able to walk into any Catholic Church anywhere in the world and the Mass would be the same. For many years, if a person was educated, he could read and write Latin. The statues and stained glass windows (most of which were destroyed during the Protestant Revolution) were actually used to help those who could not read understand their salvation history. Church documents are first written in Latin to this day because Latin is a “dead” language, meaning that words don’t change their meaning over time. A Classic example in our English language (a “living” language) would be the word “gay.” It used to mean happy, remember?

A friend of mine wrote this article that explains the Mass - I am sure you will find it helpful:

Jesus in the Catholic Mass


#5

There is no great emphasis on Latin. 99% of all Masses are in the vernacular. But Latin does have undeniable benefits, which the events of the past 40 years have clearly demonstrated. For example, the current English translation of the Mass is widely considered to be atrocious, and hardly a translation at all but almost a different thing entirely. Unfortunately, people with agendas can (and do) cause bad translations to come out of the official Latin prayers.

Also, Mass in Latin is the same anywhere. One does not need to worry about mistakenly stumbling into a Spanish Mass, Creole Mass, Tagalog Mass, Vietnamese Mass. Latin symbolizes, reflects and contributes to the unity of the universal Church.

One more thing is that with the fragmentation caused by dozens of vernacular translations, the universal treasure of sacred music which the Church built up for 1500 years became largely useless, and new music had to be quickly written in all those vernaculars. The result is a vastly poorer quality of music in the Mass now (the Catholic Church is widely ridiculed for the horrible music to which it subjects the average Catholic).

  1. Why does it have all the form & ritual that it has? I mean, is the “Catholic way” the only way to have a true worship service? I love the church services at my current church and my former (I changed to my husband’s church when we got engaged), and it’s **nothing **at all like a Catholic service. Did Christ or the Apostles teach that we must worship in the Catholic style?

Yes, essentially he did. The essential form of the Catholic Mass (and the Eastern liturgies) traces back to the apostles. It is all focused on, and leading up to, Christ’s redeeming sacrifice, re-presented at each Mass. The form of the Mass imitates Christ’s own life, beginning with his teaching ministry (the Liturgy of the Word), leading to his triumphant entry into Jerusalem (the prayer of the Sanctus - Holy, Holy, Holy Lord), and culminating in his saving sacrifice (the Liturgy of the Eucharist).

  1. Last thing, for now… How is the Mass a “sacrifice”? How can we, as human beings, present Christ again when it was He who laid down His own life once and for all?

The Mass is the re-presentation (presenting again, here and now) the one sacrifice of Christ. Christ’s sacrifice was both in time and outside of time, because as both man and God Christ is both in time and outside of time. Thus his sacrifice did not end at Calvary (though the bloody, human aspect of it did end there). He continues to offer his sacrifice to the Father until the end of the world, the Lamb forever standing as though slain.


#6

I think your questions are well answered here, but I have to recommend (to anyone, especially those who attend Catholic mass) that you read The Lamb’s Supper by Dr. Scott Hahn.

As a protestant he was obsessed with the meaning of the book of revelation and what it meant. He poured over every word and found many answers. Finally he reluctantly attended mass and saw the book happening right before his eyes.

I do want to reiterate: maintaining Latin forces unity which is something we hold dear to our faith. Though there is the allowance for the vernacular, use of Latin for the common parts of the mass is still encouraged.


#7

The best reference I know is Scott Hahn’s Book:

“The Lamb’s Supper”

It is an analysis of the mass from the perspective of someone who is not Catholic who wanted to find out all the faults in Catholic mass and found out how biblically correct it is.


#8

*1) Why the emphasis on Latin? Is having the worship service in Latin something that was handed down from the Apostles? If not, then why has there been so much resistance, historically, to using the language of the people actually attending it?
*
The original language of the liturgy was Greek it bcame the more common language of Latin in the 300’s. Latin has remained the official language of the Catholic Church for the past 1700 years. The problem is that modern languages do not have words with the exact meaning of the Latin words. Modern languages also change.

*2) Why does it have all the form & ritual that it has? I mean, is the “Catholic way” the only way to have a true worship service? I love the church services at my current church and my former (I changed to my husband’s church when we got engaged), and it’s **nothing **at all like a Catholic service. Did Christ or the Apostles teach that we must worship in the Catholic style?
*
Christ did not specify any worship style. He left that up to his Church, The Catholic Church to determine.

*3) Last thing, for now… How is the Mass a “sacrifice”? How can we, as human beings, present Christ again when it was He who laid down His own life once and for all? *

IIt is Christ Himself who acts through the Ordained Priest by virtue of the Sacrament of Holy Orders.
*

**
*


#9

Everyone gets close to the answer I think you are looking for on this, but they leave one thing out.

Jesus is the one re-presenting himself at every mass. The people do not perform the sacrafice other than providing the elements of Bread and Wine. Yes we enter into the mistery and the priest is there “in persona Christi” or in the person of Christ. However there is only one High Priest, and that is Jesus Himself.

Jesus, all at the same time, is Priest and Sacrifice.

Jesus as God, reaches back in time, from 2000 years ago, and brings His same, once for all, sacrafice of Calvary and makes Himself present for you.

You witness THE miracle of miracles at evey Mass!!!


#10
  1. Why does it have all the form & ritual that it has? I mean, is the “Catholic way” the only way to have a true worship service? I love the church services at my current church and my former (I changed to my husband’s church when we got engaged), and it’s nothing at all like a Catholic service. Did Christ or the Apostles teach that we must worship in the Catholic style?

I think this may be important to point out since your husband is obviously from a non-Catholic church…the “Catholic way” is not the only way to worship. You can worship in any form or practice in an infinite array of styles. Worship = the lifting up of God in devotion and praise, (there is no wrong way to praise God)

That being said: the Catholic Mass is not merely a Sunday worship service. The Catholic Mass is the only true sacrifice of Christ, here and now. The Eucharist is the actual Body Blood, Soul and Divinity of Jesus Christ.

When you attend a non-Catholic Sunday service you may be remembering the words of Christ and worshiping (which is all good, but is not the fullest form of worship) but when you attend a Catholic Mass you are taking part in the one sacrifice that was laid down once and for all in the way Christ taught us. (having Christ Himself present to offer up as a sacrifice makes this the fullest form of worship, all music and “style” aside)

There is a distinction between style and substance. Any given Catholic service may have a different style (music, garments, even when to kneel etc…) It is the Eucharist that sets the Catholics apart (the substance) not the style of the mass.


#11

Just to tweak your point here: “Worship” or “service” in the fullest sense ALWAYS involves sacrifice. The idea that worship could happen without sacrifice developed during the Exile after the destruction of the Temple, when Jews were forced to work out a different system to ‘worship.’ Since Christ IS the Temple, the Sacrifice of the Mass His sacrifice in His Temple.


#12

I agree…

“Worship” or “service” in the fullest sense ALWAYS involves sacrifice.

my definition of worship should change from “the lifting up of God” to “a lifting up to God”, (thanks mercygate)

In the living language of English, however, I do think that worship is used synonymous to praise, not always involving sacrifice. But still in its fullest involves sacrifice.


#13

You are right. Catholics often have difficulty communicating with Protestants because frequently use words in a technical and restricted sense (e.g. “substance,” “accident”) when others know only the “dictionary definition.”

In most Protestant circles “worship” does mean “praise”. For us, praise is PART of worship but (as you observe) it is ONLY a part.


#14

Also, the words at the Last Supper give the Apostles the instructions to offer up a Sacrifice.

What we translate as “Do this in memorial to me” is a poor translation.

“Do this” (poien) literally means “offer this up”. Over 70 times in the OT, it’s used in a Sacrificial and Liturgical context.

“memorial” (anamnesis) literally means to “make present”. Catholics teach that we are made present at the Cross when we offer up His Perpetual Sacrifice. This is the same way the Jews are “made present” (anamnesis) at their Passover Feast with their brothers as they fled from Egypt 3500 years ago.

A quick study of these two words - poien and anamnesis - will reveal a lot more of the Sacrifice offered up at the Mass. I know this is brief, but I don’t have enough time to go deeply into this, if someone else would like to follow up for me, please.


#15

Let’s see! :slight_smile:

  1. Why the emphasis on Latin? Is having the worship service in Latin something that was handed down from the Apostles? If not, then why has there been so much resistance, historically, to using the language of the people actually attending it?

a) Latin is the language of the Church and all prayers in mass are translations from Latin.
b) Latin is a dead language and it doesn’t change. Therefore the meaning of the prayers don’t change
c) It is universal and thus it practically emphasizes the universality (catholicism) of the Church

  1. Why does it have all the form & ritual that it has? I mean, is the “Catholic way” the only way to have a true worship service? I love the church services at my current church and my former (I changed to my husband’s church when we got engaged), and it’s **nothing **at all like a Catholic service. Did Christ or the Apostles teach that we must worship in the Catholic style?

Well, there is worship and then there is Holy Mass. Catholics worship alone in their homes or in groups. There are many types of worships. Some are very traditional to the Church and some are simply personal. But what unites us is the mass, which is the highest from of prayer. It is what sustains the Church as the Eucharist should be in the center of our lives.

Now, Holy Mass may seem a bit ritualistic but you must understand that we gather there to experience the greatest miracle ever - bread and wine will change into Jesus Christ Our Lord! The whole Mass is full of symbols which slowly lead us to Calvary. We also value uniformity. We are a Catholic Church and therefore it is the Church who decides how the Mass will look like and not individual priests. If every Church would have a different mass that wouldn’t make us very universal. Strict rules also help to avoid heresies and other problems creeping into the liturgy.

  1. Last thing, for now… How is the Mass a “sacrifice”? How can we, as human beings, present Christ again when it was He who laid down His own life once and for all?

Yes, there is only one sacrifice - but this sacrifice is everlasting. We do not sacrifice Christ in every mass - it is the very same sacrifice that happened 2000 years ago. Jesus is the lamb and he is also the High Priest who presents us this sacrifice. Try listening to Scott Hahn’s talks on the mass (ex-protestant Catholic).
catholicaudio.blogspot.com/2007/08/scott-hahn-lambs-supper-ewtn.html

May God give you peace and lead you to the Truth of the One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church! :slight_smile:


#16

You’ve all given me a lot of things to think about. Give me some time to try and digest it all.

In the meantime, can someone please try to explain to me about the Eucharist?

  • I know that I hear it is literally the Body and Blood of Jesus Christ.

  • But I also don’t think that anyone will tell me that the bread and wine actually taste and feel like flesh and blood

  • But then, Catholics definitely don’t think that it’s merely symbolic

So… I know that there are some things we just won’t understand fully on this side of heaven. But as best as you can, please help me understand!


#17

Because of the way you frame the question, I think you are well on your way to understanding this (as well as ANY of us EVER can understand it).

You are correct. The bread and wine remain to the senses as they appear before the consecration. What changes is the “substance” – the word ‘substance’ is used in a highly technical sense and not the way it is used in general speech. The substance of “breadness” and “wineness” are changed into the Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity of Christ. But the “accidents” – physical properties and appearances – remain.

Here is the article from The Catholic Encyclopedia on the subject.

Catholics are not alone in believing in the Real Presence. The Orthodox all believe it, although they do not define it as narrowly as we do in the West. Lutherans also believe it but they understand it differently from both the East and the West. Most Anglicans also believe it but without pinning down how it happens.


#18

Hi LadyK, your questions are good, and have been answered well here.

There is one distinction about Catholic worship in the mass, that is very different from most protestant forms of worship. When you walk into the Catholic sanctuary, in the center is always Jesus, often depicted on the cross to remind us of His suffering for us, and below that is His altar, where we celebrate His sacrifice for the sins of all mankind. Jesus is in the center because worship is all about Him, not about us or the minister or priest. In most protestant sanctuaries you will find the preacher or minister is in the center and sometimes it seems it is all about him or even her nowadays.

There is a faithful Catholic convert, formerly a protestant pastor, Michael Cumbie, who operates a ministry today trying to remove or reduce the wall set up in the last 500 years between Catholics and our seperated brothers and sisters in the many non-catholic Christian traditions. You can find Michael at mikecumbie.org/index.htm. He offers a presentation on Catholic worship that needs to be heard by our seperated brethern, and cradle Catholics as well to remind us that at mass we are there to worship our God, not to be entertained or just have a Bible study with a couple of hymns thrown in.

Open yourself to the wisdom of the Holy Spirit on this issue and you will see how important true worship is. And there is nothing more intimate that receiving the Body and Blood, Soul and Divinity of Jesus Himself in the Holy Eucharist, which we take into our bodies. The Church is the Bride of Christ, and Jesus fills his Bride in a way that no other experience can.

I wish you His Peace
Mike


#19

The essence of the Eucharist is that God is now body, blood and soul as well as divinity. And we are body, blood and soul. For God to perfectly unite with us here on earth, his entire self must unite with our entire self. That isn’t happening with the spiritual-to-spiritual uniting that Protestants believe is the only form God unites with us on this earth. But it does happen in the Eucharist.

To put it another way, the Eucharist is an ongoing affirmation that God, in the Person of Jesus Christ, has truly and fully become one of us. Not just for 33 years back in Palestine, but always and forever. And that means here and now. If Christ is to enter into our midst in his fullness, that must include his body, blood and soul as well as his divinity. And that is exactly how he enters into our midst at each and every Mass.


#20

Ah, but what does the glorified, risen body of Christ “really” taste like?


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