Propitiation and the Mass


#1

In what sense is the Mass propitiatory as is stated in Paragraph 1367 of the CCC, 2nd Ed (not stated in 1st Edition, BTW).

Specifically, a Protestant friend defines propitiation as being equivalent to atonement. In other words, Jesus’ redemption of the human race by His Cross was propitiation. My friend distinguishes this from the need for each individual to receive the forgiveness that was made possible by Calvary.

Here are his words:
"[size=2]Rev. 3:20[/size] ‘Behold, I stand at the door and knock; if anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and will dine with him, and he with Me.’

Forgiveness and propitiation are two different isssues. The knocking at the door is the result of the propitiation accomplished at Calvary. There would be no knock on the door if the Atonement at Calvary had not taken place. Forgiveness is another matter. To be forgiven, one must open the door. The Catechism claims that propitiation takes place during the Mass."

How do I respond?


#2

The Mass brings forgiveness, expiation, and propitiation.

Just ask your friend: when Jesus died, did be bring forgiveness? (The answer is yes, because during the Last Supper, he explicitly said that his blood would be shed for the remission of sins). And of course God’s “wrath” was turned away from us due to Calvary.

We Catholics believe that the Mass is Calvary made present, and as such, the Mass brings the once-for-all sacrifice and all it benefits to us.

Therefore you must show your friend that the Mass is the same Sacrifice as Calvary.


#3

Hence Jesus’ words, "***Do this ***(better translated as “offer this up” - used in the OT most often in a sacrificial manner) in memory of me" (“anamnesis” - literally “make present”).


#4

The Sacrifice on the Cross was a propitiation.
The Mass is the same Sacrifice.
Therefore, it is also a propitiation.


#5

Here’s the problem. Jesus only had to make atonement once. If atonement = propitiation, then the Mass is propitiatory only in the sense that it is the same sacrifice as Calvary. However, that does not seem to be the sense in which the Catechism says that the Mass is propitiatory.


#6

I’d say it’s propiatory for each individual in the sense that we each, in our participation in the Mass and our reception of the Eucharist when we do receive it, unite ourselves with that sacrifice of Calvary and offer it, or have the priest do so, on our behalf.

Much as in the Old Testament the priests of the Temple would every day offer animal and other sacrifices, not just for their own personal sins but for the sins of all the people too, on their behalf.

Of course the only sacrifice we have that is acceptable to be offered in this way is Christ himself. Being that the sacrifice of Calvary occurred beyond time we can offer his sacrifice again and again. We need to because we are within time, and keep sinning again and again, of course.


#7

Trent seems to explicitely state that the Mass is proptiatory because through it we obtain forgivness of sins, but this is a different definition of propitiatory than what my friend uses.

“And forasmuch as, in this divine sacrifice which is celebrated in the mass, that same Christ is contained and immolated in an unbloody manner, who once offered Himself in a bloody manner on the altar of the cross; the holy Synod teaches, that this sacrifice is truly propritiatory and that by means thereof this is effected, that we obtain mercy, and find grace in seasonable aid, if we draw nigh unto God, contrite and penitent, with a sincere heart and upright faith, with fear and reverence. For the Lord, appeased by the oblation thereof, and granting the grace and gift of penitence, forgives even heinous crimes and sins.” Council of Trent, 22nd Session, Paragraph II (eph added).


#8

So your friend is saying the Christ forgives our sins through our Baptism and we are free from sin from then on?

Catholics teach that Christ forgives our sins at Baptism, but then we must repent and seek forgiveness for any sins after that.

Is this what you are getting at, maybe, or am I just confused?


#9

It is exactly the same sense the Catechism uses when it says the Mass is propitiatory. In fact, it’s the only sense, otherwise the Mass will be a different sacrifice, that that is not Catholic teaching.


#10

Is Christ’s death made present?

Does Christ die on the altar?

Therefore you must show your friend that the Mass is the same Sacrifice as Calvary.

Christ died at Calvary.

Does He then die on Catholic altars?


#11

Yes. And his Resurrection. And his Ascension.

Does Christ die on the altar?

No. Neither does he rise. Neither does he ascend.

Christ died at Calvary.

Yes.

Does He then die on Catholic altars?

No.

And before you say we’re implementing a double-standard or double-talk, a word study on zikkaron (Heb)/anamnesis (Gk) goes a long way.


#12

Is Christ’s death made present?

Yes. And his Resurrection. And his Ascension.

I thought Calvary was made present.

Christ was not raised on Calvary…nor did He ascend during His sacrifice on the Hill.

Hmmm.

Does Christ die on the altar?

No. Neither does he rise. Neither does he ascend.

Yes.

Yet His Ascension is made present.

An ascension where one does not ascend.

Very profound.

Christ died at Calvary.

Yes.

Does He then die on Catholic altars?

No.

So Calvary is made truly present on RC altars, and Christ died on Calvary, yet the present Christ on Calvary does not die on RC altars.

Sure.

The “same” sacrifice where there is not the same death.

Profound idea where there is no death of a lamb that is sacrificed. Is that what God’s Word says?


#13

Actually, it’s the whole Paschal Mystery that’s made present, and that includes Calvary. Again, study zikkaron and anamnesis.

Yet His Ascension is made present.

An ascension where one does not ascend.

Very profound.

Again, the whole Paschal Mystery is present, inclusing the ascension. At Mass Jesus doesn’t ascend since he is already in heaven, but through sacred remembrance, the event is present to us.

So Calvary is made truly present on RC altars, and Christ died on Calvary, yet the present Christ on Calvary does not die on RC altars.

Sure.

Yes. That’s right. His death is present, yet he doesn’t die agin. He is alive and glorified, but we sacramentally recall his death, symbolized by the separate consecration of bread and wine. He is alive under both species, his death is recalled and made present.

The “same” sacrifice where there is not the same death.

Profound idea where there is no death of a lamb that is sacrificed. Is that what God’s Word says?

Look we’re not trying to double-talk you. This is a mystery and is rooted in Scripture.

Yep. It’s the same sacrifice; Calvary is made present, just as it is present in heaven for all time. The letter to the Hebrews rightly calls Christ the eternal High Priest who by definition must have something to offer. Since his priesthood remains forever, his offering is also forever. If his sacrifice was a one-time event, then he cannot by definition be an eternal priest. That offering is him, and his sacrifice is his death, yet he is alive and remains alive forever. We also see in Revelation a lamb standing as if slain. The reminders of his death are always present in heaven. From Hebrews and Revelation, Christ is both eternal priest and eternal victim. But to God, to remember is to be made present. God is beyond time.

Christ died only once. It is that same death and resurrection that is made present at Mass. No he does not die again since that is not possible, and neither do we worship a dead Christ at Mass. Jesus does not die again, but his death 2000 years ago is made present. It is the same remembrance the Jews used before Christ when they celebrated the zikkaron of the Passover. We too celebrate in zikkaron/anamnesis of Calvary.

In short, if you accept the Biblical notion of Christ as the eternal priest, there has to be an eternal sacrifice. There is only one eternal offering.


#14

Read Malachi one more time. For from the rising of the sun, even to its setting, my name is great among the nations; And everywhere they bring sacrifice to my name, and a pure offering; For great is my name among the nations, says the LORD of hosts.

Read Revelation. “***I saw a Lamb, standing as though slain”. ***Christ at the heavenly altar, is continuously offering Himself up as the Sacrifice. Do you want to ask Him if He dies at the Catholic Altar.


#15

You are a former Catholic, and you do not know this?

Either these are purely rhetorical questions or you are woefully ignorant.

Did you really “leave” the Catholic Church or were you never really present? :confused:

How old were you when you stopped learning your Catholic faith?

12? 13?


#16

As I read the statement from Trent again, I believe that I can see the same distinction that my friend makes (propitiation = atonement but then each person needs to receive forgiveness).

“And forasmuch as, in this divine sacrifice which is celebrated in the mass, that same Christ is contained and immolated in an unbloody manner, who once offered Himself in a bloody manner on the altar of the cross; the holy Synod teaches, that this sacrifice is truly propritiatory and that by means thereof this is effected**,** that we obtain mercy, and find grace in seasonable aid, if we draw nigh unto God, contrite and penitent, with a sincere heart and upright faith, with fear and reverence. For the Lord, appeased by the oblation thereof, and granting the grace and gift of penitence, forgives even heinous crimes and sins.” Council of Trent, 22nd Session, Paragraph II (eph added).

The phrase in red states that the Mass is propitiatory because it re-presents the same sacrifice as Calvary. The phrase in blue notes that each person must approach to receive mercy. So, there is the two-fold distinction.

Where I had the trouble was with the black bold (by means thereof) which I took to mean that the council was equating propitiation with forgiveness. That’s not the case. Rather, as my friend states, Calvary enabled us to receive forgivness, but that reception is contingent upon us being moved by grace to “draw nigh to God.”:newidea:


#17

Same sacrifice as Calvary. Except the Mass is an UNBLOODY sacrifice.

It’s in the Catholic Catechism.


#18

I am more than familiar with all the usual double-talk, Randy.


#19

And how did the early fathers interpret this verse?

Is Jesus that pure offering they are talking about?

Read Revelation. “***I saw a Lamb, standing as though slain”. ***Christ at the heavenly altar, is continuously offering Himself up as the Sacrifice. Do you want to ask Him if He dies at the Catholic Altar.

Continuously offering Himself up?

My Scriptures don’t say that.

The Holy Spirit has told us:

Hbr 7:27 “He did once for all when He offered up Himself.”

Hbr 9:14 “how much more will the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered Himself without blemish to God, cleanse your conscience from dead works to serve the living God?”

Hbr 9:28 “Christ was offered once to bear the sins of many”

There was only one offering and it was offered.

There was only one offering and only Christ Himself offered it.

There was only one offering after which Christ sat down on High.

Hbr 10:12 “But this Man, after He had offered one sacrifice for sins forever, sat down at the right hand of God”

Let’s now recall the Creed.

The Creed says Christ is seated at the right hand of the Father. If any theology has Christ perpetually offering Himself, then He has yet to sit down as the Creed says.

That Christ offered Himself ONCE is spoken of in past tense by the Holy Spirit.

Secondly, ONCE was only as long as to give the Holy Spirit the ability in Hebrews to say: “after He had offered one sacrifice for sins forever, sat down at the right hand of God

By definition, that “ONCE” ended right before the “AFTER.”

Christ’s offering was completed by the time Hebrews was written.

Continuous offerings, by definition, do not have any “AFTER.”


#20

Regarding Malachi, I don’t know. Care to enlighten me? But is that Jesus? Why, yes!

Continuously offering Himself up?

My Scriptures don’t say that.

The Holy Spirit has told us:Hbr 7:27 “He did once for all when He offered up Himself.”

Hbr 9:14 “how much more will the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered Himself without blemish to God, cleanse your conscience from dead works to serve the living God?”

Hbr 9:28 "Christ was offered once to bear the sins of many"There was only one offering and it was offered.

There was only one offering and only Christ Himself offered it.

There was only one offering after which Christ sat down on High.Hbr 10:12 "But this Man, after He had offered one sacrifice for sins forever, sat down at the right hand of God"Let’s now recall the Creed.

The Creed says Christ is seated at the right hand of the Father. If any theology has Christ perpetually offering Himself, then He has yet to sit down as the Creed says.

That Christ offered Himself ONCE is spoken of in past tense by the Holy Spirit.

Secondly, ONCE was only as long as to give the Holy Spirit the ability in Hebrews to say: “after He had offered one sacrifice for sins forever, sat down at the right hand of God

By definition, that “ONCE” ended right before the “AFTER.”

Christ’s offering was completed by the time Hebrews was written.

Continuous offerings, by definition, do not have any “AFTER.”

Atemi, very good point. But you are trying to place earthly constraints on Heaven which is not bound by things such as time.

We see in Revelation 8, When he broke open the seventh seal, there was silence in heaven for about half an hour. And I saw that the seven angels who stood before God were given seven trumpets. Another angel came and stood at the altar, holding a gold censer. He was given a great quantity of incense to offer, along with the prayers of all the holy ones, on the gold altar that was before the throne. The smoke of the incense along with the prayers of the holy ones went up before God from the hand of the angel. Then the angel took the censer, filled it with burning coals from the altar, and hurled it down to the earth. There were peals of thunder, rumblings, flashes of lightning, and an earthquake.

Let’s see, we know the Lamb is there, and we know that the Lamb is the Eternal High Priest. And we see an altar. Hmmm, what does a priest do at an altar? He offers up sacrifices, or this case, a sacrifice. His sacrifice is eternal!

And when we celebrate the Mass, it’s less accurate to say we are present at Calgary, instead we are present at the Heavenly Liturgy.

Also, you say Jesus is on the throne, and you showed some Scriptural texts to back it up. But Revelation 7 says, They cried out in a loud voice: “Salvation comes from our God, who is seated on the throne, and from the Lamb.” This isn’t a bone of contention, mind you, it’s just something interesting. What are your thoughts?


DISCLAIMER: The views and opinions expressed in these forums do not necessarily reflect those of Catholic Answers. For official apologetics resources please visit www.catholic.com.