Three questions on the sacrifice of the mass and possible misunderstandings related thereto:
(1) If I understand Catholic theology on the point, which may be a BIG assumption, the Mass does not constitute a RE-SACRIFICE of Christ (since we are told in Hebrews that there was a single sacrifice which was sufficient) but, instead, the Mass is a RE-PRESENTATION of that orginal sacrifice on Calvary. God, of course, exists outside of time and space and, therefore, through the miracle of the mass it is possible for us to somehow be present at that sacrifice of the Lamb who is forever slain for our sins. Is this essentially correct from a Catholic viewpoint?
(2) Now, assuming that my understanding above is essentially correct, let me ask this. Protestants have attacked the Catholic Church’s understanding of the mass by saying that Catholics “sacrifice Christ again and again”. This Protestant accusation would be false if my understanding above is correct because Christ is not being sacrificed again…it is the original sacrifice…but a subsequent re-presentation of that sacrifice. Is this correct from a Catholic viewpoint?
(3) Finally, assuming that the Protestant accusation of a repeated re-sacrifice is theologically erroneous, from what did this accusation arise? I’ve skimmed the Book of Concord and don’t see where that accusation is made (although I very easily could have missed it). In the Westminster Confession, however, it does seem to suggest that the Calvinists did believe that Catholics were resacrificing Christ. See Chapter XXIX, paragraph II below:
“In this sacrament, Christ is not offered up to His Father; nor any Real sacrifice made at all, for remission of sins of the quick or dead; but only a commemoration of that one offering up of Himself, by Himself, upon the cross, once for all: and a spiritual oblation of all possible praise unto God, for the same: so that the popish sacrifice of the mass (as they call it) is most abominably injurious to Christ’s one, only sacrifice, the alone propitiation for all the sins of His elect.”
Calvin and the other signatories to the Westminster Confession were not uneducated or stupid people. What about the Catholic Church’s description in the 1500s of the sacrifice of the mass would have lead educated persons to believe that Catholics were professing a form of sacrifice that, today at least, it seems clear that they are not?
I’d appreciate some serious responses if possible…please, let’s just skip over all the “Satan made them do it” stuff, ok?