Hello. I’m new to this forum–drawn here after years of discussions with my mother-in-law. While we have much in common with Christ as our Savior, I’m continually baffled by many aspects of her Catholicism. Perhaps our biggest issue is the Mass–especially the Eucharist. Our recent discussion pertains to the Mass as a sacrificial ritual, so I read the Sacrifice of the Mass CA Library entry. There, I don’t find a definition of “true sacrifice”, so I’d like to get some help in understanding how ritual sacrifice is appropriate now that Jesus has made final atonement for sin.
CA boldly declares that “The Eucharist is a true sacrifice”, and is not to be seen as merely a remembrance. This is taken directly from the 22nd session of the Council of Trent. There we find that the justification for the Rome’s insistence upon viewing the Mass as a sacrificial ritual is:
…because [Jesus’] priesthood was not to be extinguished by His death, in the last supper, on the night in which He was betrayed,–that He might leave, to His own beloved Spouse the Church, a visible sacrifice, such as the nature of man requires, whereby that bloody sacrifice, once to be accomplished on the cross, might be represented, and the memory thereof remain even unto the end of the world, and **its salutary virtue be applied to the remission of those sins **which we daily commit…[Chapter 1]
The first question to raise here is: From where does the Council of Trent get the notion–biblically or otherwise–that Jesus had any intent to leave something visible? Hmmm…
On that final Passover night, He said “take and eat,” knowing full well that food and drink is consumed by the body and eventually decays along with it. “Do this,” He said, “in remembrance of me.” Of course, we all realize that the memory we have of what he has done for us on the Cross is also unseen. His teachings at the Last Supper are very much like those at other times. His emphasis was continually on the invisible, as when he tried to get Nicodemus to see the light:
John 3:6-8 Flesh gives birth to flesh, but the Spirit gives birth to spirit. 7 You should not be surprised at my saying, ‘You must be born again.’ 8 The wind blows wherever it pleases. You hear its sound, but you cannot tell where it comes from or where it is going. So it is with everyone born of the Spirit."
The ancient problem for God has been to convince men that real life is within–within our soul–which is invisible. Animal sacrifice was central in the Old Covenant, but it’s purpose was misconstrued by many. In reply to the meticulously ritualistic Pharisees, Jesus quotes the prophet Hosea:
**Matthew 9:13 ** Go and learn what this means: ‘I desire mercy, not sacrifice.’ For I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners."
When we contrast Jesus direct teaching with the statements of the Council, we see that these men of Trent had fallen into the same trap as the Pharisees. Session 22 (above) declares that “the nature of man requires” something visible to represent a sacrifice in order to maintain proper piety. But this is precisely the problem that Jesus came to remedy among we of little faith. To our great detriment, we place inordinate emphasis and trust upon physical things. The nature of man is hopelessly corrupt, yet He offers us a spiritual remedy of faith:
Matthew 16:8-11 Jesus asked, “You of little faith…How is it you don’t understand that I was not talking to you about bread? But be on your guard against the yeast of the Pharisees and Sadducees.”
The flesh profits nothing, and our only hope is in the last high priest–Jesus Christ the Lord. He completed the Great Work on the cross, where he declared that “it is finished.” His final sacrifice would satisfy the heavenly Father in redeeming those who were otherwise lost. In direct opposition to the Council of Trent, we have this in the book of Hebrews:
Hebrews 7:27 Unlike the other high priests, he does not need to offer sacrifices day after day, first for his own sins, and then for the sins of the people. He sacrificed for their sins once for all when he offered himself.
So, the question I pose to the forum is this:
How is it possible to view the command of Jesus to “do this in remembrance” as an instruction to a perform a ritual sacrifice?