Friday, March 11, 2011

The Mass in Scripture

The Holy Sacrifice of the Mass has lost some of its luster and sense of wonder and reverence over the last 45 yerars, since Vatican II. Vatican II did a lot of good things for the Catholic church, but its biggest negative was that we lost a lot of our Catholic Identity. Priests no longer celebrated the Mass looking East, usually away from the people. The celebration was taken from Latin to the vernacular, with at least in the English speaking world a poor translation from the Latin. The general sense of reverence toward what was going on was lost, people let their guard down slowly about what was acceptable behavior and dress in church.

We forget that we were doing something foretold in the Old Testament and fulfilled in the new. Malachi 1:11, says: "For from the rising of the sun even to the going down, my name is great among the Gentiles...there is offered to my name a clean oblation..." at the time Malachi was written the Gentiles were a pagan bunch...most believing in a panoply of gods. So for the author of Malachi to proclaim that the Gentiles would offer a "perfect sacrifice" from "the rising of the sun even to the going down," was an interesting prophesy. 

When God instituted the Passover for the Jews he told them that the Paschal Lamb had to be eaten (Exodus 12:8,46), and interestingly that not a bone of it shall be broken. Jesus when He was crucified didn't have his legs broken because the centurion could see he was already dead. Jesus is the spotless lamb of sacrifice (1 Peter 1:19), his cousin John foretells his purpose at Jesus' baptism when he hails him as Lamb of God (John 1:29). 

In the types and shadows of the Bible, the Jewish sacrificial lamb is a direct prefiguring of the once-for-all sacrifice of Christ on the cross. To a Catholic the Mass re-presents that sacrifice at Calvary. It is a step out of our time and space and into the Eternal. It's an amazing feeling to be present at Mass and feel like you are watching Christ instituting the ministerial priesthood as well as the Eucharist as the priest acting In Persona Christi recites the Eucharistic Prayer. 

Jesus sitting at the table with the Apostles gave them a command to always do what he was about to do in remembrance of him. In Hebrew the word is means to make something present, to participate in a past event.

The Eucharist has been called the Source, Summit and Center of the Faith. Of course it is, Jesus is giving us the Living Bread and telling us that all who eat it will not perish. How could that not be the most important thing. 

I have heard it said that the people who walked away when Jesus gave the Bread of Life lesson, were people who understood Christ literally and he wanted them to walk away because he was speaking in metaphor. That is utterly laughable, Christ came so all would believe if people were walking away because they misunderstood Him, He could have called them back and set them straight. He didn't, merely because they couldn't yet accept that He would be slain for us and leave us His flesh as True Food and His blood as True Drink.

If the Eucharist was merely intended as a symbol, why would St. Paul, the Didache, Justin Martyr and nearly every single Church Father specifically mention not partaking of it "unworthily." 1 Corinthians 11:27 warns us that if we take the Body of the Lord or drink of His Blood while not worthy (i.e. with unconfessed sins, or other reasons) we are guilty of nothing short of murder. Pretty steep talk if we are to take it as just a symbol, it's also worth noting that St. Paul's first letter to Corinth is among the earliest written manuscripts of the New Testament, thus showing how early the Catholic belief is visible. 

In short despite many attacks, such as claims that Catholics worship bread, are cannibals, etc. The Mass has its very roots deep in the Bible; from the readings during Mass; to the fact that many of the prayers are lifted right out of the Bible. The Mass is saturated in the Bible. That is one reason I always laugh when Joel Osteen is telling people at the end of his broadcasts to get into "A good Bible based Church." I always just think, done and done. I was fortunate to be born into it and I will die a Catholic.

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