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Roman Catholicism
"Just Another Expression of Christianity"?

Adding Up The Mass

Edited and expanded extracts from the book by Dusty Peterson & Elizabeth McDonald,
Alpha - the Unofficial Guide: World, (2003), Part Two, Chapter 8


Roman Catholicism: Index of Articles

 

 

Introduction

The Roman "Mass" is a very reverent ceremony pertaining to the bread and wine given by the Lord Jesus Christ to His disciples at the 'Last Supper'.  It is a pivotal part of Roman Catholic practice; considered vital to salvation.  Anyone who becomes a Roman Catholic would have to observe the Mass.  Yet, by Rome's own admission, it differs fundamentally from Communion as performed by others:

"The  Archbishop of Canterbury, George Carey, has called on the Roman Catholic Church to abandon its practice barring Protestants from taking Communion in its churches ... Mgr. Kieran Conry, director of the Catholic Media Office, said 'There are fundamental differences [between Protestant Communion and the Catholic Mass]'.  Nicholas Coote, secretary to the Catholic Bishop's Conference for England and Wales, added that his [Carey's] proposals indicated a 'misunderstanding of the Catholic position'" [1].

So, what are these "fundamental differences"?  Does the Mass line up with God's Word?  When we compare the Roman ceremony with the Bible we find some extraordinary things...

 

"The Real Presence"

The teaching of the 'real presence' in the Catholic Mass is known as 'transubstantiation'.  This is the doctrine that, with the priest's words in the ceremony of the Mass (or "Eucharist"), the bread and wine turn into the actual body and blood of the Lord Jesus Christ.  The Catholic Catechism states:

"[T]hat which was bread and wine before consecration, after consecration is truly the substance of the body and blood of the Lord ... [N]ot only the true body of Christ and all the constituents of a true body, such as bones and sinews, but also Christ whole and entire" [2].

Ever since the Council of Trent, Rome has taught that this is a "dogma" - a fundamental truth not open to question - and that anyone who does not agree with this belief is "anathema" (i.e. accursed):

"If any one denieth, that, in the sacrament of the most holy Eucharist, are contained truly, really, and substantially, the body and blood together with the soul and divinity of our Lord Jesus Christ, and consequently the whole Christ; but saith that he is only therein as in a sign, or in a figure, or virtue; let him be anathema" [Council of Trent] [3].

This discourages many from testing Rome's doctrine of the Mass against the Holy Bible, but God's command is that we do just, so...

     (1) The first problem is that this miraculous change is supposed to have originally taken place with Christ still bodily present in the room:

"And as they were eating, Jesus took bread, and blessed it, and brake it, and gave it to the disciples, and said, Take, eat; this is My body" (Matthew 26:26).

Is it possible that the bread turned into the actual body of the Lord when He was still physically there?

     (2) Leaving aside the problem that thousands of wafers supposedly all become the "whole and entire" body of the Lord simultaneously each Sunday morning, there is the fundamental difficulty that, according to Scripture, Christ's resurrected body is a the right hand of the Father:

"Who ... when He had by Himself purged our sins, sat down on the right hand of the Majesty on high" (Hebrews 1:3).   See also Acts 2:34b & 7:56.

     (3) It is certainly important to interpret Scripture literally when the context, or the rest of Scripture, does not call us to do otherwise.  For, although figurative Hebrew idioms are very common in Scripture and need to be recognized and understood for what they are, when a passage does not use idioms or poetic language etc., then we must be honest with God and take His words at face value.  However, to interpret the phrase "This is My body" - in the context of the verse where it appears - as literally meaning the actual body of the Lord, has some bizarre implications...

This is because elsewhere in Scripture Christ calls Himself a door (John 10:9), a vine (John 15:5), a stone (Mark 12:10), a light (John 8:12) and so on.  If we are insistent that we must use this method of interpreting Christ's words here, then we must also be consistent.  It demonstrably makes no sense to interpret these passages literally.

Likewise, in the context, the plain meaning of "This is My body" is "This symbolizes My body" - in the same way that, when the Lord said of John the Baptist, "this is Elijah" He was saying that John symbolized Elijah.  (John was not physically the same person as Elijah, as is shown in John 1:21.)

Here is a similar situation.  David described some water as being men's "blood" in an incident, recorded in 2 Samuel 23:16-17 and 1 Chronicles 11:18-19, because it symbolized their blood.  His bravest soldiers had put their lives on the line to bless him by bringing him water from a much-loved well that was in the hands of pagans.  They:

"drew water ... and brought it to David: but David ... said, My God forbid it me, ... shall I drink the blood of these men that have put their lives in jeopardy?" (1 Chronicles 11:18-19) [4].

     (4) We also have a major problem with interpreting "This is My blood" to mean that the wine literally became blood - because drinking blood is banned by God under both the Old and New Covenants (see Leviticus 17:10-14 and Acts 21:25 respectively) and yet everyone at that Passover meal would have drunk of the contents, as Mark confirms:

"And He took the cup, and when He had given thanks, He gave it to them: and they all drank of it" (Mark 14:23).

Not only is it unreasonable to believe that the Lord was able to eat His own body, but He would have been sinning to drink blood or encourage others to do so.

     (5) Besides, the verse immediately following His statement that "This is My blood" records that Christ said:

"Verily I say unto you, I will drink no more of the fruit of the vine, until that day that I drink it new in the Kingdom of God" (Mark 14:25).

The wine did not turn into blood but remained the "fruit of the vine".

So, what of the passage in John 6:53 where Christ said:

"Except ye eat the flesh of the Son of man, and drink his blood, ye have no life in you"?

Surely this is saying that the bread and wine turn into the flesh and blood of the Saviour?  As always, the explanation can be found in the surrounding verses.  The rest of the chapter is actually about having a living faith in the Messiahship of Jesus.  Thus the act of "coming" to Christ and "believing on" Him is likened to eating and drinking:

"And Jesus said unto them, I am the bread of life: he that cometh to Me [not 'he that eateth Me'] shall never hunger; and he that believeth on Me shall never thirst" (John 6:35).

Later in the chapter it is confirmed that believing in Christ is what gives life - i.e. this is what is meant by eating the bread of life:

"For the bread of God He which cometh down from heaven, and giveth life unto the world ... He that believeth on Me hath everlasting lifeI am that bread of life" (John 6:33-48).

We are to partake of Christ in the sense that we are to cling to Him and abide in Him:

"He that eateth my flesh, and drinketh my blood, dwelleth in me" (John 6:56a).

We are to take in the Word of God - i.e. to devour and digest the holy scriptures - hence the way God's Word is likened to bread in Matthew 4:4 and the way Christ's words are said to be life-giving and a source of the spirit in verse 63 of the passage we are looking at.

As for the blood, we are to be like organs transplanted into Christ and thus cleansed inside by His blood.  This picture is used many times in the Bible.  It is in this sense that we "drink" Christ's blood.  If we stop abiding in the Vine and drinking the spiritual sap from it then there will indeed be "no life" in us.

The Lord's Supper is certainly to be taken extremely seriously.  But its immense spiritual importance stems not from the bread and wine, but from the significance that God the Father has given the occasion.  Holy Communion is an opportunity for us to express the gravity we attach to His Son's death, not the weight we attach to a piece of bread.  The emblems are there simply to help remind us of this pivotal event in history.  That is what God cares about.

We have perhaps laboured this point, but for a very good reason.  Roman Catholics are strongly encouraged to worship the wafer (or "host").  Understandably, they do not need much persuasion since, according to strict teaching, they are in the immediate presence of the Lord Himself.  But the 'real presence' is not all that Rome has to say about the mass.

 

A Repeated Sacrifice

According to the Word of God, Christ's sacrifice was a once-only affair.  On the cross He was able to proclaim "it is finished", and subsequent events certainly confirmed it.  So do many scriptures, including Hebrews 10:

"We are sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all ... [T]his man ... offered one sacrifice for sins forever ... For by one offering He hath perfected forever them that are sanctified ... Now where remission of these is, there is no more offering for sin" (Hebrews 10:10, 12,14,18).

The passage in Hebrews 9:24-28 is no less unequivocal.  That is why the bread and wine are an ongoing memorial or commemoration of what our Lord did for us once on the cross:

"When He had given thanks, He brake it, and said, Take, eat: this is My body, which is broken for you: this do in remembrance of Me.  After the same manner also He took the cup, when He had supped, saying, This cup is the New Testament in My blood: this do ye, as oft as ye drink it, in remembrance of Me" (1 Corinthians 11:24-25).

The only purpose of an altar is for performing sacrifices.  We should be wary of any church that feels the need to keep an altar, because it implies that more sacrifices are needed beyond Christ's once-for-all sacrifice on the cross itself.  But according to Rome:

"The sacrifice of the Cross is continued on earth through the Sacrifice of the Mass" [Catholic Catechism] [5].

When asked "What is the Sacrifice of the Mass?", Rome teaches:

"It is the sacrifice in which Christ is offered under the species of bread and wine in an unbloody manner.  The sacrifice of the altar, then, is no mere empty [sic] commemoration of the Passion and Death of Jesus Christ, but a true and proper act of sacrifice.  Christ, the eternal High Priest, in an unbloody way offers himself a most acceptable Victim to the eternal Father, as he did upon the Cross" [Catholic Catechism] [6].

In the same document, Rome also asserts:

"The Sacrifice of the Mass is of infinite value, no less than that of the Cross" [Qn 1294].

Needless to say, it must be an outstandingly emotional experience to believe that one is in the physical presence of Christ as He is being sacrificed for one again.  A cause for extremely deep and sincere worship:

"The Eucharistic Sacrifice ... in which the Sacrifice of the cross is forever perpetuated, is the summit and the source of all worship and Christian life";

"Christ's faithful are to hold the blessed Eucharist in the highest honour ... with great devotion ... and should reverence it with the greatest adoration" [7].

See also Chapter V of the Council of Trent on the Eucharist, where the faithful of Christ are encouraged to:

"render in veneration the worship ... which is due to the true God, to this most holy sacrament ... for we believe the same God to be present therein".

For readers who may be confused by the sheer number of Romanists who worship the host, the following Scripture may help and put things into perspective:

"[W]ide is the grate, and broad is the way, that leadeth to destruction, and many there be which go in thereat: Because strait is the gate and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it" (Matthew 7:13-14).

 

The Mass Necessary For Salvation

Now that we have seen from Scripture that the wafer (or "host") does not turn into Christ Himself we are left with a very serious problem - quite aside from the fact that the Roman priest, in implying that Christ needs to be sacrificed again, is being profane...

If Roman Catholics are worshipping something that is NOT the true God then they are inevitably worshipping something else.  As we discuss here this is not only detestable to God, because it constitutes idolatry, but it also leaves the worshipper open to demonic forces.  Given that Catholics are eating the object of their worship, they are taking into themselves in a very real way whatever spiritual entity lies behind the wafer they have been worshipping.

We know from our study on the love of the truth that there is a very subtle enemy of God who desires to lead God's People away into danger - into his own stronghold.  If he could fool them into worshipping something other than God, they would be made vulnerable to demonic attack and thus brought ever  further into subjection under him.  But how to persuade God's People to do such a thing?  One very effective way would surely be to invent a counterfeit Communion and convince the people that the wafer was their God, when in actual fact it was the "host" for another spirit altogether.

If the enemy did this, he would obviously do everything he could to encourage the people to take part in his invention.  He would claim that it was vital to salvation and would urge that it be observed often.  Amazingly (and in direct contention with Scripture again) Rome declares the Mass to be vital to Salvation:

"[T]he Mass is the same Sacrifice as that of the Cross, to continue on earth until the end of time ... The Mass, therefore, no less than the Cross, is expiatory [i.e. pays the penalty] for sins" [Catholic Catechism] [8].

Rome also urges that it be performed often:

"Remembering always that in the mystery of the Eucharistic Sacrifice the work of redemption is continually being carried out, priests are to celebrate frequently" [9].

"As often as the sacrifice ... is celebrated on the altar, the work of our redemption carries on" [Vatican II] [10].

The enemy would have to threaten anyone who questioned this subterfuge, and he would also claim that his Communion had all sorts of temporal benefits aside from spiritual ones.  Consider whether Rome's teaching that the sins of a departed loved one can be paid for with Masses taken by living relatives (or 'said' on their behalf) can possibly come from God or instead is derived from another source:

"If any one saith, that the sacrifice of the Mass is only a sacrifice of praise and thanksgiving; or, that it is a bare [!] commemoration of the sacrifice consummated on the cross, but not a propitiatory [i.e. atoning] sacrifice; or, that it profits only him who receives; and that it ought not to be offered for the living and the dead for sins, pains, satisfactions, and other necessities, let him be anathema" [Council of Trent] [11].

 

A Bloodless Sacrifice

As if all the above were not bad enough, and despite the enormous Scriptural emphasis on Christ's blood - which is, after all, what cleanses from our sins - the Roman Mass constitutes a bloodless sacrifice.  By claiming the Mass is "expiatory for sins" Rome maintains a continual 'unbloody' repeat-presentation [12] of the once for all blood-drenched sacrifice of Calvary:

"It is the sacrifice in which Christ is offered under the species of bread and wine in an unbloody manner ... a true and proper act of sacrifice.  Christ, ... in an unbloody way offers himself..." [Catholic Catechism] [13].

But "without shedding of blood [there] is no remission [of sins]" (Hebrews 9:22a) as Cain found out (Genesis 4:3-7a).  An unbloody sacrifice has never been able to cover sin.

 

The Origin

Interestingly, Babylon had an effectively identical ritual.  It too represented an 'unbloody sacrifice'.  But that is not the only similarity between Rome and Babylon regarding the Romish Mass.  Rome insists the wafer, or 'host' be circular, despite there being no indication of this in biblical descriptions of Holy Communion.  Babylon's Sun-worship also centred around a circular wafer - i.e. a disk to represent the round sun.  Also, Like Rome, Babylon's ceremony used a shiny plate in the form of a sun - i.e. with a sun-burst design - to show off the wafer above the altar so that it looked especially impressive and deserving of worship.  (Rome's name for this holder is a "monstrance", and everyone present has to reverently bow or kneel before it [14].)

Babylon's Communion required that each communicant fast beforehand - as does Rome.  Catholicism claims that such fasting is "indispensable", and yet the original 'Lord's Supper' took place straight after a meal.  Babylon had its false trinity, the Egyptian names for which were Isis, Horus and Seb.  Unbelievably, Rome's wafers bear the same initials: 'IHS'.

Finally, consider that Rome teaches, regarding the Mass, that the communicant is eating another person (i.e. eating the 'actual body' of the Lord Jesus).  The word for someone who eats another is "cannibal" which derives from "Cahna-Bal" meaning priest of Baan.  Baal is the name of Babylon's demonic, central god.

 

"Is This Not Idolatry?"

Charles Chiniquy, a priest in the Catholic Church for many years, had these grave observations to make concerning the 'priestly' part in the Roman ceremony of the Mass:

"To make one's self believe that he can convert a piece of bread into God requires such a supreme effort of the will, and complete annihilation of intelligence, that the state of the soul, after the effort is over, is more like death than life.

"I had really persuaded myself that I had done the most holy and sublime action of my life, when, in fact, I had been guilty of the most outrageous act of idolatry!  My eyes, my hands and lips, my mouth and tongue, and all my senses , as well as the faculties of my intelligence, were telling me that what I had seen, touched, eaten, was nothing but a wafer; but the voices of the Pope and his Church were telling me that it was the real body., blood, soul and divinity of Jesus Christ.

"I had persuaded myself that the voices of my senses and intelligence were the voices of Satan, and that the deceitful voice of the Pope was the voice of the God of Truth!  Every priest of Rome has to come to that strange degree of folly and perversity, every day of his life, to remain a priest of Rome...

"The Egyptians worshipped God under the form of crocodiles and calves; the Greeks made their gods of marble or gold; the Persian made the sun his god; the Hottentots make their gods with whalebone, and go far through storms to adore them.  The Church of Rome makes her god out of a piece of bread!  Is this not idolatry?" [15].

Thus has Rome "superseded the simple but most precious sacrament of the Supper instituted by our Lord Himself" with a pagan fake.  But so many folk, Christian and non-Christian, genuinely imagine that the Roman Mass is a "Christian" belief.

"Now therefore fear the LORD, and serve Him in sincerity and in truth: and put away the gods which your fathers served ... and serve ye the LORD" (Joshua 24:14).

"I have written unto you not to keep company, if any man that is called a brother be ... an idolator" (1 Corinthians 5:11).

It may be that some readers, offended by the horrors being exposed here, believe we should only discuss praiseworthy things.  We sympathise with this view, but we feel it is dangerous to be ignorant of Rome's ways when other believers are promoting them.  After all, when Ezekiel was ignorant of the details of the apostasy in his day he was commanded by the Lord to:

"Go in, and behold the wicked abominations that they do there" (Ezekiel 8:5-18).

We must (carefully) face up to the truth about Rome's teaching, and explain the shortcomings by comparing it to what the Bible teaches.

Others will claim that we are being 'anti-Catholic'.  But we are certainly not.  We care greatly for those ensnared in error, and those in bondage to false ways.  It is Catholicism, i.e. those teachings which are sending its adherents to Hell, that we oppose - not the the precious folks entangled in it.  In reality, it is those who fail to warn the souls caught up in Rome's idolatry who are the ones being anti-Catholic.

 

Christ's Mass

As a postscript to this discussion of the Roman Mass, we perhaps ought to ask about the celebration of Christmas (or Christ's Mass) which Rome has given us.  Oddly, it is held on a date which most scholars agree could not possibly be even close to Christ's birthday.  Actually, the date of December 25th is one that was central to the Babylonian calendar - thus greatly predating the incarnation of the Person we are told it commemorates!  Many features of Christmas are derived not from Christianity but from pagan religious practices [16].  These include the holly and ivy, the mistletoe, Midnight Mass, and the Yule log ("Yule" is a Babylonian word).  Even the decorated tree has its roots, so to speak, in false religion:

"[T]he customs of the people are vain: for one cutteth a tree out of the forest, the work of the hands of the workman, with the axe.  They deck it with silver and with gold; they fasten it with nails and with hammers, that it move not" (Jeremiah 10:1-4).

"[Ahaz] walked ... according to the abominations of the heathen, ... And he sacrificed [i.e. offered gifts] ... under every green [i.e. coniferous] tree" (2 Kings 16:3-4).

Some Christians are very attached to Christmas and argue that it is harmless.  But should a pure bride (us) be flirting with the trappings of foreign gods in front of her wonderful betrothed husband (the Lord Jesus Christ)?  If we are obedient to Him and His Word then the answer is no (Jeremiah 10:2a).

 

Endnotes

[1]  London Daily Telegraph, 27:Apr:1998.

[2]  John Hardon, The Catholic Catechism, (Doubleday &Co., 1975), pp.228-229.

[3]  Council of Trent, The Eucharist, Canon I, Quoted in William Webster, Saving Faith: How Does Rome Define It? (Christian Resources, 1995), p78.

[4]  1 Chronicles 11:18-19.  (There are other lovely parallels between this and the Lord’s sacrifice.)

[5]  The Question and Answer Catholic Catechism, http://www.christiantruth.com/articles/massandrcfaith.html, Qn 1264.  See also Qn 1269.

[6]  The Question and Answer Catholic Catechism, http://www.christiantruth.com/articles/massandrcfaith.html, Qn 1265.

[7]  The Code of Canon Law, The Mass / Eucharist, Canons 897 and 898 respectively, as quoted in Webster, Saving Faith, p80.

[8]  The Question And Answer Catholic Catechism, http://www.christiantruth.com/articles/massandrcfaith.html Qn 1277.  See also Qns 1279 and 1294.

[9]  The Code of Canon Law, The Mass / Eucharist, Canon 904.  Quoted in Webster, Saving Faith, p80.

[10]  Walter M. Abbott, S.J., Gen. Ed., The Documents of Vatican II, (Geoffrey Chapman, 1966), The Church, point 3, p16.

[11]  Council of Trent, Canon III. 

[12]  Rome is happy to describe the Mass as a ‘representation’ of Jesus, but she tells her followers to interpret it as a ‘re-presentation’ – i.e. a ‘presenting again’! 

[13]  The Question and Answer Catholic Catechism, http://www.christiantruth.com/articles/massandrcfaith.html,  Qn 1265.

[14]  When the ‘host’ is being lifted up, both in the monstrance and later by the communicant, Catholics look up towards the wafer.

[15]  Charles Chiniquy, Fifty Years in the Church of Rome, (The Protestant Truth Society, 1885), pp96, 99 & 105.

[16]  Please see Alexander Hislop, The Two Babylons: Or the Papal Worship, (Loizeaux Brothers, 1916), pp91-103.  Please also see Christmas and the Birth of the Lord Jesus

 

Elizabeth McDonald
January 2013

 

 

 

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