Sacrifice of the Mass

Q. Scripture clearly says that “Christ was sacrificed once”. And yet the Catholic Church says their mass is a sacrifice. We know this is done over and over at their masses all over the world, every day. Thousands of sacrifices a day. Why do Catholics call the mass a sacrifice when this so obviously contradicts scripture?

A. Let me say that the mass in the Catholic Church certainly IS a sacrifice. That is why we call it the sacrifice of the mass. However, this sacrifice is completely unlike the sacrifices of the Old Testament because Jesus Christ is God. And God is ETERNAL. Therefore, Jesus’ ONE sacrifice is Eternal.

Yes, it happened once in time on planet earth. It was an historical event. However, this sacrifice sufficed for the forgiveness of sins for all of mankind both before the crucifixion and after it up to our own time and beyond. An ETERNAL SACRIFICE. Because the Lamb of sacrifice is the Eternal God of the universe He is able to offer an eternal sacrifice.

Hebrews 9:25 Nor did he enter heaven to offer himself again and again, the way the high priest enters the Most Holy Place every year with blood that is not his own. 26 Then Christ would have had to suffer many times since the creation of the world. But now he has appeared once for all at the end of the ages to do away with sin by the sacrifice of himself. 27 Just as man is destined to die once, and after that to face judgment, 28 so Christ was sacrificed once to take away the sins of many people;

Hebrews 10:11 Day after day every priest stands and performs his religious duties; again and again he offers the same sacrifices, which can never take away sins. 12 But when this priest had offered for all time one sacrifice for sins, he sat down at the right hand of God. 13 Since that time he waits for his enemies to be made his footstool, 14 because by one sacrifice he has made perfect forever those who are being made holy.

Because Jesus offered Himself in an eternal sacrifice for sins He appears in Heaven to John as a Lamb that has been slain.

Revelation 5:6 Then I saw a Lamb, looking as if it had been slain, standing in the center of the throne, encircled by the four living creatures and the elders. He had seven horns and seven eyes, which are the seven spirits of God sent out into all the earth.

So, because His sacrifice is an eternal sacrifice, at our masses we are not killing Jesus over and over and over again every time we celebrate the mass. Absolutely not! What happens is in obedience to Christ we celebrate The Lord’s Supper partaking of the bread which has become His body and the cup which contains His blood. We are transported, in a spiritual sense to the foot of the cross and partake of that ONE SACRIFICE. So, the scrim of time is pulled back at the Catholic mass and we commune with Christ in Heaven. Because He is eternal, His sacrifice is eternal. It is we who are in time and must physically return, in time, to partake of that one eternal sacrifice. His one sacrifice is re-presented to us who are still in time. His sacrifice is not repeated.

Malachi 1:11 My name will be great among the nations, from the rising to the setting of the sun. In every place incense and pure offerings will be brought to my name, because my name will be great among the nations,” says the LORD Almighty.

This is seen as prophesying the unbloody (pure) sacrifice of the mass that is offered to God “from the rising to the setting of the sun” every day in our Catholic Churches.

7 Responses

  1. Hello,

    This is Philip Duffin. Thank you for your reply on Purgatory in relation to the Apostles and the Apostolic Fathers.

    I liked your article on the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass and Christ’s Eternal Sacrifice.

    However I have wondered why all the Protestant Churches have NO reference to Sacrifice in their Eucharistic Liturgies?

    A protestant friend once asked me to explain the Eucharistic Prayers with all these references to SACRIFICE.

    SUCH AS: What does. Pray my sisters and brothers that OUR SACRIFICE may be acceptable to God the almighty father.

    Then the Response. May the Lord accept the SACRIFICE AT YOUR HANDS for the praise and glory of his name for our good and the good of all his church?

    I was unable to adequately explain it to him.

    What does the Catholic church mean when it says that THE SACRIFICE is IN THE BREAD AND WINE?

    Also why is it a propitiatory/expiatory sacrifice when ALL our sins have already been forgiven at calvary?

    I would be very grateful for yor answers so that I can be a better apologist for the Catholic Church.

    Yours in Christ.

    Philip Duffin

  2. Dear Phillip,
    Protestants have no reference to “sacrifice” in their services (most are not liturgical) because of the NEW way they began to interpret communion.
    They rejected the Catholic theology of Eucharistic Communion. Some like Anglicans and Lutherans retained most of the Catholic theology but changed things according to their own preferences and theology. However their liturgies do not confect the bread and wine into the real body and blood of Christ. Most Protestants reject nearly everything Catholic.

    As time has passed, when many Protestants hear that Catholics offer the sacrifice of the mass they think Jesus is dying over and over again. This is pure anti-Catholic propaganda. We believe nothing of the sort of course. Scripture says Christ died ONCE… It is just a conclusion to which many have jumped. Plus it has the desired effect of making it look as if the Catholic Church does not know scripture.

    The Sacrifice of the Mass is a true sacrifice because it is a RE-PRESENTATION of the one sacrifice of Calvary. We are in a spiritual sense traveling into eternity and enter into the very presence of Jesus outside of time or back in time at the foot of the cross.
    Historically, the early fathers referred to this as a sacrifice. The job of any priest is to offer sacrifice for the people. On Calvary Jesus offered His body and Blood to God for the salvation of the world. In our liturgies we re-present this sacrifice for the people. God changes it from bread and wine to the body and blood of Christ. And so we offer the body and blood of Christ. This is how God in His infinite wisdom allows us, who are stuck in time, to be present to His sacrifice and partake of it.

    “… that OUR SACRIFICE may be acceptable to God…

    This is the sacrifice of Christ which we offer to God through the priest. As always we are enabled to offer this sacrifice through the pure gift and grace of Christ.

    May the Lord accept the SACRIFICE AT YOUR HANDS for the praise and glory of his name for our good and the good of all his church?

    Again it is Christ’s sacrifice through the hands of the priest made present by the power and gift of God.

    What does the Catholic church mean when it says that THE SACRIFICE is IN THE BREAD AND WINE?

    Jesus IS the sacrifice for salvation and it is HE WHO is made present under the appearance of bread and wine.

    Also why is it a propitiatory/expiatory sacrifice when ALL our sins have already been forgiven at calvary?

    Well, Christ’s sacrifice paid the price for all sin of all people so IT IS propitiatory/expiatory. But individually we must appropriate that grace. And in His wisdom God desires to strengthen us for our Journey through the dangers of this life so that we stay the course and arrive at death in friendship with Him. Just like our physical bodies need food to remain strong and healthy our souls need the supernatural food of the Eucharist to stay strong and healthy in order to resist Our Enemy. And Confession heals the wounds Our Enemy was able to inflict upon our souls.
    As a Protestant I was very much more Gnostic in my approach to religion. All was invisible– spiritual… matter did not matter. But the Catholic faith is not in denial of our physical selves and our need for spiritual as well as physical smells and bells food and drink.

  3. Hello,

    Yes, you are right, Protestants have taken a different view of Holy Communion.

    Most Evangelicals would say that the Eucharist is a MEMORIAL FEAST, in which they Proclaim the death of the Lord and spiritually feed on his body and blood. Jesus is SPIRITUALLY PRESENT in the bread and wine.

    Anglicans would accept the concept of ANAMNESIS of recalling and re-living the ONCE AND FOR ALL sacrifice.

    In High Church Anglicanism it is the ONCE FOR ALL Sacrifice made effective NOW. – ANAMNESIS.

    yours in Christ.

    Philip Duffin.

  4. Dear Phillip,

    ANAMNESIS is the Greek word that translates into English as REMEMBER. It would seem to the casual reader of the Gospels that all Jesus is asking for us to do is to Remember his sacrifice. But in all of scripture, this word is not used as the common word for merely remembering. The word ANAMNESIS is only and always used in the Old Testament Greek scripture, in reference to a SACRIFICE.

  5. Hello,

    I would like help in explaining to Protestants why the Catholic Church OFFERS the Sacrifice of the Mass FOR THE LIVING AND THE DEAD ( IN PURGATORY )?

    How does a Mass or Masses alleviate the Suffering or Release a Soul from Purgatory? Souls are perfected in Holiness in Purgatory OR paying off the temporal punishment for their sins So what has that got to do with a Catholic Priest saying Mass?

    This also is connected with Indulgences and Praying for the dead.

    I am bit confused and would like to know how to respond correctly.

    Many Thanks.

    Yours in Christ.

    Phillip Duffin.

  6. Dear Pam.

    You still have not replied to my comment on the connection between a Catholic priest saying mass and that mass or masses relieving the suffering or releasing a soul or souls from Purgatory.

    my comment was made on the 23rd june 2007.

    Yours in Christ.

    Philip Duffin.

  7. Dear Phillip,

    It is going to be hard to explain why the Church offers the sacrifice of the Mass for the living and the dead unless you first explain Purgatory, Communion of the Saint, the Church Militant (On Earth) the Church Suffering (Purgatory) and the Church In Heaven.

    But I will try to answer for you. We of course believe that we are all alive in Christ and a part of the Body of Christ. Therefore we continue to love and pray for each other. Those in Heaven pray for us to stay the course and for strength a grace for those suffering in Purgatory. Those in Purgatory can pray for us on earth but they cannot pray for themselves so they need our prayers. So we are all supposed to lovingly pray for each other but those in Heaven don’t need our prayers for themselves any longer.

    Just like Christ’s death for us was a vicarious suffering offered for the salvation of the world so we can pray also and offer our little sacrifices for a vicarious alleviation of suffering and a drawing down of God’s grace for others here and in Purgatory.

    The mass is the greatest prayer and we offer it for everyone in need. But it is the sacrifice of Christ we ask for grace applied to those we pray for.

    How does a Mass or Masses alleviate the Suffering or Release a Soul from Purgatory?

    We can’t really say specifically at least I don’t know, have never heard. Our prayers are offered to God for the souls in Purgatory. HE decides how to apply His Grace. And in the case of praying for a soul already in Heaven He applies the requested grace to someone else in need so our prayers are not wasted. We are saved by God’s grace, as you know we do not earn it and so it is with the poor souls, we ask for more grace for them.

    It is not like a tit for tat kind of thing. It is all of grace and all in the wisdom and decision of God. So I can’t answer your question to the satisfaction of a Protestant without faith in the Catholic church. The best you can do is assure them that the abuses of Luther’s day are NOT taught by the Church.

    As a protestant we were completely indifferent to those who had died . We were cut off from them. Our filial affection was remote and inactive. But the Catholic view is full of love in action. Very beautiful and so much more full of brotherly love and deep belief in the Body of Christ.

    Souls are perfected in Holiness in Purgatory OR paying off the temporal punishment for their sins. So what has that got to do with a Catholic Priest saying Mass?

    Every mass is a time of great grace. So, it is just a very fitting time to pray for those in need but of course you may pray at any time. But as we enter into the once for all sacrifice of Christ what better time to remember those in need both living and dead. Not to pray for them would be rather sterile since His death is so full of love and grace we ask for this for ourselves and all others as well.

    JPII also spoke about the Church being a Sacrament for the world. Jesus is our Sacrament but we the Church by bringing Christ to the world are in a sense a sort of sacrament for those we meet. We always imitate Christ

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: