Hello Rosary lovers! In this post we will ask: What is Catholic Mass?
The Mass causes terrible confusion
There is a great deal of confusion today about the Catholic Mass. Many non-Catholic Christians think of the Catholic Mass as a re-sacrifice of Jesus. They cannot accept it because the Scriptures clearly teach that Jesus died only once (this is emphasised in the letter to the Hebrews).
People of other religious traditions, such as Jews and Muslims, don’t tend to understand what Catholics believe about Catholic Mass. It’s a great mystery to them, and seemingly pointless given that God can be approached directly via prayer. Why the need for priests and an altar?
Then there are hardline atheists, who often view the Mass as nothing more than an ‘opium for the masses’; something employed by Church authorities to control people.
I recall reading one section in an extremely famous popular science book, where it was implied that the Catholic Mass is just a bunch of hocus pocus. The implication was that the Mass is a load of pretend nonsense.
In Christian history, Catholics were even accused by Roman citizens of being cannibals, because it was thought that Catholics ate and drank the flesh and blood of a dead man.
It should be remembered that Jesus himself when he walked the earth caused tremendous confusion. When he announced that people need to eat his flesh and drink his blood to have eternal life, most of his followers couldn’t take this and left him forever (John 6:53-58).
Just as Jesus was a cause of division and confusion, so for the last 2000 years of Church history the Catholic Mass has been a tremendous cause of confusion and division.
Why Protestants left the Catholic Church
Did you know that though the Protestant Reformers disagreed with each other about lots of things, they all agreed on one thing: the Catholic Mass is an absolute abomination.
Read every single 16th century major Protestant Confession of Faith from all the various denominations, and you’ll see this in all of them. It’s even in the 39 Articles of the Church of England. The Mass is the one thing Protestants simply couldn’t handle.
Over and above everything else, the Protestant Reformation was a massive rejection of the Catholic Mass. Almost everything the Protestants did was designed to rid the world of the Catholic Mass.
Which is to try to rid the world of Jesus himself. There’s nothing new about that.
So what is Mass really?
Well, in short, the Catholic Mass is the supreme worship of Almighty God in the universe. It is the everlasting and constant offering of Jesus Christ to God for the glory of God and the salvation of all people.
The Catholic Mass is designed to save humanity. It IS the Gospel of Jesus Christ. He said so himself: ‘This Cup IS the New Testament in my blood.’
The New Testament is not primarily a set of writings; it is the Blood of Jesus; it is the Cup of the Eucharist in the Mass.
This is the Gospel, and absolutely nothing less.
There is nothing in heaven or on earth which is greater than the Mass. The Mass is God himself.
The Catholic saints speak in these very sorts of ways. They say things like:
‘No greater benefits – both spiritual and temporal, and eternal – can ever be gained by anything else other than the Mass.’
‘It would be easier for the world to survive without the sun than to do so without the Holy Mass.’ – St Padre Pio.
‘The Mass is the most perfect form of prayer’ – St Pope Paul VI.
‘The celebration of Holy Mass is as valuable as the death of Jesus on the cross’ – St Thomas Aquinas.
‘The Eucharist is the source and summit of Christian life’ – St Pope John Paul II
‘The best way to economize time is to ‘lose’ half an hour each day attending Holy Mass.’ – Frederic Ozanam
There are so many other quotes that could be added, but these are enough to show that Catholic Mass is something incredibly, incredibly unique and special.
The Two Liturgies at Mass
Catholics believe that the celebration of Holy Mass is divided into two liturgies, each united.
The first is the Liturgy of the Word. In this first half of Mass, we hear the divine Scriptures read aloud in public and then the priest (or deacon) gives a sermon.
In the second half of the Mass, we enter the Liturgy of the Eucharist. It is this that is the most sacred moment.
It is as if in the first half we enter the Tabernacle and Temple of old, but in the second half of the Mass we begin to enter the Holy of holies itself.
During the Liturgy of the Eucharist, the power of the Holy Spirit comes amongst us and, through the hands of the priest, ordinary bread and wine are miraculously transformed into the very, living Flesh and Blood of the Almighty, Jesus Christ.
God comes down onto the altar before us.
Do we see anything? Not usually, no, although there have been instances in Catholic history where Eucharistic miracles have occurred. These are fascinating, and reveal what really happens in the Eucharist beyond our senses.
But usually, no, we do not see anything. We don’t witness any change happening to the bread and wine. We don’t smell or taste anything different.
It must all be received and accepted on the basis of faith. By faith we understand that what looks and tastes completely ordinary is actually the living Christ himself.
Thankfully! Could you imagine how awful it would be if the Saviour gave us his flesh and blood in the form of actual flesh and blood? That would make receiving his divine Flesh very difficult for us. This is God’s mercy to us that we cannot see or taste any difference.
God makes it easy for us to receive him and worship him. To worship God properly, all we have to do is attend Mass and listen, trying to pay attention. We don’t even need to receive the Eucharist, though we have to receive it at least once a year. (Most Catholics these days receive the Eucharist everytime they go to Mass.)
So there you have it. This is what Catholics believe about Mass.
We believe the Catholic Mass is by far the most important thing in all the world. It is BY FAR the fastest and most time-tested way to become a truly great saint.
This is why so many of us attend daily Mass. It isn’t enough for so many Catholics to attend Mass merely once a week. They feel they must go daily!
If you have any questions or if I can be of any further assistance, please get in touch.
God bless you greatly!