"The Sacrifice of the Mass forms a pivot on which all else turns. If it is what Catholics believe it is, then here is the greatest external manifestation of the love of God for man, and the most magnificent testimonial to the validity of Catholicism; but if it is false, it is the worst farce and blasphemy ever perpetrated upon God or man, and the Catholic faith collapses into nothingness." Cardinal Francis J. Spellman
WHAT IS THE MASS?
The Mass, its full title being ‘The Sacrifice of the Mass’, is the principal act of worship in the Roman Catholic Church. It is also known as the ‘Eucharist Sacrifice’, through which, according to Vatican II, "...the work of our redemption is exercised." Rome maintains that through the Mass, "...Christ communicates those graces which through His death He secured for mankind."1
Respected Roman Catholic scholar, Ludwig Ott, writes: "The Eucharist cures the diseases of the soul by purging it of venial sins and the temporal punishments due to sin."2 Ott goes on to describe the Mass as "...a sacrifice of expiation and impetration..."3
The Documents of Vatican II, in dealing with the ‘sacrament’ of the Mass, state that the other six sacraments, as well as every ministry of the Roman Catholic Church and all the work of the apostolate, "...are linked with the Holy Eucharist and are directed toward it." In addition, the Document declares: "The faithful, already marked with the sacred seal of baptism and confirmation, are through the reception of the Eucharist fully joined to the Body of Christ."
Rome says that the Mass is primarily a sacrifice: "Holy Mass is a sacrifice, when the sacrifice is offered it is followed by a sharing of the Victim, communion. Greater emphasis must be placed on the sacrificial aspect... In teaching children let them be taught that the Mass is first and foremost a sacrifice."4
The writings of Pope Paul VI in ‘The Credo of the People of God’, state: "We believe that the Mass, celebrated by the priest...is the sacrifice of Calvary rendered sacramentally present on our altars..." One Roman Catholic publication says of the Mass: "It is offering to God the sacrifice of Christ and receiving Christ’s Body and Blood as spiritual food...The Mass is the sacrifice in which the (Roman Catholic) Church adores God, through, with and in Jesus Christ."5
Roman Catholicism teaches that, in the Mass, Jesus Christ repeatedly offers Himself for the salvation of the world. The Council of Trent has proclaimed this ‘sacrifice’ as "...identical with the sacrifice of the Cross, inasmuch as Jesus Christ is a priest and Victim both. The only difference lies in the manner of offering, which is bloody on the cross and bloodless on our altars." The Roman Catholic Catechism explains that the whole reason for attending Mass is "...to offer sacrifice to God."6
The same Catechism also claims: "The Mass is the true sacrifice of the New Law for in it our Lord, Jesus Christ, through the priest offers Himself to God the Father for the living and the dead..." The whole concept of this ‘sacrifice’ is that Jesus "...continues the offering He made on the cross."7
Exactly why the sacrifice of Jesus has to be repeated, or continued, is a question that the Roman Catholic Church finds difficult to answer from the Scriptures. As we shall see in a later chapter, this teaching is in clear contradiction with the Roman Catholic Bible, which says that God’s chosen people "...have been consecrated through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ ONCE FOR ALL" (Hebrews 10:10). With seeming indifference toward this and other passages from the Word of God that deal with the crucial matter of Christ’s one and only offering, the Question & Answer Catholic Catechism teaches: "In the Mass, no less than on Calvary, Jesus really offers His life to His heavenly Father."
During the course of the Roman ‘sacrifice,’ the Roman Catholic priest first offers the bread, and then the wine, and then, "...turns to the congregation and says, ‘Pray, brethren, that my sacrifice and yours may be acceptable to God the Father Almighty."8
What follows is called the ‘Consecration’, where, it is believed, the bread and wine actually become the literal Body and Blood, Soul and Divinity, of the Lord Jesus Christ. "The Roman Church teaches that Christ, in the form of ‘the Host’ (the consecrated wafer), is in reality upon the altar, and that the priests have Him in their power, that they hold Him in their hands, and carry Him from place to place."9 The book, ‘My Catholic Faith’, teaches: "The priest is ‘Alter Christus’— another Christ...The dignity of a priest is higher than any earthly dignity. He has power that the most powerful civil ruler does not possess. The humblest priest by his word can call down God upon the altar and convert bread and wine into the Body and Blood of Christ."
The communion bread, in the form of a thin, round wafer, is eaten by the priest, who then partakes of the wine on behalf of the assembly, as this part of the sacrament is usually withheld from the people for fear that a drop of ‘Jesus’ blood’ might be spilt. However, there is no such directive given in the Roman Catholic Bible.
The Lord Jesus Himself said, "...drink from it ALL of you..." (Matthew 26:27). Mark 14:23 tells us, "...He took a cup, gave thanks, and gave it to them, and they ALL drank from it." This Roman Catholic ruling has been relaxed somewhat in more recent years, to the point where it is now common in some churches to allow both the bread and wine to be received by the congregation.
Once having drunk the wine, the priest then proceeds to take a golden dish containing smaller wafers to the congregation, who walk in orderly queues toward the altar to receive the communion wafers. The congregant then returns to his seat, "...knowing that he has Christ’s body and blood within him."10
Children as young as nine years of age may receive instructions in preparation for their first ‘holy communion’, an occasion that is of the utmost importance to Rome. Ignatius Loyola, founder of the Society of Jesus—better known as the Jesuits—once commented: "If...children have made a good first communion they will be submissive to the Pope. Like the stick in the hands of the traveller, they will have no will, no thought of their own!"11
All Roman Catholics are taught from infancy to believe that by attending Mass, they are storing up good works for themselves in order to offset the evil that they have done in their lives. "Attendance at Mass gives him a sense of having fulfilled his duty. He has met the requirement. Regardless of how wicked a person he may be, if he continues to acknowledge the authority of the Roman Catholic Church by regular attendance at mass and by going to confession at least once a year, he remains a member ‘in good standing’..."12
The Baltimore Catechism declares: "It is a mortal sin not to hear Mass on a Sunday or a holy day of obligation, unless we are excused for a serious reason." A mortal sin, in the eyes of the Roman Catholic Church, is the greatest of evils, the offender being in danger of eternal damnation. In the book, ‘The Catholic Religion’, we find stated: "The Church insists that all her members must receive holy communion at least once a year and, if possible, every time they go to Mass. Thousands go to holy communion every day."13
Roman Catholic scholar, Ludwig Ott, says the Council of Trent ruled that the sacrifice of the Mass "...can be offered, not merely for the living, but also for the poor souls in purgatory."14 Roman Catholics are encouraged to pay for ‘Masses for the Dead’. They are taught that the more masses that are said, the less time the departed one need spend in the fabled Purgatory. Yet no one, with any certainty, can tell the Roman Catholic when exactly the person in Purgatory is freed, and so the paid-for Masses for the dead simply go on and on. "Purgatory had been (adopted) by Rome in A.D. 593 but it remained a very unpopular doctrine for many centuries. When Mass came into being, however, these two innovations by the Roman Catholic Church became inseparably connected with each other."15
Former Roman Catholic priest, Lucien Vinet, informs us that masses are said, and paid for, for a variety of reasons, such as: "...in honour of the saints in heaven to obtain their mediation, for spiritual and temporal favors; for health, wealth, a happy trip, protection against rain, hail, insects and for thousands of other good effects."16
Rome also has requiem or funeral masses on behalf of the dead; nuptial masses for weddings; and pontifical masses, which are conducted by a bishop or other high official of the Roman Catholic Church. These masses are all paid for, there being no such thing as a free Mass, other than the weekly Sunday Mass.
"One very prominent feature of the Mass as conducted in the Roman Catholic Church is the financial support it brings in. It is by all odds the largest income producing ceremony in the church. In Ireland there is a saying, ‘High money, high Mass; low money, low Mass; no money no Mass!’"17
THE HISTORY OF THE ROMAN CATHOLIC MASS
The Roman Catholic doctrine of the sacrifice of the Mass dates back to 1215 A.D. It is significant to note that for the first 1,200 years of Christianity, no Christian had ever heard of such a concept as the Mass or of its being a continuation of, and equally as effective as, Christ’s offering upon the cross.
The idea of the Mass was first proposed by a Benedictine monk named Radbertus, in the 9th century. The Lateran Council pronounced the Mass official Roman Catholic dogma as late as 1215, under the direction of Pope Innocent III. This was reaffirmed by the Council of Trent in 1545.
It was not until the year 1415 that Rome began to withhold the cup from the people. This decree was issued by the Council of Constance, which admitted that the Roman Church had, in previous centuries, permitted the receiving of both the bread and wine, a fact confirmed by The Catholic Encyclopedia: "It may be stated as a general fact, that down to the 12th century, in the West as well as in the East, public Communion in the churches was ordinarily administered and received under both kinds..." and "...clearly beyond dispute."18
Up until the year 1415, many popes had condemned as sacrilege the serving of only bread in the holy communion. Pope Gelasius, who served from 492-496 A.D., in a letter addressed to certain bishops, said: "We have ascertained that certain persons having received a portion of the sacred body alone abstain from partaking of the chalice of the sacred blood. Let such persons...either receive the sacrament in its entirety, or be repelled from the entire sacrament, because a division of one and the same mystery cannot take place without the same sacrilege."19
Pope Urban II presided over the Council of Clermont in 1095, which decreed in its 28th canon that, "No one shall communicate at the altar without he receives the body and blood separately and alike, unless by way of necessity, and for caution.." Pope Paschal, in 1118, agreed with Scripture that both the bread and wine were given by the Lord Jesus, "...which custom we therefore teach and command to be ALWAYS observed in Holy Church..."20
The Mass had been celebrated in Latin up until Vatican II, which ruled, in 1963, that masses could be conducted in the common language of the people. To this day a small percentage of Roman Catholics in various countries refuse to have anything to do with such Masses, preferring only to attend those which are performed in Latin.
WHAT IS TRANSUBSTANTIATION?
The Roman Catholic Mass is based on the doctrine of Transubstantiation, which simply means, ‘a change of substance’. It is perhaps the principal doctrine of the Roman Catholic Church.
Rome strongly contends that when a Roman Catholic priest exclaims the words, ‘This is my body, this is my blood’, whilst lifting up the elements, it follows that the substance of the bread and wine are miraculously changed into the actual physical body and blood, soul and divinity, of the Lord Jesus Christ!
The Roman Catechism says that the priest, "...offers sacrifice in the Mass, when, acting in the person of Jesus Christ, he uses the power of consecration and changes bread and wine into Our Lord’s Body and Blood."21 The same Catechism calls this "...God’s greatest gift to man, as well as man’s greatest offering to God."
The ‘New Saint Joseph Sunday Missal’, which is said to be ‘in accordance with the New Revised Liturgy’, includes the following under the heading, ‘The Celebrant (priest) Offers The Bread’: "Accept, Holy Father, almighty and everlasting God, this unblemished host, which I, Your unworthy servant, offer to You, my living and true God, for my countless offences and failings, for all here present, and for all the faithful, living and dead. May IT help both them and me unto salvation and eternal life. Amen."22
Pope Paul IV once wrote: "Every theological explanation which seeks some understanding of this mystery must, in order to be in accord with Catholic faith, maintain that in the reality itself, independently of our mind, the bread and wine have ceased to exist after the Consecration, so that it is the adorable body and blood of the Lord Jesus..."23
Whenever you hear any religious group tell you to accept something they are teaching, INDEPENDENTLY OF YOUR MIND, take it as a clear warning from God that you flee that group and never have anything more to do with it. God gave us our minds, and He expects us to use our minds before we accept anything being offered to us as truth. If our minds are inactive, if our ability to reason is suspended, we become mere instruments of those whose minds are active!!
The Catholic Encyclopedia defines ‘transubstantiation’ or the ‘change’ as follows: "In the Sacrament of the Eucharist the substance of bread and wine do not remain, but the entire substance of bread is changed into the body of Christ, and the entire substance of wine is changed into His blood, the species of outward semblance of bread and wine alone remaining....in each individual species the whole Christ, flesh and blood, body and soul, Divinity and humanity, is really present."24
The bread, according to Roman Catholicism, literally ‘becomes’ Jesus Christ, and includes His hair, teeth, bones, eyes, eyelashes, toes and finger nails, which to the human eye, remain bread and wine.
Listen to what the Question & Answer Catholic Catechism says if you find the above statement a mere conclusion reached by this author: "Christ is present in the Eucharist, not only with everything that makes Him man but with all that makes Him this human being. He is therefore present with all His physical and human properties, hands and feet, head and human heart. He is present with His human soul, with His thoughts, desires, and human affections."25
Following the ‘consecration’, the communion bread is subsequently referred to as the ‘Host’ (from the Latin hostia meaning victim) and is offered to God as the sacrifice of the Mass: "...take this sacrifice to Your altar in heaven. Then, as we receive from this altar the sacred body and blood of your Son, let us be filled with every grace and blessing."26 This is known as the ‘unbloody sacrifice’.
Pope Pius IV said in his Creed: "I profess...that in the Mass there is offered a true, proper and propitiatory sacrifice for the living and the dead.. And that in the most holy sacrifice of the Eucharist there is truly, really, and substantially the body and the blood together with the soul and divinity of our Lord Jesus Christ—that there is made a conversion of the whole substance of the bread into the body, and of the whole substance of the wine into the blood; which conversion the Catholic Church calls Transubstantiation; I do also confess that, under either kind alone Christ is received whole and entire and a true Sacrament."
St. Alphonse Liguori, founder of the Redemptionist Order, taught the following in regard to the Mass: "With regard to the power of the priests over the real body of Christ, it is of faith that when they pronounce the words of consecration, the incarnate God has obliged Himself to obey and come into their hands under the sacramental appearance of bread and wine. We are struck with wonder when we find that in obedience to the words of His priests—’Hoc est Corpus Meum’, (this is my body), (from which we get the familiar phrase ‘Hocus Pocus’)—God Himself descends on the altar, that He comes whenever they call Him, and as often as they call Him, and places Himself in their hands, even though they should be His enemies. And after having come He remains, entirely at their disposal and they move Him as they please from one place to another...Mary conceived Jesus only once...but by consecrating the Eucharist, the priest, as it were, conceives Him as often as he wishes...hence priests are called the parents of Jesus Christ. Thus the priest may in a certain manner be called the creator of his Creator, since by saying the words of consecration he creates as it were Jesus in the Sacrament." Liguori further adds: "The power of the priest is the power of a divine person, the transubstantiation of the bread requires as much power as the creation of the world."27
Roman Catholics are taught to believe that they actually eat the flesh of the Lord Jesus Christ and that their priests also drink His actual blood! "After the adoration of the ‘host’, the uplifted hands of the priest pretend to offer to God the very body and blood of Christ as a sacrifice for the living and the dead. Then, in the observance of the Eucharist he pretends to eat Him alive, in the presence of the people, also to give Him to the people under the appearance of bread, to be eaten by them."28
Amazingly, Roman Catholicism also claims: "...the partaking of the Body and Blood of Christ has no less an effect than to change us into what we have received."29 As shall be detailed later, the Roman Catholic Church also teaches that the bread and wine are to be adored and worshipped as God Himself!!
Another of the Roman Catholic Church’s bold and unscriptural assertions is that, although Jesus Christ is offered daily as a sacrifice upon Roman Catholic altars, "Our Lord does not die anymore, but exists upon our altars, flesh and blood, body and soul, human nature and divine nature just as He is in heaven eternally."30
The Roman Catholic Church also teaches that belief in Transubstantiation is essential to one’s salvation, and has laid curses upon any who would deny this Romanist teaching. The Council of Trent (whose rulings were affirmed by Vatican II) threatened: "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 figure, or virtue: let him be anathema (accursed)."
There are some very strange and bizarre teachings and rules that may be found in ‘The Missale Romanum’, a book of laws and regulations that the Roman Catholic Church considers extremely sacred. One example of these is found on page 58, which reads: "If the priest vomit the Eucharist, if the species appear entire, let them be reverently swallowed, unless sickness arise; for then let the consecrated species be cautiously separated and laid up in some sacred place till they are corrupted; and afterwards let them be cast into the sacrarium. But if the species do not appear, let the vomit be burned, and the ashes cast into the sacrarium." Also, "If through negligence any of the blood of Christ hath fallen on the floor, on the ground, or on the boards, let it be licked up with the tongue and let the spot be sufficiently scraped, and the scrapings burned and the ashes laid up in the sacrarium."31
THE ORIGIN AND HISTORY OF TRANSUBSTANTIATION
Along with so many other pagan teachings that Roman Catholicism has loyally and faithfully perpetuated the tradition, presenting these teachings to her unsuspecting followers as Christian, the whole concept of Transubstantiation is foreign to biblical Christianity and did not even originate within the Roman Catholic Church, but is one of the oldest ceremonies known to pagan religion. There are many pages in the scholarly work, ‘Hasting’s Encyclopedia of Religion and Ethics’, that make up an article on this subject headed, ‘Eating the God’. These pages include substantial evidence of transubstantiation rites among various anti-Christian nations, tribes and religions in the world.
The Roman Catholic Church, through the medium of its Catholic Encyclopedia, admits that: "Mithraism had a eucharist...the idea of a sacred banquet is as old as the human race and existed at all ages amongst all peoples."32 In ancient Egypt, the consecration of a cake by a priest was alleged to have changed its substance into that of an Egyptian god, Osiris, which was subsequently eaten. The drinking of wine was also part of this ancient rite.
"Even in Mexico and Central America, among those who had never heard of Christ, the belief in eating the flesh of a god was found. When Catholic missionaries first landed there, they were surprised ‘when they witnessed a religious rite which reminded them of communion...an image made of flour...after consecration by priests, was distributed among the people who ate it...declaring it was the flesh of the deity.’"33
Transubstantiation is said to be Rome’s greatest ‘miracle’. Her priests are said to call down God upon their altars, who then obediently takes upon Himself the form of bread and wine. Similar rites may also be traced to ancient forms of paganism. "The Chaldean priests pretended, by their magic spells...to bring down their divinities into their statues, so that their ‘real presence’ should be visibly manifested in them. This they called ‘the making of the gods’; and from this no doubt comes the blasphemous saying of the Popish priests, that they have power ‘to create their Creator.’"34
The whole concept of the bread and wine being miraculously changed into the real Body and Blood of Jesus Christ, finds no mention in either the Apostles’, Nicene or Athanasian Creeds. Its first credal mention was made by Pope Paul IV in 1564. "The idea of Transubstantiation was not without its problems. Tertullian (one of the early Church fathers) tells us that priests took great care that no crumb should fall—lest the body of Jesus be hurt! Even a crumb was believed to contain a whole Christ. In the Middle Ages, there were serious discussions as to what should be done if a person were to vomit after receiving communion or if a dog or mouse were by chance to eat God’s body! At the Council of Constance, it was argued whether a man who spilled some of the blood of Christ on his beard should have his beard burned or if the beard and the man should be destroyed by burning."35 The Roman Catholic Church is guilty of burning alive many in the Dark Ages who dared deny her doctrine of Transubstantiation.
THE ORIGIN AND HISTORY OF THE WAFER AND THE BLOODLESS SACRIFICE
The thin round wafer, used by Rome during holy communion, is made from a simple recipe of flour and water. The wafer is that which the Roman Catholic Church teaches becomes the literal body of Jesus Christ and yet remains bread in appearance. As we learned earlier, Roman Catholicism says that the mass is no less a sacrifice than that of Calvary; the only difference being that the Roman Catholic ‘sacrifice’ is an ‘unbloody’ sacrifice.
The Question & Answer Catechism states that Jesus Christ, "...in an unbloody way offers Himself a most acceptable Victim to the eternal Father, as he did upon the cross." As will be detailed in a later chapter, the idea of an unbloody sacrifice can never atone for sin, for the Word of God says: "...IT IS THE BLOOD, as the seat of life, THAT MAKES ATONEMENT" (Leviticus 17:11).
The unbloody sacrifice of the Roman Catholic Mass finds its beginnings in pagan worship, which featured the eating of a small round cake! The Roman Catholic Bible refers to these ‘cakes’ in Jeremiah 7:18: "...the women knead dough to make cakes for the queen of heaven..." and in chapter 44:19: "...we baked for her cakes in her image..." These cakes were the unbloody sacrifice that this Chaldean queen of heaven required.
"That ‘unbloody sacrifice’ her votaries not only offered, but when admitted to the higher mysteries, they partook of, swearing anew fidelity to her. In the fourth century, when the queen of heaven, under the name of Mary, was beginning to be worshipped in the ‘christian church’, this ‘unbloody sacrifice’ also was brought in. Epiphanius states that the practice of offering and eating it began among the women of Arabia; and at that time it was well known to have been adopted from the pagans. The very shape of the unbloody sacrifice of Rome may indicate whence it came. It is a small thin round wafer; and on its roundness the Church of Rome lays so much stress..."36
The following questions must be asked at this point: Why does the Roman Catholic Church insist that the holy communion wafer be round? Why does her particular unbloody sacrifice need to be round? Why not a square or rectangular shape? There is simply no reference in any of the New Testament accounts of the Lord’s Supper that stipulates the communion bread should be round in shape. The Bible record states that the Lord Jesus broke the bread. He did not cut it so as to render its shape round. "As we all know, bread does not break into round pieces! Breaking the bread actually represents the body of Jesus which was broken for us by the cruel beatings and stripes. But this symbolism is not carried out by serving a round, disk-shaped wafer completely whole."37
Though support for the round wafer of Roman Catholicism cannot be gained from the Holy Scriptures, it does shockingly, however, find support in its origins: upon the altars of Egypt!! "The thin round cake occurs on all (Egyptian) altars. Almost every jot or tittle in the Egyptian worship had a symbolic meaning. The round disk, so frequent in the sacred emblems of Egypt, symbolised the sun."38
"In the mystery religion of Mithraism, the higher initiates also received a small round cake or wafer of unleavened bread which symbolized the solar disk."39 The round wafer of Rome is merely a continuation of the ancient pagan tradition used to symbolize the sun!! Some Roman Catholic wafers actually include an embossed circle with tiny sun-rays around its perimeter.
This solar disk, or sun symbol, was found high above the altars of the sun god Baal, and was also used by the idolatrous Israelites during their days of apostasy, recorded in 2 Chronicles 34. "In 1854, an ancient temple was discovered in Egypt with inscriptions that show little round cakes on an altar. Above the altar is a large image of the sun. A similar sun symbol was used above the altar of the temple near the town of Babain, in upper Egypt, where there is a representation of the sun, which two priests are shown worshipping. This use of the sun image above the ‘altar’ was not limited to Egypt. Even in far away Peru, this same image was known and worshipped."40
A golden image of the sun was also exhibited in the great Temple of Babylon. In Peru, the temple of Cuzco contained the disk of the sun fixed up in flaming gold upon the wall, and all who entered the temple did bow down before it.
What will no doubt come as another shock to most Roman Catholics is the stunning fact that Roman Catholicism is also guilty of having these same sun images!! In St. Peter’s Cathedral, the virtual headquarters of Roman Catholicism, there can be seen high above the altar, at the top of each of the four 95 feet high supporting columns, which hold up a canopy, pagan-like sun images!! Moreover, further images of the sun complete with face and sun rays, are clearly visible directly below these.
In the same Roman Catholic Cathedral, "High on the wall also is a very large and elaborate golden sunburst image, just as there was in the great temple of Babylon. The sunburst images are also like the monstrance sun-image, in which the ‘host’ is placed as a ‘sun’ and before which Catholics kneel and bow."41 The sunburst image also appears on the ceiling of the canopy, which is over the altar. A similar large sun image appears high above the altar of the church of the Gesu in Rome.
That both the wafer and the unbloody sacrifice of the Roman Catholic Mass do not appear in the Roman Catholic Bible, is a fact that cannot be denied. Equally irrefutable is the evidence given in this chapter that identifies them as having originated in the darkest ceremonies and temples of ancient paganism, which in turn qualifies them as ungodly practices, totally abominable in the sight of the one pure and Holy God. Paganistic practices and traditions have no place in true Christianity. The official footnotes to 2 Corinthians 6:14-16a in the Roman Catholic Bible, which we have been quoting from throughout this series of booklets, clearly state: "...Christianity is NOT compatible with paganism."