Thursday, June 10, 2010

The Holy Sacrifice of the Mass

This post is somewhat of deviation from the others. Rather than refuting a false claim, I will try my best to explain what I believe to be one of the more difficult teachings to grasp: The Mass as a sacrifice. I will first say what it does not mean. Catholics do not re-sacrifice Christ over and over again at the Mass. That is a gross oversimplification of the rite. If we do not re-sacrifice the Lord, then what is going on? I will first direct you to the word "eternity." Eternity is not simply "always has been, is, and always shall be." It includes that concept, to be sure, but that it is not all that it is. What "eternity" truly is, is a state that exists outside of, and is thereby unaffected by, time. So what does this mean? It is kind of difficult to wrap your brain around, but everywhen is right now from God's perspective. Another way to think about it is that God is not just omnipresent in space, but also in time. Yet another way to approach it is to say that eternity is not all time, but is the place where time does not exist. One reason that this is so difficult to grasp is that although time exists in this reality, it is not an a priori truth, that is, it is not a strict and absolute necessity that time exists in all realities.

Of course you may ask, "What does this have to do with the Mass?" If every moment in time is "right now" from God's perspective, then it follows that for God, the Crucifixion is happening right now as well. And if you look into the Scriptures, we actually get a description of Heavenly worship. This is found in the very last book of the Bible: the Revelation of St. John. What is at this worship? the pertinent information is to be found in Revelation 5:6. We see the Lamb, standing as if slain. We know, from John's Gospel, that Jesus is "the Lamb of God, come to take away the sins of the world" (John 1:29). So there it is, right in the Scriptures, that the Sacrifice of Jesus is re-presented (as opposed to represented) in the heavenly worship, which is the model for earthly worship. SO do we "re-sacrifice Christ" as Catholics? No! It is the same sacrifice! The bread and wine are a presentation of the bloody sacrifice in an unbloody manner. Does this fully explain the Sacrament of the Eucharist? Not by a longshot. But that it is whay it is a Sacrament. It is a mystery. The human mind cannot fully comprehend the Mass. But perhaps it is somewhat easier to see how it truly is a sacrifice.

No comments:

Post a Comment