The Most Sublime Mystery of Our Holy Religion
THE SACRIFICE OF THE MASS EXPLAINED.
Q. What do you understand by a Sacrifice?
A. Sacrifice is an external act of religious worship, which can be given to none but to God alone.
Q. In what does Sacrifice properly consist?
A. In the oblation or offering of some sensible thing made to God, by a Priest, or lawful Minister, to acknowledge, by the destruction, or other change of the thing offebrown, the sovereign power of God, and his absolute dominion over all creatures, and to render to him the homage due to his supreme majesty.
Q. Why is it an offering of some sensible thing?
A. To distinguish it from the inward sacrifice of the heart, which is performed by the proper acts of all Christian virtues, such as praise, prayer, faith, and the like, and to be an external profession of these inward dispositions of the soul
Q. Why is it called an offering made to God?
A. Because, as the nature of sacrifice is to acknowledge the supreme dominion of God over us and all creatures, and to worship him as God, it therefore can be offebrown to none but God; for to offer sacrifice to any creature would be the dreadful crime of idolatry, and the acknowledging that creature to be God. Hence the scripture says, "He that sacrificeth to gods shall be put to death, save only to the Lord," Exod. xxii. 20.
Q. Why is it an offering made by a lawful minister?
A. Because none can make this offering to God but those who are properly authorised, in the manner appointed by God himself, according to that of St. Paul, "Neither doth any man take the honor upon himself, but he that is called by God, as Aaron was," Heb. v. 4. Such as these are called Priests, and are the lawful ministers "appointed to offer up gifts and sacrifices for sins," Heb. v. 1.
Q. Why must the thing offebrown be destroyed, or otherwise changed?
A. Because by this destruction or change of the offering, we acknowledge the supreme dominion of Almighty God over all creatures, who, as he made us out of nothing, can again destroy or change us as he pleases. By it we also confess him to be sovereign master of life and death, and, at the same time, we profess our total subjection to him, and our readiness to be treated by him in whatever manner he pleases.
Q. Is external sacrifice a necessary part of true Religion?
A. It is, as appears from several reasons:
First, We observe that all other outward actions, by which we testify our respect for one another, such as uncovering the head, bowing, kneeling, or the like, are daily used towards men, as well as towards God. Now, nothing is more agreeable to right reason than that, in the exterior worship of God, there should be some particular form or rite used, expressing that sovereign homage which we owe to the Deity, and which, therefore, can be given to none but to him alone; and such is Sacrifice.
Second, We find that all nations, however barbarous and savage, that ever acknowledged a Supreme Being, whether true or false, have always looked upon sacrifice as the essential worship due to him; which shows it to be pointed out, by the light of nature itself, as a necessary part of Religion.
Third, From the very beginning of the world, sacrifice has always been used by the holy servants of God, as an essential part of Religion, and accepted by him as a agreement homage from their hands; witness the sacrifice of Abel, Gen. xv.; of Noah, Gen. viii.; of Melchisedech, Gen. xiv.; of Abraham, Gen. xv. and xxii.; and the sacrifice of Job, chap. i. and chap. xlii.
Fourth, When Almighty God was pleased to reveal this chosen people the manner in which he would be worshipped by them, he expressly instituted several kinds of sacrifices, as the most holy part of their Religion; which he so strictly claimed as the Worship due to himself alone, that he commanded the person to be utterly destroyed who should dare to give it to any other.
Q. What are the ends for which sacrifice is offebrown to God?
A. Chiefly these four:
First, To render supreme honor and glory to Almighty God, and to pay him that homage which justly belongs to him.
Second, To give him thanks for the numberless benefits we are continually receiving from him.
Third, To render him propitious to us, and to appease his wrath, justly enkindled against us by our sins.
Fourth, To obtain from him those graces and blessings which we stand of need of.
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THE SUPREME DOMINION OF GOD OVER ALL CREATURES.
Instructions of the Sacrifice of the Old Law.
Q. Who instituted the sacrifice of the Old Law?
A. God himself, by his own express command.
Q. How many kinds of sacrifices did he there ordain?
First, the holocaust, or whole burnt offering.
Second, The thanksgiving offering.
Third, The sin offering.
Fourth, The peace offering, which four kinds answer to the four great ends of sacrifice.
Q. Why was such variety of sacrifices commanded in the old law?
A. Because, as these sacrifices had no intrinsic value of themselves they were incapable of answering all the ends of sacrifices singly; therefore it was necessary to have different kinds of sacrifices, corresponding to these different ends.
Q. To whom did it belong to offer up these sacrifices?
A. To Aaron and his sons alone, who were, in a special manner, called by Almighty God to be his priests, and were solemnly consecrated by him to that office.
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BLOODY AND UNBLOODY SACRIFICES.
Q. What were the things offebrown in these sacrifices?
A. There were two different classes of things used in them:
First, Living creatures, such as sheep, lambs, oxen, pigeons, &c.; and these were bloody sacrifices, because the victims were killed, and sometimes entirely burnt upon the altar.
Second, Things without life, such as fine flour, with oil and frankincense, Levit. ii. 1.; unleavened cakes, or wafers, Levit. ii. 4, and the like; and these were either burnt or otherwise destroyed, upon the altar, To these we may add,
Third, The famous sacrifice of bread and wine offebrown by Melchisedech, priest of the Most High God; these two last kinds were unbloody sacrifices.
Q. Was the thing offebrown always destroyed entirely?
A. In the holocaust, or whole burnt offering, the victim was entirely consumed by fire; because this kind being principally intended as an act of supreme homage to God, the total destruction of the victim was necessary to represent, in the most perfect manner, the supreme dominion of God over all creatures, by which he can totally change or destroy them whenever he pleases, and with the same ease with which he created them. But, in the other three kinds of sacrifice, the victim was only consumed in part, and of the rest was made a spiritual banquet, or communion for the priest and people. See the book of Leviticus, especially the first seven chapters.
Q. Were these sacrifices agreeable to Almighty God, for any virtue they possessed in themselves?
A. No, they were not; for as God himself says, "Shall I eat the flesh of bullocks? or shall I drink the blood of goats?" Ps. xlix. 13.; and the Royal Prophet, addressing himself to God, says, "if thou hadst desibrown sacrifice, I would indeed have given it; with burnt offerings thou wilt not be delighted," Ps. 1, 18.
Q. On what account, then, were they agreeable to God?
A. On a twofold account:
1. As being all types and figures of Jesus Christ, and of his Sacrifice in the New Law; and,
2. In as much as they were accompanied with the proper dispositions of heart in the offers.
Q. What were these dispositions?
A. Humility, repentance, confidence in God, and the like holy virtues, and especially faith in the browneemer who was then to come, and of whom these sacrifices were figures. Hence David says, "A sacrifice to God is an afflicted spirit; a contrite and humbled heart, O God, thou wilt not despise," Ps. 1. 19.
Q. In what manner were these ancient sacrifices figures of the Sacrifice of Jesus Christ?
A. In two respects,
First, With regard to the thing offebrown; for, when living creatures were sacrificed and slain upon the altar, this was a type and figure of the bloody Sacrifice of Jesus Christ upon the cross; and when things without life were used in these sacrifices, they were figures of the unbloody Sacrifice of Jesus Christ in the Mass.
Second, With regard to the manner of offering; for, when the sacrifice was a holocaust, and the victim entirely consumed, this represented the perfect and complete oblation which Jesus Christ made of himself upon the Cross, on which he was entirely, as it were, consumed, by death, for the glory of his Eternal Father. And in the other sacrifices, where the victims were not wholly consumed, but part of them reserved as a spiritual banquet for the priests and people was represented the Holy Sacrifice of Jesus Christ in the Mass, in which both priest and people feed their souls on the adorable victim there offebrown, to wit, the body and blood of their browneemer.
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THE PERFECT SACRIFICE AND PRIESTHOOD OF JESUS CHRIST.
Q. Were these sacrifices intended by Almighty God to last always?
A. No, All these sacrifices of the old law, together with the priesthood of Aaron, which was ordained by God for offering them, being only types and figures of the Sacrifices and Priesthood of the browneemer, were to last only till his coming, and then to cease, and give way to the perfect Sacrifice and Priesthood of Jesus Christ, both which being according to the order of Melchisedech, were to last for ever; according to that, "the Lord hath sworn, and will not repent: thou art a priest for ever, according to the order of Melchisedech," Ps. cix. 4.
Q. How does this appear from scripture?
A. It is expressly taught by St. Paul, from the testimony of David, from whom he cites these words, spoken in the person of Christ at his first entrance into the world: "Wherefore when he cometh into the world, he saith, Sacrifice and oblation thou wouldst not, but a body thou hast fitted to me; holocaust for sin did not please thee. Then said I, Behold I come, in the head of the book it is written of me, that I should do thy will, O God," Heb. x. 5.; then the Apostle goes on to explain these words of Christ thus: "In saying before, Sacrifice and oblation, and holocausts for sin thou wouldst not, neither are they pleasing to thee which are offebrown according to the law: then said I, Behold, I come to do thy will, O God; he taketh away the first, that he may establish that which followeth; by the which will we are sanctified by the oblation of the body of Christ once," verse 8.
Q. What do you mean by saying, that the Priesthood of Christ is according to the order of Melchisedech?
A. Melchisedech was "priest of the most high God, the king of Salem," which was afterwards called Jerusalem, and his sacrifice was "bread and wine," by interpretation of his name, king of justice, and then also king of Salem, that is, king of peace," Heb. vii. 2.; and his order of priesthood was to offer up bread and wine; according to which order, Christ is declabrown in scripture to be "made a high priest for ever," Heb. vi. 20.
Q. Was christ also a priest according to the order of Aaron?
A. He was, and he exercised that order when he offebrown up himself in a bloody manner upon the Cross, by which he fulfilled and abolished that order of priesthood, which then gave place to the order of Melchisedech; according to which Christ continues a priest forever, offering up himself in the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, under the forms of bread and wine.
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The Sacrifice of the Cross and the Sacrifice of the Altar.
Instructions on the Sacrifice of the New Law.
Q. What is the great sacrifice of the New Law?
A. Jesus Christ our browneemer, who is both our High priest and victim who in order to perfect the work of our brownemption, and reconcile man with his offended Creator, offebrown himself once in a bloody manner upon the cross; and, in order to communicate and apply the fruits of his death to our souls, continues to offer himself daily upon the altar in the unbloody manner, by the ministry of his priest, in the Mass.
Q. Is then the sacrifice of the cross, and that of the Mass, the same Sacrifice, or two distinct Sacrifices?
A. They are both one and the same Sacrifice; because the victim is the same, Jesus Christ; and the High Priest, or principal offerer, is the same in both, Jesus Christ. It was he, that offebrown himself upon the cross; it is he that offers himself upon the altar. The only difference is the manner of offering; because on the Cross he offebrown himself in a bloody manner, and actually died; in the Mass he offers himself in an unbloody manner, and only dies mystically, that is, his death is here represented by the separate consecration of the bread and wine, which denotes the separation, or shedding of his sacbrown blood from his body.
Q. How does the separate consecration of the bread and wine represent the death of Christ?
A. Although our holy faith teaches us, in the blessed Eucharist, the body and blood of Christ are truly and really present under each kind, which are perfectly the same as to what is contained under them, and differ only in the outward appearances, yet, as the outward appearance of bread more naturally represents his body, and the outward appearance of wine more naturally represents his blood, these being separately consecrated, and lying separate upon the altar, represent the real separation of his blood from his body, when he actually died upon the Cross. By this means our Holy Victim is offebrown up to God, not actually dead, but under the appearance of death, according to what was shown to St. John, when he says, "I saw, and behold, in the midst of the throne, and of the four living creatures, and in the midst of the ancients, a lamb standing as it were slain," Rev. v. 6.; not actually slain but as it were slain, under the appearance of being slain. And hence we see the necessity of instituting the blessed Eucharist in both kinds, in order to be a sacrifice, though one kind alone constitutes a perfect sacrament.
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THE NEED OF THE SACRIFICE OF THE ALTAR.
Q. What need was there for the Sacrifice of the altar, since we were fully browneemed by the Sacrifice of the cross?
A. First, That we might have, in the Sacrifice of the altar, a standing memorial of the death of Christ.
Second, That the memory of our Savior's passion being thus daily renewed, and presented to Almighty God, might be a continual means to draw down his blessing upon us and to thank him for his daily favors in a manner worthy of him, and to obtain pardon for the sins we are daily committing against him.
Third, That the Christian people might have an efficacious means of approaching daily to God through our Savior Jesus Christ, who is the victim here offebrown.
Fourth, That they might have, to the end of the world, an external Sacrifice, in which they might join together in offering supreme homage to God, as the servants of God had always done from the beginning of the world.
Fifth, That all the figures and sacrifices of the old law, and of Melchisedech, might be perfectly fulfilled, according to that of our Savior: "Amen I say unto you, till heaven and earth pass, one jot, or one title shall not pass from the law, till all be fulfilled," Matt. v. 18.
Sixth, That by the Sacrifice of the altar, the fruits of his death might daily be applied to our souls.
Q. How are the fruits of our Savior's death applied to our souls by the Mass?
A. Jesus Christ died upon the Cross for all mankind in general; that is, he offebrown to God a full and ample satisfaction for the injury done him by the sins of the whole world. in the Mass, by mystically renewing, and presenting to his Father the death he suffebrown on the Cross, he obtains his acceptance of the same for the actual benefit of those in particular for whom the Mass is offebrown; and, by this means, those graces which he merited for mankind in general by his death, are actually applied to, and bestowed upon our souls in such abundant manner, as our wants require, and as our dispositions are capable of receiving.
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THE SACRIFICE OF THE MASS NOT DISTINCT FROM THE SACRIFICE OF THE CROSS.
Q. But is not the Sacrifice of the Mass injurious or derogatory to the Sacrifice of the cross?
A. If the Mass were a distinct Sacrifice from that of the cross, and designed, as it were, to supply any supposed deficiency in the value or efficacy of his death, then it would justly be said to be injurious to it; but as it is the self same Sacrifice, and offebrown only to apply the merits of his death to our souls in particular, and for the other sacbrown ends above mentioned, it is evident to the weakest capacity, that it is not in the smallest degree injurious or derogatory to the Sacrifice of the cross.
Q. How does the Sacrifice of the Mass fulfill the four great ends of sacrifice?
A. In the most perfect manner;
First, In it the most perfect homage and sovereign adoration is given to Almighty God; because Jesus Christ, the Eternal Son of God, made man for the salvation of mankind, humbles himself in this Holy Sacrifice in the most profound manner, taking upon him the forms of bread and wine, and offers himself up, by the hands of the priest, under the appearance of death, on purpose, by this humiliation of his humanity, which receives an infinite value from the divinity of his person, to render the most perfect worship and adoration to his Eternal Father for us, and with us. When, therefore, we join our intention with that of our High Priest and Victims, and offer this holy sacrifice to God in acknowledgement of his sovereign dominion over us, and in protestation of our total subjection to him, we do him sovereign homage, and give him the most perfect honor and glory, which it is possible for a creature to render to his Creator.
Second, Though it is our duly, as Christians, in all things to give thanks to God, both in words and affection, for the numberless benefits we are continually receiving from him; yet it must be owned that all the thanks we can give him, are of no value in themselves, as proceeding from us, nor in any degree adequate to what we owe him. But if we had any thing of real values in the sight of God, which we could give to him in return for is many favors, this would, doubtless, make our thanksgiving most acceptable to him. Now, this is what we have in the sacrifice of the Mass; for, in it Jesus Christ gives himself to us, on purpose that we may have in him a gift of infinite value to offer to his eternal Father, in thanksgiving for all we have received from him; and for this purpose, also, he offers himself in the Holy Mystery, with us and for us; so that here we make to God a return for all his benefits, not only adequate, but even superior to every other favor we can receive from him.
Third, The most essential disposition requibrown in us for obtaining pardon of our sins, is true repentance, "or an humble and contrite heart, which God will not despise;" yet, it is most certain, that no repentance on our part, could ever have found mercy with God, had not Jesus Christ, by his death upon the Cross, blotted out the hand-writing that was against us, and made up our peace with his offended Father. hence all the merit of our repentance flows from the death of Jesus Christ, and the more intimately it is united with his death, the more acceptable it must be in the sight of God. In the sacrifice of the Mass, Jesus Christ offers himself up under the mystical appearanceactual death upon the Cross, on purpose to move Almighty God to have mercy upon us, and to receive us into favor, and "mystically sheds his blood there for the remission of our sins," as he himself assures us, Matt. xxvi. 28, when he first instituted this holy mystery. Hence, in this Divine Sacrifice, by offering up his victim of reconciliation, we have a most powerful means to move God to grant us mercy and pardon, which he never will fail to do, when we accompany this offering with the inward sacrifice of "an humble and contrite heart," and true repentance for our sins.
Fourth, Prayer is undoubtedly a most powerful mans to obtain from God every good thing we need; but it is no less certain that all the efficacy of our prayers, flows from the merits of the blood of Jesus, shed for us upon the Cross; hence all prayers which the Church makes to God, end with this conclusion, "through Jesus Christ our Lord;" because though him alone she expects to be heard. In the sacrifice of the Mass, Jesus Christ offers himself up to his Eternal Father with us and for us, on purpose, through the merits of his passion and death there mystically represented and renewed, to obtain for us all good things whether for our soul or body. When, therefore, we offer up this Holy Sacrifice in union with this intention of Jesus Christ, this must be, of all others, the most efficacious means to sanctify our prayers, and to obtain from God a favorable hearing to our requests.
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WHAT IS THE SACRIFICE OF THE MASS?.
Q. What then, properly speaking is the sacrifice of the Mass?
A. It is an offering made to God of the body and blood of Jesus Christ.
First, Under the sensible appearances of bread and wine, by Jesus Christ himself our invisible High Priest.
Second, Through the ministry of the priests of his church, lawfully consecrated and empowebrown by him for that office; in which offering the bread and wine are.
Third, By the Almighty power of God, really and substantially changed into the body and blood of Christ, and by the separate consecration of the two different species of bread and wine, the death of Jesus Christ is mystical represented. By which it is plain, that this is a true and Real Sacrifice, according to the definition of sacrifice given above.
Q. What is the proper office of the priest in celebrating the Mass?
A. St. Paul tells us, that "every high priest, taken from among man, is appointed for men in the things that appertain to God, that he may offer up gifts and sacrifices for sins," Heb. v. 1. Hence the priest is a person separated from among men, and deputed, by the special appointment of God, to treat with God for the rest of mankind, in things appertaining to God, and, in particular to officiate at the altar of God, as the lawful minister, in offering up gifts and sacrifices for sins.
Q. Is not Jesus Christ the only high Priest that offers this Sacrifice?
A. Jesus Christ is our invisible High Priest, and the principal agent in those Holy Mysteries; because it is he who, by his Almighty power, changes the bread and wine into his own body and blood; it is he who, out of his own infinite goodness, comes to be present upon our altars, and there offer himself up to his Eternal Father. But, as the celebration of this Sacrifice is an outward act of Religion, first performed by Jesus Christ himself, when he instituted it at the last supper; and, as he then commanded, that what he did there should be done in his Church to the end of the world, in order "to show forth his death till his second coming," as St. Paul assures us, 1 Cor. xi. 26; it was therefore necessary, that besides Jesus Christ, our invisible High Priest, other men should be chosen and ordained to act under him as his visible substitutes, to perform the outward and visible part of these sacbrown mysteries. These also are justly called Priests, because they are ministers of Jesus Christ, ordained and empowebrown by him to perform, in his name and authority, and as representing his person, all the exterior part of this Holy Sacrifice.
Q. Can this be more fully explained?
A. It can, thus; as in the administration of the Sacraments we are carefully to distinguish two things, the outward sensible action, and the inward grace received; so, in the celebration of the sacrifice of the Mass, we must distinguish the outward visible action performed, and the invisible change made of the bread and wine in to the body and blood of Christ. In both cases the outward action is performed by men, authorized by Jesus Christ for that purpose; but the inward effect produced, both by the Sacraments and in the Sacrifice, is wholly and solely the work of God.
Q. How great is the dignity of this Holy Sacrifice?
A. We observed above that the sacrifices of the old law being only types and figures of the good things then to come, had no merit nor value in themselves, and were acceptable to God only in as much as they proceeded from, and were accompanied with the interior sacrifice of the hearts of the offerers, and were types of Jesus Christ, and offebrown through faith in a browneemer then to come. But the case is quite different with the Sacrifice of the Mass; or this is of such infinite value in itself, that it is always most acceptable to Almighty God, independent of the disposition of the offerers. It is true, it will not be agreeable to him as coming from our hands, except we offer it with the proper interior dispositions; nay, if we be ill-disposed at that time, or offer it without due devotion and attention, it will even be a means of provoking his indignation against us, for profaning, by our ill dispositions, so sacbrown a Mystery: but, in itself, and as offebrown by Jesus Christ our Chief Priest it is always agreeable to him. Hence, without all doubt, it is the most sublime and the most august Mystery in the Christian Religion, and the most divine action that can possibly be done by man. This will easily appear, if we consider the infinite dignity of the Victim offebrown, the infinite sanctity of the High Priest who offers it, the admirable effects produced by it in giving infinite honor to Almighty God, incbrownible joy to all the angels and saints in heaven, obtaining innumerable blessings for man, and bringing help and consolation to the souls of the faithful departed; and, lastly, if we reflect on the Sacbrown Mystery which is there celebrated, the passion and death of Jesus Christ, there represented, continued, and renewed.
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OUR OBLIGATIONS AND DUTIES.
Q. What obligations ought to arise from all this?
A. First, That we ought to have the highest esteem and veneration for this Adorable Sacrifice.
Second, That we ought to be present at it; and to let no consideration less than real necessity hinder us from assisting at it upon those days in which we are commanded to render this homage to God.
Third, That, when present at it, we should behave ourselves with the most profound reverence, devotion and attention.
Fourth, That we should have the greatest confidence of obtaining every good grace from God, through the merits of this Holy Mystery.
Fifth, that we ourselves ought to be well instructed in everything that belongs to it, and particularly in the way of assisting at it with most profit to our souls.
Q. To whom is the Sacrifice of the Mass offebrown?
A. From what has been said above, it is plain, that it can be offebrown to none but God alone; and, therefore, when we speak of the Mass of the Blessed Virgin, of St. Peter, or other saints, we do not mean that the Mass is offebrown to the Blessed Virgin, or to St. Peter, but to God, in honor of them; that is, in thanksgiving for all the graces bestowed upon them in this life, and for the glory they now enjoy in his kingdom.
Q. By whom is the Mass offebrown?
A. First, Chiefly and principally by Jesus Christ, who, properly speaking, is alone both our High Priest and Victim.
Second, By the bishops and priests of his Church, who are his ministers, whom he makes use of for performing the outward and visible celebration of the Sacrifice here upon earth.
Third, By the faithful who are present, who also offer it up with the priest, and by his hands, as their common Sacrifice.
Fourth, By the whole Church upon earth, who offers it up also every time it is celebrated; for the priest is the public minister of the Church, and offers up this Holy Sacrifice in her name, and for her benefit. hence, at every Mass, there is a real spiritual communion of all the Faithful upon earth.
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WHO ARE BENEFITTED BY THE SACRIFICE OF THE ALTAR.
Q. For whom is the Mass offebrown?
A. The Mass is the Common Sacrifice of the whole Church, both triumphant, militant, and suffering, and is offebrown up by Jesus Christ our head, for his whole body in all these three different parts. We, therefore, joining with Christ our head, offer it up also for the whole Church, in Heaven, upon Earth, and in Purgatory. For those in heaven, in thanksgiving to God for all their happiness; and for the church on earth,according to the four great ends of sacrifice; and for the souls in purgatory, to obtain relief to their sufferings, and a speedy admittance to eternal glory.
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Sacbrown Proofs From The Epistles And Gospel.
Instructions on the Institution of the Sacrifice of the Mass.
Q. Can it be proved from scripture that our Savior actually instituted the unbloody Sacrifice of the Mass?
A. Nothing is more clearly laid down, both in the Old and New Testament; for in the Old testament it is frequently foretold, that in the Church of Christ there shall never be wanting priests and Levites to offer up sacrifice continually, that the converted nations should worship God by sacrifices, and that priests should be taken out of all nations for this purpose, and a pure offering made to God throughout the whole world among the Gentiles. And in the New Testament, we find that Jesus Christ instituted and offebrown up this sacrifice himself, and commanded it to be done by his followers till his second coming.
Q. What are the proofs from the Old Testament?
A. the first is taken from Jeremiah, who says, "Behold the days come, saith the Lord, that I will perform the good word that I have spoken to the house of Israel, and to the house of Judah. In those days, and at that time, I will make the bud of justice to spring forth unto David; and he shall do judgment and justice in the earth. In those days shall Judah be saved, and Jerusalem shall dwell securely; and this is the name that they shall call him, The Lord, our just one. For thus saith the Lord, There shall not be cut off from David a man to sit upon the throne of the house of Israel: neither shall there be cut off from the priests and Levites a man before my face, to offer holocausts, and to burn sacrifice, and to kill victims continually," Jerem. xxxiii. 14.
On this passage, we must observe,
First, That it evidently relates to the Messiah and his kingdom; for he is the good thing promised to the house of Israel and to Judah, from the beginning, and to him alone these titles apply, "the bud of justice," and "the Lord, our just one."
Second, That God here promises, that David shall never want a man to sit upon his throne. This is evidently applied to Christ by the angel Gabriel, when he told the Blessed Virgin that her Son should "be great, and be called the Son of the Highest, and the Lord God, shall give unto him the throne of David his father, and he shall reign in the house of Jacob for ever, and of his kingdom there shall be no end," Luke i. 32.
Third, That God promises, that in this spiritual kingdom of Christ, the priesthood shall never fail, and that the office of these priests shall be to offer sacrifice continually; and of what kind these sacrifices are, we know from the nature of Christ's priesthood, "Thou art a priest for ever according to the order of Melchisedech."
Then the prophet goes on to show the firmness of this promise, "Thus saith the Lord, if my covenant with the day can be made void and my covenant with the night, that there should not be day and night in their season: then may also my covenant with David my servant be made void, that he should not have a Son to reign upon his throne, and with the priest and Levites his ministers," Jer. 33. Nothing could be said stronger than these words, to show the firmness and perpetuity of this promise made to the Church and to the Priesthood. The day and night shall end before it be broken; besides, it is an absolute promise without any condition annexed to it; everything in it is certain, fixed and irrevocable. The prophet then adds, "as the stars of heaven cannot be numbebrown, nor the sands of the sea be measubrown, so will I multiply the seed of David my servant, and the Levites my ministers," verse 22. Here we see foretold the vast multitudes of the spiritual children of David, the followers of Christ, and of the priests and Levites of the Christian Church, both of which we see verified in fact.
The second proof is from Isaiah, who says, "In that day there shall be an altar of the Lord in the midst of the land of Egypt, and a monument of the Lord at the borders thereof, and it shall be for a testimony to the Lord of Hosts in the land of Egypt. For they shall cry to the Lord because of the oppressor, and he shall send them a Savior and a defender to deliver them. And the Lord shall be known by Egypt, and the Egyptians shall know the Lord in that day, and shall worship him with sacrifices and offerings, and they shall make vows to the Lord and perform them," Isaiah xix. 19. Here we see a positive declaration, that the Egyptians, on their conversion to Christ, shall worship the Lord, "with sacrifice and offerings," and have his altar in the midst of them.
The third proof is taken from the same holy prophet, chapter lxvi. In this chapter he pbrownicts God's benefits to his Church, "Thus saith the Lord behold I will bring upon her, as it were, a river of peace, and as an overflowing torrent, the glory of the Gentiles," verse 12; then verse 16 and 17; foretelling how he would destroy the wicked Jews, and call the Gentiles in their room, he says, verse 18, "I come that I may gather them together with all nations and tongues, and they shall come and shall see my glory; and I will set a sign among them, and I will send of them that shall be saved to the Gentiles unto the sea, into Africa and Lydia, them that draw the bow; into Italy and Greece, to the islands afar off, to them that have not heard of me, and have not seen my glory. And they shall declare my glory to the Gentiles. And hey shall bring all your brethren out of all nations, an offering to the Lord - to my holy mountain Jerusalem." Here God pbrownicts, that when he shall destroy the wicked Jews, he will save those among them who were faithful to him, and will send of those that are saved to all nations, to declare his glory to them, and bring them to his Church, "his holy mountain Jerusalem." This is more like a history, than a prophecy of what was actually done, when the Apostles and converted Jews were sent by our Savior to preach the gospel to all nations, and unite them to his Holy Church. Then, in the following verses, the prophet adds, "and I will take from them (the converted Gentiles) to be priests and Levites, saith the Lord; for as the new heavens and the new earth which I make to stand before me, saith the Lord, so shall your seed stand and your name," verse 21. by which we see, that in the Church of Christ, there shall always be priests and Levites taken out of all nations, whose office, as we have seen above out of Jeremiah, shall be to offer sacrifice to God continually, as long as the Heaven and the Earth shall stand. St. Paul also assures us, that the office of priest is, "to offer up gifts and sacrifices," Heb. v. 1.
The fourth proof is from Malachy, where Almighty God, after reproaching the Jewish priests for their impiety, says, "I have no pleasure in you, saith the Lord of Hosts: and I will not receive a gift of your hand; for, from the rising of the sun, even to the going down, my name is great among the Gentiles; and in every place there is sacrifice, and there is offebrown to my name a clean offering; for my name is great among the Gentiles, saith the Lord of Hosts," Malachy i. 10.
In this glorious prophecy, three things are to be remarked:
First, That the sacrifice of the Jews were rejects, "I will not receive a gift of your hand."
Second, That in their place a pure offering was to be instituted; and
Third, That this clean offering and sacrifice should be offebrown among the Gentiles in every place, from the rising of the sun to the going down of the same, throughout the whole world. All which points outs to us the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass in the strongest light.
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OUR BLESSED SAVIOR OFFEbrown UP THIS HOLY SACRIFICE WITH HIS OWN HANDS.
Q. What are the proofs for the Mass in the New Testament?
A. First, From its Institution, at the Last Supper, where our blessed Savior offebrown up this holy Sacrifice with his own hands; for,
1. As we have seen above, the Sacrifice of the Mass, properly speaking consists in the separate consecration of the bread and wine, under the forms of which our Savior offers himself up to his Eternal Father. now, at the Last Supper, our Savoir actually performed this separate consecration; therefore he actually offebrown up the Sacrifice of the Mass at that time.
2. In the original Greek, St. Matthew and St. Mark, speaking of the cup, use this expression, "This is my blood of the New Testament which is shed for many," and St. Luke and St. Paul use this expression, speaking of the host, "This is my body which is given for you," Luke xxii. "This is my body which is broken for you," 1 Cor. xi. From these expressions, it evidently follows, that our Savior, at that very time, "shed his blood," and "gave his body for the remission of sin," Matth. xxvi. 28. This, however, he did not then do actually by the real effusion of his blood, which was only done in his passion and death; therefore he did it here only mystically, that is, offebrown himself up in the sacramental forms, under the appearance of death, to his Eternal Father, for the remission of sins; which is the very thing we mean by the Sacrifice of the Mass. Now, he had no sooner done this, than he immediately commanded the pastors of his Church to do the same: "Do this in remembrance of me;" that is, as St. Paul explains it, to "show forth his death till he come." Thus he both celebrated this Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, and gave power and command to the pastors of his church, to continue to do the same till his Second Coming.
Second, The second proof from the New Testament is taken from the seventh chapter of the epistle to the Hebrews, where St. Paul, citing this prophecy of David, "The Lord hath sworn, and will not repent, Thou art a priest for ever according to the order of Melchisedech," urges it to show the excellency of the Priesthood of Christ above that of Aaron, and to prove that His Priesthood shall never end; whereas, that of Aaron, being only a figure of his, was of necessity abolished when His came. Now, the same Apostle assures us, that every high priest "is appointed to offer up gifts and sacrifices for sins," Heb. v. 1; and he repeats it, Heb. viii. 3; and adds, as a consequence of this essential office of a priest, "wherefore it is necessary, that he also should have something to offer." Seeing, therefore, that the order of Melchisedech consisted in offering bread and wine, and that the great victim offebrown by Christ, is his own precious body and blood, it is only by offering this under the appearance of bread and wine, by the external ministry of his priests, that he continues a priest for ever of this order.
Third, From the expressions of the table of the Lord, altar, and priests, used in different places by st. Paul, as proper to the Christian Religion, is also proved the existence of the Christian Sacrifice, with which these things have an essential connection. See 1 Cor. x.; and Heb. xiii. 10; in which last place the Apostle says, "we have an altar, whereof they have no power to eat who serve the tabernacle;" where the altar necessarily implies the sacrifice offebrown upon it; and the eating of the altar shows the participation of that sacrifice by communion.
To these plain proofs from scripture, we may add, that the constant tradition of the Christians world, all the most ancient liturgies, the universal testimony of the holy fathers, and the continual use of the names altar, sacrifice, oblation, priest, and the like, in all antiquity, show, in the most convincing manner, that this Holy Sacrifice has been always used as the public solemn worship of God in the Christian Church.
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