Why All Bible Believing Christians Must Believe in the Catholic Doctrine of the Sacrifice of the Mass: Proof Positive

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St. Gregory the Great (600 AD)

Christians throughout the world who are actively seeking to join the original “Church” which Christ founded are confronted with the myriad of communities and denominations which compete with each other. Each of these entities professes to faithfully pronounce the doctrine of the Gospel as handed down from our Lord Jesus to the Apostles, and from the Apostles onward. How to ascertain who is right? One could spend a million years picking through all the arguments, debates, claims, books, articles, journals, monographs, academic reviews, commentaries, and histories before they can boil the options down to 10 or 5 competitors. This is because there are truly so many intelligent minds that enter into the work of scholarly apologetics, and most of them are at least touching the surface, if not appropriating the whole, of the absolute truth of the content of Christ’s divine revelation. Most competing apologists grasp at least *something* true, and this is what makes it difficult to choose who is right over and against the others. X has a good point. Oh, Y has a good point. Ah, X has a good counter point to Y. <yawn> Y has a good counter point to X. On and on. Who has time for all of this? It is a truly daunting, even grueling, task for the average theologian, let alone lay person whose responsibilities allow only a sliver of time to devote to these matters.

This article will hopefully save many years and months of time by showing that there is a doctrine which is very clearly taught by the New Testament which happens to be a doctrine only upheld by a few Ecclesial communities, and which is rejected by the overwhelming majority of Christian denominations. This doctrine which I hear speak about is the real presence of Jesus Christ in the celebration of the Lord’s Supper and that a real sacrifice is carried out each time it is celebrated. I mean this – when the Lord’s Supper is commemorated, the bread and the wine are changed into the real Body and Blood of the Lord Jesus, and that the actions of the ceremony effect a true and effective sacrifice, just like the Priests of the Aaronic/Levitical ceremonies. If we manage to prove that the Bible teaches this, your search for the “one true Church” (an entity which we Last_Supper_by_Theophanes_the_Cretanhave presumed to be a real thing, but which can be proven in a different article) has been narrowed down to the Catholic Church or one of the Eastern Churches (which are made up of 3 large families – Chalcedonian Orthodox, Coptic Orthodox, Assyrian Church of the East). So 4 Ecclesial families will be proven by this article to carry clearly revealed New Testament doctrine which the overwhelming majority reject. If this is true, then your investigation has been conveniently narrowed, since all other denominations are effectively denying a substantial New Testament doctrine [please see my conclusion for the matter on Lutherans/Anglicans].

The main text from the New Testament I will be using to prove the above is from 1 Corinthians 10:14-22, as well as the motif of Christ as Priest according to the order of Melchizedek (τάξιν Μελχισέδεκ). I will insert the citation here below, and thereafter is my arguments on both wavelengths in the ongoing commentary:

“Therefore, my beloved, flee from idolatry. I speak as to wise men; judge for yourselves what I say. The cup of blessing which we bless, is it not the communion (κοινωνία) of the blood of Christ? The bread which we break, is it not the communion ((κοινωνία) of the body of Christ? For we, though many, are one bread and one body; for we all partake (μετέχομεν) of that one bread. Observe Israel after the flesh: Are not those who eat of the sacrifices communicators (κοινωνοὶ) of the altar? What am I saying then? That an idol is anything, or what is offered to idols is anything?  Rather, that the things which the Gentiles sacrifice they sacrifice to demons and not to God, and I do not want you to have communion (κοινωνοὺς) with demons.  You cannot drink the cup of the Lord and the cup of demons; you cannot partake (μετέχειν) of the Lord’s table and of the table of demons. Or do we provoke the Lord to jealousy? Are we stronger than He?

Even though I’ve only selected verses 14-22 to deal with in particular, the citation is couched inside a very thorough-going argument all the way back to chapter 8, which opens us with, “Now concerning things offered to idols” (1 Cor 8:1). From 8:1 the trajectory taken by St. Paul is defined by a particular dispute which his Gentile and Jewish contemporaries were faced with in a specific first century Greco-Roman context. The Greeks entered into the Christian church in throngs during the opening decades of the Apostolic mission which began in Jerusalem. It is no wonder then that the first rifts in the church were pertaining to how Gentiles are to become “members“, i.e. beneficiaries of the Covenant of Israel’s God. As any reader of the New Testament picks up, it was File_-Saint_Paul_Writing_His_Epistles__by_Valentin_de_Boulognepresumed that for Gentiles to have an authentic share in the Covenant of God, they would need to be “Judaized”, i.e. males circumcised, obedience to the legislation given at Mt. Sinai, Food laws, Holy Days, etc,etc. However, divine intervention proved otherwise, and the Law of Moses, however much in the plan of God, was fulfilled, and thus passed away. Gentiles would only require the reception of the Holy Spirit poured out by Jesus Christ through the sacrament of baptism (Acts 2:36), and they would be constituted “sons of Abraham” (Gal 3:28), and thus “heirs” of the inheritance promised in the Abrahamic oath. This much is clear as day. However, the Gentiles who converted from being involved in paganism often had brought with them many instinctual superstitions from man-made religion, as well as cultic practices which were now denounced as demonic and idolatrous. One of these was the eating of the flesh of slain animals which were offered by the pagan worshipers to the gods, or, more properly, the idols.

It was quite common for there to be a banquet in a pagan temples which had the meat of the sacrifices on the table. The temple served as both a place to share in the ritual meal as well as a butcher shop where the edible parts of the sacrificed animals were put on the market (1 Cor 10:25). Consequently, some people had meat in their own homes which was once offered in sacrifice to a god or gods. It makes perfect sense, therefore, that some converts from paganism who found their fellow brothers and sisters in Christ “reclining at table in the temple of an idol” (1 Cor 8:10) to eat the meat sacrificed to idols as a source of stumbling. Paul explains: “There are some who have been so used to idolatry up until now that, when they eat meat sacrificed to idols, their conscience, which is weak, is defiled” (8:7). Paul’s concern, therefore, is that the conscience of those who think eating this sort of meat was necessarily getting involved with idolatrous worship (eating the victim of sacrifice was seen as a way to partake in the sacrifice itself) might violate their own conscience by being tempted to eat the same sort of meat. For Paul, the more wiser brother in Christ should be considerate enough to be sensitive to the conscience of these “weaker” brethren in Christ, for the sake of the maintenance of pure conscience.

You may be asking what this has to do with the Catholic sacrifice of the Mass? Well, it is because the cited text way-above from 1 Corinthians 10 requires this cultic background on the consumption of the flesh of the animal-victim being a part of a ritual sacrifice in order to understand how it will demonstrate my argument that the Lord’s Supper involves a true propitiatory sacrifice of our Lord.

Continuing his line of thought on this matter of eating the meat sacrificed to idols, Paul 1200px-Segesta,_Tempio_greco_(2)begins his line of reasoning which urges the Corinthians to abstain from eating such meat (1 Cor 10:14). Paul is clear that by eating meat which was sacrificed to idols, one make achieve a “communion” with demons. Now how does he arrive at this conclusion? It is because Paul knows that both the Lord’s Supper celebration and the sacrifices of the Levitical Priesthood involve the consumption of the flesh of a victim of sacrifice which is offered to God, and consequently, from that consumption, a certain “communion” is effected. In other words, Paul is searching for a parallel to the pagan practice of eating meats which are used in sacrifice to idols in order to show that such practice is not harmless, and actually effects a real communion with the deity or the demonic. Two parallels come to his mind: (1) the Lord’s Supper and (2) the Levitical sacrifices. In both of these instances, a certain “communion” is achieved by the eating of the edible portion of the meat or flesh and blood of the victim.

“Look at Israel according to the flesh; are not those who eat the sacrifices communicators with the altar” ( 1 Cor 10:18). Do you see what he is trying to do here? He did not just randomly insert this reference to the act of the Levites eating the meat of sacrifice. There is something pertinent about this which parallels what goes on the sacrificial worship in the Greco-Roman temples. Immediately after saying this, he then says, “So what am I saying? That meat sacrificed to idols is anything? Or that an idol is anything”? (v19). Paul is good at using rhetorical questions in his arguments. He realizes that the reader should pick up on the fact that the Israeli sacrifices being consumed by the Levitical priests were offered to the true God of Heaven and Earth, and so he anticipates the possible Jewish objection that they should be able to recline at temples and eat such meat that was sacrificed to idols because such idol(s) are truly “nothing” (1 Cor 8:4). But Paul goes on to say that the pagan sacrifices may not be offered to any real deities as the pagans themselves think, but nevertheless “demons” are being worshiped in such a cult. Thus, just as the Levite who eats the sacrifices offered to the true God are effected with a “communion” with the “altar” (i.e. communion with God), so also the pagan who eats the sacrifices offered to idols are effected with a communion with demons. Ergo, Paul’s argument is to not participate in the consumption of this meat.

It is extremely important, therefore, to understand that for Paul, there is a parallel between the levitical sacrifices and the pagan sacrifices, particularly in the physical consumption of the meat of the victim that was used as a sacrifice in the ceremony. Even 1024px-Willem_Vrelant_(Flemish,_died_1481,_active_1454_-_1481)_-_The_Adoration_of_the_Eucharist_-_Google_Art_Projectthough Paul would speak about the meat sacrificed to idols being put to use as market place food for home dining, he doesn’t dissociate this from the cultic significance given that the animal was part of a sacrificial service in devotion to idols, or demons.

But if this is true, then Paul’s initial bringing up of the “communion” which is effected by the physical consumption of the contents in the broken Bread and the blessed Chalice, which he says is a “communion” with the Blood and Body of our Lord Jesus Christ, requires that the Lord’s Supper have the same sacrificial significance in its cultic mechanic. In other words, there is actually 3 parallels to be seen here, namely, that there is a “communion” with Deity/demons effected by the consumption of the flesh of a victim of sacrifice in the pagan temple, the Levitical ritual, and the celebration of the Lord’s Supper. There is simply no other way to reasonably account for why Paul would utilize the Supper and its dynamic of “communion” with the body and blood of Christ in order to demonstrate that the consumption of the body and “blood” of animals used in sacrifice to demons would effect a “communion” with those demons. This requires our understanding of the Lord’s Supper to involve sacrificial significance.  Especially since the word “koinonia” (communion) is understood as being specifically effected by the act of physical consumption of a sacrificial victim, and not something vaguely or morally associated with the ceremony.

We are given further evidence of this parallelism by the next words of Paul:

“You cannot drink the cup of the Lord and also the cup of demons. You cannot partake of the table of the Lord and of the table of demons” (1 Cor 10:21)

Now, if the sacrificial parallelism I drew above was not convincing, then it should be convincing here. What is the “cup of the Lord”? It is obviously the “cup of blessing” (v16) just referred to, and is the Chalice of consecrated Wine in the Lord’s Supper. Well then, what is the “cup of demons”? The pagans did not use a Chalice of wine in their worship. It is obvious that Paul already assumes that the “Cup” or Chalice used in the Lord’s Supper is a sacrificial entity (i.e. the Blood of Christ) and so can easily interchange the word in use for the act of “sacrificing to demons” (v20). In other words, both “Cups”, of the Lord & of the Demons, are sacrificial-cups. The imagery compels this interpretation.

Likewise, what is the “table of the Lord“? It is obviously the place where Christians dined and celebrated the Supper of the Lord. Hence, table of the Lord. And yet, what in the world would this have to do with the pagan sacrifice of animals to demons such that Paul could coin the phrase, “table of demons“? There is only one possibility. As we’ve seen, Paul understands the meat sacrificed to idols to have undergone a cultic participation in the worship of demons (v 20), and so the consumption of it, whether it be in the ritual banquet of the temple, or eating it while dining at home, continues to carry this sacrificial and cultic significance. And so, the “table of demons” is the place where pagans consume the flesh of an animal-victim of sacrifice and are effected with the “communion” already spoken about above. Ergo, the “table of the Lord” is the place where Christians consume the flesh and blood of a Victim of sacrifice, our Lord and His body/blood.

The overall point Paul is seeking to achieve is that both the Lord’s Supper and the pagan sacrificial ceremony include the physical consumption of the victim of sacrifice, and consequently find themselves effected with a communion with either God in Christ or demons, and since these two realities are diametrically opposed, one cannot partake in both of them.

I think this is even more proven when we expand the context to the level of Canon, and tie in the fact that our Lord Jesus Christ is a priest “in the order of Melchizedek” (Heb 5:6). As you probably know, the significance of Melchizedek is that he was a true Priest of God in the Old Testament, and yet he had no genealogy, as opposed to everyone else. Nor does Moses record a death of Melchizedek. We can speculate on whether he was a manifestation of the pre-Incarnate Christ (as some biblical interpreters have), but the idea is that the Melchizedekian order is a priesthood suited for eternal Priests, since it has no beginning, but more importantly, no end. Now, what did Melchizedek offer to God in his priesthood? Are we not told bread and wine (Gen 14:18)? Our Lord, therefore,

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Medieval Painting of Abraham meeting with Melchizedek

acting out his Priestly order in the Last Supper took bread and wine, and broke it saying “This is My body“, and the chalice saying “This is My Blood“. In other words, the Supper of the Lord was Christ installed as the Melchizedekian Priest offering bread and wine, but since we know that Christ Himself is the High Priest and the Victim, he changes bread and wine into His body and blood, and he gives it to the disciples, and they, as Paul says, are effected with a “communion” with the Savior’s body and blood, much like the Levites who eat the meat sacrificed to God are effected with a “communion” with the altar, and much like the pagans who eat the meat sacrificed to demons are effected with a “communion” with the demonic. This is particularly compelling because Melchizedek was a true Priest, and no Priest is a Priest without something to sacrifice to God. The author of the Hebrews is keen on this: “For every high priest taken from among men is ordained for men in things pertaining to God, that he may offer both gifts and sacrifices for sins” (5:1). So this means that Melchizedek’s “gift” or “sacrifice” was bread and wine. How can we be confident about this? The text of Genesis 14 only tells us the following:

“Then Melchizedek king of Salem brought out bread and wine; he was the priest of God Most High. 
 And he blessed him and said:

‘Blessed be Abram of God Most High,
Possessor of heaven and earth;
 And blessed be God Most High,
Who has delivered your enemies into your hand.’

 

And he gave him a tithe of all.”

It is not unreasonable to see that Melchizedek, being noted as a Priest, comes out with the gifts which are suited to his priestly action accompanied with a blessing. The “bread” and “wine” was clearly suited to priestly action. We know this in particular since Abraham pays him a tithe (Num 18:25-26). Also, see the list of Patristic citations at the bottom for how the early Church fathers tied together Melchizedek, bread, wine, Christ, and the Last Supper priesthood.

Well, if bread and wine are the gift/sacrifice which is offered to God in the Melchidezekian-order, and if Christ is installed as a “priest forever” in that very order, then Christ’s gift/sacrifice must be also bread and wine. But, wait! Isn’t the sacrifice of Christ’s priesthood His own body, as Holy Writ explicitly declares? Indeed, and I would argue that the Catholic doctrine of transubstantiation is the only way to reconcile the fact that Christ’s priestly order, which is Melchizedekian, and thus can only offer what Melchidezek offered (Bread/Wine) with the fact that Christ’s sacrifice is truly and substantially his own body and blood, since Transubstantiation identifies the two in substance (i.e. the bread/wine become the body/blood).

St. Augustine of Hippo (354 -430) made this crystal clear in his City of God:

“Whence the Apostle Paul says, We being many are one bread, one body. [And again he says, Present your bodies a living sacrifice. What, therefore, he has added, to eat bread, also elegantly expresses the very kind of sacrifice of which the Priest Himself says, The bread which I will give is my flesh for the life of the world. The same is the sacrifice not after the order of Aaron, but after the order of Melchizedek: let him that reads understand….. For because He had said above, that He had given for food to Aaron’s house the sacrificial victims of the Old Testament, where He says, I have given your father’s house for food all things which are offered by fire of the children of Israel, which indeed were the sacrifices of the Jews; therefore here He has said, “To eat bread”, which is in the New Testament the sacrifice of the Christians….. Here certainly we perceive that the Wisdom of God, that is, the Word co-eternal with the Father, has built Him a house, even a human body in the virgin womb, and has subjoined the Church to it as members to a head, has slain the martyrs as victims, has furnished a table with wine and bread, where appears also the priesthood after the order of Melchizedek, and has called the simple and the void of sense, because, as says the apostle, He has chosen the weak things of this world that He might confound the things which are mighty. Yet to these weak ones she says what follows, Forsake simplicity, that you may live; and seek prudence, that you may have life. But to be made partakers of this table is itself to begin to have life. For when he says in another book, which is called Ecclesiastes, There is no good for a man, except that he should eat and drink, what can he be more credibly understood to say, than what belongs to the participation of this table which the Mediator of the New Testament Himself, the Priest after the order of Melchizedek, furnishes with His own body and blood?” (City of God, 17)

Some interpreters of Paul have attempted to tone this all down to either symbolic or spiritual significance. In other words, sure, Christ is the Melchidezekian priest, and sure, bread and wine were the gifts/sacrifices that he offered. Sure, Christ fulfilled this in that he used bread and wine to “symbolize” his sacrifice in the Last Supper with his disciples. You see? No need to get into this whole matter of “real presence” since Christ was just symbolizing his Melchizedekian fulfillment. First, this seems to greatly undercut from the meaning of priesthood. Melchizedek was a true priest of the most high God, and his gifts and sacrifices were the substance of his offering (Heb 5:1). Christ’s very priesthood is of the same exact order as Melchizedek. If we are to entertain this idea that there is a symbolic gesture of using bread and wine in order to only serve as a picture of the real sacrifice of Christ, then what we have are two distinct priesthoods. The first would be that of Melchizedek, which is just bread and wine. The second would be that of Christ, which is His body and blood. If you don’t substantially identify bread/wine with Christ’s body/blood, and think to impute the bread/wine as merely a symbolic picture of the former, then Christ really doesn’t act like a Melchidezekian priest, since bread and wine are not truly *offered* to God. It is just there to serve as a symbolic portrait of what happened in the real priesthood on the cross. This would do a whole lot of violence to the text which says not only that Christ is priest in the order of Melchizedek, but that he is a priest “forever” in the order of Melchizedek. Moreover, some might push-back and insist that the only significance of Melchizedek’s order is its lack of temporality, i.e. no beginning or end. In other words, that Melchizedek used bread and wine in his offering to God bears no property to the order of his priesthood which pertains to Christ Jesus. Really? That would be news to the author of the Hebrews. For him, “every High Priest taken from among men is ordained for men in things pertaining to God, that he may offer both gifts and sacrifices for sins to God” (5:1). Melchizedek being Priest of the Most High God certainly had the substance of his gift as bread and wine. Christ being in his order had nothing less, and nothing different. In short, if we go with the symbolic interpretation, then we have two distinct Priesthoods, (1) the Symbolic-Melchizedekian Meeting_of_abraham_and_melchizadekversus the (2) realist-Christian. Again, there is no amount of defense with that sort of interpretive violence to the text of holy Scripture. And this bears out with what St. Paul himself says in the text of 1 Corinthians – Is not the bread we bread a “communion” of the body of Christ (σώματος), etc, etc.

What about the spiritual view? The Lord’s Supper is merely a spiritual communion with Christ. Well, this requires a bit more unpacking, for even Roman Catholics admit that the communion is Spiritual, and not carnal. For example, Catholics do not believe that we are taking small bites out of the actual composition of Christ’s anatomical body structure as it sits at the right-hand of God. God forbid! If someone were to have attacked Jesus in his earthly ministry and eaten His body and drank His blood, they would have gravely sinned. So the Catholic Mass is very spiritual in the sense that what happens is a spiritual miracle, but which communicates the substance of Christ’s body and blood in a sacramental way. This does not diminish the reality of Christ’s body, i.e. his true and real presence, but it is to say that what is happening is massively spiritual rather than corporeal. Thus, those who combat the Catholic Mass and Transubstantiation will need to do more work than just screaming “Spiritual!”. If you mean that even though the bread and wine appear as bread and wine, but that, as a consequence of the words prayed over the elements, the bread and wine now become the true and real body and blood of Christ, soul and divinity, as is communicated through a sacramental mystery, then you are already a believer in the Catholic Mass.

Another way that my argument from 1 Corinthians has been toned down is to concede that the Lord’s Supper is a true consumption of Christ’s body and blood, but that each and every celebration of the Supper it is a post-Sacrifice meal, were the Sacrifice only took place once in the historical setting of Calvary. This would be in attempt to strip the sacrificial and propitiatory significance of the Lord’s Supper as something which functions in the celebration, though concede the reality of Christ’s body and blood in some way.  New Testament scholar I. Howard Marshall, in his write up on the Lord’s Supper in IVP’s “Dictionary of Paul and His Letters” says the following:

There is no indication that Paul saw the event as sacrificial; it is likened not to the offering of an animal on an altar but to the eating of food at a table, where the partakers receive the symbols that indicate that as sacrificial death has already taken place (at Calvary). It is thus conceived of as a post-sacrificial meal”  (Page 573)

Firstly, this would effectively nullify the Melchizedekian element to the Last Supper, since Bread and Wine *are* the gift/sacrifice of Melchizedek, and, by due successive order, our Lord Himself. Secondly, it destroys the parallelism between the temple cult, the Levitical cult, and the cult of the Lord’s Supper that I demonstrated from the text above. There is an effected communion which comes out of each sacrifice, whether for the Levite, the pagan, or the Christian sitting at the table of the Lord. In each instance, the context is sacrificial. Now, it is true that one could argue that Paul also mentions the same sort of communion with demons if one were to eat this sort of meat at someone’s house, which is far removed from the sacrificial ceremony in the temple. And it is true that each time we celebrate the Lord’s Supper in the Christian community, we are in the domain of time historically far past the death of Jesus. It is also true for Catholics that theEucharist_chalice,_Braunschweig,_1909_AD,_silver,_gold,_precious_stones_-_Braunschweigisches_Landesmuseum_-_DSC04912 death of Jesus is absolutely one, and never done a 2nd time. Ever. So could it be that the Supper of the Lord is truly devoid of any real sacrifice, properly speaking, in its temporal celebration? Could it be merely a post-Sacrifice meal , however much the real presence of Christ’s body and blood is there in the consecrated Bread and Wine? Well, many things are possible. But what saith the Lord? Christ says, “This is My body that is for you. Do this in remembrance of Me“, and likewise, “This cup is the New Covenant in My blood” (1 Cor 11:23-25). The Chalice holding the wine *is* the New Covenant in Christ’s blood. When the Old Covenant was ratified under Moses, the text of Exodus read as follows:

And Moses took the blood, sprinkled it on the people, and said, “This is the blood of the covenant which the Lord has made with you according to all these words.” (Ex 24:8)

This was a real sacrifice which took place. We read: “Then Moses sent young men of the children of Israel, who offered burnt offerings and sacrificed peace offerings of oxen to the LordAnd Moses took half the blood and put it in basins, and half the blood he sprinkled on the altar” (vv 5-6). Thus, in each celebration of the Lord’s Supper, we have the renewal of the New Covenant ratification in Christ’s blood, which is nothing less than a renewal of the sacrifice itself with all that it is and means for us.

Furthermore, if we keep reading in the 11th chapter of 1 Corinthians, St. Paul has some strong words for those who partake of the consecrated Bread and Wine in a state of unworthiness. He says: “Therefore whoever eats the bread or (ἢ) drinks the cup of the Lord unworthily shall be guilty of the the body and blood of the Lord” (v 27). The word for “guilty” in the Greek is ἔνοχος which means that “one is held liable unto”. Thus, one is held liable for the body and blood of Christ. Such language could not be fathomed unless the celebration of the Supper involves the giving over of Christ unto sacrificial death, albeit in a bloodless manner. Again, this is not corporeal. We do not believe that the Lord Jesus experiences a transition from being alive, to being dead, to being alive again when we celebrate the Lord’s Supper. Rather, the bread and the wine symbolize the real separation of Christ’s body and blood, and so the single sacrifice that our Lord once offered in the middle-Eastern Jerusalem is once again represented in the Supper as many times as it is celebrated.

Conclusion

I believe that the 2 main arguments, namely, that the Lord’s Supper contains elements which parallel the consumption of sacrificial victims in both the Levitical rite of cult and the pagan temple cult, as well as Christ being a true Priest in the order of Melchizedek, whose priesthood offered Bread and Wine to the most High God, sufficiently prove that the Lord’s Supper is the true and real presence of Christ’s body and blood, soul and divinity, as well as proving that the celebration of the Supper involves a real propitiatory sacrifice. As Catholics, we believe that the Priesthood of the New Covenant is just an extension of the Melchizedekian-order, and this is why we continue to offer Bread and Wine to God through Jesus Christ our Melchizedekian High Priest.

The significance of this cannot be downplayed. If what I’ve said above is true, then literally all Christian denominations in the Protestant world have failed to capture and preserve this fundamental and essential aspect of Christ’s teaching to the Apostles. Consequently, one should not look to the Protestant communities, but either to Catholicism or Eastern & Oriental Christianity.

Lastly, I mentioned in the opening of this article that I would explain why I have not included the Lutheran and Anglican denominations into this. In regard to Luther – In the Epitome of the Book of Concord, the 7th Chapter entitled “The Lord’s Supper” condemns the following: “The papistic sacrifice of the Mass for the sins of the living and the dead.” Now, what else could Lutherans be rejecting here by the sacrifice of the Mass as I’ve explained from Scripture above? Moreover, much of the squabble between Lutherans and Catholics centers on the nature of Sacrifice and what we mean by it. In Article XXIV “Of the Mass” in the Book of Concord, we read the following:

“There are chiefly two kinds of sacrifices, and no more, in which all others are comprehended. The one is a propitiatory sacrifice, by which expiation is made for guilt and punishment, God is reconciled, his wrath appeased, and remission of sins obtained for others. The other is a sacrifice of thanksgiving, not to obtain forgiveness of sin or reconciliation, but made by those who are already reconciled, in order to give thanks for the remission of sins, and for other favors and gifts they received…. Besides this one expiatory sacrifice, namely, the death of Christ, there are others, all of which are merely sacrifices of thanksgiving, such as bearing the cross–preaching–the good works of saints, etc.; these are not sacrifices by which we are reconciled…Although, to gratify our adversaries, we might consent to have the Mass called the juge sacrificium, or daily sacrifice, provided they apply this term to the whole Mass, that is, the ceremonies including thanksgiving, faith in the heart, and sincere invocation of divine grace. All these together might be called the juge sacrificium of the New Testament; for on their account the ceremony of the Mass or Eucharist was established; for it was instituted for the sake of preaching, as Paul says: “For as often as ye eat this bread, and drink this cup, ye do show the Lord’s death till he come,” 1 Cor. 11:26. But the figure of the daily offering by no means proves, that the Mass is a sacrifice which reconciles God, ex opere operato, or by which we can obtain for others the remission of their sins

As you can see, the Lutheran theologians who wrote the Book of Concord did not believe that in the Lord’s Supper Christ renews and presents His single-same propitiatory sacrifice which He offered to reconcile the world. In any case, there are many theologians out there far more intelligent than I am who have attempted to reconcile the Catholic and Lutheran understandings of the sacrifice of the Mass. A Roman Catholic scholar, James F. McCue, has sought to do just that. You may read a bit about it here. For my simple self, I concur most with Tracey Rowland in his book “Ratzinger’s Faith: The Theology of Pope Benedict XVI” which says the following: “While Martin Luther said that to speak of sacrifice in the context of the Mass was ‘the greatest and most appalling horror’ and a ‘damnable impiety’, Ratzinger has quipped, ‘I certainly do not need to say that I am not one of those who consider it the most appalling horror and a damnable impiety to speak of the Sacrifice of the Mass'”.

As regards the Anglicans – Need I go further than 28 & 31 in the Articles of Religion which states:

Transubstantiation (or the change of the substance of Bread and Wine) in the Supper of the Lord, cannot be proved by holy Writ; but is repugnant to the plain words of Scripture, overthroweth the nature of a Sacrament, and hath given occasion to many superstitions.”

And:

The Offering of Christ once made is that perfect redemption, propitiation, and satisfaction, for all the sins of the whole world, both original and actual; and there is none other satisfaction for sin, but that alone. Wherefore the sacrifices of Masses, in the which it was commonly said, that the Priest did offer Christ for the quick and the dead, to have remission of pain or guilt, were blasphemous fables, and dangerous deceits.”

I am sure this would not suffice, since Catholics agree with the first part of this Article. Where we disagree is on the nature of the Lord’s Supper. In any case, the Bread and the Wine of the Melchizedekian order are the “gifts and sacrifices” which both He and Christ offered in their installment as Priests. It is to the Church that is given the same substance of cult. If the bread and the Wine is not substantially identified with the Body and Blood of Christ, then like I said above, we have 2 priesthoods rather than one. And this would confront not just the symbolists, but also those who would try to say that the nature of a Sacrament is to simply communicate another substance through a third substance (like in Baptism).

Excursus: Church Fathers & Melchizedek

 

Saint-clement-of-alexandria

St. Clement of Alexandria

 

This is in reality righteousness, not to desire other things, but to be entirely the consecrated temple of the Lord. Righteousness is peace of life and a well-conditioned state, to which the Lord dismissed her when He said, “Depart into peace.” [Mark 5:34] For Salem is, by interpretation, peace; of which our Saviour is enrolled King, as Moses says, Melchizedek king of Salem, priest of the most high God, who gave bread and wine, furnishing consecrated food for a type of the Eucharist. And Melchizedek is interpreted righteous king; and the name is a synonym for righteousness and peace.” ( St. Clement of Alexandria, 150-215+ AD, Book IV, Chapter 25 of the Stromata)

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Also in the priest Melchizedek we see prefigured the sacrament of the sacrifice of the Lord, according to what divine Scripture testifies, and says, And Melchizedek, king of Salem, brought forth bread and wine. Now he was a priest of the most high God, and blessed Abraham. And that Melchizedek bore a type of Christ, the Holy Spirit declares in the Psalms, saying from the person of the Father to the Son: Before the morning star I begot You; You are a priest for ever, after the order of Melchizedek;  which order is assuredly this coming from that sacrifice and thence descending; that Melchizedek was a priest of the most high God; that he offered wine and bread; that he blessed Abraham. For who is more a priest of the most high God than our Lord Jesus Christ, who offered a sacrifice to God the Father, and offered that very same thing which Melchizedek had offered, that is, bread and wine, to wit, His body and blood?” (St. Cyprian+ 256 AD, Epistle 62)

Eusebius_of_Caesarea

Eusebius of Caesarea

Since, then, Christ neither entered on His priesthood in time, nor sprang from the priestly tribe, nor was anointed with prepared and outward oil, nor will ever reach the end of His priesthood, nor will be established only for the Jews but for all nations, for all these reasons He is rightly said to have forsaken the priesthood after Aaron’s type, and to be a priest after the order of Melchizedek. And the fulfillment of the oracle is truly wondrous, to one who recognizes how our Savior Jesus the Christ of God even now performs through His ministers even today in sacrifices after the manner of Melchizedek’s. For just as he, who was priest of the Gentiles, is not represented as offering outward sacrifices, but as blessing Abraham only with wine and bread, in exactly the same way our Lord and Savior Himself first, and then all His priests among all nations, perform the spiritual sacrifice according to the customs of the Church, and with wine and bread darkly express the mysteries of His Body and saving Blood. This by the Holy Spirit Melchizedek foresaw, and used the figures of what was to come, as the Scripture of Moses witnesses, when it says: ‘And Melchizedek, king of Salem, brought out bread and wine: and he was priest of the Most High God, and he blessed Abraham.’ And thus it followed that only to Him with the addition of an oath: ‘The Lord God swore, and will not repent, Thou art a priest for ever after the order of Melchizedek.’ ” (Eusebius of Caesarea, 263-339 AD, Demonstratio Evangelica, Book V – Ch. 3)

Harsdorfer_Altarpiece_predella_wing_panel,_Saints_Ambrose_of_Milan_and_Augustine_of_Hippo,_Michael_Wolgemut_and_workshop,_Nuremberg,_c._1495-1498_-_Germanisches_Nationalmuseum

St. Augustine and St. Ambrose

So, lest any one should say this, we will take great pains to prove that the sacraments of the Church are both more ancient than those of the synagogue, and more excellent than the manna. The lesson of Genesis just read shows that they are more ancient, for the synagogue took its origin from the law of Moses. But Abraham was far earlier, who, after conquering the enemy, and recovering his own nephew, as he was enjoying his victory, was met by Melchizedek, who brought forth those things which Abraham reverently received. It was not Abraham who brought them forth, but Melchizedek, who is introduced without father, without mother, having neither beginning of days, nor ending, but like the Son of God, of Whom Paul says to the Hebrews: that He remains a priest for ever, Who in the Latin version is called King of righteousness and King of peace. Do you recognize Who that is? Can a man be king of righteousness, when himself he can hardly be righteous? Can he be king of peace, when he can hardly be peaceable? He it is Who is without mother according to His Godhead, for He was begotten of God the Father, of one substance with the Father; without a father according to His Incarnation, for He was born of a Virgin; having neither beginning nor end, for He is the beginning and end of all things, the first and the last. The sacrament, then, which you received is the gift not of man but of God, brought forth by Him Who blessed Abraham the father of faith, whose grace and deeds we admire. We have proved the sacraments of the Church to be the more ancient, now recognize that they are superior. In very truth it is a marvelous thing that God rained manna on the fathers, and fed them with daily food from heaven; so that it is said, So man ate angels’ food. But yet all those who ate that food died in the wilderness, but that food which you receive, that living Bread which came down from heaven, furnishes the substance of eternal life; and whosoever shall eat of this Bread shall never die, and it is the Body of Christ.” (St. Ambrose 337-397+ AD, On the Mysteries)

““Open your eyes at any time, from sunrise to sunset, to see that Christians do not offer sacrifices in one place only, as was prescribed for the Jews; they offer them in every place, even in Jerusalem itself, not according to the order of Aaron, but according  to  the order of Melchizedek.” (St. Augustine 354-440+ AD, Answers 9.13)

 Because there was there a sacrifice after the order of Aaron, and afterwards He of His Own Body and Blood appointed a sacrifice after the order of Melchizedek; He changed then His Countenance in the Priesthood, and sent away the kingdom of the Jews, and came to the Gentiles.” (St. Augustine, Exposition on Psalm 34)

Venice_Saint_Jerome

St. Jerome in the Desert


“Turn back to Genesis, and you will find that this was the city over which Melchizedek held sway, that king of Salem who, as a type of Christ, offered to Abraham bread and wine, and even then consecrated the mystery which Christians consecrate in the body and blood of the Savior”
(St. Jerome, 347-420 AD, Letter 46)

After the type had been fulfilled by the Passover celebration and He had eaten the flesh of the lamb with His Apostles, He takes bread which strengthens the heart of man, and goes on to the true Sacrament of the Passover, so that just as Mechizedek, the Priest of the Most High God, in prefiguring Him, made bread and wine an offering, He too makes Himself manifest in the reality of His own body and blood” (st. Jerome – Commentaries on the Gospel of Matthew, 4, 26)

Cyril_of_Alexandria

Cyril of Alexandria

“Melchizedek gave Abraham his blessing and offered him bread and wine; Christ, the great and true Priest, gives us a similar blessing in the Eucharist… and his offering of bread and wine showed quite clearly the kind of priesthood that Christ would exercise” (St. Cyril of Alexandria, 431 AD, Glaphyra On Genesis 2:7-9, PG 69: 105-107)

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“…and before he could offer any sacrificial victim to God to give thanks for the blessing granted him, he met Melchizedek the king of Salem, bringing forth the bread and wine which he had offered to God, and Melchizedek blessed him in order that he might clearly understand that he with all his seed was going to receive the blessing promised to him by the King of Justice and the Begetter of supreme peace through the mystical sacrifice of bread and wine. Therefore let the Jews not boast against Christians about the Levitical priesthood, since they offer victims of flesh, and we offer bread and wine to the Lord. For our sacrifice excels both in time and dignity: in time, that is to say, because Melchizedek offered this sacrifice before Abram or the Chief Priests who came from him through the line of Levi offered that one; and in dignity, because the Father said of this one, but not of that, ‘You are a Priest forever according to the order of Melchizedek’. Only an impious fool is going to deny that this was accomplished by this very act and is now manifest throughout the world. Therefore it is agreed that Melchizedek was a greater priest than the Patriarch Abram. For without any contradiction , as the Apostle says, that which is less blessed by the better. The offering of Melchizedek was greater than the sacrificial victims that we read in the sequel were offered by Abram, because the former was going to offered by Christ the Lord, the latter by Aaron; the former by the priests of the New Covenant, the latter by priests of the Old. Hence, it is appropriately added, ‘And he gave him [Melchizedek] tithes of all’.” (St. Bede the Venerable, 672-735+ AD,  On Genesis, Book 3)

John_of_Damascus

St. John of Damascus

“With bread and wine Melchizedek, the priest of the most high God, received Abraham on his return from the slaughter of the Gentiles. That table pre-imaged this mystical table, just as that priest was a type and image of Christ, the true high-priest. Leviticus xiv For you are a priest for ever after the order of Melchizedek. Of this bread the show-bread was an image. This surely is that pure and bloodless sacrifice which the Lord through the prophet said is offered to Him from the rising to the setting of the sun (Malachi 1:11).The body and blood of Christ are making for the support of our soul and body” (St. John of Damascus, 676-749+ AD, De Fide Orthodoxa, Book IV-Ch 14)

As you can see, it is well attested in the consenus patrum that Melchizedek’s Priesthood, involving the sacrifice of Bread and Wine, is the type of Christ’s Priesthood showed at the Last Supper, and which is the Priesthood he gave the Church who celebrates the Melchizedekian sacrificial-meal in the Broken Body and Precious Blood of Christ. Hallelujah!

2 thoughts on “Why All Bible Believing Christians Must Believe in the Catholic Doctrine of the Sacrifice of the Mass: Proof Positive

  1. Pingback: Response to Triablogue – Credo Ut Intelligam: Apologetics For The Catholic Faith

  2. Have you written an article proving there is such a thing as one true church? If not, can you direct me to any resources on that?

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