Sacraments & Sacramentals

Is the Mass a Sacrifice?

by Steve Ray on December 6, 2018

St. Paul mentions three sacrifices in 1 Corinthians 10:15-21 (see below). He compares the Sacrifice at the Mass with the sacrifice of the Jews and of the pagans. He even uses the phrase “table of the Lord” which is a technical term for an altar of sacrifice in the Old Testament (Malachi 1:7, 12). The Fathers of the Church all referred to Malachi 1:11 as an Old Testament prophecy of the future Eucharist which we now celebrate.

Malachi says of the defiled Jewish sacrifice, “By offering polluted food upon my altar. And you say, ‘How have we polluted it?’ By thinking that the Lord’s table may be despised” (1:7). Then, referring to new upcoming sacrifice among the Gentiles, “For from the rising of the sun to its setting my name is great among the nations, and in every place incense is offered to my name, and a pure offering; for my name is great among the nations, says the Lord of hosts (1:11).

Chart Showing Paul’s Use of “Sacrifice” in 1 Cor 10

1 Corinthians 10:15–21

“I speak as to sensible men; judge for yourselves what I say. The cup of blessing which we bless, is it not a participation in the blood of Christ? The bread which we break, is it not a participation in the body of Christ? Because there is one bread, we who are many are one body, for we all partake of the one bread.

“Consider the people of Israel; are not those who eat the sacrifices partners in the altar? What do I imply then? That food offered to idols is anything, or that an idol is anything? No, I imply that what pagans sacrifice they offer to demons and not to God. I do not want you to be partners with demons. You cannot drink the cup of the Lord and the cup of demons. You cannot partake of the table of the Lord and the table of demons.”

Three different religions (pagan, Jew and Christian);
Three different participations (pagan altar, Jewish altar, Christian altar – Table of the Lord);
Three results (participation in the altar for Jews who eat the sacrificed meat, participation in demons for the pagans, and participation in the Body and Blood of Christ with Christians).

“This is My Body … this is My Blood”

The Didache, written contemporaneously with the books of the New Testament in the 1st century says, “On the Lord’s own day gather together and break bread and give thanks, having first confessed your sins so that your sacrifice may be pure. But let no one who has a quarrel with a companion join you until they have been reconciled, so that your sacrifice may not be defiled. For this is the sacrifice concerning which the Lord said, “In every place and time offer me a pure sacrifice, for I am a great king, says the Lord, and my name is marvelous among the nations (Mal 1:11).”

Clement of Rome (96 AD): “Our sin will not be small if we eject from the episcopate [bishop or group of presiding bishops] those who blamelessly and holily have offered its Sacrifices.”

Ignatius (martyred 107 AD) “Make certain, therefore, that you all observe one common Eucharist; for there is but one Body of our Lord Jesus Christ, and but one cup of union with His Blood, and one single altar of sacrifice?even as also there is but one bishop, with his clergy and my own fellow-servitors the deacons.

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Today we are in Capernaum where Jesus said: “Eat My Flesh and Drink My Blood.” I thought it appropriate that I post this challenge today.

A man sent a challenge saying “the Fathers of the Church limited the Eucharist to a symbol and therefore it is NOT the Real Presence of Christ.”

Is that true? My friend Gary Michuta answers the question.

Thanks for including me in on this conversation. Brian, there are three issues that commonly trip up non-Catholics when they read the early fathers on the Eucharist.

 The first obstacle is their inability to understand the difference between a complimentary statement and a contradictory statement. For example, the two following statements can be complementary (that is both true in the same manner and time):

1) This ball is red
2) This ball is round.

 A contradictory statement cannot be true in the same manner and at the same time. for example:

1) This ball is red
2) This ball is NOT red

 When an early father says that Eucharist is a symbol, it is not necessarily contradictory since the Eucharist can be both a symbol and the reality of Christ’s body and blood. A statement that would contradict Catholic teaching would be The Eucharist is ONLY a symbol.

 This brings up the second stumbling block. Catholic teaching on the Eucharist is much more complex than saying it is Christ’s body and blood (as you know). It is a Sacrament, which is a visible sign (symbol, type, figure) that points to an invisible reality (Christ Himself). Many non-Catholics are surprised that the Catholic Church teaches that the Eucharist is a symbol (in regards to the Sacramental species or its outward appearances). 

 The Council of Trent, for example, said, “This, indeed, the most Holy Eucharist has in common with the other sacraments, that is a “symbol of a sacred thing and a visible form of an invisible grace (DS 1639). It elsewhere says that Christ “offered to the Father His own body and blood under the species of bread and wine, and under the symbols of those same things gave to the apostles… so that we might partake.” (DS 1740).

The old Roman Catechism (the Catechism of the Council of Trent) speaks in the same way. When the early Fathers speak of the Eucharist in terms of its species (mode in which it is given to us), it is correct to use terms like symbols, figures, types, and the like. However, when one is speaking about the invisible reality of the Eucharist (Christ Himself) we cannot speak of it as a symbolic (see DS 1651). 

 The third stumbling block, which this author seems totally oblivious, is the fact that the early Fathers interpreted Scripture according to a four-fold sense (literal, allegorical, moral and anagogical). Protestantism recognizes only one sense of Scripture, the literal (ala the Westminster Confession, 1, 9). There were schools in the ancient Church that specialized on these different senses. Antioch was known for its literal interpretations. Alexandria was known for its allegorical interpretations.

It’s not surprising that the two examples the author gives as being most surprising to Catholics are Clement and Origen. What a shock! They both taught in Alexandria and both are known for their allegorical interpretation. The quotes he gives shows very clearly that they are not talking about the literal sense of Christ’s words, but the allegorical (or perhaps moral/spiritual sense). But this sense tells us nothing about what the Eucharist truly, literally, is.

The Eucharist is both a symbol and IS what it symbolizes. 

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Do the Sacraments Need A “Digestive Juice”?

by Steve Ray on October 13, 2018

Stomach Diagram Anatomy Elegant Stomach Anatomy Stomach Anatomy

At a recent conference, I mentioned that when we eat we need digestive juices in order to make our food do for our bodies what it was intended to do. I said sacraments are the same. The digestive juice of the sacraments is faith.

A listener honestly and respectfully questioned my comments. She asked her friend to contact me with the questions. Below is what she wrote:

I can’t go tonight or I would ask Steve this question myself but maybe if you get a chance, could you ask him to clarify something he said about Baptism. He talked about Baptism being somehow dependent on the faith of the one being baptized. Maybe I misunderstood him? I don’t think it’s proper to speak about Baptism in “receptionist” terms but maybe I’m missing something?

My response follows:

Dear Friend:

Baptism_photo_1First, I want to say that I did mean what I said in my talk about faith required for Baptism—and the other sacraments. The two go hand-in-hand and both are necessary. I have heard said that in baptism, if one does not have faith or believe—he just gets wet. For example, would an atheist who gets baptized for a joke, have the grace of salvation conferred?

Now, with infants, faith is still expressed through the intention of the parents. Even here it is not allowed, if I remember correctly, to baptize an infant against the will—thus the absence of faith and intention—of the parents.

For my whole response, click here.

 

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Can Relics and Sacramentals Relay the Power of God?

October 11, 2018

Some might claim that Catholic teaching on relics and Sacramentals is unbiblical. Really? Check out these biblical passages: “So extraordinary were the mighty deeds God accomplished at the hands of Paul that when face CLOTHS or aprons that touched his skin were applied to the sick, their diseases left them and the evil spirits came […]

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Who Says the Mass is a Sacrifice?

October 9, 2018

Who Says the Mass is a Sacrifice? Jimmy Swaggart (making a foolish and unhistorical claim): “The Catholic doctrine of transubstantiation is, without question, one of the most absurd doctrines ever imposed on a trusting public…  Roman Catholic errors are inevitably human innovations that were inserted into the church during the early centuries. This teaching on […]

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My Thoughts While Waiting In Line for Confession

September 2, 2018

My wife and I went to confession yesterday. The line was pretty long (which was good to see, though I hate lines :-)  As I sat and waited it struck me again that the Church is not just a loose association of like-minded followers of Jesus. It is not just “Jesus and me” as we […]

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The Eucharist and the Fathers of the Church: Article by Steve Ray

August 12, 2018

The Eucharist and the Fathers of the Church, by Steve Ray The word “Eucharist” was used early in the Church to describe the Body and Blood of Christ under the forms of bread and wine. Eucharist comes from the Greek word for “thanks” (eucharistia), describing Christ’s actions: “And when he had given thanks, he broke […]

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Multiplication of Loaves a Miracle or Just a Lesson in Sharing?

July 29, 2018

When confronted with this at Mass a while ago I wrote a letter to the priest which became an article in Catholic Answers Magazine. Article HERE. The priest said there was no miracle when Jesus multiplied the loaves and fish. All he did was teach selfish people to share and they pulled extra loaves and fish from […]

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Free Sacraments Chart

June 19, 2018

Free Sacraments Chart by Steve Ray  Want to know all about the Sacraments in a handy, short reference format? Download this link and print out your own 2-page chart — Seven Sacraments of the Catholic Church. It gives you references from the Bible and the Catechism. This chart was made to go with my 7 talk series […]

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Was Baptism Instituted Before or After Jesus’ Death and Resurrection?

May 25, 2018

The other day a friend wrote and asked a question. It was an interesting question. “Is the answer to this that in the earlier examples, only the disciples did the baptizing and John is using a Hebraic figure of speech such that his disciples did them in his name and by his authority? If so, […]

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My Updated Article on Infant Baptism

May 2, 2018

Even among Evangelical Protestants there is much debate about Infant Baptism. My old Baptist tradition rejected it as a Catholic tradition of men. Dr. Francis Schaeffer, my favorite Evangelical Presbyterian theologian wrote a booklet entitled Infant Baptism in favor of the practice – my wife Janet was raised Presbyterian and baptized as an infant. It […]

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Why Can’t Evangelicals See the Eucharist?

April 24, 2018

I was recently asked why Evangelicals cannot see the Eucharist and Real Presence in the Bible. This person said that when they read the Bible it seems so clear — especially John 6 where Jesus says “Unless you eat my Flesh and drink my Blood . . .” and at the Last Supper when he […]

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So, Who Says the Mass is a Sacrifice?

April 2, 2018

Who Says the Mass is a Sacrifice? Well, Jimmy Swaggart says it is NOT a sacrifice and wrote: “The Catholic doctrine of transubstantiation is, without question, one of the most absurd doctrines ever imposed on a trusting public…  Roman Catholic errors are inevitably human innovations that were inserted into the church during the early centuries. This teaching […]

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Infant Baptism

February 10, 2018

Infant Baptism is discussed and argued about quite a bit in some circles. I was raised Baptist and taught that Infant Baptism was a man-made tradition invented by the heretical Catholics who abandoned the Word of God to follow ill-advised tradition. (Picture: My granddaughter Elizabeth Arabella Rose Ray is baptized.) But not all Protestants reject Infant […]

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White Bread and Shot Glass of Grape Juice: But Now I am Home!

September 16, 2017

Revet Elizabeth wrote: I grew up Catholic, left off practice of my faith, then wandered around several churches before coming back.  It just seemed like the preaching I was hearing treated the Bible like Ann Landers, and people wanted to be soothed rather than challenged.  There would be preaching and singing but no Eucharist.  It’s […]

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Pastor Bob “Preaches the Word” (Discussing A Sermon on Baptism)

June 27, 2017

Pastor Bob Preaches The Word (or does he?) By Steve Ray Josh left Sunday services full of excitement, anxious to discuss Pastor Bob’s sermon with his sister Jennifer who had recently converted to the Catholic Church. The pastor had explained how salvation was by “faith alone” and not by rituals and works. He was anxious […]

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