When I engage my roman Catholic friends and family many times I’m told that I’m misunderstanding the teachings. In many ways they were correct and at times still correct. Understanding Catholic teachings is no small feat. As a former Roman Catholic and in her eyes ‘a separated brother’, I’ve spent a vast amount of hours and study to understand exactly what the Catholic Church teaches. Why? I love my Catholic friends and family but their Church is teaching a different gospel then the one presented in the Bible. For my non Catholic friends we need to be careful with our understanding of the teachings so that we can have real and honest discussions with them.
Re-present not Re-sacrifice
The general defensive argument about the mass is that they don’t re-sacrifice Christ, they re-present (or make Christ present). Well what does that mean exactly? How? Why? And what effect does it have? I took a journey into the Catechism, Catholic Apologetics courses, and discussions with other Roman Catholics to find out what do they mean by represent. I’m going to try to explain it in the simplest of terms and hopefully this will help you better understand what a Catholic believes.
The Roman Catholic Church teaches the Holy sacrifice of the Mass also known as “the Sacrament of Salvation” is where Christ is represented (made present) as a propitiatory sacrifice for the forgiveness of sins. In Catholic theology our sins are covered but only up until the point in time of the Mass when you eat Jesus body and drink His blood. After this future sins can get imputed to you, & you can lose justification(salvation) or spend time in purgatory till those sins are burned off/cleaned.
In the Mass the host becomes the body, blood, soul and divinity of Jesus Christ Himself (transubstantiation). Transubstantiation meaning that you are literally eating Jesus body and literally drinking His blood. This is what they mean when they say He is made present and their definition of “real presence.” One of the verses they argue this from is John 6:53-55
So Jesus said to them, “Truly, truly, I tell you, unless you eat the flesh and drink the blood of the Son of Man, you have no life in you. 54Whoever eats My flesh and drinks My blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day. 55For My flesh is real food, and My blood is real drink.
When we partake in the Mass our sins are forgiven, we are made clean (temporarily at least). Totally clean though I’m not sure. They pray for this but there are rules to follow for the Mass to have any effect and a method in order to make Christ physically present in the elements. If we don’t prepare properly I’m unsure if it still has any effect.
After the Mass we can go out into the world, and become un-united with Christ. We can un-believe in Christ, become un-born again, commit a mortal sin or venial, have that sin imputed to us, and lose our salvation. Hopefully worse case, only have to atone for those sins in purgatory before we can enter into the presence of God.
See the video link below of a Catholic Mass 31 minutes in where the narrator says: “when we leave church we go back into a difficult existence, we will have the words of the incarnation ringing in our ears, to strengthen us and to keep us united to the sacrifice which we have been privileged to assist at during the celebration of Holy Mass.”
What happens in a Catholic Mass?
In the shortest amount of words these are things that take place in order to make Christ physically present in the bread and wine.
- Invoke God asking for mercy, and forgiveness, priests asks God to make him more worthy for his huge task he’s about to perform.
- Invoke Mary & the saints for their intercession and mediation.
- We offer up our prayers, joys, sufferings, works, thank God for them
- The Catholic priest goes back in time to the moment of Christ suffering on the cross, still alive, still suffering, before Christ said “it is Finished”, bringing Christ forward in time to the current time. (we are at the foot of the cross Jesus still alive with Mary) (1370).
- We then offer up all our sufferings, works, prayers, the saints sufferings, Mary’s, etc. and then unite them with Christs sufferings, & sacrifice. We all partake in the sacrifice, or all become the sacrifice to my understanding.
- Lift this all up in thanksgiving (Eucharist means thanksgiving) to the Father, He approves, sends it back down. The elements (bread and wine) become the literal body/blood of Jesus. We eat it and receive forgiveness of sins up until this point in time. Sins since our last confession, or Mass.
- From there it is our responsibility to keep united with Christ by not sinning, keep believing, doing good works, indulgences, praying to Mary for her intercession, etc. in order to maintain our salvation.
We all participate in our salvation.
Offer up our Sacrifices and sufferings and uniting them with Christs?
Our sacrifices and sufferings are offered up in thanksgiving called the Offertory. What does offering them up do? The below is a direct quote from a Catholic Apologetics course I took at formed.org on the Mass. In reference to the Offertory the teacher says:
Many Catholics say I don’t go to mass because I don’t get anything out of it. And my question for them and my students is. Well what did you give? You can’t get expect to get anything if you don’t give something.
So the offertory becomes the moment for us to take up all our prayers, all our works, all our joys and our sufferings, and to thank God for all of that, including the sufferings, and unite them with Christs sacrifice so that He can offer them in thanksgiving to the Father in the Spirit. And that they can become redemptive, that they can be transformed through His offering to God. It is fundamental to when we participate in the sacrifice of the Mass.
In the Mass Catholics during this time Catholics pray the following: “Pray Brethren that my sacrifice and yours be acceptable to God.”
First question is if we want this sacrament to work then we have to give something to God first? What if I don’t give? Do I still get forgiveness of sins? I don’t have an answer to this. When I do, I’ll update this post.
Which of my sacrifices and sufferings are acceptable to God? When I present a Catholic with Hebrews 10 about how none of our sacrifices are pleasing to God, and never forgive sins Catholics argue they understand our sacrifices don’t forgive sins. They’ll say yes Christ forgives sins. We’re not adding to the finished work of Christ. We’re uniting!
How do the do this? By going back in time before Christ finished His work. Then uniting with the unfinished work.
This seems to be a play on words. When you unite something you are still adding. And the Catholic teaching states when you unite your sacrifices, and sufferings Christ offers “them” and “they” can become redemptive. “Them” meaning our sufferings in addition(unite means the same thing) to Christs, and “they”, our sufferings in addition to Christs “can” (maybe? mostly? some but not all? As long as you do it right?) become redemptive?
The once for all sacrifice is being made present so that through the mediation of a Catholic Priest, we can now go back in time to when Christ was suffering on the cross before He finished His work, bring it forward, add our sufferings/unite them, and maybe get forgiveness of sins? As long as ‘we’ give something Christ will accept it? If He does accept it, then we get forgiveness up until this point in our lives… Maybe? No way we can know I guess.
This process must be repeated over and over again through the course of a Catholics life with no guarantee that it fully worked.
Jesus, living Catholics, and the dead saints have to continually offer up their sufferings and sacrifices to Christ thousands of times a day in Catholic Churches all over the world; over and over again.
This is what Catholics mean by not resacrifice rather represent.
After all this when you die you may be in purgatory burning off your remaining sins until hopefully eventually he will finally forgive you fully, and you will be finally allowed to enter into the kingdom.
Or at the moment before you die after going to mass 20000 times in your life you commit a mortal sin you can then lose your salvation and be separated from God for all eternity.
This is the “good news” ???
In our time and reality we are offering up Christ’s sacrifice and sufferings united with our own, over and over, again and again, week after week. It is a temporal propitiatory sacrifice, that temporally perfects those, who are temporally in Christ at the time they partake of the body/blood of Christ.
Christ only keeps us perfect as long as “we” choose to stay in that perfection.
“We” have a responsibility to keep believing, and to try to avoid sin at all costs. By our own free will “we” can un-believe. By our own free will “we” can choose to give this gift back, to reject, or misplace it. “We” choose whether or not to continue to participate in our salvation. “We” choose whether or not we wish to participate in His sacrifice.
At the end of this life, “hopefully” it’s off to purgatory for an undisclosed amount of time so that “we” can atone for the remaining sins left.
The “medicine of eternal life” is only available through the mediation of the Catholic Church. The Catholic Church teaches there is absolutely no way you can unite with Christ outside of this. There is no way you can ‘have life in you’ without the Mass. Without the mediation of the Church, and an ordained Roman Catholic priest (Alter Christo ~ another Christ) Christ cannot be literally made present and represented.
This is why the Pope says that a personal relationship with Jesus outside the mediation of the Catholic Church is harmful and dangerous. I submit to you in love that the Roman Catholic teaching is harmful and dangerous. Click Here for details
The Mass is a propitiatory sacrifice that perfects as far as I can tell…. No one. This is why Christ is still on the cross in Catholic Churches. Christ isn’t at the right hand of the Father, it is not finished, He did not rise from the dead. In the Mass He is still on the cross, still suffering, over and over and over, all over the world day after day.
And All of the above is what Jesus was talking about when He said ‘do this in remembrance of me.”??
My Catholic Friends & Family
This is not the Gospel of Jesus Christ. This is not the message preached by the Apostles. I submit to you that you absolutely can have a real personal relationship with Jesus Christ. It is Christ the enables you to believe and reveals Himself to you, not you that believe and keep believing by your own will. You cannot un-believe, you cannot become un-born again. When you repent, & confess Jesus as your Lord and Savior, you will be saved. It is a done deal. Because of Christs once for all sacrifice He has made perfect for ALL TIME (past, present, and future) all those who are sanctified. Hebrews 10:14.
10And by that will, we have been sanctified through the sacrifice of the body of Jesus Christ once for all
If you’ve read this and want to talk more about what it means to have a relationship with Jesus Christ I’d be happy to talk to you. Or if you want to rebuke something I said I’m also open to talk.