Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Christ's Eternal Sacrifice (Misunderstanding the Mass)

The "Reformed" apologist Turretin Fan has posted some reasons on why he thinks that the Mass of the Catholic Church must be understood as re-sacrificing Christ, contrary to what the Church has taught throughout her history. Once again we see what happens when you look at the eternal sacrifice of Christ with spiritual blindness, and true ignorance of the Catholic faith.

Turretin Fan wrote,
c) One of our complaints about the Roman masses is that they don't claim to represent the sacrifice of Christ, but actually to involve the sacrificing of Christ. The Lord's Supper does illustrate for us the death of Christ: it is the true icon of his body and blood, which was shed for many for the remission of sins. The historical event of the cross, however, is complete. It is finished. It cannot be repeated or continued.

Let us look and see if Turretin Fan is accurate in this statement. Can Turretin prove from Scripture that the sacrifice of Christ is merely a historical event that was completed within time, and not eternally forever? Scripture tells us that the sacrifice is eternal, and that it is proclaimed until he comes again.

Cor 11:23-29
For I received from the Lord what I also handed on to you, that the Lord Jesus, on the night he was handed over, took bread, and, after he had given thanks, broke it and said, "This is my body that is for you. Do this in remembrance of me." In the same way also the cup, after supper, saying, "This cup is the new covenant in my blood. Do this, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of me." For as often as you eat this bread and drink the cup, you proclaim the death of the Lord until he comes. Therefore whoever eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord unworthily will have to answer for the body and blood of the Lord. A person should examine himself, and so eat the bread and drink the cup. For anyone who eats and drinks without discerning the body, eats and drinks judgment on himself.

Saint Paul also tells us that when we partake of the Eucharist it is a sharing of the actual Body and Blood of Christ. This is directly associated with His eternal sacrifice.

1 Cor 10:16
The cup of blessing that we bless, is it not a participation in the blood of Christ? The bread that we break, is it not a participation in the body of Christ?

We can also see that the Body that is being referred to in the Eucharist is the same as the Body that was given upon the cross. If one is to deny the literal Body and Blood of Christ in the Eucharist then they are also denying that same Body which was given upon the cross. The two cannot be separated, and so the sacrifice of the Eucharist is eternal. The same sacrifice is represented, or entered into, during the Mass.

Likewise Hebrews tells us that there is one sacrifice for the remission of sins, which is why the Church enters into that same eternal sacrifice every Divine Liturgy.

Heb 10:12
But this one (Jesus) offered one sacrifice for sins...

Heb 9:25-28
Not that he might offer himself repeatedly...

The Church has never taught that Christ re-sacrifices Himself in each Mass, which is what Turretin is trying to tell people on his blog. In fact Turretin Fan is grossly misrepresenting Catholic teaching when it comes to this topic. Turretin Fan is so caught up in his own intellect that for him, Christ's sacrifice is only a past historic event that happened around 2000 years ago. He has no faith to see the eternal sacrifice that Our Lord offered for us. He has no faith to see the divine nature of Christ, because if he did, he would never limit the sacrifice of Our Lord to a sliver of created time. Read the catechism, and what it teaches about Our Lord's sacrifice.

Catechism Section 1085
In the Liturgy of the Church, it is principally his own Paschal mystery that Christ signifies and makes present. During his earthly life Jesus announced his Paschal mystery by his teachings and anticipated it by his actions. When his Hour comes, he lives out the unique event of history which does not pass away: Jesus dies, is buried, rises from the dead, and is seated at the right hand of the Father "once for all." His Paschal mystery is a real event that occurred in our history, but it is unique: all other historical events happen once, and then they pass away, swallowed up in the past. The Paschal mystery of Christ, by contrast, cannot remain only in the past, because by his death he destroyed death, and all that Christ is -- all that he did and suffered for all people -- participates in the divine eternity, and so transcends all times while being made present in them all.

Catechism Section 1104
Christian liturgy not only recalls the events that saved us but actualizes them, makes them present. The Paschal mystery of Christ is celebrated, not repeated. It is the celebrations that are repeated, and in each celebration there is an outpouring of the Holy Spirit that makes the unique mystery present.

This divine aspect of Our Lord and Savior's sacrifice is completely lost in the heretical mindset of the Calvinist. They only believe what they can see, touch and feel. For these Protestant "Reformers" to constantly misrepresent the Catholic faith is a travesty indeed. Below, I look at a few Church Fathers to see if they also viewed the Divine Liturgy as entering into the same eternal sacrifice of Our Lord in which the Eucharist becomes the Body and Blood of Christ offered up for us.

Saint Justin Martyr around the year 150 wrote,
For we do not receive these as common bread and common drink; but just as Jesus Christ our Savior, having been made flesh by the word of God, had both flesh and blood for our salvation, so also we have learned that the food over which thanks has been given by the prayer of the word which comes from him, [see 1 Cor 11: 23-26; Lk 22; 19] and by which are blood and flesh are nourished through a change, is the Flesh and Blood of the same incarnate Jesus.

St. Cyril of Jerusalem in his Mystagogic Catechesis wrote
In the Old Covenant there were loaves of proposition [the bread of the presence], but they being of the Old Covenant, have come to an end. In the New Covenant there is a heavenly bread and a cup of salvation that sanctify the body and soul. For as the bread exists for the body, so the Word is in harmony with the soul. Therefore, do not consider them as bare bread and wine; for according to the declaration of the Master, they are Body and Blood. If even the senses suggest this to you [viz. that they are only bread and wine], let faith reassure you. Do not judge the reality by taste but, having full assurance from faith, realize that you have been judged worthy of the Body and Blood of Christ.

St. Serapion of Thmuis in 339 writes,
Thus we offer bread, celebrating the likeness of His death and we implore You, O God of Truth, to reconcile us to all and have mercy on us through this sacrifice...

These are only a few snapshots of what the early Fathers through about the Divine Liturgy and the Eucharistic presence in the eternal sacrifice. The Catholic Church has always taught that the Divine Liturgy allows us to enter into the one eternal sacrifice of Christ, despite what the "Reformers" would have you believe.

Saint John Chrysostom writing in the fourth century sums up what Catholics believe about the Eucharist, the Divine Liturgy, and the one sacrifice that we enter into in every Catholic Church, every day.
"What then? Do we not offer daily? Yes, we offer, but making remembrance of his death; and this remembrance is one and not many. How is it one and not many? Because this sacrifice is offered once, like that in the Holy of Holies. This sacrifice is a type of that, and this remembrance a type of that. We offer always the same, not one sheep now and another tomorrow, but the same thing always. Thus there is one sacrifice. By this reasoning, since the sacrifice is offered everywhere, are there, then, a multiplicity of Christs? By no means! Christ is one everywhere. He is complete here, complete there, one body. And just as he is one body and not many though offered everywhere, so too is there one sacrifice" (Homilies on Hebrews 17:3(6) [A.D. 403]).

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