Is the Catholic Mass really a sacrifice?
Fundamentalists reject the Catholic teaching on the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass for two reasons. They claim the Mass violates many passages in Hebrews which tell us Jesus was only sacrificed once, and that, without the shedding of blood, there is no forgiveness of sins (Heb 9:22, 25, 28 10:11-12). They think Catholics teach Jesus is sacrificed again at every Mass. They cite Catholic catechisms which teach that in the Mass Jesus is offered in an unbloody manner.
The Catholic Church teaches that the one, all-sufficient, bloody sacrifice of Jesus at Calvary is made present at each Mass in an unbloody manner. Christ is not re-sacrificed at each Mass; rather the Mass re-presents the one sacrifice of Calvary. Thus, the efficacy (effectiveness) of the Mass comes entirely from the one, bloody sacrifice of Calvary.
The passages referred to in Hebrews compare the many sacrifices of the OT religion, which could not atone for sin nor reconcile mankind to God, with the one sacrifice of Christ which did atone for all sins and reconcile mankind to God. Hebrews also stresses that the bloody sacrifices of animals in the OT prefigured the bloody sacrifice of Christ for the remission of sin.
The Mass, also know as the Lord’s Supper or the Eucharist, repeats what happened at the Last Supper. At the Last Supper our Lord turned bread into His body, and said that this body would be offered up (sacrificed) for us. He turned wine into His blood, and said that this blood would be shed (sacrificed) for us. Clearly, at the Last Supper, Jesus made His future sacrificed at Calvary present. He then commanded His disciples to repeat this mystery. In 1 Cor 11:26, St. Paul tells us that in the celebration of the Eucharist we “proclaim the death of the Lord until He comes.” Thus, the Last Supper, which made the sacrifice of Calvary present, will continue to be repeated in the Mass until the end of time. In this way, Christ’s once-for-all sacrifice will be made present to the faithful until the end of time.
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