The Catholic Mass: The Biblical Perfect Prayer

On 03/28/2011, in Catholic, Fact, by Tom Voiland

The Nucleus of the Mass; the Eucharist, was Born on Holy Thursday

The Mass, like all Catholic Liturgies, was instituted by Christ Himself at the Last Supper.  What Christ said and did on Holy Thursday, changing bread and wine into the real presence of His Body and Blood (transubstantiation), has been repeated for two thousand years and is the nucleus of the Catholic Mass.  Literally, the Mass has been celebrated without any material gaps in time – if any – since the night Jesus Christ ate with his Apostles just hours before His death.  At the Last Supper, Christ commanded that the Apostles “do this in memory of me”.

With Clarity and Certainty, Christ Told the Apostles; “This IS my body”

We Catholics are not Bible literalist, per se.  Yes, we believe Scripture to be the actual word of God written by men inspired by the Holy Spirit.  We believe in its absolute Truth in detail and in the whole, but do not subscribe to the practice of reading one sentence or section “out of the context” of Scripture in its entirety, along with Sacred Tradition, both guarded by the Magisterium (the teaching authority of the Catholic Church given to it by Christ Himself).  However, there are many doctrines of the Church promulgated by Jesus Himself noted in Scripture that clearly and unequivocally speak of certain Church practices to be followed.  One of these is unmistakably the celebration of the Eucharist; the transubstantiation of the bread and wine into the body and blood of Christ.

Let’s explore these:

Matthew 26:26-28. “While they were eating, Jesus took some bread, and after a blessing, He broke it and gave it to the disciples, and said, “Take, eat; this is My body.” And when He had taken a cup and given thanks, He gave it to them, saying, “Drink from it, all of you; for this is My blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for forgiveness of sins.”

And in John 6:53. “So Jesus said to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink His blood, you have no life in yourselves.”

Again in John 6:27. “Do not work for the food which perishes, but for the food which endures to eternal life, which the Son of Man will give to you, for on Him the Father, God, has set His seal.”

The Entire Mass Can Be Traced to Holy Scripture

Needless to say, the entire Mass – which has been called the “Perfect Prayer” – is completely Biblically based.  It has to be; it’s a celebration within Christ’s Church, the Catholic Church.  Catholics penned the New Testament inspired by the Holy Spirit (first called Christians, then the Catholic [Universal] Church) and then codified Holy Scripture in A.D. 393 at the Synod of Hippo.  What we tend to forget sometimes is that ALL Christians were Catholic (whether Orthodox, Roman, etc.) for nearly 1,500 years, and certainly all the Apostles and all the greatest minds and (early) Church fathers were Catholic.  Every single man and woman that materially affected Christian doctrine in its very initial development and maturation for “hundreds of years” were Catholic; devout Catholics, many of them martyrs, many of them having personal and visual relationships with Jesus.  How then could these Christians celebrate the Mass – daily – without this Perfect Prayer being absolutely and unmistakably supported by Holy Scripture?  A book they helped write, interpret, guard the validity of, preach from, and eventually certify the contents of – all under the guide of the Holy Spirit?  It is not possible.  Or better said, it defies logical and rational thought.

The following delineates the Order of the Mass by reference to how each section or rite is directly tied to the Bible.  I hope this helps the readers of this blog better understand that the Mass is a Christian celebration, completely supported by Scripture.   The Mass in the Bible.

Here are just a few examples from the linked text above of the Biblical support of the Mass.

The Greeting

Priest: In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. [baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit (Matthew 28:19)] People: Amen. [Let all the people say, Amen! (1 Chronicles 16:36)]

Priest: The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ and the love of God and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all. [The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ and the love of God and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with all of you. (2 Corinthians 13:13)]

People: And also with you. [The Lord be with your spirit (2 Timothy 4:22)]

Penitential Rite

Priest and People: I confess to almighty God, and to you, my brothers and sisters, that I have sinned through my own fault…….. [Therefore, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed. (James 5:16)]……… In my thoughts and in my words,…….. [do not be haughty..wise in your own estimation. (Romans 12:16)] and [The tongue… exists among our members as a world of malice, defiling the whole body (James 3:6)]…….in what I have done, and in what I have failed to do;…..[So for one who knows the right thing to do and does not do it, it is a sin. (James 4:17)]……and I ask Blessed Mary…….. [Yes, from this day forward all generations shall call me blessed (Luke 1:48)]……ever virgin……… [Therefore the Lord himself will give you this sign: the virgin shall be with child, and bear a son, and shall name him Immanuel (Isaiah 7:14)]…….all the angels and saints…….. [And another angel came and stood at the altar with a golden censer; and he was given much incense to mingle with the prayers of all the saints upon the golden altar before the throne; and the smoke of the incense rose with the prayers of the saints from the hand of the angel before God (Revelation 8:3-4)]…… and you, my brothers and sisters, to pray for me to the Lord our God……[Brothers, pray for us [too]. (1 Thessalonians 5:25)]

Liturgy of the Eucharist

Priest: Blessed are you, Lord, God of all creation. Through your goodness we have this bread to offer, which earth has given and human hands have made…….[For everyman, moreover, to eat and drink and enjoy the fruit of all his labor is a gift of God.(Ecclesiastes 3:13)] and [Blessed may you be, O LORD, God of Israel our Father, for all in heaven and on earth is yours (1 Chronicles 29:10-11)]……….It will become for us the bread of life……..[I am the bread of life (John 6:35)]

People: Blessed be God for ever. [Blessed be God! (Psalm 68:36)]

The Communion Rite

Priest: Lord Jesus Christ, you said to your apostles; I leave you peace, my peace I give to you…….. [Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. (John 14:27)]……Look not on our sins, but on the faith of your Church, and grant us the peace and unity of your kingdom where you live forever and ever………….[May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that you may abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit (Romans 15:13)]

People: Amen. [Let all the people say, Amen! (1 Chronicles 16:36)]

Priest: May the peace of the Lord be with you always. [Jesus came and stood in their midst and said to them, “Peace be with you”. (John 20:19)]

People: And also with you. [The Lord be with your spirit (2 Timothy 4:22)]

 

1 Response » to “The Catholic Mass: The Biblical Perfect Prayer”

  1. BahaMan says:

    Beautifully spoken Tom!

    There is no more important daily event in this world than the celebration of the Mass. As there are almost 1.3 billion Catholics around the globe, how many are doing what Our Lord commanded. And, so many on a daily basis!

    Truly, Christ’s command is being carried out!

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