01 March, 2010

4th refutation of the CARM series critical of the Church

This is a response to Matt Slick the Founder of CARM about His criticisms of Christ’s Church in a series of criticisms of the Church that he is currently posting. Mr. Slick does not allow the copying of his entire article so I will take excerpts of his criticisms and refute his claims. For the purpose of this commentary Mr. Slick’s writing will be in italics and mine will be in bold. The name of this first article is:

The Mass and the sacrifice of Christ

He begins by quoting the following:

“According to the New Saint Joseph Baltimore Catechism, vol 2, question 357, "The mass is the sacrifice of the new law in which Christ, through the Ministry of the priest, offers himself to God in an unbloody manner under the appearances of bread and wine. The mass is the sacrifice of Christ offered in a sacramental manner...the reality is the same but the appearances differ." Question 358 asks "What is a sacrifice?" The answer given is "A sacrifice is the offering of a victim by a priest to God alone, and the destruction of it in some way to knowledge that he is the creator of all things." From the Baltimore catechism we can conclude that the mass is the offering of Christ, by a priest

According to Roman Catholicism, Christ instituted the Mass when he said, "This is my body," (Matt. 26:26) and "This is my blood," (Matt. 26:28). Furthermore, Roman Catholicism teaches that when Jesus said "Do this in remembrance of me," he gave the apostles and hence his future priests the power to change bread and wine into his body and blood, (Baltimore Catechism, Vol. 2, Q. 354). Therefore, during the ceremony of the Mass during the part of the liturgy known as the consecration, the priest changes of bread and wine into Christ's body and blood (Catechism of the Catholic Church, 1105).”

Let us take a look and see if what Mr. Slick says in his concluding statements of the Baltimore Catechism and the Catechism of the Catholic Church are true, he says the following:

“From the Baltimore catechism we can conclude that the mass is the offering of Christ, by a priest”

“Therefore, during the ceremony of the Mass during the part of the liturgy known as the consecration, the priest changes of bread and wine into Christ's body and blood (Catechism of the Catholic Church, 1105).”

Obviously his concluding remarks are quite different than what either Catechism says. Instead, it says that the priest begs (asks) by the authority given to the priest by Christ to send the sanctifier which is the Holy Spirit so that the elements may become the Body and Blood of our Lord. The priest is acting in personal Christi representing himself and the whole congregation in the sacrificial offering but it is God that makes the offering the truly real and substantial Body Blood, Soul and Divinity of our Lord. That is the true teaching of both Catechisms. Nowhere does it say that it is the power of the priest that changes the elements in the anamnesis that has taken place. This has never been the teaching of the Catholic Church and is just another of your straw man arguments.

The Holy Spirit makes present the mystery of Christ

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.

1105 The Epiclesis ("invocation upon") is the intercession in which the priest begs the Father to send the Holy Spirit, the Sanctifier, so that the offerings may become the body and blood of Christ and that the faithful by receiving them, may themselves become a living offering to God.23

1106 Together with the anamnesis, the epiclesis is at the heart of each sacramental celebration, most especially of the Eucharist:
You ask how the bread becomes the Body of Christ, and the wine . . . the Blood of Christ I shall tell you: the Holy Spirit comes upon them and accomplishes what surpasses every word and thought. . . . Let it be enough for you to understand that it is by the Holy Spirit, just as it was of the Holy Virgin and by the Holy Spirit that the Lord, through and in himself, took flesh.24

1107 The Holy Spirit's transforming power in the liturgy hastens the coming of the kingdom and the consummation of the mystery of salvation. While we wait in hope he causes us really to anticipate the fullness of communion with the Holy Trinity. Sent by the Father who hears the epiclesis of the Church, the Spirit gives life to those who accept him and is, even now, the "guarantee" of their inheritance.25

In checking out the Catechism of the Catholic Church (CCC), The Catholic Encyclopedia, and The Council of Trent, we find the following: The Eucharist is referred to in several ways.

1. As a sacrifice
1. "the holy sacrifice of the Eucharist," (CCC, 1055) and "the Eucharist is also a sacrifice," (CCC, 1365).
2. As a divine sacrifice
1. "For it is in the liturgy, especially in the divine sacrifice of the Eucharist, that "the work of our redemption is accomplished," (CCC, 1068).
3. As a representation of the sacrifice of Christ
1. "The Eucharist is thus a sacrifice because it re-presents (makes present) the sacrifice of the cross," (CCC, 1366).
4. Is 'one single sacrifice' with Christ's sacrifice
1. "The sacrifice of Christ and the sacrifice of the Eucharist are one single sacrifice," (CCC, 1367).
5. It is the same sacrifice of Christ
1. "And since in this divine sacrifice which is celebrated in the Mass, the same Christ who offered himself once in a bloody manner on the altar of the cross is contained and is offered in an unbloody manner," (CCC, 1367).
6. It is propitiatory (removes the wrath of God)
1. "...this sacrifice is truly propitiatory," (CCC, 1367).
7. To all who deny its propitiatory nature Trent pronounces anathema
1. "If any one saith, that the sacrifice of the mass is only a sacrifice of praise and of thanksgiving; or, that it is a bare commemoration of the sacrifice consummated on the cross, but not a propitiatory sacrifice; or, that it profits him only who receives; and that it ought not to be offered for the living and the dead for sins, pains, satisfactions, and other necessities; let him be anathema." (Trent: On the Sacrifice of the Mass: Canon 3);
8. It is called the sacrifice of Christ which is offered via the priest's hands
1. "The sacrifice of Christ the only Mediator, which in the Eucharist is offered through the priests' hands," (CCC, 1369).
9. It is capable of making reparation of sins
1. "As sacrifice, the Eucharist is also offered in reparation for the sins of the living and the dead," (CCC, 1414).
10. It is to be considered a true and proper sacrifice
1. "The Church intends the Mass to be regarded as a 'true and proper sacrifice'", (The Catholic Encyclopedia, topic: "Sacrifice of the Mass").

Is the Mass a re-sacrifice of Christ?

“We certainly do not want to misrepresent Roman Catholic theology, but we must ask how it is possible for the Mass to not be a re-sacrifice of Christ when the Mass is called a divine sacrifice (CCC, 1068) that is done over and over again. We are told that "the sacrifice of Christ and the sacrifice of the Eucharist are one single sacrifice"; (CCC, 1367); that it is an unbloody offering that is proptiatory, (CCC, 1367); that it can make reparation of sins, (CCC, 1414); and is to be considered a true and proper sacrifice (The Catholic Encyclopedia, topic: "Sacrifice of the Mass"). We must conclude that it is a sacrifice that occurs over and over again and since it is said to be a true and proper sacrifice that is propitiatory, then logically it must be a re-sacrifice of Christ. If it is not, then how can it be called a sacrifice of Christ? Also, how could it be propitiatory if it is not a sacrifice of Christ since it is Christ's offering on the cross that is itself propitiatory?”

Your statement that you do not want to misrepresent Catholic theology would be more convincing if you did not follow with conclusions foreign to Catholic teaching. Catholic teaching is that mass is the self same sacrifice made possible in anamnesis as the supporting evidence you supplied testifies.

“Biblical Response

We risk the Roman Catholic saying that the biblical response to their position is a response to a straw man. Typically, the Roman Catholic will say that the Mass is not a re-sacrifice.”

Yes it certainly is a straw man argument because indeed it is not a re-sacrifice.

“Likewise, if the Mass is said to be a sacrifice of Christ and is repeated, then we must conclude that it is a continuing sacrifice, a re-sacrifice of Christ since the Catholic Church says that this very sacrifice is propitiatory (removes the wrath of God) and it is only the actual sacrifice of Jesus that can accomplish propitiation.”

The Bible tells us plenty about the sacrifice of Christ. Please consider the following verses:

“1. Sacrifice offered once
1. "For it was fitting that we should have such a high priest, holy, innocent, undefiled, separated from sinners and exalted above the heavens; 27 who does not need daily, like those high priests, to offer up sacrifices, first for His own sins, and then for the sins of the people, because this He did once for all when He offered up Himself," (Heb. 7:26-27).”

Yes, it is a continuing and perpetual sacrifice of the one sacrifice of all. His sacrifice transcends time and place. Hebrews explains that the New Covenant sacrifice is different from the Old Covenant sacrifices.

“2. "So Christ also, having been offered once to bear the sins of many, shall appear a second time for salvation without reference to sin, to those who eagerly await Him," (Heb. 9:28).”

Yes the Parousia is a promise of our Lord.

“3. "By this will we have been sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all, 11 And every priest stands daily ministering and offering time after time the same sacrifices, which can never take away sins; 12 but He, having offered one sacrifice for sins for all time, sat down at the right hand of God," (Heb. 10:10-11).”

Yes, the sacrifice of the New Covenant is sufficient to save all men. The Old Covenant and its sacrifice is finished as Jesus said on the cross. Jesus’ sacrifice is the sacrifice of the New Covenant.

“ 2. Sacrifice repetition of no value

“1. "For the Law, since it has only a shadow of the good things to come and not the very form of things, can never by the same sacrifices year by year, which they offer continually, make perfect those who draw near," (Heb. 10:1).

There is only one sacrifice of the New Covenant. Hebrews 10 refers to the Temple sacrifices.

“ 2. "And every priest stands daily ministering and offering time after time the same sacrifices, which can never take away sins," (Heb. 10:11).”

Correct the Temple sacrifices are not effectual in the New Covenant.

“We can see that the Bible tells us Christ offered himself once and that there is no need for repetition of his sacrifice. The failure of the Roman Catholic Church has been to distort the biblical doctrine of the Lord's Supper into a constant and repetitious sacrifice of Christ.

No it is the fulfillment of the Prophet Malachi who said that the Sacrifice of the Messiah would be in all places and at all times which could not describe Calvary only.

“We at CARM humbly request that the Roman Catholic not put his or her faith in the Mass but instead turn to the one and true sacrifice of Christ, by faith, and look to Jesus alone and not a human institution that offers a repetitious sacrifice.”

Your straw man fails miserably. The Mass is the self-same sacrifice of Calvary and NOT a repetitive sacrifice. Jesus offers the great feast to all that follow His commandment to “Do this in remembrance (anamnesis) of me” He that eats His Body and drinks His Blood shall have eternal life. That is the Word of the Lord and has been practiced for 2000 years.

The writing in italics are taken from the CARM website where thy can be viewed in their entirety and are the writings of Matt Slick here:


God bless!

In Christ
Fr. Joseph

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