Why the Catholic Mass? What is missing from other sects?
I had mentioned in a previous article that a close friend has left the Catholic Church for an evangelical ministry. For her, she said the church just wasn’t getting through to her. When she mentioned communion to her new pastor he said you can believe whatever you want when we have a communion service.
It almost sounds like a pick and choose from a collection table of religious entities and what suits your palate choose that one. Somewhat like spending time in a library and after long hours searching for a title that appears to touch your interests you pick it up and without reading the introduction take it home to be disappointed. The very depth of the author’s thoughts leaves you in a quandary of negative philosophies and without any positive goal toward the end of this unwarranted book of words with no apparent conclusion.
Somehow when we decide that the current teaching of anything we have joined for truth fails us, we need to dig a little deeper and look at the experiential credits this entity has. In defense of the Catholic Church, there are over 2,000 years of tried and proven truths that cannot be contested. What may the question be, do we have to substantiate our claim? Let’s look at where all the other main-line churches got their dogmas from and then the many evangelical churches that followed, with their own opinions established without any traditions to back-up their choices.
First we must look at the words of Jesus when he asked his disciples; “But who do you say that I am?” Simon Peter said in reply, “You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God.” Jesus said to him in reply, “Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah. For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my heavenly Father.” “And I say to you, you are Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church, and the gates of the netherworld shall not prevail against it.” “I will give you the keys to the kingdom of heaven.” (Mt 16: 15 - 19).
I once heard an Episcopal minister preaching on this passage and he was quick to put the Catholic Church down for their belief it meant that the Apostolic Succession is just a Catholic premise without substantiation.
This of course is just one of several direct arguments that places us at odds with the other denominations. The Church was from the earliest years called the Roman Church and over the years it established the manner in which our Masses took shape. After the Reformation all dysfunctioning took place and today we have innumerable sects, most of which get their little snips at Catholicism.
However, the most disturbing issue is the Holy Eucharist and the Consecration during the Mass that becomes the one theological truth that is real and cannot be repudiated from any other religious sect. Here also is the current feeling of Catholic parishioners who don't believe in the Real Presence of Christ in the Host. The depth of understanding has left those who are part of that unbelief and this is also upsetting to me as well.
One conclusion regarding those Catholics who cannot accept these dogmas is the fact of supernatural events that preclude belief. Their assurance of only natural entities is the accepted way to treat the teaching of the Church. Unfortunately, do they believe in the Resurrection of Christ, totally in body and spirit? If they accept this truth, which is supernatural, how is it that the Real Presence of Christ in the consecrated host is the Son of God also supernatural and not accepted as well? If belief in anything not seen or felt is only a metaphor to a reality, then the promise of the Father to redeem us and accept all of us who believe in his Son’s sacrifice is also just a passing thought that has no reality to its essence. It becomes like dust in the wind and blows away at the first breath.
In more than one article I alluded to the presence of “the Collapse of Time” during the consecration of the bread and wine to the Body and Blood of Christ. Of all the elements of the Holy Mass this is where my solidity to Truth is the strongest. At the Last Supper when Jesus said “this is my Body” he already was being nailed to the cross, suffering unbelievable pain and bleeding all the more. When Jesus took the chalice and offered it as the blood of the Covenant which will be shed on behalf of many for the forgiveness of sin; he had already died on the cross.
So, when the priest stands in the place of the Lord during this most auspicious sacrifice Christ is the priest doing the very announcement he performed at the Last Supper and with the chalice as well. The Collapse of Time occurs exactly the moment of the consecration on our altar. It is not a remembering of that Good Friday, it is happening before us in our presence. Christ isn’t crucified over and over, but because time has no place in eternity we are there as observers at the very instance the Body of Jesus felt death.
My most precious period of time is during this action and I can feel spiritually the very steps through the words of the priest and the elevation of the Real Presence of the Risen Christ. Before us we are watching the death of Christ and the life of his resurrected body during the doxology; through Him with Him, in Him in the unity of the Holy Spirit , one God Forever, Amen.
Ralph B. Hathaway