Monday, May 15, 2006

The Bible and the Mass, Part I

I’ve had the opportunity, in the course of my spiritual life, to read and/or hear a lot of arguments against Catholic beliefs. I’ve never been afraid of that; I’ve never felt like reading a book or listening to a sermon critical of Catholic belief was dangerous to my faith or would cause me to abandon the Mass for parts unknown. I did leave the Catholic Church for a time, but for reasons totally unrelated to the arguments I’ve heard.

The one statement that has always been the most puzzling to me is that Catholics ignore the Bible. It gathers dust, we are told not to read it, Catholic belief isn’t based on it… you don’t have to write me and give me any more because I’ve heard them all. I covered the Bible in some depth in a series of three posts detailing how the Popes of the past century have strongly encouraged us to read the Bible. Now I would like to take a look at how references to and from the Bible permeate the Mass. My mother recently sent me a copy of a little booklet called “The Mass: A Biblical Prayer” by Father Peter Stravinskas, which gives the text of the liturgy along with the Biblical references that are referenced, and I will draw on this booklet pretty heavily. So let’s get started.


Priest: In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.
People: Amen.

Matthew 28:19- “Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit…. “ We baptize in the name of the Father, Son and Spirit (also see Acts 2:38- ““Repent, and let every one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins”); we also
-Believe in the name of the Son of God:
1 John 5:13- “These things I have written to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, that you may know that you have eternal life, and that you may continue to believe in the name of the Son of God.”
-Have life in His name:
John 20:31- “but these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that believing you may have life in His name.”
-Give thanks in His name:
Eph. 5:20- “giving thanks always for all things to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ….”

The priest can choose from one of the following three:
“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 and peace of God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ be with you.”

“The Lord be with you.”
The People’s response is the same each time: “And also with you.”

Greeting someone in the name of the Lord or giving them a parting blessing in His name was quite common.
2 Corinthians 13:14- “The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the communion of the Holy Spirit be with you all. Amen.”

1 Corinthians 16:23- “The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you.”

Galatians 6:18- “Brethren, the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit. Amen.”
(In the Tridentine Mass the greeting and response was Priest: Dominus Vobiscum/ People: Et Cum Spiritu Tuo, which translated means “May the Lord be with you/ and with your spirit”. The Tridentine liturgy is actually more saturated with scriptural allusions than the Paul VI mass is.)

Philippians 4:23- “The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you all. Amen.”
There are plenty more, but these will suffice.

PENITENTIAL RITE (two versions)
From the greeting the Mass continues with the penitential rite. This is in keeping with Matthew 5:23-24, which says “Therefore if you bring your gift to the altar, and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your gift there before the altar, and go your way. First be reconciled to your brother, and then come and offer your gift.” The full version can be omitted during certain parts of the church’s liturgical calendar. I will start with the short version.

Priest: Lord have mercy.
People: Lord have mercy.
Priest: Christ have mercy.
People: Christ have mercy.
Priest: Lord have mercy.
People: Lord have mercy.

1 Peter 1:3- “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to His abundant mercy has begotten us again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead….”

Jude 1:20-21- ” But you, beloved, building yourselves up on your most holy faith, praying in the Holy Spirit, keep yourselves in the love of God, looking for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ unto eternal life.”

1 Timothy 1:15-16- “This is a faithful saying and worthy of all acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am chief. However, for this reason I obtained mercy, that in me first Jesus Christ might show all longsuffering, as a pattern to those who are going to believe on Him for everlasting life.”
There shouldn’t be much doubt that we need the Lord’s mercy and that before we do anything we should certainly call upon it. At least I hope there isn’t any doubt. You just never know.

I will take the long version a phrase at a time.
“I confess to Almighty God, and to you, my brothers and sisters, that I have sinned through my own fault.”
Psalm 32:5- “I acknowledged my sin to You, and my iniquity I have not hidden. I said, “I will confess my transgressions to the LORD,” and You forgave the iniquity of my sin.”

James 5:16- “Confess your trespasses to one another, and pray for one another, that you may be healed.”

1 John 1:9- “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”

“In my thoughts and in my words…”
Matthew 5:21-22- “You have heard that it was said to those of old, ‘You shall not murder, and whoever murders will be in danger of the judgment.’ 22But I say to you that whoever is angry with his brother without a cause shall be in danger of the judgment.”

Matthew 5:27-28- “You have heard that it was said to those of old, ‘You shall not commit adultery.’ But I say to you that whoever looks at a woman to lust for her has already committed adultery with her in his heart.”

Matthew 5:38-41- “You have heard that it was said, ‘An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.’ But I tell you not to resist an evil person. But whoever slaps you on your right cheek, turn the other to him also. If anyone wants to sue you and take away your tunic, let him have your cloak also. And whoever compels you to go one mile, go with him two.”

“…in what I have done and in what I have failed to do.”
James 2:14-17- “What does it profit, my brethren, if someone says he has faith but does not have works? Can faith save him? If a brother or sister is naked and destitute of daily food, and one of you says to them, “Depart in peace, be warmed and filled,” but you do not give them the things which are needed for the body, what does it profit? Thus also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead.”

James 4:17- “Therefore, to him who knows to do good and does not do it, to him it is sin.”

“And I ask Blessed Mary, ever virgin, all the angels and saints, and you, my brothers and sisters, to pray for me to the Lord our God.”
OOH, OOH! Pick me, Mr. Kotter! Arnold Horshack thinks he has a smoking gun here, the first portion of the liturgy which is blatantly anti-biblical, which can’t be supported by a shred of Scripture and isn't alluded to anywhere in the Bible. 1 Timothy 2:5 very clearly states, “For there is one God and one Mediator between God and men, the Man Christ Jesus….”

You didn’t think I would have come to the table unprepared, do you? I grew up Catholic. I knew this passage was coming. And I am well prepared to defend it…

…next time :)


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