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The Sacrifice of the Mass
In the service of the Mass is concentrated the whole mysterious fulness and glory of the Romish worship; and in it, we find the center of the whole system. The term “Mass” came into use as early as the second century. Its origin would seem to be this: At the close of the service in the Latin or Western Church, when the holy communion was to be celebrated, and the ordinary ritual of the day was done, the priest addressing the people from the pulpit said, “Missa est,” that is, “the congregation is dismissed;” and then followed the communion, immediately after the dismissal of that part of the congregation who were not strictly communicants. From this expression “Missa est,” being thus used previously to the sacrament of the Lord’s Supper, this rite came to be called in very early times “Missa” and hence, in English, “The Mass.” The word was retained in the liturgy of the English Church until 1562, when it was abandoned on account of the perverted sense attached to it by Roman Catholics.
To understand properly what is implied in the sacrifice of the Mass, we must bear in mind that the doctrine of the Church is that in the sacrament of the Eucharist are contained really and substantially, the body and blood, soul and divinity of our Lord Jesus Christ. “If anyone shall say that a true and proper sacrifice is not offered to God in the Mass; or that what is to be offered is nothing else than giving Christ to us to eat, let him be accursed. If anyone shall say that the Mass is only a service of praise and thanksgiving, or a bare commemoration of the sacrifice made on the cross, and not a propitiatory offering, or that it only benefits him that receives it, and ought not to be offered for the living and the dead, for sins, punishments, satisfactions, and other necessities, let him be accursed.” Dr. Challoner says that “there is a real change and DESTRUCTION of the bread and wine, in their consecration, into the body and blood of Christ.”
From these unequivocal statements it appears that nothing of the substance or essence of either the bread or wine remains. The sensible properties, or “accidents” as they term them, continue as they were. The form, color, taste, odor, the specific gravity, their chemical affinities, and their nutritive qualities remain the same. Our senses, they claim, are DECEIVED. Thus, we see that transubstantiation is an essential element in the Mass, and is the very heart of Roman Catholic worship. Its importance cannot very well be overestimated.
Moehler, the most philosophic and masterly writer on Romanism, represents it as the point in which all the differences between Romanists and Protestants converge. No doctrine of the Church of Rome is more portentous or fruitful of evil consequences and no doctrine of that Church is more entirely destitute of even a semblance of Scriptural support. The words of Christ, “This do in remembrance of me,” are made to mean, “Offer the sacrifice which I myself have just offered.” These words constituted the twelve apostles and their successors—priests.
The Council of Trent even anathematized all who do not put that preposterous interpretation upon it. Thus, the Roman Catholic Church has changed the Eucharist, which was a thank-offering, into the Mass, which is a sin-offering. In the writings of Justin Martyr, we have a minute description of a sacramental service celebrated in the second century. It bespeaks the primitive simplicity of Christian worship, and presents a most striking contrast to the Romish Mass.
The question concerning the “real presence” was not agitated in the Eastern Church until the second Council of Nice in AD. 787. About the year 820, Rathbert, abbot of Corbie, wrote a book to show that Christ changed the bread and wine into the real body and blood, as born of the Virgin Mary. But this view was regarded as strange and heretical, and a fierce controversy ensued. The most noted divines of the Church were arrayed on both sides, showing that it was simply an opinion, not an article of faith.
Finally, at a private Council held at Rome, A.D. 1050, under Nicolas II., it received a vote of endorsement. Afterward in 1215, at the Council of Lateran, it was formally accepted as a doctrine of the Church. Now, for the first time, the word “transubstantiation” finds a place in the Roman creed, and after a lapse of nearly twelve centuries, the Church is authoritatively informed that every time the elements are consecrated, the Son of God in his humanity and divinity appears in the fingers of the priest.
Let it be borne in mind also that this power, if it exists at all, is necessarily unlimited. All the wine that may be contained in a cellar, all the bread that may be found in a baker's shop, the priest may, by a few words, convert into the body and blood of Christ. Yea, by one act, he may create a million Christs, for every particle of the bread broken off contains a whole Christ.
But even the decision of the Council of Lateran did not settle the matter, for from that time until the Council of Trent, in the sixteenth century, it was a debated question among the great doctors of the Church whether the doctrine was taught in holy Scripture, and some of the most able theologians of the Church, including even distinguished Cardinals, conceded that the proof for the dogma must be found outside the Word of God.
The worship of the wafer was not known until 1216, and it was not until the following year that Pope Honorius III, ordered the elevation of the Host at a certain part of the service of the Mass. The genesis and growth of this monstrous absurdity forms a most interesting historic study. Fortunately, for the cause of truth, its rise and development can be easily traced, and its history is its strongest refutation.
We can readily see where the seed of the dogma was sown in the mystical, hyperbolic, figurative language and interpretation indulged in by the Ante-Nicene fathers. The germs of the doctrine appear in Cyprian about the middle of the third century in connection with his high-churchly doctrine of the clerical priesthood. EVEN IN JUSTIN MARTYR AND IRENAEUS, WE MEET WITH THE UNSCRIPTURAL CONCEPTION OF THE LORD'S SUPPER AS A SACRIFICE; AT FIRST, AS A SACRIFICE OF THANKSGIVING, BUT SOON AS A SACRIFICE OF EXPIATION.
Intimately connected with the history of the Mass, is that of the liturgies. Though Romanists ascribe some of their oldest liturgies to St. James, St. Mark, and some of the post-apostolic fathers, yet it is an unquestioned fact that THERE ARE NO TRACES OF LITURGICAL WRITINGS PREVIOUS TO THE FOURTH CENTURY. The Roman liturgy now in use is ascribed by tradition, in its main features, to the apostle Peter, but it cannot be historically traced beyond the middle of the fifth century. It has, without doubt, grown slowly to its present form. It is an imposing ceremony, being arranged for dramatic effect, and is well designed to impress the ignorant, and hold the attention of the learned.
Everything connected with it, from the vestments worn by the priest to the culminating act, the elevation of the Host, has a symbolic meaning. The first article that the priest puts on is a small white linen cloth, placed on the shoulders, close to the neck. This is the amyct, and represents the muffling of our Saviour's face by the Jews. The girdle signifies the cords by which he was bound. The full outer vestment, the purple garment with which he was clothed in mockery in the court of Pontius Pilate; and so with every article worn in the performance of the ceremony. The altar represents Calvary; the linen clothes, the winding sheets, the silver plate, the stone rolled against the door of the sepulchre; and the candles, the light of the Spirit, or of faith. The colors employed also have symbolic meanings. Likewise every movement and gesture of the officiating priest from the time he takes his position at the foot of the altar to the close of the ceremony.
The service being performed in Latin also imparts to it an air of mystery. It is addressed to the senses, through the display of lights, the beauty of the vestments, the profusion of flowers, the incense and the music. THE IMPORTANCE WHICH THE CHURCH ATTACHES TO THIS SERVICE IS ILLUSTRATED BY THE FACT THAT ATTENDANCE AT MASS ONCE ON SUNDAY, IF IN HEALTH, IS OBLIGATORY UPON ALL CATHOLICS. This accounts for the large attendance at public worship in Catholic churches. Non-attendance at Mass, if able to go, is classed with mortal sins endangering the soul with eternal punishment. The Mass is also very intimately connected with the Treasury of the Church. Masses for the dead are offered up daily in every church in Catholicism; and for every such service, a handsome sum is required.
$$$ The Profits of Purgatory $$$
W HILE THE DOCTRINES of the Roman Catholic Church are the same in all parts of the world, and the liturgy of the Mass is without variation, yet the discipline and customs of the Church vary in different countries, and in different parts of the same country, according to the judgment or permission of the bishop in authority.
In that part of Ireland in which I lived, there were certain customs that prevailed, of which I have never heard in this country. Indeed, if they were practiced here, a scandal would be brought upon the Church. One of these customs was that of RECEIVING OFFERINGS AT FUNERALS. The body being taken to the church after the service was over, the clerk of the parish took his seat at a table within the chancel with paper, pen, and ink. A plate was placed upon the lid of the coffin and the priest called upon all friends and relatives of the deceased to come forward and pay due respect to the memory of the departed by making a generous offering.
As one after another came and placed his offering upon the plate, the priest announced the name and amount, making appropriate and appreciative comments on each gift and giver, the clerk in the meantime recording the same in the parish book. This was always regarded the most interesting, as it was the most profitable part of the funeral service, especially to the officiating clergyman. The money, thus donated, went into the treasury of the church. The amount collected depended upon the wealth of the mourners, friends of the departed, and the success of the priest in working upon the sympathies of those present.
The devices which the Roman Catholic Church adopts to secure money from its people, through Masses for the dead in Purgatory, are various and very successful.
While attending St. Mary's Church, Rochester, I was present one Sunday morning when Father Carroll, the priest of the parish, adopted this plan by which to get money from his people: He organized a “Society for the relief of souls in Purgatory.” He explained very fully the object of the organization and the great advantage to be gained by being a member of it. The design of the Society was to bring relief to the suffering souls in Purgatory through the prayers and suffrages of the faithful on earth. Each member, on joining the society, was to pay fifty cents, and that amount each following year, and in return they should have a Mass offered every month in the year for the relief of their friends in Purgatory.
Father Carroll was very explicit in stating that it mattered not where or when their friends died; the Masses would avail in their behalf. In urging upon his people the pious duty of affording relief to their suffering friends in the other world, he waxed exceedingly pathetic and eloquent, moving his parishioners to tears. As the result of the appeal, hundreds united with the society. In the course of his remarks, he showed his hearers the savings a membership would afford them. The price of a “low” Mass, then, was fifty cents, but under this arrangement, they would secure twelve Masses for that sum.
When afterwards I learned that instead of each member of the society having a Mass offered for him or her each month, one Mass was said for the entire society, my faith was considerably shaken in the honesty of the plan. That, however, is in accordance with the teaching of the Church. The whole matter hinges on the intention of the officiating priest. If he intends the Mass for any number, it is just as efficacious as though he had offered one for each subject. Although among intelligent Roman Catholics in America, there is AT TIMES A STRONG FEELING OF PROTEST, amounting in certain cases to indignation at the greed of filthy lucre on the part of the hierarchy—thus making merchandise of souls, yet it is rarely the case that a man has the courage of his convictions to speak out against such abuses.
A case occurred in Buffalo, N. Y., which is worthy of special note. The Rev. George Zurcher, pastor of St. Joseph's Roman Catholic Church, delivered a sermon Nov. 5, 1899, in which he attacked the practice of collecting money for the special remembrance of souls in Purgatory in the Masses said on All Souls Day. He declared that the Masses were for the souls of those who had no friends on earth to pray for them. Father Zurcher said in his sermon: “On the Sunday before All Souls' Day, in some churches, envelopes are distributed among the people. Every envelope contains a printed sheet of paper directing that the names of dead friends be written thereon, and the whole list signed by the one who writes the names. It is customary to enclose a money offering in the envelope. On All Souls' Day, the priest collects these envelopes with their contents. Now wherever the practice creates or gives the impression that the All Souls' Day Mass is said exclusively for those names collected in the envelopes, it is a fraud. I say it is a fraud because the All Souls' Day Mass which is written in every Mass Book on the altar of the Catholic Church for that day, is what its title and name says, a Mass for all the souls in Purgatory. And if a priest should wish to remember in the Mass of that day the soul of anyone in particular, or of such whose names are written on sheets of paper or for whom money is offered, it must be understood by the people that these souls should have a share in the Mass on that day, even if their names had not been collected by the priest. Should you ever attend Mass on All Souls' Day in a church where this fraud is practiced, denounce it. Let the envelope alone. Tell your friends to do the same.”
Three days later Vicar General M. P. Connery, administrator of the diocese, who saw a report of Father Zurcher's sermon in print, wrote to him, charging that Father Zurcher had insulted the Church and subverted the truth. Father Connery demanded a denial that Father Zurcher had uttered the sermon, or that he should make a public retraction of it, under pain of suspension, and commanded him to appear before him. This Father Zurcher failed to do, but repeated his sermon and nailed the manuscript to the pulpit.
Since that time Father Zurcher has been suspended. He has appealed to the Archbishop Corrigan of New York city, but it is doubtful if he will secure any redress. In such a case, the humble parish priest is under the heel of his Bishop, and it would be an exceptional case where a higher prelate would give heed to such an appeal. The suspended priest is beloved by his people and held in the highest esteem by the non-Catholic citizens of Buffalo. He is, however, too independent and outspoken in regard to certain abuses in his church to suit many of his fellow-priests and communicants.The New Life
T HE CLOSE of a period of fifty years' experience in the new life in Christ, I narrate the foregoing story of my conversion, and a few of the many incidents connected therewith with the hope that good may be accomplished thereby. My aim has been to emphasize those distinctive truths of New Testament Christianity which form the pith and marrow of all genuine religion.
MY CONVERSION FROM ROMAN CATHOLICISM WAS NOT A MERE CHANGE OF OPINION OR CREED; IT WAS THE ENTRANCE INTO A NEW LIFE. It was the dawn of a new day. In the simplicity and sincerity of my heart, I sat at the feet of Jesus and learned of Him. And as I thus listened to His Divine voice, I heard him say: “I thank Thee, O Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because Thou hast hid these things from the wise and prudent, and hast revealed them unto babes.”
I took heart and hope thereat and read and pondered the wonderful words of life with all the zest of an enthusiast. I followed closely the Gospel narrative. I discovered nothing obscure or mysterious in the words of Jesus. I read these words: “I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life; no man cometh unto the Father but by Me. I am the Door (into the way); by Me if any man enter in, he shall be saved, and shall go in and out and find pasture.” I was like a child groping in the dark. I longed for the light. I was suffering from soul-hunger. Mine was the experience of the prodigal son, when he came to himself and said, “How many hired servants of my father's have bread enough and to spare, and I perish with hunger.”
If there was aught in the absolution of the priest, and the worship of the Virgin, and the eating of the wafer that I did not receive, it was no fault of mine, for most sincerely, devoutly, and thoroughly did I conform to all the rules and regulations of the church. But it was all a MERE FORM. There was no consciousness of relief, of rest, of restoration to the Divine favor. When I prayed to Mary, I had no evidence that she heard me, for there is no warrant for her worship from the mouth of Jesus, or His Apostles. And when the priest placed the wafer on my tongue and assured me that I then received the Lord Jesus Christ in the entirety of His nature—human and divine—surely, I ought to have experienced a wonderful change. But I did not; though I was a devout communicant.
It was at this point where the new life in Christ bore a strong contrast to the old life of forms, ceremonies, and sacraments. I proved by experience that the letter killeth, but the Spirit giveth life. The law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus had made me free from the law of sin and death, and I had an experience of the glorious liberty of a child of God. I had been seeking for goodly pearls, when, lo, I found one pearl of great price.
I had such a keen sense of hunger that no semblance or symbol of food would satisfy—nothing but the Divine Reality. That, I found in Him who said, “I am the living Bread which came down from heaven; if any man eat of this bread he shall live forever; the bread that I will give is my flesh, which I shall give for the Life of the world. For my flesh is meat indeed, and my blood is drink indeed.”
In that same wonderful discourse, found in the sixth chapter of John's Gospel, Jesus tells us how we may become partakers of His Divine nature. It is by coming to Him and believing on Him. “I am the bread of life,” said Jesus, “He that cometh to Me shall never hunger; and he that believeth on Me shall never thirst.” And again, lest His disciples or any after them should stumble over His profound words, He said: “It is the Spirit that quickeneth; the flesh profiteth nothing: the words that I speak unto you, they are spirit and they are life.”
The centre of Roman Catholic worship is in the assumed miracle of transubstantiation, wherein it is claimed the real presence of Christ is in the sacrament; so, likewise, the life, the mystery, and the power of the Gospel lies in this divine verity: “CHRIST IN YOU, THE HOPE OF GLORY.”
“If a man love me,” said Jesus, “he will keep my words; and my Father will love him, and we will come unto Him, and make our abode with Him.” That is the REAL PRESENCE in which the Bible Christian believes, and which is the privilege of every true believer to enjoy. In the faith and experience of this vital truth, all evangelical Protestants unite...here we are, one. There may be variations as to church polity and doctrinal views, but touching Christian experience, the [true] life of faith, we see eye to eye, so that we can unite in the Apostolic Creed: “There is one body, and one Spirit, even as ye are called in one hope of your calling; one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in you all.”
During all these years of my Christian experience and ministry, I have been quickened and inspired by a consciousness of the Divine presence. The words of Jesus have been of solid comfort: “He that loveth Me shall be loved of My Father, and I will love him, and will manifest myself to him.” I could testify also with Paul that the Gospel of Christ is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth; I was thus enabled to realize the force of the Apostle's testimony: “It pleased God to reveal His Son in me.”