Saturday, February 12, 2011

* BEST OF DTB #62 * The Catholic Defender: The Mass in History

The Mass in history has changed very little beginning with Jesus at the Last Supper and the Church taking the Lord's command to preach the gospel to every nation.

The Eucharist is the sign of the Lord's promise,the Eucharist is the pure offering spoken of by the Prophet Malachi.

It is written, "For from the rising of the sun, even to it's setting, my name is great among the nations; And everywhere they bring sacrifice to my name, and a pure offering: For great is my name among the nations, says the Lord of hosts.

I have had the opportunity to go to Mass in Latin America, all over the United States, Europe, Korea, the Middle East and no matter where I have been, the Lord's Mass is totally unified with the Church of Rome. From Jesus through his apostles, it has always been this way.

"While they were eating, Jesus took bread, said the blessing, broke, and giving it to his disciples said, take and eat; this is my body. Then he took a cup, gave thanks, and gave it to them, saying, Drink from it, all of you, for this is my blood of the covenant, which will be shed on behalf of many for the forgiveness of sins".

St. Paul refers to this cup as "The cup of blessing" which was the third cup offering in the Passover celebration.

During the Last Supper, Jesus omits the 4th cup saving this for the cross.

Jesus intentionally ties the Last Supper with his passion and death.

After receiving wine offered on a hyssop branch, Jesus from the cross says ''It is finished" marking the end of the old Covenant and the beginning of the new Covenant.

As the Israelite were saved from the Angel of Death by the blood of innocent spotless lambs blood applied on the lintel and two doorposts using a hyssop branch, the spotless Lamb of God was crucified between two thieves shedding his blood on behalf of all the world.

From this point on the Mass have become the center of Christian worship. The means by which Gods people can renew the new and everlasting Covenant. From the earliest times, "They devoted themselves to the teaching of the apostles and to the communal life, to the breaking of bread and to the prayers" (Acts 2:42).

"On the first day of the week when we gathered to break bread...", St. Paul raised Eutychus from the dead, then returned, "broke the bread, and ate; after a long conversation that lasted until daybreak, he departed" (Acts 20:7,11).

I often refer to this scene as the first recorded Midnight Mass! St. Paul refers to the "breaking of bread" and the cup of the "new covenant" saying, "For as often as you eat this bread and drink the cup, you proclaim the death of the Lord until he comes" (1 Corinthians 11:26).

From the very beginning, the Mass (liturgy of the word and the Eucharist) was the center of Christian worship.

The Church in the early years had to hold Mass in secret for fear of the Jews and then of the Romans.

Mass would be held at homes where people would gather. Catacombs and caves were other places that the Christians held Mass.

This 2nd/3rd century Catacomb is located in Salzburg Austria. I had the chance to visit this site where the early Christian celebrated Mass.

There is a grave site where the Priest, Father Maximus was martyred by the Romans.

They still have original utensils and altar used by the Christians when you go up into the Catacomb. I had the chance to go in there and you can feel the reverence of the praise of voices long ago.

This is the ancient stairway that leads to the main room where the Christians would meet. Out on the ground you can see from here where the Von Trapp Family hid from the Nazis. The scene from "The Sound of Music" was filmed on location.

This Catacomb is not far from there. What a great experience it was to have been able to see this place. This depicts the way it was during that time.

About 140 A.D., a convert to the Catholic Faith would write about his experience of the Mass. St. Justin Martyr wrote the following:

No one may share the Eucharist with us unless he believes that what we teach is true, unless he is washed in the regenerating waters of baptism for the remission of his sins, and unless he lives in accordance with the principles given us by Christ.

We do not consume the eucharistic bread and wine as if it were ordinary food and drink, for we have been taught that as Jesus Christ our Savior became a man of flesh and blood by the power of the Word of God, so also the food that our flesh and blood assimilates for its nourishment becomes the flesh and blood of the incarnate Jesus by the power of his own words contained in the prayer of thanksgiving.

On Sunday we have a common assembly of all our members, whether they live in the city or the outlying districts.

The recollections of the apostles or the writings of the prophets are read, as long as there is time. When the reader has finished, the president of the assembly speaks to us; he urges everyone to imitate the examples of virtue we have heard in the readings.

Then we all stand up together and pray.

The wealthy, if they wish, may make a contribution, and they themselves decide the amount. The collection is placed in the custody of the president, who uses it to help the orphans and widows and all who for any reason are in distress, whether because they are sick, in prison, or away from home. In a word, he takes care of all who are in need.

We hold our common assembly on Sunday because it is the first day of the week, the day on which God put darkness and chaos to flight and created the world, and because on that same day our savior Jesus Christ rose from the dead. For he was crucified on Friday and on Sunday he appeared to his apostles and disciples and taught them the things that we have passed on for your consideration.

Jesus says, "Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, then I will enter his house and dine with him, and he with me"(Revelation 3:20). We call this "Holy Communion".

For more information on the Eucharist, please click here:

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For more on the Eucharist, please click here:

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