More and more people are finding the practice of going to a Roman Catholic Mass rather empty and meaningless. In an age where people tend to hate just going through the motions without understanding the significance of them, it is not surprising that you may be wondering whether it is worth attending Mass.
So what is the significance of a Mass? What is the purpose of it? And why go through it? According to official teachings of Rome, the mass is the highest form of prayer because in it the Lord Jesus is being sacrifice for the sins of the dead and of the living.
A Roman Catholic Catechism declares: “The Holy Mass is the sacrifice of the body and blood of Jesus Christ, really present on the altar under the appearance of the bread and wine, and offered to God for the living and the dead.” And this sacrifice is said to be essentially the same sacrifice that the Lord Jesus offered on the cross of Calvary. In a Roman Catholic Catechism, a question is asked: “ Is the Holy Mass one and the same sacrifice with that of the Cross?” The answer given is: “The Holy Mass is one and the same sacrifice with that of the Cross, inasmuch as Christ, who offered Himself, a bleeding victim, on the Cross to His Heavenly Father, continues to offer Himself in an unbloody manner on the altar, through the ministry of His priests.”
Thus, for the Roman Church the mass is the continuation of the sacrifice of Christ made on Calvary. In it Christ is crucified over and over again as a sacrifice for the sins of the death and the living. It also holds that this sacrifice is just as efficacious to take away sin as was the sacrifice on Calvary. Christ supposedly is offered in sacrifice every time the mass is celebrated, that is, daily, not just yearly, in thousands of Roman churches throughout the world.
Now, if the Roman Catholic Mass is not this, then it is just an empty and meaningless ritual. People are just wasting their time and money attending masses and giving money to priests for them to say masses for their dead relatives and love ones. The money spent for masses would be of more use and value if they were given to help the needy, the many who are poor, hungry, sick, and uneducated.
So does the Roman Catholic Mass really have significance and value? If you turn to the self-attesting, self-authenticating, inerrant and infallible word of God, the Bible, the answer is shocking and dumbfounding.
How is that? Well let us trace from the Bible the purpose and nature of Christ’s death on Calvary.
The Old Testament system of religious practice that God instituted through Moses clearly teaches that God is both a God of justice and a God of mercy. For God to be able to grant forgiveness and salvation to anyone there has to be a just basis for it. This principle is summarized clearly in Bible, which reads,
“And according to the Law, one may almost say, all things are cleansed with blood, and without shedding of blood there is no forgiveness.” (Heb 9:22 NAU Emphasis Mine)If you were living during the Old Covenant system of worship, you will smell the stench of blood and see the blood of animal sacrifices all over the place of worship. Why did God require all those animal sacrifices under the Law or under the Old Covenant? It was because God was teaching the people a very important lesson. God is not just a God of mercy but also a God of justice. Therefore, for God to grant freely forgiveness to anyone there must be a just basis for it. The blood of an innocent victim must be shed in order to atone for the sins of the people.
The animal sacrifices instituted by God in the Old Covenant, however, could not effectively deal with the sins of the people. The repeated and continued sacrifices of them year after year only reminded the people that those sacrifices could not really effectively atone for their sins. Moreover, the repeated and continued offering of those sacrifices only pointed to the reality that a truly effective sacrifice was needed to provide a just basis for the forgiveness of sins. And that one effective sacrifice for sin was the sacrifice of Jesus Christ that was offered on the cross of Calvary almost two thousand years ago.
Now, this teaching is clearly stated in the Bible. It reads,
“The law is only a shadow of the good things that are coming--not the realities themselves. For this reason it can never, by the same sacrifices repeated endlessly year after year, make perfect those who draw near to worship. If it could, would they not have stopped being offered? For the worshipers would have been cleansed once for all, and would no longer have felt guilty for their sins. But those sacrifices are an annual reminder of sins, because it is impossible for the blood of bulls and goats to take away sins.Therefore, when Christ came into the world, he said: "Sacrifice and offering you did not desire, but a body you prepared for me; with burnt offerings and sin offerings you were not pleased. Then I said, 'Here I am--it is written about me in the scroll-- I have come to do your will, O God.' " First he said, "Sacrifices and offerings, burnt offerings and sin offerings you did not desire, nor were you pleased with them" (although the law required them to be made). Then he said, "Here I am, I have come to do your will." He sets aside the first to establish the second. And by that will, we have been made holy through the sacrifice of the body of Jesus Christ once for all.
Day after day every priest stands and performs his religious duties; again and again he offers the same sacrifices, which can never take away sins. But when this priest had offered for all time one sacrifice for sins, he sat down at the right hand of God. Since that time he waits for his enemies to be made his footstool, because by one sacrifice he has made perfect forever those who are being made holy.
The Holy Spirit also testifies to us about this. First he says: "This is the covenant I will make with them after that time, says the Lord. I will put my laws in their hearts, and I will write them on their minds." Then he adds: "Their sins and lawless acts I will remember no more." And where these have been forgiven, there is no longer any sacrifice for sin.” (Heb 10:1-18 NIV Emphasis Mine)
What a clear declaration of Scriptures. All the sacrifices under the Old Covenant could never take away sins, and their repeated offering year by year only served to point to a one true sacrifice that will effectively provide a just basis for the forgiveness of sins. And that sacrifice was made when the Son of God became a true human being and offered Himself as a sacrifice for sins on the cross of Calvary.
It is for this reason that when John Baptist saw Jesus walking towards him, John declares,
"Look, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!” (Joh 1:29 NIV)Jesus is that Lamb of God. He died on the cross of Calvary in order to accomplish salvation for His people. He died in order to provide a just basis for God to forgive freely those who come to Him through Jesus in repentance and faith.
Repeatedly the Bible emphasizes that this sacrifice of Jesus was “once for all” (Heb 10:10 – See also Heb 7:27; Heb 9:28; 1Pet 3:18; Rom 6:10). It is none repeatable because it is all-sufficient and effective. When Jesus died on Calvary He “offered one sacrifice for sins for all time” (Heb 10:12 NUA). Therefore, people are encouraged in the Bible to draw near to Jesus in faith for the forgiveness of sins and for help from Him.
“Therefore, since we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession. For we do not have a high priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but One who has been tempted in all things as we are, yet without sin. Therefore let us draw near with confidence to the throne of grace, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.”(Heb 4:14-16 NAU Emphasis Mine.)This goes to show that the Roman Catholic Mass is in direct contradiction of Scriptures. The idea of Jesus being offered as a sacrifice for the sins of the dead and the living daily through the countless masses performed in countless Roman Catholic churches all over the world is nothing short of blasphemy. It is one of those human traditions that invalidates the word of God (Mk 7:13). The Lord Jesus did institution the Lord’s Supper for His disciples to celebrate, but it clearly and primarily as a way of remembering what the Lord Jesus did when He died in Calvary (See 1Cor 11:23-28). The idea of Jesus being offered again and again through it is clearly in violation of the teachings of Scriptures.
The Roman Catholic Mass, therefore, is just an empty ritual. And even more, it is against the teaching of Scriptures. It belittles the “once-for-all” sacrifice of Christ on Calvary. It diverts the people from going to the “throne of grace” where the risen Christ sits in order for them to find grace and mercy in time of need. It defrauds or robs people of much needed finances for something that is empty and meaningless and is base on a false teaching. There is an old Irish saying about the Roman Catholic Mass: “High Money, High Mass. Low Money, Low Mass. No Money, No Mass.” How true and how tragic!
For Christianity to be truly meaningful, God-glorifying, life-changing, and soul-satisfying, then it has to be the true one. Read the Bible and get to know what true biblical Christianity really is. Seek out those who truly believe the Bible, love the Bible, study the Bible, live the Bible, and teach Bible. And in studying the Bible, get to know the true Jesus revealed in the Bible! For as the Bible puts it, “faith comes from hearing and hearing by the words of Christ.” (Rom 10:17 NAU)
Some people are just content of following blindly religious teachings. But never forget the warning of Jesus Himself when He said,
"A blind man cannot guide a blind man, can he? Will they not both fall into a pit?” (Luk 6:39 NAU)