A Short Primer on the Mass

Written by I. Shawn McElhinney

The topic of the Mass is a very delicate one and likely comes across to Protestants as a bit of squabbling over a "non essential". To Protestants who do not worship in a liturgical fashion and who generally have no idea of the central importance of liturgical worship to the people of God for 3500 years [i], this seems perhaps like a minor argument. In reality though, it is a central argument of primary importance to the people of God. The Mass is the life-blood of Christendom. It is the very core of Christian worship and always has been. The Eastern Churches who share the ancient Apostolic Tradition and pedigree of the Catholic Church do not use the term "Mass" to describe their worship as we do in the West. Instead, they use the term "Divine Liturgy." This is an excellent description of what the Mass is viewed as by Catholics also. Like us, the Eastern Churches have the understandings about the role of worship: that the liturgy is the center of all worship and that what is of primary importance is what God gives to us not what we give to him. In the following passage, Dr. Jeffrey Mirus notes this very point (along with others of great importance) which helps flesh out this concept so it is better understood:

Different people, of course, prefer different styles of worship. What is very attractive to one may be distracting or even unpleasant to another, especially when people have been formed in different traditions. Within the Church herself, the liturgical upheaval of the past generation has left us sadly divided over questions of ritual, music and participation. When you add converts coming from different backgrounds, you get an even greater diversity of tastes. Those coming from an evangelical background, for example, almost always find Catholic worship dull and even anemic at first.
The critical point to remember is that these questions of style are secondary in Catholic worship for the simple reason that Catholic worship  is not primarily about what we do for Christ, but about what Christ does for us. This point cannot be overemphasized. The Mass is first and foremost an action of Christ Himself. At each Mass, through the instrumentality of the priest as "alter Christus", Our Lord reenacts the sacrifice of Calvary in an unbloody manner and becomes present on the altar -- body, blood, soul and divinity -- to nourish us unto eternal life.
Note that I am not saying merely that more graces are available in the Mass than in other forms of worship (though this is true). The comparison is not a matter of tallying up the ways in which a particular liturgical style assists worshippers in becoming receptive to the available stock of grace. Such a comparison may be relevant for different liturgical settings of the Mass itself, but it is completely out of place when comparing the Mass with non-Catholic worship.

What I am saying is that while a non-Catholic worship service is a human action, the Catholic Mass is a Divine action. There is an unfathomable gulf between them -- a gulf so vast that any effort to compare the two without the most careful qualifications and caveats will lead to blasphemy. [1]

There is no qualitative comparison between the two except to contrast the Old and New Covenant sacrifices perhaps as an analogy. The sacrifices of the Old Law were not efficacious. The reason is because they were imperfect finite offerings in atonement for an infinite offense (sin) in the eyes of God. You cannot make recompense of an infinite offense with a finite offering anymore than someone who stole a billion dollars from Bill Gates could make restitution for his crime by repaying 10 cents. The gulf between God and man is greater then the gulf between a billion dollars and 10 cents. Therefore, man of his own accord could never even remotely atone for the transgression of Adam without the aid of the Lord. This is why God sent His Son in the flesh to us as the divine hybrid: fully man, fully God (John 1:1, 1:10-14). As fully man He atoned for the offenses of humanity towards God (Col. 1:19-20). As fully God He was able to fully atone for the infinite offense and destroy the certain death to which all men would be consigned to after the fall of Adam (Gal. 4:4-6). To sum it up in a sentence or two: Evangelical worship is the equivalent of the Jewish temple sacrifices and the Mass is the sacrifice of Calvary. There is absolutely no comparison that can possibly be made between the two anymore then you can compare man to God.

The objections by some that are reading this who are Protestant are rather predictable. They are probably along the lines of "where is this in the Bible" as if the Bible is somehow a comprehensive catechism of the faith that covers every possible detail. Our Lord castigated the Pharisees for this narrow-minded recourse to a written book not realizing that the one who gave them life (whom they sought through written means) stood before them in the flesh and they were unable to make the distinction. Or as the Evangelist noted in his Gospel:

And the Father himself who hath sent me hath given testimony of me: neither have you heard his voice at any time, nor seen his shape. And you have not his word abiding in you: for whom he hath sent, him you believe not.  Search the scriptures: for you think in them to have life everlasting. And the same are they that give testimony of me. And you will not come to me that you may have life. I receive not glory from men. But I know you, that you have not the love of God in you. I am come in the name of my Father, and you receive me not: if another shall come in his own name, him you will receive. How can you believe, who receive glory one from another: and the glory which is from God alone, you do not seek? [2]
This problem of the Pharisees that Our Lord highlighted manifests itself in those who focus on the effectiveness of what they offer to God rather than what God offers to them. This is the core difference between non-Catholic and Catholic worship. To once again quote Dr. Jeffrey Mirus on the matter:
In non-Catholic worship, the key to a successful service is the quality of the sermon and the fervor of the responses, be they spoken or sung. It is the work of man that is at issue. In the Catholic liturgy, however, the key is Christ's action, and the success of the secondary elements must be measured according to how well they foster our recognition of and union with that action. What Christ does is reenact his sacrifice for us at every Mass; in doing so He makes Himself fully and really present and gives Himself to us in holy communion.
Let me say it again: God the Son appears on the altar at every Mass.
The proper response to the Real Presence of God is awe. Despite its ups and downs over the centuries, each particular form of the Catholic liturgy has officially aimed to assist the faithful to do two things at one and the same time: to unite themselves with the sacrifice of Christ and to stand in awe before the Word made Flesh. This is so true that the Church's teaching about the importance of "active participation" in the liturgy has less to with songs and responses and styles than with the degree to which each member of the Faithful unites himself to Christ by offering himself with Christ back to the Father; and the degree to which he stands in awe of the God Who condescends to give Himself as food. This awe-inspiring union -- this reverent love -- is the desired effect of every Mass, for both the individual and the community as a whole. [3]
In discussions with our Protestant brethren, what is detected almost right off the bat is that often they focus solely on the Cross and refer to Our Lord’s sacrifice there. They refer to Our Lord as our High Priest and they focus almost solely on the events of Calvary. What they do not realize is that the offering of Our Lord of Himself for sin occurred not at Calvary but instead it was at the Last Supper. This is why the Mass is central to the worship of God. This statement is undoubtedly startling to our Protestant brethren to hear. However, a proper understanding of the OT sacrificial system, the significance of the Passover concept, and the importance of the actions by Our Lord at the Last Supper (not to mention the language used) forcefully demonstrates the point. While Church history defends this statement unambiguously, this author is nevertheless under no illusions that he will be able to explain in a few pages a mystery so profound that a million pages of writing could never fully detail it. Nevertheless, an explanation or overview of these concepts (however limited it might be) would be necessary so that the proper understanding of the firm biblical and Hebraic foundation of what is being stated makes better sense. To those not well schooled in these ancient themes, the statement made in this piece might seem "unbiblical" or even blasphemous. In reality though, nothing could be further from the truth.

What needs to be taken into account initially with this position is that the past, present, and future (indeed all of eternity) is simultaneous in the eyes of the Eternal Father. This very imagery has profound implications for the Church as the Spouse of the Lamb (Rev. 19:7) and of the Mass itself which can be said to be the "marriage feast of the Lamb" (Rev. 19:9). These are concepts that are lost on moderns who read the Bible and judge texts of it often with a nominalistic mindset which is devoid of the proper Hebrew worldview prevalent to the first Christians (who were Jews) and the Gentile Apostolic Fathers who also understood these metaphors very acutely. One of the most commonly misunderstood aspects of the Hebrew worldview is pointed out in the excellent book The Days of Vengeance written by Reformed Protestant scholar David Chilton. In discussing the liturgical language of Revelation, the author makes the following observation:

God rains down His judgments upon the earth in specific response to the liturgical worship of His people. As part of the formal, official worship service in heaven, the angel of the altar offers up the prayers of the corporate people of God; and God responds to the petitions, acting into history on behalf of the saints. The intimate connection between liturgy and history is an inescapable fact, one which we cannot afford to ignore. This is not to suggest that the world is in danger of lapsing into "non-being" when the Church’s worship is defective. In fact, God will use historical forces (even the heathen) to chastise the Church when she fails to live up to her high calling as the Kingdom of priests. The point here is that the official worship of the covenantal community is cosmically significant. Church history is the key to world history: When the worshipping assembly calls upon the Lord of the Covenant, the world experiences His judgments. History is managed and directed from the altar of incense, which has received the prayers of the Church. [4]
History itself revolves around liturgy, which is how God’s people have always worshipped Him. Liturgy by its very nature is community worship and community worship requires a community sacrifice. Our Lord when He came to make the atonement provided us with a perfected sacrifice. He came not as a priest descended by lineage but as a priest independent of lineage criteria to signify both the perfection of the New Covenant and also that it was universal in scope (Gk. katholikos). This is one of the identifying traits of a Melchisedech priest as the unknown author of Hebrews noted:
For this Melchisedech was king of Salem, priest of the most high God, who met Abraham returning from the slaughter of the kings and blessed him: To whom also Abraham divided the tithes of all: who first indeed by interpretation is king of justice: and then also king of Salem, that is, king of peace: Without father, without mother, without genealogy, having neither beginning of days nor end of life, but likened unto the Son of God, continueth a priest for ever...But he, whose pedigree is not numbered among them, received tithes of Abraham and blessed him that had the promises. And without all contradiction, that which is less is blessed by the better…If then perfection was by the Levitical priesthood (for under it the people received the law), what further need was there that another priest should rise according to the order of Melchisedech: and not be called according to the order of Aaron? For the priesthood being translated, it is necessary that a translation also be made of the law. For he of whom these things are spoken is of another tribe, of which no one attended on the altar. For it is evident that our Lord sprung out of Juda: in which tribe Moses spoke nothing concerning priests. And it is yet far more evident: if according to the similitude of Melchisedech there ariseth another priest, Who is made, not according to the law of a law of a carnal commandment, but according to the power of an indissoluble life. For he testifieth: Thou art a priest for ever according to the order of Melchisedech…
But Christ, being come a high Priest of the good things to come, by a greater and more perfect tabernacle, not made with hand, that is, not of this creation: Neither by the blood of goats or of calves, but by his own blood, entered once into the Holies, having obtained eternal redemption…And therefore he is the mediator of the new testament: that by means of his death for the redemption of those transgressions which were under the former testament, they that are called may receive the promise of eternal inheritance. For where there is a testament the death of the testator must of necessity come in. For a testament is of force after men are dead: otherwise it is as yet of no strength, whilst the testator liveth. Whereupon neither was the first indeed dedicated without blood. For when every commandment of the law had been read by Moses to all the people, he took the blood of calves and goats, with water, and scarlet wool and hyssop, and sprinkled both the book itself and all the people. Saying: This is the blood of the testament which God hath enjoined unto you. The tabernacle also and all the vessels of the ministry, in like manner, he sprinkled with blood. And almost all things, according to the law, are cleansed with blood: and without shedding of blood there is no remission.  It is necessary therefore that the patterns of heavenly things should be cleansed with these: but the heavenly things themselves with better sacrifices than these. For Jesus is not entered into the Holies made with hands, the patterns of the true: but into Heaven itself, that he may appear now in the presence of God for us. [5]
There is an apparent conflict of the text in Hebrews between 9:23 and 10:14. The word "sacrifices" in reference to "the heavenly things" is clearly in the plural form in the first instance (9:23). However, Hebrews also clearly notes that Our Lord made but one offering for sin in the second instance (10:14). How can what is plural be simultaneously singular??? Considering that God is three persons in one Being, it should not surprise that the heavenly sacrifices offered would involve but one sacrifice for sin. The key is in understanding the purpose of the Melchisedech priesthood of the New Covenant of which Our Lord is the High Priest (Heb. 5:5-10). A Melchisedech priest is chosen apart from Jewish criteria and offers in sacrifice not a bloody animal but instead an unbloody offering of bread and wine (Gen. 14:18-20; Matt. 26:26-28, Mark 14:22-24, Luke 22:19-20, 1 Cor. 11:23-29). The purpose of Our Lord’s command to repeat the Last Supper is because it is through the veil of bread and wine that the sacrifice of Calvary is "made present" (Gk. anamnesis) forever for every generation. This is how the Lord renews His covenant with us and we in Him: through union with him in the partaking of the Eucharistic sacrifice (1 Cor. 10:16-22). Malachi prophesied about this in the OT:
And now beseech ye the face of God, that he may have mercy on you, (for by your hand hath this been done,) if by any means he will receive your faces, saith the Lord of hosts. Who is there among you, that will shut the doors, and will kindle the fire on my altar gratis? I have no pleasure in you, saith the Lord of hosts: and I will not receive a gift of your hand. For from the rising of the sun even to the going down, my name is great among the Gentiles, and in every place there is sacrifice, and there is offered to my name a clean oblation: for my name is great among the Gentiles, saith the Lord of hosts. [6]
Malachi prophesied that in every place there would be sacrifice and a single pure offering made to the Lord of Hosts by the Gentiles. How can a singular sacrifice be made simultaneously in all times and places??? Here we have the same contradiction in Hebrews but the way to reconcile it is to understand that the plurality of offering would be a re-presentation of a one-time event in perpetuity. This is what the Jews do with the Passover which the rabbis teach that every Jew must actually experience to be Jewish. A Jew today experiences the exodus through the memorial of the Passover, which makes the exodus present to all generations of Jews. The Passover imagery has a parallel in the New Covenant with Calvary and the re-enactment of Calvary which happens at every Mass where we experience Calvary which is "made present" (anamnesis) before us by Our Lord through the hands of His priest.

Among the primary differences between the Jewish Passover and the Catholic Mass is that unlike the Jews, we do not experience Calvary annually (as they do the exodus) but instead as often as Mass is offered (Luke 22:19; 1 Cor. 11:25-26). The Mass corresponds perfectly with the prophecy of Malachi in every possible way. At the Mass sacrifice is offered. At the Mass a clean oblation is offered. The Mass is offered "from the rising of the sun to the going down" (or at all times) in "every place" (worldwide) and by the gentiles. The Didache §14 (c. 80 AD), 1 Clement §44 (c. 95 AD), Justin Martyr’s Dialogue with Trypho the Jew §41 (c. 155 AD), and Irenaeus of Lyons’ Against Heresies, 4:17:5 (c. 180 AD) are a few examples in the first 150 years of the Church from the Apostolic Fathers which recognized the connection between the pure offering of the Son of God at Mass and the prophecy of Malachi (referring to the Eucharist specifically as both a sacrifice and as the Body and Blood of Our Lord Jesus Christ). There are a number examples of course but these should suffice to demonstrate quite clearly that the claims of most Protestants about the Mass cannot stand up to legitimate scrutiny. This very view of the Mass corresponds with the language of the Scriptures as understood by the Church Fathers for the first 10 centuries of Church history. It is worth noting that the only ones in the first millennium who denied this core Christian teaching were the early heretics. Unfortunately the "reformers" and their descendants have abandoned the understanding of the early Church and have deprived millions of this infinite source of God’s grace (undoubtedly to the tune of countless souls being lost). They do this because of a warped, truncated, and overtly legalistic view of Our Lord’s work of atonement, which is highly unbiblical and unhistorical. As Dr. Art Sippo has noted on the matter:

"A bloody sacrifice is where you kill something, pour out its blood, and offer that to God. Obviously, this does not happen at the Mass. The priest in persona Christi says the same words that Christ said at the Last Supper but does so while speaking in the third person. (i.e., "When supper was ended HE took bread..."). In essence the priest is not the one who makes the offering. Christ does. The priest merely makes this offering really present to us here and now by his mediation. And it is the SAME offering literally that Jesus made in the Upper Room, the SAME offering He made on Calvary, the SAME offering He made after His Ascension into Heaven, and the SAME offering that He now makes eternally before the Father. We are being abstracted out of our time and being brought into the eternal…
The separation of blood from flesh was an essential element of the OT sacrificial system. The body was seen by the Hebrews as mere matter. Blood and breath (ruach - spirit) were seen as the two animating principles which made the body alive. Blood was a material principle of life whereas breath was mysterious and spiritual. The breath of life always returned to God (Ecclesiastes 12:7 Then shall the dust return to the earth as it was: and the spirit shall return untoGod who gave it.)
The Blood was then the element of life that could be collected by man and thereby offered to God as symbol of giving life to Him. It was the only active principle of life which man could manipulate. It did not represent spiritual life but biological life. The offering of blood was reserved only to God as a sign of His sovereignty over us. Now it is important to remember that the true sacrifice of Christ was not on Calvary per se. Jesus never offers his body an blood for sin on Calvary.  He only does this explicitly at the Last Supper. As such, Jesus' own priestly action is essentially and irreducibly tied to the Last Supper. Without the Last Supper, Jesus was merely a martyr, not a sacrifice for sin. Another sacrificial element of the redemption is Jesus's Ascension into Heaven as an "o'lah" or "Whole burnt offering" (Ascension offering is a better translation from the Hebrew) which was necessary before the Holy Spirit could be sent to the Church…
Sacrifice is not the act of killing the victim but of offering it to God. That is the big mistake of the Protestant over emphasis on the cross to the detriment of other aspects of Christ's work. Look at the OT material on sacrifice. There were no prescribed rituals for killing the victim, but there were for making the offering. Indeed, Jesus was sacrificed on the cross, but it was only one aspect of the larger context of sacrificial offering which puts everything into context. The sacrifice at the Last Supper was the same one as at Calvary but like the original Passover, it was done in anticipation of death of the FirstBorn the next day. The Last Supper would have no efficacy at all if Christ did not die the next day. The Last Supper would have no efficacy at all if Christ did not die the next day. In that sense, the cross is central to the sacrifice of Christ but not its totality. There are elements of the sacrificial in the Incarnation itself. The sacrificial elements of the Ascension and the eternal offering of Christ in heaven complete the picture. All of these things are facets of the same event seen from eternity. They are inseparable. We cannot claim that the Mass is the same sacrifice as that at Calvary unless the Last Supper is too. Quid pro quo. The Last Supper revealed EXPLICITLY some things which the Cross revealed IMPLICITLY. It is important to note that we were told to repeat the Last Supper as an anamnesis or memorial of Christ's work, NOT the Cross. Done in the context of Passover, the memorial of the Mass makes us radically present in eternity before the finished work of Christ. [7]
These are hardly "unbiblical" concepts in the slightest but they are recognition of a healthy Hebraic view of time and space. Our Lord is both the Bread of Life and also the Lamb of God (John 1:36) which must be eaten in the Passover of the New Covenant. He has told us that having life involves eating His flesh and drinking His blood so that He abides in us and us in Him (John 6:48-59). Do not think you will ever fully comprehend such a mystery, which the greatest theologians for twenty centuries have stumbled over trying to fully comprehend the incomprehensible. As noted earlier in this section, there was not one single orthodox Church Father who ever doubted the Real Presence or indeed that the Mass was a sacrifice. The burden is on the shoulders of any Protestant historian [ii] who has the temerity to white-wash history in such a fashion as to deny such a historically verifiable Apostolic doctrine is overwhelming. The weight is on any Protestant who claims that these themes are "unbiblical" because those who believed differently than what has been outlined here were labeled as heretics for the first fifteen centuries of Christian history, no exceptions allowed. In fact, a common defense by the Church Fathers for the actual bodily existence of Our Lord (against heretics who denied that he really came in the flesh) was by recourse to Our Lord’s Real Presence in the Eucharist. An example of this defense is the following by Tertullian (before his fall into heresy) against the heretic Marcion who denied (among other things) that Our Lord actually came in the flesh. Notice how Tertullian speaks of the "figure" of the Lord's Body [iii]:
Then, having taken the bread and given it to His disciples, He made it His own body, by saying, "This is my body," that is, the figure of my body. A figure, however, there could not have been, unless there were first a veritable body. An empty thing, or phantom, is incapable of a figure. If, however, (as Marcion might say,) He pretended the bread was His body, because He lacked the truth of bodily substance, it follows that He must have given bread for us. It would contribute very well to the support of Marcion's theory of a phantom body, that bread should have been crucified! But why call His body bread, and not rather (some other edible thing, say) a melon, which Marcion must have had in lieu of a heart! He did not understand how ancient was this figure of the body of Christ, who said Himself by Jeremiah: 'I was like a lamb or an ox that is brought to the slaughter, and I knew not that they devised a device against me, saying, Let us cast the tree upon His bread,' which means, of course, the cross upon His body. And thus, casting light, as He always did, upon the ancient prophecies, He declared plainly enough what He meant by the bread, when He called the bread His own body.
He likewise, when mentioning the cup and making the new testament to be sealed "in His blood," affirms the reality of His body. For no blood can belong to a body which is not a body of flesh. If any sort of body were presented to our view, which is not one of flesh, not being fleshly, it would not possess blood. Thus, from the evidence of the flesh, we get a proof of the body, and a proof of the flesh from the evidence of the blood. In order, however, that you may discover how anciently wine is used as a figure for blood, turn to Isaiah, who asks, "Who is this that cometh from Edom, from Bosor with garments dyed in red, so glorious in His apparel, in the greatness of his might? Why are thy garments red, and thy raiment as his who cometh from the treading of the full winepress?" The prophetic Spirit contemplates the Lord as if He were already on His way to His passion, clad in His fleshly nature; and as He was to suffer therein, He represents the bleeding condition of His flesh under the metaphor of garments dyed in red, as if reddened in the treading and crushing process of the wine-press, from which the labourers descend reddened with the wine-juice, like men stained in blood. Much more clearly still does the book of Genesis foretell this, when (in the blessing of Judah, out of whose tribe Christ was to come according to the flesh) it even then delineated Christ in the person of that patriarch, saying, "He washed His garments in wine, and His clothes in the blood of grapes"--in His garments and clothes the prophecy pointed out his flesh, and His blood in the wine. Thus did He now consecrate His blood in wine, who then (by the patriarch) used the figure of wine to describe His blood. [8]
Such a concept as outlined here requires a childlike faith, it cannot be analyzed and explained carnally. Our Lord Himself even explained this to the Jews who were wondering how He would feed them the very flesh He was wearing as He spoke to them. Their thinking was too carnal, not spiritual enough (John 6:61-64). The Apostles adhered to Our Lord when they did not understand how He would do what He said He would do (John 6:68-70). It was not until the Last Supper when all the pieces of this puzzle would finally be put together for them in the words "this is my Body" and "this is my Blood." If this concept is puzzling to you, that is not surprising. The Sacrifice of Calvary has many manifestations and is a mystery along the lines of the Real Presence and the Trinity. These great mysteries cannot be fully comprehended by our limited intellects, which is why there is the necessity of faith. Hopefully the language and features of the liturgies will be better grasped and the significance of the Mass (and the Eucharistic offering) as the central elements of Historic Christian worship might then be better understood with the aid of this overview. God is not distant to us and His sacrifice is not in the past (as in the case of our Protestant brethren). Rather, God is present before us at every Mass where his Passion is made present before us sacramentally and where we actually partake of Him as food. To react in disgust at this concept is to react carnally: seeing not with the eyes of faith but the mortal eyes of man. If you do this you will begin to say to yourself "who can hear this for it is a hard saying." However, before those words are uttered by your lips, recall who the people were who said this in the Scriptures to Our Lord. Need you be reminded of the penalty for rejecting Him and walking away??? Rejecting Him means refusing to come to Him on His terms rather than your own. These are His terms and this is why the subject of the Mass is not a mere quibble about "non-essentials." It is instead the central essential of all and the one that touches at the very core of our identity as Christians: the Sacrifice of Calvary with the application of its merits to all Christians of every generation until Our Lord returns to judge the world.
Let us then in everything believe God, and gainsay Him in nothing, though what is said seem to be contrary to our thoughts and senses, but let His word be of higher authority than both reasonings and sight. Thus let us do in the mysteries also, not looking at the things set before us, but keeping in mind His sayings. For His word cannot deceive, but our senses are easily beguiled. That hath never failed, but this in most things goeth wrong. Since then the word saith, 'This is my body,' let us both be persuaded and believe, and look at it with the eyes of the mind. For Christ hath given nothing sensible, but though in things sensible yet all to be perceived by the mind. So also in baptism, the gift is bestowed by a sensible thing, that is, by water; but that which is done is perceived by the mind, the birth, I mean, and the renewal. For if thou hadst been incorporeal, He would have delivered thee the incorporeal gifts bare; but because the soul hath been locked up in a body, He delivers thee the things that the mind perceives, in things sensible. How many now say, I would wish to see His form, the mark, His clothes, His shoes. Lo! thou seest Him, Thou touchest Him, thou eatest Him. And thou indeed desirest to see His clothes, but He giveth Himself to thee not to see only, but also to touch and eat and receive within thee. [John Chrysostom: Gospel of Matthew, Homily 82 (A.D. 370), in NPNF1, X:495]
Notes of Clarification:

[i] 2000 years in the New Covenant. The usage spans 3500 years if you include the old Mosaic Covenant.

[ii] This comment excludes Anglican and Lutheran scholars since both Anglicans and Lutherans believe in the Real Presence and the High Church Anglicans also believe in the Sacrifice of the Mass.

[iii] According to Anglican scholar Rev. Darwell Stone: "To suppose that 'symbol' in Clement of Alexandria or 'figure' in Tertullian must mean the same as in modern speech would be to assent to a line of thought which is gravely misleading" (A History Of The Doctrine Of The Holy Eucharist vol 1, pg 31). This position is confirmed by liberal Protestant scholar Adolph Harnack and Protestant early Church historian J N D Kelly who both have noted that "symbol" or "figure" in the ancient mode of thinking was not at all like modern thought on the matter at all but instead it denoted a thing which in some kind of way really is what it signifies.


[1] Dr. Jeffrey Mirus: Excerpt from his article "Style and the Mass"

[2] Our Lord: Gospel of John 5:37-44

[3] Mirus (ibid)

[4] David Chilton: "The Days Of Vengeance - An Exposition of the Book of Revelation", pgs 232-233; Dominion Press Ft. Worth, Texas (c. 1987)

[5] Epistle to the Hebrews: 7:1-7, 11-17; 9:11-12, 15-24

[6] Malachi 1:9-11

[7] Dr. Art Sippo: Excerpts from his writing "Bloody or Unbloody Sacrifice?" (c. 1999)

[8] Tertullian, Against Marcion §40 (A.D. 212), in ANF, III:418-419

Additional Notes:

The citations from Dr. Jeffrey Mirus’ article were obtained at the following link: http://www.ewtn.com/library/LITURGY/MIRUSLIT.TXT

The Scripture citations were taken from the online Douay-Rheims Bible located at the following link:

The citation from David Chilton’s book "Days of Vengeance" was obtained at the following link: http://freebooks.entrewave.com/freebooks/docs/html/dcdv/dcdv.html

The citation from Dr. Art Sippo’s article "Bloody or Unbloody Sacrifice?" was obtained at the following link: http://www.geocities.com/Athens/3517/bloody.html

The citations from Tertullian’s treatise "Against Marcion" and St. John Chrysostom’s Homily on the Gospel of Matthew were obtained at Joe Gallegos' Corunum Apologetics website which specializes in Patristic studies: http://www.cin.org/users/jgallegos/realp.htm

 ©2001, "A Short Primer on the Mass", written by I. Shawn McElhinney. This text may be downloaded or printed out for private reading, but it may not be uploaded to another Internet site or published, electronically or otherwise, without express written permission from the author.

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