Open main menu

Page:Catholic Encyclopedia, volume 10.djvu/30

This page needs to be proofread.


MASS


MASS


lion to Ci<xl In- an authorized minister of a scnsc- pi^reepliliU- objeet. either through its destruction oral least through its real transformation, in aeknowledfr- ment of tnxi's supreme dominion and for the appeas- ing of His wrath." We shall demonstrate the applica- bility of this definition to the Mass in the section devoted to tlie nature of the Siicrifice, after settling the question of its existence.

(a) Scriptural Proof. — It is a notable fact that the Divine institution of the Mass can be established, one might almost say, with greater certainty by means of the Old Testament than by means of the New.

(i) The Old Testament prophecies are recorded partly in types, partly in ivonls. Following the prece- dent of many Fathers of the Church (see Bellarmine, " De Euchar.", v, 6), the Council of Trent especially (Sess. XXII, cap. i) laid stress on the prophetical rela- tion that undoubtedly exists between the offering of bread and wine by Melchisedech and the Last Supper of Jesus. The occvirrence was liricfly as follows: After Atiraham (then still called ",\liram") with his armed men had rescued his nephew Lot from the four hostile kings who had fallen on him and robbed him, Mel- chisedech, King of Salem (.lenisuloni), " bringing forth [pro/Vren.5, Heb. x<vin. Hi[>hil of XV] bread and wine, for he was a priest of the Most High God, blessed him [.■M)raham] and said : Blessed be Abram by the Most HighG(«i . . . And he [Abraham] gave him the tithes of all" (Gen., xiv, lS-20). Catholic theologians (with very few exceptions) have from the beginning rightly emphasized the circumstance that Melchisedech brought out breail and wine, not merely to provide refreshment for Al)ram's followers wearied after the battle, for Ihey were well supplied with provisions out of the booty they had taken (Gen., xiv, 11, 16), but to present bread and wine as food-offerings to Almighty God. Not as a host, but as " priest of the Most High God", he brought forth bread and wine, blessed Abra- ham, and received the tithes from him. In fact, the very reason for his " bringing forth breati and wine " is expressly stated to have been his priesthood : " for he was a prie-st". Hence, pro/crre must necessarily l)e- come offcrre, even if it were true that XV' in Hiphil is not an hieratic sacrificial term; but even this is not quite certain (cf. Judges, vi, 18 sq.). Accordingly, Melchisedech made a real food-offering of bread and wine. Now it is the express teaching of Scripture that Christ is " a priest for ever according to the order [itaTd TTiv Tiiiv] of Melchisedech" (Ps. cix, 4; Heb., v, 5 sq.; vii, 1 sqq.). Christ, however, in no way resembled his

Eriestly prototj-pe in His blootly sacrifice on the Cross, ut only and solely at His Last Supper. On that occa- sion He likewise made an unbloody food-offering, only that, as Antitj'pe, He accomplished something more than a mere oblation of bread and wine, namely the sacrifice of His Body and Blood under the mere forms of bread and wine. Otherwise, the shadows cast be- fore by the "good things to come" would have been more perfect than the things themselves, and the anti- type at any rate no richer in reality than the tj^e. Since the Mass is nothing else than a continual repeti- tion, commanded by Christ Himself, of the Sacrifice accomplished at the; Last Supper, it follows that the Sacrifice of the Mass partakes of the New Testament fulfilment of the prophecy of Melchisedech. (Concern- ing the Paschal Lamb as the second ty-pe of the Mass, see Bellarmine, "De Euchar.", V, vii; cf. also von Cichowski, " Das altestamenll. Pascha in seinem Ver- haltnis zum Opfer Christi", Munich, 1849.)

Passing over the more or le.ss distinct references to the Ma.ss in other prophets (Ps. xxi, 27 sqq.; Is., Ixvi, 18 sqq.), the best and clearest prediction concerning the Mass is undoubtedly that of Malachias, who makes a threatening announcement to the Levite priests in the name of God : " I have no pleasure in you, saith the Lord of hosts: and I will not receive a gift, of your band. For from the rising of the sun even to the going


down, my name is great among the Gentiles [D'lJ, heathens, non-Jews], and in every place there is sacri- fice, and there is offered to my name a clean oblation: for my name is great among the Gentiles, saith the Lord of hosts" (Mai., i, 10-11). According to the unanimous interpretation of the Fathers of the Church (see Petavius, " De incarii.", xii, 12), the prophet here foretells the everlasting Sacrifice of the New Dispensa- tion. F^or he declares that these two things will cer- tainly come to pass: (1 ) The abolition of all Levitical sacrifices, and (2) the institution of an entirely new sacrifice. .\s God's dcterminat ion to do away with the sacrifices of the Levites is adhered to consistently throughout the denunciation, the essential thing is to specifv correctly the sort of .sacrifice that is promised in their stead. In regard to this, the following proposi- tions have to be established: (1) that the new sacrifice is to come about in the days of the Messiah; (2) that it is to be a true and real sacrifice, and (3) that it. does not coincide formally with the Sacrifice of the Cross.

It is easy to show that the sacrifice referred to by Malachias did not signify a sacrifice of his time, but was rather to be a future sacrifice belonging to the age of the Messiah. For though the Hebrew participles of the original can be translated by the present tense (there is sacrifice; it is offered), the mere universality of the new sacrifice — "from the rising to the set- ting", " in every place", even "among the Cientiles", i. e. heathen (non-Jewish) peoples — is irrefragable proof that the prophet beheld as present an event of the future. Wherever Jahwe speaks, as in this case, of His glorification by the"heatlien". He can, accord- ing to Old Testament teaching (Ps. xxi, 28; Ixxi, 10 sqq.; Is.,xi, 9; xlix, 6; Ix, 9; Ixvi, 18 sqq.; Amos, ix, 12; Mich., iv. 2, etc.), have in mind only the kingdom of the Messiah or the future Church of Christ; every other explanation is shattered by the text. Least of all could a new sacrifice in the time of the prophet himself be thought of. Nor could there be any idea of a sacrifice among the genuine heathens, as Hitzig has suggested, for the sacrifices of the heathen, associated with idolatry and impurity, are unclean and displeas- ing to God (I Cor., X, 20). Again, it could not be a sacrifice of the dispersed Jews (Diaspora); for apart from the fact that the existence of such sacrifices in the Diaspora is rather problematic, they were cer- tainly not offered the world over, nor did they possess the unusual significance attaching to special modes of honouring God. Consequently, the reference is un- doubtedly to some entirely distinctive sacrifice of the future. But of what future? Was it to be a future sacrifice among genuine heathens, such as the Old Mexicans or the Congo negroes? This is as impossible as in the case of other heathen forms of idolatry. Per- haps then it was to be a new and more perfect sacrifice among the Jews? This also is out of the question, for since the destruction of Jerusalem by Titus (a. d. 70), the whole system of Jewish sacrifice is irrevocably a thing of the past; and the new sacrifice, moreover, is to be performed by a priesthood of an origin other than Jewish (Is., Ixvi, 21). Everything, therefore, points to Christianity, in which, as a mattter of fact, the Mes- siah rules over non-Jewish peoples.

The second question now presents itself: Is the universal sacrifice thus promised "in every place" to be only a purely spiritual offering of prajer, in other words a sacrifice of praise and thanksgiving, such as Protestantism is content with; or is it to be a true sacrifice in the strict sense, as the Catholic Church maintains? It is forthwith clear that abolition and substitution must correspond, and accordingly that the old real sacrifice cannot be displaced by a new unreal sacrifice. Moreover, prayer, adoration, thanks- giving, etc., are far from being a new offering, for they arc permanent realities common to every age, and constitute the indispensable foundation of every reli- gion whether before or after the Messiah. The last