Thursday, August 7, 2014

How to Explain the Mass to a Protestant.

A commenter on my Google+ Page (which you can follow HERE), made the following very interesting point on my recent post "DO CATHOLICS WORSHIP STATUES?"

Another is the idea of the worship of Mary and the saints. I am inviting a protestant friend to Mass for the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary. Hopefully he won't think it as Marian worship but instead see it as a way of honouring her.
First of all, let me commend the commenter for already planning on attending Mass next Friday for the Holy Day of Obligation (not suggestion) on August 15 - the Feast of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary. Have you already made plans to? Remember, deliberately blowing off a holy day of obligation (including ALL Sundays) is, under normal circumstances, a mortal sin. Let me also commend him for reaching out to his Protestant friend on such an important feast. What a great idea to offer to bring a non-Catholic (i.e. a potential-Catholic!) with you for Mass next Friday! They can still attend their regular service on Sunday, which really opens up the possibility of them agreeing to come. And what could be more pleasing to Our Lady than to have our separated brethren at Mass in her honor? We should all invite someone, either a lapsed or non-Catholic, to come with us to this great feast day as a way of showing honor to Our Lady!

For those that do end up taking a potential-Catholic with you, you'll probably have the same concern the commenter had, what if they see the Mass and think we are worshipping Mary? I'd recommend a preemptive strike, something our former Commander-in-Cheif would be proud of. Instead of waiting for the objection to come, which may, after all, end up unvoiced, give an explanation before Mass.

I'd point out to the potential-Catholic how the Mass is offered to the Father (not to Mary) through the Son (not Mary) in the Spirit (not Mary). Father, Son, Spirit - to God, through God, in God. Offering the Mass to Mary is the sin of idolatry and is absolutely forbidden by the Church. The Mass can only be offered to the Father. Period. We honor, maybe a better word for the non-Catholic is remember, different saints, maybe a better word would be different great Christians, at different Masses, because we are all a part of the same family and are all in relation with each other. (see DEAD PEOPLE CAN'T PRAY FOR YOU! A CATHOLIC RESPONSE). Remembering someone, honoring them, even with a religious service, isn't "worshipping them" as Protestants know from honoring their dead relatives at their funeral services. Why, you might point out, offering a Mass today for Mary is no different than the funeral service you offered for your grandma when she passed!

The underlying problem is that Protestants lost the true sense of worship with Luther and Calvin's revolution five centuries ago. All worship, even in pagan religions and certainly within all Christian communities (Catholic and Orthodox) before the Reformation and even in Jewish worship before Christ stretching all the way back to Cain and Abel and presumably Adam and Eve, involved offering a sacrifice on an altar. That is the essence of all true worship. Jesus Christ made the definitive sacrificial offering when He offered Himself on the Cross for our sins, and it is precisely this sacrifice (the Sacrifice of Golgotha) that Jesus offers continuously to the Father in heaven (cf. the Book of Hebrews and Revelation). It is this once for all sacrifice (that is eternally offered) that the Mass manifests on Earth through the priest. Catholic worship, like all true worship,  involves offering a sacrifice on an altar - this sacrifice is only ever offered to the Father.

Worship has always meant sacrifice

Protestants, having lost all sense of worship as sacrifice, have conflated prayer and song (which accompany worship, but are not themselves worship) with worship. They no longer offer God any sacrifice, having cut themselves off from the priesthood which manifests the Sacrifice of Christ in their midst to be offered eternally to the Father. Instead, their services, which would not have been considered worship by anyone anywhere before Luther and Calvin, feature Bible readings, songs, prayers, and sermons. Thus, when they see us singing about or praying to or having a sermon on Mary they think we are worshipping her! This, of course, is absurd. If singing about and talking (praying) to someone is worship, most Protestants worship their girlfriends!

Explaining the meaning of the Mass and how it is always and everywhere offered as a Sacrifice to the Father might help your Protestant friend to see how we don't worship the saints in or out of Mass. Just make sure they also understand that:
1. The Mass isn't a separate sacrifice from Calvary2. The Mass isn't a "re-crucifixion" of Jesus, just a re-presentation of the once-for-all Sacrifice of Calvary to the Father. Jesus isn't killed again, He is just offered again so that we, living 20 centuries after His Death, might join in the offering.

Catholic Priest at Mass
What we see happening at Mass

Priest offering the Host to God
What is really happening at Mass

To Learn More About the Mass, I Recommend:

THE MASS: THE GLORY, THE MYSTERY, THE TRADITION, by Cardinal Wuerl, get your copy on Amazon HERE.
The Mass by Mike Aquilina

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