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An Accursed Idolatry


Catechism Class. Lord’s Day 30 Q80

In this lesson we will be taking a little extra time to think about the Roman Catholic Mass, the central act of worship in Catholicism, and specifically to demonstrate why we, protestant, reformed Christians, still object to the mass, as much as our forefathers did at the time of the Reformation. 

LD30, Q.80 What difference is there between the Lord’s supper and the papal mass?  

The Lord’s supper testifies to us, first, that we have complete forgiveness of all our sins through the one sacrifice of Jesus Christ, which he himself accomplished on the cross once for all;  and, second, that through the Holy Spirit we are grafted into Christ,  who with his true body is now in heaven at the right hand of the Father, and this is where he wants to be worshipped. But the mass teaches, first, that the living and the dead do not have forgiveness of sins through the suffering of Christ unless he is still offered for them daily by the priests; and, second, that Christ is bodily present in the form of bread and wine, and there is to be worshipped. Therefore the mass is basically nothing but a denial of the one sacrifice and suffering of Jesus Christ, and an accursed idolatry.


Now there’s strong language, – coming from the catechism that has the warmest and mildest language of all the doctrinal statements that emanated from the Protestant Reformation. There really is something about the mass, that our catechist finds truly objectionable. So, why is the Roman Mass, to our Catechist, an ‘Accursed Idolatry?’ Here’s three main reasons – Its NAME, its PROCEDURES and its DANGEROUS FICTIONS. Firstly, 

1. We Object to its NAME.

The very word ‘MASS’ to describe an act of worship of Almighty God is unbiblical. The Catechism of the Catholic Church reads “CCC1332 Holy Mass (Missa), because the liturgy in which the mystery of salvation is accomplished concludes with the sending forth (missio) of the faithful, so that they may fulfil God’s will in their daily lives.”

If you’ve ever been at a Mass, or heard one on a Radio programme, you will know that when the eucharistic element of the service has been enacted, and the prayers have been said, the priest will announce, “The Mass is ended, go in peace…” It is the dismissal, – the sending forth of the people to live a Christian life, to go on a MISSION, from the latin Missa, which approximates to the word MASS. But wait, look at what the Catholic Catechism actually says, “the liturgy in which the mystery of salvation is accomplished concludes.” That’s the Catholic Church, actually claiming that salvation is accomplished on their altars! And having been ‘saved’ through the mass, the faithful go out on their mission! So the word Mass, is abhorrent in origin, meaning and use.  

2. We Object to its PROCEDURES.

If you’ve ever watched a mass, even on TV, you will have seen that it a visual experience, – it is a performance that appeals to the senses.But in its enactment, the ‘performance’ of the eucharistic element of the mass is not only unbiblical – it is anti-christian. Let me demonstrate:-  

  • It begins with the adoration of the ‘host. When the Catholic priest has consecrated the so-called ‘host’ he will hold the wafer up for adoration and worship. Devout Catholics will bow to the wafer, believing that it is the actual flesh of Christ, in an act of worship. The ‘consecrated host’ is often stored in a safe called a ‘monstrance’ and Catholics passing this safe, even when no mass is taking place will bow or genuflect. Now, that monstrance contains nothing more than plain bread and wine, and to worship it is no less than blasphemy.  READ Exodus 20:4-5   
  • It continues with the priest SACRIFICING Christ afresh.  The Protestant pastor is a preacher, who teaches the Word of God to a congregation, and so points them to the cross, and while a Catholic priest may give a ten minute homily in the Mass, his role is entirely different. It is to offer ‘the Sacrifice of the Mass’ as a means to deal with the sins of the people.  READ Hebrews 7:27  Hebrews 9:25-26  

Except that the Catholic teaching on the Sacrifice of the Mass is a little more complicated than we might at first think. To us, and to a number of ordinary Catholics, the Mass is a sacrifice.  Our catechist retorts Therefore the mass is basically nothing but a denial of the one sacrifice and suffering of Jesus Christ. But the official Catholic Catechism – and Catholic apologists and theologians will tell us that Christ is NOT sacrificed afresh. The catholic Catechism’s language is highly disingenuous. Here it is, in the Catechism of the Catholic Church…

CCC1330 The memorial of the Lord’s Passion and Resurrection.  The Holy Sacrifice, because it makes present the one sacrifice of Christ the Saviour and includes the Church’s offering. the terms holy sacrifice of the Mass, “sacrifice of praise,” spiritual sacrifice, pure and holy sacrifice are also used, since it completes and surpasses all the sacrifices of the Old Covenant.  CCC1366 The Eucharist is thus a sacrifice because it re-presents (makes present) the sacrifice of the cross, because it is its memorial and because it applies its fruit: …a visible sacrifice (as the nature of man demands) by which the bloody sacrifice which he was to accomplish once for all on the cross would be re-presented, its memory perpetuated until the end of the world, and its salutary power be applied to the forgiveness of the sins we daily commit. CCC1367 The sacrifice of Christ and the sacrifice of the Eucharist are one single sacrifice: “The victim is one and the same…

So, the Catholic Catechism is in a sense ‘speaking with a forked tongue, saying that the Mass is a sacrifice, but it’s not a different sacrifice at every Mass, it’s a continuation of the one sacrifice of Christ on the cross. It’s a sacrifice, but it’s not a sacrifice, it’s just making Christ’s one sacrifice on the cross present now on the altar, re-presenting it, visibly. Not very clear is it?  Do you get the impression that the Catholic Church is not being entirely honest here, that it wants to have its cake and eat it, wants to have its sacrifice, but deep down knows rightly that it’s wrong, and so it obfuscates with obscure and mendacious language? I personally prefer the plain teaching of scripture in Hebrews 10:11-14 11  No more sacrifices are needed, no more repetitions of the one sacrifice, no more re-presentations. Once, only once, and once for all. Calvary was enough. We strongly object to the fiction that the mass is a continuation of the sacrifice of Christ. But let’s consider another difficulty with…

  • The PRIEST offering Christ as sacrifice.  Now isn’t that in direct opposition to the doctrine of the priesthood of Christ? Isn’t He our Prophet, PRIEST and King? And when he died on the cross didn’t HE offer himself as a sacrifice? He was not only the sacrificial victim, the lamb, but He was the priest, who made the offering. Hebrews 9:14   But here we have the Catholic Church telling us, in its official catechism that a PRIEST, a sinful human being is offering up the Son of God Himself – on an altar. CCC1367 The sacrifice of Christ and the sacrifice of the Eucharist are one single sacrifice: “The victim is one and the same: the same now offers through the ministry of priests, who then offered himself on the cross; only the manner of offering is different.” “In this divine sacrifice which is celebrated in the Mass, the same Christ who offered himself once in a bloody manner on the altar of the cross is contained and is offered in an unbloody manner.”  CCC1369 Through the ministry of priests the spiritual sacrifice of the faithful is completed in union with the sacrifice of Christ the only Mediator, which in the Eucharist is offered through the priests’ hands in the name of the whole Church in an unbloody and sacramental manner until the Lord himself comes. But when Christ offered Himself for sinners, he did so as the priest himself. No other priest could make such an offering. His atoning sacrifice is part of his own priesthood. That’s such a vital doctrine:  Heb 9:12  Heb 7:24   Heb. 9:25  He gave Himself, as an atoning sacrifice. This is important because:
    • Jesus gave Himself for the WORLD. 1 Timothy 2:6  1 John 2:2 Remember that there is sufficient merit in the death of Christ for all to be saved!.
    • He gave Himself for the CHURCH. Ephesians 5:25 READ Galatians 2:20  He is MY Saviour because He died as MY substitute.
  • It culminates with faithful being refused the cup. The catholics lining up to receive the sacrament at the hands of the priest are given the wafer, as the priest intones, “The body of Christ” over each recipient. But in direct contravention of the command of Jesus to Take eat, and to “Drink ye ALL of it,” they are refused the wine, on the basis that they might spill the blood of Christ! Yet the priest, after the people have partaken, – will drain the cup dry.

Let’s sum up – The Catholic Catechism is riven with the language of sacrifice, and no attempts to sweeten it by obfuscation will remove that error. And for our Catholic neighbours that is bad news. The Catholic Catechism states the obvious in one respect, – it admits that the sacrifices made on the altars of Rome are bloodless. CCC1367 continues “In this divine sacrifice which is celebrated in the Mass, the same Christ who offered himself once in a bloody manner on the altar of the cross is contained and is offered in an unbloody manner.” That’s bad news, for a bloodless offering cannot atone for sins, it is the offering of Cain, in Genesis 4:2-5  Rome’s bloodless sacrifice is the opposite to the Cross, where Christ died, and his blood was shed for sinners, the antithesis of biblical redemption, for Hebrews 9:22  

2. We Object to its FICTIONS.

The Catholic Mass makes astonishingly extraordinary claims in its practice and in what it seeks to achieve. And all of them are dissembling and they are damaging to the soul. Here’s just three of these pretences, – there are others.

  • That the Mass conveys SAVING MERIT. That’s the tragedy of Catholic belief that the mass conveys grace to the sinner, more than any other sacrament.  It diverts the poor sinner away from the real source of saving grace, which is through faith alone in Christ alone.  As Martin Luther learned from Romans, “The just shall live by FAITH.” 
  • That the Mass lessens the period of torment in PURGATORY. Catholics are taught that when they leave this life, they have residual sins, ‘venial sins’ which remain and which must be purged before they can get to heaven. So after death souls go to purgatory. But you can have your time in purgatory lessened by having masses said on your behalf. So CCC1371 The Eucharistic sacrifice is also offered for the faithful departed who “have died in Christ but are not yet wholly purified,” so that they may be able to enter into the light and peace of Christ….  There is a big problem with this. Not just the theological difficulties, but practically, mass-goers will pay money to have the name of their relatives mentioned in a Mass.  We still find that the selling of indulgences, masses and prayer for the dead is playing upon the grief and love of vulnerable bereaved people. And of course we do not need to have our sins purged after death, our sins were purged at Calvary.  Hebrews 1:3  
  • That the Mass internalises Christ in the faithful. Ephesians 3:16-18 When the faithful Catholic approaches the altar the priest will lift the wafer from the receptacle, and place it either in the hand or on the tongue of the communicant. For that communicant, as he swallows that transubstantiated piece of bread, he swallows Christ. It has happened, – Jesus is now dwelling within him. It is effective, whether the communicant has any faith or none at all.  It works, ex opere operatum – the work works. The priest or the recipient can be the most unworthy, immoral, sinful, unrepentant person in the world, – but READ  Ephesians 3:16-17 That Christ may dwell in your hearts BY FAITH;  

The Catholic mass is a dangerous fiction, for by definition fiction is untrue, and the mass in its fictitious claims give false hope to poor lost sinners, – leaving them in dark and deep despair. 


Let’s try to draw some practical conclusions:-

  1. Can a Catholic be saved? Let’s rephrase that, for of curse a Catholic can be saved. Can a practising Catholic be saved?  Catholics depend on the Mass for their salvation, in the ways that we have learned. But is it not possible that a Catholic can be truly saved, despite the mass? Is it not possible that a church going Catholic could simply be trusting Christ as saviour and Lord, despite the dogma to which their church subjects them? Only the Lord knows who are his, and we may be surprised by who we will meet in heaven.
  2. Can evangelical Christians attend or participate in a Mass? I’m not talking about those who have to attend the funeral of a neighbour out of respect, or whose profession means they have to be present, – say a photographer at a wedding or an undertaker at a funeral. I don’t think that evangelism is helped by compromise, by pretending that the mass is a legitimate act of Christian worship. 
  3. What about newly converted Catholics? Those who have come to Christ and who are making an open profession of salvation by grace alone, through faith alone? I think we should encourage them to find a bible-based evangelical church, and this applies not only to Roman Catholic Churches, but to any so-called church where the Gospel is not being correctly and faithfully taught. Truly converted people will begin to yearn for the fellowship of like minded believers.  2 Corinthians 6:17 
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