Why is the Mass Biblical Worship?

 

Bible Study: The Bible and the Mass (Lesson 1, Part 2)

This is Part 2 to the Bible study we are doing from St. Paul Center for Biblical Theology.  The first part can be found here.  Today, we continue with Lesson 1: A Biblical Introduction to the Mass.  The lesson explains why the worship of the Catholic Mass is biblical worship.

In God’s plan of salvation, the Bible and the Mass are given for our salvation – to enable us to penetrate the mystery of God’s plan, and to unite our lives to His.

Scripture, Paul said, is “inspired by God” and given to us “for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus” (see 2 Timothy 3:15-16; John 20:31).

The salvation and new life that Scripture proclaims, is “actualized” – made real in our lives – in the Mass.

As Jesus said: “Unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink His blood, you do not have life within you. Whoever eats My flesh and drinks My blood has eternal life, and I will raise him on the last day” (see John 6:53-54).

That’s why the worship of the Mass is biblical worship. The Bible gives the Mass its “efficacy” – its power to deliver what it promises, its power to bring us into communion with the true and living presence of Jesus.

Our worship can be life-transforming because the biblical Word we hear is “not a human word but . . . truly is the Word of God” (see 1 Thessalonians 2:13).

Ordinary human language, no matter how beautiful or persuasive, could never communicate God’s grace. It can’t make us holy or bring us to “share in the divine nature” (see 2 Peter 1:4).

Only the sacred speech of God can perform the divine action of transforming bread and wine into the Body and Blood of our Lord. Only the sacred speech of God can bring us into communion with the living God.

In God’s plan of salvation, the Bible leads us to the Liturgy. In the Liturgy, the written text of sacred Scripture becomes the living Word.

The Bible’s meaning and purpose is fulfilled in the Mass – the words of Scripture become “spirit and life . . . the words of eternal life” (see John 6:63,68).

I just love the explanation provided above.  This is why the Catholic Mass is so special — it is the only Christian service that actually gives you the Body and Blood of Jesus Christ.  The Word of God is a Person, and in the Mass, we literally consume the Word Made Flesh.  We share in the Divine Nature because we take Jesus into our own bodies, where He is integrated into our flesh and soul.  Dear Lord, I love you!  Help me grow in fervor for Your Body & Blood!

How is the Mass Based on the Bible?

 

Bible Study: The Bible and the Mass (Lesson 1, Part 1)

I look forward to hearing your thoughts as we go through this Bible study together from St. Paul Center for Biblical Theology.  The first lesson is entitled, “A Biblical Introduction to the Mass.”  You can find the complete Lesson here.  Part 1 of the lesson focuses on the biblical way Catholics worship at Mass.

The Mass begins where the Bible leaves off. In God’s plan of salvation, the Bible and the Mass were made for each other.

That’s probably news to you. In fact, if you’re like a lot of people, including many Catholics, you probably haven’t given much thought to the relationship between the Bible and the Mass.

When you’re done with this course, you’ll have a much different perspective – and hopefully a far greater love and appreciation for the deep mystery of faith we enter into in each Mass.

Every Mass begins the same way. We make the Sign of the Cross and say, “In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.”

We’ll get to why we do that later.

For now, just note that the Sign of the Cross started with the Apostles, who “sealed” the newly baptized by tracing this sign on their foreheads (see Ephesians 1:13; Revelation 7:3).

This is interesting.  I did not know that the Sign of the Cross is referenced in Revelation 7:3.

The words we pray as we make this sign come straight from the lips of Jesus. Indeed, they’re among the last words He spoke to His Apostles (see Matthew 28:19).

Next in the Mass, the priest greets us. Again he speaks, and we respond, with words from the Bible. We say: “The Lord be with you” (see 2 Timothy 4:22).

In Scripture these words are a pledge of divine presence, protection and help (see Exodus 3:12; Luke 1:28). The priest might opt to use a different greeting, such as “The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ . . .” but that greeting too will be drawn from Scripture (see 2 Corinthians 13:13; Ephesians 1:2).

Amazing!  I didn’t know that even the priest’s greeting is taken from the Bible.

The Mass continues this way – as a “dialogue” between the faithful and God, mediated by the priest. What’s striking – and it’s something we rarely recognize – is that we carry on this conversation almost entirely in the language of the Bible. [Emphasis mine. – KfG]

When we beg “Lord, have mercy” – our cry for help and forgiveness is one that runs throughout Scripture (see Psalm 51:1; Baruch 3:2; Luke 18:13,38,39).

When we glorify God, we use the song the angels sang that first Christmas night (see Luke 2:14).

Even the Creed and the Eucharistic prayers are composed of biblical words and phrases.

As we prepare to kneel before the altar, we sing another angelic hymn from the Bible – “Holy, holy, holy . . . ” (see Isaiah 6:3; Revelation 4:8). We join that to the triumphant Psalm sung by those who welcomed Jesus to Jerusalem: “Hosanna! Blessed is he who comes . . . ” (see Mark 11:9-10)

At the heart of the Mass, we hear Jesus’ words from the Last Supper (see Mark 14:22-24).

Then we pray to our Father in the words our Savior gave us (see Matthew 6:9-13). We acknowledge Him with a line from John the Baptist: “Behold, the Lamb of God . . .” (see John 1:29,36).

And before receiving Him in communion, we confess our unworthiness – in words once used by a Roman soldier seeking Jesus’ help (see Luke 7:7).

What we say and hear in the Mass comes to us from the Bible. And what we “do” in the Mass, we do because it was done in the Bible.

We kneel (see Psalm 95:6; Acts 21:5) and sing hymns (see 2 Maccabees 10:7,38; Acts 16:25); we offer each other a sign of peace (see 1 Samuel 25:6; 1 Thessalonians 5:26).

We gather around an altar (see Genesis 12:7; Exodus 24:4; 2 Samuel 24:25; Revelation 16:7), with incense (see Jeremiah 41:5; Revelation 8:4), served by priests (see Exodus 28:3-4; Revelation 20:6). We offer thanks with bread and wine (see Genesis 14:18; Matthew 26:26-28).

From the first Sign of the Cross to the last “Amen” (see Nehemiah 8:6; 2 Corinthians 1:20), the Mass is an aural and sensual tapestry woven with words and actions, even accessories drawn from the Bible.

We address God in words that He himself has given us through the inspired writers of sacred Scripture. And He in turn comes to us – instructing, exhorting and sanctifying us – again through the living Word of the inspired Scriptures.

I remember reading Dr. Scott Hahn’s “The Lamb’s Supper” and then having a greater appreciation of the Mass.  These lessons, if you did not already know, are also from Dr. Hahn and his team at St. Paul Center.  I really like this first part of Lesson 1 because it shows all the Scripture references to the different parts of the Mass.  A Catholic attending one Mass is exposed to more Scripture than a whole month’s worth of Protestant Sunday sermons!

Would you like to study the Bible with me?

St. Paul Center for Biblical Theology has great online Bible study courses for free.  While I can go through them alone, I think it would be more profitable if I can go through the lessons with you.  The first series will be “The Lamb’s Supper: The Bible and the Mass.”  This is the course description from the page:

In this course we explore the intimate and inseparable relationship between the Bible and the Mass. Following an overview of the Eucharist in the New Testament, we look at the deep roots of the Mass in the biblical history of sacrifice – a history that culminates with the Last Supper and the institution of the Eucharist.

Besides the Old and New Testament readings we hear each Sunday, what does the Bible have to do with the Mass? Everything. In fact, one could argue that without the Bible there would be no Mass, and without the Mass there would be no Bible.

The Bible was made for the Liturgy and the Liturgy is where the Bible was meant to be proclaimed, expounded, interpreted and “heard.” That’s why, from the Sign of the Cross and the priest’s greeting: “The Lord be with you,” the Mass is one long biblical prayer – a tapestry woven from a fabric of biblical passages, phrases and allusions. This is no accident. In the Mass, the story of salvation told in the Bible continues – is made real and present – in our lives.

We’ll study how the great events of salvation history are re-read and re-lived in the “today” of the Church’s Liturgy of the Word. Using the Book of Revelation, we’ll see how, in the Liturgy of the Eucharist, we are lifted up to a real participation with the angels and saints in the heavenly liturgy.

Finally, we ‘ll look at how in the Mass we renew our covenant with God – the new covenant made in the blood of Jesus which makes us children of God and heirs of the divine promises found in the Bible.

My idea is to break down each of the lessons into daily doses that will be posted both here on this blog as well as on our Facebook Page.  Share your thoughts either on Facebook or on the blog’s comment section.  Let the Holy Spirit guide us to more knowledge of His Holy Church!

The first lesson will start tomorrow with the following image:

 

 

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