Catholic answers to some common questions
~composed by Saint Thomas Aquinas Catholic Church laypersons in Logan Utah
Did the Catholic Church invent the Mass?
St. Justin describes the Mass.
(The year is 150 A.D.; he is a martyr who was beheaded in 165 at Rome Italy)
“The people gathered together on Sunday, the ‘Lord’s Day’ participated in prayers and hymns, and listened to readings from the Old Testament and from the writings of the apostles. Then as always, bread and wine and water were offered and the words of Jesus at the Last Supper were prayed by the one presiding. The people received the body and blood of Christ, and the Holy Communion was brought to the sick. A collection was taken for the poor and the needy.”
St. Paul wrote: "For whenever you eat this bread and drink this cup, you proclaim the Lord's death until he comes." (1 Cor 11:26) He also wrote: “The cup of blessing that we bless, is it not a participation in the blood of Christ? The bread that we break, is it not a participation in the body of Christ? Because the loaf of bread is one, we, though many, are one body for we all partake of the one loaf” (1 Cor 11:16-17 and 1 Cor 12).
Through the centuries, the Mass has remained fully intact. The Mass takes place every 2 minutes somewhere on the earth, 7 days a week, all year long except on Good Friday
(1 Cor 11:26).
St. Ignatius of Antioch’s Letter to the Smyrnaeans on the Mass. (The year is 110 A.D.)
He became the third bishop of Antioch, succeeding St. Evodius, who was the immediate successor of St. Peter. He received the martyr’s crown as he was thrown to wild beasts in the arena. He wrote:
“They abstain from the Eucharist and from prayer, because they do not profess that the Eucharist (Jn 6:66) is the flesh of our Savior Jesus Christ, the flesh which suffered for our sins and which the Father, in His graciousness, raised from the dead.”
It is the Mass that has brought Christ into the present. It is the sign given as you contemplate all of chapter 6 in John's gospel.
Is Jesus crucified again and again at each Mass?
The Church has always taught that Jesus died once for all (1 Peter 3:18). God is acting outside of time here, making the one sacrifice present at different locations in time. What Jesus accomplished once for all on the Cross 2,000 years ago has the power to save us today. His work of salvation is just as real today as it was then (see Gal. 2:19-21 and 2 Cor. 5:14-15)
Why do Catholics admire the Cross?
The Cross is the greatest symbol for all Christians. Satan hates the cross and the Mass because they are perpetual reminders of his defeat. The Cross in the Catholic Church, with Christ in his agony reminds us of our sin, what we have done, what we have failed to do, and what Christ has done for us. We ask the Church, all the saints and angels to pray for each of us to the Lord our God. That Crucifix shows us how much our God loves us by laying down His life for us. By pouring out His love and mercy to all who come face to face with their own sin, He teaches us forgiveness. The Cross teaches us humility, which is the opposite of pride. It reminds us of who Christ is, and who we are. "Jesus came to pay a debt He didn't owe, because we owed a debt we couldn't pay" - Unknown. (Lk. 9:23-25, Col. 2:14, Eph. 2:16, Col. 1:21-23, Mk. 10:21)
What about Scripture, where it clearly speaks about a "falling away"?
Examples of this Scripture can be found in 2 Thessalonians 2:3, Matt. 7:15, Acts 20:29 and 2 Peter 2:1. The Catholic Church is not a Church built on the fall of another's faith. It was established by Christ because of the fall of Adam and Eve. As Catholics, we certainly agree there will be apostasies or failure of faith - we all have them within ourselves. We are all fallen and in need of our Savior. Forgiveness and reconciliation through Christ is more than just a vow, but rather a promise from the vow itself, as this vow is Christ. We accept that there have already been many apostasies, but the Bible has never spoken of a total Apostasy from what Christ built, (Matt. 7:24-27, 1 Tim. 3:15) as continued through the apostles and their successors. We will always have problems to deal with here (Matt. 13:24-30). The Church has never been a reward for the well, but rather, it is a hospital for the sick. Jesus clearly said, as a physician; "Behold, I am with you always, until the end of the age." (Matt. 28:20). He sees us through the good and the bad, the wind, the rain, and even the floods. "Blessed art thou, Simon Barjona: for flesh and blood hath not revealed it unto thee, but my Father which is in heaven. And I say also unto thee, that thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it." (Matt. 16:18-19) The biggest falling away from Christ is found in John, Chapter 6 (note 6:66) Most of his disciples leave him because what he was telling them was to hard for them to believe. The 12 apostles stayed and were rewarded with the Last Supper, and the Mass was instituted.
Do Catholics worship Mary, Saints and Statues at Mass?
One way to look at this is to look around your home. Do you have pictures of your family? The images in a Catholic Church are “family”. Our lives in Christ are built on the shoulders of the Holy Family, the Family of Saints, and the “family” that makes up the “community” of Christ. When Catholics bow to an altar or a statue “family”, it is always in reverence to Christ. No Catholic would worship an alter or a statue for its own sake. If you have ever been to a monument that honors those who sacrificed for our country, you have probably knelt and may have prayed before them. Monuments, like the cross and the image of Mother Mary, are there to remind us all of the sacrifice made to bring the “family of man” out of sin’s bondage (Heb. 12:1)
“The Weeds in the Grain”: this is our Community
He proposed another parable to them. “The kingdom of heaven may be likened to a man who sowed good seed in his field. While everyone was asleep his enemy came and sowed weeds all through the wheat, and then went off. When the crop grew and bore fruit, the weeds appeared as well. The slaves of the householder came to him and said, ‘Master, did you not sow good seed in your field? Where have the weeds come from?’ He answered, ‘An enemy has done this.’ His slaves said to him, ‘Do you want us to go and pull them up? He replied, ‘No, if you pull up the weeds you might uproot the wheat along with them. Let them grow together until harvest; then at harvest time I will say to the harvesters:
"First collect the weeds and tie them in bundles for burning; but gather the wheat into my barn."
“The Prodigal Son”: this is our Community
The parable of the Prodigal Son in the Gospel of Luke is familiar to all of us, as we are all in need of our Savior. The Prodigal Son has the nerve to ask for his inheritance even before his father has died. Then, without thought or good conscience, he goes out and spends every last penny on those things that only the world could offer. Not until he is confronted with hopeless failure and a deep despair does he yearn to return home, to his father’s embrace. Repentant and willing to do anything possible to win back his father’s love, he begins his journey back home. As he approaches his home, to his surprise, his father comes running towards him with open arms. He embraces his son, just glad that his son has returned home to him. He gives no mind to what he has done and what he has failed to do. It’s a breathtaking story of God’s Mercy for all of us, God’s patient grace, and His willingness to welcome each of us home into His loving and forgiving arms forever.
“For this my son was dead, and is alive again; he was lost, and is found. And they began to be merry.”
'It is our hope that we can share the love of Christ with you. Jesus did not come to condemn you or me; Jesus came as a physician to heal us, and to save us. As we all say together at Mass, “Lord, I am not worthy to receive you, but only say the Word and I shall be healed.” To know God’s love through Jesus is the ability to give God’s love to others - to help others find a special place in this life where one can go to receive unconditional love that only God, through Jesus can give, and to find peace and true happiness in good times as well as in bad. The Miracle of the Mass offers this gift" ~Richard Horrell / Parishoner