To a novice, the Catholic Mass is the celebration of the Lord’s Supper. That is not exactly true. Pope Paul VI sums up the Catholic belief:
“We believe that as the bread and wine consecrated by the Lord at the Last Supper were changed into His Body and His Blood which were to be offered for us at the cross, so the bread and wine consecrated by the priest are changed into the Body and Blood of Christ enthroned gloriously in heaven, and We believe that the mysterious presence of the Lord, under the appearance of these elements which seem to our senses the same after as before the Consecration, is a true, real and substantial presence… This mysterious change is…called by the Church transubstantiation” (Official Church Teachings – Christ Our Lord, 1978, 411).
I- The belief that Jesus turned bread and wine into His body and blood at the Last Supper is supported with 3 Bible passages:
a) Matthew 26: 26-29
When Jesus “consecrated” the bread and wine, He was still literally there with the disciples. He didn’t vanish to appear as bread and wine. His statement “this is My body” there is symbolic. The Greek verb “is” (estin) used there also means “signify” and some versions render it that way. He said: “I shall not drink of this fruit of the vine again, until I drink it with you, new wine, in the kingdom of my Father” (v. 29). Now, if the wine had changed to blood because He called it “My blood” as it’s claimed, that means it also changed back into wine when He called it “fruit of the vine.”
The Lord simply blessed the bread and wine, He didn’t perform a miracle there. He “took the cup and gave thanks [Greek: Eucharistesas]” (Matt. 26:27) just as Godly people blessed and gave thanks for their meals (Dt. 8:10, Matt. 6:11; Rom. 14:6).
b) John 6:53-57
The statement latched onto is: “Except you eat the flesh of the Son of man and drink his blood, you have no life in you.” Catholics refuse to consider the context of this passage. Of course, some Jews were troubled at those words and walked away because they couldn’t understand what Jesus meant. It’s unwise to deduce from their action that Jesus was teaching transubstantiation. It is argued that the word “to chew” (Gr: trogo) in vs 54 proves we are to literally eat Christ’s flesh, but Jesus had not instituted the Lord’s Supper here.
We must bear in mind also that He didn’t establish a mysterious rite of eating flesh or drinking blood for that would be a violation of the Law of Moses which He came to fulfill (Lev 7:26-27; 17:10-12). Would Jesus institute practices that violate God’s Laws? Never! This is why we must understand the context of what Jesus was saying in John 6.
He says “I am the bread of life” (Jn. 6:25). If we take this literally as Catholics have taken John 6:53, then Jesus is a loaf of bread. He said “I am the door…” (10:9). Does this also make Him a piece of wood? Psalm 91:4 says: “He [God] shall cover thee with His feathers, and under his wings shall thou trust.” If we take this expression literally also, then God is a big bird. Here is the point: in Biblical interpretation, a word is taken as literal when it’s used literally and figurative when used figuratively or when its literal use violates Scripture or Logic.
Jesus spoke in parables to the multitudes (Matt. 13:34) which were His audience in John 6, so He used a figurative, spiritual and not literal or physical language. He consistently called men to believe in Him using different analogies – seed, sheep, water, new birth, bread – to illustrate it. He told Nicodemus that those who believed in Him would receive a new birth. He wasn’t speaking of a physical birth but a spiritual birth (Jn. 3:16).
He promised the woman at the well “living water” and “a well of water” springing up within her. He didn’t mean physical water but spiritual cleansing (Jh 4:10-14). When He said “I am the light of the world; he that followeth me shall not walk in darkness” (8:12), He wasn’t speaking of physical light, but spiritual light to all who receive Him.
The “hunger and thirst” Jesus referred to in Jn. 6:35 was spiritual since the bread was not physical. Catholics claim they are physically eating Christ, but if that is the case, they shouldn’t hunger or thirst physically either – but they do. If the “hungering and thirsting” are spiritual terms, so are the eating and drinking. The different metaphors Jesus used – eating, drinking, coming, believing – all stand for the same: receiving Him by faith (vs 35, 36, 47, 48, 51).
c) 1 Cor. 11:25-29
That Jesus said “this cup is the new covenant in my blood” doesn’t change the cup into the new covenant, in the same vein, the elements do not change into flesh and blood because of the words “this is my body” in Latin. Catholics are reading a dogma officially defined in the 13th century back into this Bible passage. That is an abuse of Scripture. Paul here speaks of the Lord’s Supper, a simple meal in which Christians proclaim the Lord’s death till He comes, not an ornate sacrament which “re-presents” the sufficient sacrifice of Calvary.
II- The Eucharistic liturgy gives priests a high footing:
“Thus the priest may, in a certain manner be called the creator of his Creator, since by saying the word of consecration, he creates as it were, Jesus in the sacrament” (Alphonsus Liguori, Duties and Dignities of the Priest, 27).
How blasphemous to believe priests have the power to pull Christ down to appear as bread to be handled and swallowed! How blasphemous to think some men can create Christ! Now, if the bread was really being changed into the flesh of Christ, why does it breed mould and maggots after a period of time? That proves it is not changed to Christ’s body for it is said of Him: “Thou will not…suffer thine Holy One to see corruption [decay]” (Ps. 16:10).
III- The Mass is defined as: “A sacrifice in which the Sacrifice of the Cross is perpetuated; – A memorial of the death and resurrection of the Lord, who said ‘do this in memory of me.’ Luke 22:19” (Eucharistum Mysterium, May 25, 1967).
This is where the contrast between Catholicism and the Bible is shown. Jesus declared at the cross: “It is finished!” (Jn. 19:30) He offered the perfect sacrifice to God paid the full penalty for the sins of mankind. His sacrifice took place once for all time on the cross and is never to be repeated and doesn’t have to like the OT sacrifices that couldn’t take away sins (Heb 7:27, 9:25-10:2; 10:12-18). The fact that the Catholic Mass has to be repeated proves its ineffectiveness because if once is not enough, even a billion would not.
It is also an impossibility to “perpetuate” or “re-present” the sacrifice of Christ at the cross because its a specific event that has not only occurred, but has also achieved its full purpose. One can only remember or honour an historic event. Christ is now at the right hand of God in an immortal, resurrected and glorious body which can never die again. “I am he that liveth, and was dead; and, behold, I am alive forever-more” (Rev. 1:18). He’s not dying or shedding His blood in heaven because He already did that at the cross. The “dying-rising” Jesus of Catholicism is not the Jesus of the Bible.
IV. Transubstantiation is said to be a “mystery” or “miracle.” If that is the case, where is the proof that any change occurs? The bread still looks and tastes as bread and the wine still tastes as wine after consecration. If Cyanide is added to the wine before “consecration” what priest would be willing to drink it afterwards? A miracle functions within the bounds of reality and is verifiable, otherwise it’s not a miracle.
When Catholics are asked to present an evidence for this “mystery,” they bleat “we believe it changes…we accept in faith…that they change into flesh and blood under the appearance of bread and wine.” We are not interested in your beliefs, we need an evidence. Examine all the miracles in the Bible. When Jesus turned water into wine, everyone saw and tasted that it had changed. The water didn’t change into wine “under the appearance” of water. When God parted the Red Sea, both the Israelites and the Egyptians saw it and walked on dry land. The sea didn’t part “under the appearance” of remaining closed. Did Jesus raise the dead “under the appearance” of remaining dead or heal the blind “under the appearance” of being unable to see? Such a fantasy is not in the Bible yet Catholics are forced to believe it.
V. The wafer (“bread”) used in the Mass is called the host (from a Latin word for “victim” or “sacrifice”). Since it’s believed to have changed into the flesh of God, it is placed in a tabernacle and worshipped by Catholics as they enter the church. It is also borne in a monstrance on procession during the Feast of Corpus Christi. Whatever Rome may claim, this is plain idolatry strictly forbidden by Scripture. This is the false Christ “of the inner chambers” that Jesus warned us against (Matt. 24:26)
Bread gods always come with problems. During the Middle Ages discussions erupted about what should be done if a person were to vomit after receiving the host or if a mouse were to by chance eat God’s body. At the Council of Constance, it was argued whether a man who spilled some of the blood of Christ should have his beard burned (This is why till date, in most cases, only the priests drink the wine). The Jews in Deggendorf, Bavaria, were once slaughtered by Catholics in revenge for allegedly stealing and “torturing” a consecrated host. When you believe in absurdities, you will commit atrocities.
I once saw a funny video footage of a priest trying to serve the host to a bride, it mistakenly dropped onto her chest, into her gown. The priest dipped two fingers deep into her breasts to rescue his wafer god from in there. The lady had to involuntarily hold his fingers. Some Catholics have even told me Satanists break into their churches to steal their wafer Jesus to “torture” him in their covens! Such narratives are humourous and of course, sad. The Lord Jesus Christ is in heaven, in power and glory. He’s not being “stolen” or “tortured” as a piece of bread in some foul coven. Any god that has to be carried about by men cannot save in the day of trouble.
VI. Christ said: “Where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them” (Matt. 18:20). He is spiritually present with believers, He doesn’t have to become a bread to do so. It defies the bound of rational (and Biblical) thought to claim Jesus is physically present in the midst of millions of different groups of believers around the world. He said: “The poor you will always have with you but you will not always have me [physically]” (Jn. 12:8). To suggest that millions of wafers on Catholic altars is the physical body “whole and entire” of Christ is a hallowed lie.
VII. The complicated ritualism associated with the Catholic Mass tells a lot. Scott Anderson comments that its “a spectacle of gorgeous magnificence – lights, colors, vestments, music, incense…[with] spectators, not participants, spectators like those who were present at a performance of the ancient mystery cults.” (Romanism and the Gospel, 1937, 93).
During the Mass, as a work notes, the priest makes the sign of the cross 16 times, turns towards the congregation 6 times, kisses the altar 8 times, bows his head 21 times, genuflects 8 times, strikes his breasts 10 times, blesses the altar with the sign of the cross 30 times and lifts his eyes towards heaven 11 times. Compare this to the simple meal Christ instituted and tell me if there isn’t a wide contrast.
VIII. At the memorial supper, Jesus simply took bread and broke it. The unleavened bread symbolized His sinless body and the wine His shed blood. He and the apostles didn’t use the round wafer Rome uses. After all bread doesn’t break into round pieces. The round, disk-shaped symbolism has links with ancient pagan rites in which initiates received a small round cake or wafer of unleavened bread – symbolizing the solar disk. In the ancient Egyptian cult, different shapes of cakes were used to symbolize their deities and the most commonly used was the round wafer symbolizing the sun god.
The “god-eating” rite was a crucial part of several ancient pagan religions. The Catholic Encyclopedia (10:404) notes: “Mithraism had a Eucharist, but the idea of a sacred banquet is as old as the human race and existed at all ages and amongst all peoples.” These same rites were also known among the the pre-colonial Central and South Americans.
The concept of transubstantiation came from paganism. It was only mixed with some New Testament principles to disguise it. As a result, many Catholics, instead of receiving Christ into their hearts by faith have been deceived to believe they receive Christ by physically eating him at Mass.