The Church and the Sacraments, Views During The Third Period (750-1517 A.D.), The Seven Sacraments, The Roman Catholic Doctrine of Transubstantiation (continued)

“It is another objection to this doctrine (the Roman Catholic doctrine of Transubstantiation —H.V.) that it logically leads, and in fact has led, to the greatest practical evils. It has led to superstitious, in the place of rational and Scriptural reverence for the sacrament; to the idolatrous worship of the consecrated wafer; to attributing to it magical, or supernatural virtue contrary to Scripture; to perverting a simple sacrament into a propitiatory sacrifice, and to investing the ministers of Christ with the character of sacrificing priests, empowered to offer, for money, a propitiatory oblation securing forgiveness even, for the sins of the departed. It has been made a mine of wealth to the priesthood and the Church. It was principally the popular belief in this great error, that secured the transfer of the greater part of the land and wealth of Europe into the hands of the clergy and gave them almost unlimited power over the people.”—end of quote of Hodge on Rome’s proof for its doctrine of Transubstantiation. 

The Roman Catholic doctrine of the Lord’s Supper as a sacrifice

Also this doctrine is set forth by Rome in the twenty-second session of its Council of Trent, Sept. 17, 1562. First of all, we will quote this doctrine as positively set forth by this Council. This doctrine is set forth positively in chapters I to VIII as follows: 

CHAPTER I 

On the Institution of the most holy Sacrifice of the Mass

Forasmuch as, under the former Testament, according to the testimony of the Apostle Paul, there was noperfection, because of the weakness of the Levitical priesthood; there was need, God, the Father of mercies, so ordaining, that another priest should rise, according to the order of Melchisedech, our Lord Jesus Christ, who might consummate, and lead to what is perfect, as many as were to be sanctified. He, therefore, our God and Lord, though he was about to offer himself once on the altar of the cross unto God the Father, by means of his death, there to operate an eternal redemption; nevertheless,, because that his priesthood was not to be extinguished by his death, in the Last Supper, on the night in which he was betrayed,—that he might leave, to his own beloved Spouse the Church, a visible sacrifice, such as the nature of man requires, whereby that bloody sacrifice, once to be accomplished on the cross, might be represented, and the memory thereof remain even unto the end of the world, and its salutary virtue be applied to the remission of those sins which we daily commit,—declaring himself constituted a priest forever, according to the order of Melchisedech, he offered up to God the Father his own body and blood under the species of bread and wine; and, under the symbols of those same things, he delivered (his own body and blood) to be received by his apostles, whom he then constituted priests of the New Testament; and by those words, he commanded them and their successors in the priesthood to offer (them); even as the Catholic Church has always understood and taught. For, having celebrated the ancient Passover, which the multitude of the children of Israel immolated in memory of their going. out of Egypt, he instituted the new Passover (to wit), himself to be immolated, under visible signs, by the Church through (the ministry of) priests, in memory of his own passage from this world unto the Father, when by the effusion of his own blood he redeemed us, and delivered us from the power of darkness, and translated us into his kingdom. And this is indeed that clean oblation, which can not be defiled by any unworthiness, or malice of those that offer (it); which the Lord foretold by Malachias was to be offered in every place, clean to his name, which was to be great amongst the Gentiles, and which the Apostle Paul, writing to the Corinthians, has not obscurely indicated, when he says, that they who are defiled by the participation of the table of devils, can not be partakers of the table of the Lord; by the table, meaning in both places the altar. This, in fine, is that oblation which was prefigured by various types of sacrifices, during the period of nature, and of the law; inasmuch as it comprises all the good things signified by those sacrifices, as being the consummation and perfection of them all. 

CHAPTER II 

That the Sacrifice of the Mass is Propitiatory, both for the Living and the Dead

And forasmuch as, in this divine sacrifice which is. celebrated in the mass, that same Christ is contained and immolated in an unbloody manner who once offered himself in a bloody manner on the altar of the cross; the holy Synod teaches, that this sacrifice is truly propitiatory, and that by means thereof this is effected, that we obtain mercy, and find grace in seasonable aid, if we draw nigh unto God, contrite and penitent, with a sincere heart and upright faith, with fear and reverence. For the Lord, appeased by the oblation thereof, and granting the grace and gift of penitence, forgives even heinous crimes and sins. For the victim is one and the same, the same now offering by the ministry of priests, who then offered himself on the cross, the manner alone of offering being different. The fruits indeed of which oblation, of that bloody one to wit, are received most plentifully through this unbloody one; so far is this (latter) from derogating in any way from that (former oblation). Wherefore, not only for the sins, punishments, satisfactions, and other necessities of the faithful who are living, but also for those who are departed in Christ, and who are not as yet fully purified, is it rightly offered, agreeably to a tradition of the apostles. 

CHAPTER III 

On Masses in Honor of the Saints

And although the Church has been accustomed at times to celebrate certain masses in honor and memory of the saints; not therefore, however, doth she teach that sacrifice is offered unto them, but unto God alone, who crowned them; whence neither is the priest wont to say, “I offer sacrifice to thee, Peter or Paul”; but giving thanks to God for their victories, he implores their patronage that they may vouchsafe to intercede for us in heaven, whose memory we celebrate upon earth. 

CHAPTER IV 

On the Canon of the Mass

And whereas it beseemeth that holy things be administered in a holy manner, and of all holy things this sacrifice is the most holy; to the end that it might be worthily and reverently offered and received, the Catholic Church instituted, many years ago, the sacred Canon, so pure from every error, that nothing is contained therein which does not in the highest degree savor of a certain holiness and piety, and raise up unto God the minds of those that offer. For it is composed out of the very words of the Lord, the traditions of the Apostles, and the pious institutions also of holy Pontiffs. 

CHAPTER V 

On the Solemn Ceremonies of the Sacrifice of the Mass

And, whereas such is the nature of man, that, without external helps, he can not easily be raised to the meditation of divine things; therefore has holy Mother Church instituted certain rites, to wit, that certain things be pronounced in the mass in a low, and others in a louder, tone. She has likewise employed ceremonies, such as mystic benedictions, lights, incense, vestments, and many other things of this kind, derived from an apostolical discipline and tradition, whereby both the majesty of so great a sacrifice might be recommended, and the minds of the faithful be excited, by those visible signs of religion and piety, to the contemplation of those most sublime things which are hidden in this sacrifice. 

CHAPTER VI 

On Mass Wherein The Priest Alone Communicates

The sacred and holy Synod would fain indeed that, at each mass, the faithful who are present should communicate, not only in spiritual desire, but also by the sacramental participation of the Eucharist, that thereby a more abundant fruit might be derived to them from this most holy sacrifice: but not therefore, if this be not always done, does it condemn, as private and unlawful, but approves of and therefore commends, those masses in which the priest alone communicates sacramentally; since those masses also ought to be considered as truly common; partly because the people communicate spiritually thereat; partly also because they are celebrated by a public minister of the Church, not for himself only, but for all the faithful, who belong to the body of Christ. 

CHAPTER VII 

On the Water that is to be Mixed with the Wine to be Offered in the Chalice

The holy Synod notices, in the next place, that it has been enjoined by the Church on priests, to mix water with the wine that is to be offered in the chalice; as well because it is believed that Christ the Lord did this, as also because from his side there came out blood and water; the memory of which mystery is renewed by this commixture; and, whereas in the apocalypse of blessed John the peoples are called waters, the union of that faithful people with Christ their head is thereby represented. 

CHAPTER VIII 

On Not Celebrating the Mass Everywhere in the Vulgar Tongue; the Mysteries of the Mass to be Explained to the People. 

Although the mass contains great instruction for the faithful people, nevertheless, it has not seemed expedient to the Fathers that it should be everywhere celebrated in the vulgar tongue. Wherefore, the ancient usage of each Church, and the rite approved of by the holy Roman Church, the mother and mistress of all churches, being in each place retained; and, that the sheep of Christ may not suffer hunger, nor the little ones ask for bread, and there be none to break it unto them, the holy Synod charges pastors, and all who have the care of souls, that they frequently, during the celebration of mass, expound either by themselves, or others, some portion of those things which are read at Mass, and that, amongst the rest, they explain some mystery of this most holy sacrifice, especially on the Lord’s days and festivals. 

CHAPTER IX. 

Preliminary Remark on the Following Canons

And because that many errors are at this time disseminated and many things are taught and maintained by divers persons, in opposition to this ancient faith, which is based on the sacred Gospel, the traditions of the Apostles, and the doctrine of the Apostles, and the doctrine of the holy Fathers; the sacred and holy Synod, after many and grave deliberations maturely had touching these matters, has resolved, with the unanimous consent of all the Fathers, to condemn, and to eliminate from holy Church by means of the canons subjoined, whatsoever is opposed to this most pure faith and sacred doctrine. (We will continue with these Canons in our next article.)

—H.V.