Eucharist: Holy Sacrifice

Monday, February 15, 2010 12:01 PM Comments (0)

The Holy Sacrifice of the Mass is an idea that has fallen into disfavor in modernity, for various reasons.  In Protestant circles, of course, the notion that the Mass could be a sacrifice is often seen as a repudiation or usurpation of the sacrifice of Christ on Calvary, as though it’s an either/or choice.  Perhaps the all-time favorite Bible verse among such critics Hebrews 9:25-26:

Nor was it to offer Himself repeatedly, as the high priest enters the Holy Place yearly with blood not his own; for then He would have had to suffer repeatedly since the foundation of the world. But as it is, He has appeared once for all at the end of the age to put away sin by the sacrifice of Himself.

Such...READ MORE

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Eucharist: The Breaking of Bread

Thursday, February 11, 2010 12:27 PM Comments (4)

Luke puts bookends on his gospel.  There is both a prologue and an afterword to his gospel that are meant to refer us to the source and summit of our worship: Jesus Christ fully present in the Eucharist.  The front bookend is the story of the Nativity, where Luke bothers to give us a very significant detail:

And she gave birth to her first-born son and wrapped him in swaddling cloths, and laid him in a manger. (Luke 2:7)

Why does Luke pause to tell us Jesus was laid in a manger?  Not because he was anticipating the needs of millions of greeting card manufacturers centuries hence and their requirements for a picturesque Christmas scene.  No, the reason he mentions this detail is because of...READ MORE

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Eucharist: The Marriage Supper of the Lamb

Tuesday, February 09, 2010 11:21 AM Comments (4)

Yesterday, we looked at the fact that the book of Revelation reflects the shape of the Mass.  We noted that that it begins with a penitential rite, moves on to the Liturgy of the Word and is filled with thanksgiving.  The final thing to note is that it climaxes in exactly the same way that our worship on earth climaxes:

And the angel said to me, “Write this: Blessed are those who are invited to the marriage supper of the Lamb.” And he said to me, “These are true words of God.” ‘(Revelation 19:9)

Reality, like the Mass, is consummated with the Marriage Supper of the Lamb. 

It is easy to see the imagery in the book of Revelation originating in cloud cuckoo land.  But the reality is that...READ MORE

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Eucharist: The Ultimate Word of Thanks!

Monday, February 08, 2010 10:36 AM Comments (5)

Revelation was regarded as a dicey book in the early centuries of the Church.  People then, as now, didn’t quite know what to make of it.  Many shared the sentiments of a much later Christian named Martin Luther, who said, “A revelation ought to reveal.” Amidst all the battles, beasts, horns, monsters, !@#$% of Babylon, white-robed martyrs and images of Jesus with a sword coming out of his mouth, ancients (like moderns) sometimes had a tough time figuring out what the visionary was getting at.  But at the end of the day, the Church wound up including Revelation in its canon of Scripture.  Why?

One big reason was that Revelation reflected the life and worship of the Church.  That is,...READ MORE

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No Room to Complain

Thursday, February 04, 2010 5:00 AM Comments (6)

The news last week that John Paul II practiced various mortification and the totally predictable tongue clucking from the “That’s just… just sick!” crowd prompts me to offer a little excerpt from my chapter on the Holy Rosary from Volume 3 (Miracles, Devotion, and Motherhood) from Mary, Mother of the Son:

The Scourging at the Pillar

In the Rosary, we are invited to contemplate the reality of redemptive suffering in the mysterious Scripture that “with his stripes we are healed” (Isaiah 53:5).  In our culture, that’s supposed to be the same thing as saying “We are invited to contemplate sick, masochistic weirdness.”  For our culture appears, at first glance, to have no place for redemptive...READ MORE

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The Romance of Travel, Part 2

Tuesday, February 02, 2010 4:14 AM Comments (1)

Thursday, I was in normal old Seattle.  Fourteen hours—just half a day—later, and I’m in, like, this whole ‘nother country on the other side of the globe: the sort of country you read about in books when you were a little kid!  Australia is this slightly unreal place were kangaroos don’t live in zoos but just bounce around loose!  They grow platypuses and koalas and wallaroos here!  And Tasmanian Devils!  The plants are completely different (except for gum tree, we have those in Seattle).  The birds?  They have budgies and cockatoos just flying around down here wild!  And everybody drives on the wrong side of the road and sits on the wrong side of the car to do it!  And the...READ MORE

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The Romance of Travel, Part 1

Monday, February 01, 2010 4:08 AM Comments (1)

Greetings from Down Under!  I’m writing you from Sydney, Australia, where I will be for the next fortnightish number of days (till February 10, when I fly home to Seattle).  The flight was actually quite good, thankyouveddymuch, which is pretty astonishing given that it was 2 hours from Seattle to San Francisco and another 14 hours from San Francisco to Sydney.  Normally such experiences make me think of Manchurian Candidate brainwashing experiments: the endless roar of the engines, the inane movies, the strange experience of crossing the dateline and losing a day, the weird periodic wake up calls (if you sleep) when they feed you strange airline food in the dead of night for no...READ MORE

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Does God Have Anything to Do With Us?

Thursday, January 28, 2010 7:15 AM Comments (9)

A reader writes:

I’ve been a Christian since 1997 and Catholic convert for 2 years, I have never been plagued quite this way.

Some time ago an acquaintance told me that she believed in God and Jesus but did NOT believe that He has anything to do with us. She made her case based on the many unanswered prayers of believers vs. so-called “answered” prayers. “How do you explain that one child is raped and murdered and God does nothing even though the parents are praying…. and meanwhile, another child is spared because her parents were praying? Is one child more deserving and loved than another? Are the prayers of one set of parents more powerful than those of the other? She went on to say that...READ MORE

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About Mark Shea

Mark Shea
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Mark P. Shea is a popular Catholic writer and speaker. The author of numerous books, his most recent work is The Work of Mercy (Servant) and The Heart of Catholic Prayer (Our Sunday Visitor). Mark contributes numerous articles to many magazines, including his popular column “Connecting the Dots” for the National Catholic Register. Mark is known nationally for his one minute “Words of Encouragement” on Catholic radio. He also maintains the Catholic and Enjoying It blog. He lives in Washington state with his wife, Janet, and their four sons.