The Biblical Roots of the Mass

I recently read an excellent, in-depth book on the Biblical origins of the Mass written by Thomas J. Nash.

The Biblical Roots of the Mass successfully sets out to show that the Catholic Mass is of divine origin.

Begin At the Beginning

 

bibl1Nash begins with a deep examination of the Old Covenant, beginning with Creation itself in Genesis with the tree of life and how it ultimately points to the Eucharist. I liked how Nash begins at the beginning and in each chapter lists out the relevant Scripture passages for the topics he covers. Then at the end of each chapter he has discussion questions for a small group, RCIA class, or Bible study.

This book is dense. It is not a book you read in an evening. In fact, I read it during my weekly Holy Hour of adoration over the course of a few months.

Having written books myself, I have an appreciation for Nash’s work here: the level of research and scholarship required to write even one chapter of his book must have been incredible.

In Depth Explanations

 

For instance, I have always wanted a thorough and clear explanation of how the mysterious figure of Melchizedek relates to Christ and His priesthood. The allusions in the Bible to this association are few but obviously of great significance to Jewish people at the time of Christ and to the first Christians. Nash delves into this relationship and elucidates the background and importance of it.

From an apologetics standpoint, Nash answers the common¬†Protestant objections to the Mass and the Real Presence of Christ in the Eucharist. Such arguments, like “Catholics re-crucify Christ every Mass”, he analyzes, rebuts, and then goes one level deeper in explaining why they don’t work and what the actual Church’s teaching is on the subject. Another one he tackles is whether and how Christ could have been present in bread after consecrating it during the Last Supper.

The Biblical Roots of the Mass is an eye-opening book to understanding how the central sacrament of our Faith is directly connected to all the major events of salvation history.

I’m Hearing the Gospel Again

Hear the kerygma again

Like many converts to Christianity, I roared in like a lion, full of vigor, enthusiasm, and devotion. Some years passed, hard things happened in life, and the flames had died down to a dull glow.

We moved back to our old town and returned to our old parish, a vibrant one, and I was half-expecting, half-dreading, being invited to teach an apologetics class. Not that I wouldn’t have done it, if asked, but I knew the gas was about out of the tank. I needed renewal, rejuvenation.

By God’s grace, though the possibility was there to teach a class, Katie and I were instead invited to go through the “Jesus is Lord” course. This is the intro course to all the rest of the adult faith formation classes at our parish. It’s the basics. The kerygma. Christ died for you and loves you.

Some might think that a Big Time Apologist like me is too “advanced” for such a thing. But the opposite is true. It was just what I needed. I returned to weekly Eucharistic adoration, and each week we go to the class and listen to the gospel and pray.

I sit there with my fellow brothers and sisters, one more poor soul asking our Lord for grace, with hands empty and open. Tonight we had adoration in the church, and we were prayed over by our priest and members of the prayer team. For many, this was there first experience of adoration. There was sobbing, gut-wrenching sobbing. Jesus was touching people. He touched me as well, but in the quiet way that it usually happens, with the gentlest of movements, bringing peace and deep consolation.

We renewed our baptismal promises, where the priest proposes the Apostles’ Creed to us as questions: “Do you believe in God, the Father Almighty, maker of Heaven and Earth?” “I do.” We committed, and in my case recommitted, myself to God.

A Baptist friend of mine has had his family baptized multiple times. He has done this because he and his family, in effect, have wanted to recommit to Christ, to be rejuvenated in faith, and in the Baptist tradition, getting baptized is the only physical, tangible way of doing it. They are longing for the sacraments, in effect, and though of course there is only one baptism, and these additional ones don’t confer the same sanctifying grace and actual graces, their desire to give themselves to God in a deeper way is noble, and I believe God honors that.

There’s the head, and the heart. Both are important. Both need to be filled, to be formed. Sometimes I neglect the heart and focus too much on the head. The apologetics, the arguments, the philosophy, the epistemic questions. Call it a pitfall of the profession. So realizing again that Jesus is Lord, that He loves me, loves all of us, has been just what I needed.