Friday, May 16, 2008

Do You Hear the Gospel at Mass?

This is in response to the comments over at Path of the Weis.

I don't think the gospel is hard to hear at mass. I think it's hard not to hear it.

If you sat at the foot of Calvary, would the gospel be hard to hear? Would it be hard to hear at Pentecost or in the Upper Room? The gospel wasn't written by Paul but when Protestants say "the gospel" what they really mean is a post 16th century reading of the Pauline epistles - ignoring much of the actual gospels and the rest of the New Testament.

Is Billy Graham's gospel hard to hear at mass? Yes, it's very hard to hear. But who says Billy Graham has it right?

If the gospel at mass was a snake it wouldn't just bite you, you'd be biting it! If "the gospel" is hard to hear in the mass, then the gospel is hard to hear in the Scriptures and then we must ask - what actually is the gospel?

As my Protestant friend remarked to me, "You Catholics have more Scripture embedded in your liturgy than we even read in our services".. Yea, and forget the readings. If we're given 3 readings each mass and the pinnacle is always a gospel reading which is at the very center of mass and of which the homily (by canon law) must be an exposition, how can one miss the gospel?

That's only a part of it though. There's much more. The gospel is that the one time sacrifice of Christ has become the Paschal Sacrifice for us all. The gospel is that Christ instituted this blessed sacrament (the Eucharist) for us to remember and to re-present this sacrifice perpetually - thereby actually receiving the grace necessary for our salvation. Then it was by no coincidence that Ignatius of Antioch called It "The medicine of immortality" and it was by no mistake that Jesus said "Unless you eat My Flesh and drink My Blood, you have no life in you". The mass combines the Synagogue exposition of Scripture (the liturgy of the word) and the Temple cult and its sacrificial atonement for sin (the liturgy of the Eucharist) into one liturgy. The Church then, has become the Synagogue & the Temple - "a time is coming when you will worship the Father neither on this mountain nor in Jerusalem".

The new has replaced the old and is even better. The New Adam is better than the first Adam and the New Eve is better than the first Eve. The new Paschal Lamb (Christ) is better than the old one (the Passover lamb). The new act of eating the Lamb's Flesh (receiving the Eucharist) is better than the old way (eating an ordinary lamb). If the old way was merely symbolic, the new way is a reality. We are not symbolizing our reception of Christ - we are receiving Christ.

There is a crucifix at every mass - there has to be. Not a cross, a crucifix. As it is written, "We preach Christ crucified". The mass is literally a re-enactment of the very hours of calvary. We kneel at the altar of God in humility as Mary knelt at the foot of the Cross. At the foot did she hear "the gospel"? Did she hear Billy Graham's gospel? No. She saw it. We don't hear the gospel at Mass, we see it. It is also written - "The Messenger is greater than the message that He brings". Do we receive the good news of Christ at mass? Even better, we receive Christ Himself! "He who has ears to hear let him hear". That is the gospel.

At this point, one would be justified in wondering whether you actually hear the gospel at Protestant services. You have no crucifix, you have no sacrifice, you have minimal Scripture readings and mostly Protestant tradition and novel doctrines which were not taught by the apostles, you have no act of contrition "Lord have mercy, Christ have mercy, Lord have mercy" (some do, I know) but most replace this beating of the breast with the Pharisee's "I thank you Lord that I am not like the sinners".

If you want to receive the true gospel, start as we do with the Agnus Dei - "Lamb of God You take away the sins of the world, have mercy on us".

Glory to Jesus Christ. Glory Forever.


Kim said...

Preach it, brother!

I went to my first mass today and you're right. It was so filled with the focus on Christ and His atoning work that you'd just have to plain old not be able to hear it to miss it. It was clearly presented.

And the funny and ironic thing is that at my first mass one of the readings was from James 2! And the priest did a very nice homily on it that would satisfy most Protestants if they heard it. It was so cool. Could God have put me there at a better time? I think not!

Tim A. Troutman said...

Kim - that's awesome. I can't believe it was your first mass. And how interesting for the readings - James 2. Maybe God is trying to tell you something (wink wink nudge nudge).

My first mass was a funeral. But the first mass at which I was considering the possibility (however remote I thought it was) of converting - they read from Luke 1. It was the feast of the Immaculate Conception! HAH! The arch-error of the Catholic Church - the most despised of doctrines - the ugliest and most offensive corruption of the gospel which the Church could possibly have made and God had me dive in from the deep end. "Now are you ready to shutup and trust Me and My Church instead of yourself?" That's like trying to convert a Muslim to Christianity by telling him how we can eat pork anytime we want - it's repulsive to him!

Anyway, so glad to hear that your first mass was a good experience. Exciting stuff.

George Weis said...

I don't know that I will shout out a "Preach it Brother!" But I will indeed say a "well done at stating your and the CCs position" Now, I will say that I haven't known many Protestants who think they are better than the sinner... In fact, any Christian who draws nearer and nearer to God would say the opposite. Never are the words "I'm a good Christian..." on the lips of those who know the Holiness of God. We should always be in the place of the Tax collector. We should be able to say with Paul "I am the Chief of all sinners" Cool thing was, he also said "Follow my example". Don't take that way out of context, I think you know what I am saying.

I have no doubt the Gospel can be heard there. Obviously the Scriptures are read in abundance.

not sure "preaching Christ crucified" makes a clear opening and need for an image of it, but no big deal!

Much love to the both of you!


andrew said...

God bless your rip-roaring self. I am trying, not with complete success, to refrain from intra-Christian apologetics until I get some solid reading under me belt. New convert and all. It is gratifying to read your stuff though.

I suppose that we are called to do two things: (A) affirming (really affirming) all that is good in the manifold Orthodox and Protestant communions and (B) beseeching all people, including those in the Orthodox churches and the Protestant communions, to be fully reconciled to the One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church (the undivided Body of Christ).

(A) without (B) is super-weak, not worthy of Christ (are we ashamed of his Body?); (B) without (A) is ignorant and prejudiced (other Christians simply know that they have a lot of good things going for them; if we can't see that, well too bad for us).

Here's to the apologetic side of (B).

Gretchen said...

Wow! Great post. Went to mass with my kids today and the preaching of James and the gospel was so powerful. And I am stating emphatically that one is changed by partaking of the Eucharist. It changes a person. Perhaps someday I'll be able to articulate it better, but something happens to a person who knows what they are getting when they eat His flesh and drink His blood. Life is different forever afterwards. Having been a hardcore Protestant for most of my life, it was a surprise to me that Christ is preached so much more seriously in a Catholic Church. I always assumed it was all about the rituals, but the rituals are informed by Christ. And yes, we need him crucified. This was hard for me at first (I had the usual Protestant view of constant celebration of the risen Christ with only periodic references to his sacrifice), but now I cannot imagine going back to the old, dead way. His crucifixion brought us life, and we ought always to keep that at the forefront of our thoughts. It is humbling, and humility brings sanctification.

Tim A. Troutman said...

Kim & Gretchen - now I wish I had gone to daily mass today :P

You're right Gretchen, the Eucharist changes you - and I dont think I can put it into words either. Confirmation changes you too. I'm not one to believe things easily - but there was a change at confirmation.

Tim A. Troutman said...

Andrew, I agree with you completely. That is one of the things which makes it hard for Protestants to convert.

Its hard because Protestantism has a lot of stuff right and Protestants know that this stuff is right. Best example is the Scripture - Protestants know it is true - they know it is inspired of God they absolutely know it. So since they are in a tradition that teaches what they know to be true, it can be tempting to "dig in" and prepare to defend yourself at all costs. The problem is that they can't adequately tell you why it is true - they just know that it is.

I struggled with this as a young Protestant and could not find anyone who could intelligibly answer my questions. I searched for those answers for 8 or 9 years and had almost faded into a sort of Christian agnosticism (I know Christianity is true but thats about all I can know) when I met a couple of seminary students who gave me some hope. One of them is now a Catholic and the other is ... well he should be a Catholic.. He very nearly started RCIA last year.. Anyway, the point is that I knew Scripture was true but I just didn't know why it was.

So yes, when debating Protestantism, we have to be careful not to throw the baby out with the bathwater. Much of what Protestantism teaches is true. Catholics have things to learn from Protestants there's no doubt about that.

And BTW, I'm looking forward to when you start writing again.

George Weis said...

Gretchen, just as long as His Resurrection is always attached to His death. It is one of the defining things about Christianity... we serve a risen Lord.

That being said, I appreciate the fact that the CC celebrates His death regularly.

Tim, as we have talked about in previous convos. I think the one thing that Catholics can learn from many lay protestants, is the seriousness they give to the Christian walk. I am not saying Protestants are "better" in any way. I am echoing what you yourself said is true... many more protestants seek to live for Christ. If indeed there is something to the Catholic side, then we should see the evidence of radically different lives... still sinners (In the Church as a hospital), but ever growing in His strength and grace to live and be the salt of the earth... the city on a hill.

I also note what you have said in the past abou devout Catholics... not gonna argue that... too much :)

Much love to all!


Kim said...

You know, George, I question whether or not Protestants have that over Catholics (taking their walk with Christ seriously). From what I've seen on the Protestant side, there are some very serious believers who live out their faith, but there are many "Sunday Christians".

Rene'e said...

We can not compare ourselves to others as who is more "Christian" than who. We must remove the splinters from our own eyes, before removing the plank from our brothers.

As I have tried to explain to George before.

You have a glass of wine.

The glass of wine, in and of itself is not bad. (Wine is in the Bible.)

If you have an alcoholic and a person who drinks wine twice a year sitting at the same bar.

To give the alcoholic the wine would be sinful.

To give the other the wine, would be to do just that. No Sin.

I am not sure if this is how Protestants view sin or not.

But, this in my oppinion and also in the Catholic Church's view, is why we can not presume to judge others lives , motives or what is in their hearts,based on what we as individuals, whether from our personal interpretation of scripture or our personal oppinions believe.

Rene'e said...

To George

God is working in all of us. Including "non-belivers".

Maybe we could exercise alittle charity, patience and LOVE, while we trust in Him to do is work in all of us, instead of trying to take over for Him, because some of us think He is taking to long for our own personal time schedule.

George Weis said...

I will say this,

There is no level of condemnation in my tone. Truly I say to all Christians and to my self "LIVE IT".
We all need to take up the cross and follow our Lord.
It is Love that should lead all of us to walk in a manner worthy of the call. I am not pointing fingers to any one individual. Yes, God does the work in men's lives, but a man can make choices too. Choose Christ... that is what we need to do. If the Spirit of Christ indwells us, we have the power to put our flesh in it's place. Let us all do so, and shine the light of Christ.

You are wrong about me Ma, I am full of love. I say what I say in hopes only that the name of Christ might be glorified. I cannot nor do I claim or even desire to do God's work in a man's heart. But I can be a mouthpiece that calls out to brothers and sisters... "People of God... Let's Live it!". This is a form of Exhortation.

Kim- Yes, there are many sunday Christians. I have been one at many points in my life. I am still far from where I should be, but ever seeking to be closer to Christ. Less of me... more of Him! He must increase I must decrease.

But, Tim has agreed to the point I made earlier. Tim? How did that C.S. Lewis quote go again? :)

May His peace reign in your hearts!
Ma, I love you very much.


Rene'e said...

To George,

People are living it.......

Just not according to your personal oppinions or personal interpretation of scripture, defining what "living it is".

If you want to be a Pastor, then you need to affilate yourself with a Church. Exactly which one do you belong to?

You have become your own Authority in my oppinion for the mere fact you own a bible, just as many of us own. The difference being some of us are not left to ourselves to define what "living it" means.

I just do not agree with you.

Quite simply, I personally do not think you are "living it", but I will leave that judgement to God, and presume I could be wrong.

Rene'e said...


I should state more clearly.

I my oppinion if you were "living it" you would be at Mass every Sunday.

You may have the final word.

Tim A. Troutman said...

George - I guess you must be talking about the quote where he said Catholics were the strongest argument against Catholicism.

I can see the argument you're making and I do concede up to a point. Kim is right to question it though.

In terms of of numbers, Catholicism has more faithful members than Protestantism I'm fully sure of that but its not a fair comparison because Catholicism is so much larger. Then we start getting to percentages and well, thats not really fair either because we can't determine true doctrines by statistical comparisons of the faithfulness of members who ascribe to said doctrines.

There is enormous devotion to Christ within Protestantism. I have nothing but good things to say about Protestants but I have almost nothing but bad things to say about Protestantism. Sometimes I feel like it's the very opposite for Catholicism but in reality there are huge numbers of incredibly devoted Catholics. Think of all the monks, priests and nuns.

Protestants also have incredible devotion with their missionaries.

It's not really fruitful to make comparisons like these though. I would say the average lay Catholic is less Scripturally literate than the average lay Protestant. But I'd say that the top 10% of Catholics are far ahead of the top 10% of Protestants. Theres a million reasons why Catholics are ignorant of Scripture - none of it has to do with Scripture not being taught or made available.

The typical story from a lapsed Catholic is that "I went through Catholic education and they never told me to read the bible etc"

Case in point: Friend of mine, elder at the OPC said to me he was counseling an old man who was raised Catholic. My friend mentioned something about the 8 people on the ark and he was surprised - he thought it was only Noah and his wife on the ark. Then he said "all we were taught was the catechism growing up". Uh huh, and you didnt have 5 bucks to go buy a bible and read it for yourself?

One difference between Catholicism and Protestantism that I've come to respect about the Catholic Church is that when converts come to the Catholic Church, she never blames their spiritual laziness on their former traditions. My RCIA class had a lot of people in it who knew next to nothing of Scripture and they were ALL former Protestants. Never once did I hear a word mentioned that Protestants failed to teach them Scripture. Now reverse the situation, have a bunch of Catholics who don't know Scripture converting to Protestantism, guess who gets the blame for them not knowing Scripture? You guessed it - the Catholic Church!

But again, I have enormous respect for so many Protestants I cant even begin to name them all. The most Christ like person I know is my grandmother and she is a Protestant. Anyway, I dont like to start saying one group is more spiritual or more well behaved than another. As bad as I am sometimes about bashing Protestantism, I think I can at least play fair when it comes to that.

R. E. Aguirre. said...

Statistics can be found here-

Roman Catholicism is the largest Christian faith on the planet with a billion adherents.

An interesting short video on the historical impact of Catholicism can be found here-
(click on epic trailer bottom left)

It's very interesting that when I was a Protestant we reveled in the maxim, "We are the small but faithful remnant. Numbers don't matter."

When I came back to the faith of my birth and lineage I now tend to see it differently. I now see the hand of our Lord guiding the ship that is His Church through the waters of time. Maybe...numbers do matter after all.

R.E. Aguirre.

Rob said...

God bless you. I love our Lords true Church, and all of the teachings that lay within.

To everyone

Judging who is a good Catholic or a good Protestant should be left to God and God alone. By saying “ I say this with love” does not give anyone the authority or right to admonish another one of our Lords servants. We have no clue how God is working in this person or that person unless you are God. Our Lord is a mystery, and his work is full of mystery.
. Unfortunately there are a equal amount of Catholics, Protestants, Jews, and Muslims, that do not live up to everyone of our opinions of what God has reveled to us in scripture. This is why I thank the lord everyday for establishing his Church on earth that I can humbly go and ask a Deacon , Priest, or Bishop to guide me in the understanding of our Lords teachings. Sound familiar?
Let us not forget that our Lord Jesus left us with instructions on how to settle disputes with one another Matthew 18, 15-18 “ But if thy brother shall offend against thee, go, and rebuke him between thee and him alone. If he shall hear thee, thou shalt gain thy brother. 16 And if he will not hear thee, take with thee one or two more: that in the mouth of two or three witnesses every word may stand. 17 And if he will not hear them: tell the church. And if he will not hear the church, let him be to thee as the heathen and publican. 18 Amen I say to you, whatsoever you shall bind upon earth, shall be bound also in heaven: and whatsoever you shall loose upon earth, shall be loosed also in heaven“. Ok, Jesus left us instructions "Tell The Church", not the churches but The Church, one not plural. He also said Matthew 28, 20 “Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you. And behold I am with you all days, even to the consummation of the world”. He is with us all days, so if he is with us all days, so must his Church be with us all days for they are one. So the church Jesus established must still be here. All we have to do is be humble, not intellectually enough to except his teachings, and our Lords Church will be reveled to us in all its glory. Pride in our own opinions of what we think scripture teaches us keeps us away from his True Church. If anyone disagrees with this let us take it to our Lords Church for discernment.

Tim sorry if that was a rant but it was just flowing. I think Polycarp is a great confirmation name and you are the only person I know who who has it . I chose Augustine and I have never ran across anyone who took his name either.

Peace be with you all

Rene'e said...


I for one,knew the bible and the Church teachings when I became a lasped Catholic. I became lasped because the bible and the Church impeded on what I as my own Authority considered to be fun. This is when I was young.

I know many Catholics young and old who read and practice the bible. I myself am one of them. I just go to the Church authorities, i.e. Priest, when I need clarification on scripture, I then except their interpretation.

I then proceed to live my life.

I have had Catholic bible studies in my home for 4 years. The Church I belong to has them.

You are correct. Ignorance of Scripture can be found with both Protestants and Catholics, but not because of the Catholic Church, but,because people will not take the time to read it for themselves.

Scripture must be read under the guidence of the Authority of the Church. This is why George and I will never agree on what "living it" means. His views are not the same as my Church's teaching on bible interpretations and I follow the Church.

I personally do not think that most
Catholics ever took the time to Memoize the bible, because they did not go out to seek members for thier Church, like some others do.

Using Scripture to found thier arguments and thus bringing new members to thier Churches for whatever motives they had.

Rene'e said...

What it comes down to is the wine example I gave it the previous post.

George and others see the wine as bad, therefore do away with the wine. All wine is bad.

Whereas I and the Church would disagree.

Because of such extremely different perceptions, how could be possibly compare each other and each others lives, Catholics vs. Non-Catholics, in such a way that we would think one or the other has it right.

Rene'e said...

R.E. Aguirre

Beautiful Video. Thank you for sharing it.

George Weis said...

Hello to you all.

I didn't mean to cause a mass disturbance. I certainly know the call for Holiness goes out to both Catholic and Protestant. My apologies if I set anyone off.

PD- You are right with your sighting of the scripture on how to handle sin in another brother/sisters life.
This is Exhortation at it's best. Again, it can be corrective and we also see Biblical examples of it being a way to say "keep up the good work".

None of us should ever fear a brother/sister pointing out sin. We should welcome such a thing. Obviously, the sin would have to be a hands down a SIN, not just someone's opinion of what a sin is, but we have a fantastic book that outlines sin for us... need I name it? :)

The fact is, we all need help. That is why, Christ set up a community (I know that is going to bring on the discussion). We need the Body of Christ even in a personal way to help us as we seek to be Disciples of Christ. That is why Paul could say "follow my example" in I Corinthians 11:1. In our lives there are Mentors, Peers and those who are following after us. All are equally members of the same body even if there is respect for the elder bros/sisters. We should seek to be held accountable to each other to protect one another

Correct me if I am wrong or simply stating my own opinions on the matter.