The Catholic mass: How a simple memorial became a pompous, elaborate ritual

The Mass vs. The Lord’s Supper
By H. A. Ironside
CrossReach Publications, 2016, 33 pages, $1.99

H. A. Ironside was pastor of Moody Church in Chicago from 1929 to 1948. In this ebook pamphlet, first published by Loizeaux Brothers in 1926, Ironside compares the Roman Catholic mass with Scripture.

I believe few evangelicals truly understand the anti-Biblical nature of the Catholic mass. The mass is the pinnacle of Catholic worship. Every Sunday, Catholics are required to attend the mass ritual under threat of mortal sin. At the mass, the Roman Catholic church teaches that its priests change bread wafers and wine into the actual body, blood, soul and divinity of Jesus Christ. The Jesus elements are then offered up to God the Father as a sacrifice for the sins of the congregants and anyone else who is named (i.e., the pope, the local bishop, souls in purgatory, etc.). Only congregants who are in an alleged “state of grace,” meaning they have no unconfessed serious mortal sins on their souls, may line up and receive the Jesus wafer and wine from the priest. After they consume the elements, Catholics are taught that Jesus is physically present inside of them for approximately 15 minutes, as the elements are acted upon by the digestive acids in their stomach, imparting graces that will allegedly help them to avoid sin so they can continue in a “state of grace.” Catholics are taught they must merit their salvation by successfully obeying the Ten Commandments (impossible!).

Ironside compares the mass to the accounts of the Last Supper in the synoptic Gospels. It’s clear Jesus instituted the Lord’s Supper as a simple yet profound memorial to His sacrifice on the cross in which He paid the penalty for the sins of all those who accept Him as Savior by faith alone. The Book of Hebrews stands as a witness against a sacrificial priesthood and the perpetual sacrifice of Jesus at the mass. Yes, the Lord’s Supper celebrated by Bible Christians is a sobering occasion for genuine believers who take the symbolic elements of bread and wine/grape juice and gratefully reflect on how their Savior suffered and died to pay for their sins, but we do not worship the elements. In contrast to Rome’s spiritually deadly misinterpretation of John 6, it’s not physically eating Jesus that imparts eternal life (argh!), but salvation comes by belief/trust in Christ as Savior through faith alone.

Because Catholics are taught the bread wafers are literally turned into Jesus Christ, they are told they must accord them proper worship. Surplus consecrated wafers are stored in a locked box called a tabernacle. When Catholics enter a church, they bow their heads and genuflect upon one knee in homage to the Jesus wafers in the tabernacle. The parish priest will occasionally exhibit a large Jesus wafer in an elaborate, see-through sunburst container, called a “monstrance,” and the faithful gather at the church to participate in “perpetual adoration” of the wafer god. Because of the deification of the consecrated elements, the Roman church developed elaborate procedures to be followed by priests for occasions when the “host” suffers accidental desecration, e.g., the wafer accidentally drops on the floor, an insect flies into the wine, a supplicant involuntarily vomits the wafer, etc., etc., etc. The complicated rubrics of the mass liturgy are spelled out in the 1500 pages(!) of the official Roman Missal.

How did the simple Last Supper memorial of the early church devolve into the elaborate ritual of the mass with its sacrificial priests and Jesus host? Ironside explains that as the church became increasingly institutionalized, it incorporated many of the elements of paganism, especially those elements that advantaged the clergy. Wafers and cakes consecrated by priests to pagan deities had been a regular part of pagan sacrificial worship in the ancient world.

It’s estimated the mass is said about 350,000 times every day throughout the world. That’s 350,000 times a day Christ is supposedly re-sacrificed for sin. But God’s Word clearly tells us there is no longer a sacrificial priesthood and no more sacrifice for sin. Jesus Christ is now seated at the right hand of God the Father, interceding for all those who accept Him as Savior by faith alone. He is not present on Catholic altars as a sacrificial victim.

“And every priest stands daily at his service, offering repeatedly the same sacrifices, which can never take away sins. But when Christ had offered for all time a single sacrifice for sins, he sat down at the right hand of God, waiting from that time until his enemies should be made a footstool for his feet. For by a single offering he has perfected for all time those who are being sanctified.” – Hebrews 10:11-14

“For false christs and false prophets will arise and perform great signs and wonders, so as to lead astray, if possible, even the elect. See, I have told you beforehand. So, if they say to you, ‘Look, he is in the wilderness,’ do not go out. If they say, ‘Look, he is in the inner rooms,’ do not believe it. For as the lightning comes from the east and shines as far as the west, so will be the coming of the Son of Man.” – Matthew 24:24-27.

This short booklet is a good introduction to the errors of the Catholic mass. Order from Amazon here.

Postscript: Due to the wonders of modern technology, Catholics are now able to worship the Jesus wafer 24/7 via live webcam. One of many examples of live webcams used by Catholics to worship the wafer god from the convenience of their home or office is this one that originates from St. Martin of Tours Catholic church in Louisville, Kentucky (the large, white bread wafer is visible through the circular window in the middle of the monstrance). Brothers and sisters in Christ, consider the hundreds of millions of lost Catholics who worship and pray to bread wafers like the one in this webcam, and who believe that “receiving Christ” means eating a Jesus wafer.

19 thoughts on “The Catholic mass: How a simple memorial became a pompous, elaborate ritual

    1. Thanks, sister! The Ironside pamphlet is actually a pretty basic primer on the “sacrament.” I provided some additional info on the mass in the review that isn’t mentioned by Ironside. Strangely, he makes no reference to John 6:25-71, which is a key passage in Catholicism’s misinterpretation of the Lord’s Supper, but of course this was a sermon and he had limited time. I’ve finished reading and reviewing all of Ironside’s pamphlets on Catholicism, all good primers, so now I can move onto the next project!

      Liked by 3 people

      1. Thanks! I received a book written by a Catholic apologist several weeks ago – “The Catholic Verses: 95 Bible Passages That Confound Protestants” – and I’d like to answer his arguments passage by passage over a span of many, many months, maybe one passage per week. So it’s going to take some doing, which is why I’ve been putting it off, and I ask the Lord to help me through it.

        Liked by 2 people

      2. That will be extremely helpful, brother, and hopefully instructive for those in the middle of the issue. My father-in-law was just telling me how he wished he was more informed on that subject in case he had the opportunity to evangelize a Catholic friend or co-worker. He’s not technologically inclined but I mentioned your ministry to him. I’ll have to read these points to him as your making them. I am also eager to hear them, and be better equipped to reach out. Have I mentioned what a blessing your blog is yet today? It sure is a blessing, brother!

        Liked by 2 people

      3. Thanks a lot, sister, for the encouragement in the Lord! When we look back at our lives we can see how the Lord brought us through various things to prepare us. I pray the information I post blesses both Catholics and Christians who come in contact with Catholics, like your father-in-law.

        Liked by 2 people

    1. Thanks so much for the encouraging words, brother! The Lord brings us through various circumstances and then heals our spiritual blindness so that we are able to testify as to what is Truth and what is error. Few evangelicals (and many Catholics!) understand what takes place at the mass.

      Liked by 1 person

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