The Mass

The Council Of Trent

Session XXII: Doctrine on the Sacrifice of the Mass

Chapter I: On the Institution of the Most Holy Sacrifice of the Mass

Foreasmuch as, under the former Testament, according to the testimony of the Apostle Paul, there was no perfection, 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, Do this in commemoration of me, he commanded them and their successors in the priesthood to offer (them); even as the Catholic Church has always understood and taught.

Chapter II: That the Sacrifice of the Mass is Propitiatory, Both for the Living and the Dead.

For inasmuch as in this divine sacrifice which is celebrated in the mass is contained and immolated in an unbloody manner the same Christ who once offered himself in a bloody manner on the altar of the cross; the holy council teaches that this is truly propitiatory, and that if we, contrite and penitent, with sincere heart and upright faith, with fear and reverence, draw nigh to God, we obtain mercy and find grace in seasonable aid. For, appeased by this sacrifice, the Lord grants the grace and gift of penitence, and pardons even the gravest 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 of that bloody sacrifice, it is well understood, are received most abundantly through this unbloody one, so far is the latter from derogating in any way from the former. Wherefore, according to the tradition of the Apostles, it is rightly offered 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 but not as yet fully purified.

Canon I. If any one saith, that in the mass a true and proper sacrifice is not offered to God; or, that to be offered is nothing else but that Christ is given us to eat: let him be anathema.

Canon II. If any one saith, that by those words, Do this for the commemoration of me (Luke xxii. 19), Christ did not institute the apostles priests; or, did not ordain that they and other priests should offer his own body and blood: let him be anathema.

Canon III. If any one saith, that the sacrifice of the mass is only a sacrifice of praise and of thanksgiving; or, that it is a bare commemoration of the sacrifice consummated on the cross, but not a propitiatory sacrifice; or, that it profits him only who receives; and that it ought not to be offered for the living and the dead for sins, pains, satisfactions, and other necessities: let him be anathema.

Canon V. If any one saith, that it is an imposture to celebrate masses in honor of the saints, and for obtaining their intercession with God, as the Church intends: let him be anathema.

Canon VI. If any one saith, that the canon of the mass contains errors, and is therefore to be abrogated: let him be anathema (The Canons and Decrees of the Council of Trent, in Philip Schaff, The Creeds of Christendom (Grand Rapids: Baker, 1919 ed.), pp. 176-180, 184-185).

The Catechism of the Council of Trent

What have we not to hope from the efficacy of a sacrifice in which is immo;lated and offered no less a victim than he, of whom a voice from heaven twice proclaimed: ‘This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.’

The Eucharist was instituted by our Lord for two great purposes, to be the celestial food for our soul, preserving and supporting spiritual life, and to give to the Church a perpetual sacrifice, by which sin may be expiated, and our heavenly Father, whom our crimes have often greviously offended, may be turned from wrath to mercy, from the severity of just vengeanceto the exercise of benignant clemency.

Nor could our divine Lord, when about to offer himself to his eternal Father on the altar of the cross, have given a more illustrious proof of his unbounded love for us, than by bequeathing to us a visible sacrifice, by which the bloody sacrifice, which, a little after, was to be offered once on the cross was to be renewed, and its memory celebrated daily throughout the universal Church even to the consummation of time…As a sacrament, it is also to the worthy receiver a source of merit…as a sacrifice it is not only a source of merit, but also of satisfaction. As, in his passion, our Lord merited and satisfied for us, so in the oblation of this sacrifice…Christians merit the fruit of his passion, and satisfy for sin.

We, therefore, confess that the sacrifice of the Mass is one and the same sacrifice with that of the cross…That the holy sacrifice of the Mass, therefore, is not only a sacrifice of praise and thanksgiving, or a commemoration of the sacrifice of the cross; but also a sacrifice of propitiation, by which God is appeased and rendered propitious, the pastor will teach as a dogma defined by the unerring authority of a General Council of the Church (The Catechism of the Council of Trent, Published by Command of Pope Pius the Fifth (New York: Christian Press, 1905), pp. 173-175).

Vatican II

As often as the sacrifice of the cross in which “Christ, our passover, has been sacrificed” (1 Cor. 5:7) is celebrated on an altar, the work of our redemption is carried on.

In discharging their duty to sanctify their people, pastors should arrange for the celebration of the Eucharistic Sacrifice to be the center and culmination of the whole life of the Christian community.

Through the hands of priests and in the name of the whole Church, the Lord’s sacrifice is offered in the Eucharist in an unbloody and sacramental manner until He Himself returns.

Christ is always present in His Church, especially in her liturgical celebrations. He is present in the sacrifice of the Mass, not only in the person of His minister, “the same one now offering, through the ministry of priests, who formerly offered himself on the cross,” but especially under the Eucharistic species.

Thus the Eucharistic Action is the very heartbeat of the congregation of the faithful over which the priest presides. So priests must instruct them to offer to God the Father the divine Victim in the sacrifice of the Mass, and to join to it the offering of their own lives.

At the Last Supper, on the night when He was betrayed, our Savior instituted the Eucharistic Sacrifice of His Body and Blood. He did this in order to perpetuate the sacrifice of the Cross throughout the centuries until He should come again, and so to intrust to His beloved spouse, the Church, a memorial of His death and resurrection: a sacrament of love, a sign of unity, a bond of charity, a paschal banquet in which Christ is consumed, the mind is filled with grace, and a pledge of future glory is given to us (The Documents of Vatican II (Chicago: Follett, 1966), Walter M. Abbott, S.J., General Editor, pp. 16, 418, 535, 140-141, 542, 154.)

The Code of Canon Law

Canon 897. The eucharistic Sacrifice, the memorial of the death and resurrection of the Lord, in which the Sacrifice of the cross is forever perpetuated, is the summit and the source of all worship and christian life.

Canon 904. Remembering always that in the mystery of the eucharistic Sacrifice the work of redemption is continually being carried out, priests are to celebrate frequently. Indeed, daily celebration is earnestly recommended, because, even if it should not be possible to have the faithful present, it is an action of Christ and of the Church in which priests fulfil their principal role.

Canon 906. A priest may not celebrate the eucharistic Sacrifice without the participation of at least one of the faithful, unless there is a good and reasonable cause for doing so (The Code of Canon Law (London: Collins, 1983).

The Question and Answer Catholic Catechism

1264. How is the Sacrifice of the Cross continued on earth?

The Sacrifice of the Cross is continued on earth through the Sacrifice of the Mass.

1265. What is the Sacrifice of the Mass?

It is the Sacrifice in which Christ is offered under the species of bread and wine in an unbloody manner. The Sacrifice of the altar, then, is no mere empty commemoration of the Passion and Death of Jesus Christ, but a true and proper act of sacrifice. Christ, the eternal High Priest, in an unbloody way offers himself a most acceptable Victim to the eternal Father, as he did upon the Cross.

1266. How does the Mass re-present Calvary?

The Mass re-presents Calvary by continuing Christ’s sacrifice of himself to his heavenly Father. In the Mass, no less than on Calvary, Jesus really offers his life to his heavenly Father.

1267. Does the Mass detract from the one, unique Sacrifice of the Cross?

The Mass in no way detracts from the one, unique Sacrifice of the Cross because the Mass is the same Sacrifice as that of the Cross, to continue on earth until the end of time…The Mass, therefore, no less than the Cross, is expiatory for sins; but now the expiation is experienced by those for whom, on the Cross, the title of God’s mercy had been gained.

1268. How are the merits of Calvary dispensed through the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass?

The merits of Calvary are dispensed through the Mass in that the graces Christ gained for us on the Cross are communicated by the Eucharistic Sacrifice.

1269. Is the Sacrifice of the Mass of infinite value?

The Sacrifice of the Mass is of infinite value, no less than that of the Cross (John Hardon, The Question and Answer Catholic Catechism(Garden: Image, 1981).

Catechism of the Catholic Church

The Eucharist that Christ institutes…will be the memorial of his sacrifice. Jesus includes the apostles in his own offering and bids them perpetuate it. By doing so, the Lord institutes his apostles as priests of the New Covenant: ‘For their sakes I sanctify myself, so that they also may be sanctified in truth’ (Cathechism of the Catholic Church (New Hope: Urbi et Orbi, 1994), Paragraph 611, p. 158).


These teachings on the Mass are a direct contradiction to the teaching of scripture. According to scripture Christ’s death completely dealt with the judgment of God against sin and was once-for-all meaning that he could only die once. Christ himself declares that he can never die again (Rev. 1:18). Therefore his death cannot be repeated or in any way perpetuated through time. It can only be memorialized or remembered. Therefore scripture declares that because Christ’s death has completely dealt with sin, there are no more sacrifices which are necessary for sin. A sacrifice is propitiatory for sin only if there is a death (Heb. 9:27) and since Christ can only die once, there is only one propitiatory sacrifice, that of the Cross, and it is finished. Scripture teaches that just as Christ’s death was once-for-all, so the offering of his body and his sacrifice for sin are also once-for-all (Heb. 9:26; 10:10) and cannot be repeated or perpetuated through time. It declares that there are no more sacrifices for sin (Heb. 10:18).

Therefore, to teach that the Mass is a propitiatory sacrifice for sin because it is the same sacrifice as Calvary is to undermine the teaching of scripture. Since Christ does not die in the scarifice of the Mass, there can be no true sacrifice for sin. It is not truly propitiatory. And therefore the Mass is not the same sacrifice as Calvary because Christ died at Calvary. To state that the Mass is not an addition to Calvary because it is the same sacrifice would be equivalent to saying, hypothetically, that in the Mass Christ dies but it is not an addition to his death once-for-all because it is the same death. Rome utterly repudiates such a notion but only because of the clear statements of scripture. But what Rome fails to understand is that the descriptions of Christ’s death and its finality also applies to Christ’s sacrifice. Jesus said, ‘It is finished.’ The teaching of Rome undermines the sufficiency and exclusivity of Christ’s atonement and as such undermines the truth of the gospel.