By Cris Putnam
I find the Eucharist as it is postured by the Roman Catholic Church to be extremely problematic theologically and this post will explain my reasoning. I suspect few Catholic lay people are aware of what the priest believes he is doing during the ritual. John O’Brien’s popular Catholic apologetics work, The Faith of Millions: The Credentials of the Catholic Religion, is considered a classic defense and accurate explanation of Roman Catholic faith and practice. What follows is a thorough explanation of the priest’s role in the Eucharist:
The supreme power of the priestly office is the power of consecrating. “No act is greater,” says St. Thomas, “than the consecration of the body of Christ.” In this essential phase of the sacred ministry, the power of the priest is not surpassed by that of the bishop, the archbishop, the cardinal or the pope. Indeed it is equal to that of Jesus Christ. For in this role the priest speaks with the voice and the authority of God Himself.
When the priest pronounces his tremendous words of consecration, he reaches up into the heavens, brings Christ down from his throne, and places Him upon our altar to be offered up again as the Victim for the sins of man. It is a power greater than that of monarchs and emperors: it is greater than that of saints and angels, greater than that of Seraphim and Cherubim.
Indeed it is greater even than the power of the Virgin Mary. While the Blessed Virgin was the human agency by which Christ became incarnate a single time, the priest brings Christ down from heaven, and renders Him present on our altar as the eternal Victim for the sins of man—not once but a thousand times! The priest speaks and lo! Christ, the eternal and omnipotent God, bows his head in humble obedience to the priests command.
The quote above is outrageously blasphemous on a number of levels. First, it seems sorcerous. An academic definition of magic is the “Attempt to influence or control people or events through supernatural forces. These forces are called upon by means of ceremonies, the recitation of spells, charms, incantations, and other forms of ritual,” So it seems fair to examine the description and ask: “In the Mass, is the priest said to influence events, people, and things with ceremonies and the recitation of incantations to control supernatural forces?” Is this not something like ritual magic? Indeed, the priest is said to be even more powerful than angels and to have the authority of God, Himself! Not only does he control people or events, he allegedly controls Christ. The priest ostensibly reaches up into the heavens, knocks Him off His throne, and offers Him up on the “altar as the eternal Victim.” I contend the priest has no such power and this reflects hubris of the highest order.
The sheer unmitigated gall it takes to even imagine ordering the sovereign Lord down from heaven in head-bowed obedience is beyond comprehension. Think about this passage before defending the Roman theology:
He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation. For by him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things were created through him and for him. And he is before all things, and in him all things hold together. And he is the head of the body, the church. He is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in everything he might be preeminent. (Col 1:15–18)
Do you really believe the sinful human priest orders the Creator of the Universe off his throne? A better question is whether another sacrifice for sins is necessary. What does the scripture say? Speaking of Christ, the Bible says, “For such an high priest became us, who is holy, harmless, undefiled, separate from sinners, and made higher than the heavens; Who needeth not daily, as those high priests, to offer up sacrifice, first for his own sins, and then for the people’s: for this he did once, when he offered up himself” (Heb 7:26–27; underline added). The comparison in Hebrews is with the Old Testament priesthood who offered up animals for sin. The Bible could not be much clearer than “needeth not daily” and “for this he did once.” Once is the operative term which the Holy Spirit inspired repeatedly throughout Hebrews.
Rome’s theology is a one-hundred-and-eighty-degree inversion of what Hebrews unequivocally teaches, because the Eucharist is a sacrifice that is repeated day after day all over the world. Please consider another passage from Hebrews 9 (and just in case one might think there is a Protestant bias in the Authorized Version, this time I will quote from Rome’s sanctioned NAB translation):
For Christ did not enter into a sanctuary made by hands, a copy of the true one, but heaven itself, that he might now appear before God on our behalf. Not that he might offer himself repeatedly, as the high priest enters each year into the sanctuary with blood that is not his own; if that were so, he would have had to suffer repeatedly from the foundation of the world. But now once for all he has appeared at the end of the ages to take away sin by his sacrifice. Just as it is appointed that human beings die once, and after this the judgment, so also Christ, offered once to take away the sins of many, will appear a second time, not to take away sin but to bring salvation to those who eagerly await him. (Hebrews 9:24–28, NAB)
Oh, how we do eagerly await him! The passage speaks for itself and I only cited the NAB version to show that they are without excuse. It really could not be any clearer that the Roman mass is a disgraceful sacrilege. It really seems that God anticipated the apostasy of the Eucharist because yet again in Hebrews we read, “But this one offered one sacrifice for sins, and took his seat forever at the right hand of God; now he waits until his enemies are made his footstool. For by one offering he has made perfect forever those who are being consecrated” (Heb 10:12–14). If you accept the authority of the Bible, there really is no possible way to reconcile the Roman sacrificial system.
 St. Thomas, Summa Theol., lib. III , q. 40, a4, 5.
 John A. O’Brien, The Faith of Millions: The Credentials of the Catholic Religion, New and rev. ed. (Huntington, Ind.: Our Sunday Visitor, 1974), 255–256.
 Walter A. Elwell and Philip Wesley Comfort, Tyndale Bible Dictionary, Tyndale reference library, 844.
 Confraternity of Christian Doctrine. Board of Trustees, Catholic Church. National Conference of Catholic Bishops and United States Catholic Conference. Administrative Board, The New American Bible : Translated from the Original Languages With Critical Use of All the Ancient Sources and the Revised New Testament, Heb 9:24–28 (Confraternity of Christian Doctrine, 1996, c1986).