While studying Heidelberg Catechism Q/A 80 on how the Lord’s Supper differs from the Roman Catholic mass, I noticed that some say the last part of HC 80 is wrong. They argue that since Rome has changed her official position on the Mass, the last 1/2 of HC 80 should be lopped off. In order to keep this post short, I won’t quote the last part of HC 80 – you can find it on your own, I trust. The main issues are these: is Christ bodily present in the elements, is he re-presented in the elements, and should we worship the elements? [Note: re-presented here means “presented over again;” this is important, because Calvin, for example, said Christ is represented but not re-presented.]
Lets see what Rome says today. The following quotes are taken from Catechism of the Catholic Church (New York: Doubleday, 1995). As an additional note, then Cardinal (now Pope) Joseph Ratzinger was the chairman of this pope-commissioned group to work on the catechism (in 1986).
Part II, Article 3, para. II.1330 The Mass “makes present the one sacrifice of Christ the Savior…”
Part II. Article 3, para III.1333 “At the heart of the Eucharistic celebration are the bread and wine that, by the words of Christ and the invocation of the Holy Spirit, become Christ’s body and blood.”
Part II, Article 3, para IV.1350 “…the bread and the wine are brought to the altar; they will be offered by the priest in the name of Christ in the Eucharistic sacrifice in which they will become his body and blood.”
Part II, Article 3, para IV.1353-4 “…by his [the Holy Spirit’s] power they [bread and wine]…become the body and blood of Jesus Christ…” The institution narrative words “make sacramentally present under the species of bread and wine Christ’s body and blood, his sacrifice offered on the cross once for all.”
Part II, Article 3, para V.1357 “Christ is thus really and mysteriously made present” when the bread and the wine “become” his body and blood.
Part II, Article 3, para V. 1364-7 In the Mass, “the sacrifice Christ offered once for all on the cross remains ever present. As often as the sacrifice of the cross by which ‘Christ our Pasch has been sacrificed’ is celebrated on the altar, the work of our redemption is carried out.” “The Eucharist is also a sacrifice.” “The Eucharist is thus a sacrifice because it re-presents (makes present) the sacrifice of the cross.” The same sacrifice which Christ offered on the cross is “now offered through the ministry of priests.”
Part II, Article 3, para V.1374 “In the most blessed Eucharist…the whole Christ is truly, really, and substantially contained” (emphasis in original).
Part II, Article 3, para V.1378 The people, during the liturgy of the Mass, “genuflect or bow deeply as a sign of adoration of the Lord.” “The Catholic church has always offered and still offers to the sacrament of the Eucharist the cult of adoration, not only during Mass, but also outside of it, reserving the consecrated hosts with the utmost care, exposing them to the solemn veneration of the faithful, and carrying them in procession.”
The “In Summary” section notes this (among others): “Because Christ himself is present in the sacrament of the altar, he is to be honored with the worship of adoration.”
There are quite a few more phrases that are exactly like the above. Also, the Council of Trent (c. mid 16th century) is quoted no less than 8 times in this one section. Though I didn’t list it, the Catholic Catechism also discusses the Mass for the dead. Finally, I noticed in a recent Yakima Times article, that now the “in” thing in Roman churches (at least in Southern Washington) is to have the Mass in Latin again, because “it feels more historical and holy.”
Clearly, Rome has not changed her position on the Mass. HC Q/A 80 needs to stay. Its not exactly “Interfaith,” ECT, or PC material, but “denial of the one sacrifice of Christ” and “condemnable idolatry” still fit.