Altar of Calvary (Golgotha): the actual site of Jesus’ crucifixion, at the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, Jerusalem. Photograph by Ana Ulin: 10-13-07). I was there in October 2014. [Wikimedia Commons / Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.0 Generic license]
- Pastor Steve described frequent reports of former Catholics who attend his church: “I didn’t find Christ in the Catholic Church. I didn’t meet Jesus . . .” Fr John replied: “Maybe they weren’t listening. Maybe they weren’t interested . . . you can’t come to Mass and not hear God. The whole Mass is Scripture . . . How do I not hear the Lord there?” What are some of these biblical elements in the Mass that are repeated every Sunday, and is it possible to be totally ignorant of the gospel and Jesus if they are adequately heeded and taken in by the churchgoing Catholic?
Protestants who were raised Catholic and left often claim that they “never heard the gospel message” at Mass. The typical short Protestant tract proclaiming the gospel (for example, from Campus Crusade for Christ and their “four spiritual laws”) usually has four elements:
(1) We are all sinners in need of God’s forgiveness.
(2) Only God can forgive and save us, by His mercy and grace. We can’t save ourselves.
(3) Jesus Christ died on the cross for our sins in order to reconcile us with God and make it possible for us to be saved and have eternal life.
(4) The individual must accept Jesus as Lord and Savior and become His committed disciple in order to attain this salvation.
The following excerpts of the Catholic liturgy (with reference numbers to the above list) prove that there is plenty of “gospel preaching” in the liturgy itself, even apart from the priest’s homily (which itself is usually about the Gospel reading for the day):
Congregation: I confess to almighty God, and to you, my brothers and sisters, that I have sinned through my own fault. In my thoughts and in my words, in what I have done, and in what I have failed to do. (1)
Priest: May almighty God have mercy on us, forgive us our sins, and bring us to everlasting life. (1) (2)
All: Lord have mercy, Christ have mercy, Lord have mercy. (1) (2)
Priest: Lord show us your mercy and love. And grant us your salvation. (1) (2)
All: Glory to God in the highest, and peace to his people on earth. Lord God, heavenly King, almighty God and Father, we worship you, we give you thanks, we praise you for your glory. Lord Jesus Christ, only Son of the Father, Lord God, Lamb of God, you take away the sin of the world, have mercy on us; you are seated at the right hand of the Father, receive our prayer. For you alone are the Holy One, you alone are the Lord, you alone are the Most High, Jesus Christ, with the Holy Spirit, in the glory of God the Father. (3)
Priest: Through him, with him, in him; in the unity of the Holy Spirit, all glory and honor is yours, almighty Father, for ever and ever. (2; implied)
All: For us men and for our salvation he came down from heaven: by the power of the Holy Spirit he was born of the Virgin Mary, and became man. For our sake he was crucified under Pontius Pilate. (3)
Priest (first eucharistic prayer): Remember [Lord] all of us gather here before you. You know how firmly we believe in you and dedicate ourselves to you. . . We pray to you, our living and true God, for our well-being and redemption . . . Grant us your peace in this life, save us from final damnation, and count us among those you have chosen . . . Though we are sinners, we trust in your mercy and love. Do not consider what we truly deserve, but grant us your forgiveness. Through Christ our Lord you give us all these gifts. You fill them with life and goodness, you bless them and make them holy. (1) (2) (3) (4)
Priest (second eucharistic prayer): Dying you [Jesus] destroyed our death, rising you restored our life. Lord Jesus, come in glory. . . Have mercy on us all; make us worthy to share eternal life . . . (2) (3)
Priest (third eucharistic prayer): All life, all holiness comes from you through your Son, Jesus Christ our Lord, by the working of the Holy Spirit . . . Father, calling to mind the death your Son endured for our salvation, his glorious resurrection and ascension into heaven, . . . (2) (3)
Priest (fourth eucharistic prayer): Father, you so loved the world that in the fullness of time you sent your only Son to be our Savior . . . In fulfillment of your will he gave himself up to death; but by rising from the dead, he destroyed death and restored life. (3)
Congregation: Lord, by your cross and resurrection, you have set us free. You are the Savior of the world. (3) (4)
Priest: This is the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world. Happy are those who are called to his supper. (3)
Congregation: Lord, I am not worthy to receive you, but only say the word and I shall be healed. (4)