As promised, we will begin to look at the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass. Most of us probably believe that the Mass has its origins in the Last Supper. Yes, there are many things about our Mass that relate back to the Last Supper, but that was really just one of the more recent updates, most of the Mass goes back much further.
It is also helpful to understand the covenants of Scripture. Salvation history is most easily understood as a series of progressive covenants between God and man. God and Adam (a single man), God and Noah (the head of a family), God and Abraham (the head of a clan/tribe), God and Moses (head of a nation), and then God and Jesus (King of kings, King of the world—head of all mankind). In each of these covenants there was a male priesthood and an offering of sacrifice. This is the central element that God always reveals for us to worship Him.
In the Old Testament, there is very little about how our ancient forefathers in the faith actually worshiped God. We have in the 4th chapter of Genesis Cain and Abel offering sacrifices to the Lord; they obviously would have learned this from Adam. Then, in verse 26, after the birth of Seth, it says,“…At that time men began to invoke the Lord by name.” Although a very simple sentence—it is packed with meaning. First it indicates great respect of men towards God (something Cain lacked), and it also indicates liturgical development; that this was something done with frequency and in perpetuity. Then in Chapter 6, it says, “Noah, a good man and blameless in that age, for he walked with God.” Again a very dense statement, meaning that Noah’s practice of religion consisted not only in offering proper sacrifice, invoking and praising the name of the Lord, but also in moral practice and a personal relationship, as these words harken back to the Garden of Eden and Gen. 3/8 when God would come to the Garden of Eden in the breezy time of day to walk with Adam and Eve before they sinned. (to be continued)
Fr. John J. Sasse