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Holy Spirit Interactive Youth: Bible Geek: Why is it called "Mass"?

Why is it called "Mass"?

This may be a stupid question but I don't know. One of my very good friends is protestant and amidst our many hefty arguments about everything from the Eucharist to Saints I used the word mass to describe the catholic service. She asked me why we call a catholic celebration mass, and I did not have an answer for her. Why do we call a Catholic Service Mass?

There's no such thing as a stupid question. Not asking a question you really want to know the answer to...that's stupid. I'm glad you asked and, actually, the answer is pretty simple...

The term “mass” comes from the latin word missa. It’s the same root word - missia for “missile” (it means to "send forth"). The same way a missile is shot forth, we are sent forth “to love and to serve the Lord”.

To read more about the names and terms associated with the Holy Mass, check out the Catechism #1338-1332.

For more Scriptures regarding the apostles, the first Bishops, and the early Christians coming together to celebrate the Holy Mass, check out:

Mt 26:26-30, Mk 14:22-26, Lk 22:14-20, 1 Cor 11:23-34, Acts 2:42, Acts 20:7, 1 Cor 5:7-8, Jude 12

And, read this excerpt from early Church Father St. Justin (he wrote this in 150, over a century after Jesus had ascended into Heaven):

"On the day called Sunday there is a meeting in one place...the memoirs of the apostles or the writings of the prophets are read as long as time permits. When the reader has finished, the presider in a discourse urges and invites us to the imitation of these noble things. Then we all stand up together and offer prayers. And, as said before, when we have finished the prayer, bread is brought, and wine and water, and the presider similarly sends up prayers and thanksgiving to the best of his ability, and the congregation assents, saying the Amen; the distribution, and reception of the consecrated elements by each one, takes place and they are sent to the absent by the deacons..."

- St. Justin, First Apology, 67

This not only depicts the Mass (as we still celebrate it 1900 years later), but that the Tradition of the Mass was celebrated and the Eucharistic true presence understood and believed by the early Christians (just like St. Paul and the apostles believed it) over a century later.

In fact, this letter that depicts the practices of the early Christians and the Tradition of the Church was occuring almost 250 years before the final canon (that is the Bible as we now know it) was formally put together in its present form.

How's that for history?

Be God's!

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