Behind the Torn Veil – The Liturgy

Latin Rite, priest, ordination

When Jesus had cried out again in a loud voice, He yielded up His spirit. At that moment the veil of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom. The earth quaked and the rocks were split. The tombs broke open, and the bodies of many saints who had fallen asleep were raised. Matthew 27:50-52

Covenant

On my ministry team, we talk a lot about covenant and how the Jewish people all knew what this was and what was expected of them in covenant. We know too, throughout history, that other cultures have partaken in covenants with one another where the pact made with the group is a stronger bond than anything else. Covenant always requires a blood sacrifice. In the Catholic Mass, the new covenant celebrates the blood sacrifice of Jesus Christ for our sins. We have all been taught this but I am not sure many have any idea of what that actually means.

The first time we actually see a blood sacrifice in the bible is in the story of Adam and Eve.

The Lord God made garments of skin for Adam and his wife, and clothed them (Genesis 3:21).

Up until to this point Adam and Eve would not have known death. But here, with the Lord Himself clothing them in garments of skin, we know an animal was sacrificed. The Lord Himself was showing them how to worship. How to bring themselves back into union with Him. It required sacrifice.

Prior to the Lord clothing them, he had pronounced curses upon them. To the woman;

I will greatly multiply your pain in childbirth, In pain you will bring forth children; Yet your desire will be for your husband, and he will rule over you (Genesis 3:16).

And to the man;

Because you have listened to the voice of your wife, and have eaten from the tree about which I commanded you, saying, ‘You shall not eat from it’; Cursed is the ground because of you; in toil you will eat of it all the days of your life. “Both thorns and thistles it shall grow for you; and you will eat the plants of the field; by the sweat of your face you will eat bread, till you return to the ground, because from it you were taken; For you are dust, And to dust you shall return (Genesis 3:17-19).

One could read these statements and conclude that God is harsh and unloving, even though we know that God had given them the chance to repent, and instead of repenting they started blaming. But to our modern eyes, we misunderstand what God was doing here.

God’s Love

You see, God, is love. When the two of them listened to the serpent, it was an offense against love Himself, and an act borne of envy and pride. It was an act of death.

God, even in His curses upon them, was showing them how to love again. For the woman, her pain in childbirth, in pain you will bring forth children; this is not just in the physical act of labor, but in bearing them throughout her whole life, the connection she has to her child. The kind of love that is hard to understand because the bond is spiritual and lasting. The prayers of a mother for a child have more efficacy than any other prayer. Likewise, a wife submitting to her husband, because of love for him, these two things get her outside of herself and looking at the other. It also restores the authority God had given to Adam, but was never meant to be used to Lord it over her. Sure, we as humans have twisted this, but God here again, this “curse” was trying to teach us about Love, and in a spiritual view can be seen as a blessing.

For the man, God is reinstating his authority and his ability to provide for and protect the people in his care. And the hard work the man will have to do in order to achieve this, it gets him outside of himself to provide for his wife and his family. Anyone who has seen a man out of work sees the depression and anxiety it causes, men thrive when they can provide and protect. The toil of his hard work is not for himself, but for others. It too is a blessing, but too often we twist this as well.

The whole of everything God was trying to teach us, even in the curses He pronounced, was all about love. How to love. His sacrifice of the animal to clothe them, showed them how to commune with Him, and we see sacrifice in worship from this point forward. His Son was sent because man, of their own accord, couldn’t redeem themselves. Jesus was sent out of love. My friend Charlie recently explained it this way;

First, Christ is the Son of the Father – but not in the way of men. The Father is God. The Son is God. The Holy Spirit is God. All three persons are one in being with each other (consubstantial) and are all eternal. Thus, while Jesus is truly the Son of God, the Father is the Father of God, and the Holy Spirit is the Holy Spirit of God. So it is not that God sent His Son to be tortured and die; rather, the eternal God came, Himself, to be tortured and die by taking on our humanity in the person of the eternal Son.

This shows us the love of God. It has always been about love.

The Sacrifice of the Mass

So this brings me to the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass. The worship we do on Sunday has inexhaustible fruits that are measured by our inward disposition. Jesus’ Sacrifice present at every mass holds the infinite opportunity for perfection and holiness to be poured out upon us, but the measure of the graces we receive is the measure of our faith and of our love. Faith is the prompt and complete donation of our entire selves to God, to His Will and service. Mass is actually a practice of the virtue of Justice. We give back to God love, getting outside of ourselves, for Him, which also leads us outside of ourselves for others. This is not a feeling, it is from the depths of our soul.

During the Holy Sacrifice, the Epiclesis prayer calls down the Holy Spirit, and the Anamnesis prayer reaching back in time to bring us the Sacrifice of Christ. This Sacrificial Act which was taught to us by God Himself shows us how to bring ourselves back in union with God. What greater union can we obtain than for the Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity of Christ to be consumed into our very being; uniting both our body and soul to Jesus.

The Mass is where we give God His due through our participation in the Holy Sacrifice. We give God our love and he unites it with His own. As participators in the Holy Sacrifice, and not merely spectators, we give our very selves to God, offering our own lives, just as Jesus offered His life for the Father on the cross.

The Liturgy

Too often the Liturgy gets humanized to be about us, and what we will get out of it. When it should be about Him and offering ourselves to Him as Sacrifice. When we do this we are more fully receive the gifts of his love that enable us to go out and love others as He did, with self sacrificing Love. Likewise, if we get too wrapped up in the legalism of the Mass and nitpick our fellow man to death on their posture, we also miss the point.

When we bring worldly matters to the Mass, like worldly equality or self-focused ideology, we miss the understanding that God’s equality is an equality of dignity, which highlights the fact that we are all made in the image and likeness of God. With this we are all equal in our dignity, which is how our Creator sees us, but we are uniquely different as well. In looking at our neighbor in this way, we begin to understand that differences in people are actually a gift. The differences in male and female, the different ways the Holy Spirit uses us, all of these things are gifts. Unfortunately, people on both sides of the spectrum are putting people in boxes of our own design with labels that alienate and will actually lead to hatred.

Heaven on Earth

The Mass is heaven on earth. We have the Latin term, Lex credendi, lex orandi, how we pray reveals what we believe. And vice versa; What we believe will dictate how we pray. When we worship and pray for love of Him and believe with all of our hearts, it spills over into the outside world. Jesus does not change when we worship, he is absolute truth and unchanging, we change when we worship, and when we believe in the Eucharist, which He is present in, He changes us. He is present whether we believe or not, but our belief, our prayer and our worship is how we become changed into what God wants us to be. I have stated before, God does not need the Liturgy, He is perfect. We need it to unite us to Him in the most Holy Eucharist. Receiving with faith in transubstantiation transforms us, it divinizes us.

I urge us all to go to Mass with a new outlook, by placing Christ truly at the center of the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass. By letting go of our own desires and wants for what the Mass should or should not be and instead, with your whole heart, give God his due in worship; we should focus on Christ instead of the people around us, whom we cannot control. By participating in the sacrifice taking place through your own gift of self, offering up all your cares, all your worries to the one who has the power to save you. This is what will put Christ above all else and will allow us to truly love Him, as he leads us to view others the way that He does, which is in love.

The Mass has a specific rubric in which we are to follow. As with all things that our Holy Mother Church gives us, this was handed down to us as such in order for us to keep our eyes on Christ. Then, we will worship out of love of God and desire to give him his proper due, which is right and just. Intentional operation outside of the rubric comes from a spirit of rebellion and is not of God. Intentional operation in legalism is actually a spirit of control over others, and is not of God. Both of those spirits seek division. God unites, and when our interior understands this, we are better able to love others the way that God loves us. Everything a movement from our union with Christ at Mass into a union of the Body of Christ in the outside world.

The Veil is Torn

When the veil was torn in two when Jesus died, it not only opened heaven for us, but it also gave us the ability to see with spiritual eyes. The death and resurrection of Christ didn’t just raise the dead to heaven, it brought and brings heaven on earth when we embrace it. It enables us to see what God sees, and to love like he does. Unite yourself to Christ at Mass, receive what He wants to give you, and it will be you who is transformed from the inside out. You will become a light in the darkness and be a conduit of change in others.

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14 thoughts on “Behind the Torn Veil – The Liturgy”

  1. S.S….There is no reply button to respond to you, so I have to start another box. Your comment that, “He even changes the greek verb to “gnaw” when people start murmuring” is worthless. In face, every RC apologetic is worthless.
    I simply ask, why would a switch in terminology demand we conclude a literal understanding rather than a metaphorical one? Apparently, you think the word “chew” cannot be the language of metaphor because it is far more graphic or vivid than the more mundane “to eat.” The truth is, there is nothing intrinsically literal about the word “chew” that would lead us into the territory that we should actually eat the physically anatomy of the Lord Jesus Christ and thus, your hypothesis is unwarranted. Catholics need to swallow their pride, and not the Eucharist, because…
    A. “Esthio” is used in all of the Last Supper passages (“take and eat”, not chew or gnaw.) Oh by the way, no Catholic really “gnaws” anyway. They let it melt on the roof of their mouth or swallow it in one gulp!
    B. By the time of John’s gospel, the Greek word for “chew” (trogo) had become synonymous with the ordinary word for “eat” (esthio). Originally, “trogo” was used of animals and conveyed chewing, or mastication. But over time, the word had gradually begun to replace the more common “to eat” (esthio). According to the Theological Dictionary of the New Testament, “John…seems to follow a usage, which generally replaces “esthio” with “trogo”. (Leonhard Goppelt, Gerhard Friedrich, editor, Vol. 8, p. 236-237).
    C. Jesus was certainly using stylistic variance here. Observe in John 21:15-17 that Jesus asks Peter three times, “Do you love me?” In the first two questions, he uses the Greek word “agapeo” for love. In the last question, he switches to “phileo”. Greek scholars have long noted that there is no essential difference between the terms and are used interchangeably. In the very same passage, Jesus also varies his metaphors. “Tend my sheep” is used twice. “Feed my lambs” is used once. Why the switch? Once again, the simple solution is probably the best solution. Both metaphors use pastoral imagery to make the same theological point; namely, that Peter is given a pastoral responsibility for the flock. Therefore, the difference between tending sheep and feeding lambs is nothing more than a stylistic variance, rather than what the Roman church would have us believe with regard to “trogo”, namely, a theological variance. When all is said and done, the variance between “to eat” and “to chew” does not in any way imply that the object of our chewing is the literal flesh and blood of Jesus Christ!

    1. If he meant it metaphorically they wouldn’t have walked away. They walked away because he meant what he said. He did not stop them, which, if he meant it metaphorically he would have. He is the New Covenant. The Lamb. They ate the lamb. And we still do.

  2. In response to S.S. asking, “Who assembled the New Testament that you read?”, it is the typical RC come-back to change topics when they have nothing to offer to the opposite point of view. If I’ve been through it once, I’ve been through it 500 times. Some things never change. Oh…and that would include the changing of the bread and wine into Christ’s body and blood! That never changes either.
    So unless and until you deal with even one sentence I wrote, I certainly will not waste 2 seconds answering your question (which I assume you think presents some sort of problem for Protestants), but it certainly does not.

    1. John chapter 6, Jesus proclaims, unless you eat of his body and drink of his blood you won’t have everlasting life. He says it 4 times. He even changes the greek verb to “gnaw” when people start murmuring. It’s John 6:66 where they walk away from His proclamation of eating his body and drinking his blood and they go back to the former way of living. And I don’t find it coincidence that 666 is the mark of walking away from the Eucharist. Jesus meant what he said.

    2. Ms. Skinner says…
      “If he meant it metaphorically they wouldn’t have walked away. They walked away because he meant what he said. He did not stop them, which, if he meant it metaphorically he would have. He is the New Covenant. The Lamb. They ate the lamb. And we still do.”

      ANSWER: NO! You are 100% wrong. Every Catholic objection in fact, is 100% wrong, unbiblical and unsustainable. The fact that Jesus did not stop them from leaving is no proof for your position my dear. He was never under ANY compulsion to make himself crystal clear to everyone, but in fact, has ordained many to remain CLUELESS for his own good reasons (Matt 11:25-6; 13:35; Mk 4:11-12, Luke 8:10, 10:22; John 6:44, 9:37-39, 12:40, 17:6; Rms 11:7-8; 1 Pet 2:8).
      Second, just because they took him literally, does NOT mean they understood him CORRECTLY.
      Third, Catholics like to establish a connection between eating the passover lamb in the Old Testament and eating the Lamb of God in the New Testament. There is indeed an “eating” connection, but they are wrong to think we ought to eat the physical anatomy of the Lord Jesus Christ in the same manner as they ate the physical anatomy of the passover lamb. Why? Because while there were no restrictions on eating the passover sacrifice, there ***were*** restrictions on eating a sin offering. ALERT: Jesus was a sin offering, but the passover sacrifice was not a sin offering!). No one ever told you that before, did they? Only the priests were allowed to eat the sin offering, but for everyone else, “No sin offering shall be eaten” (Leviticus 6:30). The point is, since Jesus was indeed classified as a sin offering according to Isaiah 53:10, it would simply not be appropriate to actually eat his physical body parts in accordance with biblical protocol, and therefore the only option left is to eat the sin offering… metaphorically!
      If you are in the least bit interested in how you go about eating the sin offering metaphorically, I will again invite you request our essay that meticulously deals with every Catholic argument for and against the Catholic Eucharist (eucharistangel@icloud.com). It has been sent out so far to over 7500, and not one…again…NOT ONE, has been able to form one sentence against it. And that is because the arguments are irrefutable and unstoppable, precisely as I have just told you regarding eating the lamb. YOU MUST NOT EAT A SIN OFFERING. Those are God’s words and may come as a shock to the system because no one ever told you, but now that you know, you ought to be able to lay aside former beliefs and turn to his truth instead….or face that truth on Judgment Day whether you like it or not.

    3. Max, I don’t actually know what you’re trying to accomplish here. Attacking the Eucharist is attacking Christ himself. You are free not to believe, just as the people who walked away. But as for me, I will take 2000+ years of Catholic teaching and Apostolic Succession over the self proclaimed teachings of the church of “Max”, no disrespect meant to you personally. I find it odd that you come to a Catholic site to attack Catholic belief. – Peace be with you. I will leave you with a quote from the early church Father Ignatius, who was writing before the New Testament was even assembled.

      “Consider how contrary to the mind of God are the heterodox in regard to the grace of God which has come to us. They have no regard for charity, none for the widow, the orphan, the oppressed, none for the man in prison, the hungry or the thirsty. They abstain from the Eucharist and from prayer, because they do not admit that the Eucharist is the flesh of our Savior Jesus Christ, the flesh which suffered for our sins and which the Father, in His graciousness, raised from the dead.” – Saint Ignatius of Antioch 80 A.D.-Letter to the Smyrnaeans

  3. From a Protestant (and biblical!) perspective, this article was atrocious.
    What you omit to say is that when the veil in the temple was suddenly torn from top to bottom, it symbolized that mankind could now “come boldly” into his “real presence” (Heb 4:16) not by swallowing the Eucharist, but by faith in the unspeakable merits found in the “face of Jesus Christ” (2 Cor 4:6). The fake idea that there is some sort of liturgy behind the meaning of the torn veil, as your title suggests, is beyond ridiculous. There is now no more need for a mediating, sacerdotal priesthood, which of course, ELIMINATES any need for a liturgy. In fact, there is no discourse, no word, no syllable, nor even a whisper that the ministers of the New Testament should engage in a theatrical, liturgical, re-presentation of the cross wherein the invisible metamorphosis of bread and wine take center stage. The papal kingdom has put together an elaborate, one-act play where the histrionics of the priest are supposed to captivate his audience. Various gestures, motions and actions over the bread and wine are employed, such as genuflecting, bowing, stretching out hands, drawing the arms back, turning around, speaking loudly, speaking softly, looking up high, then hanging the head forward, moving to the right, moving to the left, pointing with the finger, breathing on the bread and the cup, elevating them, putting them down, breaking the bread, putting it in the cup, smiting the breast with the fist, sighing, closing his eyes, kissing the altar and on it goes. It is sheer madness.
    The catechism states: “Christian liturgy not only recalls the events that saved us, but actualizes them; makes them present ” (CCC 1104, 1362-1364,) or “re-presents” them (1366-68) so that they do not, “remain confined to the past, since all that Christ did participates in the divine eternity and so transcends all times” (Ecclesia de Eucharistia, 11-13). NO! Your statement that confirms these sentences is also pure nonsense. You say, “The Anamnesis prayer reaches back in time to bring us the Sacrifice of Christ.” Again, NO WAY. The Bible does not even remotely suggest that it’s possible to jet-propel a past event into the future to once again be “re-presented” in modern day society.
    I agree that, “since an act, once completed, has no more objective existence except in the memory of a conscious being”, I do NOT agree that, “subsequent acts that commemorate the past act, specifically those acts that are the exact replica of the original act (such as the Mass is to the cross) serve to provide the original act with a continuing objective existence” (Not By Bread Alone, by RC apologist Robert Sungenis, p. 127). NO! There is absolutely and positively no such thing as an “exact replica” of a past event! Now stop it. Past events can no more be “re-presented” than yesterday’s news! Past events cannot be set free from the chains of antiquity and have a continuing objective existence in the form of bread and wine! Past events that now take place in the future is pure science fiction! Past events…“made present again” (CCC 1566) is an insult to the intelligence and an insult to the Bible, for any single space/time event can happen only once: “To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven” (Ecclesiastes 3). Face it: in Christian Communion, the MEANING of the event is made present once again, not the event itself! That being so, the rational mindset must conclude the space-time event at Calvary was one in number, one in time and one in nature ((Heb 7:27, 9:12, 9:28, 10:10-12, 10:14, 10:18; cf. 1 Peter 3:18). The catechism pushes the bounds of credulity to the limits by adding that even the entire life work of Christ, including his resurrection is “made present” in the liturgy! (CCC 1409). Since when did Jesus ever teach his entire life from cradle to the grave and beyond would be made present in the Eucharist? Answer: No where. It is a dire contradiction for Catholicism to teach on the one hand that the Eucharist contains ONLY the body and blood of Christ, and on the other hand, that all the events of his life, death and resurrection are included also. If the first is true, then technically, there would simply be no room for the second, even if it were possible to fit these events into bread and wine.
    For 25 reasons why Transubstantiation is unsubstantiated, you may request it at
    eucharistangel@icloud.com

    1. Peter J. Markavage

      Susan – God assembled the NT through the Jews; later, Christians began to accept the self authenticating nature of the Canon. The council of Hippo was inevitable, but simply verified what God’s people were already saying about such Canon.

      While I’m not Catholic, if you want to claim that that Catholic church put the NT together – your fight is with Martin Luther and his followers who say they are the reformed Catholic Church in the West and that modern day Roman Catholicism looks nothing like the first few centuries of church history. Whether that is true is debatable.

      But I do not believe any church or denomination gave us the Bible.

  4. Thank you Susan, so much to unpack and ponder here. For me, (hopefully), its not just legalism, but I experience such sorrow when my brothers and sisters or the priest are not being reverent to the Lord present in our mist. I have learned to keep my eyes closed, and keep my focus on my own worship. But it is difficult, unless I’m able to attend a TLM.

    Beautiful piece Susan. Thank you and God bless.

  5. At Sunday Mass in my parish, the name of a hymn is announced at the offertory, to be sung while “the Lord’s table is being prepared”. In accord with the theme of your article, it would help us to recognize the Mass as the sacrifice it is, if it were said, “while the altar of sacrifice is being prepared”.

    1. S.S….There is no reply button to respond to you (on 7/29) so I have to start another box. Your comment that, “He even changes the greek verb to “gnaw” when people start murmuring” is worthless. In face, every RC apologetic is worthless.
      I simply ask, why would a switch in terminology demand we conclude a literal understanding rather than a metaphorical one? Apparently, you think the word “chew” cannot be the language of metaphor because it is far more graphic or vivid than the more mundane “to eat.” The truth is, there is nothing intrinsically literal about the word “chew” that would lead us into the territory that we should actually eat the physically anatomy of the Lord Jesus Christ and thus, your hypothesis is unwarranted. Catholics need to swallow their pride, and not the Eucharist, because…
      A. “Esthio” is used in all of the Last Supper passages (“take and eat”, not chew or gnaw.) Oh by the way, no Catholic really “gnaws” anyway. They let it melt on the roof of their mouth or swallow it in one gulp!
      B. By the time of John’s gospel, the Greek word for “chew” (trogo) had become synonymous with the ordinary word for “eat” (esthio). Originally, “trogo” was used of animals and conveyed chewing, or mastication. But over time, the word had gradually begun to replace the more common “to eat” (esthio). According to the Theological Dictionary of the New Testament, “John…seems to follow a usage, which generally replaces “esthio” with “trogo”. (Leonhard Goppelt, Gerhard Friedrich, editor, Vol. 8, p. 236-237).
      C. Jesus was certainly using stylistic variance here. Observe in John 21:15-17 that Jesus asks Peter three times, “Do you love me?” In the first two questions, he uses the Greek word “agapeo” for love. In the last question, he switches to “phileo”. Greek scholars have long noted that there is no essential difference between the terms and are used interchangeably. In the very same passage, Jesus also varies his metaphors. “Tend my sheep” is used twice. “Feed my lambs” is used once. Why the switch? Once again, the simple solution is probably the best solution. Both metaphors use pastoral imagery to make the same theological point; namely, that Peter is given a pastoral responsibility for the flock. Therefore, the difference between tending sheep and feeding lambs is nothing more than a stylistic variance, rather than what the Roman church would have us believe with regard to “trogo”, namely, a theological variance. When all is said and done, the variance between “to eat” and “to chew” does not in any way imply that the object of our chewing is the literal flesh and blood of Jesus Christ!

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