HISTORY OF THE MASS

 

Bishop Brian J. Kennedy, O.S.B.

HOLY TRINITY CELTIC ORTHODOX CHURCH

http://www.celticorthodoxchurch.com

 

 

The term “the Mass” was used for the first time in around the 16th Century.    The term Mass comes from the end of the Mass just before the Last Gospel when the Priest would turn to the people and say “Ite Missa Est” meaning it is sent.  Whenever the ancient Romans had any kind of official meeting or Court Case it would always end with “Ite Missa Est”.  Jesus may have said the same thing at the end of the Seder Supper of the first  born.  The Last Supper was most properly the Seder of the first born more than a special Passover supper. The Last Supper was in the upper room before the Feast of Passover. There were several suppers termed “Seder”. 

 

The first name given to what today we call the Mass was the “Rite of Tribute”.  They placed oil and salt on the grain or cereal offering the same as we do on the bread at Mass today.  What today we call the Offertory was originally called the “Minchah” which means gift or Tribute.  It was also known as the “Todah” which means thanksgiving.  Eventually the word Todah meaning thanksgiving was replaced with Eucharist from the Greek also means thanksgiving.

 

When Jesus calls down the Holy Spirit on the bread and wine and takes bread and takes a piece for Himself first, calling it His own memorial it was obvious to the Apostles Jesus was equating himself with YAHWEH in the ritual system.  YAHWEH got the first part of the Tribute bread.   When Jesus calls down the Holy Spirit on the bread and wine and takes bread and takes a piece for Himself first, calling it His own memorial, it appears that Jesus is taking to Himself the very position that the Lord YAHWEH had occupied in the ritual system.

 

The memorial was made to Yahweh, and Yahweh got the first part of the Tribute bread.  Now Jesus is saying that the memorial is about Him, and He takes the first piece of bread for Himself. Then, having reminded these Jews of the daily Tribute rite, Jesus gives them pieces of the bread. They had never eaten Tribute bread because none of them were Aaronic priests. Now Jesus is treating them as priests, a new priesthood with Him as the Lord. 

 

Today the Priest offering the Liturgy of the Mass first takes of the bread Himself after it has been consecrated and this bread, unleavened,  and blessed with the oil and the salt becomes the “Tribute Bread” of the New Testament and Apostolic Church. Before the bread is consecrated today the Priest blesses the bread with oil and salt as a reminder of the covenant and prays “Veni sanctificator etc which is translated “Come thou the sanctifier almighty and everlasting God and bless this sacrifice which is prepared for the glory of your holy name.”  During this prayer the oil and salt are placed on the bread with a sign of the Cross as was done in the Apostolic church.  Jesus takes a cup of wine, and having given thanks, He gives it to the disciples and says, “Drink of this, all of you for this is the covenant of my blood, the New and Eternal Covenant which will be shed for you and for the many. Do this, whenever you do it, in memory of me.”  Jesus clearly was reinstituting the Tribute rite in a new way, and the disciples would have recognized this immediately.  When Jesus says that the wine is now to be drunk, and that it is a memorial, He is telling the disciples that the end of the ages has come. The kingdom has come. The rite that He leaves with them for us continues in an un-bloody manner the fullness of the beginning with alpha bread, and then memorializes the fullness of the completion with the omega wine.  Bread was called Alpha food and wine Omega food.