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Monday, April 18, 2011

Was the need for a priest abolished when the veil in the Temple was torn in two?

“Love the Lord with all your heart, and with all your soul,
and with all your MIND”--Matt 22:37

Question: Was the need for a priest abolished when the veil in the Temple was torn in two?

And behold, the veil of the sanctuary was torn in two from top to bottom. The earth quaked, rocks were split--Matt 27:51

Many Protestants understand the above verse to indicate that, prior to Christ's death, one needed priests as mediators between God and man.  Because of Christ's atoning death on the Cross, we no longer have a barrier (or veil) between us and God.  Thus, no priest is necessary.  An ex-Catholic explains his position here:  He writes: "Jesus has given me access to the Father (Eph. 2:18). This was powerfully demonstrated at the atoning death of Christ when the veil that partitioned the holy of holies was torn open from top to bottom.  Those who trust the redeeming work of Christ can exchange their ritualistic religion for an intimate relationship with almighty God.

The above quotation, in particular the bolded section, rankles.  I don't like it when someone insults my Mama (that, is, the Holy Mother Church)!  Especially someone who used to be part of the Family.  Sadly, the above quotation demonstrates the poor catechesis this ex-Catholic received during his years as a Catholic.  For what could be more intimate a relationship than having a One Flesh Union in the Eucharist—where the two become One? 

The Catholic understand of the above verse in Matthew is that the tearing of the veil in the Temple at the death of Christ was symbolic of the fulfillment of the Old Covenant Temple sacrifices (sacrifices of animal blood made by the Jewish priests to present atonement for their sins); it did not eliminate the New Covenant priesthood.  In fact, the priesthood is cited in the New Testament in numerous places.  The word "priest" is derived from the Greek word presbyteros, or "presbyters" (also translated "elders"), which is found in the NT.  "The ministry of Catholic priests is that of the presbyters mentioned in the New Testament (Acts 15:6, 23). The Bible says little about the duties of presbyters, but it does reveal they functioned in a priestly capacity." source

"In the New Covenant, we still have, and need, a high priest. Jesus, eternally alive, is our high priest in the true Holy of Holies. (Heb 4:14; 5:5) Because He is eternally alive, serving in that role, it is never necessary for a successor to be chosen (as there was under the Old Covenant when the High Priest died).
Those who formerly became priests took their office without an oath, but this one was addressed with an oath, "The Lord has sworn and will not change his mind, Thou art a priest for ever.' This makes Jesus the surety of a better covenant. The former priests were many in number, because they were prevented by death from continuing in office; but he holds his priesthood permanently, because he continues for ever. Consequently he is able for all time to save those who draw near to God through him, since he always lives to make intercession for them. For it was fitting that we should have such a high priest, holy, blameless, unstained, separated from sinners, exalted above the heavens. –Hebrews 7:21-26
In the New Covenant, we still have and need priests to make present for us on earth, the true sacrifice offered to God by Jesus on our behalf. But it is not a priesthood restricted to the particular Jewish tribe of Levi, or even restricted to Jews. It is the priesthood Isaiah foretold:
..and I am coming to gather all nations and tongues; ... And some of them also I will take for priests and for Levites, says the LORD." –Isaiah 66:18-21 source.
(Note:  The Holy of Holies refers to the inner sanctuary of the Tabernacle and later the Temple in Jerusalem where the Ark of the Covenant was kept, and which can be entered only by the High Priest on Yom KippurThe Ark of the Covenant contained the Ten Commandments given by God to Moses and the Israelites. source.)

The priesthood is necessary because the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass is necessary.  No priests, no Mass.
And the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass is necessary because the Eucharist is necessary.  No Mass, no Eucharist. 
And the Eucharist is necessary because the Church is necessary.  No Eucharist, no Church.
Priest...Mass...Eucharist....Church--they're all tied together intimately and profoundly.  Without one we cannot have the other.

For more in-depth study visit these websites:

"Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect" - 1 Peter 3:15


  1. Hebrews 7: 22 by so much more Jesus has become a surety of a better covenant.
    23 Also there were many priests, because they were prevented by death from continuing. 24 But HE, because He continues forever, has an unchangeable priesthood. 25 Therefore He is also able to save to the uttermost those who come to God through HIM, since HE always lives to make intercession for them.
    26 For such a High Priest was fitting for us, who is holy, harmless, undefiled, separate from sinners, and has become higher than the heavens; 27 who does NOT need daily, as THOSE high priests, to offer up sacrifices, first for His own sins and then for the people’s, for this He did ONCE,(once, once) FOR ALL(all, all) when HE OFFERED UP HIMSELF. 28 For the LAW APPOINTS as high priests MEN who have weakness, but the WORD of the oath, which came after the law, appoints THE SON who has been perfected forever. (ONE TIME FOR ALL) (IT IS FINISHED! FINISHED!)

  2. Thanks for your comment, Terry.

    And Catholics give a hearty Amen! to the words of the inspired writer in Hebrews.

    It is, indeed, FINISHED! Alleluia!

    Not sure where you think the Mass contradicts this. We proclaim that our redemption by the atoning death of Christ occurred ONE TIME for all.

  3. Amen! Terry if you disagree, show us where the New Testament disbands priests. Or show us why we don't need them to do the earthly work of Christ of forgiving sins in his name like the gospel shows Jesus appointing the apostles to do so. Show us in the bible where Jesus says to follow the bible alone because the Church he is establishing will fall into the errorous death of sin.

  4. Howdy! Thhis is my first comment here so I just wanted too give a quick shout out and tell you
    I really enjoy reading through youur posts.
    Can you suggest anyy other blogs/websites/forums that cover the same
    topics? Thanks a lot!

    1. Thanks for your comments. Here's some other websites for apologetics: