Response to Martignoni’s “Biblical Evidence” for the Catholic Mass (Part 1)

Catholic apologist, John Martignoni, in his latest newsletter asks his readers (of which I am one) to respond to an email he received from a non-Catholic. The email Mr. Martignoni received was rather brusque and only offered someone else’s article as a response to his earlier newsletter. Martignoni’s objection to his challenger’s email was that it did not address the Scripture references he cited in his previous newsletter on the sacrifice of the mass. So my response will be to address those references in this and forthcoming blog posts.

The Scripture references Mr. Martignoni cited are: Malachi 1:11, 1 Cor 10:16-18 and various passages in Hebrews. This post will answer to Mr. Martignoni’s assertions regarding Malachi’s prophecy. The newsletter to which I am responding can be read at

Malachi 1:11 reads,

“For from the rising of the sun to its setting my name is great among the nations, and in every place incense is offered to my name, and a pure offering; for my name is great among the nations, says the Lord of hosts.”

In his attempt to make this passage a prophecy of the Catholic mass, Mr. Martignoni asks, “How many churches do you know of that offer incense at any of their worship services?

Answer: not many.

Question in response: How many churches in the Ante-Nicene period offered incense in their services?

Answer: none.

Why? Because the early church understood, as do most churches today, that the burning of incense is a metaphor for the offering of prayers. This is clearly seen in Psalm 141:2:

“Let my prayer be set before You as incense, the lifting up of my hands as the evening sacrifice.” (Psa. 141:2)

This one verse blows Mr. Martignoni’s entire argument out of the water. Not only do we find incense being a metaphor for prayer, we also find sacrifice to be synonymous with prayer. Mr. Martignoni, however, sees Malachi’s “pure offering” as something entirely different.

“This verse from Malachi is telling us that from the rising of the sun to its setting (all day long) some sort of worship service will be taking place among the nations (the Gentiles) in which they offer incense and the only pure offering that has ever been made – Jesus Christ.” (Martignoni)

If that were true why would the author of Hebrews say this:

“Therefore by Him let us continually offer the sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of our lips, giving thanks to His name.” (Heb. 13:15)

This could not be more relevant to Malachi’s prophecy, so why did Mr. Martignoni not mention it? Well, the answer is obvious, because it is in complete disagreement with his exegesis.

The early church also understood Malachi’s prophecy as offering prayers of thanksgiving. The second century apologist, Justin Martyr, stated the following to Trypho the Jew with regards to Malachi’s prophecy.

“Now, that prayers and giving of thanks, when offered by worthy men, are the only perfect and well-pleasing sacrifices to God, I also admit. For such alone Christians have undertaken to offer, and in the remembrance effected by their solid and liquid food, whereby the suffering of the Son of God which He endured is brought to mind…” (Dialog with Trypho 117)

The solid and liquid food is, of course, the bread and wine of the Eucharist. And what is the Eucharist? The Eucharist is exactly as Justin describes it; it is the offering of thanks in remembrance of Christ’s holy sacrifice and our participation in it. This is summed up well in Justin’s description of a typical Christian gathering in the second century.

“On the day called Sunday, all who live in cities or in the country gather together to one place, and the memoirs of the apostles or the writings of the prophets are read, as long as time permits; then, when the reader has ceased, the president [Bishop] verbally instructs, and exhorts to the imitation of these good things. Then we all rise together and pray, and, as we before said, when our prayer is ended, bread and wine and water are brought, and the president in like manner offers prayers and thanksgivings, according to his ability, and the people assent, saying Amen; and there is a distribution to each, and a participation of that over which thanks have been given, and to those who are absent a portion is sent by the deacons.” (First Apology, 67)

This description solidifies the fact that the early church considered the sacrifice to be the giving of thanks over the elements that represent Christ’s atoning sacrifice at Calvary, and participation in that sacrifice by partaking of those elements. As Justin said, “prayers and giving of thanks, when offered by worthy men, are the only perfect and well-pleasing sacrifices to God.

About the only thing John Martignoni might accomplishing with his newsletter is setting his readers up to be embarrassed when they attempt to apply his arguments in their own discussions with non-Catholics. But then again, maybe it will provide opportunity for them to learn things Catholic apologists will never reveal.

28 Responses to Response to Martignoni’s “Biblical Evidence” for the Catholic Mass (Part 1)

  1. Mary Freeman says:

    Wouldn’t it be a terrible burden if we had to constantly burn inscence everytime we prayed? The inscence that Jesus smells is the loving attitude of our hearts towards Him and our neighbors.

  2. Bryan says:

    Brian – The Eucharist is exactly what Jesus said it is. “This is the bread of life which comes down from heaven, that a man may eat of it and not die. I am the living bread which came down from heaven: if anyone eats of this bread, he will live forever; and the bread which I shall give for the life of the world is my flesh”

    Last night I started to type out a detailed explanation of my reasons why I believe that the Eucharist is what the Catholic Church teaches but realized that trying to explain something which requires such a deep theological discussion in blog postings is challenging. So let’s start a different way.
    I have been in the computer industry for 20+ years and when two disparate systems share data there is usually some type of “handshake” in the protocol so that both systems are in sync as far as to how they will share data. In the days of dial-up modems that handshake was an audible process.
    So here is my initial data packet for our communication handshake on how you and I will share and exchange Biblical interpretation:

    #1-Typology or prefigurement – can we agree that Old Testament message can be used to interpret New Testament messages? Yes or No

    #2 – Covenantal Development – can we agree that God uses covenants throughout salvation history and they can be used to interpret the New & Everlasting covenant that Jesus created? Yes or No

    #3 – Understanding Early Church Fathers – can we agree that reading what 1st and 2nd century followers wrote is helpful in understanding what the Apostles taught? Yes or No

    #4 – Jesus is a “game changer” – We can look at typology and covenants for help in understanding but they are “linear” compared to Jesus. Jesus is the Word made flesh, he is God made man. He entered time and space so that we might know him in a physical way and he changed the physical world. Here is an example of what I mean. How could a rabbi, a Pharisee, a persecutor of Christians such as St Paul, who would have seen the Book of Leviticus as an absolutely and total prohibition of touching or drinking of animal blood, let alone human blood, but yet within the first years of Christianity he wrote to the Corinthians (1 Cor 10:16) “the cup of blessing which we bless, is it not a participation in the blood of Christ? The bread which we break, is it not a participation in the body of Christ?” It is hard for us to understand 2000 years later what a monumental shift in understanding was required in Paul to say what he said. Can we acknowledge that Salvation history is both Linear and Non-Linear for the purposes of discussion? Yes or No

    I’ll await your return packet.

    Your brother in Christ


  3. Thank you for answering my question. Your questions on the other hand seem to be designed as the basis for a pre-planned argument. I would rather let the discussion develop naturally if you don’t mind.

    You are telling me that John 6:51 is exactly what the Eucharist is, but for me to understand what you mean I need to know how you interpret that verse. I’ll tell you how I interpret it then you can do the same for me.

    “This is the bread of life which comes down from heaven, that a man may eat of it and not die. I am the living bread which came down from heaven: if anyone eats of this bread, he will live forever; and the bread which I shall give for the life of the world is my flesh” (Jhn 6:51)

    Near the beginning of the discourse Jesus told the Jews, “I am the bread of life: he that comes to me shall not hunger, and he that believes on me shall never thirst.” This is similar to what He told the woman at the well: “Whosoever drinks of the water I shall give him will never thirst.” We know from the context that the water He spoke of is the Holy Spirit. But we cannot physically drink the Holy Spirit and Jesus never meant that we should. What He meant was that if we believe in Him we will receive the Holy Spirit through faith.

    It is exactly the same in John six. The bread of life came down from heaven, that is, He became man and dwelt among us. And when He said the bread He shall give for the life of the world is His flesh, He meant that He would give it sacrificially for the sins of mankind. This is exactly what He told Nicodemus; “And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, so must the Son of man be lifted up; that every one that believes in him may have life eternal.”

    That’s my interpretation of John 6:51. My definition of Eucharist is very simple; it is the gathering of believers in the Name of Christ to offer praise and thanksgiving (eucharist) as a memorial for Christ’s sacrifice and resurrection.

    I see from your discussion with Mike that you have some major time constraints. Take all the time you need to get back to me.

  4. Bryan says:

    I see you responded to my email. I have an important project that has been several months in the making. I won’t be able to really dig into your response until mid week. I don’t want you to think I am not interested in dialoging with you because that is not the case.

    Will be back in touch. Take care

    your brother in Christ,


  5. Mary Freeman says:

    To Brian Culliton A M E N !!!!

  6. Bryan says:

    Brian – I am kind of flattered that you thought my response was a pre-planned argument. I assure you it wasn’t. I just found this blog last week and I have never engaged in this type of debate before. Not enough of us Catholics do. I am trying to make up for that in my own way. I commend all of the other Catholics and Protestants that participate on this forum with a sense of sharing God’s word with our brothers & sisters in Christ.

    That being said I do find it interesting that many participants want to really focus on individual verses instead of looking at deeper concepts. Can we back up and ask you one question. Do you yourself use strategies like typology, covenants and early church writers as ways of forming a deep understanding of scripture? Or is your interpretation of individual scripture verses, in and of themselves your only focus?

    In your response above you mention John 6:51 and you also are comparing it to John 4:7. So it appears to that you like to use one individual passage to unlock another but yet you, and other commenters on this blog don’t want to acknowledge when I do that same thing using typology. Typology is the exact same thing but maybe on a larger scale. Same thing with covenants.

    That might sound like a weird question to you. But it is very insightful to me.

    I never understood the apparent conflict for some Christians in regards to Faith & Reason but I understand it now. If anyone is interested in this discussion of Faith & Reason or Grace & Nature you should check out this conversion story of Dr. Peter Kreeft on YouTube. Dr. Kreeft was a Calvinist/Presbyterian that graduated from Calvin College and Yale University. He is a professor at Kings College in New York and Boston College in Boston.

  7. Bryan,

    When you to ask a long series of “yes or no” questions it tells me you are employing a learned debating strategy. It doesn’t matter if you are new to this; you learned this strategy somewhere because it is not a natural mode of discussion.

    In one short comment to Mary you fired off a series of eight questions, one of which you asked for detail. Mary responded by giving you the distinction between the manna and the true Bread, Jesus Christ. You completely ignored her response and instead confronted her with why she didn’t answer your questions, and then you fired off three more. But worst of all was at the end when you concluded that since she didn’t answer all your questions that perhaps she is not searching for truth or trying to understand the Eucharist. I take issue with that sort of tactic.

    I stepped in because I want to find out what you really know. I am not going to answer a barrage of questions; I’ll take a few at a time and in return ask some of my own. I have no problem with typology; I’ve discussed types and antitypes many times. We can go wherever you like; Old Testament, New Testament, early church writings, etc. I don’t care.

    We left off with me giving you my interpretation of the verse you pointed to as your answer to explaining the Eucharist. I asked in return that you give me your interpretation of the same verse. Once you do that you can go into whatever you want to so long as you stay on topic and refrain from bombarding me with questions. Fair enough?


  8. Jim says:


    “The early church also understood Malachi’s prophecy as offering prayers of thanksgiving.”

    I cannot agree. The early Church offered Mass for the dead. That means it was to release them from sin. It was a sacrifice of propitiation.
    By the way, I noticed that never in your article did you use this style of “argumentation”

    “evin said on your blog,
    “im said ” people getting together in the bible for a bible study.” The upper room wss more like a bible study that it was what the French poet dabenies called the grand oprra of the poor ( mass) . There was no ringing of the bell and hocus pocus priescraft making the doe god on an altar. No adoring chapels with Jesus wafer being worshiped in a little prison and a giant statue of His mother looking down at Him.”

    Do you condone this type of speech on your blog? How about the “N word” at blacks or “Kike” at Jewish bloggers?

    If you were once a Catholic or your family still is, you know this is pure hate speech and not apologetics in any form.

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