Saturday, October 25, 2014

Luther: Take Away the Mass, Destroy the Church

Here's an obscure Luther quote used particularly by those upset by the changes in the Mass (Pope Paul VI's Novus Ordo Missae, 1969): "Take away the Mass, destroy the Church." This quote is found on numerous web pages often in this particular context:

The Destruction of Catholic Worship is the Destruction of the Catholic Faith
The Church has always set forth the firm and clear principle that: "The way we worship is the way we believe." The doctrinal truths of the Faith are embodied in the worship we offer to God. In other words, it is the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass that teaches us our theology and not the reverse. The True Mass comprises the Apostolic Tradition of faith and morals in its very essence. Every doctrine essential to the Faith is taught therein. Pope Leo XIII points out in Apostolicae Curae that the Church's enemies have always understood this principle as "They knew only too well the intimate bond that unites faith with worship, the law of belief with the law of prayer, and so, under the pretext of restoring the order of the liturgy to its primitive form, they corrupted it in many respects to adapt it to the errors of the Innovators." It is no wonder, then, that Luther coined the slogan: "Take away the Mass, destroy the Church." (source)

It is also found in this dire context:

The Apocalypse is the mysterious process of the quiet infiltration and rewriting of the Catholic religion by Jewish Masonic priests, bishops, cardinals and antipopes over a 2000 year period. By rewriting the Liturgy of the Mass which causes the abomination of desolation and by rewriting the names or form used in the Seven Catholic Sacraments, causing just about all to receive the mark of the beast, Freemasonry neutralizes its competition for control of the world, causing a phenomenon known as the New World Order (Novus Ordo Saeculorum). "Take away the Mass, destroy the Church." - Jewish Freemason Martin Luther (source)

It can be found in a Latinized form:

Martin Luther's slogan was : "Tolle missam, tolle Ecclesiam." Destroy the Mass and you destroy the Church. This is very true from the point of view of the invisible, mystical reality. It is this mystical, invisible, reality that is essential for salvation. True, the visible reality of the Mystical is necessary during our present existence in time and space. And because we are still in this body of flesh and in this existence of time and place, the ordinary process of salvation takes place in our present mode of existence. (source)

In one of his works against the Church established by CHRIST he fearing neither God nor man declared: "Tolle Missam, tolle Ecclesiam" which means 'destroy the Mass and destroy the Church. Continuing in his assault against the Catholic Church, in which he was once an ex-monk, he declared: "When the Mass has been overthrown, I think we will have overthrown the Papacy. I think it is in the Mass, as on a rock, that the papacy wholly rests ... Everything will of necessity collapse when their sacrilegious abominable Mass collapses. (source)

It can also be found attributed to Cardinal Newman:

If John Cardinal NEWMAN was right in saying, "Tolle Missam, tolle Ecclesiam, - Do away with the Mass, and you do away with the Church,' we too are right in symmetrically concluding, 'Bring the true Mass back, and watch the true Church equally return to its own pristine holiness and glory." - Father Gommar A. DE PAUW, in New York, when asked for comment on the preceding statement. - Sept. 5, 1999 (source)

In my cursory search, I did not find any specific documentation for this alleged saying of Luther's.  It appears to me that Luther probably did not say, "Take away the Mass, destroy the Church." Rather, he held something like Take away the mass and destroy the papacy.

Possible Contexts
On a hunch I recalled Luther's famous "Eight Sermons at Wittenberg" (Invocavit Sermons, 1522) in which Luther came out of hiding and returned to preach at Wittenberg when he heard about the radical changes occurring. Notice Luther seeks to abolish the mass, but in an orderly fashion:

In his sermon of March 9, 1522 Luther stated:
Therefore all those have erred who have helped and consented to abolish the mass; not that it was not a good thing, but that it was not done in an orderly way. You say it was right according to the Scriptures. I agree, but what becomes of order? For it was done in wantonness, with no regard for proper order and with offense to your neighbor. If, beforehand, you had called upon God in earnest prayer, and had obtained the aid of the authorities, one could be certain that it had come from God. I, too, would have taken steps toward the same end if it had been a good thing to do; and if the mass were not so evil a thing, I would introduce it again. [Luther, M. (1999). Luther’s works, vol. 51: Sermons I. (J. J. Pelikan, H. C. Oswald, and H. T. Lehmann, Eds.) (Vol. 51, p. 73). Philadelphia: Fortress Press].

In his sermon of March 10, 1522 Luther stated:
Thus the mass is an evil thing, and God is displeased with it, because it is performed as if it were a sacrifice and work of merit. Therefore it must be abolished. Here there can be no question or doubt, any more than you should ask whether you should worship God. Here we are entirely agreed: the private masses must be abolished. As I have said in my writings, I wish they would be abolished everywhere and only the ordinary evangelical mass be retained. [Luther, M. (1999). Luther’s works, vol. 51: Sermons I. (J. J. Pelikan, H. C. Oswald, and H. T. Lehmann, Eds.) (Vol. 51, p. 75). Philadelphia: Fortress Press].

One of the most direct statement from Luther that to abolish the mass is to abolish the Papacy can be found in his writing against Henry VIII in 1522 (WA 10:2, 220):
Let us return to the institution. We have then taken away the Mass, and we say in triumph against the Defender of the sacraments, that it is not a work nor a sacrifice, but a word and a sign of divine grace, which Christ uses for establishing and strengthening in us faith in Himself. And we see how foolish Satan is, since the longer and fiercer he rages and writes against us, the more senseless and infatuated is his delirium. For this book of the King, as it is about the best in Latinity of all the books that have been written against me, so is it above all others the most blockish and stupid, so that I could almost attribute it to our writers in Leipsic, who are wont thus to babble when their babblement is at its best. Having triumphed over the Mass, I think we have triumphed over the whole papacy. For upon the Mass as upon a rock is built the whole papacy with its monasteries, its bishoprics, its colleges, its altars, its ministers, its doctrines, and leans on it with its whole weight. And all these things must fall with the sacrilegious and abominable Mass. So Christ through me has begun to unmask the abomination standing in the holy place, and to destroy him, whose coming was through the operation of Satan in all wonders and lying miracles.

After digging around for awhile, this last quote appears to be the closest possible that I could find to the obscure quote. That Luther was opposed to the mass is no secret. Simply read Hartman Grisar's  lengthy overview (his is a Roman perspective). Luther was eventually even opposed to the word "mass"(LW 38:226).


Ken said...

James wrote an article addressing the first question.

The source for the nailing the 95 theses came from Philip Melancthon, who was a close friend of Luther. See more details below.

James Swan said...

Any blog that uses Jack Chick sleaze rather than arguments from the Bible, Fathers, history or common sense is a dump and not worth posting on. I like it here. I'm here to stay. Move over and give me some elbow room please.

You may not like hanging around here. The Green Baggins blog probably attracts more readers and comments. If you're looking for me to respond to your every comment or question and engage you in lengthy dialog, well, that probably will not happen. My use of time doesn't allow that.

Despite what one Catholic Answers person recently said about me:

I would hope Lutherans find your "Blog" just as offensive as Catholics. If you used here the kind of language you use there, you would have been banned a long time ago. But the fact that you create one persona here and another there is very telling as to your credibility,

I do attempt to be fair with those I disagree with without using "Jack Chick sleaze."

James Swan said...

James wrote an article addressing the first question.

Thanks Ken!

Ken said...


James Swan said...

Before the service at church starts on Sunday, my normal procedure is to make sure the premises are free of Jesuit spies.

Miguel del Pozo said...

Hello from Spain;

I was also doing some research regarding this quote and I found your blog.

Through wikiquote I found this quote:
"Wenn die Messe fällt, so liegt das Papsttum"
Confirmed in a german version of the Smalcald Articles (I sepak a litlle german)
(page 4)

going tho a english version:

Part II, article II: of the Mass
10] This article concerning the Mass will be the whole business of the Council. [The Council will perspire most over, and be occupied with this article concerning the Mass.] For if it were [although it would be] possible for them to concede to us all the other articles, yet they could not concede this. As Campegius said at Augsburg that he would be torn to pieces before he would relinquish the Mass, so, by the help of God, I, too, would suffer myself to be reduced to ashes before I would allow a hireling of the Mass, be he good or bad, to be made equal to Christ Jesus, my Lord and Savior, or to be exalted above Him. Thus we are and remain eternally separated and opposed to one another. They feel well enough that when the Mass falls, the Papacy lies in ruins. Before they will permit this to occur, they will put us all to death if they can.


elderdxc said...

For a fuller understanding of the Lutheran position regarding the Mass, see Augsburg Confession Art XXIV - Concerning the Mass.

James said...

This is an old thread - but, could the remark be a memory of Martin Bucer’s remark “Tolle Thomam, et dissipabo Ecclesiam” ? “Take away Thomas [Aquimas], and I will scatter the [Roman] Church” ?

Just a thought.

James Swan said...

Hi James:

With obscure quotes, anything is possible!