Luther Quote of the Day

What do they actually do in their daily Mass? In the very act in which they handle the blessed Sacrament and speak the words of Christ—that His body was given for us and His blood shed for us for the forgiveness of our sins—in that very act they pervert both the Word and their hearts. They pray God to be gracious to them, not for the sake of the sacrifice which Christ has done but for the sake of their work of sacrificing Christ’s body and blood again. How blasphemous! Thereupon they quickly turn to the intercession of Mary and other saints, who are supposed to be mediators before God. Instead of the priestly office of Christ—indeed in utter contradiction to it—they have established their own priestly office, the office of their sacrifice.

Thereupon the monks rushed in. They wanted to improve such a sacrifice with their monasticism. They boasted that whenever any one of them said his first Mass, he was helping a virgin to bring a child into the world! That is how the devil mocked them. And if anyone entered a monastery, he sacrificed to God both his body and his soul—his body through poverty and chastity, his soul through obedience and self-denial. Indeed it was their claim that when a man takes the cowl, he becomes as pure and innocent as though he had just been baptized. Everything about this became a sacrifice by which they earned merits, not only for themselves, but also for others who wanted to be saved, provided they were willing to pay for the Masses and their monkish service. They pushed this so far that they talked people on their deathbed into taking the cowl and being buried in it—always, however, with the proviso that enough money be given or bequeathed to them!

What is this but abomination upon abomination? The most unheard-of and willful blasphemy of Christ the Priest and of His sacrifice and merit! The entire papacy is a fruit of this blasphemy. It is the mother of all abominations and whoring; St. John also writes about her in Revelation 17:5, that she has names of the sheerest blasphemy written on her forehead. Those are the manifold, innumerable, self-chosen works or forms of worship. Publicly and shamelessly on every occasion they praise and hold these up as sacrifices in order to suppress Christ’s sacrifice, with the result that souls suffer miserable loss and destruction. God must be extremely wrathful, far more terrible than man can believe or express. It would not be at all astonishing, in view of this blasphemy, if God sent His heavenly fire to reduce the world to ashes. Even now one might wish that God would intervene with thunder and lightning—the sooner, the better—to knock all the foundations, monasteries, and churches into a heap because men will not cease to blaspheme. In fact, they defend it against their better knowledge!

Yet that is the way it is and must be wherever this Priest Christ does not do His own preaching and teaching, wherever men presume to rule the church as His vicars, the way the pope has done. It is plain to see that pure doctrine, faith, and the worship of God, the means whereby the church and Christendom are truly governed and preserved, are exclusively the result of Christ’s activity. The alternative is truly miserable: people become utterly forgetful of this Priest and seek or choose their own priestly functions and sacrifice instead, with the eventual result that they become totally filled with abomination, idolatry, and blasphemy against Christ. Every time this Priest is ignored, human reason and wisdom are unable to reach beyond the level of doing penance for sin. Men seek grace and salvation by their own works, by their strict and ascetic lives, or by the merits of other people who pray and sacrifice for them.

We have heard in this verse again that Christ is, and will be, the only and true Priest before God for all eternity and that God will consider everything worthless that does not belong to this Priest. Christs merit and sacrifice stands in contradiction to my sacrifice and work. Only one can be valid: either Christ’s or my own. If He is to be our Priest, reconciling us or leading us to God by His sacrifice and intercession, it follows that our own sacrifice and effort cannot achieve this; for that is neither Christ nor His sacrifice. But if the objective is achieved by our sacrifice and work, then Christ and His priestly office, His suffering and death, are in vain. In that case this verse must be repudiated and denounced as a lie. Surely, if I am of the opinion that I can earn my own salvation or that it depends on me, I need no Christ.

Psalm • 110

Concerning the Kingdom of Christ

Translated by
h. Richard Klann

Luther’s works, vol. 13:
Selected Psalms II
p 327-328

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