Eucharist


#1

Please explain how the RCC understands the eucharist as a continual sacrifice. (Especially in light of the Scriptural descriptions of Christ’s sacrifice being once for all)

I can understand the eating of the sacrifice as a continuation of OT practices, but am lost on why the RCC would teach a continual sacrifice.

Thanks,
Tim


#2

Tim,

Thank you for asking the question. It’s a very good question, I think.

The Blood sacrifice of Jesus Christ at the cross is once and for all. The Church teaches this. Let us take a look at the Second Vatican Council statement:
**
“At the Last Supper, on the night he was betrayed, our Savior instituted the Eucharistic Sacrifice of his body and blood. He did this in order to perpetuate the sacrifice of the Cross throughout the centuries until he should come again, and so to entrust to his beloved spouse, the Church, a memorial of his death and resurrection: a sacrament of love, a sign of unity, a bond of charity, a paschal banquet in which Christ is consumed, the mind is filled with grace, and a pledge of future glory is given to us.”**

Psalm 110 foretold that the Messiah would be a Priest “after the order of Melchizedek”:

“The Lord says to my lord: Sit at my right hand, till I make your enemies your footstool…The Lord has sworn and will not change his mind, You are a priest for ever after the order of Melchizedek” (vv. 1 & 4).

The author of the Letter to the Hebrews clearly identifies Christ to be this priest:
**
“For it is evident that our Lord was descended from Judah, and in connection with that tribe Moses said nothing about priests. This becomes even more evident when another priest arises in the likeness of Melchizedek, who has become a priest, not according to a legal requirement concerning bodily descent but by the power of an indestructible life. For it is witnessed of him, Thou art a priest forever, after the order of Melchizedek”(7, 14-17).**

The Jewish priesthood and sacrifices would be replaced by Gentile ones as predicted by the Prophet Malachias:

“I have no pleasure in you, saith the Lord of hosts: and I will not receive a gift of your hand. For from the rising of the sun, even to the going down, my name is great among the Gentiles, and in every place there is sacrifice, and there is offered to my name a clean oblation: for my name is great among the Gentiles, saith the Lord of hosts” (Mal. 1, 10-11 [Douai]).


#3

Malachias’ words found fulfillment in the worship of the early Christians:

**“They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers” **(Acts 2, 42);

“Day by day, as they spent much time together in the temple, they broke bread at home and ate their food with glad and generous hearts” (Acts 2, 46);

“The cup of blessing that we bless, is it not a sharing in the blood of Christ? The bread that we break, is it not a sharing in the body of Christ?” (1 Cor. 10, 16);
**
“For as often as you eat this bread and drink the cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until he comes” **(1 Cor. 11, 26).

The early Christians were also warned that for those who do not partake of this sacrificial bread and wine worthily dire consequences await them:

“Whoever, therefore, eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner will be guilty of profaning the body and blood of the Lord. Let a man examine himself, and so eat of the bread and drink of the cup. For any one who eats and drinks without discerning the body eats and drinks judgment upon himself. That is why many of you are weak and ill, and some have died” (1 Cor. 11, 27-30).

Where is the prophecy of Malachias fulfilled today? James Cardinal Gibbons answers as follows:

“We may divide the inhabitants of the world into five different classes of people, professing different forms of religion - Pagans, Jews, Mohammedans, Protestants and Catholics. Among which of these shall we find the clean oblation of which the prophet speaks? Not among the Pagan nations; for they worship false gods, and consequently cannot have any sacrifice pleasing to the Almighty. Not among the Jews; for they have ceased to sacrifice altogether, and the words of the prophet apply not to the Jews, but to the Gentiles. Not among the Mohammedans; for they also reject sacrifices. Not among any of the Protestants sects; for they all distinctly repudiate sacrifices. Therefore, it is only in the Catholic Church that is fulfilled this glorious prophecy; for whithersoever you go, you will find the clean oblation offered on Catholic altars. If you travel from America to Europe, to Oceania, to Africa, or Asia, you will see our altars erected, and our Priests daily fulfilling the words of the prophets by offering the clean oblation of the body and blood of Christ.”

In summary:

The sacrifice of the Mass is not a re-sacrifice. Rather, it is to make presence the sacrifice of the cross. Since at the Mass, we offer a pure sacrifice, the Eucharist, whom we believe to be the Body and Blood of Our Lord Jesus Christ. He transcends time and space.

Eastern Catholics call this a mystery because our finite mind cannot comprehend the concept of this. Neither I.


#4

I hope what I wrote is enough for you to understand this sacrifical meal. I also like to add since OT times, priest offer sacrifice in atonement for the sins. The Levi priests offer a spotless lamb. Priests always offer sacrifice.

Jesus Christ, who is both, prophet, priest, and king also offers himself as the pure sacrifice. He often called Jesus at the consecration, Lamb of God, who takes away the sins of the World three times. These words also echo in the Book of Revelation.

Jesus Sacrifice was made at the cross. We continue this sacrifice today and made the sacrifice present amongst us. The Mass is literally Kingdom of Heaven on earth. This is what amazes me about the Mass.

There is a striking similiarity between the Book of Revelations and the Mass itself. It just gives me the chills.


#5

It’s a very good question, I think

Why the doubt? All of my questions, insights, and thought are good! :slight_smile:

Back on point…

So the Mass is not so much a sacrifice in itself but a revisitation of Calvary or a visitation of the participant to Calvary?

Thanks,
Tim


#6

Because once for all means precisely that: once for all. It does not mean “over and done with”, it means offered once, and applicable to all.

The sacrifice is not continual. The sacrifice is ETERNAL, and there is a big difference. In heaven, there is no such thing as time, and all that happened on Calvary is eternally present to the Father.

If you read Hebrews, it clearly states that Jesus is an ETERNAL High Priest. But what is the defining function of a priest? A Priest offers sacrifice. But for Jesus to be a priest forever, there must be a sacrifice forever.

Does that mean Jesus remains dead? No, because he died once, and can never die again. But look at the book of Revelation. You see the Lamb standing as if slain. Clearly, you know who the Lamb is. His death is ever present, but he stands, alive.

There is also an altar in heaven.

All this is possible because Jesus has already ascended into heaven, and his sacrifice is always present in all times henceforth.

A careful study of the Greek word anamnesis, or the Hebrew concept of zikkaron tells us that the remembrance is a sacrificial remembrance, in which the event is once again made present.

We ought to think outside of linear time.


#7

The Mass essentially makes the events of our salvation present to us. It makes the sacrifice of Calvary present in every place and in every time that the Mass is offerred.

One can more readily appreciate this by realizing that while Jesus is present in the Eucharistic species, he is never multiplied. Every Eucharistic host, every drop from the chalice in every Mass that has ever been offered in any place or time, is the one same Jesus present on Calvary. It is one sacrifice, not many, made eternally present.


#8

No… sorry, The Mass is always a re-presentation of the sacrifice on Calvary. IOW that sacrifice is made present at the consecration of the Eucharist.

"Once For All"
Is the Mass a Sacrifice?
Mass as Sacrifice (T h e F a t h e r s K n o w B e s t)
THE SACRIFICE OF THE MASS (More Fathers)
Is the Mass a True Sacrifice?
Christ’s Peace Offering (Can Catholic and Protestant Views of the Mass Be Reconciled?)

More articles…


#9

I would not say revisitation would be a proper word to describe it. This Paschal Mystery, which we Catholics often call it is a representation of the sacrifice of Calvary just as Church Militant says it is.

Many of the writings of the ECF attest to this.

**Augustine **

“Open your eyes at last, then, any time, and see, from the rising of the sun to its setting, the sacrifice of Christians is offered, not in one place only, as was established with you Jews, but everywhere; and not to just any god at all, but to him who foretold it, the God of Israel. Not in one place, as was prescribed for you in the earthly Jerusalem, but in every place, even in Jerusalem herself. Not according to the order of Aaron, but according to the order of Melchizedek” (Sermon Against the Jews 9:13 [post A.D. 425]).

**John Chrysostom **

" ‘The cup of blessing which we bless, is it not communion of the blood of Christ?’ Very trustworthy and awesomely does he say it. For what he is saying is this: What is in the cup is that which flowed from his side, and we partake of it. He called it a cup of blessing because when we hold it in our hands that is how we praise him in song, wondering and astonished at his indescribable gift, blessing him because of his having poured out this very gift so that we might not remain in error; and not only for his having poured it out, but also for his sharing it with all of us. ‘If therefore you desire blood,’ he says, ‘do not redden the platform of idols with the slaughter of dumb beasts, but my altar of sacrifice with my blood.’ What is more awesome than this? What, pray tell, more tenderly loving?" (Homilies on the First Letter to the Corinthians 24:1(3) [circa A.D. 392]).

Irenaeus

“He took from among creation that which is bread, and gave thanks, saying, ‘This is my body.’ The cup likewise, which is from among the creation to which we belong, he confessed to be his blood. He taught the new sacrifice of the new covenant, of which Malachi, one of the twelve prophets, had signified beforehand: ‘You do not do my will,’ says the Lord Almighty, ‘and I will not accept a sacrifice at your hands. For from the rising of the sun to its setting my name is glorified among the Gentiles, and in every place incense is offered to my name, and a pure sacrifice; for great is my name among the gentiles,’ says the Lord Almighty. By these words he makes it plain that the former people will cease to make offerings to God; but that in every place sacrifice will be offered to him, and indeed, a pure one, for his name is glorified among the Gentiles” (Against Heresies 4:17:5 [inter A.D. 180-199]).


#10

If you some of the link, Timmy, you would see one of the explanation.

I shall extract some of that information.

catholic.com/thisrock/2001/0109sbs.asp

Christ’s bloody sacrifice on Calvary took place once, and it will never be repeated. To repeat his sacrifice would be to imply that the original offering was defective or insufficient, like the animal sacrifices of the Old Testament that could never take away sins. Jesus’ offering was perfect, efficacious, and eternal.

The Mass is a participation in this one heavenly offering. The risen Christ becomes present on the altar and offers himself to God as a living sacrifice. Like the Mass, Christ words at the Last Supper are words of sacrifice, “This is my body . . . this is my blood . . . given up for you.” So, the Mass is not repeating the murder of Jesus, but is taking part in what never ends: the offering of Christ to the Father for our sake (Heb 7:25, 9:24). After all, if Calvary didn’t get the job done, then the Mass won’t help. It is precisely because the death of Christ was sufficient that the Mass is celebrated. It does not add to or take away from the work of Christ—it is the work of Christ.

Question 4 of the article mention in this link states;

Before looking at the ancient beliefs of Christians, consider the modern belief. This may come as a shock to Evangelicals, but seventy-five percent of Christians believe the Mass to be a sacrifice. When you add up the Catholics, Orthodox, Abysinnians, Coptics, Assyrians, Armenians, et cetera, it is evident that Protestants are in the minority with their interpretation. Still, it’s fallacious to argue that because a majority of people believes something it must be true, so let’s examine the faith of the first Christians.

The Didache written in 70 AD states,

The Didache refers to the Eucharist as a thusia, the Greek term for sacrifice: "Assemble on the Lord’s day, and break bread and offer the Eucharist; but first make confession of your faults, so that your sacrifice may be a pure one. Anyone who has a difference with his fellow is not to take part with you until they have been reconciled, so as to avoid any profanation of your sacrifice [Matt. 5:23–24]. For this is the offering of which the Lord has said, ‘Everywhere and always bring me a sacrifice that is undefiled, for I am a great king, says the Lord, and my name is the wonder of nations’ [Mal. 1:11, 14]" (Didache 14 [A.D. 70]).

Justin Martyr added these thoughts with regard to the prophecy of Malachi: “God speaks by the mouth of Malachi, one of the twelve [minor prophets], as I said before, about the sacrifices at that time presented by you: ‘I have no pleasure in you, says the Lord, and I will not accept your sacrifices at your hands; for from the rising of the sun to the going down of the same, my name has been glorified among the Gentiles, and in every place incense is offered to my name, and a pure offering, for my name is great among the Gentiles’ [Mal. 1:10–11]. He then speaks of those Gentiles, namely us [Christians] who in every place offer sacrifices to him, that is, the bread of the Eucharist and also the cup of the Eucharist” (Dialogue with Trypho the Jew 41 [A.D. 155]).

St. Ireneaus, the disciple of St. Polycarp, disciple of St. John, the Apostle wrote this.** “He took from among creation that which is bread, and gave thanks, saying, ‘This is my body.’ The cup likewise, which is from among the creation to which we belong, he confessed to be his blood. He taught the new sacrifice of the new covenant, of which Malachi, one of the twelve [minor] prophets, had signified beforehand. . . .He makes it plain that the former people will cease to make offerings to God; but that in every place sacrifice will be offered to him, and indeed, a pure one, for his name is glorified among the Gentiles”**

I don’t know how you would discredit the ECF, but in the Gospels, the Apostles, that the first generation of Christian would remain faith to everything which the Apostles taught, whether they were oral or written. St. Paul himself made this very clear. Polycarp would be the first generation, since he was taught by St. John, Polycarp in turn taught, Ireneaus (2nd generation).


#11

So Priestly ordination confers the ability to warp space/time at the moment of consecration. Cool. :smiley:


#12

The priest himself cannot do it. The Eucharist Prayer states,

Lord, you are holy indeed, the fountain of all holiness. Let your Spirit come upon these gifts to make them holy, so that they may become for us the body and blood of our Lord, Jesus Christ.

I do prefer the prayer EPIII, its similiar in style with Malachi’s prophecy.

Father, you are holy indeed, and all creation rightly gives you praise. All life, all holiness comes from you through your Son, Jesus Christ our Lord, by the working of the Holy Spirit. From age to age you gather a people to yourself, so that from east to west a perfect offering may be made to the glory of your name. And so, Father, we bring you these gifts. We ask you to make them holy by the power of your Spirit, that they may become the body and blood of your Son, our Lord Jesus Christ, at whose command we celebrate this eucharist.


#13

Well, you won’t find any theology texts that put it quite that way, but I think that’s the essence of what happens. Also, since the priest acts “in persona Christi”–acting in the person of Christ himself, one can imagine Christ making use of the priest of his stand in to extend his presence throughout time and space. You might say that every priest at the moment of consecration is present with Christ at the Last Supper while also being present at the altar. But that would be pushing the metaphor, and I would probably never get an Imprimatur for it.


#14

This is to help supplement the good information that has already been given.

scripturecatholic.com/the_eucharist.html

God Bless,
JB


#15

And it’s been that way all along.

Look art 1st Corinthians 11:23-30 and apparently St. John taught St. Ignatius of Antioch the same thing.

CHAP. VII.–LET US STAND ALOOF FROM SUCH HERETICS.

They abstain from the Eucharist and from prayer,(7) because they confess not the Eucharist to be the flesh of our Saviour Jesus Christ, which suffered for our sins, and which the Father, of His goodness, raised up again. Those, therefore, who speak against this gift of God, incur death(11) in the midst of their disputes.


#16

Thank you for the replies.

Beyond the infusion of grace in the participant, what else is believed to be accomplished?

Thanks,
Tim


#17

Because the Eucharist is Christ himself, we are intimately united with him in receiving this sacrament. Also, because we each receive the same Christ, through him we also become united with one another. It is a common - union. Because others both living and deceased throughout the world, have also received the same Christ, we become united with them. That is part of the communion of saints.


#18

But look at the book of Revelation. You see the Lamb standing as if slain. Clearly, you know who the Lamb is. His death is ever present, but he stands, alive.

I believe Revelation says the lamb who was slain. (past tense)

Revelation 5:12
In a loud voice they sang: "Worthy is the Lamb, who was slain, to receive power and wealth and wisdom and strength and honor and
Revelation 13:8
All inhabitants of the earth will worship the beast—all whose names have not been written in the book of life belonging to the Lamb that was slain from the creation of the world.


#19

I believe the reference is to Revelation 5:6, “And between the throne and the four living creatures and among the elders I saw a Lamb standing, as though it had been slain, with seven horns and with seven eyes, which are the seven spirits of God sent out into all the earth.” I guess the point is that His death AND His resurrection are both eternally present in before God (who is outside of time). I personally feel that whether we call it a “sacrifice” or not is a matter of semantics and a silly thing to argue about-- there are much more fundamental and important differences between Catholics and Protestants. In any event it’s clear that the early church did use the term sacrifice; the verse in Malachi is also very suggestive.

I’m an evangelical protestant, and I used to be a bit shocked at what I perceived to be the Catholics’ fixation on the death of Christ (as opposed to His triumphant resurrection)-- the crucifixes, calling the mass a “sacrifice”, etc. I’ve realized, however, that the NT is no less shocking: “For as often as you eat this bread and drink this cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until he comes” “But we preach Christ crucified, a stumbling block to Jews and folly to Gentiles” “For I decided to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ, and him crucified” etc. etc.


#20

This is a very good point. All points in time from the beginning to the end are continually present to God.
Calvary is continually present to the Father, Son, and the Holy Spirit.

Since thhe punishment due to sin is eternal the sacrafice had to be eternal. Only God can love with that kind of love.


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