I have a question regarding the Eucharist. I have read from some Catholic authors that the Eucharist is a sacrifice, that He is sacrificed again for our sins, and some that say it is a memorial, that He died only once on Calvary. I was always taught (Protestant church) that Christ died once and that He cannot die anymore, so Communion is a memorial to His death and the waiting until His second coming. Which is correct? Thanks!!!
The Eucharist is both a sacrifice…
The Eucharist is a sacrifice of thanksgiving to the Father, a blessing by which the Church expresses her gratitude to God for all his benefits, for all that he has accomplished through creation, redemption, and sanctification (CCC 1360).
…and a memorial.
We must therefore consider the Eucharist as:
*]the sacrificial memorial of *Christ *and his Body (CCC 1358)
During Mass, the sacrifice that takes place on the altar is one and the same with the sacrifice offered on Calvary 2,000 years ago. Jesus is not re-sacrificed or in any way sacrificed again, but rather is “made present” by what’s called the un-bloody sacrifice of bread and wine.
The Catechism of the Catholic Church says:
In the institution narrative, the power of the words and the action of Christ, and the power of the Holy Spirit, make sacramentally present under the species of bread and wine Christ’s body and blood, his sacrifice offered on the cross once for all (1363).
I hope that helps.
The Mass is sharing in the one sacrifice. Christ is not “re-sacrificed”.
Christ was sacrificed once and for all. This does not mean once and for “all” time. It’s more once and for “all” mankind throughout time.
The Church DOES NOT teach that Christ is sacrificed again. The Scriptures are very clear that Christ died ONCE AND FOR ALL and the Church is faithful to this truth.
But, the Mass is indeed a Sacrifice. When the Jews celebrated the passover, it wasn’t just a memorial. The ancient understanding of “remembrance” is much more involved than our modern understanding. By their celebration, the Jews became participants in that one event which occured in salvation history. The night before His death, our Lord instituded this “memorial of His death” in “remembrance” of Him. That means that when we go to Mass, time and space are transended, and it is as if we are there with Mary and John at the foot of the Cross. It is not a repetition of the Sacrifice of the Cross, but by God’s grace we are made present at that one Sacrifice which took place one time, two thousand years ago, but to which the Eternal Father constantly looks to that we might be acceptable in His sight.
Thank you…all your answers helped clear up my thinking.
I like what St. Nicholas Cabasilas said.
The Eucharistic Sacrifice is precisely the change of the bread and wine into the Body and Blood of the Lamb of God, Who was sacrificed once for all in time, but Whose sacrifice is pleaded in the heavens eternally (that is, outside of time).
The Greek word “anamnesis” (rendered “memory” or “memorial” or “commemoration”) is not just a mere mental rembrance. It is an actual making present of what is being commemorated.
There is only ONE sacrifice. Christ died ONCE. This isn’t altogether 100% accurate, but it serves its purpose as an analogy, but just think about it as an echo. The sacrifice takes place only once, but the effects of it continue.