Is the Eucharist a feast or is it “calvary” (like St.Pio de Pietrelcina put it)? Is it both but it has more emphasis on the Sacrifice? And why?
The focus is on how Jesus conquered sin by dying for us and sacrificing Himself for us. Thru His act, He forgave our sins, gave us peace with God, and most importantly, purchased for us eternal life.
It's about the sacrafice. We wouldn't have Mass if it for the sacrafice of Christ.
Ephesians 5:25 Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her,
It is a rational and un-bloody sacrifice of praise!
Greek transliteration: eucharistia
Definition: thankfulness, gratitude; giving of thanks, thanksgiving.
Baltimore Catechism No. 3 has:
Q. 919. What is a sacrifice?
A. A sacrifice is the offering of an object by a priest to God alone, and the consuming of it to acknowledge that He is the Creator and Lord of all things.
Q. 921. How is the Mass the same sacrifice as that of the Cross?
A. The Mass is the same sacrifice as that of the Cross because the offering and the priest are the same – Christ our Blessed Lord; and the ends for which the sacrifice of the Mass is offered are the same as those of the sacrifice of the Cross.
Both. I would say there is no competition between the two understandings. Rather, they are speaking of the same thing.
The paradigm of sacrifice refers to the unblemished, male Paschal lamb in Jewish tradition which was offered as a sacrifice to God at Passover (remember, the angel of death passed over the Israelites when they were in Egypt). The new unblemished male Paschal Lamb of God is Christ, who poured himself out (the Greek word in Philippians 2:7 is ἐκένωσεν, ekenosen, “to pour out completely”) for our sake as an offering both for us, and to God the Father. The sacrifice is the summit of the Mass, in which we participate in the total self-donation of Christ by offering ourselves totally in return. We do this at the Mass by placing ourselves with the prayers, petitions, and bread and wine present at the altar which the priest, acting in the high priesthood of Christ, offers to God the almighty Father; And by receiving that same Christ, who poured himself out, as the Eucharist which is Greek for “thanksgiving” (again think, Paschal lamb).
Pray, brothers and sisters, that my sacrifice and yours may be acceptable to God the almighty Father.
May the Lord accept this sacrifice at your hands. For the praise and the glory of His name, for our good and the good of all His holy Church.
The paradigm of feast comes from the wedding feast of the lamb in Revelation 19. The Church will be brought into union with Christ, her bridegroom, in a mystical marriage between divine and human, much as how Christ was in the Incarnation.
The foretaste of this union is in Holy Communion, where Christ comes to reside in a most intimate way in the communicant. The communicant increases in grace and is bound more tightly to Christ’s love, so that we may more fully give ourselves to him (as he did in his act of total self-donation).
Well, just think about the parts of the Mass: the Kyrie, the Gloria, the readings of Scripture, particularly the Gospel, Homily, The Nicene Creed, the Sanctus, the Communion Prayer, the Lord’s Prayer, the Eucharist and The End of Mass, the hymns. Is all of this about sacrifice? In that it is about Jesus, then yes, because of His great sacrifice, but the Mass is also about the Resurrection, the Communion of Saints, our coming together as Catholics to worship God, our witnessing the bread and water change to Body and Blood of Christ.
We used to say “The Sacrifice” of the Mass; now we say “The Celebration” of the Mass which does not really encompass the whole. I think the word “Sacrifice” encompasses more than “Celebration” but there is so much more: the praise, the worship, the readings, etc.
How about the Miracle of the Mass?
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Well, just think about the parts of the Mass: the Kyrie, the Gloria, the readings of Scripture, particularly the Gospel, Homily, The Nicene Creed, the Sanctus, the Communion Prayer, the Lord's Prayer, the Eucharist and The End of Mass, the hymns. Is all of this about sacrifice? In that it is about Jesus, then yes, because of His great sacrifice, but the Mass is also about the Resurrection, the Communion of Saints, our coming together as Catholics to worship God, our witnessing the bread and water change to Body and Blood of Christ.
We used to say "The Sacrifice" of the Mass; now we say "The Celebration" of the Mass which does not really encompass the whole. I think the word "Sacrifice" encompasses more than "Celebration" but there is so much more: the praise, the worship, the readings, etc.
How about the Miracle of the Mass?
And this, through improper or deficient catechesis, is why so many Catholics do not believe in the Real Presence of Our Lord in the species of the Bread and the Wine. A Sacrifice denotes something Sacred, Holy, Worthy of complete attention, while a celebration denotes a party, social event, gathering for fun and enjoyment.
From the Catechism of Pope St. Pius X
9 Q: For what ends then is the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass offered?
A: The Sacrifice of the Mass is offered to God for four ends: (1) To honor Him properly, and hence it is called Latreutical; (2) To thank Him for His favors, and hence it is called Eucharistical; (3) To appease Him, make Him due satisfaction for our sins, and to help the souls in Purgatory, and hence it is called Propitiatory; (4) To obtain all the graces necessary for us, and hence it is called Impetratory.
Fom the Baltimore Catechisim
- Q. How should we assist at Mass? A. We should assist at Mass with great interior recollection and piety and with every outward mark of respect and devotion. cin.org/users/james/ebooks/master/baltimore/bsacr-e.htm#Lesson24
And from the CCC
The celebrants of the sacramental liturgy
1140 It is the whole community, the Body of Christ united with its Head, that celebrates. "Liturgical services are not private functions but are celebrations of the Church which is 'the sacrament of unity,' namely, the holy people united and organized under the authority of the bishops. Therefore, liturgical services pertain to the whole Body of the Church. They manifest it, and have effects upon it. But they touch individual members of the Church in different ways, depending on their orders, their role in the liturgical services, and their actual participation in them." For this reason, "rites which are meant to be celebrated in common, with the faithful present and actively participating, should as far as possible be celebrated in that way rather than by an individual and quasi-privately."
To the best of my limited knowledge, the term "celebrate" is rather new when describing the Mass. And in my humble opinion, the focus on celebration has led to much damage in the Mass.
(Same with a funeral “celebrating” a life. Why not “celebrate” before a person dies?)
I, for one, do not see any conflict in the Church’s understanding of the Mass as sacrifice, celebration, and feast. These are not mutually exclusive dimensions of divine worship. The Eucharistic celebration has its roots in the Passover meal, in the Last Supper as Christ instituted it, and in the Book of Revelation as the wedding feast of the Lamb. All three of these prefigurements were clearly feasts and celebrations, while at the same time, they all looked forward (or back) to Christ’s ultimate sacrifice on the Cross. The Passover was unequivocally a celebration of the Jews’ triumph over Egypt and their deliverance, their salvation from the hands of Pharaoh. The mood at the Last Supper may seem tense and grim, but Jesus was celebrating with His Disciples in a thoroughly Jewish tradition while at the same time establishing new custom of eating His body and blood, which is true food. We cannot ignore the “meal” component of the Mass. At the very least, the priest celebrant receives Holy Communion and completes the sacrifice. In the vast majority of Masses, Holy Communion is distributed to all who are worthy to receive. We share in this meal just as the Disciples ate with Christ.
But Revelation reveals new dimensions of the liturgy to us. It is true heavenly worship of God that we participate in. The angels and saints clearly celebrate joyously as they rejoice in the eternal triumph of good over evil. They cry “Hallelujah!” in reference to the Hallel Psalms of the Old Testament, which were sung during Passover every year.
Truly the Mass is a sacrifice and we cannot forget or minimize that. But I think that limiting its meaning to only sacrifice or ignoring the other dimensions it has as celebration or meal is to ignore Sacred Scripture and Holy Tradition.
The Mass is many things to all people. That is why liturgy is so meaningful to us. There are layers of meaning and symbolism which are only poorly understood by the majority of people in the world, even by Catholics who regularly assist at Mass. Catechesis is essential for a full understanding of the liturgy, and this is important, because it is the nexus where Heaven meets Earth and God truly comes to dwell among us in the Eucharist.
I think this is a bit apples and oranges and, as Elizum said, these things are all parts of an organic whole, and are not mutually exclusive.