Meaning of Christ's Death


I’m a recent convert to Catholicism, and am very excited about it. Before that, I was an Episcopalian–for 22 years–and a Southern Baptist before that.

I continue to struggle with the meaning of the most basic of all Christian doctrines: the meaning/importance/necessity of Christ’s death on the cross.

My protestant friend gives the simplest explanation: “He died for our sins–for all sins we have or ever will commit. Thus, if we have faith in his atonement, we are saved, no matter what else we do or fail to do.”

Can anyone recommend a book that clearly defines the Catholic understanding of this event and its role in our salvation?

Thank you.


A good book on Catholic beliefs? The catechism, of course.

Christ’s death is significant for these reasons. I don’t have much time, so i’ll list a few and let you figure out their significance:

  1. The penalty of sin was death. Christ’s death paid that penalty
  2. The veil in the temple (seperating men from God) was torn in two when Christ died.
  3. the Judaic passover feast called for a sacrificial lamb which would be without blemish. After the sacrifice to God (to atone for sins, since a lamb was not a perfect sacrifice like Christ was) the lamb would be consumed by those who had purchased it for sacrfice. This also ties into communion.

There’s obviously more reasons, like i said, read the catechism on this.


Start with this article right here on

Hope this helps. :tiphat:


I have a short answer and a long answer on this. Here is my short answer:

I. Laying the groundwork: How are we saved? (Salvation 101)
A. Why do we even need to be saved? **What are we being saved from? **
Answer: **SIN **

  1. Original Sin and mortal (serious) sin breaks our relationship
    with God. If we die with unrepented mortal sin, we cannot enter
  2. Because of Christ’s sacrifice on the Cross, we can place our
    faith in him and be baptized. Baptism takes away Original Sin
    and (if we are adults) mortal sin.
  3. This gives us sanctifying grace, also called justification. This
    makes it possible to enter heaven—to be saved.
  4. After baptism, Confession takes away mortal sin and restores sanctifying grace.
  5. To stay in sanctifying grace requires us to receive graces from God. This is called actual grace. We can receive actual graces by following Gods commandments (not sinning), prayer and good works.

Here is my long answer, if you are interested:


Hi Captainmike,

There are some wonderful pages about this in the Catechism of the Catholic Church, specifically starting at article 595. See

But the whole life of Jesus is directed to the moment of His death and resurrection. You can start at article 512 and read on. See



I looked through the links above, as well - and if I relied on them, having also been attending protestant churchs, I too would have a fuzzy understanding of the meaning of the cross. It is something that many of us Catholics take for granted, because it is a given- it is the basic foundation upon which Christs Church is founded- call it our gold standard - without the cross - there is no hope - there is no value - there is nothing behind what we do at Mass. It is in fact mere ritual - if it were not for the cross. Meaning, had not the Word become Flesh, and God become a Man in order to die for our sins, no one has any hope of reaching heaven. Life in fact would be meaningless. Without the passion and death of our Lord, our Sins would be unforgivable - because the perfection which God demands could not be achieved. This were protestant and catholic teaching do agree. No one can be saved without the cross. How we accept this gift is where catholics and protestants are divided. What must we do? As a cradle catholic I never appreciated this, but I always knew about it, having been taught in 9 years of Catholic school that the Sacraments are God’s way of saving us, but that behind them, and the Mass is the Cross. I never got that- until I split from the Church, became a protestant, and then was led back Home when I got married to a Catholic. I never really got the “cross” as I think many Catholics do not - simply because we take it for granted. because it is a given - that we are Holy, because the Church we belong to is Holy, and the Church is Holy solely because of the cross. Watch the movie the “passion of the Christ”. Yes, its violent, but it does convey what Jesus did for us- He, God died for us so that we could be saved. When we are baptized we received the full gift - and were saved, and then when we become accountable we had to show God that we really wanted to love Him, to follow Him- on our own - without peer pressure, without guilt- because we Love Him as much as He loves us- and He calls us everyday to follow Him to take the narrow road, and if he finds us faithful when our days in this life come to and end, and because of the cross of Christ, He will say yes - I really knew you and welcome you home. Thats my goal - nothing is more important.


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