Re-Presentation of Sacrifice and Time


How is Christ’s sacrifice on Calvary literally present again in the sacrifice of the Divine Liturgy? People have described the Mass as peeling back the veil of time to the Cross, but this explanation (if it is actually an answer of the question, not just a metaphorical reiteration of the question) seems to demand a very particular philosophy of time - one with which I do not think I agree.
Does anyone have any rationale by which we could say that Christ is literally sacrificed in the Mass? I realize that it is a mystery, but without even a speculative model or an example where this happens elsewhere, it is hard to explain this to a healthily skeptical mind.


I think the word is PERPETUATE, the sacrifice of Christ
is drawn to the present, much like a piece of dough is
stretched to lengthen it, yet it is the same lump of dough.


The concept is known as “the Eternal Now”.

That is, that God is not constrained by time. He made time only as a frame of reverence for us, as we are incapable of wrapping our heads around existence outside the dimension of time.

So, since to God there is no linearity in time (no beginning, no end, everything is now), the Sacrifice of the Mass is a Re-presentation, and not a Representation (that is, it is actually happening, and is not a just a mere symbolic remembrance) , in the Eternal Now, that allows each of us to be present at the foot of the cross during the actual sacrifice on the cross.


Because the Eucharist is the memorial of His sacrifice on the cross! (We need to understand ‘memorial’ in a Semitic, not Hellenistic, framework. Look at the Jewish understanding of the Passover event. Each year, they enter into the mystery of God’s saving event in the life of their nation. To them, a memorial isn’t just a mental recollection; it’s an actual re-entry into the event of God’s salvation of His people.)

this explanation (if it is actually an answer of the question, not just a metaphorical reiteration of the question) seems to demand a very particular philosophy of time - one with which I do not think I agree.

If by that, you mean that you think that the teaching is that we go back in time, then I can understand your hesitancy. However, that’s not what the teaching is. We don’t go back to Calvary; rather, we are raised to heaven, and in this foretaste of the Supper of the Lamb, we get to share in the eternal presentation of Christ to the Father.

Does anyone have any rationale by which we could say that Christ is literally sacrificed in the Mass?

Well, it’s not that Christ is sacrificed (again); it’s that his sacrifice to the Father is re-presented to Him. In our case, in the Mass, what is presented is the unbloody sacrifice – the Eucharist.


Yes: *it is the teaching of the Church. *

This has been the faith of Christianity, even after the great schism with the Orthodox Church both sides preserved it. When the protestant heresies began denying or distorting this, the Council of Trent made it very, very clear that the following teaching was apostolic and to be preserved forever:

  • in the Mass a true and real sacrifice is offered to God

  • the sacrifice of the Mass is not only of praise and thanksgiving, nor is it a mere commemoration of the sacrifice consummated on the cross. Rather it is a propitiatory sacrifice, that ought to be offered for the living and the dead, for sins, punishments, satisfactions, and other necessities.

Some readings you may benefit from:

How the Mass is a Sacrifice, and why so many deny this doctrine

Eucharist as a Sacrifice

Sacrifice of the Mass - Canons Regular of St. John Cantius

Church Fathers on the Sacrifice of the Mass

Church Fathers on the Eucharist as Sacrifice

The Sacrament of the Eucharist - Catechism of the Council of Trent


I think we need to understand the old sacrifices to understand this. We have a simplified view that the sacrifice is purely the death of the lamb.

Take the passover lamb. It would be taken by the priest, prayed over, slain, it would then be placed on the altar and after a period of roasting would be taken back off the altar and given to the people who brought it who would eat the sacrifice.

In a similar way I understand it as “Christ the lamb slain once for all” yet the sacrifice becomes present on each altar and is eaten by the faithful. We join in the sacrifice of calvary when Christ becomes truly present on the altar in the bread and wine.


Over the past few months, this mystery is becoming more evident to me, and what an amazing experience the Mass is becoming for me! Here are some of the visions that are becoming reality for me:

The Mass as Holy Week (The Passion, Crucifixion, and Resurrection of Jesus)
The Sanctuary (Tabernacle, Altar, and Ambo) is Jerusalem.
The Host of the event is Jesus, and he appears as bread & wine, the crucifix, the priest, and servers of the Mass.

The Divine Liturgy to Christ’s Sacrifice:
Upon entering the Mass, we cross ourselves with Holy Water. This is receiving baptism in the River Jordan.
In the procession of the Mass, Jesus (priest) processes into Jerusalem (Sanctuary) on Palm Sunday.
During the readings and homily, Jesus (lectors) preaches in Jerusalem.
Just before the offering is brought forth, Jesus (Crucifix) hides to prepare for Crucifixion in the Garden of Gethsemane (entrance).
When the offering is brought forth, the Roman Soldiers (gift-bearers) bring Jesus (bread & wine) to High-Priest & Pontius Pilate (priest).
When the wine is handed to the deacon, Pontius (priest) has the soldiers (deacon) shed Jesus’ blood (wine) in the scourging (into the Chalice).
When the priest washes his hands, Pontius (priest) washes his hands.
When the priest breaks the bread, Jesus is crucified and dies.
When the priest consumes the bread and wine, Jesus is resurrected.

Does anyone have any rationale by which we could say that Christ is literally sacrificed in the Mass?

To allow Christ’s sacrifice to become literal, allow the Holy Spirit to help you accept your role in the Passion and Crucifixion. Are you Jesus’ mother who wants the crucifixion stopped, but you know this has to be, so you stand by and cry silently? Are you the sinner who holds grudges and judges others, who needs the sacrifice of the perfect person for the forgiveness of your sins? Are you Pontius Pilate who feels forced to harm the innocent in order to maintain personal status? Are you the Roman Soldier who beats and spits on Jesus as you pridefully sin? Are you the crowd who excitedly welcomes the Messiah into your home? Are you the crowd who does not want a human to have authority over them, therefore calls for crucifixion? Are you Jesus who is preparing patience and kindness for the worst storm: public unjust cruelty to the point of death?

Thanks for sharing the wonderful question! If you have any additional visions on the Mass presenting Christ’s life, please share! I also really enjoy seeing the events of the Revelation of Jesus Christ (the Marriage Supper of the Lamb) and the Nicene Creed in the Mass.


Moreover, the Sacrifice of the Lamb of God is SPECIAL!
It gives us transforming power to turn US into bread and wine,
what we, the Church was MEANT TO BE for a searching
and hungry world! May the Church WAKE UP to this startling
reality and make AVAILABLE this heavenly banquet by her
good works(esp. to the Poor)!


Catholics believe that the Mass does participate in the everlasting sacrifice of Christ, but Christ does not contiue to be crucified physically or die a physical death in heaven over and over again.

2191 The Church celebrates the day of Christ’s Resurrection on the “eighth day,” Sunday, which is rightly called the Lord’s Day (cf. SC 106).

1356 If from the beginning Christians have celebrated the Eucharist and in a form whose substance has not changed despite the great diversity of times and liturgies, it is because we know ourselves to be bound by the command the Lord gave on the eve of his Passion: "Do this in remembrance of me."181

1357 We carry out this command of the Lord by celebrating the memorial of his sacrifice. In so doing, we offer to the Father what he has himself given us: the gifts of his creation, bread and wine which, by the power of the Holy Spirit and by the words of Christ, have become the body and blood of Christ. Christ is thus really and mysteriously made present.

1358 We must therefore consider the Eucharist as:

  • thanksgiving and praise to the Father;
  • the sacrificial memorial of Christ and his Body;
  • the presence of Christ by the power of his word and of his Spirit.


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