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    Fr. Joseph Jenkins

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Mass as Sacrifice & Eucharist as Really Jesus


Jesus, once and for all, died for sins. This saving act is never to be repeated. He now sits at the right hand of God and does not reappear to us in the Mass as a corpse’s blood and flesh.

Jesus dies once:

But this one [Jesus] offered one sacrifice for sins, and took his seat forever at the right hand of God; now he waits until his enemies are made his footstool. For by one offering he has made perfect forever those who are being consecrated. The holy Spirit also testifies to us, for after saying: “This is the covenant I will establish with them after those days, says the Lord: ‘I will put my laws in their hearts, and I will write them upon their minds,’” he also says: “Their sins and their evildoing I will remember no more.” Where there is forgiveness of these, there is no longer offering for sin (Hebrews 10:12-18).

Christ upon the Cross:

Therefore, when Jesus had taken the wine, he said, “It is consummated (finished)!” And bowing his head, he gave up his spirit (John 19:30).

Remembrance, not the forgiveness of sins:

For I received from the Lord what I also handed on to you, that the Lord Jesus, on the night he was handed over, took bread, and after he had given thanks, broke it and said, “This is my body that is for you. Do this in remembrance of me.” In the same way also the cup, after supper, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood. Do this, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of me.” For as often as you eat this bread and drink the cup, you proclaim the death of the Lord until he comes (1 Corinthians 11:23-26).


The Mass is a sacrifice and Holy Communion (through transubstantiation) is the actual body and blood of Jesus Christ.

It is true that Jesus died once and for all. His saving death is unique and the risen Lord will never die again. This is also Catholic doctrine. Further, the Catholic Church also agrees that Holy Communion is not the flesh and blood of a dead Christ. However, everything else is misunderstood by the anti-Catholic critic. The Mass is a real sacrifice in that it resonates in perfect harmony with Calvary. Each celebration of the Mass is not a new slaughter of Christ Jesus. Sometimes, when spoken about as a repetition of the Cross, this confusion arises. The Mass is a sacramental (use of sacred signs) and unbloody re-presentation of the sacrifice of Christ. Like a time machine, we are transported to Calvary and are present at the one saving act of all history. The only thing missing at the Cross was our own self-offering with and in Jesus. The appearances of bread remain, but the sacred elements constitute the risen Lord— body and soul, humanity and divinity– without division or diminishment. There is but one high priesthood in Christianity, that of Jesus Christ. Every ordained priest allows his very self to be appropriated by Christ in a participation in the one priesthood which offers true worship. If the Mass and Calvary are one and the same, then of course it is a sacrifice of propitiation, one which forgives sins. The covenant of Christ is not a stagnant affair locked in past history, the remembrance of the Eucharist makes present what it celebrates. It is a renewal of the new covenant in Christ’s body and blood. The Hebrew notion of “anamnesis” is not like our impoverished nostalgia-type of remembrance. The words of institution said by the priest at Mass, recall the saving supper of the Lamb and make him present— both in his person (his identity) and in his saving activity. The sacrifice of Calvary, re-presented to us throughout time and place, calls us all to unity in the Lord. The Lord himself tells us that unless we eat his body and blood, we can have no part of him. Paul’s words from 1 Corinthians are not merely an academic exercise in studying the institution narrative of the Lord’s Supper. These words were familiar to St. Paul because they constituted the liturgical tradition he had received. These are the words with which St. Paul, an apostle and priest of the new dispensation, offered the Eucharist. Note that after mentioning the Lord’s command to repeat his new ritual, St. Paul talks about our need to be worthy in its reception. Otherwise, we would be held accountable. Unless there is a “real presence” of Christ in the consecrated bread and cup, such a warning would be incoherent. He forewarns them against any further abuse at the Lord’s Supper, including overeating. (Remember, in the early Eucharist, the Lord’s Supper was attached to a regular meal.) It is precisely because of the efficacy of the Eucharist in regard to the forgiveness of sins, (the realization of divine mercy), that St. Paul talks immediately about judgment if we neglect or abuse the privilege.

We must properly understand 1 Corinthians 11:23-27. Look at the last verse; it only makes sense if the Eucharist really is the risen Christ:

Therefore whoever eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord unworthily will have to answer for the body and blood of the Lord (1 Corinthians 11:27).

Self-examination is necessary if we are to appreciate the command to unity which flows from Jesus’ giving of himself and our requirement to repeat his sacrifice with the same spirit of self-donation:

For anyone who eats and drinks without discerning the body, eats and drinks judgment on himself (1 Corinthians 11: 29).

One Response

  1. Dear Fr Joe,
    Our new, errant, Parish Priest, a progressive 12 year old, has stopped the 6pm Sunday Latin Mass, so I decided to visit another parish for Mass last night, Maundy Thursday, and avail myself of confessions afterwards.
    We had a packed Church at 7-30pm, some 300 or so I would say, and the usual out of tune flutes,violently strummed guitar, talentless electric pianist, and the inane repetition of wordless hymns, but I was able to rise above that. As the Celebrant readied the ship for the consecration, what seemed like dozens of women of a certain age and a certain type assembled, sleeves rolled up and arms akimbo, for the ‘distribution’, rather like a highly efficient product trial at a super market.
    Well, I was right at the back, humbly striking my breast and both thanking God that I was not like the rest of men and equally despising myself for doing so, when the two ladies, one armed with a ciborium and the other a chalice, started dispensing Jesus like a dose of ring worm treatment right next to me.
    Amazingly the coiffeured ageing debutant smiling beautifically as she expressed her said piece dropped a host on the floor and it seemed that only I and the recipient noticed. It was picked up in a matter of fact style and simply ‘popped’ in the mouth as if nothing out of the normal had happened at all.
    And then we double genuflected and feigned over accentuated reverence to Jesus tucked up in a pot and reserved at a side altar.
    Is this the ‘New Church’? Is this the way we have to go. I refrained from receiving communion as I had not then been to confessions and I still struggle to receive The Blessed Sacrament from a power dressed business lady smelling of old lace and disinfectant. Well, I must certainly be very odd!
    Struggling with acceptance,
    Love Paul.

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