Yesterday we began to explore the strain of charity, love, and sanctification arising from the celebration of the Eucharist. Today Pope John Paul quickly links this back into the traditional notion of sacrifice:
12. This aspect of the universal charity of the Eucharistic Sacrifice is based on the words of the Savior himself. In instituting it, he did not merely say: “This is my body”, “this is my blood”, but went on to add: “which is given for you”, “which is poured out for you” (Lk 22:19-20). Jesus did not simply state that what he was giving them to eat and drink was his body and his blood; he also expressed its sacrificial meaning and made sacramentally present his sacrifice which would soon be offered on the Cross for the salvation of all. “The Mass is at the same time, and inseparably, the sacrificial memorial in which the sacrifice of the Cross is perpetuated and the sacred banquet of communion with the Lord’s body and blood”. (CCC 1382)
The Church constantly draws her life from the redeeming sacrifice; she approaches it not only through faith-filled remembrance, but also through a real contact, since this sacrifice is made present ever anew, sacramentally perpetuated, in every community which offers it at the hands of the consecrated minister. The Eucharist thus applies to men and women today the reconciliation won once for all by Christ for mankind in every age. “The sacrifice of Christ and the sacrifice of the Eucharist are one single sacrifice”.(CCC 1367) Saint John Chrysostom put it well: “We always offer the same Lamb, not one today and another tomorrow, but always the same one. For this reason the sacrifice is always only one… Even now we offer that victim who was once offered and who will never be consumed”.(In Epistolam ad Hebraeos Homiliae, Hom. 17,3)
The Mass makes present the sacrifice of the Cross; it does not add to that sacrifice nor does it multiply it.* What is repeated is its memorial celebration, its “commemorative representation” (memorialis demonstratio),(Mediator Dei ) which makes Christ’s one, definitive redemptive sacrifice always present in time. The sacrificial nature of the Eucharistic mystery cannot therefore be understood as something separate, independent of the Cross or only indirectly referring to the sacrifice of Calvary.
* Cf. Ecumenical Council of Trent, Session XXII, Doctrina de ss. Missae Sacrificio, Chapter 2: DS 1743: “It is one and the same victim here offering himself by the ministry of his priests, who then offered himself on the Cross; it is only the manner of offering that is different”
Being able to take traditional teaching and expound on it in a context that has significance for today’s lived witness of the faithful Christian–this is essential to a complete approach to the Eucharist. Citing “sacrifice” without considering its application is empty information.