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Another way to understand the Eucharistic celebration is as the memorial of Christ’s own sacrifice on the Cross.

In the Scriptures, a memorial is not just the mental recollection of events in the past, but the proclamation of the mighty deeds of God done by God for the human race.  In a liturgical celebration, those past events, through the Holy Spirit, become present and real.  (This is how Israel understands its yearly celebration of Passover.  The events of the Exodus are not just recalled or remembered in the mind, but are made present to believers so that those celebrating may conform their lives to those events.)

So, when we celebrate the Eucharist, we not only remember Christ’s own death and resurrection; they are made present – the sacrifice Christ offered once for all on the cross remains ever present.

The Eucharistic celebration is a sacrifice because it re-presents (makes present) the sacrifice of the cross.  But the Eucharistic celebration is not another or new sacrifice of Christ on the cross.  As St. John Paul II wrote in one of his encyclicals, “The Mass makes present the sacrifice of the Cross; it does not add to that sacrifice nor does it multiply it.”  As the Catechism of the Catholic Church states: “The Eucharist is thus a sacrifice because it re-presents (makes present) the sacrifice of the Cross, because it is its memorial and because it applies its fruit,” which will be the subject of a reflection later this year.

The Eucharist is also the sacrifice of the Church.  The Body of Christ, washed clean in his Blood, participates in the offering of its head.  “The lives of the faithful, their praises, sufferings, prayers, and work are united with those of Christ . . . and so acquire a new value.” (CCC, #1368)

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