Q. Jesus said, “This is my body given for you; do this in remembrance of me.” How does our Catholic Church get from remembrance to the idea of calling the mass a sacrifice?

A. The Greek word ANAMNESIS is the Greek word that translates into English as REMEMBER. It would seem to the casual reader of the Gospels that all Jesus is asking for us to do is to Remember his sacrifice.

Luke 22:19

19And when He had taken some bread and given thanks, He broke it and gave it to them, saying, “This is My body which is given for you; do this in remembrance of Me.

But you may not be aware that, in all of scripture, this word only occurs 8 times. All but once (Wisdom 16:6) it is in a sacrificial context. (Lk 22:19. I Cor 11:24, Heb 10:3 Lev 24:7, Num 10:10 & Ps 30 and 70)

In Lev 24:7, for example, 12 loaves of bread were offered to the LORD each Sabbath as a memorial portion or sacrifice. So this word has sacrificial overtones or connotations.

Lev. 24:1 The LORD said to Moses, 2 “Command the Israelites to bring you clear oil of pressed olives for the light so that the lamps may be kept burning continually. 3 Outside the curtain of the Testimony in the Tent of Meeting, Aaron is to tend the lamps before the LORD from evening till morning, continually. This is to be a lasting ordinance for the generations to come. 4 The lamps on the pure gold lampstand before the LORD must be tended continually.

5 “Take fine flour and bake twelve loaves of bread, using two-tenths of an ephah [a] for each loaf. 6 Set them in two rows, six in each row, on the table of pure gold before the LORD. 7 Along each row put some pure incense as a memorial portion to represent the bread and to be an offering made to the LORD by fire. 8 This bread is to be set out before the LORD regularly, Sabbath after Sabbath, on behalf of the Israelites, as a lasting covenant. 9 It belongs to Aaron and his sons, who are to eat it in a holy place, because it is a most holy part of their regular share of the offerings made to the LORD by fire.”

An interesting note is that these loaves were to be placed on a golden altar with a continuously burning lamp and eaten only by the priests “in the holy place because it is most holy of the sacrifices…” v.9

This corresponds to the Eucharistic Sacrifice given to us by Our Lord which is kept in the holy place with a continuously burning lamp, and eaten by the priesthood of all believers.

What Sacrifice do the Prayers Refer to?

Q. A protestant friend once asked me to explain the Eucharistic Prayers with all these references to SACRIFICE.
SUCH AS: What does. Pray my sisters and brothers that OUR SACRIFICE may be acceptable to God the almighty father.

A. This is the sacrifice of Christ which we offer to God through the priest. As always we are enabled to offer this sacrifice through the pure gift and grace of Christ.

Q. What about: “May the Lord accept the SACRIFICE AT YOUR HANDS for the praise and glory of his name for our good and the good of all his church?”
A. Again it is Christ’s sacrifice through the hands of the priest made present by the power and gift of God.

Q. What does the Catholic church mean when it says that THE SACRIFICE is IN THE BREAD AND WINE?

A. Jesus IS the sacrifice for salvation and it is HE WHO is made present under the appearance of bread and wine.

Q. Also why is it a propitiatory/expiatory sacrifice when ALL our sins have already been forgiven at calvary?

A. Well, Christ’s sacrifice paid the price for all sin of all people so IT IS propitiatory/expiatory. But individually we must appropriate that grace. And in His wisdom God desires to strengthen us for our Journey through the dangers of this life so that we stay the course and arrive at death in friendship with Him. Just like our physical bodies need food to remain strong and healthy our souls need the supernatural food of the Eucharist to stay strong and healthy in order to resist Our Enemy. And Confession heals the wounds Our Enemy was able to inflict upon our souls.
As a Protestant I was very much more Gnostic in my approach to religion. All was invisible– spiritual… matter did not matter. But the Catholic faith is not in denial of our physical selves and our need for spiritual as well as physical smells and bells food and drink.

This is my understanding but I am not a theologian so I welcome any corrections with documentation.

Why is the Mass a Sacrifice?

Q. Why do all the Protestant Churches have NO reference to Sacrifice in their Eucharistic Liturgies?

A. Protestants have no reference to “sacrifice” in their services (most are not liturgical) because of the NEW way they began to interpret communion. They rejected the Catholic theology of Eucharistic Communion. Some like Anglicans and Lutherans retained most of the Catholic theology but changed things according to their own preferences and theology. However their liturgies do not confect the bread and wine into the real body and blood of Christ. Most other Protestants reject nearly everything Catholic.

As time has passed, when many Protestants hear that Catholics offer the sacrifice of the mass they jump to the conclusion that Jesus is dying over and over again. Unfortunately, they rarely consult an authoritative Catholic source to find out if their conclusion is correct. We believe nothing of the sort, of course.

Scripture says Christ died ONCE… But believing we are sacrificing Jesus over and over has,  for those who are anti-Catholic,  the desired effect of making it look as if the Catholic Church does not know scripture.

The Sacrifice of the Mass is a true sacrifice because it is a RE-PRESENTATION of the one sacrifice of Calvary. We are in a spiritual sense traveling into eternity and enter into the very presence of Jesus outside of time or back in time at the foot of the cross.
Historically, the early fathers referred to this as a sacrifice. The job of any priest is to offer sacrifice for the people. On Calvary Jesus offered His body and Blood to God for the salvation of the world. In our liturgies we re-present this sacrifice for the people. God changes it from bread and wine to the body and blood of Christ. And so we offer the body and blood of Christ. This is how God in His infinite wisdom allows us, who are stuck in time, to be present to His sacrifice and partake of it.

Sacrifice of the Mass

Q. Scripture clearly says that “Christ was sacrificed once”. And yet the Catholic Church says their mass is a sacrifice. We know this is done over and over at their masses all over the world, every day. Thousands of sacrifices a day. Why do Catholics call the mass a sacrifice when this so obviously contradicts scripture?

A. Let me say that the mass in the Catholic Church certainly IS a sacrifice. That is why we call it the sacrifice of the mass. However, this sacrifice is completely unlike the sacrifices of the Old Testament because Jesus Christ is God. And God is ETERNAL. Therefore, Jesus’ ONE sacrifice is Eternal.

Yes, it happened once in time on planet earth. It was an historical event. However, this sacrifice sufficed for the forgiveness of sins for all of mankind both before the crucifixion and after it up to our own time and beyond. An ETERNAL SACRIFICE. Because the Lamb of sacrifice is the Eternal God of the universe He is able to offer an eternal sacrifice.

Hebrews 9:25 Nor did he enter heaven to offer himself again and again, the way the high priest enters the Most Holy Place every year with blood that is not his own. 26 Then Christ would have had to suffer many times since the creation of the world. But now he has appeared once for all at the end of the ages to do away with sin by the sacrifice of himself. 27 Just as man is destined to die once, and after that to face judgment, 28 so Christ was sacrificed once to take away the sins of many people;

Hebrews 10:11 Day after day every priest stands and performs his religious duties; again and again he offers the same sacrifices, which can never take away sins. 12 But when this priest had offered for all time one sacrifice for sins, he sat down at the right hand of God. 13 Since that time he waits for his enemies to be made his footstool, 14 because by one sacrifice he has made perfect forever those who are being made holy.

Because Jesus offered Himself in an eternal sacrifice for sins He appears in Heaven to John as a Lamb that has been slain.

Revelation 5:6 Then I saw a Lamb, looking as if it had been slain, standing in the center of the throne, encircled by the four living creatures and the elders. He had seven horns and seven eyes, which are the seven spirits of God sent out into all the earth.

So, because His sacrifice is an eternal sacrifice, at our masses we are not killing Jesus over and over and over again every time we celebrate the mass. Absolutely not! What happens is in obedience to Christ we celebrate The Lord’s Supper partaking of the bread which has become His body and the cup which contains His blood. We are transported, in a spiritual sense to the foot of the cross and partake of that ONE SACRIFICE. So, the scrim of time is pulled back at the Catholic mass and we commune with Christ in Heaven. Because He is eternal, His sacrifice is eternal. It is we who are in time and must physically return, in time, to partake of that one eternal sacrifice. His one sacrifice is re-presented to us who are still in time. His sacrifice is not repeated.

Malachi 1:11 My name will be great among the nations, from the rising to the setting of the sun. In every place incense and pure offerings will be brought to my name, because my name will be great among the nations,” says the LORD Almighty.

This is seen as prophesying the unbloody (pure) sacrifice of the mass that is offered to God “from the rising to the setting of the sun” every day in our Catholic Churches.