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THE REAL PRESENCE The Real Presence of Christ in the Eucharist CHRIST IN THE EUCHARIST

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The Eucharist as Sacrifice and Sacrament

Mass and Liturgy

Painting of The Crucifixion by Carl Heinrich Bloch

"The Crucifixion"
by Carl Heinrich Bloch, 1870

"This is My Body" Mass
"This is My Blood"

Eucharist as Sacrifice - Sacrament

The most serious challenge to the Catholic faith in the Eucharist was the claim that the Mass is not a real but merely a symbolic sacrifice.

To defend this basic Eucharistic mystery, the Council of Trent made a series of definitions. Originally drafted as negative anathemas, they may be reduced to the following positive affirmation of faith.

  1. The Mass is a true and proper sacrifice which is offered to God.

  2. By the words, "Do this in commemoration of me" (Luke 22:19; I Corinthians 11:24), Christ made the apostles priests. Moreover, He decreed that they and other priests should offer His Body and Blood.

  3. The Sacrifice of the Mass is not merely an offering of praise and thanksgiving, or simply a memorial of the sacrifice on the Cross. It is a propitiatory sacrifice which is offered for the living and dead, for the remission of sins and punishment due to sin, as satisfaction for sin and for other necessities.

  4. The Sacrifice of the Mass in no way detracts from the sacrifice which Christ offered on the Cross (Council of Trent, Session XXII, September 17, 1562).

Volumes of teaching by the Church's magisterium have been written since the Council of Trent. There has also been a remarkable development of doctrine in a deeper understanding of the Mass. For our purpose, there are especially two questions that need to be briefly answered: 1) How is the Sacrifice of the Mass related to the sacrifice of the Cross? 2) How is the Mass a true sacrifice?

Elevation of the Body and Blood of Jesus Christ in front of the tilma of Our  Lady of Guadalupe. Relation of the Mass to Calvary. In order to see how the Mass is related to Calvary, we must immediately distinguish between the actual Redemption of the world and the communication of Christ's redemptive graces to a sinful human race.

On the Cross, Christ really redeemed the human family. He is the one true Mediator between God and an estranged humanity. On the Cross, He merited all the graces that the world would need to be reconciled with an offended God.

When He died, the separation of His blood from His body caused the separation of His human soul from the body, which caused His death. He willed to die in the deepest sense of the word. He chose to die. In His own words, He laid down His life for the salvation of a sinful mankind.

But His physical death on Calvary was not to be an automatic redemption of a sin-laden world. It would not exclude the need for us to appropriate the merits He gained on the Cross; nor would it exclude the need for our voluntary cooperation with the graces merited by the Savior's shedding of His blood.

The key to seeing the relation between Calvary and the Mass is the fact that the same identical Jesus Christ now glorified is present on the altar at Mass as He was present in His mortal humanity on the Cross.

Since it is the same Jesus, we must say He continues in the Mass what He did on Calvary except that now in the Mass, He is no longer mortal or capable of suffering in His physical person. On Calvary He was, by His own choice, capable of suffering and dying. What He did then was to gain the blessings of our redemption. What He does now in the Mass is apply these blessings to the constant spiritual needs of a sinful, suffering humanity.

Before we look more closely at the Mass as a sacrifice of propitiation and petition, we should make plain that it is first and foremost, a sacrifice of praise (adoration) and thanksgiving. No less than He did on Calvary, in the Mass Jesus continues to offer Himself to the heavenly Father. Since the highest form of honor to God is sacrifice, the Mass is a continuation of Christ's sacrifice of praise and gratitude to God the Father. But, whereas on Calvary, this sacrificial adoration was bloody, causing Christ's physical death by crucifixion, in the Mass the same Jesus is now sacrificing Himself in an unbloody manner because he is now glorified, immortal, and incapable of suffering or dying in His own physical person.

We now turn from the Mass as a sacrifice of adoration and thanks (referring to God), to the Mass as a sacrifice of propitiation and petition (referring to us).

Notice we use two words, propititation and petition. They are not the same.

  1. The Mass is the most powerful means we have to obtain propitiation for sin. This occurs in different ways.

  2. The Mass is a powerful means of petition to God for the graces that we and others need in our pilgrimage through life.

In both ways, as a means of propitiation and petition, the Mass is a sacrament. It confers the graces needed from God's mercy to expiate the sins of the past and the graces needed from God's bounty to obtain His blessings for the future.

The Mass a True Sacrifice. Since the first century of her existence, the Church has considered the Mass a sacrifice. The earliest manual of the liturgy (before 90 A.D.) has this directive for the attendance of Sunday Mass.

"On the Lord's own day, assemble in common to break bread and offer thanks. But first confess your sins so that your sacrifice may be pure. However, no one quarreling with his brother may join your meeting until they are reconciled; your sacrifice must not be defiled (Teaching of the Twelve Apostles, 14)."

Why is the Mass a true sacrifice? Because in the Mass the same Jesus Christ who offered Himself on Calvary now offers Himself on the altar. The Priest is the same, the Victim is the same, and the end or purpose is the same.

The Priest is the same Jesus Christ whose sacred person the ordained priest represents and in whose Name he offers the Eucharistic Sacrifice.

The Victim is the same, namely the Savior in His human nature, with His true Body and Blood, and His human free will. Only the manner of offering is different. On the Cross, the sacrifice was bloody; in the Mass it is unbloody because Christ is now in His glorified state. But the heart of sacrifice is the voluntary, total offering of oneself to God. Christ makes this voluntary offering in every Mass, signified by the separate consecration of the bread and wine into the Body and Blood of the Redeemer.

The end or purpose is the same, namely to give glory to God, to thank Him, to obtain His mercy, and to ask Him for our needs. But, as we have seen, whereas on Calvary Christ merited our salvation, it is mainly through the Mass that He now dispenses the riches of His saving grace.

Pocket Catholic Catechism, John A. Hardon, S.J., An Image Book, Published by Doubleday
Copyright © 1989 by John A. Hardon, All Rights Reserved


* Sancta Missa-Tutorial on the Latin Mass According to the 1962 Missale Romanum
"It is our hope that this tutorial will assist Priests to learn how to offer the Tridentine Mass and for the Faithful, to learn how to pray the Mass with greater devotion and fervor."

The Holy Chalice of Valencia
* Mass Times
This place is the definitive resource for finding out what time Masses are held at churches and tourist locations throughout the United States. Not only is this a great resource for the business traveler or vacationer, but it also comes in handy when you need to know what time Masses are being held in the local churches around the area where you live.

* The Sacrifice of the Mass - Fr. John A. Hardon, S.J.
"My plan is to see something of the riches of faith revealed to us in the mystery of the Mass as sacrifice…And all the while, in reflecting on the mystery of the Mass from these different perspectives, we should apply the insights to ourselves."

* The Instruction ‘Redemptionis Sacramentum’ — III - Archbishop Raymond L. Burke
By virtue of the grace of the Sacrament of Baptism, which is strengthened and increased by the Sacrament of Confirmation, all of us are called to offer worship to God, especially through the Eucharistic Sacrifice. Worship of God, that is, participation in the Holy Mass, is, in fact, the greatest service we give in the Church. By our participation in the Holy Eucharist, we unite ourselves to Christ in His Sacrifice, pouring out our lives, with Him, in love of God and our neighbor.

* Transubstantiation - Fr. John A. Hardon, S.J. (MP3 File)
Fr. Hardon, who was Blessed Mother Teresa's spiritual director, was asked by Sister Fredrick to give a talk on the definition of Transubstantiation to the Missionaires of Charity who were preparing for their final vows in Calcutta India in 1997. This audio is a half hour extract from that talk which is a response to a question: What do you mean by this statement, "The physical property of Christ's human nature is present in the Holy Eucharist?" on 11/29/97 Class #3 on the Sacrament of the Holy Eucharist and the document "Mysterium Fidei".

Please note the following copyright notice before downloading the file:
Copyright © 1997 Inter Mirifica Inc.
(P) Luminex Technology Inc. 1997
Licensed for personal use only.

* The Priesthood of the Faithful - Fr. John A. Hardon, S.J.
"The Mass, being in the vernaclular, now brings out more clearly than ever the intimate participation of the faithful in the Holy Sacrifice.…They [the faithful] participate in the priesthood. The question is how? It is worth going into this subject because it is part of divine revelation."

* How to Make the Mass More Vital in the Religious Life - Fr. John A. Hardon, S.J.
"…our answer is or should be, we make the Mass more vital in our religious life by knowing the Mass, second by living the Mass and thirdly, by participating in the Mass."

* Holy Mass - Holy Innocents: The Holy Sacrifice Versus Human Sacrifice - Fr. John A. Hardon, S.J.
"The title of our present meditation is certainly strange. In fact, it is really two titles wrapped in one. Both parts of the title are contrasts. The first is between the Holy Mass and the innocents who were killed by King Herod. The second is a contrast between the sacrifice of Christ and the sacrifices of human beings."

* Kneeling and Faith in the Eucharist - Regis Scanlon (EWTN)

* The Mass - Fr. Mateo Crawley-Boevey, SS.CC. (Immaculata Magazine)

* The Redeeming Power of the Mass - (Holy Face Association)

* EWTN: The Eucharist - has several introductory articles on the Mass and Communion

* Daily Word Catholic Mass Readings - (CIN)

Cardinal Arinze
* Search EWTN Libraries for mass, liturgy - (many articles)

* Articles on the Mass - (The Catholic Pages)

* The Institution of the Mass - (Catholic Answers)

* The Sacrifice of the Mass - (Catholic Answers)

* The Order of Mass - Basic Texts for the Roman Catholic Eucharist - (Catholic Resources)

* Celebration of Mass - (Archdiocese of St. Louis - Enter : Celebration of Mass)

* The Sunday Eucharist is the Testimony of Charity - Papal Address at Rome's Diocesan Conference (Zenit)
The Eucharist is the memorial of the Death and Resurrection of Jesus Christ, of his love to the end for each one of us, memorial that He willed to entrust to the Church so that it would be celebrated throughout the centuries. According to the meaning of the Hebrew word "zakar," the "memorial" is not simply the memory of something that happened in the past, but a celebration which actualizes that event, so as to reproduce its salvific force and efficacy.


* ADOREMUS: Society for the Renewal of the Sacred Liturgy - according to Vatican II (Adoremus)

* What Is Liturgy Supposed to Be and Do? - by Peter A. Kwasniewski (The Catholic Faith)

* Liturgy of the Hours (The Liturgy of the Hours Apostolate)

* Universalis - This site uses the version of the Liturgy of the Hours given in the Roman Breviary and does all the calendar calculations for you, and presents you with the psalms and readings for each hour of today, every day.

* The Catholic Liturgy Library - This site is dedicated to providing accurate historical and current information about the liturgies of the Latin (Roman) rite of the Catholic Church.

* Meeting Christ in the Liturgy - (MCITL)

* Sacred Music - Reflections on Sacred Music and the Liturgy - Peter A. Kwasiewski (EWTN)

* Catholic Information Network: Liturgy and Prayer - links to various liturgy and mass resources (CIN)

* The Scandal of the Liturgy - book by Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger, reviewed by Fr. Paul Scalia (Adoremus Bulletin)

* Kneeling and Faith in the Eucharist - Fr. Regis Scanlon (EWTN)

Latin Liturgy

* The Latin Liturgy Association - promotes the use of Latin in the liturgy

* Coalition for the support of Ecclesia Dei

Universal Catechism and the Catholic Encyclopedia

* Catechism of the Catholic Church:

      The Celebration of the Christian Mystery
      The Liturgy - Work of the Holy Trinity
      Celebrating the Church's Liturgy: Who, How
      The Celebration of the Christian Mystery: When, Where, Diversity

* Catholic Encyclopedia: (New Advent)

      Chapter and Conventual Mass
      Nuptual Mass
      Parochial Mass
      Liturgy of the Mass
      Music of the Mass
      The Sacrifice of the Mass
      Canon of the Mass
      The Last Supper
      Altar (in Liturgy)
      Altars (in Scripture)
      History of the Christian Altar
      Altar Breads
      Altar Wine
      Altar Vessels
      Liturgical Books
      Liturgical Chant
      Liturgy of the Hours

Church Architecture

* Guidelines for Church Architecture - Tabernacle Placement - Bishop Raymond Burke of the Diocese of La Crosse (Adoremus Bulletin)

* Placing of the Tabernacle - Fr. George Saunders (EWTN)


* Church Documents on the Mass and Liturgy

The painting of The Crucifixion by Carl Bloch is used with the permission of
Det Nationalhistoriske Museum på Frederiksborg, Hillerød, Denmark

Photos of the Holy Father are © Grzegorz Galazka
and used with permission of Inside theVatican magazine, 1-800-789-9494.

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