Myth: Catholic’s “re-sacrifice” Jesus at Mass

No, we don’t “re-sacrifice” Jesus at Mass.

Our “worship service” is The Most Holy Sacrifice of the Mass and yes, there is a very real sacrifice. In fact, it is the ultimate and most complete sacrifice possible. It is the one perfect sacrifice of our Lord and Savior in atonement for our sins.

What happens at Mass is not in any way a new sacrifice or re-sacrifice. It is the passion and death of Jesus Christ 2,000 years ago. We are present at that sacrifice. Sometimes, for simplicity, we describe it as a “re-presentation.”

I will let you in on a little secret. Mass is not actually a re-presentation either. The Oberammergau passion play is a re-presentation. There is no actual sacrifice there, only the enactment of one. Jesus is not present in the literal sense – they are just actors.

The Mass is the ancient Christian liturgy, celebrated by priests ordained through an unbroken chain of succession to the Apostles. Every priest can trace his priestly lineage all the way back to St. Peter, the first pope.

Assemble on the Lord’s day, and break bread and offer the Eucharist; but first make confession of your faults, so that your sacrifice may be a pure one. Anyone who has a difference with his fellow is not to take part with you until he has been reconciled, so as to avoid any profanation of your sacrifice (Matthew 5:23-24). For this is the offering of which the Lord has said, “Everywhere and always bring me a sacrifice that is undefiled, for I am a great king, says the Lord, and my name is the wonder of nations” (Malachi 1:11,14).

Didache 14; 70 A.D.

In the Catholic sanctuary, the altar is more than a table to hold scripture. It is the altar of sacrifice upon which bread and wine, no different than that which Jesus consecrated at the last supper, are taken by God’s angel to His altar in heaven (Eucharistic Prayer I – Roman Canon). From Him we receive the sacred body and blood of His Son. The priest in persona Christi (in the person of Christ) says the words of consecration but the words are of Jesus and the place is the last supper, His passion and Calvary. We are there, along with all the angels and saints of heaven.

“When you see the Lord immolated and lying upon the altar, and the priest bent over that sacrifice praying, and all the people empurpled by that precious blood, can you think that you are still among men and on earth? Or are you not lifted up to heaven?” (The Priesthood 1118 – 3, 4, 177; 387 A.D.).

“Reverence, therefore, reverence this table, of which we are all communicants! Christ, slain for us, the sacrificial victim who is placed thereon!” (Homilies on Romans 8:8; 391 A.D.).

Saint John Chrysostom
Doctor of the Church

We do not “attend” Mass. The eternal heavenly liturgy is transcendent and outside of time as heaven itself briefly touches us. We are in fact, participants concurrently with those at every other Mass throughout the world, concurrently with those at every past Mass and concurrently with those at every Mass yet to come.

Mass is holy, not entertaining. From the Mass we receive the Eucharist, the body, blood, soul and divinity of Jesus. We fall to our knees at His real presence.

For most of Christian history, this is how all Christians worshiped. It is still how Catholics worship and always will be. To the Protestant ear, it may sound hard to believe – much as disciples found Jesus words in the Bread of Life Discourse (John 6:22) hard. The Eucharist truly is the real presence of our Lord and the Mass solidly biblical (see also this and this).

Scott Hahn was a curious Protestant minister when he attended his first Mass. In plainclothes, sitting in the very back, he expected to witness the ultimate sacrilege. He was far from the first person surprised by the truth:

As the Mass moved on, however, something hit me. My Bible wasn’t just beside me. It was before me — in the words of the Mass! One line was from Isaiah, another from the Psalms, another from Paul. The experience was overwhelming. I wanted to stop everything and shout, “Hey, can I explain what’s happening from Scripture? This is great!” Still, I maintained my observer status. I remained on the sidelines until I heard the priest pronounce the words of consecration: “This is My Body…   This is the cup of My Blood.”

Then I felt all my doubt drain away. As I saw the priest raise that white host, I felt a prayer surge from my heart in a whisper: “My Lord and my God. That’s really you!”

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