Catholic Theology and the Re-Sacrifice of Christ

I’m giving serious consideration to taking our entire Sunday School program through the Heidelberg Catechism beginning this fall (and continuing for as long as it takes!). One of the resources I’m working through to help me in preparation is Kevin DeYoung’s The Good News We Almost Forgot.

I was interested to read this from DeYoung on the question of how the (evangelical) Lord’s Supper differs from the Catholic Mass:

To be fair, Catholic theology does not consider the Eucharist a re-sacrifice of Christ. “The sacrifice of Christ and the sacrifice of the Eucharist are one single sacrifice…” (Catechism of the Catholic Church, 1367). Thus, Catholic theologians do not agree with the Heidelberg that the Mass is “nothing but a denial of the one sacrifice and suffering of Jesus Christ.” The sacrifice of Christ and the Eucharist are one sacrifice performed in different ways, they would argue. Official Catholic teaching does not argue that Christ’s death must be repeated over and over. Rather, it teaches that in the Eucharist the death of Christ is pulled into the present for us to enjoy sacramentally. No Catholic who knows his official theology would claim that the Mass repeats the atoning sacrifice of Christ, because the sacrifice is “ever present” (CCC 1364).

I’m almost ashamed to admit that this is the first time I have ever heard this distinction. Are evangelicals closer to Catholics in our understanding of the real presence of Christ at the Table than we may have previously imagined?

8 Replies to “Catholic Theology and the Re-Sacrifice of Christ”

  1. the evangelical Church’s biggest “beef” with Catholics and the Eucharist is that they seemingly believe the elements used become his actual body and blood. evangelicals see these emblems as symbolic to his body and blood, and my tradition with the Lord Supper service is highly unusual and I believe is a dying form, we allow for any man present to be prompted by the holy spirit to share a scripture, a hymn, a prayer, and as a theme develops the service can become an all out worship experience like none other offered by a local gathering of believers, this method is weekly and can be the best hour of the week. you should experience it one time. although I must tell you most Pastors loathe the idea of parishioners sharing in a service, but in my experience if every male member of the Church knows his responsiblities include contributing to this remembrance of the Lord’s death they usually get steeped in the Word. which is a good thing.

  2. Paul, don’t be deceived: CC 1365 “the Eucharist is also a sacrifice”, CC 1366 “The Eucharist is thus a sacrifice”, CC 1367 notes that the priests offer the sacrifice and “an unbloody sacrifice”, CC 1368 “Christ’s sacrifice present on the alter”, CC 1381 “the true Body of Christ and his true Blood”, CC 1382 “the sacrifice of the cross is perpetuated”, CC 1383, CC 1410, CC 1414, CC 1418 “Christ himself is present”. I have listed pieces, but please read the CC yourself. The comment lifts one catechism and tries to explain what they teach, but when you combine all the catechism, the Roman Catholic teaches that the PRIEST re-sacrifices Christ over and over again and that the sacrament is a very real sacrifice. This is disgusting and denies the plain text of scripture that Christ was crucified ONCE. They deny what Christ truly did and are not trusting in what Christ did, but in what they can do and the “mass” that they observe. They have recreated the Old Testament priesthood with a new set of laws and observances to follow…

    kevin is fooled into thinking that transubstantiation is the biggest “beef” we have. It is not. The biggest issue is how we are justified before God. The “mass” deceptively entices one to trust in what the priest is doing, instead of looking at the finished work of Jesus on the Cross.

  3. Ancient sacrificial offerings (both in paganism and Judiasim) consisted of two parts. First the offering to God by a priest and then the communial sharing (eating) of the meal; the banquet.
    The Old Covenant (Testament) sacrifice took place at the bottom of the mountain with twelve pillars (representing the twelve sons of Israel) surrounding the altar. The blood however was forbidden to be drank because the life of the animal was believed to be in it.

    The Jewish Messiah comes and establishing twelve apostles from His Jewish disiples which are sons of Israel. He choses them after coming down from the moutain. And during the feast of the unleavened bread (with His twelve apostles around Him) He speaks about the New testament (Covenant).

    American Christians ignore these ancient Jewish Christian Bible readings. All ancient sacrifices included the communial meal. If Jesus is the perfect sacrifice, where is the meal?

  4. Jesus is the Priest (Hebrews 9:11). Jesus is the Sacrifice (Hebrews 9:12). Jesus is the Meal (1 Corinthians 11:24-25).

    See also Acts 2:42; Revelation 3:20; Revelation 19:9

  5. That was over 19 centuries ago. Reading about it or taking some bread and pretending it is the sacrificial meal that Paul is referring to doesn’t make it so. All the wishful thinking in the world will not make it the meal. Bread is bread and wine is wine. Saying he was speaking symbolically might be comforting but we can read history and aren’t dumb. We know what Christians taught and believed and practiced for 15 centuries before the symbolical concept came to be. The majority of the descendents from those ancient Christians still believe the consecrated bread becomes the living resurrected lamb.
    The only way people can truly partake of the one bread is if the bread is the one bread. Pretending it is isn’t the same.
    Imagine if God could appear as a burning bush, or a column of fire or smoke. Imagine if God could appear as a dove or as fire without ever becoming any of these.
    But then again, people don’t really believe God ever appeared as those things. Not really. When it comes down to it they don’t believe in miracles or the Bible even when presented with both. That is why they don’t believe God can appear as mere bread any more than they believe Jesus changed water into wine.
    If they truly believed then they would enter into the sacrifice and the sacrificial meal and not just pretend too. But that would take faith.
    And that is something most people lack.

  6. There once was a God who created a garden with many different trees who then created a man and placed him in this beautiful garden. Within this garden were two trees; the tree of knowledge and the tree of life. He told the man he may eat the fruit of any tree in the garden but he may not eat from the tree of knowledge for the moment he ate of it he would surely die.

    But the devil called God a liar and told the man he would not die. The man ceased to have faith in His God and trust Him. God’s Word was not loved and not followed. And so the man ate and died. He lost the life of God in his soul and so He died.

    But God was merciful and sent the man the fruit from the tree of life. The fruit from the tree of life told the man that His flesh was true food and his blood was true drink. That who so ever ate this fruit would never die. He told him “I am the living bread that came down from heaven; whoever eats this bread will live forever; and the bread that I will give is my flesh for the life of the world.”

    And the devil called God a liar. And some of his followers no longer followed Him nor believed Him. But some did and believed what Elizabeth said to Mary, “Blessed is the fruit of your womb”. And the night before the Fruit from Mary’s womb was hung on a tree, He broke the bread and gave it to them and said, “This is my body”. He took the wine and blessed it and said, “This is my blood”. He told them to eat and drink and they obeyed. They live now with Him forever.

    And the devil called God a liar.

  7. Dear Mr Scrivner, it seems to me that your quotes from the Catechism of the Catholic Church do not contradict DeYoung’s article at all.

    In fact, I agree with you that the Eucharist is a sacrifice, and that Christ Himself is present in His Body and Blood on the altar. It is through this gift of His real presence that we can participate in the very same sacrifice of Christ on the cross at every Mass. Hence, there is no “re-sacrificing” of Christ but merely the very same sacrifice made possible by Christ’s true Body and Blood.

    Also, as Mr Edwards has mentioned, Christ is both priest and sacrifice. In the Catholic Mass, the priest is the representation of Christ (who is High Priest).

    Finally, to Mr Edwards, I too recommend that you read the CCC to gain a full picture of the teachings of the Catholic Church. God bless!

  8. Christ is not just the priest and the sacrifice. He is also the groom and we are His bride. He is the lover and we are the beloved. He is the groom and we are His bride. He is the husband and we are His wife.

    He is the head and we are His body and He is the savior of our body. He loved us and handed Himself over for us to santify us, cleansing us with the bath of water in His word, so that we might be presented to Him in splendor and without wrinkle. By His forgiveness and grace, He has purified our bodies and souls for union with Himself.

    The resurrected groom loves His bride as His own body and He who loves His wife loves Himself. For he does not hate His own flesh but nourishes it and cherishes it. (Ephesians 5)

    Yesterday evening I received my lover in my hand and then on my tongue as did the rest of us. As I knelt in prayer contemplating His love, and sensing His love on my tongue as it slowly and mystically dissolved with my flesh and into my soul and His with mine, but His resurrected flesh consumed mine and I became more like Him, the words of St Paul rang true in my soul.

    “For this reason a man shall leave (his) father and (his) mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.”
    This is a great mystery, but I speak in reference to Christ and the Church. (Ephesians 5: 31)

    For our husband said “my flesh is true food, and my blood is true drink. Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood remains in me and I in him. Just as the living Father sent me and I have life because of the Father, so also the one who feeds on me will have life because of me.”

    He is more than priest and sacrifice, He is our lover, He is our Groom, He is our Husband, He is our God. He changed water into wine at Cana and changed water into blood at Egypt and changed wine into blood at Jerusalem during the feast of the unleavened bread. At every Mass, He changes the bread and wine into Himself while still appearing as bread and wine. He nourishes us and cherishes us with Himself, and the two become one flesh.

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