The Holy Eucharist

The Holy Eucharist


The Mass, the Eucharistic liturgy, can be understood as an extension or re-presentation of the sacrifice of Jesus, bringing the power of the cross to bear in the present. Because of who Jesus is, the Mass is indeed described as an anamnesis (a remembrance) of the Last Supper and Calvary, but this term is meant in much more than a merely psychological sense. Since Jesus is divine, all of his actions, including and especially the sacrificial act by which he save the world, participate in the eternity of God and hence can be made present at any point in time. To “remember” him, therefore, is to participate even now in the saving events of the past…. Those who are gathered around the altar of Christ are not simply recall Calvary; Calvary has become present to them in all of its spiritual power. Due to the eternity of Christ, there is indeed a kind of collapsing of the dimensions of time at the Mass, present meeting past—and both present and past anticipating the eschatological future.

Through the final sacrifice of Jesus the high priest, eternal life has been made available to the whole of humanity and the covenant thereby realized. The Sacrifice of the Mass is the participation in this great eternal act by which Jesus entered on our behalf into the heavenly sanctuary with his own blood and returned bearing the forgiveness of the Father.

And thus we can see, finally and fully, the intimate link between the meal and the sacrifice aspects of the Eucharist. Only in the measure that we are transformed through sacrifice, only when our sin and suffering have been dealt with, can we sit down in the fellowship of the sacred banquet. The Eucharistic liturgy is the sacred meal because it is a sacrificial offering.

Robert Barron, Eucharist, (2021)
©Word on Fire Catholic Ministries, Park Ridge, IL