Therefore the identity between the sacrifice of the Mass and the sacrifice of Calvary could seem to be obvious, since 'our altar is the altar of Christ, on which we celebrate his sacrifice, in fact, on which we offer him up to the Father in the Sacrament of his very own body and blood.' For if the daily sacrifice of the church were other than the sacrifice offered once and for all on the cross, 'it would not be true but superfluous,' since the only sacrifice that truly availed was that offered on Calvary and an effective sacrifice in the Mass had to be identical with it. The two sacrifices were one sacrifice... Yet there remained the statement of the New Testament that the sacrifice of the cross had been 'once and for all.' From it there appeared to follow the thesis that the crucifixion of Christ could not be repeated 'as a punishment,' but only as a re-presentation of the mystery. [Pelikan, The Growth of Medieval Theology, 190; emphasis added]How then did Calvin (for example) get this wrong, so that he apparently believed otherwise about what the Church taught? I suppose he must have looked at the common language used with regard to the sacrifice of the Mass, and simply missed the fact that it is not intended as a literal re-sacrifice at all. I don't know.
Sunday, May 24, 2009
The Eucharist as Re-Presentation
There are folks who misunderstand what the Church teaches about the Eucharist, falsely supposing (possibly because they follow the erroneous opinion of Calvin or some other Reformer) that Catholics are to view the Sacrament as a re-sacrifice of Christ. This notion is false.