Q. A Protestant friend told me that Catholics crucify Christ again each time we celebrate Holy Mass. What does this mean? Is it true?
A. Some fundamentalist Protestant groups say that when Catholics celebrate Mass, we are intending to recrucify Jesus—that Catholics intend to sacrifice Christ each time the Eucharist is celebrated. They believe that since the Church says we are present at Calvary in the Mass, we mean that the sacrifice of Christ is somehow being repeated.
This is a mistake. The Church teaches that when Mass is celebrated, we are present to the sacrifice of the Cross, mystically reenacting it, perpetuating it to a new place and a new time, and being made present to the one sacrifice of Jesus Christ.
Rather than “sacrificing Jesus again,” in the Mass, we are accessing the power and the mystery of Christ’s sacrifice on the Cross. We are in the presence of the body of Christ, the sacrifice of his life, and we offer ourselves as “living sacrifices”—purified and redeemed by Christ’s sacrifice, and sharers in the mystery of his death, and his resurrection.
The Mass is a profound mystery, rich with meaning, and with power, by the grace of God. The Eucharist is the great grace the Lord has given us. It is the source and summit of our faith. And it allows us to enter the mystery of Christ’s suffering and death, and to enter the eternal mystery of his everlasting life in heaven.
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