The Catechetical Review - Communicating Christ for a New Evangelization

The Spiritual Life: Sacrifice – Path to Communion

Authored by André Villeneuve in Issue #8.4 of Catechetical Review

Editor’s Note: The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops has announced a three-year Eucharistic revival, to reawaken Catholics to the goodness, the beauty, and the truth of Jesus in the Eucharist. Each issue of the Catechetical Review, during the revival, will feature an article on the Eucharist, to empower our readers to make increasingly more meaningful contributions to the Eucharistic faith of those we teach. We hope you enjoy this article.

The great mystery of Christ’s sacrifice for us is at the heart of the Christian faith: “For Christ, our Paschal Lamb, has been sacrificed” (1 Cor 5:7). As the Catechism explains, Jesus’ death manifests his sacrifice in two ways:

Christ’s death is both the Paschal sacrifice that accomplishes the definitive redemption of men, through “the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world,” and the sacrifice of the New Covenant, which restores man to communion with God by reconciling him to God through the “blood of the covenant, which was poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins.” (CCC 613)

Thus, the two principal effects of Christ’s sacrifice are, first, to remove our sins, and, second, to restore communion with God. Transformed by this gift of divine love, we are called to imitate Jesus and “walk in love, as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us, a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God” (Eph 5:2). Indeed, the Church teaches that every baptized Christian participates in Christ’s sacrifice (CCC 618). We are especially joined to it in the sacrament of the Eucharist, which makes Christ’s sacrifice ever present to us (CCC 1364). The Eucharist is a sacrifice because “it re-presents (makes present) the sacrifice of the cross, because it is its memorial and because it applies its fruit” to our lives by taking away our sins and restoring communion with God (CCC 1366).

The problem is that for most people today, the biblical notion of sacrifice seems obscure. What does sacrifice in general, and Christ’s sacrifice in particular, really mean? And how do the sacraments—especially Reconciliation and the Eucharist—manifest the Lord’s sacrifice?

The best way to gain insight into these questions is to consider the symbolism of the sacrifices in the Old Testament.

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This article is from The Catechetical Review (Online Edition ISSN 2379-6324) and may be copied for catechetical purposes only. It may not be reprinted in another published work without the permission of The Catechetical Review by contacting editor@catechetics.com

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