T H E E U C H A R I S T A S A S A C R I F I C E
The solution to this modern dilemma is simple — put Jesus back at the center of the Eucharist and you immediately change all of this. In his encyclical Pope John Paul II says, “In giving his sacrifice to the Church, Christ has also made his own the spiritual sacrifice of the Church, which is called to offer herself in union with the sacrifice of Christ.This is the teaching of the Second Vatican Council concerning all the faithful: ‘Taking part in the Eucharistic Sacrifice,which is the source and summit of the whole Christian life,they offer the divine victim to God,and offer themselves along with it.’ ”2
As we participate in the Eucharist, not only do we participate in Christ’s sacrifice on Calvary but we are called to share in that sacrifice.Just knowing this should change how we view everything that irks us at Mass. Are you:
• Suffering mental anguish — like a crown of thorns isupon your head?
• Weighed down by worldly concerns — like the weight ofthe cross is on you?
• Feeling powerless — like you are nailed to a cross?If we take away a sacrificial attitude toward the Eucharist, we are likely to fail to see the connection between our lives and what we do at Mass.We are apt to sit in judgment, waiting to be entertained (whether we are conservative or liberal, what we want to see differs but the attitude is the same). When we fail to bring a sacrificial attitude to the Eucharist, our participation seems at times to be modeled more after Herod’s banquet, where Simone’s dance cost the Baptist his head, than after the Last Supper of Our Lord, where there was every indication that partaking in this banquet was likely to cost the disciples their own lives. (Indeed, ten of the twelve were martyred,Judas took his own life,and John survived being boiled alive in a cauldron of oil.)
When was the last time that you celebrated the Eucharist with the thought that you were being asked to “offer yourself” — to give your very life? Chances are,you haven’t thought of it,but you may have experienced it …
• By thinking “I could be doing something else.”
• By asking “Why am I here?”
Yet you weren’t doing anything else and you were there — what was missing was the free offering of “your sacrifice,” the choice to offer your suffering along with that of the Passion of Our Lord.
Participation in the Eucharist requires that we die to ourselves and live in Christ. If we want to get the most out of the Eucharist, then sacrifice is the key.This is what has been lost on many of us, and if we want to reclaim all the spiritual riches that are available to us we must relearn what it means not only to “offer it up” but indeed to offer ourselves up.