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The Eucharist: Sacrifice and Sacrament

The Sacrament of the Eucharist has two sides: it is both a sacrifice and a sacrament. Inasmuch as biological life is nothing but a reflection, a dim echo, and a shadow of the divine life, one can find analogies in the natural order for the beauties of the divine. Does not nature itself have a double aspect: a sacrifice and a sacrament? The vegetables which are served at table, the meat which is presented on the platter, are the natural sacraments of the body of man. By them he lives. If they were endowed with speech, they would say: “Unless you have communion with me, you will not live.”

But if one inquires as to how the lower creation of chemicals, veg­etables, or meats came to be the sacrament or the communion of man, one is immediately introduced to the idea of sacrifice. Did not the vegetables have to be pulled up by their roots from the earth, submitted to the law of death, and then pass through the ordeal of fire before they could become the sacrament of physical life, or have communion with the body? Was not the meat on the platter once a living thing, and was it not submit­ted to the knife, its blood shed on the soil of a natural Gethsemane and Calvary before it was fit to be presented to man?

Nature, therefore, suggests that a sacrifice must precede a sacrament; death is the prelude to a communion. In some way, unless the thing dies, it does not begin to live in a higher kingdom. To have, for example, a Communion service without a sacrifice would be, in the natural order, like eating our vegetables uncooked, and our meat in the raw. When we come face to face with the realities of life, we see that we live by what we slay. Elevating this to the supernatural order, we still live by what we slay.

It was our sins that slew Christ on Calvary, and yet by the power of God risen from the dead and reigning gloriously in Heaven, He now becomes our life and has communion with us and we with Him. In the divine order, there must be the Sacrifice or the Consecration of the Mass before there can be the sacrament or the Communion of the soul and God.

Relation of Baptism and the Eucharist

Baptism is the initiation to the Christian life, and corresponds in the biological order to the beginning of life. But the birth to divine life comes only through a death; that is to say, an immersion under water which mystically symbolizes dying and being buried with Christ. The Eucharist is a sacrifice; it also incorporates us to the death of Christ. Baptism, however, is a more passive representation of that death, particularly in an infant, where the will of the infant does not submit to it, except through the sponsors. The Eucharist is a much more active representation of the death of Christ because the Mass is an unbloody presentation of the sacrificial death of Christ outside the walls of Jerusalem.

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