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Chapter 17. The Eucharist: Source and Summit of the Christian Life • 221

us from our sins. This Eucharistic sacrifice is the memorial of Christ’s

redeeming death. The term


in this context is not simply a

remembrance of past events; it is a making present in a sacramental

manner the sacrifice of the Cross of Christ and his victory. “When the

Church celebrates the Eucharist, the memorial of her Lord’s death and

resurrection, this central event of salvation becomes really present and

‘the work of our redemption is carried out’” (EE, no. 11). The Eucharistic

sacrifice is offered to adore and thank God, to pray for all our needs, and

to gain pardon for our sins.

In this divine sacrifice which is made present in the Mass, especially

in the Eucharistic Prayer, the same Christ who offered himself once in a

bloody manner on the altar of the Cross offers himself in an unbloody

manner. Present and effective, Christ’s sacrifice is applied to our lives. “If

the blood of goats . . . can sanctify those who are defiled . . . how much

more will the blood of Christ . . . cleanse our consciences from dead

works to worship the living God” (Heb 9:14).

The Mass is also the sacrifice of the Church. The ordained priest in

the Mass links the Eucharistic consecration to the sacrifice of the Cross

and to the Last Supper (cf. EE, no. 29), thus making it possible that

the sacrifice of Christ becomes the sacrifice of all the members of the

Church. “The lives of the faithful, their praise, sufferings, prayer, and

work, are united with those of Christ and with his total offering, and

so acquire a new value” (CCC, no. 1368). This also reminds us of the

importance of sacrifice in each individual’s life. In a self-centered cul-

ture where people are taught to extend themselves only for something

in return, the sacrifices each of us make, following the example of Jesus,

who freely sacrificed his life in love for all, point to the reality and power

of God’s love for us.

The offering of Christ unites the members here on earth and those

in heaven. The Pope, as chief shepherd of the People of God, is named

at every Mass for the sake of the unity of the whole Church. The bishop

of a diocese is named because he is the shepherd of the local Church and

the instrument of its unity. The text of the Eucharistic Prayer also recalls

the presence of the Blessed Virgin Mary and all the saints as they join

us in this act of worship. Drawing from the benefits of Christ’s sacrifice,