"Why do we call it the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass?"

By Paul Dion, STL

This morning I started a new curriculum about the relationship between the Bible and the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass. I was quickly surrounded by 15 eager adults, wondering what I was going to say first. I did what I always do, I asked the persons in the group if they had any questions.
The first question was, "What is a sacrifice". We discussed that for about 10 minutes. The definition that were given by the people in the room were very good, exact and correct in fact.
The discussion went over to the next question which was, "Why do we call it the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass?" The person who formulated this question is a highly educated daily Mass goer with a high educational achievement and a strong spiritual life.

To this question, no one in the room had a really strongly acceptable answer. So I spent five minutes answering it. After saying all this, I invite you all to share your answer to the question:

"Why do we call it the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass?"

Let us know your thoughts. Leave a comment below.
Or if you want to take a peek at the answer, CLICK HERE.


  1. How does one answer this 10 minutes before one has to go to work?

    1. OT Sacrifices were propitiatory sacrifices for sins. They were temporary sacrifices for temporary sins.

    2. These OT Sacrifices were types of the last and final Sacrifice, Jesus.

    3. Jesus is the "Agnus Dei, qui tollis pecatta mundi", the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world. He fullfills the specific types of the OT Sacrifices (Abel, Abraham, Melchizedek, etc.)

    4. Christ's Sacrifice was initiated by the Last Supper, the Institution of the Holy Eucharist. Christ did not drink the final cup of the passover saying, "I will not drink again of the fruit of the vine, until..."

    5. Christ's Sacrifice was completed on the altar of the Cross, where he drinks the final "cup", which is sometimes translated as "sour wine" or "vinegar".

    6. By the command "Do this in commemoration of me", the same Sacrifice perpetuates throughout all time in the "holy Sacrifice of the Mass"

    7. The Sacrifice of the Mass, among other purposes for the Mass, is one of propitiation, that is, forgives sins. It must, since it is the same Sacrifice as Calvary, which was itself, propititory.

    -Laurence Gonzaga

  2. Anonymous5:55 PM

    God is eternal everything is present to Him in the NOW past present and future We however live in time or you can say a linear plane, past, present, future. In the Mass it is Christ, the Priest, offering Christ the Victim. The difference is this time it is the sacramental priest offering Christ, the sacramental victim, in an unbloody manner. The sacrifice is eternal. The Holy Sacrifice of the Mass is this eterna action made really present.

    In San Diego there is a beautiful Church in Little Italy calle Our Lady of the Rosary. And the large header of the Church that supports the ceiling is right above the Altar. On this Header is a painting of Calvery with all present just like in the movies. It seems very fitting for it to be painted just above the Altar.

  3. Anonymous:
    I know that church in Little Italy and I concur that the aspect of what you describe is deeply moving.

    Paul Dion
    Theology Editor

  4. I enjoyed the "answer"... it was very concise, and very precise... essentials without the high-theology...