An Episcopal Dictionary of the Church

Eucharistic Sacrifice

That which is offered to God in the Holy Communion. The identification of Jesus' sacrifice with the eucharist is derived from the Last Supper, when Jesus identified the bread with his body and the wine with his blood of the new covenant (see 1 Cor 11:23-26; Mk 14:22-25). The Letter to the Hebrews describes Christ as the high priest who is the mediator of the new covenant through his once-for-all sacrifice (see Heb 9). Identification of the eucharist as a sacrificial action has been dated from the early third century. However, abuses and exaggerations had become associated with the eucharist by the Reformation era, including the popular concept of the Mass as a repetition of Jesus' death on Calvary. Reactions against this understanding were reflected in the sixteenth-century liturgies of the Lutheran and Anglican churches. Article XXXI of the Articles of Religion denied the efficacy of sacrifice other than Christ's (BCP, p. 874). Anglicans in the Puritan, low-church, and evangelical traditions have closely followed Article XXXI, spurning mention of any sacrifice other than the “full, perfect, and sufficient sacrifice, oblation, and satisfaction” of Jesus' death. Eucharist is not sacrifice in these traditions, and eucharist can only recollect the one sacrifice of Christ. On the other hand, Anglicans in the high church and catholic traditions have taught that eucharist always involves sacrifice. These traditions typically hold that eucharist requires believers to join their lives with Christ's one sacrifice. The eucharistic prayers in the BCP reflect our sacramental participation in the once-for-all sacrifice of our Lord. Eucharistic Prayer B states that “we offer our sacrifice of praise and thanksgiving to you, O Lord of all; presenting to you, from your creation, this bread and this wine,” and asks that God may “Unite us to your Son in his sacrifice, that we may be acceptable through him, being sanctified by the Holy Spirit” (BCP, p. 369). See Oblation.

Glossary definitions provided courtesy of Church Publishing Incorporated, New York, NY,(All Rights reserved) from “An Episcopal Dictionary of the Church, A User Friendly Reference for Episcopalians,” Don S. Armentrout and Robert Boak Slocum, editors.