This same Report delineated and rejected two extreme views of what happens at the Eucharist: ‘the Lord’s Supper is neither the occasion of a simple recollection of Christ and his death, nor yet a repetition of Calvary.’16
16 Ibid. 115.
If so, what then is the Eucharist in its essential link with the once-and-for-all, sacriﬁcial, self-giving of Christ?
In the celebration of the Eucharist ordained priests are visible signs of the invisible Christ, Priest and Victim or Offerer and Offering, whose unique and sufﬁcient sacriﬁce, accomplished once and for all in his life, death, and resurrection, continues to be present and operative on behalf of the whole human race. The heart of this thesis is the Augustinian-style distinction between the ‘visible signs’ (the ministerial priests) and the ‘invisible Christ’, perpetually present and active through the Holy Spirit in his priestly work at the sacriﬁcial meal that is the Eucharist. In the founding event of his sacriﬁce that would deﬁne forever the Christian story, Jesus established a new covenant with God, which he visibly articulated at the Last Supper and ratiﬁed through his death and resurrection. Through instituting the Eucharist as the perpetual, living, and effective commemoration of his sacriﬁce in which he would remain dynamically present, he could draw into his own self-offering all later generations of believers. This is to recognize that the Eucharist is neither a mere ‘memorial’ of Christ’s sacriﬁce nor simply a communion in the ‘beneﬁts’ Christ has brought to human beings. His beneﬁts, whether at the Eucharist or beyond, are ‘unavailable without his person’ and his personal presence.17
17 G. Hunsinger, The Eucharist and Ecumenism (New York: Cambridge University Press, 2008), 16.
In their Final Report, ARCIC joined all those who insist that the Eucharist is not ‘a repetition of the historical sacriﬁce’, and added: ‘it is a sacriﬁce in a sacramental sense’.18