From the Cross within Time, and yet from all Eternity, Christ saves. Christ’s saving work reached its apex, at a certain point in Time, with His sacrifice on the Cross. And yet the redeeming sacrifice of Christ on the Cross “participates in the divine eternity, and so transcends all times.” (CCC, n. 1085). From Heaven, the blessed constantly view Christ suffering and dying for our salvation on the Cross. The Sacrifice of Christ on the Cross is ever present tense to the Blessed in Heaven. Grace continually pours forth from Christ on the Cross to the Blessed in Heaven. Grace continually pours forth from Christ on the Cross to all of God’s children throughout Time and Place.
From the Cross within Time, and yet from all Eternity, Christ dispenses grace. God’s merciful grace, flowing from Christ on the Cross, is not limited or obstructed by Time. For God is Eternity, just as God is Love, is Mercy, is Justice, is Truth. The Most Blessed Trinity pours out immeasurable merciful grace through Jesus Christ and the Virgin Mary upon all of Creation, throughout all Time and Place, and beyond Time and Place, from timelessness Eternity.
From the Cross within Time, and yet from all Eternity, Christ sanctifies the Blessed Virgin Mary at her Immaculate Conception. At the time of the Immaculate Conception, God did not look forward to foresee or to anticipate the salvific death of Christ, and its merits, and therefore redeem Mary at conception. God is beyond Time. From all Eternity, Christ dying on the Cross dispensed grace to the Blessed Virgin Mary at her Immaculate Conception.
From the Cross within Time, and yet from all Eternity, Christ consecrates the Eucharist. At the Last Supper, Jesus Christ consecrates the Eucharist in a way that is beyond Time and Place, and effective throughout Time and Place — wherever and whenever a Mass is celebrated. At the Last Supper, Jesus Christ consecrated the Eucharist once for all. That One Act of consecration had the effect of consecrating all Eucharist’s throughout Time and Place. All other consecrations of the Eucharist, anywhere at any time, are simply that One Consecration effective throughout Time and Place. “All the communions of a life-time are one communion. All the communions of all men now living are one communion. All the communions of all men, past and future, are one communion.” (Teilhard de Chardin, Le Milieu Divin) All the consecrations of the Eucharist, throughout Time and Place, are One Consecration. All the Masses, throughout Time and Place, are One Mass. The One Mass is the Mass at the Last Supper, celebrated by Jesus Christ, and that same One Mass is the same One Sacrifice of Christ on the Cross — regardless of Time and Place.
The Crucifixion and the Mass of the Last Supper are in a sense one and the same Event. The Mass of the Last Supper was the Sacrifice of Christ on the Cross, even though that sacrifice occurred later in Time. And subsequent Masses are the Sacrifice of Christ on the Cross, even though that sacrifice occurred earlier in Time (even centuries earlier). For God is not restricted in the least by Time.
Therefore, Christ is able to be present in the Eucharist in His glorified body, even at the Last Supper. The real Presence of Christ in the Eucharist is His glorified body, His glorified soul, and His Divinity, united as one Person. For Christ is unbounded by Time. Christ saved Mary at her Immaculate Conception, from His death on the Cross, without regard to Time. Christ is present in the Eucharist in His glorified body, regardless of when the Eucharist is consecrated. If a host from the Last Supper had been reserved, the host would have remained unchanged at Christ’s death, and unchanged at His Resurrection. For the Eucharist is Christ, and Christ is God, and God is unlimited by Time.
Those who claim that the body of Christ in the Eucharist of the Last Supper could not be glorified, because He had not yet risen, are implying that Christ is not all-powerful God. They imply that God is not omnipotent, but instead is restricted by Nature, as if Nature or Time were the God. To the contrary, if Christ had wished to do so, He could have given the Eucharist to Adam and Eve, or to Abraham, or to David. For Time is no obstacle to God-made-man. Whosoever makes Christ subject to Time thereby implies that Christ is NOT the Lord of all Creation. For Time is a created thing, or it is an aspect of creation. Time has not always existed; it began when Creation began.
The Eucharist of the Last Supper cannot possibly be Christ’s non-glorified body. If this were so then the Last Supper would have been cannibalism. For it is no less the offense of cannibalism to eat the whole rather than the part, or to eat the living rather than the dead. What makes the Eucharist a Sacramental meal, and not the consumption of mere human flesh and blood is the Presence of Christ’s glorified flesh and blood.
How can all of Christ be present in the consecrated bread, when the host is smaller than His body? — because His body and blood are glorified. How can all of Christ be present in the consecrated wine, when the wine is liquid, and a human body is not entirely liquid? — because His body and blood are glorified. How the body and blood of Christ be present in the Eucharist in their substance, but with the accidents of bread and wine remaining? — because His body and blood are glorified.
The glorified body cannot die, and so eating it does no harm. The glorified body has been freed from corruption, and so eating and drinking it does no harm. The glorified body is still the physical part of human nature, but it has been freed from the usual restrictions of the physical, and so eating and drinking it is not like eating and drinking mere flesh and mere blood.
Any consecration of the Eucharist, by any priest or bishop who celebrates a Mass today, is truly that one same consecration of the Eucharist by Jesus Christ at the Last Supper. Time is no obstacle to God. When you attend the Sacred Mass on any day of your life, you are truly attending the Mass of the Last Supper, not merely symbolically, but just as if you were at the Last Supper itself. But you are also thereby attending the Crucifixion, at the same time. Whenever we attend Mass today, that Mass is truly the Mass of the Last Supper, celebrated by Jesus Christ, and is truly the Crucifixion of Christ. Our attendance at Mass is an attendance at the Last Supper, and at the same time an attendance at the foot of the Cross.
The Mass is the Last Supper is the Crucifixion.
Ronald L. Conte Jr.
Roman Catholic theologian and Bible translator