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The Priest as Sacramental Sign of Christ

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The Priest as Sacramental Sign of Christ

The Eucharist is an image of Christ’s Passion

“The celebration of this sacrament is called a sacrifice for two reasons. First, because, as Augustine says (Ad Simplician. ii), "the images of things are called by the names of the things whereof they are the images; as when we look upon a picture or a fresco, we say, 'This is Cicero and that is Sallust.'" But, as was said above (79, 1), the celebration of this sacrament is an image representing Christ's Passion, which is His true sacrifice. Accordingly the celebration of this sacrament is called Christ's sacrifice. Hence it is that Ambrose, in commenting on Heb. 10:1, says: "In Christ was offered up a sacrifice capable of giving eternal salvation; what then do we do? Do we not offer it up every day in memory of His death?" Secondly it is called a sacrifice, in respect of the effect of His Passion: because, to wit, by this sacrament, we are made partakers of the fruit of our Lord's Passion . . . ” Summa Theologica III qu. 83, art. 1.

The altar is an image of the cross

[Objection 2. ‘Further, Christ's sacrifice was made upon the cross, whereon "He delivered Himself for us, an oblation and a sacrifice to God for an odor of sweetness," as is said in Eph. 5:2. But Christ is not crucified in the celebration of this mystery. Therefore, neither is He sacrificed.’]
Reply to Objection 2. “As the celebration of this sacrament is an image representing Christ's Passion, so the altar is representative of the cross itself, upon which Christ was sacrificed in His proper species.” Summa Theologica III qu. 83, art. 1, ad 2.

The priest is an image of Christ

[Objection 3. ‘Further, as Augustine says (De Trin. iv), in Christ's sacrifice the priest and the victim are one and the same. But in the celebration of this sacrament the priest and the victim are not the same. Therefore, the celebration of this sacrament is not a sacrifice of Christ.’]
Reply to Objection 3. “For the same reason (cf. Reply to Obj. 2) the priest also bears Christ's image, in Whose person and by Whose power he pronounces the words of consecration, as is evident from what was said above (82, 1,3). And so, in a measure, the priest and victim are one and the same.” Summa Theologica III qu. 83, art. 1, ad 3.

Documents on St. Thomas Aquinas
Women and procreation Inferiority of women Arguments Overview The priest as sign Women and holy orders If Thomas had known

Wijngaards Institute for Catholic ResearchThis website is maintained by the Wijngaards Institute for Catholic Research.

The Institute is known for issuing academic reports and statements on relevant issues in the Church. These have included scholars' declarations on the need of collegiality in the exercise of church authority, on the ethics of using contraceptives in marriage and the urgency of re-instating the sacramental diaconate of women.

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