Sacrificing Sacrifice

In the midst of the Eucharistic Revival, Dr. Lawrence Feingold, seminary professor at Kenrick-Glennon and author of (among many other things) The Eucharist: Mystery of Presence, Sacrifice, and Communion, suggests that we may be missing something of importance in our focus on the Paschal Mystery.1 We may be leaving out the centrality of sacrifice in the revival of our knowledge, love, and adoration of Our Lord in the Eucharist.

Is he right? One prooftext for his claim might be the USCCB’s 5 pillars of our national Eucharistic revival; the explanation for this initiative reads thus:

Foster encounters with Jesus through kerygmatic proclamation and experiences of Eucharistic devotion. Contemplate and proclaim the doctrine of the Real Presence of Jesus in the Eucharist through the Truth of our teaching, Beauty of our worship, and Goodness of our accompaniment of persons in poverty and those who are vulnerable. Empower grassroots creativity by partnering with movements, apostolates, parishes, and educational institutions. Reach the smallest unit: parish small groups and families. Embrace and learn from the various rich intercultural Eucharistic traditions.2

Nowhere in this initial claim is the word sacrifice used. To be sure, the “Beauty of our worship” and “Eucharistic traditions” are extolled, and these do not exclude per se the principle of sacrifice; furthermore, I know of no official documents rejecting or challenging the reality of the Eucharist as sacrifice. However, in a time of grave confusion about the real presence of Christ in the Eucharist among church-goers, it may also be helpful to ask if the faithful understand the reality of sacrifice in the Eucharist. If nothing else, deepening our understanding of sacrifice can assist in our learning “from the various rich intercultural Eucharistic traditions,” as the Bishops direct.

Some striking passages from recent Magisterial teaching would suggest that we intentionally move in that direction.

Consider the profound reflection from Pope St. John Paul II:

By virtue of its close relationship to the sacrifice of Golgotha, the Eucharist is a sacrifice in the strict sense, and not only in a general way, as if it were simply a matter of Christ’s offering himself to the faithful as their spiritual food. The gift of his love and obedience to the point of giving his life (cf. Jn 10:17-18) is in the first place a gift to his Father. Certainly it is a gift given for our sake, and indeed that of all humanity (cf. Mt 26:28; Mk 14:24; Lk 22:20; Jn 10:15), yet it is first and foremost a gift to the Father: “a sacrifice that the Father accepted, giving, in return for this total self-giving by his Son, who ‘became obedient unto death’ (Phil 2:8), his own paternal gift, that is to say the grant of new immortal life in the resurrection”. In giving his sacrifice to the Church, Christ has also made his own the spiritual sacrifice of the Church, which is called to offer herself in union with the sacrifice of Christ. This is the teaching of the Second Vatican Council concerning all the faithful: “Taking part in the Eucharistic Sacrifice, which is the source and summit of the whole Christian life, they offer the divine victim to God, and offer themselves along with it.”3

Furthermore, the teaching of the Second Vatican Council makes it imperative that priests instruct the faithful in the centrality of Eucharistic sacrifice: “Thus the Eucharistic Action, over which the priest presides, is the very heart of the congregation. So priests must instruct their people to offer to God the Father the Divine Victim in the Sacrifice of the Mass, and to join to it the offering of their own lives.”4 The Eucharist is the “heart” of the congregation; indeed, as we have heard ample times since Vatican II, it is the source and the summit (Sacrificium eucharisticum, totius vitae christianae fontem et culmen),5 the goal of our Christian striving: to give back to God all he has given to us . . . which is everything. And in Christ this gift of the self is made perfect: divinized.

Thus, the heart of the teaching on the universal call to holiness of the Church in the modern world is inextricably linked to a communion with the gift of Christ to the Father, the sacrifice of himself to his Father made present in the Eucharist. So why, specifically, might we be having trouble talking about — and living out — the sacrifice of Christ?

In this article, I will offer reasons why some may be reticent to talk about the Eucharist as sacrifice and then use these reasons as a springboard for some pastoral and homiletic suggestions for helping the faithful deepen their love of the Eucharistic sacrifice and, thus, fulfill the Church’s desire to give themselves as a sacrifice to God through/with/in Christ.

Modern Attitudes toward Sacrifice

Perhaps the aspect of the modern world that distinguishes it from the ancient world more than anything else is that it does not have a culture of sacrifice. This is largely a positive result of the long influence of Christianity de-paganizing the Europe — and then the world — it evangelized. To read Virgil’s Aeneid today is to be shocked by the comfort, ease, regularity, and centrality of sacrifice in the lives of people in Rome (and everywhere) only 2,000 years ago.

From a Catholic perspective, Protestantism itself accelerated the demise of sacrifice in the West. The Reformers’ invectives against the priesthood, disordered understanding of the once-and-for-all sacrifice, and celebration of the “priesthood of all believers” engendered a non-sacrificial practice of Christianity in many of the areas influenced by the Reformation.

Perhaps, then, this obliteration of sacrifice is necessarily tied to currents of modern thought that yield a negative connotation about sacrifice.

Although Christendom did hold on to its own sacrifice (the once-and-for-all Sacrifice of the Mass), the gradual secularization of the West led to an end of even that. Thus, by the time the nineteenth-century anthropologists went out to explore the remaining pagan cults, they were often either shocked by the apparent barbarity of sacrifice or naïvely dismissive of the practices as ignorant or barbaric.

Modern Perversions of Sacrifice

The withering away of the culture of sacrifice and even a negative connotation surrounding the word combine with modern realities in which sacrifice really becomes something abominable. Fr. Michael Kirwan makes the claim that one area in which this could happen is nationalistic militarism.6 One possible example for Kirwan’s claim is Hitler, who recounted that in the millions of deaths in World War 1, “the most precious blood had sacrificed itself joyfully.”7 This interpretation contrasts with many accounts of the war, namely All Quiet on the Western Front, which was a best-selling condemnation of the idealization of German militarism.

Whereas one can grow in the virtue of patriotism and give one’s life — in the context of stopping an unjust aggressor — out of love for family, land, and country and offer all of oneself to God through benevolent giving of oneself to others, the worship of State in the secular modern world makes such “sacrifices” dangerous when devoid of justice or faith. Meanwhile, as Hitler sacrificed men to his disturbing nationalistic goals, he murdered Jews for his racist ideal. We shudder as this horror is labeled “The Holocaust,” a term that puts a dark light on sacrifice if ever there was one.

The pro-life movement is also aware of the disturbing abuses of sacrifice. Babies are murdered at the altar of convenience, population control, even carbon emission reduction. Chris Hume writes:

“That abortion is viewed as a religious ritual is evident to any perceptive observer. In May, Fox News reported that the Satanic Temple argued its adherents should be permitted religious exceptions to perform religious abortion rituals in states that have put up barriers to abortion. An Aug. 4 episode of Apologia Radio highlighted a popular video showing a Do-It-Yourself Child Sacrifice ritual, involving candles, an altar, and abortion pills. And one progressive Florida synagogue has argued that anti-abortion laws infringe on religious liberty.”8

The calls for euthanasia also fall under a sacrificial mindset: eliminate the elderly as sacrifice to save resources. And the death penalty, I have argued elsewhere, is a failed sacrifice.9

Finally, as noted above in the Chris Hume quote, the rise of neo-paganism, and even satanism, in America and the world have returned real sacrifice — human sacrifice — back on the scene.

Christianity Itself Has Rewritten Sacrifice

On the other hand, Christianity itself — and the Mass in particular — undermines key aspects of archaic (or “traditional”) sacrifice and, thus, from the standpoint of divine revealed truth, challenges us to have a “double-take” in using the term. The language of the letter to the Hebrews already notes this, for the text proves that the sacrifice of Christ is not temporary, limited, or imperfect. It is once-and-for-all and perfect; it is the sacrifice to end all sacrifices. And even where the Eucharistic embrace of the Passover can be shown to be the most significant typology and fulfillment of the whole Judeo-Christian tradition, the sacrifice of Christ fulfills every sacrifice and, ultimately, replaces them.10

Augustine radicalizes this change in understanding of sacrifice by extrapolating the sacrificial theology of Patristic Christianity:

“We sacrifice to Him bleeding victims when we contend for His truth even unto blood; to Him we offer the sweetest incense when we come before Him burning with holy and pious love; to Him we devote and surrender ourselves and His gifts in us; to Him, by solemn feasts and on appointed days, we consecrate the memory of His benefits, lest through the lapse of time ungrateful oblivion should steal upon us; to Him we offer on the altar of our heart the sacrifice of humility and praise, kindled by the fire of burning love.”11

For Augustine, almost every external reality of sacrifice is but a symbol of the internal reality (truth, love, devotion, memory, gratitude, humility, and praise) which alone counts as sacrifice: “He does not desire the sacrifice of a slaughtered beast, but He desires the sacrifice of a contrite heart. Thus, that sacrifice which he says God does not wish, is the symbol of the sacrifice which God does wish.”12 Thus, sacrifice within the Christian dispensation is significantly different from its former types.

Meanwhile, as the Tradition of the Church unfolds under the guidance of the Holy Spirit, the Magisterium determines that the Mass is an unbloody sacrifice which is, nonetheless, propitiatory (that is, one which expiates, cancels, or atones for sins). This is the case even though Hebrews claims that only blood forgives sins: “without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness.”13 Meanwhile, the Eucharist remains, in fact, the blood of Christ. The Mass is, thus, the unbloody sacrifice of the blood of Christ.

The faithful should not read these apparent paradoxes as contradictions; the Church’s statements on the Blessed Sacrament are, rather, signposts of the gradual development of understanding of what the Eucharist really is, and this reflection – the pondering of the beauty of our worship — allows for ever-deepening, unfolding, or development of the how these truths fit together. That being said, we are emboldened to keep discussing, debating, and pursuing how it all fits together; faith receives the Magisterial teaching on the Eucharist, while theology seeks to understand it.

Now, one aspect of the uniqueness of Christ’s sacrifice may have “flown under the radar” and could stand to be better articulated. While Hebrews notes the place of action, the quality of offering, and the nature of the priest all as unique (and while Christ is the perfect and unique high priest forever), there is something profoundly unusual about his sacrifice compared to all other blood sacrifices. As priest, he himself does not kill the victim, nor does he command anyone else to. And to say that he offers himself is not the same thing; his crucifixion is no suicide.

The sacrifice of Christ is self-sacrifice, to be sure, but the cause of the killing is from someone else. Above all, the cause of Christ’s death is the sins of man. Hebrews states it this way: “Consider him who endured from sinners such hostility against himself.”14 This is the definitive proof-text from which the Magisterium makes the following unambiguous point: “In her Magisterial teaching of the faith and in the witness of her saints, the Church has never forgotten that ‘sinners were the authors and the ministers of all the sufferings that the divine Redeemer endured.’“15 Here the Catechism quotes the Roman Catechism (the Catechism of Trent) and references Hebrews 12:3. Thus, this is the proper Catholic interpretation of Hebrews 12.

And not only that: this priest prays that the cup will pass.16 What kind of priest is this? He prays that the killing of his sacrificial victim will not happen, and then he refuses to cause it in any way! If anyone is the priest of sacrifice in the killing of Jesus, it is the crowd — or at least its authority, Pontius Pilate. It is Pilate who washes his hands, for he draws the blood.

But let’s not stop there. The Gospels actually name a real high priest in the crucifixion of Christ: Caiaphas. Caiaphas, although not completely to blame for the shedding of Christ’s blood, nevertheless plays a major role in leading or stirring up the crowd to crucify Christ. Caiaphas, the High Priest, wills the sacrifice of Jesus Christ.

And it is John’s Gospel that shows with penetrating irony how the two worlds of non-Christian and Christian sacrifice are coming together in the Cross. Caiaphas says that “it is better that one man die than that the nation should perish.” This is the logic of archaic sacrifice; the gods are appeased, peace is restored, the world is made whole through the selection and offering up of the victim. But John notes that, in fact, the line remains true when considered from a different perspective as divinely revealed prophecy: Christ is giving himself for us, that we not perish from our sins.17

It is in this light that we return to Christ’s own words about Hosea 6:6: “If you had known what these words mean, ‘I desire mercy, not sacrifice,’ you would not have condemned the innocent.”18 The drama of Christ’s use of this phrase was deeply felt on St. Matthew, for he alone records it and remembers it as how Christ “saved” him from the accusations of the Pharisees.

Here is the reflection of the Papal Preacher, Cardinal Cantalamessa: “Sacrifice and mercy are both good things but they can become bad if misapplied. They are good things if — as Christ did — we choose sacrifice for ourselves and mercy for others; they can become bad things if on the contrary we choose mercy for ourselves and sacrifice for others, that is, if we are indulgent with ourselves and rigorous with others, ready to excuse ourselves and quick to judge others.”19 In the end, Christianity has inaugurated a way of viewing sacrifice that is singularly merciful. And it is opposed to all “unmerciful sacrifices” which lead to the condemnation of the innocent. Wherever sacrifice actively draws the blood of another, we sense that something unmerciful is at work, something opposed to the Kingdom of God inaugurated by Jesus Christ, the one who gives his life that none others would need be taken.

Christ entered into the space where sin produced “unmerciful sacrifice” against the innocent since the foundation of the world; as Lamb of God he became scapegoat as the sins of others were cast upon him in the fury of Sin’s unleashing of violence and obliteration of truth. Meanwhile, in offering himself to be the victim, to stand in man’s place, to take the fall, he “mercifully sacrificed” himself out of mercy so that man would no longer need unmerciful sacrifice.20

Thus, it is clear that the sacrifice of Christ is so unusual in reference to all other sacrifices in world history that it tends to undercut the very meaning of sacrifice — or at least the expectations we might have about it, especially our expectations governed by original sin. After all, if sin kills Christ, then the stain of original sin will lead to an urge to embrace sacrifice as killing of the other. How challenging for the faithful to “offer up Christ” in the right way! How do we sacrifice Christ without, in a sense, sacrificing Christ? And then, conversely, how do we avoid sacrificing sacrifice and why is it important for us to avoid doing so?

Toward a Proper Understanding of Christian Sacrifice

Therefore, in considering the modern rejection and/or abuse of sacrifice along with the divine rewriting of sacrifice in the self-offering of Christ, there are significant reasons why the faithful might have trouble embracing the word “sacrifice” in their encounter with the Eucharist and Mass today. Nevertheless, since the Magisterium reminds us of the centrality of this term in understanding the source and summit of our faith, it is worth considering pastoral and homiletic responses to some of the tensions found in using the term “sacrifice” today.

First, should someone outright deny the validity of the term sacrifice, it is helpful to return to a natural law reflection on the topic. What is natural for the human person to know about good and evil by the very essence of being a rational animal? What is the natural-law traditional teaching about sacrifice?

The theological tradition puts this question in conversation with the dictates of virtue. Augustine explains that “a sacrifice, therefore, is the visible sacrament or sacred sign of an invisible sacrifice. . . . Sacrifices signified the things which we do for the purpose of drawing near to God, and inducing our neighbor to do the same.”21 Aquinas further explains that “hence it is a dictate of natural reason that man should use certain sensibles, by offering them to God in sign of the subjection and honor due to Him, like those who make certain offerings to their lord in recognition of his authority.”22

Thus, we can begin our embrace of the term sacrifice by considering the natural principle of justice: render unto others what is their due. Reason itself attests our total dependency on God and the requirements of justice to give all of ourselves back to Him. Thus, our first physical offering at Mass is bread and wine; we literally give these to God Who not only takes them but also transforms them into Himself. Yet, since we can never offer God enough (bread and wine cannot account for all of Creation, for example), the sacrifice of Christ, in which God, in Christ, offers to God His divine self, is a path for us to make the perfect offering. In Christ’s self-gift to the Father we can make the perfect sacrifice to God which is God Himself.

But should this central event of worship entail blood, killing, and death of God? A second objection to seeing Christ’s redemptive act as sacrifice might be that it echoes too much the human sacrifices of paganism. Again, isn’t bloody sacrifice exactly what the Mass is not?

To answer this second objection, we can appeal to the fallen nature of man. Since we live in a world governed by the effects of original sin, the path of the perfect self-gift to God — which requires perfect virtue and perfect struggle against sin with an embrace of the good of the other (friend or enemy) — will necessarily receive the effects of others’ sins upon oneself. The one who refuses to join the fight often has the fight fall on him; the one who speaks out or rejects the sinner risks turning the violence of their sin upon himself. “Blessed are those persecuted for righteousness,” says the Lord, for the path of holiness in this world is ordered to the path of martyrdom.

Christ’s sacrifice — his lived witness to the truth even unto death — is a positive role model for us to give all to God by loving one another “to the end.” This means that we can give of ourselves even to the point of being rejected and “shedding blood.” Hebrews suggests that this is the goal of Christian perfection: “In your struggle against sin, you have not yet resisted to the point of shedding your blood.”23 Again, this is the struggle of the would-be-saint pursuing holiness who resists, for example, the idolatry of the Roman Emperor and ends up thrown to the lions. The cult of martyrs proves this connection between holiness and shedding blood, and Augustine cements it: “we sacrifice to Him bleeding victims when we contend for His truth even unto blood.”24 It is this notion of loving one another as laying down one’s life for him that allows us to speak of sacrificial love — a love that bleeds for others.

Third, it may seem that, after the mob decides under Caiaphas and Pilate to crucify Christ, gathering together in sacrifice harkens to something archaic, something demonic. Shouldn’t we just call our central rite of Christianity a feast, gathering, or praise and worship? Why use the term sacrifice for this collective event?

In answer to this objection, we should first ask why we should gather together at all as a Church. Again, Hebrews has the answer. Drawing near to the throne of grace is itself good: “Let us then approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.”25 But gathering together is also good because it allows us to spur one another onto charity.26 The sacrifice of the Mass is a gathering together of the faithful in a way that allows the collective witness of all to become a motivator for each and every one. Without the modeling of Christ and the Church in the Eucharist and Mass, we lose the source of our holiness and forget the summit. Every aspect of collective belonging and “social effervescence”27 that comes from sacrifice is kept and purified in the sacrifice of the Mass; in fact, with proper reverence it allows an “experience” of holiness to pervade not just the hearts of the faithful but also the community — or collective body of Christ together.28 The word, “sacrifice,” better than any other word brings together the ritual dimension and the collective “making holy” of the faithful. The etymology of sacrifice is literally that: “to make holy.”

Finally, as suggested by the title of this essay and the conclusion of the previous section, perhaps the most important area for pastoral work with those struggling with the word sacrifice comes from the very tension produced by the Christian revelation itself. How can we sacrifice Christ in the Mass if our Lord Himself has said that He desires mercy, not sacrifice? How can we “offer up” our Lord if that is, in a sense, exactly what Caiaphas did (to his immortal shame)? When we rejoice in celebrating the Eucharist that one man has died that the nation not perish . . . whose side are we on?

The reply to this objection concerns the fundamental ontological difference between those who celebrate the Eucharist worthily and those who don’t. The key to understanding the way the Eucharist brings us from one sacrifice to the other is that we offer up Christ correctly only as repentant sinners who have died to our original sinful sacrifices-of-others.

Hebrews explains that “it is impossible for those who have once been enlightened, who have tasted the heavenly gift, who have shared in the Holy Spirit, who have tasted the goodness of the word of God and the powers of the coming age and who have fallen away, to be brought back to repentance. To their loss they are crucifying the Son of God all over again and subjecting him to public disgrace.”29 Although this text comes at the beginning of what will be centuries of development on the sacrament of penance, it makes clear that sin is intrinsically linked to crucifying the Son of God. In baptism, however, the faithful die to sin and rise to a new life in Christ.30 Meanwhile, the life of the Christian is ongoing purification through death to sin-which-leads-to-condemning-the-innocent and new life in the risen Christ in whom sin and death have no part.

Thus, the preparation for Mass (in baptism, confession, and the prayer of the Kyrie) is a fundamental self-positioning (by grace) as having once sacrificed Christ because of sin and now allowing Christ to sacrifice himself for our sins. That is, I who once sacrificed him unmercifully can remember his merciful giving of himself for me to death so that, in dying to sin, I can rise and participate by the Holy Spirit in his self-sacrificial love and mercy, an agape that gives entirely to the other and to the Father. I offer up God, in Christ, at Mass in thanksgiving for what God has done for me and in participation with His ongoing redemption of the world offering Himself up.


Christian Sacrifice is the gift of the self to others and to God the Father in the Son who lays down his life and has his blood shed by the sinners who, if they repent and receive the grace of conversion, now offer him up to the glory of God in thanksgiving.

Sacrifice is not the condemnation of the innocent, the assault of the other as a result of sin, the violent shedding of blood of the other, or anything which gathers together the multitude to scapegoat the victim or offer up the victim in a sinful, covetous, or selfish way. The priest of Christian sacrifice draws no blood; he empties himself and receives the violence of sinful others as he resists sin, and he is willing to have his blood shed for their death to sin that they might have new life through conversion.

We need the Eucharist and the Sacrifice of the Mass because we need the graces that flow from Christ’s redemptive self-offering to us and the Father; moreover, we need a goal and model for our journeying both present in the Mass and in the lived witness of others giving thanks to God as repentant sinners striving for continual conversion.

In one sense, it may seem that we can simply do with the words, “holy,” “agape,” or “gift.” But, in another sense, we need the word “sacrifice” because Christianity is a historical religion — historical both for the life of each repentant sinner and the human family as a whole who all were once lost but now found in Christ. Since Christian perfection demands a right interpretation of one’s sinful past in light of the expectation of a holy future, it must replace all the fallen attempts at making oneself holy with a perfect one. The fulcrum — the crux — of this transformation is sacrifice.31

To sacrifice in Christ is to allow God to make us holy (the Latin is sacra-facere or sacrifice); this is the summit of our strivings: Christ in you, the glory of God. All are called to holiness; thus, all are called to be made holy by God in sacrifice. In the end, then, there is gratitude: eucharisto; I give thanks because Christ has given Himself and made the ultimate sacrifice so that, in dying to sin, I might live anew in the Holy Spirit and join him redeemed in heaven for eternity.

  1. Lawrence Feingold, lecture: “The Eucharistic Life, Fostering a Eucharistic Spirituality” (Ave Maria University, February 4, 2023).
  2. United States Conference of Catholic Bishops,
  3. Pope John Paul II, Ecclesia de Eucharistia,, April 17, 2003, 13. Dr. Feingold referenced some of these texts in his talk and steered my research.
  4. The Second Vatican Council, Presbyterorum Ordinis,, Dec. 7, 1965, 5.
  5. The Second Vatican Council, Lumen Gentium,, Nov. 21, 1964, 11.
  6. Michael Kirwan, Girard and Theology (NY: T&T Clark, 2009), 63.
  7. “Adolf Hitler on the November Revolution,” German History in Documents and Images,
  8. Chris Hume, “Planned Parenthood Pushes Pagan Nationalism with New Molech Worship Center,” The Lancaster Patriot, September 14, 2022. See
  9. Tyler Graham, “The Death Penalty is a Failed Sacrifice,” Homiletic and Pastoral Review, June 3, 2021.
  10. Nothing in this article should steer teachers of the faith away from emphasizing all the aspects of typology and fulfillment from Old Testament to New and allowing the “New Passover” of the Eucharist to reflect the great plan of God’s divine pedagogy. However, this article is aimed at addressing modern problems in the word “sacrifice”; it assumes that the traditional method of typology and fulfillment might not immediately work for some.
  11. St. Augustine, City of God, X.3.
  12. City of God, X.5.
  13. Hebrews 9:22.
  14. Hebrews 12:3.
  15. The Catechism of the Catholic Church, 598.
  16. Mt 26:39.
  17. This is based on Girard’s insights in The Scapegoat, in particular, Chapter 10 (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins, 1986).
  18. Mt 12:7.
  19. Raniero Cantalamessa, OFM, “Pope’s Preacher: God Desires Mercy, Not Sacrifice,” trans. Joseph G. Trabbic, Catholic Online, June 6, 2008.
  20. This is an important application of Girard’s anthropology to the problem of Christian sacrifice: Christianity reveals what the archaic sacrifices conceal. The theory of the biblical revelation of the scapegoat mechanism as the origin of archaic religion is, as Bishop Barron would say, Girard’s enduring influence: “The recovery of Christianity as revelation, as an unmasking of what all the other religions are saying, is René Girard’s permanent and unsettling contribution” ( An important recent essay shedding light on Girard’s desire to see the term “sacrifice” reconciled with the Magisterium is Fr. Anthony R. Lusvardi S.J.’s article: “Girard and the ‘Sacrifice of the Mass’: Mimetic Theory and Eucharistic Theology” Contagion: Journal of Violence, Mimesis, and Culture Vol. 24, No. 1 (Spring 2017), pp. 159–190.
  21. City of God, X.5.
  22. ST II–II q.85 a.1.
  23. Hebrews 12:4.
  24. City of God, X.3.
  25. Heb 4:16.
  26. Heb 10:24.
  27. This is Durkheim’s phrase as the secular study of religions was fermenting in the early twentieth century. See his work The Elementary Forms of Religious Life.
  28. Paul VI implies this in Ecclesiam suam 37.
  29. Heb 6:4–6.
  30. Romans 6.
  31. This seems to be the right way to embrace René Girard’s position on sacrifice; he explains that the “use of the same word for both types of sacrifice, as misleading as it may be on one level, nevertheless suggests something essential, namely, the paradoxical unity of religion in all its forms throughout human history” (Girard, The One by Whom Scandal Comes, trans. M. B. DeBevoise (East Landing: Michigan State UP, 2014), p. 43). As I have shown in many essays at HPR, Girard’s thought has guided much of my work in theology.
E. Tyler Graham About E. Tyler Graham

Mr. Tyler Graham has been teaching high school for over 20 years and has a humanities B.A. from Stanford University, an M.A. in religion from Syracuse, and a Master's in Theological Studies from Ave Maria University; he is currently completing a doctoral dissertation applying Girard’s ideas to a theology of the Catholic school teacher. He currently lives in Ave Maria, Florida, with his wife and 6 children. There, both spouses teach at — and all 6 children attend — Donahue Academy, a Catholic classical school.


  1. Very insightful. There is now an opportunity for the clergy, collectively and individually, to sacrifice their allegiance to a genocidal State and speak truth so that the faithful, through their example, should know Truth. It is time the clergy, starting with the Bishops, seek atonement and forgiveness for spreading falsehoods among the faithful regarding the bioweapon attack that injured and killed so many, with the imprimatur of Church leaders. The clergy failed to discern the evil to which they kneeled in blind obedience when they not only advocated but mandated killer injections handed down by genocidal government agencies. The Clergy became complicit in evil… and now must repent, seek forgiveness, and strike a blow against the secular masters who usurped their integrity.