The Eucharist

Summary of Catechism paragraphs 1322-1419:

  • The Lord is truly present – Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity – in the Eucharist; for this reason, it is the Most Blessed Sacrament, the source and summit of the Christian life.
  • Because this sacrament is our ultimate treasure, Christ Himself, it is honored with an abundance of descriptive names: Eucharist (from the Greek for “thanksgiving”), Sacred Mysteries, Bread of Angels, Holy Communion, Holy Sacrifice of the Mass.
  • The Old Testament is rich in prefigurations of the Eucharist, most notably the priest-king Melchizedek who offers bread and wine in Genesis; the unleavened bread and cup of blessing at Passover; and the manna that sustains the Israelites in the desert.
  • Christ fulfills these prefigurations by instituting the Eucharist at the Last Supper: anticipating His sacrifice on Calvary, He establishes the memorial of His Death and Resurrection — the new and definitive Passover — and commands His apostles to celebrate it until He comes again.
  • Christ’s sacrifice on Calvary, and in the Eucharist, are one single sacrifice; in this way He makes His once-for-all sacrifice present to us, and applies to us the fruits of redemption; Calvary is not being repeated, but rather, we enter into its mystery.
  • From the time of the apostles, whom Christ consecrated as priests of the New Covenant, the Church has faithfully carried out His command: Christians have assembled on Sunday – the day of the Resurrection – for the Eucharist.
  • The essential structure of this celebration has endured, amid variations in non-essentials, over the ages: the liturgy of the Word (proclamation of Sacred Scripture and preaching of a homily or sermon) builds up to the liturgy of the Eucharist, when the priest prays Christ’s words to consecrate the bread and wine.
  • Christ solemnly declared in the Gospels that the Eucharist is His Body and Blood; the Church has defined this wondrous change as transubstantiation – even as the appearances of bread and wine remain, their underlying reality is changed, by the consecration, into Christ.
  • In recognition of the Lord’s Real Presence, we must examine our consciences, and if aware of serious sin, we must seek the sacrament of Reconciliation, to receive Him worthily; as St. Paul testifies, it is a grave sin to consume the Eucharist unworthily.
  • Worthy reception of this sacrament increases our union with Christ, helps to detach us from sin, forms us as the Church, binds us in the unity of the Mystical Body, commits us to the poor, and serves as a pledge of glory in eternal life.

Live Your Faith

Out of His exceeding love for us, Christ gives us the best possible gift – His Real Presence in the Eucharist – but how do we treat Him?

Do we enter church with a lively sense of coming to a sacred place, in the presence of the living God? Do we genuflect before the tabernacle, and maintain a reverential silence in our pews? Or do we act as if we’re in a theater waiting for the show to start?

Do we go up to Communion on auto-pilot, through force of habit, and sit distractedly afterward? Or do we prayerfully welcome the Lord in His sacrament of love?

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