‘The other sacraments, and indeed all ecclesiastical ministries and works of the apostolate, are bound up with the Eucharist and are oriented toward it. For in the blessed Eucharist is contained the whole spiritual good of the Church, namely Christ himself, our Pasch’ (CCC 1325)
Eucharist means “Thanksgiving”, for Jesus “gave thanks” when at the Last Supper, he instituted this great sacrament of love.
As well as being Sacrament, the Eucharist is also Sacrifice, its sacrificial character being manifested in the very words of institution: “for this is my Body which will be given up for you.” and “for this is the chalice of my Blood, the Blood of the new and eternal covenant,…”
‘In the Eucharist Christ gives us the very body which he gave up for us on the cross, the very blood which he “poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins.”‘ (CCC 1365)
At the Last Supper Christ made his Apostles priests. In saying: Do this in commemoration of me, he gave them, and all priests, the power to change bread and wine into His Body and Blood. This miraculous change is called Trans-substantiation. He thus enabled priests to make present his sacrifice for His brethren daily throughout the ages, in the liturgy of the Church which is His Body. The liturgical celebration of Christ’s unique sacrifice is what we call the Mass.
The four ends for which Mass is offered are traditionally listed as:
- to give God honour and glory;
- to thank Him for His benefits;
- to obtain remission for our sins;
- and all other graces and blessings, through Jesus Christ.
Why bread and wine? Jesus wanted to teach us that, just as we eat food daily for the life of our body, so we should receive this heavenly food daily (or as often as possible) for the life of our soul: “Anyone who eats this bread will live for ever” (John 6:59). Thus, in Holy Communion we literally eat Christ, are filled with His grace and receive a pledge of future glory. After receiving, we should spend a certain time in silent Thanksgiving.
Holy Communion is to be received frequently, daily if possible, and at least once a year, at Easter time. We also have an obligation to receive it in danger of death.
The conditions for its worthy reception are:
- to be in the state of grace (go to Confession first, if aware of any grave sin)
- to keep the prescribed fast (one hour, except for the sick or frail).
The Real Presence is the term we use to express Christ’s presence in this sacrament. We adore the Blessed Sacrament as we would adore the person of Jesus Himself. We genuflect in the Real Presence. Eucharistic Adoration is a task for all the faithful. It occurs first and foremost when we pray before the Lord in the Tabernacle, make the Visit to the Blessed Sacrament, or attend Exposition and Benediction of the Blessed Sacrament, including the Forty Hours Adoration. Further ways of promoting adoration of the Eucharist are the Corpus Christi Procession and Eucharistic Congresses:
N.B.: International Eucharistic Congress, Dublin, 10-17 June 2012
Meanwhile the Church draws her life from the Eucharist, her gaze constantly turned to her Lord, present in the Most Holy Sacrament of the Altar. Here we have not only Grace, but the very author of grace: Christ Himself!
“Adoremus in æternum Sanctissimum Sacramentum”
“Let us adore forever the Most Holy Sacrament”