What We Believe: Part 29 – The Sacrament of The Eucharist
“In 1992, Pope John Paul II authorized a new Catechism of the Catholic Church . . . This series will try to explain various teachings of the Catechism in a simple way that hopefully will be easily understood .”|What We Believe: Part 29 – The Sacrament of The Eucharist|
Those who have raised to the dignity of the royal priesthood by Baptism and configured more deeply to Christ by Confirmation participate with the whole community in the Lord’s own sacrifice by means of the Eucharist (1322)
When we receive the Eucharist in Holy Communion we unite ourselves with Christ who makes us sharers in his body and blood to form a single body. (1331). |Note that unlike the eating of ordinary food that is changed by our digestion into blood and cells and energy, in the reception of the Eucharist we are united spiritually with Christ.
The prayer of thanksgiving and consecration—the heart and summit of the celebration.
It is at the preface when the Church gives thanks to the Father, through Christ, in the Holy Spirit, for all his works: creation, redemption and sanctification. In the epiclesis (calling down) prayer the Church asks the Father to send his Holy Spirit (or the power of his blessing) on the bread and wine, so that by his power they may become the body and blood of Jesus Christ and so that those who take part in the Eucharist may be one body and one spirit.
In the institution narrative, the power of the words and the action of Christ, and the power of the Holy Spirit, make sacramentally present under the species of bread and wine Christ’s body and blood, his sacrifice offered on the cross once for all. (Please note that Christ’s offering on Calvary is not renewed or represented but is made present for the participants in the celebration. The celebration is repeated but not Christ’s offering of self which is always present to God for whom there is no past or future.)
Then in the anamnesis the Church recalls to mind the Passion, the resurrection and glorious return of Christ Jesus who presents to the Father the offering of his Son which reconciles us with him
In the intercesssions the Church indicates that the Celebration is for the whole Church, heaven and earth, living and dead, and in union with all the members from Pope to the latest baptized.
The conclusion follows the communion preceded by the Lord’s prayer and breaking of the bread and the reception by the faithful “the bread of heaven” and “the cup of salvation” –the body and blood of Christ who offered himself who offered himself “for the life of the world.”
Some important reminders: It is Christ Himself, acting through the ministry of the priests, offers the Eucharistic sacrifice. And it is the same Christ, really present under the species of bread and wine, who is offering the Eucharistic sacrifice..(1410) The priest acts in the person of Christ only while Christ is the one making the offering, Anyone who desires to receive communion must be in the state of grace and if not must receive the sacrament of reconciliation. (1415) The Church desires reception of communion at each Mass attended but requires once a year between Ash Wednesday and Penecost. Because Christ is present in each consecrated host the Church desires visits to the Church to show our gratitude: an expression of love , and an expression of adoration towards Christ our Lord. (1418)