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Essays by KT

The Sacrament of the Holy Eucharist

Affirming Diversity
Which Way Home
Mis experiencias con español
La figura de la madre
La redención
Manifestations of the Divine Brahma
The Six Models of the Church
Affirmative Action
A Friend Is
A persuadir
Aprovecha el día
Armas de fuego
Asperger's Disorder
ASDs: Autism
Black Friday
Book Intro
Big Boys Dont Cry?
Cancion del pirata
Cell Phones
Cathedral Within
Change the World
Child Care
Civil Society
Christian Family
Organ Donation
Deanne Bray
Drug Testing
Faith in Narnia
Fast Food?
Guns and Games
Grenz Review
The Odyssey
I Am
Jesus the Christ
Keep the Laws!
La ciencia
La inmigración
Louis Braille
Marriage Reflection
Mi lugar de refugio
My Life (Erikson)
My Special Place
Reflection -Marriage
Romance sonámbulo
Public-service values
Semana Santa
Spe Salvi
Teen Suicide
Un Santo legendario
Better World
The Four Loves
"Jesus Freak" Picture
Mona Lupe
Mother of Jesus
Holy Eucharist
Religión en Niebla
The U.S. Economy
Todo es regalo
Trip to NY ...
True Friends
Una lección
Unlikeliest Friends
Santo legendario
Vs. and Verses
What's the Diff?
Walsh Review
Means to be Human
Million dollars

TY 120

23 February 2009

At the center of the Catholic Mass is the Eucharist.  It is what distinguishes Catholicism from any other religion.  The Eucharist is the center of the Catholic faith because it is the body, blood, soul, and divinity of our savior, the Lord Jesus Christ which we are made able to receive.  It is a reminder of Christ’s death, the ultimate sacrifice, as we offer Him our sacrifices.  Frank J. Sheed describes it this way: “Baptism exists for it, all the [other sacraments] are enriched by it” (Sheed).

The word “Eucharist” means thanksgiving (“Questions”).  When the Eucharist is celebrated, it is an act of showing thanks to God as we celebrate His ultimate sacrifice.  This sacrament is also known as Communion.  This term emphasizes another aspect of this sacrament, community.  When one participates in the Eucharistic meal, he enters into communion with Christ, the angels and saints, and all the faithful of the Church, both alive and deceased.

The sacrament of the Eucharist becomes a part of one’s life when one makes his First Holy Communion.  In order for one to receive his First Holy Communion, he must participate in Catechism classes.  In these classes, the child learns about the Mass and Eucharistic meal.  One also learns the common prayers.  “The hymns and prayers they learn speak of a friend coming to visit them” (O’Neill 161-162).  This class, usually taking place while the child is in the second grade, focuses on teaching the child the meaning of the Eucharistic meal, “making vivid for them the fact that the person of Christ is contained in the sacrament” (O’Neill 162).

Christ says to said to the crowd, “I am the bread of life” (NAB, John 6:48).  This created controversy among this group of Jews and they asked, “How can this man give us [his] flesh to eat?” (NAB, John 6:52).  But Jesus did not retract what he had said.  Instead, he reiterated it, saying, “Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him on the last day” (NAB, John 6:54).

At the Last Supper, the night before Jesus was crucified, He “instituted the Eucharistic sacrifice of His Body and Blood” (Paul VI).  The Last Supper is the first Mass, said by Christ himself, the Priest.  “While they were eating, Jesus took bread, said the blessing, broke it, and giving it to his disciples said, ‘Take and eat; this is my body.’  Then he took a cup, gave thanks, and gave it to them, saying, ‘Drink from it, all of you, for this is my blood of the covenant, which will be shed on behalf of many for the forgiveness of sins” (NAB, Matthew 26:26).

Today, Mass is essentially celebrated in the same way.  The beginning of the Mass prepares one for the Eucharistic meal.  During the second part of Mass, one is sent forth, filled with the Holy Spirit, to live out his faith.  The entire Mass revolves around Jesus Christ and His Eucharist meal.

The Mass consists of the Liturgy of the Word and the Liturgy of the Eucharist.  The “Liturgy of the Word… merged with the remembrance of Christ’s death and Resurrection to become the ‘Eucharist’” (Ratzinger 78-79).  Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger says that this is faithfulness to the fulfillment of the command “Do this” (Ratzinger 79).

As we enter into the church, we make sign of the cross with holy water, reminding us of our baptism.  We then genuflect, showing reverence to Jesus, truly present in the tabernacle.  The priest greets the parish.  In the penitential rite we recall our need for God’s mercy, and in the Kyrie we ask the Lord to have mercy on us.  We then proclaim God’s glory in the Gloria.  The priest then says an opening prayer, to which we respond “Amen”.

The Liturgy of the Word during a Sunday Mass consists of an Old Testament reading (or a reading from the Acts of the Apostles during the Easter season), the Psalm and a New Testament reading (Barnum Feb 06).  After these are read, the Gospel reading is read and the homily is said.  The homily gives application to the readings.  We then profess our faith by saying the Nicene Creed.  We offer petitions in which the whole world is prayed for.

The Liturgy of the Eucharist begins with the “presentation of the offerings” (CCC #1350).  At this time, “the bread and wine are brought to the altar”, along with the collection for those in need, and the altar is prepared (CCC #1350).  These gifts are then prayed over.  We pray that our sacrifice may be acceptable to the Lord.  We offer our sacrifice of worship and suffering (Barnum Jan 30).

In the Eucharistic prayer we remember Christ’s life, especially the last supper, his passion, death, and resurrection.  The Sanctus, or the Holy, holy, holy, is then either said or sung, in awe of Christ, his life and sacrifice.

Afterwards, the epiclesis occurs.  The epiclesis is the point in the Mass where “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” (CCC #1353).

The next part of the Mass is the institution narrative.  At this time, Christ’s words are said by the priest, who becomes in persona Christi or “in the person of Christ” (CCC #1348).  The same words that Christ said at the Last Supper, when he instituted the Eucharist, are repeated at this time in the Mass.  The moment these words are spoken, “This is my body”, “This is my blood”, transubstantiation occurs.

During transubstantiation, the priest, through the power of the Holy Spirit, changes the substantial forms, those particular pieces, of bread and wine into the body and blood of Christ (Barnum Feb 06).  “The essential signs of the Eucharistic sacrament are wheat bread and grape wine” (CCC #1412).  The accidents of bread and wine, such as the taste, texture, and appearance, however, remain the same (Barnum Feb 06).  To our physical eyes, this appears as bread and wine, but through the eyes of faith we know and believe that this is the body and blood of our Lord.

Christ’s sacrifice is remembered in this sacrament.  “When the Church celebrates the Eucharist, she commemorates Christ’s Passover, and it is made present: the sacrifice Christ offered once for all on the cross remains ever present” (CCC #1364).

After the transubstantiation occurs, the Church remembers and proclaims that “Christ has died, Christ is risen, Christ will come again” in the memorial acclamation, or anamnesis.  It is then “indicate[d] that the Eucharist is celebrated in communion with the whole Church in heaven and on earth, the living and the dead…” (CCC #1354).

The Lord’s Prayer is then said, and we offer a sign of peace to one another.  The Host is broken, and the Agnus Dei is said.  In the Agnus Dei we proclaim that “This is the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world.  Happy are those who are called to his supper”.  We then admit that we are not worthy to receive him, but at his command we “shall be healed”.

Catholics who are not in the state of mortal sin are then able to receive communion.  Before Communion is given, the extraordinary minister of the Eucharist says “The body of Christ” or “The blood of Christ” to which we respond in agreement “Amen”.  After those who are going to receive have received the Eucharist, the remaining Host is placed in the tabernacle.  There is then a moment of silence in order to reflect.  The Doxology is said: “Through him, with him, and in him, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, all glory and honor is yours, almighty Father, for ever and ever”.

At the end of the Mass, we are sent forth; “God in peace to love and serve the Lord and one another” or something similar is said.  Then the closing hymn is sung, and we go forth.

After Jesus’ resurrection, He appeared to two disciples on the Road to Emmaus.  As they were walking and talking, “their eyes were prevented from recognizing him” (NAB, Luke 24:16).  Later, Jesus was invited into their home, “And it happened that, while he was with them at table, he took bread, said the blessing, broke it, and gave it to them.  With that their eyes were open and they recognized him” (NAB, Luke 24:30).

The first Passover meal foreshadows and is mirrored by the Eucharistic meal, instituted at the Last Supper.  In the first Passover, the Israelites were instructed to slaughter an unblemished male lamb.  In the new Passover, Jesus, the sinless son of God, becomes the unblemished lamb, who is crucified.

The blood of the slaughtered lamb was the sign that caused the angel of death to spare the firstborn in the first Passover.  The blood was to be applied to the doorposts of the house so that when the angel of death saw it, he would pass over.  In the new Passover, the blood of Jesus is the saving sign that causes those who believe to be spared from eternal death.

In the first Passover, the Lord’s instructions were to eat the flesh of the lamb (NAB, Luke 12:8).  This mirrors the Lord’s instructions to “eat [his] flesh and drink [his] blood” (NAB, John 6:54).  Jesus not only instructs us to do this, but also shows us at the Last Supper.  On the Road to Emmaus, it was “in the breaking of the bread” that the two disciples recognized Jesus (NAB, Luke 24:35).

In receiving Communion, as with any Sacrament, we receive special graces through it.  Communion “preserves, increases and renews the life of grace received as Baptism” (CCC #1392).  It “cleans[es] us from past [venial] sins and preserve[es] us from future [mortal] sins” (CCC #1393).

Through the Eucharistic meal, we enter into a more “intimate union with Christ Jesus” (CCC #1391).  Through this strengthening of “the bonds of charity”, “the unity of the Church” is reinforced (CCC #1416).  “Because there is one bread, we who are many are one body, for we all partake of the one bread” (NAB, 1 Corinthians 10:16-17).

The Holy Eucharist is central to the Catholic faith.  It was instituted by Christ.  It is through the Eucharistic that we are most reminded of our Lord’s life, death, resurrection, and promise to come again.  It is through the Eucharist that we are united with Christ and the Church.  It is through the Eucharist that we receive the special graces to live out our faith and God’s will in our life.

Works Cited

Barnum, Fr. Matt. "TY120 Class." AB114 Aquinas College, Grand Rapids, MI. 30 Jan 2009.

Barnum, Fr. Matt. "TY120 Class." AB114 Aquinas College, Grand Rapids, MI. 06 Feb 2009.

Catechism of the Catholic Church. Broadway, NY: Doubleday, 1994.

New American Bible: The Catholic Youth Bible. St. Mary’s Press: Winona, MN, 2000.

O'Neill, Colman E. Meeting Christ in the Sacraments. Rev. Staten Island, NY: St. Pauls, 2007.

Paul VI, Pope. "Sacrosanctum Concilium." The Holy See. 04 Dec 1963. Vatican. 20 Feb 2009 <>.

"Questions about the Holy Eucharist." The Holy Eucharist. 1996. EWTN. 20 Feb 2009 <>.

Ratzinger, Joseph Cardinal. The Spirit of the Liturgy. San Francisco: Ignatius, 2000.

Sheed, Frank J. “The Real Presence of Christ in the Eucharist.” The Holy Eucharist. 1996. EWTN. 20 Feb 2009 <>.