The Sacrament of The Eucharist BY Zoe Panagiotopoulos

In the Roman Catholic Church, the Sacrament of Eucharist is a way of connecting with God, and understanding the sacrifice Jesus made for sinners. It is the very sacrifice of the Body and Blood of Christ.

The Origins of the Eucharist

The Sacrament of the Eucharist was first thought of as a concept at the Last Supper that Jesus held with His disciples. Jesus represented His body and blood in the form of bread and wine, and this notion of symbolism has been carried through thousands of years. After Jesus died, the letters and journeys of St Paul helped spread Christianity, and with that, Paul had to teach new Christian communities how to perform the Eucharist. These teachings have carried on throughout the years that Christianity has existed. To help with this, the Gospels of Matthew, Mark and Luke retell the story of the Last Supper, confirming how we should perform it and how Jesus wanted us to see His sacrifice and celebrate our thanks to Him.

http://thecripplegate.com/did-the-early-church-believe-in-transubstantiation/

The belief of TRANSUBSTANTIATION

The simple meaning of transubstantiation is the process of which the bread and wine of the Eucharist is transformed into the body and blood of Jesus Christ. The Catholic church teaches us that in the blessing of the Eucharist, the bread and wine actually becomes the body and blood of Him.

Preparation of the Bread

While preparing the bread for the consecration the priest recites these words:

Blessed are you, Lord, God of all creation. Through your goodness we have this bread to offer, which earth has given and human hands have made. It will become for us the bread of life.

The priest then places the bread just below eye level, as this is called an offertory rite. We are offering and thanking Jesus for His sacrifice to save us from sin. The bread is now the body of Christ.

Preparation of the Wine

In a similar way, the priest also recites these word to consecrate the wine:

By the mystery of this water and wine may we come to share in the divinity of Christ, who humbled himself to share in our humanity. Blessed are you, Lord, God of all creation. Through your goodness we have this wine to offer, fruit of the vine and work of human hands. It will become our spiritual drink.

The wine is mixed with water, and the priest then raises the chalice (the cup the wine is placed in), and this is also an offertory rite. The wine is now the blood of Christ.

http://www.lancasterdiocese.org.uk/the-catholic-faith/the-mass/
Did you know... St Pius X lowered the age of receiving your first holy communion? When he was elected pope in 1903, children didn't receive it until the age of 14. He dropped it to the 'age of reason', or around 7.

The eucharist as a meal and sacrifice

When Jesus knew it was His last night on earth, on Holy Thursday, he wanted to share His last meal with His disciples, but He wanted them to be fulfilled, and He also wanted them to know the importance of His sacrifice. This meal was called the Passover. Jesus wanted to share a meal to show his thanks to His loyal disciples, and sharing meals was a special occasion during the time of Christ, as it represented unity and a community coming together as one and identifies them as God's people. At the same time, Jesus wanted His disciples to understand the importance of the sacrifice he was about to make. This was why He consecrated the bread and wine into His body and blood; it was to demonstrate how much He loved each of His children that he would give up His life for us.

http://www.parishholycross.org/index.php/sacraments/eucharist

This is what Jesus was trying to teach us when he used bread and wine as an example of how we show thanks to Him. By sharing a meal and coming together to celebrate the life of Christ in the consumption of His body and blood, we show our gratitude towards Him for saving us from sin. At the same time, Jesus is giving us a piece of Himself, to remind us of the sacrifice He made.

Scripture references

Mark 14: 22-24

22 While they were eating, Jesus took bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it and gave it to his disciples, saying, “Take it; this is my body.”

23 Then he took a cup, and when he had given thanks, he gave it to them, and they all drank from it.

24 “This is my blood of the[a] covenant, which is poured out for many,” he said to them.

1 Corinthians 11: 23-34

23 For I received from the Lord what I also passed on to you: The Lord Jesus, on the night he was betrayed, took bread, 24 and when he had given thanks, he broke it and said, “This is my body, which is for you; do this in remembrance of me.” 25 In the same way, after supper he took the cup, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood; do this, whenever you drink it, in remembrance of me.” 26 For whenever you eat this bread and drink this cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until he comes.

27 So then, whoever eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner will be guilty of sinning against the body and blood of the Lord. 28 Everyone ought to examine themselves before they eat of the bread and drink from the cup. 29 For those who eat and drink without discerning the body of Christ eat and drink judgment on themselves. 30 That is why many among you are weak and sick, and a number of you have fallen asleep. 31 But if we were more discerning with regard to ourselves, we would not come under such judgment. 32 Nevertheless, when we are judged in this way by the Lord, we are being disciplined so that we will not be finally condemned with the world.

33 So then, my brothers and sisters, when you gather to eat, you should all eat together. 34 Anyone who is hungry should eat something at home, so that when you meet together it may not result in judgment.

And when I come I will give further directions.

John 6: 53-58

53 Jesus said to them, “Very truly I tell you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you have no life in you. 54 Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise them up at the last day. 55 For my flesh is real food and my blood is real drink. 56 Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood remains in me, and I in them. 57 Just as the living Father sent me and I live because of the Father, so the one who feeds on me will live because of me. 58 This is the bread that came down from heaven. Your ancestors ate manna and died, but whoever feeds on this bread will live forever.”

Did you know... the word 'Eucharist' comes from the Greek word 'thanksgiving'.

Catechisms and statements

1376 - The Council of Trent summarizes the Catholic faith by declaring: "Because Christ our Redeemer said that it was truly his body that he was offering under the species of bread, it has always been the conviction of the Church of God, and this holy Council now declares again, that by the consecration of the bread and wine there takes place a change of the whole substance of the bread into the substance of the body of Christ our Lord and of the whole substance of the wine into the substance of his blood. This change the holy Catholic Church has fittingly and properly called transubstantiation."

1398 - The Eucharist and the unity of Christians. Before the greatness of this mystery St. Augustine exclaims, "O sacrament of devotion! O sign of unity! O bond of charity!"237 The more painful the experience of the divisions in the Church which break the common participation in the table of the Lord, the more urgent are our prayers to the Lord that the time of complete unity among all who believe in him may return.

1414 - As sacrifice, the Eucharist is also offered in reparation for the sins of the living and the dead and to obtain spiritual or temporal benefits from God.

"The Eucharist is essential for us: it is Christ who wishes to enter our lives and fill us with His grace." - Pope Francis

Bibliography

National Catholic Education Commission 2016, Origins of the Eucharist, N.d., Sydney, NSW, accessed 26 April 2017, <http://www.togetheratonealtar.catholic.edu.au/explore/dsp-content.cfm?loadref=21>.

Catholic Education Office Melbourne 2003, Prayer, Liturgy and Sacraments, Melbourne, accessed 30 April 2017, <http://www.resourcemelb.catholic.edu.au/object.cfm?o=180>.

Longenecker, D 2014, Explaing Transubstantiation, Patheos, accessed 1 May 2017, <http://www.patheos.com/blogs/standingonmyhead/2014/07/explaining-transubstantiation.html>.

Catholic News Agency n.d., The Liturgy of the Eucharist, accessed 1 May 2017, <http://www.catholicnewsagency.com/privacypolicy.php>.

Compendium of the Catechism of the Catholic Church 2005, Libreria Editrice Vaticana, Unknown.

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