A Basic Guide: The Eucharist In The Catholic Church~By Georgia Kremalas

The Origins of the Eucharist

The Eucharist is most commonly associated with the Last Supper, an important event in the Bible recounting the meal shared between Jesus and his apostles. During this meal Jesus makes a statement about the bread and wine. He breaks the bread and says, "This is my body, that will be given up for you. (Luke 22:19)" He then takes the wine and says, "This is my blood of the everlasting covenant, which is poured for so many. (Matthew 26:28)" Jesus then ends the meal saying, "Do this in remembrance of Me. (Luke 22:19)" The Sacrament of the Eucharist stems from this belief that the bread is the Body of Christ, and the wine is the Blood of Christ. Something to take note of is that this meal shared by the disciples and Jesus was actually the Jewish meal of Passover as Jesus was a Jew. It is important to know Jesus didn't 'create' the Eucharist, it was instead developed by early Christians who started the Eucharist based on Jesus' actions. The Eucharist was originally referred to by Early Christians as "The Breaking of the Bread" however this changed as the Sacrament became more like the one we know today. They started by celebrating the Eucharist on a Sunday to commemorate the Resurrection of Jesus then progressively introduced psalms and other forms of prayers and Scripture to the celebration of the Eucharist. This ultimately gave us the finalized version of the Sacrament we know today. This sacrament is considered to be the most important of all Catholic sacraments, CCC#1322 states "The holy Eucharist completes Christian initiation." establishing just how crucial this Sacrament is to the Catholic Church.

The Bread and Wine from Catholic Mass | Sculpture of the Last Supper

Transubstantiation

Transubstantiation is a belief surrounding the transformation of the bread and wine during mass. The word transubstantiation can be broken down to an essential meaning of 'transformation of substances'. The religious belief of transubstantiation states that during Mass the bread becomes the Body of Christ, and the wine becomes the Blood of Christ in a literal way rather than figuratively. This belief is echoed in other Christian religions such as the Orthodox Religion. Transubstantiation is not to be confused with the Orthodox belief of μετουσίωσις (metousiosis). Metousiosis is a Greek word meaning essentially the same thing as transubstantiation. Metousiosis is the same idea as transubstantiation (the body and blood of Christ are actually present) but leaves it as a mystery that only God can know. The Catholic belief of Transubstantiation however, is essentially an explanation for this and somewhat removes the 'mystical' element. It is this that makes Transubstantiation a strictly Catholic belief.

A Basic Definition

The eucharist as a meal and sacrifice

The Eucharist is represented in the Catholic Church as both a meal and a sacrifice, highlighting the human aspects or "dimensions" of our lives.

To begin, the Eucharist is portrayed as a meal-a basic necessity for human life. Without food we would die-it's a basic idea. We are dependent on having a meal which is reflected in the Eucharist. We are dependent on God and our religion to help us live and make it, therefore the symbolism of the Eucharist as a meal is a key idea in Christian Theology. As well as this, meals bring people together just like the Eucharist does. When the Eucharist takes place, members of the Church gather as a community further supporting the Eucharist as a meal. This can also be reflected in the Last Supper which displays Jesus sharing a meal with his apostles.

Jesus sharing a meal with his apostles via the Last Supper

Secondly is the Eucharist as a sacrifice. This is not to be mistaken as a form of animal sacrifice or other typically known form of sacrifice. This sacrifice relates to the sacrifice Jesus made for us when he died on the cross-this was him giving himself to God for our sake. The Eucharist is considered as a sacrifice because it represents the sacrifice Jesus made for us on the cross. The sacrifice can also be considered as a "Spiritual Sacrifice" (CCC#1330).

A Christian Icon Displaying Jesus' Sacrifice on the Cross

Bibliography

Catechism of the Catholic Church n.d., accessed 1 May 2017, <http://www.vatican.va/archive/ccc_css/archive/catechism/p2s2c1a3.htm>

Eucharist n.d., accessed 1 May 2017, <http://www.catholicaustralia.com.au/the-sacraments/eucharist>.

Jackson, W. "What Are Transubstantiation and Consubstantiation?" ChristianCourier.com. Access date: May 2, 2017. https://www.christiancourier.com/articles/477-what-are-transubstantiation-and-consubstantiation

14 Bible Verses about the Eucharist n.d., accessed 1 May 2017, <https://bible.knowing-jesus.com/topics/The-Eucharist>.

Gabriel, V 2014, The Doctrine of Transubstantiation in the Orthodox Church, accessed 2 May 2017, <https://blogs.ancientfaith.com/orthodoxyandheterodoxy/2013/08/14/the-doctrine-of-transubstantiation-in-the-orthodox-church/>.

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