The Sacrament of the Eucharist Alex Brett

The Eucharist is the central and greatest sacrament.

It is the purpose and source of Christian life. The Eucharist is the pure sacrifice of the Body and Blood. When we celebrate the Eucharist, we are involved in the sacrifice of Jesus Christ's death on the cross.

Jesus in the Eucharist

The Eucharist celebrates the Body of Jesus and allows him to be present in the midst.

When Christians celebrate the Sacrament of the Eucharist, our community gathers together to give thanks for the life , death and Resurrection for our saviour, Jesus Christ.

Catechism of the Catholic Church paragraph 1373:

'Jesus Christ is present in the Eucharist in a unique and incomparable way.'

Receiving the Eucharist leads to a change in our spiritual lives. It is a holy, scared meal like the Passover rituals shared among Jesus' Apostles. During the Passover meal, Jesus identified the bread and wine received in mass as his own body and blood.

As seen in paragraph 1327 of Catechism of the Catholic Church:

'In brief, the Eucharist is the sum and summary of our faith: "Our way of thinking is attuned to the Eucharist, and the Eucharist in turn confirms our way of thinking.'

Jesus Christ is present in the Liturgy of the Eucharist in four different ways, in the faith community gathered, in the priest's word, in the Word of God, in the bread and wine shared together at mass.

In paragraph 1322-1323 of Catechism of the Catholic Church;

'The Eucharist is the very sacrifice of the Body and Blood of the Lord Jesus which he instituted to perpetuate the sacrifice of the cross throughout the ages until his return in glory.'

Origin of the Eucharist

Definition found in scripture -

The Eucharist proclaims and announces through the ages of the Life, Death and Resurrection of Jesus.

Basic Eucharist ritual established in early texts -

Bread and wine is taken first, thanks and worship is offered to God for these gifts. Once broken, the bread and wine is received by all at mass. When eating and drinking the Body and Blood of Christ, we, as Christians experience the presence of the Lord.

The Eucharist has been celebrated for centuries before the new testament scriptures were written.

The Eucharistic tradition written about in the Letters of Paul during the year 40 and the year 60 outlines the importance of the Eucharist. This is shown through the actions and words Jesus displayed at the Last Supper which have been passed on to the Christian communities he established.

The Synoptic Gospels retell the meal Jesus shared with his disciples the night before his death, in which he connected his words and actions with his death the following day. At the Last Supper Jesus said, 'This is my Body' and 'This is the chalice of My Blood'. The Eucharist recognizes the same mystery through the Christian church ages.

John's representation of the Last Supper emphasizes a different idea with a reflection on the true meaning and significance of the Bread of Life and that Jesus is the body and blood in John 6. John 6 refers to the Last Supper and explains Jesus turning the bread into his body and wine into his blood.

John 6
Luke 22

The Acts of the Apostles show that the Breaking of Bread was a foundation of the Christian identity from the early church ages. Christianity evolved from the Jewish, also influencing the Eucharist from Jewish practice and tradition.

The actions of the early Christian communities influenced the New Testament and its texts. The first communities celebrated and commemorated the Eucharistic ritual that Jesus gave the night before his death on the cross.

Early Christian Communities celebrated the tradition that is the Eucharist.

Simple Definition -

Transubstantiation is the act by which Christians believe the bread and wine is converted into the substance of the Body and Blood of Jesus Christ. Through transubstantiation the Resurrected Jesus is present in the Eucharist.

The word 'Transubstantiation' is created from two words, the first being trans, meaning "across" and "through", and the second being substantia, referring to a "substance". The term "transubstantiate" means changing from one substance to another.

This change is brought about in the Eucharistic prayer through the word of Christ and the action of the Holy Spirit.

In paragraph 1376-1377 of the Catechism of the Catholic Church:

'Transubstantiation means the change of the whole substance of bread into the substance of the Body of Christ and of the whole substance of wine into the substance of his Blood.'

Transubstantiation is a change in a substance from one thing to another. For example, the bread into the Body of Jesus.

'The outward characteristics of bread and wine, that is the “Eucharistic species”, remain unaltered.'

This meaning that the appearance of the Eucharist remains the same although the substance is transformed into the Body and Blood of Jesus.

Roman Catholics believe that through transubstantiation, the risen and resurrected Christ becomes present in the Eucharist.

Jesus Himself stated when taking the bread, "This is My Body", then taking the wine saying, "This is My Blood".

Saint Paul also made clear in his first letter to the Corinthians that when referring to the bread and wine of the Eucharist he addressed it as the Body and Blood of Jesus.

The term, "Real Presence" refers to Christ's representation in the bread and wine that have been converted into Jesus Christ's Body and Blood.

Through jesus' real presence, he offers to us the gift of eternal life

As stated in paragraph 1376 of the Catechism of the Catholic Church:

"That because Christ our Redeemer said that it was truly his body that he was offering under the species of bread... 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 and of the whole substance of the wine into the substance of his blood..."

This paragraph is explaining the process of Transubstantiation and how it is performed during mass. This passage also identifies that the bread becomes the Body of Christ and the wine becomes the Blood of Christ.

The Eucharist as both Meal and Sacrifice

The Church speaks of the Eucharist as two significant symbols, the meal and the sacrifice.

Mass is a representation of the Last Supper, the night before he died, symbolizing a meal. Although Jesus relates his actions and words to the sacrifice He made for us. The mass and the sacrifice are both crucial elements to understanding The Last Supper and the Eucharist.

Eucharist as a Meal

The Eucharist is obviously perceived as a sacred meal. Today, meals are items often taken for granted by several, though they also represent a human need. Without food and eating we would simply die, meaning that we, as humans are dependent on food; the Eucharist. The Eucharist is not only a communal meal but a meal of sacrifice. Meals are where we come together as a community to share experiences. During the Eucharist we share experiences with Jesus. The bread is a sign and symbol of God. When we eat together we get a stronger sense of communion.

Eucharist as a Sacrifice

The term 'sacrifice' means giving up something to God or to 'make holy'. Jesus' death was a sacrifice for us because Christ offered his life and self to God. The initiative for Jesus' death came from God, as God...

'shows his love for us in that while we were yet sinners Christ died for us.’ (Romans 5:8)

The Eucharist is a pure sacrifice as it is a celebratory meal. Early Roman Catholics proclaimed the idea that the Eucharist was a sacrifice in their teachings and writings, as told in Luke 22:19...

'Do this in remembrance of me.' (Luke 22:19)

The Eucharist is a sacrament and a sacrifice in which we are introduced to Jesus Christ and the covenant. The Eucharist is a sacrifice because it symbolizes Jesus' death on the Cross. The very words,

"this is my Body which is given for you”, “This cup is the New Covenant in my Blood that will be shed for you” Luke 22:19-20

The Eucharist is not of local but of universal significance.


The Word of God

In Scripture -

Matthew 26:26-30, The Institution of the Eucharist

"While they were eating, Jesus took bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it and gave it to his disciples, saying, “Take and eat; this is my body.” Then he took a cup, and when he had given thanks, he gave it to them, saying, “Drink from it, all of you. This is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins. I tell you, I will not drink from this fruit of the vine from now on until that day when I drink it new with you in my Father’s kingdom."

The recount of Jesus' Last Supper with his Disciples was closely related to the words of both Mark and Luke. In Luke's telling of the story he creates emphasize and reference to Jesus' death as "my blood poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins." In the Roman Catholic Church, these words are a significant source for our belief that we are saved from sin because of Jesus' death.

Luke 22:1-23, The Last Supper

"The day came during the Festival of Unleavened Bread when the lambs for the Passover meal were to be killed."

In this scripture, we discover that Jesus and his disciples gathered together to celebrate and commemorate Passover with a traditional meal. Luke also recalls the event in which Jesus was in danger from the chief priests and teachers of law.

The Last Supper

Luke 24:29-31, Jesus Has Risen

"He sat down to eat with them, took the bread, and said the blessing; then he broke the bread and gave it to them.Then their eyes were opened and they recognized him, but he disappeared from their sight.”

This passage is extremely relevant because it tells of the Jesus' appearance to two of his disciples on the road to Emmaus, soon after his Resurrection. When Jesus breaks the bread and shares it among the disciples, it is then that they realize and recognize Jesus through his familiar spiritual actions. This scripture provides evidence of the early Christians and followers of Jesus viewing the Eucharist as a special way of communicating to Christ through their faith. The disciples are filled with faith, love, hope and memory of their past experience at the table with Jesus when he broke the bread.

Statements from the pope

The Pope -

“The Eucharist is Jesus who gives himself entirely to us. To nourish ourselves with him and abide in him through Holy Communion, if we do it with faith, transforms our life into a gift to God and to our brothers,” - pope Aug 16 2015

The Pope speaks of the Eucharist as a faithful sacrament. He says the Eucharist is no symbol but is the true Body and Blood of Jesus Christ, which has the strength to change our hearts to walk in his footsteps.

To let ourselves be nourished by the 'Bread of Life,' “means to be in tune with the heart of Christ, to assimilate his choices, thoughts, behaviors.” - Pope Aug 16 2015

Pope Francis says that when we accept the Bread of life and Body of Christ we are choosing to follow our faith and live in the light of Jesus, in his decisions, words and actions.



1. Compendium of the CCC on the Eucharist | Liturgy & Sacraments | Cathedral Parish, Madison WI. 2017. Compendium of the CCC on the Eucharist | Liturgy & Sacraments | Cathedral Parish, Madison WI. [ONLINE] Available at: [Accessed 09 April; 2017].

2.Together At One Altar | Origins Of The Eucharist". N.p., 2017. Web. 17 Apr. 2017.

3.Catholic Doctrine Of Transubstantiation: Definition & Overview - Video & Lesson Transcript | Study.Com". N.p., 2017. Web. 12 Apr. 2017.

4."Transubstantiation: A Fundamental Catholic Belief About The Eucharist - Catholic Hotdish". Catholic Hotdish. N.p., 2017. Web. 20 Apr. 2017.

5.Resource". N.p., 2017. Web. 13 Apr. 2017.

6."Eucharist, Holy Meal". N.p., 2017. Web. 8 Apr. 2017.

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