The Sacrament of the Eucharist (Holy Communion)
The Eucharist is the source and summit of the Christian life.
This is the second Sacrament of Initiation, except in the case of adult converts who receive the Sacrament of Confirmation before they receive the Eucharist. It is also known as the Mass, and it is in this Sacrament that Christ’s love is expressed most fully. The Mass is a sacrifice of praise at which we offer our daily food – symbolised by bread and wine – in thanksgiving for Christ’s sacrifice for us on the Cross.
By the words and actions of the priest:
Do this in memory of me”
– as Jesus said at the Last Supper – the bread and wine are transformed into the real body and blood of Christ, which we receive in Holy Communion. This is our spiritual nourishment, food for our souls, safeguarding and preserving our spiritual lives and finally giving us strength for our journey to eternal life.
Our belief in the Real Presence of the Body and Blood of Christ under the appearance of bread and wine is an act of faith. The Bread and Wine do not appear or taste different after the words of Consecration, which are those uttered by Jesus at the Last Supper.
This is my Body…This is my Blood”.
As we say when we make an Act of Faith,
I believe in…..because thou hast said it and thy word is true”.
Christ ordered the Apostles and their successors to continue to celebrate the Eucharist. At Mass Christ is present in the consecrated bread, the Host. The Hosts are kept in the Tabernacle in the Blessed Sacrament Chapel. Thus we can adore and pray to the real presence of Christ any time that we are in Church. The Eucharist from the Tabernacle can be given to sick people at any time.
We also have special times of Adoration when the Blessed Sacrament is exposed in a Monstrance on the altar. See Adoration and Exposition.
The Holy Eucharist is not only a Sacrament of the present; it is one with the sacrifice of the New Testament. The sacrifice of the Cross and the sacrifice of the Mass have each the same Priest and the same Victim, Jesus Christ. Both are offered by means of the same Body and Blood, visible on the Cross, hidden on the altar.
Masses are offered throughout the world , not only in memory of Christ’s atonement for our sins, but also as a manifestation of God’s love which extends to all people of every age and place.