Since the beginning, the Church has been faithful to this commandment from Jesus.
The Eucharist is the “source and summit of the Christian life.”
Jesus instituted this sacrament on the evening of the Last Supper and bound to it His sacramental presence in the world.
Then he took a loaf of bread, and when he had given thanks,
he broke it and gave it to them, saying,
“This is my body, which is given for you.
Do this in remembrance of me.”
Jesus not only asked to be remembered: He commanded that His gestures and words be repeated.
Since the beginning, the Church has been faithful to this commandment: During every Eucharistic liturgy we repeat the memorial of the death and resurrection of Christ and these events become truly present.
At the moment of the consecration, by the power of the Holy Spirit and the words of Christ, the bread and wine become the Body and Blood of Christ.
It’s the mystery of transubstantiation: the signs keep their physical characteristics but their substance is changed.
The Eucharistic celebration is also known by other names to underline the various aspects and effects of this sacrament.
The Lord’s Supper:
in reference to the Last Supper, and to the wedding feast of the Lamb, in the heavenly Jerusalem.
The Breaking of the Bread:
a typical rite of the Jewish meal, repeated by Jesus during the Last Supper. It was due to this gesture that the disciples recognized the Risen Jesus at Emmaus and the first Christians used this expression as the name for their liturgies.
Through this sacrament we are united to Christ and among ourselves. We who are many are one body, for we all partake of the one bread.
1 Corinthians 10:17b
The Eucharist is the sacrament of those in full communion with the Church. It cannot be received by those who are not baptized or who are in a state of mortal sin.
It’s the “bread of angels” but also of pilgrims and sinners: As food nourishes the body, we also need to feed on the Eucharist to grow and progress in Christian life.
As the Catechism states, Communion strengthens our unity with the Lord, remits venial sins, and helps us not to fall into grave sin.
To receive the Eucharist the faithful should abstain from food and drink for at least an hour before receiving Communion, and to go to confession if they’re in a state of mortal sin.
Our clothing and attitude are also important, and should express respect.
The Church encourages the faithful to receive Communion whenever they attend Mass, unless they are impeded from doing so.
Catholics are obliged to go to Mass on Sundays and holy days of obligation and to receive the Eucharist at least once a year, preferably during Easter, after having gone to confession.
The Eucharist can be received either standing or kneeling, on the tongue or in the hand.
In the latter case, the consecrated Host should be consumed immediately, in front of the minister, and no fragments should be allowed to fall.
Over time, the Church has understood more deeply the importance of Eucharistic devotion even outside of Mass, promoting Eucharistic adoration.
Jesus waits for us in this sacrament of love. Let us be generous with our time in going to meet Him in adoration…
St. John Paul II