The Eucharist

Christ gives us Himself in this wonderful Sacrament

The Feast of Corpus Christi

The Fathers of the Early Church remind us that the Holy Eucharist is the most “august sacrament,” in which Christ the Lord himself is contained, offered and received, and by which the Church constantly lives and grows. The Eucharistic Sacrifice, the memorial of the death and resurrection of the Lord, in which the sacrifice of the cross is perpetuated over the centuries, is the summit and the source of all Christian worship and life; it signifies and effects the unity of the people of God and achieves the building up of the Body of Christ. The other sacraments and all the ecclesiastical works of the apostolate are closely related to the Holy Eucharist and are directed to it.

The celebration of the Eucharist is the action of Christ Himself through His Church. In it, Christ the Lord, by the ministry of the priest, offers Himself, substantially present under the forms of bread and wine, to God the Father and gives Himself as spiritual food to the faithful who are associated with His offering. One who is to receive the Most Holy Eucharist is to abstain from any food or drink, with the exception only of water and medicine, for at least the period of ONE HOUR before Holy Communion. [Code of Canon Law, #897, 899, 919]

In the Eucharist Christ associates his Church and all her members with His sacrifice of praise and thanksgiving offered once for all on the cross to His Father; by this sacrifice he pours out the graces of salvation on his Body which is the Church.

It is Christ himself, the eternal high priest of the New Covenant who, acting through the ministry of the priest, offers the Eucharistic sacrifice. And it is the same Christ, really present under the species of bread and wine, who is the offering of the Eucharistic sacrifice. Only validly ordained priests can preside at the Eucharist and consecrate the bread and the wine so that they become the Body and Blood of the Lord.

By the consecration the transubstantiation of the bread and wine into the Body and Blood of Christ is brought about. Under the consecrated species of bread and wine Christ himself, living and glorious, is present in a true, real, and substantial manner: his Body and his Blood, with his soul and his divinity (Council of Trent).

Anyone who desires to receive Christ in Eucharistic communion must be in the state of grace. Anyone aware of having sinned mortally must not receive communion without having received absolution in the sacrament of penance.

The Eucharist is the Real Presence of Jesus Christ, under the appearance of bread and wine. The substance of the bread, the substance of the wine is “done away with” and changed completely into the body and blood of Christ— even though the appearance remains the same.

Contrary to popular misconceptions, proper Catholic teaching must be held by the faithful: Christ is fully present — Body and Blood, Soul and Divinity — and is fully received under either species of the consecrated host or of the consecrated wine. Christ is fully present under either species. Nor is He present “in” or “with” the bread and wine. Merely the appearances remain: the bread and wine become completely the body and blood of the Lord Jesus. The accidents remain the same, a total change to the “substance” of the bread and wine occurs. Strictly speaking, this is the miracle of Transubstantiation: a change of the substance. The common practice in the Western Church is to communicate only the consecrated host. However, at times, and at the discretion of the pastor of the parish (with the Bishop’s permission), the Church allows the Precious Blood to be offered to the faithful. When sufficient ministers are available, we observe the practice in our parish. Current Church documents don’t envision this practice to be observed in every public celebration of the mass. The reception of the chalice is an option, and in receiving the Precious Blood, the faithful are to show the same reverence they do in receiving the consecrated host.

By carefully attending to our reception of Holy Communion we not only show proper respect and devotion, according to the mind of the Church, but we also open ourselves up to the graces Jesus wants to give us. By a proper and devout reception of the Eucharist, we grow in holiness.

Bulletin of St. Isaac Jogues Parish in Hinsdale, Illinois, on the Feast of Corpus Christi.