The mode of Christ's
presence under the Eucharistic species is unique. It raises the
Eucharist above all the sacraments as "the perfection of the spiritual
life and the end
to which all sacraments tend." In the most blessed sacrament of the
Eucharist "the body and blood, together with the soul and divinity, of our Lord Jesus
therefore, the whole Christ is truly, really, and substantially
contained." "This presence is called 'real' - by which is not intended to exclude the other
presence as if they could not be 'real' too, but because it is presence in
the fullest sense: that is to say, it is a substantial presence by which Christ, God
makes himself wholly and entirely present." (The
Catechism of the Catholic Church: # 1374)
is both Communion and Sacrifice
Fr Raniero Cantalamessa OFM Cap, the preacher to the papal household,
wrote on the relationship between the Eucharist and Christian, "The Eucharist is not only sacrifice, but also a banquet! By instituting it Jesus wanted to establish the messianic banquet, foretold by the Prophets in imagery of such
splendor: 'On this mountain the Lord will prepare for all peoples a banquet of rich food, a banquet of fine wines, of food rich and juicy, of fine strained
wines'" (Isaiah 25.6)
It is only when it retains these two aspects of sacrifice and of banquet, that the Eucharist fully expresses the nature of the Christian life, which is not just
sacrifice, mortification and renunciation, but also joy, happiness, togetherness, poetry and song.
. . . If Jesus had chosen bread and water for the Eucharist, he would have brought about the sanctification only of suffering ("bread and water" suggests fasting, austerity and penance") But Jesus chose bread and wine; he wanted to open the way for the sanctification of joy as well as suffering.
The Eucharist was the subject of the Holy Father's catechesis at the General Audience
October 18, 2000: "The commands, "Take, eat ... Drink of it ..." (Mt 26:26-27), which Jesus gives his disciples in that room on the upper floor of a house in Jerusalem on the last evening of his earthly life (cf. Mk 14:15), are rich in meaning. The universal symbolic value of the banquet offered in bread and wine (cf. Is 25:6) already suggests communion and intimacy. Other more explicit elements extol the Eucharist as a banquet of friendship and covenant with God. For, as the Catechism of the Catholic Church recalls, it is
"at the same time, and inseparably, the sacrificial memorial in which the sacrifice of the cross is perpetuated, and the sacred banquet of communion with the Lord's body and blood" (CCC, n. 1382).
The Holy Father said that the Covenant on Sinai foretold the new covenant in Christ's blood
"Just as in the Old Testament the movable shrine in the desert was called the "tent of meeting", that is, of the encounter between God and his people and of brethren in faith among themselves, the ancient Christian tradition called the Eucharistic celebration the synaxis, "meeting". . . If we wish to reflect more deeply on the genuine meaning of this mystery of communion between God and the faithful, we must return to Jesus' words at the Last Supper. They refer to the biblical category of "covenant", recalled precisely through the connection between Christ's blood and the sacrificial blood poured out on Sinai: "This is my blood of the covenant" (Mk 14:24). Moses had said:
"Behold the blood of the covenant" (Ex 24:8). The covenant on Sinai which united Israel to the Lord with a bond of blood, foretold the new covenant which would give rise,
to use an expression of the Greek Fathers, to a kinship as it were between Christ and the faithful"
(Cyril of Alexandria).
celebration of the Eucharist is a foretaste of our union at the banquet of
the home of God is among mortals. He will dwell with them as their
God; they will be his peoples, and God himself will be with them; he
will wipe every tear from their eyes. Death will be no more; mourning
and crying and pain will be no more, for the first things have passed
The sacrament of
the Eucharist is the "real
presence" of Christ in the Eucharistic bread and cup, and
reminds us that we are the body and blood of Jesus to one another. The
Eucharist contains such a richness and depth that Catholics understand
various ways in which Christ is truly present in it. The Second Vatican
Council Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy reminds us that Christ is present in the
Eucharistic celebration in at least four different ways. All provide us
with the opportunity to be transformed by our encounter with the real
presence of Christ.
Four ways of
Christ's Real Presence:
on the Sacred Liturgy says:
so great a work Christ is always present in his Church, especially in
her liturgical celebrations. He is present in the Sacrifice of the
Mass not only in the person of is minister- but especially in the
Eucharistic species- He is present in his word since it is he himself
who speaks when the holy scriptures are read in the Church. Lastly, he
is present when the Church prays and sings (S.C.#7).
1) Christ Is
Present in the Priest who leads the assembly in worship and acts in the
person of Christ (in persona Christi).
the Eucharistic celebration begins, Christ reveals himself as the leader
of our worship through the priest or bishop who presides at the Liturgy in persona Christi. This
is the ministry given as a gift through the sacrament of Holy Orders. This
is called the ordained or "ministerial
priesthood," which assists us in our baptismal call. As Peter
says, "You are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation,
God's own people, in order that you may proclaim the mighty acts of him
who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light" [1 Pet
2) Christ is
present in the Bread and Wine shared in the Liturgy
U.S. Bishops statement: "The Real Presence of Jesus
Christ in the Sacrament of the Eucharist"
the Eucharist "the whole Christ is truly present, body blood,
soul and divinity, under the appearances of bread and wineóthe
glorified Christ who rose from the dead after dying for our sins. This
is what the church means when she speaks of the Ďreal presenceí of
Christ in the Eucharist."
In the Middle
Ages, back in the 13th century, people had a great sense of
the presence of Jesus in the Eucharist. They wanted to celebrate the
presence of God in their midst, Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament. The feast
developed as a procession feast, not where people came together in Church.
No, it was an action feast. The people carried the Blessed
Sacrament around their whole village; through the town, their homes, their
workplaces and marketplaces, the hospitals where the sick were, or places
where the poor and hungry were, to dramatize the conviction that God
journeys with us wherever we go in our everyday life.
The General Instruction of the Roman Missal makes the following statement regarding Communion under both species:
"Holy Communion has a fuller form as a sign when it is received under both kinds. For in this manner of reception the sign of the eucharistic banquet shines forth more completely and the divine will by which the new and everlasting covenant is ratified in the Blood of the Lord is more clearly expressed, together with the relationship of the eucharistic banquet to the eschatological banquet in the Father's Kingdom." GIRM (1975) n.281
Christ is Present in his Word:
is he himself who speaks when the holy scriptures are read in church"
speaks to us in the word proclaimed in our midst, reverence requires that
we listen attentively with open ears and with open hearts so that his word
can take root in us and bear fruit. Let us be attentive to todayís
gospel to see Christís coming into our lives:
word demands a response. Amen. Our "Amen"
is like a signature on a dotted line. No half-heartedness is allowed. Amen
means: "I approve. I promise. I am of one mind with you Jesus. So
be it!" Be careful when you say, "Amen! Yes, that is Godís
word for me." In the fifth Century, St. Augustine said:
reply ĎAmení to that which you are, and by replying you consent.
For you hear ĎThe Body of Christí and you reply ĎAmen ...í Be
what you see, and receive what you are."
Is Present in the Assembly
reveals himself as the leader of our worship through the presider,
reverence urges us to respond with "full, conscious, active
participation" in the singing, the prayers and the actions of the
liturgy. "For where two or three are gathered together in my name,
there am I in the midst of them" (Matt 18:20). As one nun
encourages us to see, "Christ in our midst as well as our
altars." Eucharist is not only about changing bread, it is about
changing people. Christ dwells
in each member of his body and we too are asked to see the blessings and
burdens of our brothers and sisters who gather for Eucharist, "Oh, Jesus Christ, is it you again?"
The Aramaic sense of Jesusí words, "This is my body"
carries the connotation of "This is me. This is my body and blood.
This is my life." As we process up to communion we also say, "This
is me. This is my body and blood. This is my life." Together we
are the Christís body and blood, carrying our prayers, works, sorrows
and suffering, our body broken, hands and feet and hearts pierced, pouring
out our lifeís blood, entering into Eucharist with Christ. Teresa of
has no body now but yours, no hands but yours, no feet but yours.
Yours are the eyes through which Christís compassion must look out
on the world. Yours are the feet with which he is to go about doing
good. Yours are the hands with which he is to bless us now.
If we want to know to what extent we are truly the Body of Christ whom we
have received, we have only to look at the way we are with one another in
the world. At the end of our lives, Jesus tells us there will be a final
exam, but he also tells us what the questions will be. Jesus will not ask
how many times we attend Mass, read the bible or prayed the rosary. He
give me to eat when I was hungry? Did you give me to drink when I was
thirsty? Did you clothe me when I was naked? Did you visit me when I
was sick or in prison?"
Then we will ask, 'Lord,
when was it that we saw you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked
or sick or in prison, and did not take care of you?" Then he
will answer, "Truly I tell you, just as you did not do it to
one of the least of these, you did not do it to me" (Mt