Many who consider themselves faithful believers show an attitude that is not proportionate to the gift and mystery of the Eucharist. The Eucharist is the very oblation of the Body and Blood of the Lord. It is not merely a reminder that Christ offers his Body and Blood for our sake; rather, it is that offering. Jesus himself instituted the Eucharist to perpetuate the sacrifice of the Cross and make its grace available to us. In receiving the Body and Blood during the Divine Liturgy, we enter the timeless dimension and are present in mystery and grace at the Mystical Supper. The Eucharist, the heart of the life of the Body of Christ, is the banquet and living memorial of Christ. When we worthily partake of the Eucharist, we participate even now in the very life of God.
Gathered with his Apostles, Jesus entrusted the Eucharist to the Church at the Mystical Supper. At each Divine Liturgy, the priestly celebrant repeats the words by which the Lord instituted the Eucharist: "Take and eat, all of you; this is my Body which is given for you.... Take and drink of it, all of you. This is the cup of my Blood, of the new and everlasting covenant. It will be shed for you and for all that sin may be forgiven. Do this in memory of me"
We hear these words so frequently, but do we grasp their significance?
Since the Eucharist represents, or makes present again the death and Resurrection of Christ, encompasses the entire essential spiritual wealth of the Church. It brings us into union or communion with the Blessed Trinity and with one another, with all believers. It puts us in touch with the unending, eternal liturgy of heaven, that utterly joyous and eternal worship of Father, Son and Holy Spirit for which we were made and for which our hearts long.
The more we think about it, the longer we meditate upon what the Eucharist actually is, the less optional it becomes for the serious and sincere believer. The very names used to describe the Eucharist witness its centrality and vitality. The very word Eucharist refers to the thanksgiving we owe God. The description, "Divine Liturgy" speaks to our mission not only to share the grace of this Mystery but to be enlivened by its richness as together with other believers we glorify our God in the Trinity. God's revelation to us in Scripture refers to the Eucharist as "Breaking of Bread" literally sharing in the Body of the Lord as nourishment and sustenance, that makes us one. Holy Communion tells us that the Eucharist unites us to
Not only is the Eucharist the very heart of the priesthood of Christ, but the lifeblood of believers. Only validly ordained and commissioned priests may confect and celebrate the Eucharist.
The Eucharist was prefigured in the Passover. When Jesus gathered with disciples in the Upper Room, they celebrated a Passover meal that commemorated the deliverance of the people of Israel from the slavery of Egypt to the freedom of the Promised Land. This deliverance foreshadowed the great deliverance we experience in the Eucharist from the slavery of sin to the freedom of a new life of grace Christ wins for us.
Each time the Eucharist is celebrated, the sacrifice of the Cross, the Mystical Supper and the joy of the Resurrection is made present. We are spiritually and mystically removed in time to witness and participate in these salutary events. While the sacrifice of the Cross occurred in a bloody manner, the Eucharist is offered in a bloodless manner through the signs of bread and wine made known to us by the Author of our salvation.
Jesus makes his sacrifice of love available to us so we can, together with him, in union with him, offer our lives, our joys, our sorrows and our daily activity in union with to the eternal Father, as an acceptable and worthy sacrifice of praise. It is the most perfect prayer we can offer for our loved ones, both living and departed.
We can better understand our need for the Eucharist by focusing on how Christ is present in a true, real, substantial, encompassing way with his Body and Blood, his soul and divinity. Indeed the Church shows us our proper human dignity that our Creator God makes known to as our need to be enlivened and nourished on the very Body and Blood of our Creator God. This leads us to the respect and reverence we owe the Eucharist enshrined and enthroned in our parish church in the tabernacle on the altar table.
Given the compelling beauty and enduring centrality of this sublime gift of Christ's Body and Blood, our blessed mother, the Church, the Body and Bride of Christ, rightly obliges us o participate in the august celebration of the Divine Liturgy without which we have no life. just as our physical bodies need continuing physical nourishing, the soul of man is in need of similar heavenly food. If we are aware of any serious sins committed, we avail ourselves of he sacramental Mystery of Reconciliation to be freed of them that worthily we approach the Lord to identify with and become like him.