Eucharist - A Deeper Understanding

Sacrifice and Sacrament of the Eucharist | Understanding the Mass

The gift of divine life is celebrated in the Sacraments of the Church where the most profound moments of our human experience are incorporated into the mystery and glory of our Lord.   One day our faith tells us, we will all approach the table of the Lord, in everlasting forgiveness and enduring love.  The Eucharist is the most vital and central component of our Catholic faith.  In every Mass, Christ is present, in the person of His priest, in His sacred Word, in the assembly, and especially under the form of bread and wine.

In its Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy, Vatican II begins chapter 2, “The Most Sacred Mystery of the Eucharist,” with these beautiful words:

“At the Last Supper, on the night when he was betrayed, our Savior instituted the Eucharistic sacrifice of his Body and Blood. This he did in order to perpetuate the sacrifice of the Cross throughout the ages until he should come again, and so to entrust to his beloved spouse the Church, a memorial of his death and resurrection: a sacrament of love, a sign of unity, a bond of charity, a paschal banquet in which Christ is consumed, the mind is filled with grace, and a pledge of future glory is given to us.” (47) [1323, 1398]

Eating the supper of the Lord, we span all time and “proclaim the death of the Lord until he comes” (1 Corinthians 11:26). Sharing this banquet of love, we become totally one body in him. At that moment our future with God becomes a present reality. The oneness for which we are destined is both symbolized and made real in the mealwe share. In the Mass, both past and future become really present in mystery.

At Home Discussion Suggestions:

Talk to your child about the Mass before you go to church.  Emphasize the Mass as God’s family celebration and meal.  Remind your child that Jesus, by His death on the cross and his resurrection, won the life that he or she will share in the bread and the wine of the Eucharist: life that goes on forever, even after we die.

Point out that just as we wash our hands before eating a family meal, blessing ourselves with holy water as we enter the church, helps us to remember our baptism.

How do I know my child is ready to receive Communion?

They will show a willingness to receive the sacrament, and possess the ability to attentively participate during Mass.

In what ways will a child show they understand the sacrament?

They will show an awareness of belonging to the Catholic church through their Baptism. They will also express love and care for others just as Jesus did. A child will understand symbolism where in the Bible Jesus multiplied the Fish and Loaves, gave the Sermon on the Living Bread or The Vine and the Branches. They will also begin to distinguish the difference between ordinary bread and the Eucharistic host, recognizing Christ's presence.

How can I help my child be ready for the sacrament?

Attend Mass regularly and make them familiar with not only the physical space, but the parts of the Liturgy, the responses, the reverence we show when receiving the sacrament. All our liturgical life revolves around the sacraments, with the Eucharist at the center.

How do I explain the Eucharist in a way my child might understand?

Depending on the age level, it may help to offer that at Mass we are fed by the Word of God, and nourished by the Body and Blood of Christ. We believe that the Risen Jesus is truly present in the Eucharist. It is not a sign or symbol of Jesus, rather the priest, through the act of consecration - through the power of the priests' ordination and action of the Holy Spirit - the bread and wine transforms into the Body and Blood of Jesus. This transformation is called transubstantiation.


Understanding the Mass

The central act of worship in the Catholic Church is the Mass. It is in the liturgy that the saving death and resurrection of Jesus once for all is made present again in all its fullness and promise – and we are privileged to share in His Body and Blood, fulfilling his command as we proclaim his death and resurrection until He comes again. It is in the liturgy that our communal prayers unite us into the Body of Christ. It is in the liturgy that we most fully live out our Christian faith.

The liturgical celebration is divided into two parts: the Liturgy of the Word and the Liturgy of the Eucharist. First we hear the Word of God proclaimed in the scriptures and respond by singing God’s own Word in the Psalm. Next that Word is broken open in the homily. We respond by professing our faith publicly. Our communal prayers are offered for all the living and the dead in the Creed. Along with the Presider, we offer in our own way, the gifts of bread and wine and are given a share in the Body and Blood of the Lord, broken and poured out for us. We receive the Eucharist, Christ’s real and true presence, and we renew our commitment to Jesus. Finally, we are sent forth to proclaim the Good News!


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