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The Sacrament of the Eucharist

The Precious Body and Blood of Jesus in the Most Blessed Sacrament

Blessed are those who are called to the supper of the Lamb.

On the night Christ was betrayed into the hands of men, he took bread, blessed it, broke it, and gave it to his closest disciples saying “Take this all of you and eat of it, for this is my body which will be given up for you.” In a similar way, when supper was ended, he took the chalice, and gave it to his disciples saying, “Take this all of you and drink from it. For this is the chalice of my blood, the blood of the new and everlasting covenant.” He ended by saying: “Do this in memory of me.”

As Catholics, we take Jesus’ words seriously: “This is my Body. This is my Blood.” Jesus is the Word made Flesh — the same Word spoken from the dawn of Creation, through Whom and for Whom all things were made. Jesus speaks, and earthly elements obey. We can trust Him because of His own words: The bread and wine really become His Body and Blood, Soul, and Divinity.

A Participation in the Cross and Resurrection

As often as we eat this Bread and drink this Cup, we proclaim the death of our Lord. The Eucharist is a full participation in the sacrifice of Jesus on the Cross for the forgiveness of sins — It is communion with the one who has loved us unto death — even death on a Cross. The Second Vatican Council says that the Eucharist is “the source and summit of the Christian life.” (Lumen Gentium 11) It is the “summary of our faith” as the Catechism puts it. It is a sign of our own dying and rising with Christ through Baptism. Jesus Himself says, “Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him on the last day.” Sometimes we even call the Blessed Sacrament the “medicine of immortality.” Pope Francis has regularly emphasized that it is not a prize for the morally perfect, but rather a powerful medicine for sinners! Nobody earns the right to receive the Body and Blood of Jesus — it is pure gift. In short, through the Eucharist, we receive Divine life itself and are gradually transformed that we might become Christ for others. In consuming the Body and Blood of Christ, we are swept up into His own life and are ourselves consumed by the Living God!

We are one body, for we all partake of the one loaf.

The Eucharist is a profound sign of unity with Christ and the Church — Saint Paul urges us to be “of one mind and one spirit.” Jesus prays to His Father, “May they be one as we are one.” Sadly, we experience disunity within Christianity at present. Many Christian traditions are divided on key convictions surrounding the Sacraments, Tradition, and Church authority. As a result of these painful divisions, full communion is not possible at present. All Christians, Catholics or otherwise, ought to feel the pain of not being in full communion with one another, and we must eagerly pray for Church reunification. Until we can resolve our conflicts and divisions, the reception of Holy Communion is not ordinarily permitted for non-Catholics. In a similar way, Catholics who have committed serious sins without first seeking the Lord’s merciful healing in the Sacrament of Reconciliation, ought to abstain from receiving Holy Communion.

For a more detailed explanation, please read the USCCB statement below:

We welcome our fellow Christians to this celebration of the Eucharist as our brothers and sisters. We pray that our common baptism and the action of the Holy Spirit in this Eucharist will draw us closer to one another and begin to dispel the sad divisions which separate us. We pray that these will lessen and finally disappear, in keeping with Christ’s prayer for us “that they may all be one” (Jn 17:21).

Because Catholics believe that the celebration of the Eucharist is a sign of the reality of the oneness of faith, life, and worship, members of those churches with whom we are not yet fully united are ordinarily not admitted to Holy Communion. Eucharistic sharing in exceptional circumstances by other Christians requires permission according to the directives of the diocesan bishop and the provisions of canon law (canon 844 §4). Members of the Orthodox Churches, the Assyrian Church of the East, and the Polish National Catholic Church are urged to respect the discipline of their own Churches. According to Roman Catholic discipline, the Code of Canon Law does not object to the reception of Communion by Christians of these Churches (canon 844 §3).

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The cup of blessing that we bless, is it not a participation in the blood of Christ? The bread that we break, is it not a participation in the body of Christ?

1 Corinthians 10:16