At the Last Supper, on the night he was betrayed, our Savior instituted the Eucharistic sacrifice of his Body and Blood. Reading the account of the institution of the Eucharist in the Synoptic Gospels, we are struck by the simplicity and the solemnity with which Jesus instituted this great sacrament.
Christ instituted the Eucharist in order to carry on the sacrifice of the cross throughout the ages until he should come again. He entrusted 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 he is consumed, the mind is filled with grace, and a pledge of future glory is given to us.
Since the Eucharistic celebration is essentially an act of God, which draws us into Christ through the Holy Spirit, its basic structure is not something within our power to change, nor can it be held hostage by the latest trends. By giving the Eucharist the prominence it deserves, and by being careful not to diminish any of its dimensions or demands, we show that we are truly conscious of the greatness of this gift.
In the sacrament of the Eucharist, the faithful and the priest have the opportunity to experience in their own flesh the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. In the Blessed Sacrament the whole spiritual good of the Church, namely Christ himself, our Passover is contained. In the consecrated species of bread and wine Christ is truly and substantially present, Jesus himself is given to us.
The Eucharist is the culmination both of God’s action sanctifying the world in Christ and of the worship men offer to Christ and through him to the Father in the Holy Spirit. In the Eucharistic celebration we unite ourselves with the heavenly liturgy and anticipate eternal life, when God will be all in all. Through the Eucharist heaven and earth are united in one single event that transcends time and space.
Holy Mass is the common name given to the liturgical action whereby the one and only sacrifice of Christ on the Cross is memorialized in the Biblical sense of the word, that is, it is made present. This sacramental re-presentation of Christ’s sacrifice, crowned by the resurrection, in the Mass involves a most special presence which – in the words of Paul VI – “is called ‘real’ not as a way of excluding all other types of presence as if they were ‘not real’, but because it is a presence in the fullest sense: a substantial presence whereby Christ, the God-Man, is wholly and entirely present.” When the Church celebrates the Eucharist, the memorial of her Lord’s death and resurrection, this central event of salvation becomes really present and “the work of our redemption is carried out.”
The Eucharist is also an act of thanksgiving to God. The Greek verb eucharistein (from where the English word Eucharist comes from) means “to give thanks” and recalls for us the Jewish blessings that proclaim – especially during a meal – God’s works: creation, redemption, and sanctification.
At the last supper, gave a new and definitive meaning to thanksgiving. He was celebrating with his disciples the Jewish Passover, the ‘pass over’ from the slavery of Egypt to the freedom of the Promised Land; symbolized by the ‘unleavened bread’ (slavery) and the ‘wine’ (Freedom).
At the heart of the Eucharistic celebration are the bread and wine that, by the words of Christ and the invocation of the Holy Spirit, become truly and substantially His Body and Blood. The word “transubstantiation” describes how this mystery of the love of God, whereby the bread and wine become the Body and Blood of Christ unfolds.
Faithful to the Lord’s command the Church continues to do, in his memory and until his glorious return, what he did on the eve of his Passion: “Then he took bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it and gave it to them, saying, ‘This is my body given for you; do this in remembrance of me. He did the same with the cup after supper, and said, ‘this cup is the new covenant in my blood poured out for you.’ (Lk 22: 19-20)
When Holy Mass is celebrated, the celebration proceeds along a fundamental structure, which has been preserved throughout the centuries down to our own day. It displays two great parts that form a fundamental unity; the first part is the gathering, the liturgy of the Word, with readings, homily and general intercessions. The second part is the liturgy of the Eucharist, with the presentation of the bread and wine, the consecratory thanksgiving, and communion.
The Eucharist, as the supreme sacramental manifestation of communion in the Church, demands to be celebrated in a context where the outward bonds of communion are also intact. The sacrament is an expression of a bond of communion both in its invisible dimension, which, in Christ and through the working of the Holy Spirit, unites us to the Father and among ourselves, and in its visible dimension, which entails communion in the teaching of the Apostles, in the sacraments and in the Church’s hierarchical order. Keeping these invisible bonds intact is a specific moral duty incumbent upon Christians who wish to participate fully in the Eucharist by receiving the body and blood of Christ.
Anyone conscious of a grave sin must receive the sacrament of Reconciliation before receiving Communion. As a matter of fact, the two sacraments of the Eucharist and Penance are very closely connected. If a Christian’s conscience is burdened by serious sin, then the path of penance through the sacrament of Reconciliation becomes necessary for full participation in the Eucharistic Sacrifice. The judgment of one’s state of grace obviously belongs only to the person involved, since it is a question of examining one’s conscience. However, in cases of outward conduct which is seriously, clearly and steadfastly contrary to the moral norm, in her pastoral concern for the good order of the community and out of respect for the sacrament, the Church teaches that those who “obstinately persist in manifest grave sin” are not to be admitted to Eucharistic communion.
The presence of Christ under the sacred species reserved after Mass – a presence that lasts as long as the species of bread and of wine remain – derives from the celebration of the sacrifice and is directed towards communion, both sacramental and spiritual.The worship of the Eucharist outside of the Mass is of inestimable value for the life of the Church. This worship is strictly linked to the celebration of the Eucharistic Sacrifice.
The most holy mystery thus needs to be firmly believed, devoutly celebrated and intensely lived in the Church. Jesus’ gift of himself in the sacrament of the Eucharist, the memorial of his passion, tells us that the success of our lives is found in our participation in the Trinitarian life offered to us truly and definitively in him.
Receiving the Eucharist at St. Patrick Catholic Church
Those who are Catholic, have made their First Communion and are in a state of grace may receive the Eucharist at St. Patrick during our regularly scheduled Masses on weekdays and, of course, on Sundays and other Holy Days of Obligation. Those who cannot attend Mass because they are sick and homebound and wish to receive the Eucharist regularly must contact the parish office so that they can receive the visit of a priest or an Extraordinary Minister of Holy Communion.
In order to make their First Holy Communion at St. Patrick, children need to receive appropriate catechetical instruction through our CCD or Sunday School program. Students at St. Patrick Catholic School typically make their First Holy Communion in 2nd grade as part of the religious formation included in the curriculum.
Adults, who are preparing for Baptism, make their First Holy Communion at the time of their Christian Initiation, typically during the Easter Vigil on Holy Week. Those who were baptized Catholic but have not received their First Holy Communion are invited to prepare through our RCIA program so that after a period of instruction with weekly classes beginning in September and ending during the Easter Season, they may receive their First Holy Communion. Other adults, who are baptized in other Christian denominations, typically make their First Communion at the time when they are received in the Catholic Church after a period of discernment and formation.
The Church is open daily for the benefit of those who wish to make visits to the Blessed Sacrament to worship the Lord Jesus truly and substantially present in the Blessed Sacrament reserved in the tabernacle. There is also an adoration chapel, St. André Bessette Chapel at Ivan’s House at the corner of Barry and Alton Rd. There are regularly scheduled hours for exposition and adoration of the Blessed Sacrament in the Chapel.