Catechism On Line

One Bread, One Cup


Book, Chapter 14  (Faith First)
Book, Chapter 12 (Be My Disciples)

In this chapter we discuss the following topics: 
 

The Eucharist

The Purpose for Jesus' Suffering

The Mystery of the Eucharist

The Celebration of Mass

The Eucharist

The central and the most significant of the sacraments of the Church is the Eucharist.

Def:

Eucharist - the sacrament of Christian Initiation in which we share in the Paschal Mystery of Christ. During this sacrament we receive the Body and Blood of Christ and we are joined most fully to Christ and to the Church - The Body of Christ.

The Eucharist was instituted by Jesus Himself during His Last Supper. While breaking the bread and offering the cup of wine
to His disciples, He said: "do this in memory of me". 

The Purpose for Jesus' Suffering

The following day after the Last Supper, Jesus sacrificed Himself by dying on the cross. Jesus' death on the cross is significant in three ways:
  1. Sacrifice for the purpose of vicarious suffering. He suffered and sacrificed Himself for our sins. By doing this, He effectively replaced the previous requirement of sacrificing innocent animals in the temple as an offering for the sins of their owners. Thus He became the sacrificial lamb. By the same token His body replaced the holy temple (which was to be destroyed in 70 A.D.)

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  3. Jesus' death disturbed peoples' minds and woke up their conscience since an innocent person voluntarily underwent such a horrific death. It was designed for the worthy people to think about true values.

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  5. Jesus also died for the purpose of visibly demonstrating His resurrection three days later, thus proving the after life.
The last point was especially important because at the time of Jesus most people did not understand after life, yet Jesus' teachings were all based on the concept of eternal after life.

When during the mass we ceremonially celebrate the Eucharist in the Church, we symbolically share in the sacrifice of Christ and we offer ourselves with Jesus through the power of the Holy Spirit to God the Father. However, there is also a second dimension to our celebration of the Eucharist. It is our receiving of the Holy Communion. During the Holy Communion we ceremonially receive the Body and sometimes even the Blood of Christ. The profound meaning of this sacrament is that during the Holy Communion Jesus becomes part of us, and therefore we become part of Jesus. So it follows that if Jesus becomes part of us, we pledge to God that we have Jesus within ourselves and therefore we will act and behave like Him. This is why it is a sin to receive the Holy Communion under the state of unrepented sin. Since Jesus is Holy and without sin, we would be in effect mocking Jesus Himself.
 

The Mystery of the Eucharist

Thus the mystery of the Eucharist represents three events:
  • The Lord's Supper where Jesus gave thanks and praise to God the Father and shared His meal with His disciples. We do likewise in the Church during the celebration of the Eucharist.

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  • Breaking of the Bread. It is the meal which through the power of the Holy Spirit is changed into the Body of Christ. During the holy communion we receive Jesus Himself - i.e. the body and blood of Jesus Christ. Here, Jesus becomes part of us and we become part of Him. Therefore we become united with Him and are expected to become like Him.

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  • The Holy Sacrifice. In the Eucharist the sacrifice of Jesus Christ is made present again. Thus joined to Christ we offer ourselves through the power of the Holy Spirit to God the Father.

The Celebration of Mass

The Church celebrates Eucharist at Mass. At Mass we come together to worship God. There are five main parts (rites) of the Mass:
  • The Introductory Rites - called together to worship, we gather together and form a worshipping community.

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  • The Liturgy of the Word - scripture readings and priest's homily followed by the Profession of Faith and the Prayer of the Faithful.

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  • The Liturgy of the Eucharist is the center of our Christian life. Preparation of gifts is followed by the Eucharistic prayer by the priest, breaking of the bread, and drinking of wine by the priest. Singing of Our Father, and sharing peace with fellow worshippers.

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  • The Holy Communion - during which we, ourselves, symbolically share the body and blood of Christ. At that instant Jesus Himself becomes part of us, and we become part of Him.

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  • The Concluding Rites - the priest asks God for blessing of the community and sends us on to the world for a mission.



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