The Holy Eucharist is the third sacrament of Christian initiation (Read CCC 1322). Through the Eucharist, the Christian partakes with all the community, in the sacrifice of the Lord, the Lamb of God that takes away the sin of the world (Read John 1:29).
In the last supper Jesus instituted the Eucharist as a memorial of his life, death and resurrection (Read Luke 22:19-20; 1 Corinthians 11: 24-26; Matthew 26:26-28; Mark 14:22-24; Luke 22:19-20; CCC 1337). The bread and wine have always been sources of sustenance for humanity, represent the fruit of man’s work. But before are, fruit of “the earth” and “the vine”, gifts from God, the Creator. Jesus used these symbols to fulfil his promise to be always with us and give us food for our journey and life in him (Read Matthew 18: 20; 28:18-20; John 6:35,48,51,53-56; CCC 1333-1334).
After the experience of Pentecost, the disciples continue meeting, day by day, to read the scriptures and break the bread. These celebrations (-where the bread was being blessed in thanksgiving to God, was broken and shared with a meaning of entering again in the life, death and resurrection of Jesus-) were called “eucharist” (In greek: eucharistia”), that means “give thanks” (Read Acts 2:42, 46-47).
In the Liturgy (Reading of the scriptures, homily and prayer), we are nurtured with the Word of God to live according to his will. Then, the bread and the wine are taken to the altar, and offered in the name of Jesus Christ, by the priest, as an eucharistic sacrifice, which are converted in the body and the blood of Christ (Read CCC 1350).
The Eucharistic Prayer “recalls” the Paschal Mystery of Jesus, “making present” the saving action of God through Christ (The Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world [John 1:29]). This memorial is called “anamnesis” (The action of “recall” and “make present”). Through the “anamnesis”, the marvelous deeds from God are “recalled” by the liturgical assembly and are “made present” in its midst.
When the Church makes “memory”, this is accompanied with the invocation of the Holy Spirit, called “epiclesis”, who “consecrates” or “makes holy” the people, the bread and the wine of the sacrament. When the priest prays the “epiclesis”, the Church asks God the Father to: (a) Send the Holy Spirit over the bread and the wine, to be converted (not only represent) in the body and the blood of Jesus; (b) Those who receive the Eucharist to be converted in one in Christ, in body and in spirit (Read CCC 1353). The “epiclesis” completes and culminates the action of “anamnesis”. The “anamnesis” leads to “epiclesis”, in the same way that the Paschal Mystery leads to Pentecost.
The Eucharistic Prayer ends with the doxology: “…through Him, with Him and in Him…” where later we respond “Amen”. Then we prepare ourselves to the reception of the eucharist praying the Our Father and interchanging the Greeting of Peace.
Then we are invited to receive the “Communion” with the faith of the centurion: “Lord, I do not deserve to have you come under my roof. But just say the word, and my soul shall be healed.” (Read Matthew 8:8). The rite ends with the priest asking the blessing of God over us, in the same way he did it at the beginning of Mass.
The word “Mass” comes from the Latin: “Ite missa est”, that literally means: “Go, it is sent”, and that in the liturgy means: “what we have come here together to do is done; no go out and fulfill it.” Calling us to be part of the Eucharist in a “complete”, “active” and “conscient” way (Read 1 Thessalonians 2:13).
In other words, we surrender before the Lord in the sacred altar, to transform us in better disciples, through the eucharistic celebration, where at that moment, the priest is acting “in the person of Christ”, and “Christ is present in the bread and the wine”.
This invitation of Jesus to partake in the Eucharist: “I tell you the truth, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you have no life in you.” John 6:53, calls us to make ourselves an “examination of conscience” to prepare ourselves to this so great and holy moment.
If we partake in the Eucharist in an undignified way, we are sinning against the same body and blood of Christ, that it is to eat and drink our own punishment. Therefore, who has conscience of sin, must receive the sacrament of Penance and Reconciliation, before partaking in the Eucharist (Read 1 Corinthians 11:27-29; CCC 1384-1385) (Read CCC 1322-1419).
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