About Communion (The Eucharist)
|The Eucharist is “the source and summit of the Christian life.” The other sacraments, and indeed all ecclesiastical ministries and works of the apostolate, are bound up with the Eucharist and are oriented toward it. For in the blessed Eucharist is contained the whole spiritual good of the Church, namely Christ himself, our Pasch. Catechism of the Catholic Church, 1324|
The Eucharist is not a sign or symbol of Jesus; rather we receive Jesus himself in and through the Eucharistic species. The priest, through the power of his ordination and the action of the Holy Spirit, transforms the bread and wine into the Body and Blood of Jesus. This is call transubstantiation.
By the consecration the transubstantiation of the bread and wine into the Body and Blood of Christ is brought about. Under the consecrated species of bread and wine Christ himself, living and glorious, is present in a true, real, and substantial manner: his Body and his Blood, with his soul and his divinity. (CCC 1413)
The New Covenant
I am the living bread that came down from heaven; whoever eats this bread will live forever;…Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life and…remains in me and I in him. (John 6:51, 54, 56)
In the gospels we read that the Eucharist was instituted at the Last Supper. This is the fulfillment of the covenants in the Hebrew Scriptures. In the Last Supper narratives, Jesus took, broke and gave bread and wine to his disciples. In the blessing of the cup of wine, Jesus calls it “the blood of the covenant” (Matthew and Mark) and the “new covenant in my blood” (Luke).
This reminds us of the blood ritual with which the covenant was ratified at Sinai (Ex 24) — the sprinkled the blood of sacrificed animals united God and Israel in one relationship, so now the shed blood of Jesus on the cross is the bond of union between new covenant partners — God the Father, Jesus and the Christian Church. Through Jesus’ sacrifice, all the baptized are in relationship with God.
The Catechism teaches that all Catholics who have received their First Holy Communion are welcome to receive Eucharist at Mass unless in a state of mortal sin.
Anyone who desires to receive Christ in Eucharistic communion must be in the state of grace. Anyone aware of having sinned mortally must not receive communion without having received absolution in the sacrament of penance. (CCC 1415)
The Church warmly recommends that the faithful receive Holy Communion when they participate in the celebration of the Eucharist; she obliges them to do so at least once a year. (CCC 1417)
Receiving the Eucharist changes us. It signifies and effects the unity of the community and serves to strengthen the Body of Christ.
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!
A word from our Priest, Fr. Richard: “The Gospel Passage Luke 24:13-35 is all about an Encounter with Jesus Christ! Jesus approaches his disciples, meets them where they are, asks them a question, listens to them, challenges them, opens the Sacred Scriptures to them, waits for the disciples to invite him into their home, he enters their home, the disciples recognize Jesus in the Breaking of the Bread (The Eucharist), the disciples go off into the night (without fear) to share the Good News with others. Mass is a Real Encounter with Jesus! Come live this encounter with us at St. John the Evangelist and Immaculate Conception (Psalm 121:1-2)!”
Receiving First Holy Communion
Typically we celebrate this rite of passage here at St. John the Evangelist in the second grade, and so our Catholic Faith Formation in that grade is geared towards this goal of First Holy Communion. For a Catholic family, First Holy Communion is a wonderful moment in their lives; for each generation remembers with joy something of their first Holy Communion, and sees before them the future in this second grader, who is now even more fully integrated into the worshiping Church. We love the Lord, and we would not dream of being out of Communion with Him or with his Church. This is, thus, an essential rite of passage for any Catholic. First Holy Communion is one of the three Sacraments of Initiation: Baptism, First Holy Communion, and Confirmation.
Preparing for First Confession and First Holy Communion begins with the first class of the year and continues until the day of First Communion. Parents are required to attend a First Confession class with their child as preparation for this sacrament. The family is also asked to meet with the other families preparing for First Communion for an afternoon of instruction, fellowship and the sharing of a meal. This Parent and Child Meeting is an important step in preparation for First Communion. It’s an enjoyable family get-together and takes place outside of class time.
Part of First Communion preparation is learning about the Mass and working toward a deeper understanding of what truly takes place in keeping the Lord’s request to “Do this in memory of me!” In keep this request of our Blessed Lord – every Mass – The bread and wine become our Lord’s Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity. Attending Mass every Sunday or Saturday Vigil is far more than a must (requirement to keep the Sabbath Holy) – it is a privilege and grace filled encounter with Jesus!
Please be mindful of meeting the preparatory classes so that your son or daughter is ready for this important step in their spiritual life. Also, essential is your at-home preparation, so that you discuss this great mystery of the Eucharist, and how it is important (indeed the most important thing) in our Catholic life. Parents – godparents – never under estimate the power of your example – your Eucharistic Life! Give witness to your Eucharistic Life: seek to visit Jesus spontaneously in our Church or come spend time with him in adoration (see St. John the Evangelist Adoration times). Above all, your witness of Faithfully encountering Jesus in the Eucharist at Mass will best help educate the little ones as they prepare for their first encounter. When we are in Communion with the Lord, then we are on the way to holiness, and that ultimate Communion with Christ in eternity.
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