The Eucharist is surely the second most important Christian sacrament after that of baptism, it is a sacrament directly established by our Lord Jesus Christ during the Holy Communion, that is to say the last meal of Jesus Christ with the apostles where he will announce in particular to the latter that one of the apostles will betray him.
The Eucharist, many know, is apparently materialized in the form of unleavened bread and wine but many do not understand its appearance and can even unfortunately see it as accessory and non-essential; they can reject it out of conviction and this is very serious. is constitutes a heresy but most do not devote themselves to the Eucharist because they do not understand what it symbolizes and what Catholics mean by the blood and body of Christ, is it symbolic or by divine intervention and a true miracle of God this unleavened bread and this wine are truly transformed before our eyes into the body and blood of our Lord Jesus Christ?
We will try to answer these problems within this article by starting first by defining the Eucharist which will allow us to see secondly what is the importance of the Holy Eucharist then what are its benefits and finally we will see where the Eucharist comes from and whether it is explicitly written in the Holy Bible and what the Fathers of the Church think about it. Having said that, we can finally begin by defining what the Most Holy Eucharist is!
What is the Eucharist?
The Eucharist commemorates Christ's last meal with his disciples before his crucifixion, where he shared the bread and wine saying "This is my body" and "This is my blood", which have been interpreted by Christians as a invitation to share his divine life.
In Catholic practice, the priest consecrates the bread and wine so that they become the body and blood of Christ, called the host, which he gives to the faithful to receive divine grace. Belief in the Eucharist is considered a fundamental pillar of the Catholic faith and is celebrated regularly at Sunday Mass and on other liturgical occasions.
The definition of the Eucharist is therefore the act, the sacrament which comes by an act to commemorate the words spoken by our Lord Jesus Christ during the Holy Supper.
Before his passion and death, Jesus shared the Passover with his apostles and told them that he wanted to eat this Passover with them before suffering. He took bread, blessed it, broke it and gave it to them, saying that it was his body that would be delivered up for them, and asked them to do so in his memory. After dinner, he took the cup and told them that it was the New Covenant in his blood, which would be shed for them. Several Gospel accounts, such as those of Saint Luke, Saint Matthew, Saint Mark and Saint Paul in the epistle to the Corinthians, tell this central truth of our faith.
When the priest celebrates Mass, each time he pronounces the words of consecration, the miracle of the Eucharist occurs. What was once bread and wine becomes, in this appearance, the Body and Blood of Christ.
The importance of the Eucharist
The Eucharist is one of the rare Christian sacraments that can be performed so often with the sacrament of penance in case of need, which is explained by the extreme importance of the Eucharist in the life of a Christian. Indeed, it is in normal times and unless there is a significant impossibility, obligatory to attend Holy Mass precisely in order to be able to celebrate God and commune in the sacrament of the Eucharist. Please note, however, it is impossible for an unbaptized person to commune in the Eucharist because the latter has not yet received the sacrament which will definitively bind them to Christ, a little tip if you are not yet baptized but at the moment of the sacrament of the Eucharist you still want, like the others, to go towards the Priest; you can do so by arriving in front of the Priest or the lay person or deacon distributing the Eucharist, crossing your arms and placing your hands flat on your chest then this one will not make you receive communion in the Eucharist but will touch your forehead to give you a blessing!
The Benefits of the Eucharist
The Eucharist therefore makes it possible in particular to:
- Receiving communion strengthens our connection with Christ, as He said: “He who eats my flesh and drinks my blood abides in me, and I in him” (John 6:56) . Communion also frees us from sin, because the body of Christ we receive has been “delivered for us,” and the blood we drink has been “poured out for many for the remission of sins.”
- The Eucharist acts as food that strengthens our charity and erases venial sins while protecting us from future mortal sins.
- By strengthening our bond with Christ, the Eucharist also unites us more closely with all the faithful, thus creating the unity of the mystical body which is the Church. The people who receive the Eucharist are therefore united to one another as members of one body (cf. 1 Cor 10, 16 - 17)
- Finally, receiving the Eucharist commits us to helping the poor, because we must recognize the presence of Christ among the most deprived (cf. Mt 25:40).
It is therefore easy to understand how vital the Eucharist is for a Christian as it nourishes his spirit and brings him closer to his Lord while giving him thanks as he wanted and established during the Holy Supper.
The Eucharist in the Bible
Here are some Bible verses that talk about the Eucharist:
Luke 22:19-20: “And he took bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it, and gave it unto them, saying, This is my body, which is given for you: this do ye in remembrance of me. . He also took the cup after supper and gave it to them, saying: This cup is the new covenant in my blood, which is shed for you.
1 Corinthians 11:23-25: "For I received from the Lord what I taught you, that the Lord Jesus took bread on the night when he was betrayed, and when he had given thanks, broke it, and said, This is my body, which is for you; do this in remembrance of me. Likewise, when he had supped, he took the cup, saying, This cup is the new covenant in my blood; do this in memory of me every time you drink it."
1 John 6:53-56: “Jesus said unto them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Except ye eat the flesh of the Son of man, and drink his blood, ye have no life in yourselves. He who eats my flesh and drinks my blood has everlasting life; and I will raise him up at the last day. For my flesh is food indeed, and my blood is drink indeed. He who eats my flesh and whoever drinks my blood abides in me, and I in him.”
These biblical passages show that the Eucharist is a sacrament instituted by Jesus Christ, where the bread and wine are considered the body and blood of Jesus Christ. Christians celebrate the Eucharist regularly to remember the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ and to renew their covenant with God.
The Eucharist according to the Fathers of the Church
The Fathers of the Church wrote extensively about the Eucharist and its importance for the Christian life. One of the earliest and most influential Fathers of the Church, Saint Ignatius of Antioch (c. 35-107), wrote that the Eucharist is "the medicine of immortality" and that those who eat bread and drink wine in communion with Christ receive eternal life.
Saint Justin the Martyr (c. 100-165) also wrote about the Eucharist, describing how bread and wine are offered in memory of Christ's passion, and how they are transformed into his body and blood by the power of the Holy Spirit.
Saint Irenaeus of Lyons (c. 130-200) emphasized the importance of regular communion in the Eucharist to maintain a close relationship with God, while Saint Augustine (354-430) emphasized the importance of the eucharist in the life of the Church, calling Christians to “become that which we receive”, namely the body of Christ.
Overall, the Fathers of the Church maintained that the Eucharist is a central sacrament of the Christian faith, which nourishes the soul and strengthens the community of believers in their relationship with God.
The Fathers of the Church therefore never ceased to insist on the importance of the Eucharist for a Christian and to what extent this medicine of the soul for Saint Ignatius of Antioch is the ultimate remedy to remedy to the decline of faith, sadness because this bread and this vain truly transformed into the blood and the body of our Lord Jesus Christ allow us to unite ourselves to him within this sacrament and thus to rest in him in his peace if comforting.
We have therefore been able to see to what extent the sacrament of the Eucharist directly instituted by our Lord Jesus Christ is important for a Christian as it allows us to give glory to Christ but also to unite us with him through his Holy blood and his Holy body.
The Eucharist is the heart of the Holy Mass and it is for this that the Church very strongly invites you to go there whenever you can. The Eucharist heals the soul and even if you feel unworthy to receive Christ do not forget that you are never too dirty to turn to God and that he only expects one thing, that you make you close to him and show him your love. Be blessed in the peace of the Lord!
If you would like to know more about our Lord and in particular his omniscience and omnipotence, our blog article entitled "the omniscience and omnipotence of Christ" should please you very much.