So Jesus said to them, “Very truly, I tell you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you have no life in you. Those who eat my flesh and drink my blood have eternal life, and I will raise them up on the last day; for my flesh is true food and my blood is true drink. Those who eat my flesh and drink my blood abide in me, and I in them.” John 6:53-56
The Catholic Church professes that in the celebration of Eucharistic Liturgy, the Mass, the bread and wine become the Body and Blood of Jesus Christ through the power of the Holy Spirit. Christ is truly present under the appearance of bread and wine. Church documents refer to the Eucharist as the source and summit of who we are as Catholics. Eucharist is foundational to our faith. Jesus gives himself to us in the Eucharist as spiritual nourishment because he loves us. Through Eucharist we become united to Christ and to one another.
Through his death and Resurrection, Jesus has conquered sin and death and reconciled us to God. The Eucharist is the memorial of this sacrifice. We gather as a Church to remember and to be present at the sacrifice of Christ.
The worshiping community is active in the Eucharistic sacrifice. All the baptized through Eucharist deepen their communion with the members of the Body of Christ. The Church as the Body of Christ participates in the sacrifice.
The Eucharist is our spiritual nourishment. The sharing of this meal brings us into communion with one another and with God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Each grain of wheat and each grape have to be harvested and undergo a process of grinding or crushing before they are united to be bread and wine. The bread and wine point to the union of many that takes place in the Body of Christ and the suffering undergone by his disciples and by us as believers in Jesus Christ. In many ways our eating of the bread and drinking of the wine symbolizes what God has done for us through Jesus Christ.
Prior to the reception of Eucharist we are called upon to fast as part of our preparation to make ourselves ready to receive Eucharist. Reception of Eucharist is not an automatic remedy. If we do not desire communion with Christ, God does not force this upon us. We must by faith accept God’s offer of communion in Christ and cooperate with God’s grace in order to have our hearts and minds transformed and our faith and love of God increased.
In Eucharist we share in God’s plan of salvation. We are united with the person of Christ, “Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood remains in me and I in him” (Jn 6:56) and share in the divine life of Christ: “Just as the living Father sent me and I have life because of the Father, so also the one who feeds on me will have life because of me.” (Jn 6:57) In Eucharist we remember the sacrifice of Christ and are joined in the sacrifice with Christ. Sin and death are conquered and we are reconciled to God and receive the many benefits of union with God.
If you are a baptized Catholic adult who has not yet received Holy Communion and you want more information on how you might begin to receive the Sacrament,or you are a non-Catholics who wishes to enter into full communion in the Catholic Church, please see the information for the Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults (RCIA).