What is the Eucharist ?

The Eucharist is the gift given us by Jesus of His Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity under the appearances of bread and wine. He veils His infinite glory, His radiant beauty and His majesty because He wants us to approach Him in faith and to love Him for His own sake. The Eucharist is truly: “the Mystery which sums up all of the wonders accomplished by God for our salvation.” (cf. Saint Thomas Aquinas, De sacr. Euch.,chap. I).

The sacrament of charity, the Holy Eucharist is the gift that Jesus Christ makes of Himself, thus revealing to us God’s infinite love for every man and woman. This wondrous sacrament makes manifest that “greater” love which led him to “lay down his life for his friends” (Jn 15:13). Jesus did indeed love them “to the end” (Jn 13:1). In those words the Evangelist introduces Christ’s act of immense humility: before dying for us on the Cross, he tied a towel around himself and washed the feet of his disciples. In the same way, Jesus continues, in the sacrament of the Eucharist, to love us “to the end,” even to offering us his body and his blood. What amazement must the Apostles have felt in witnessing what the Lord did and said during that Supper! What wonder must the Eucharistic mystery also awaken in our own hearts!

Benedict XVI, Sacramentum Caritatis, n° 1

The Three Dimensions of the Eucharist

Sacrifice – Mass
Banquet – Communion
Presence – Adoration

The mystery of the Eucharist—sacrifice, presence, banquet—does not allow for reduction or exploitation; it must be experienced and lived in its integrity, both in its celebration and in the intimate converse with Jesus which takes place after receiving communion, or in a prayerful moment of Eucharistic adoration apart from Mass. These are times when the Church is firmly built up…

St John-Paul II, Ecclesia de Eucharistia, n° 61

The different modes of presence of the risen Christ in his Church:

Since his ascension, Christ sits in Glory at the right hand of the Father. He now makes himself present to his Church by the power of his Spirit in different ways:

1. In the praying community: “For where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them” (Mt 18:20).

2. In my neighbor whom I serve: “Whatever you did for one of these least brothers of mine, you did for me” (Mt 25:40).

3. In the soul of the baptized: “You are the temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwells in you” (1 Cor 3:16). “Christ dwells in your hearts by faith” (Eph 3:17).

4. In the meditated Word of God. Jesus is the Word of God incarnate.

5. In the Church which teaches and governs: “Whoever listens to you, listens to me, he who rejects you rejects me” (Lk 10:16).

6. In the Church which celebrates the Sacrifice of the Mass and the Sacraments: “Receive the holy Spirit. Whose sins you forgive are forgiven them, and whose sins you retain are retained”. (Jn 20, 22-23). Baptize them in the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit…(Mt 28:19)7. In the holy Eucharist: “I AM THE LIVING BREAD THAT CAME DOWN FROM HEAVEN” (Jn 6:51).

Ways in Which Christ is Present as taught by Pope Paul VI in Mysterium Fidei: 

All of us realize that there is more than one way in which Christ is present in His Church… Christ is present in His Church when she prays, since He is the one who “prays for us and prays in us and to whom we pray: He prays for us as our priest, He prays in us as our head, He is prayed to by us as our God”; and He is the one who has promised, “Where two or three are gathered together in my name, I am there in the midst of them.”

He is present in the Church as she performs her works of mercy, not just because whatever good we do to one of His least brethren we do to Christ Himself, but also because Christ is the one who performs these works through the Church and who continually helps men with His divine love. He is present in the Church as she moves along on her pilgrimage with a longing to reach the portals of eternal life, for He is the one who dwells in our hearts through faith, and who instills charity in them through the Holy Spirit whom He gives to us…

In still another very genuine way, He is present in the Church as she preaches, since the Gospel which she proclaims is the word of God…

He is present in His Church as she rules and governs the People of God, since her sacred power comes from Christ…

He is present in her as she administers the sacraments…

These various ways in which Christ is present fill the mind with astonishment and offer the Church a mystery for her contemplation. But there is another way in which Christ is present in His Church, a way that surpasses all the others. It is His presence in the Sacrament of the Eucharist, which is, for this reason, “a more consoling source of devotion, a lovelier object of contemplation and holier in what it contains” than all the other sacraments; for it contains Christ Himself and it is “a kind of consummation of the spiritual life, and in a sense the goal of all the sacraments.

St Paul VI, Mysterium Fidei, n° 35-39