“The holy Eucharist completes Christian initiation. Those who have been raised to the dignity of the royal priesthood by Baptism and configured more deeply to Christ by Confirmation participate with the whole community in the Lord’s own sacrifice by means of the Eucharist. At the Last Supper, on the night He was betrayed, our Savior instituted the Eucharistic sacrifice of His Body and Blood. This He did in order to perpetuate the sacrifice of the cross throughout the ages until He should come again, and so to entrust to His beloved Spouse, the Church, a memorial of His death and resurrection: a sacrament of love, a sign of unity, a bond of charity, a Paschal banquet in which Christ is consumed, the mind is filled with grace, and a pledge of future glory is given to us.”
Catechism of the Catholic Church.
The Eucharist, also referred to as Holy Communion, is the central part of the Mass for Catholics. It is at this time that the bread and wine become the Body and Blood of Christ. As Catholics, we believe that the Eucharist is not merely a sign or symbol, but that Jesus is truly present.
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
WHAT IS HOLY COMMUNION?
Also known as the Eucharist, Holy Communion is the “source and summit” (CCC 1324) of the Catholic faith because it is truly the Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity of Our Lord Jesus Christ. It is not in any way a symbol but literally Christ’s most Holy body. The bread and wine at the Mass become the holiest of holies through the priest’s words by the power of God. The entire Gospel of John Chapter 6 even wrote specifically on the Eucharist and how Christ’s body is truly present.
Some people that don't believe in the Eucharist say that Jesus meant for it to be symbolic. Well, then we look to the Gospel of John Chapter 6. That chapter is entirely on the Eucharist, and we see that when Our Lord tells them "Unless you eat my Body and Drink my Blood you will have no life within you" the people do one thing: they leave Him. If Jesus was speaking symbolically He would have said "No, you misunderstand" like He did before in the Gospels, but this time He just let them walk away. Thousands left Him, but He let them because what He spoke was literally true and they couldn't accept it. “Since Christ Himself has said, ‘This is My Body’ who shall dare to doubt that it is His Body?” -- Saint Cyril of Jerusalem
WHAT ARE EUCHARIST MIRACLES?
These are outward signs of the majesty of Our Lord’s true presence in the Holy Eucharist. I recognize this mirroring the Transfiguration when Our Lord on Mt. Tabor appeared dazzlingly white with Elijah and Moses. This was an outward manifestation of Our Lord’s immense greatness. The Transfiguration wasn’t in and of itself the greatest part of this mystery, but what is even greater is that Christ humbled Himself and kept in His immense glory while on earth.
WHO CAN RECEIVE THE EUCHARIST?
To receive communion, a Catholic must be in a state of grace (that is, not in a state of mortal sin), have been to confession since his committing his last mortal sin, believe that Jesus is truly present in the Eucharist and observe the Eucharistic fast.
WHAT ACT OF REVERENCE SHOULD WE SHOW BEFORE RECEIVING HOLY COMMUNION?
An act of reverence must be made before receiving Holy Communion because it is showing reverence to Our Lord truly present before us. Typically to prevent Communion lines from becoming full of jams, one should either bow or make the sign of the cross beforehand. Some still kneel before receiving Our Lord, but we would ask anyone doing this to talk with their priest about this as we wouldn’t want people unintentionally being tripped in church.
WHAT IS THE EUCHARIST FAST AND HOW LONG IS IT?
The Eucharistic fast is a one hour fast before receiving Holy Communion to observe a period of reflecting and spiritual hunger for Our Lord. Only medicine and water are allowed beforehand, but if one needs to eat for serious medical reason this can be circumvented.
EXPLANATION OF THE EUCHARIST
Watch these quick videos explaining Catholic Communion.