Holy Eucharist, The Source And Summit of the Christian Life

The Holy 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. In brief, the Eucharist is the sum and summary of our faith: ‘Our way of thinking is attuned to the Eucharist, and the Eucharist in turn confirms our way of thinking.’

Furthermore, in the Old Testament, blood was a sign of sorrow for breaking the law and faithfulness to the covenant between God and Israel. After the Jewish Passover meal, the cup of blessing changes the simple pleasure found in wine into a sign of the saving action of God: the expectation of the messiah rebuilding Jerusalem.

Holy Eucharist
Institution of the Eucharist (Cell 35). ANGELICO, Fra, 1441-42,
Fresco, 186 x 234 cm, Convento di San Marco, Florence

Bread and wine, the first fruits of the earth, were often used in sacrifice in the old covenant. However, during the exodus of Israel from Egypt, they received a new meeting. The unleavened bread of Passover shows the haste with which the people left on their journey to the promised land. The mana in the desert highlights that God is always faithful and fulfills his promise to feed his people.

Jesus takes all of the meanings and transforms them, instituting the Holy Eucharist and commanding His Church to offer this Holy Sacrifice until He comes again. Bread and wine are at the core of the Holy Eucharist, which, by the invocation of the Holy Spirit and the Words of Institution, truly and substantially become the Body and Blood of the risen and glorified Lord Jesus. Through the Eucharist, every Catholic is strengthened and nourished by Jesus as they seek the will of God.

Holy Eucharist 1
The Institution of the Eucharist, POUSSIN, Nicolas, 1640, Oil on canvas, 325 x 250 cm, Musée du Louvre, Paris

In each sacrament, God freely bestows upon us His grace. In the Eucharist, though, he blesses us with the gift of His very self. That is the reason the Holy Eucharist is called the Mystery of mysteries and the Sacrament of sacraments. Lest there be any doubt, the Lord Jesus personally invites us to receive Him in this great gift: Truly, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink His blood, you have no life in you (John 6:53).

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 (cf. Council of Trent: DS 1640; 1651).

Having passed from this world to the Father, Christ gives us in the Eucharist the pledge of glory with him. Participation in the Holy Sacrifice identifies us with his Heart, sustains our strength along the pilgrimage of this life, makes us long for eternal life, and unites us even now to the Church in heaven, the Blessed Virgin Mary, and all the saints* (C.C.C. 1419).

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