The Eucharist and the Church
The Eucharist has been at the center of the life of the Church since apostolic times. We know from reading the Acts of the Apostles that Christians met in one another’s homes for “the breaking of the bread.” (Acts 2:42, 46) Although today’s Mass is quite different from those first early gatherings of Christians, there has always been a certain constancy in the celebration: the community comes together with a bishop or priest to hear the Word of God, to give thanks and remember the death and resurrection of Jesus, and to partake of the sanctified bread and wine that in faith have become the Body and Blood of Christ. In one sense, we could say that to be Church is to celebrate the Eucharist.
Just as our families gather to share stories around the supper table, the Eucharist is the meal at which the Christian family gathers to hear the stories of our salvation in Christ and to share a meal. No one is a stranger at the Eucharist — rich and poor, powerful and powerless, young and old — all who constitute Church are united around the altar of the Lord, who feeds us again and again with His Body and Blood.
The relationship between the Eucharist and the Church is intimate and dynamic. The Eucharist is an active celebration when we eat and drink the Body and Blood of the Lord. This we see in the oldest text we have on the Eucharist, which is from St. Paul’s first letter to the Corinthians (1 Cor. 11:23-26):
“For I received from the Lord what I also handed on to you, that the Lord Jesus, on the night he was handed over, took bread, and, after he had given thanks, broke it and said, ‘This is my body that is for you. Do this in memory of me.’ In the same way also the cup, after supper, saying, ‘This cup is the new covenant in my blood. Do this, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of me.’ For as often as you eat of this bread and drink the cup, you proclaim the death of the Lord until he comes.”
This passage also shows us that the Eucharist is first an action of Jesus himself in the shedding of his blood to redeem us from our sins. It is the sacrifice of Christ that restored our relationship with God the Father. Furthermore, by the command of Christ at the Last Supper, the Eucharist is also the action of the Church. At Mass, the priest stands in the person of Christ, head of the Church, and he offers the sacrifice on the altar. In turn, we, the Church, join ourselves to that sacrifice, and in accepting of Jesus’ invitation to take and eat and take and drink, we enter into sacramental communion with the Son of God and form one body in Christ. It is in gathering for the Eucharist that individual Christians become the Church, and therefore, we can say that the Eucharist makes the Church.
Listed below are several resources to help us through the current health crisis ...
Our Holy Father, Pope Francis, composed a prayer asking Mary, Health of the Sick, to intercede for us during this pandemic. Please join us in prayer.
Prayer to Mary, Health of the Sick
O Mary, you always shine on our path as a sign of salvation and of hope. We entrust ourselves to you, Health of the Sick, who at the cross took part in Jesus’ pain, keeping your faith firm. You, Mother of the Divine Physician, know what we need, and we are sure you will provide so that, as in Cana of Galilee, we may return to joy after this time of trial. Help us, Mother of Divine Love, to conform to the will of the Father and to do as we are told by Jesus, who has taken upon himself our sufferings and carried our sorrows to lead us, through the cross, to the joy of the resurrection. Amen.
Under your protection, we seek refuge, Holy Mother of God. Do not disdain the entreaties of we who are in trial, but deliver us from every danger, O glorious and blessed Virgin.
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Catholic Charities Senior Hotline
Are you concerned about an older neighbor or loved one? Growing isolation and loss of community supports can lead to tragedy for the most vulnerable. To help seniors who are in need of extra care during the coronavirus emergency, Catholic Charities staff will call, visit, and follow-up to check in on how they are doing. We are able to assess needs and offer help. We can provide a care package of food and supplies or just be there to listen. Call our Senior Hotline, 414-771-6063, to share the name and number of your neighbor in need.
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Catholic Charities Outreach
If you know:
An elderly or disabled adult
A refugee/immigrant/Spanish-speaking family
A pregnant woman
who is isolated, unable to care for themselves, and has no support, call Catholic Charities.
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Additional Outside Resources
There are other sites available to help you through the pandemic, please click on the links below to be taken to these other sites ...