The Eucharist is ‘the source and summit of the Christian life.’ The other sacraments, [and indeed all other aspects of the Church’s life], 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’ - CCC 1324.
Sacraments of Initiation: Eucharist
Reception of the Eucharist for the first time completes a person’s reception of the Sacraments of Initiation into the Christian life. The Eucharist brings about our intimate union with Jesus Christ because it is a sacrament of love, with his Church because it is a sign of unity and with the very presence of the risen Christ who shares his life with us. As Jesus announced, ‘Those who eat my flesh and drink my blood abide in me, and I in them’ (John 6:56).
The Sacrament of the Eucharist, which we receive at Mass, is the real physical and spiritual presence of Jesus Christ. As Catholics, we take Jesus at his word when he says ‘This is my body, which is given for you’ (Luke 22:19). Another way of putting this is that Catholics believe in the Real Presence. We believe that Jesus Christ is ‘present in a true, real, and substantial manner: his Body and his Blood, with his soul and his divinity (CCC 1413).’ When we compare the man who walked the earth some two thousand years ago with the consecrated Bread and Wine, the only difference is the outward appearance, the underlying reality is Jesus Christ our Lord.
Such is the intimacy that Christ desires with each one of us! In this union with Christ, we also have communion with all our brothers and sisters spread throughout the world (CCC 1398).
The Church celebrates the sacrifice of the Mass daily, but Catholics are obliged only to attend Mass on Sundays and a few other days of obligation. For this is how the Church wants us to observe the Lord’s Day, by gathering around his table as one family.
Want to receive the Sacrament of the Eucharist (Holy Communion)?
You have been baptised or received into the Catholic Church
Children should have made their First Holy Communion, this typically takes place around the age of 7 years old after a period of preparation in the parish and in the home.
You have fasted for one hour beforehand. (Water and medicine do not break your fast.)
You are not in an irregular marital situation, e.g. civilly married without Church endorsement
You have not knowingly committed serious sins since your last confession. All serious sins must be absolved through the Sacrament of Reconciliation before receiving the Eucharist
If you are cannot receive the Eucharist for any reason, you may make a Spiritual Communion asking God to grant you the graces of the Sacrament. Click here for a two prayers offered for this purpose.
‘When we receive Holy Communion, we receive our joy and our happiness ... The good God, wishing to give Himself to us in the Sacrament of His love, gave us a vast and great desire, which He alone can satisfy’ (St John Vianney).