The Holy Eucharist is a sacrament and a sacrifice. In the Holy Eucharist, under the appearances of bread and wine, the Lord Christ is contained, offered, and received.
The whole Christ is really, truly, and substantially present in the Holy Eucharist. We use the words "really, truly, and substantially" to describe Christ's presence in the Holy Eucharist in order to distinguish Our Lord's teaching from that of mere men who falsely teach that the Holy Eucharist is only a sign or figure of Christ, or that He is present only by His power.
After the substance of the bread and wine had been changed into Our Lord's body and blood, there remained only the appearances of bread and wine. Because the appearances of bread and wine remain in the Holy Eucharist, we cannot see Christ with our bodily eyes in this sacrament. We do see Him, however, with the eyes of faith. Our bodily eyes, moreover, do not deceive us when they see the appearances of bread and wine for these appearances really remain after the Consecration of the Mass.
By the appearances of bread and wine we mean their color, taste, weight, shape, and whatever else appears to the senses. The change of the entire substance of the bread and wine into the body and blood of Christ is called Transubstantiation. Jesus Christ is whole and entire both under the appearances of bread and under the appearances of wine.
The Catholic doctrine of the Holy Eucharist contains many mysteries. It is beyond our comprehension how the same living Christ who is in heaven should also be on earth, in every place where the Holy Eucharist is consecrated. We cannot understand how the body of our Savior with its full stature can be present beneath the small host. We cannot attempt to explain how our Divine Redeemer can be present, whole and entire, in the smallest portions of the consecrated species of bread and wine, although we have some resemblance to this miracle in the presence of our entire soul in every portion of our body.
But we have the statement of Our Lord Himself for the truth of these mysteries and hence it is our duty to believe them without hesitation. When Our Savior first announced the doctrine of the Holy Eucharist to His followers, some of them would not believe. They said: "This is a hard saying, who can listen to it ?" (John, 6, 62), and some of them even left Him forever. Today there are many persons in the world who say that the doctrine of the Real Presence is too hard to believe, and claim that the Eucharist is only bread and wine representing Christ. But Catholics accept the words of Our Lord Himself who said: "This is my body . . . this is my blood," and adore Him as truly present in the Holy Eucharist.
Should Catholics receive communion on the hand or on the tongue? And how exactly are we supposed to do that reverently? Is there any other acceptable response besides “Amen?” …and what does “amen” mean anyway?
How does the bread and wine become the body and blood of Christ? Is Communion a reenactment of the last supper? Should you not receive Communion if you have sinned? Why can’t non-Catholics receive Communion in the Church?
These questions and more are answered in this edition of “Sacraments 201,” a web video series geared toward those who’d like an introduction or refresher course on these important, tangible Catholic experiences of God.
Requirements For First Eucharist:
Ordinarily, candidates for First Penance and First Eucharist have participated in regular religious education or attend Catholic School for the year preceding enrollment for preparation for First Eucharist. (In other words, these children were part of a formal first grade faith formation experience.)
Candidates for First Eucharist will have made sacramental confession before receiving this Sacrament in accordance with canon 914 of the Code of Canon Law which states: “It is primarily the duty of parents, and those who take the place of parents, as well as the duty of the pastors, to take care that children who have reached the use of reason are prepared properly and, after they have made sacramental confession, are refreshed with this divine food as soon as possible.”
Candidates are to have the use of reason, which is canonically presumed at age seven.
Parents, having chosen to begin the process of Christian initiation in the lives of their children through Baptism, are the primary teachers in the preparation of the celebration of First Communion.
It is recommended that reception of First Eucharist take place within a family context within one of the Lord’s Day celebrations of the Mass.
The First Communion of children must always be preceded by sacramental Confession and absolution. Moreover First Communion should always be administered by a Priest and never outside the celebration of Mass.
Apart from exceptional cases, it is not particularly appropriate for First Communion to be administered on Holy Thursday of the Lord’s Supper. Another day should be chosen instead, such as a Sunday between the Second and the Sixth Sunday of Easter, or the Solemnity of the Body and Blood of Christ, or the Sundays of Ordinary Time, since Sunday is rightly regarded as the day of the Eucharist.
Please contact the Faith Formation Office for information regarding preparation and reception of this Sacrament.