The Eucharist in Our Personal and Communal Spiritual Lives
As Catholics, we believe that, as we pray the Eucharist prayer during Mass, Christ transforms the bread and wine into his body and blood. This transformation is permanent and cannot be undone. The Catechism of the Catholic Church states, “Christ is present whole and entire in each of the species and whole and entire in each of their parts, in such a way that the breaking of the bread does not divide Christ” (CCC1377).
Quoting Pope Paul VI, the Catechism of the Catholic Church calls the Eucharist “the source and summit of the Christian life.” All of our parish ministries and works are oriented to the Eucharist and bound up in the Eucharist because the Eucharist contains “the whole spiritual good of the Church, namely Christ himself…” (Catechism 1324). In short, not only the bread and wine are transformed into the Body and Blood of Christ in our Eucharistic Celebration but we too, as church, become the body of Christ in the world and are sent forward from the Eucharistic celebration to carry on Jesus’ mission in the world. Therefore, regular reception of the Eucharist in Community serves to strengthen us both physically and spiritually as well as to renew our understanding of ourselves as members of the Body of Christ, the Church.
On Easter Monday, April 10, parishes in Maine will again be permitted to offer Communion under both species at weekday Masses. This permission will be extended to Sunday Masses the weekend of May 6/7. This permission to again offer the cup offers an opportunity to reflect on the Eucharist in our personal and communal spiritual lives, our practices in receiving Communion, and the opportunity to be of service in the parish as an Extraordinary Minister of the Eucharist and other forms of service in the parish. This post is the first in a series of reflections on the importance of Eucharist in our community.
We hope that as we move to restore reception of Communion under both species following Easter this year, our sense of community, our sense of sharing a meal, and sharing in the sacrifice of Christ will all deepen. We continue to look forward to the day when all those who have been joining us by way of the livestream during this pandemic will feel (and be) safe in joining us in person.
Fr. Brian Conley, SJ