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Sacraments and Worship . . .
The Sacraments of Initiation: Sacrament of Holy Eucharist
The Eucharist means to give thanks. We often call our celebration of the Eucharist the Mass for short. The word `Mass’ is an abbreviation of the Latin phrase used at the end of the Eucharistic celebration, in the days when it was said in Latin. We call receiving the bread and wine which has been blessed and become the Body and Blood of Jesus, Holy Communion, although we also say Holy Eucharist for Holy Communion.
“I am the living bread which has come down from heaven; anyone who eats this bread will live for ever; and the bread that I shall give is my flesh, for the life of the world. I tell you most solemnly, if you do not eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you will not have life in you. Anyone who does eat my flesh and drink my blood has eternal life, and I shall raise him up on the last day. For, my flesh is real food and my blood is real drink. He who eats my flesh and drinks my blood lives in me and I live in him.” (John 6: 51-56)
Many of the people who heard Jesus speak these words could not accept what he had said; they walked away from him.
On the night he was betrayed, Jesus and the apostles had gathered in the Upper Room to celebrate the Jewish Passover. That night he did something different. He took some bread, and when he had given thanks, broke it and gave it to them, saying:
‘This is my body which will be given for you; do this as a memorial of me.’ He did the same with the cup after supper, and said: ‘This cup is the New Covenant in my blood which will be poured out for you.’ (Luke 22:19-20)
At the Last Supper Jesus instituted the Holy Eucharist and the Ministerial Priesthood. Ever since that night the apostles, and their ordained successors, have continued to do what the Lord commanded. Through the power of the Holy Spirit, when the words of consecration are said by the priest, Christ’s body and blood are made present under the species of bread and wine. (CCC 1353). The Eucharist is the action of both Christ and the Church. The Mass is more than an individual act of worship and receiving Holy Communion is more than a personal act. Vatican II teaches us that:
“no Mass, indeed no liturgical action, is a purely private action, but rather a celebration of the Church as a society composed of different orders and ministries.”
The Eucharist has always been at the centre of the Church's life; through it Christ makes present within time the mystery of his death and resurrection. In it he is received in person as the
‘living bread come down from heaven’, (John 6:51)
, and with him we receive the pledge of eternal life and a foretaste of the eternal banquet of the heavenly Jerusalem. (Apostolic Letter of John Paul II Mane Nobiscum Domine, Stay with us, Lord. 2004)
Preparation for Holy Eucharist:
At about the age of seven, baptised children are prepared to receive the Sacraments of Holy Communion and Reconciliation for the first time. When the same children become young adults they are prepared for the reception of the Sacrament of Confirmation. Children attending a Catholic School are prepared for receiving the Sacraments of Holy Eucharist and Reconciliation as part of their programme of education. Children not attending a Catholic School should attend preparation classes held in the three parishes from September each year.
Further information about preparation classes can be obtained from the Cathedral Office:
Tel: 0115 9539839