The name for the sacrament of Eucharist comes from the Greek word meaning “giving thanks to God.” The sacrament of Eucharist was instituted by Jesus at the Last Supper, when, on the night he was betrayed, he broke the bread and, giving thanks, gave it to his disciples. He also took the chalice and, giving thanks, give it to his disciples.
When he instituted the sacrament of Eucharist, Jesus commanded his disciples to celebrate this sacrificial meal, which celebrates his death and resurrection, until his returns in glory.
Receiving Holy Communion
Usually, Catholics first receive First Holy Communion in the second grade, which the church considers the age of reason. Religious formation for receiving the sacrament of Eucharist is part of the curriculum of our parish religious education program and The Divine Redeemer Catholic School, Ford City.
Children must regularly attend either our parish religious education program, or The Divine Redeemer Catholic School, in order to be properly prepared and eligible to receive the sacrament of Eucharist.
For Catholics, the celebration of the Eucharist is at the heart and center of our spiritual life and journey of faith. Catholics who are free from serious sin and have observed an hour fast, may receive this sacrament during the celebration of Mass.
Holy Communion and non-Catholics
Because receiving this sacrament is a sign of our unity as Catholics, who profess one faith as a church, individuals who are not Catholic should refrain from receiving the Eucharist when attending Mass.
If you are not Catholic and would like to explore the possibility of becoming Catholic and receiving the sacrament of Communion, please contact us, visit the parish office, or learn more about the RCIA program at our parish.
Other Names for the Sacrament
The richness of the sacrament is expressed in the different names Catholic use to refer to it, because each name evokes a certain aspect of the Eucharist.
- “The Lord’s Supper” connects the celebration of the sacrament with the supper of the Lord, which took place with his disciples on the eve of his Passion, and also anticipates the wedding feast of the Lamb in the kingdom of heaven.
- The “breaking of the bread” not only recalls the action of Jesus at the Last Supper, but also the action by which the disciples recognized him after his Resurrection. This expression was also used by the first Christians who believed that all who eat the one broken bread, which is Christ, enter into the communion with him and form one body in him.
- “Holy Communion” refers to our belief that when we partake of the Eucharist we unite ourselves to Christ, who makes us sharers in his body and blood to form a single body.
The Blessed Sacrament
Catholics also refer to the Eucharist as the Blessed Sacrament, for we believe that once the priest says the words instituted by Christ and invokes the Holy Spirit, the bread and wine become Christ’s body and blood. Because of our belief that the bread and wine are changed into the body and blood of Christ, Catholics refer to this change as “transubstantiation.”
Our belief in Christ’s real presence in the Eucharist places it above all the sacraments. According to the teaching of the Second Vatican Council, it is the “source and summit of our Catholic Faith.”
Out of sacred respect, the Blessed Sacrament that is not consumed during Mass is reserved in a tabernacle. Upon entering the church, Catholics genuflect, bending the right knee to the ground, toward the tabernacle, in adoration of the real presence of Christ in the Eucharist.
Also near the tabernacle is the sanctuary candle. It is kept lit to indicate and honor the presence of Christ. Because of Christ’s abiding presence in the tabernacle, the atmosphere of a Catholic Church is kept quiet to promote prayer and adoration of the Blessed Sacrament.