The Eucharist and us

Jesus chose the last supper as the opportunity to instigate ‘The Eucharist’. He knew the next day was going to be tough and while the apostles were arguing about who it was who would betray him, he quietly went about giving them a means by which to remember him.

Christian astronaut, Buzz Aldrin, only recently revealed he enjoyed receiving the Eucharist in Apollo 11 just prior to walking on the moon. His pastor had given him a wafer and a small vial of wine before he left on the moon mission.  Being one with his God was his way to fully enjoy this history making moment.

I believe every meal could be a Eucharist and that it is possible we too can enjoy the experience of receiving the Eucharist without having to wait for a priest to perform a consecration ceremony.

At the Last Supper when Jesus wanted to leave his friends a souvenir of himself, he firstly gave thanks to his Father and sought his Father’s blessing on the meal he was about to share with his friends. He then took some bread and wine and shared it with his friends, while telling them that whenever they followed the same procedure it was to be in his memory.

It should be noted Jesus made no stipulation that you had to be a priest or pastor to perform this form of remembrance. The Counsel of Trent in 1551 decided differently (see addendum for further clarification)

I believe that the ‘miracle’ of the Eucharist is not performed by the priest or pastor as part of a ritualistic ceremony but by OURSELVES as recipients.  The celebrant, on our behalf, asks the Father’s blessing during the Eucharistic Prayer and recalls the events of the Last Supper to help us fully prepare to receive the blessed bread and wine.

By our Baptism we become Christians and we maintain our faith by learning and following the teachings of Jesus. In reliving the events of the Last Supper and receiving the bread and wine, symbols of what Jesus gave his friends, we enable this Eucharistic food to mingle with the Holy Spirit, present within each one of us. I believe it is THEN the miracle of the Eucharist occurs. We become one with our God.

As Christians, I feel we could individually, mindfully, and with reverence, recall the events that occurred the night before Jesus died and in thanking the Father for his goodness, ask the Father’s blessing on the food and drink we are about to share together. This food and drink would be symbols of the bread and wine Jesus shared with his apostles.

Upon devouring these symbols and with our belief in the words and presence of Jesus, why then could this not be an occasion when we receive the Eucharist? Do we really need a priest or pastor to consecrate the bread and wine so we can receive the Eucharist?

The Greek-based term ‘Eucharist’ means ‘Thanksgiving’. Hence the focus of the Eucharist is to give thanks to the Father. In sharing the Eucharist today we link this with the teaching Jesus gave us the night before he died.

The Roman Catholic Church teaching tells us that the bread and wine of the Holy Eucharist become the actual body and blood of Jesus. They support this with passages such as John 6:32-58; Matthew 26:26; Luke 22:17-23; and 1 Corinthians 11:24-25.

 It was not until A.D. 1551, the Counsel of Trent officially stated, “By the consecration of the bread and wine there takes place a change of the whole substance of the bread into the substance of the body of Christ our Lord and of the whole substance of the wine into the substance of his blood. This change the Church has called transubstantiation” (Session XIII, chapter IV; cf. canon II). By sharing in the Eucharistic meal, the Church teaches that Catholics are fulfilling John 6:53: “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you have no life in you.”

What does that really mean? Jesus goes on to say that “it is the Spirit who gives life; the flesh is of no avail. The words that I have spoken to you are spirit and life” (John 6:63-64).

Christ’s sacrifice is to be received by faith (John 1:12; 3:16). Eating Christ’s flesh and drinking His blood are symbols of fully receiving His sacrifice on our behalf, by grace through faith.

One of the Cannons of the Council of Trent is “If anyone shall say that by the words: ‘Do this in commemoration of Me’ Christ did not institute the Apostles priests, or did not ordain that they and other priests should offer His Body and Blood: let him be anathema”. (something or someone that one vehemently dislikes)

A year later, on July 15, 1563, the same Council promulgated its text of the Catholic doctrine of order [the priesthood]:

The true and Catholic doctrine . . . to condemn the errors of our time . . . Sacrifice and priesthood are by ordinance of God so united that both have existed in every law. Since, therefore, in the New Testament the Catholic Church has received from Christ the holy, visible sacrifice of the Eucharist, it must also be confessed that there is in that Church a new, visible and external priesthood into which the old has been translated. That this was instituted by the same Lord our Saviour, and that to the Apostles and their successors in the priesthood was given the power of consecrating, offering, and administering His Body and Blood, as also of forgiving and retaining sins, is shown by the Sacred Scriptures and has always been taught by the Tradition of the Catholic Church . . .

In examining the history associated with the events that occurred on that first Holy Thursday evening I can recommend Thomas O’Loughlin’s book ‘The Eucharist – Origins and Contemporary Understandings’.

I’m Peter mack and that’s how I feel.

More ‘That’s how I feel’ stories