“While they were eating, Jesus took bread, said the blessing, broke it and giving it to his disciples said, ‘Take and eat; this is my body.’ Then he took a cup, gave thanks, and gave it to them saying, ‘Drink from it all of you for this is my blood of the covenant, which will be shed on behalf of many for the forgiveness of sins.” Mt. 26:26-28; Mk 14:22-24; Lk 22:17-20; 1 Cor 11:23-25
The Catholic Church professes that in the celebration of the Eucharist, bread and wine become the Body and Blood of Jesus Christ through the power of the Holy Spirit. Jesus said: “I am the living bread that came down from heaven; whoever eats this bread will live forever; and the bread that I will give is my flesh for the life of the world…” John 6:51-55. We believe that Christ, in his entirety, body, blood, soul and divinity is truly, substantially, and really present under the appearances of bread and win.
Eucharist, which means “thanksgiving” is a communion that looks always not only to the past, that is, to the Last Supper Jesus celebrated with his followers, and the redemptive events that followed, but also to the future, “until he comes again.”
The Council of Trent established that Eucharist is the preeminent sacrament: (Decree on the Most Holy Eucharist, Chapter III.) Vatican Council II confirmed that “Eucharist is indeed the source and summit of the entire Christian life.” Constitution on the Most Sacred Liturgy, (n. 11). And in, 1 Corinthians we find that “what is proclaimed must be lived.”
Simply stated, at the Last Supper, as Jesus was surrounded by his friends, he took the bread, gave thanks, blessed the bread, broke it, and give it to his friends. In like manner he took the cup, gave thanks, blessed it, and shared it with his friends. We are asked to do the same until he comes again. 1 Corinthians, 11:17-34, tells us that “what is proclaimed must be lived.”
The Catholic Church believes about the Eucharist all that every Christian believes: Eucharist is memorial, meal, sign, symbol, and sacrifice. But, the Catholic Church also believes that Eucharist is “real presence,” the substantial, sacramental, true presence of Christ Jesus in the bread and in the wine which become his body and his blood. We believe that we who eat this living bread are called to be Eucharist to others until he comes again.