Some frequently asked questions (FAQ) about the Sacrament of Sacraments, which is the SOURCE AND SUMMIT OF OUR LIVES.
1.) QUESTION: What is the Sacrament of the Most Holy Eucharist?
ANSWER: The word “Eucharist” came from two Greek terms ‘eucharistein’ and ‘eulogein,’ which mean “thanksgiving”. The Sacrament of the Most Holy Eucharist was institued by our Lord at the Last Supper, and commanded that we celebrate it, as he said: “Do this in memory of me” (Luke 22:19). Every time we celebrate this Sacrament, we are thanking our Lord for the blessings he has given us. Moreover, we commemorate his Paschal Mystery in an unbloody manner, as what was mentioned by the verse above.
2.) QUESTION: What are the Biblical proofs of the Eucharist?
ANSWER: The Eucharist is foremost proven by the Last Supper. On the night he was betrayed, Jesus gave us his Body and Blood in the form of bread and wine, so that we can remember him and his ultimate sacrifice. Saint Paul says: “For as oftten as you eat this bread and drink this cup, you proclaim the death of the Lord until he comes” (1 Corinthians 11:26). That is why during the Memorial Acclamation, we stand/kneel and recite these words: “When we eat this Bread and drink this Cup, we proclaim your Death, O Lord, until you come again.” Another Biblical proof is the Bread of Life Discourses (John 6:22-59). When he declared to the crowds that he was the Bread of Life, and that they should eat his Flesh and drink his Blood, it should not be taken literally. What he means is that we should believe in him and live out his teachings. This includes celebrating the Eucharist, as what he commanded during the Last Supper. Another Biblical proof is the Encounter with the Two Disciples on the Road to Emmaus (Luke 24:13-35). Jesus explained to the two men about his Paschal Mystery, then at one night, he broke the bread, blessed it, and gave it to them. When they saw this, their eyes were opened, and they recognized him. That is why we have the Liturgy of the Word and the Liturgy of the Eucharist, wherein we feast at the Table of his Word and his Body. The Mass challenges us to listen to the Word of God openly and attentively, to carry out the messages, and to be spiritually nourished by being good and faithful Christians.
3.) QUESTION: What is the Biblical and Historical proof of Christ’s presence in the Holy Eucharist?
ANSWER: Before he ascended into heaven, this was the promise of our Lord: “Behold, I am with you always, even until the end of the age” (Matthew 28:20b). This means that he is with us all the time. He is watching over us, especially in times of difficult moments. In the Eucharist, he is present in the form of bread and wine. This may sound a Mystery, but again, like the Most Holy Trinity, it cannot be physically proven, but rather it is spiritually understood. There were many Eucharistic miracles in the past that proved Christ’s presence in the Mass, such as the host turning into real flesh and the wine turning into real blood. This was the will of God revealed to those who doubted the teaching. That is why in 1264, Pope Urban IV instituted the Solemnity of the Most Holy Body and Blood, also known as Corpus Christi, and Saint Thomas Aquinas wrote three hymns in honor of the Eucharist, which are O Salutaris Hostia, Pange Lingua, and Tantum Ergo.
4.) QUESTION: What is Transubstantiation?
ANSWER: From the word itself, Transubstantiation means “to transform substances”. It is a sacramental act, wherein the bread and wine are transformed into the Body and Blood of Christ. At Consecration, the same species remain, but the substances become the Body and Blood of Christ. This should not be taken physically. The Eucharist is meant for spiritual nourishment, wherein our souls are nourished and filled with the graces of God to perform good works to others. Therefore, Transubstantiation cannot be rationally demonstrated, but it is accepted by faith. As Jesus said to the Jews who doubted his real presence: “Unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you do not have life within you” (John 6:53).
5.) QUESTION: How often should we receive Christ in Holy Communion?
ANSWER: We should receive Christ in Holy Communion only when we are in the state of grace. Those who have venial sins in their souls can receive the Sacrament, but those who have mortal sins in their souls have to confess their sins. Saint Paul warns us: “Anyone who eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord unworthily will be behaving unworthily towards the body and blood of the Lord” (1 Corinthians 11:27). If we receive Holy Communion in the state of mortal sin, then we have committed a sacrilege. Therefore, we must confess all our mortal sins, before we can receive the Body and Blood of our Lord.
6.) QUESTION: When should we celebrate the Holy Eucharist?
ANSWER: We can go to Mass anytime, but more importantly, we are required to go on Sundays. Sunday is the day Christ rose from the dead on the dawn of Easter. The Eucharist does not only commemorate his Passion and Death, but it also commemorates his Resurrection from the Dead. Therefore, we partake in the broken and glorified body of Christ, which spiritually nourishes us. It is not only Sundays wherein attendance of the Holy Eucharist is required, but also on Holy Days of Obligation. In the Philippines, these are days we are require to go to Mass, namely: (1) Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary (December 8), (2) Solemnity of the Nativity of the Lord (December 25), (3) Solemnity of Mary, the Holy Mother of God (January 1), and (4) all Sundays. The Anticipated Masses and Vigil Mass on the Eve before these days also fulfill the obligations. It is our necessity to celebrate the Holy Eucharist anytime, but we must never forget to celebrate it more importantly on Sundays and Holy Days of Obligation.