Catechism of Christian Doctrine

 

LESSON 26 -- The Holy Eucharist

 

343. What is the Holy Eucharist?

The Holy Eucharist is a sacrament and a sacrifice. In the Holy Eucharist, under the appearances of bread and wine, the Lord Christ is contained, offered, and received.

I am the living bread that has come down from heaven. If anyone eat of this bread he shall live forever. (John 6:51-52)

 

344. When did Christ institute the Holy Eucharist?

Christ instituted the Holy Eucharist at the Last Supper, the night before He died.

And having taken bread, he gave thanks and broke it, and gave it to them, saying, "This is my body, which is being given for you; do this in remembrance of me." In like manner he took also the cup after the supper, saying, "This cup is the new covenant in my blood, which shall be shed for you." (Luke 22:19-20)

 

345. Who were present when Our Lord instituted the Holy Eucharist?

When Our Lord instituted the Holy Eucharist the apostles were present. Now when the evening arrived, he came with the Twelve. (Mark 14:17)

 

346. How did Christ institute the Holy Eucharist? Christ instituted the Holy Eucharist in this way: He took bread, blessed and broke it, and giving it to His apostles, said: "Take and eat; this is My body"; then He took a cup of wine, blessed it, and giving it to them, said: "All of you drink of this; for this is My blood of the new covenant which is being shed for many unto the forgiveness of sins"; finally, He gave His apostles the commission: "Do this in remembrance of Me." And having taken bread, he gave thanks and broke it, and gave it to them, saying, "This is my body, which is being given for you; do this in remembrance of me." In like manner he took also the cup after the supper, saying, "This cup is the new covenant in my blood, which shall be shed for you." (Luke 22:19-20)

 

347. What happened when Our Lord said: "This is My body . . .this is My blood"?

When Our Lord said, "This is My body," the entire substance of the bread was changed into His body; and when He said, "This is My blood," the entire substance of the wine was changed into His blood.

 

348. Did anything of the bread and wine remain after their substance had been changed into Our Lord's body and blood?

After the substance of the bread and wine had been changed into Our Lord's body and blood, there remained only the appearances of bread and wine.

 

349. What do we mean by the appearances of bread and wine?

By the appearances of bread and wine we mean their color, taste, weight, shape, and whatever else appears to the senses.

 

350. What is the change of the entire substance of the bread and wine into the body and blood of Christ called?

The change of the entire substance of the bread and wine into the body and blood of Christ is called Transubstantiation.

 

351. Is Jesus Christ whole and entire both under the appearances of bread and under the appearances of wine?

Jesus Christ is whole and entire both under the appearances of bread and under the appearances of wine.

 

352. How was Our Lord able to change bread and wine into His body and blood?

Our Lord was able to change bread and wine into His body and blood by His almighty power. All power in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Matthew 28:18)

 

353. Does this change of bread and wine into the body and blood of Christ continue to be made in the Church?

The change of bread and wine into the body and blood of Christ continues to be made in the Church by Jesus Christ, through the ministry of His priests.

 

354. When did Christ give His priests the power to change bread and wine into His body and blood? Christ gave His priests the power to change bread and wine into His body and blood when He made the apostles priests at the Last Supper by saying to them: "Do this in remembrance of Me."

 

355. How do priests exercise their power to change bread and wine into the body and blood of Christ?

Priests exercise their power to change bread and wine into the body and blood of Christ by repeating at the Consecration of the Mass the words of Christ: "This is My Body ... this is My blood."

 

356. Why does Christ give us His own body and blood in the Holy Eucharist?

Christ gives us His own body and blood in the Holy Eucharist: first, to be offered as a sacrifice commemorating and renewing for all time the sacrifice of the cross; second, to be received by the faithful in Holy Communion; third, to remain ever on our altars as the proof of His love for us, and to be worshiped by us.

 

 

LESSON 27 -- The Sacrifice of the Mass

 

357. What is the Mass?

The Mass is the sacrifice of the New Law in which Christ, through the ministry of the priest, offers Himself to God in an unbloody manner under the appearances of bread and wine. For, from the rising of the sun even to the going down, my name is great among the Gentiles; and in every place there is sacrifice and there is offered to my name a clean oblation. (Malachi 1:11)

 

358. What is a sacrifice?

A sacrifice is the offering of a victim by a priest to God alone, and the destruction of it in some way to acknowledge that He is the Creator of all things.

 

359. Who is the principal priest in every Mass?

The principal priest in every Mass is Jesus Christ, who offers to His heavenly Father, through the ministry of His ordained priest, His body and blood which were sacrificed on the cross.

And having taken bread, he gave thanks and broke it, and gave it to them, saying, "This is my body, which is being given for you; do this in remembrance of me." In like manner he took also the cup after the supper, saying, "This cup is the new covenant in my blood, which shall be shed for you." (Luke 22:19-20)

 

360. Why is the Mass the same sacrifice as the sacrifice of the cross?

The Mass is the same sacrifice as the sacrifice of the cross because in the Mass the victim is the same, and the principal priest is the same, Jesus Christ.

 

361. What are the purposes for which the Mass is offered?

The purposes for which the Mass is offered are: first, to adore God as our Creator and Lord; second, to thank God for His many favors; third, to ask God to bestow His blessings on all men; fourth, to satisfy the justice of God for the sins committed against Him.

 

362. Is there any difference between the sacrifice of the cross and the Sacrifice of the Mass?

The manner in which the sacrifice is offered is different. On the cross Christ physically shed His blood and was physically slain, while in the Mass there is no physical shedding of blood nor physical death, because Christ can die no more; on the cross Christ gained merit and satisfied for us, while in the Mass He applies to us the merits and satisfaction of His death on the cross. For we know that Christ, having risen from the dead, dies now no more, death shall no longer have dominion over him. (Romans 6:9)

 

363. How should we assist at Mass?

We should assist at Mass with reverence, attention, and devotion.

 

364. What is the best method of assisting at Mass?

The best method of assisting at Mass is to unite with the priest in offering the Holy Sacrifice, and to receive Holy Communion.

 

364A. How can we best unite with the priest in offering the Holy Sacrifice? We can best unite with the priest in offering the Holy Sacrifice by joining in mind and heart with Christ, the principal Priest and Victim, by following the Mass in a missal, and by reciting or chanting the responses.

 

365. Who said the first Mass?

Our Divine Savior said the first Mass, at the Last Supper, the night before He died.

 

 

LESSON 28 -- Holy Communion

 

366. What is Holy Communion?

Holy Communion is the receiving of Jesus Christ in the sacrament of the Holy Eucharist. He who eats my flesh, and drinks my blood, abides in me and I in him. (John 6:57)

 

367. What is necessary to receive Holy Communion worthily?

To receive Holy Communion worthily it is necessary to be free from mortal sin, to have a right intention, and to obey the Church's laws on the fast required before Holy Communion out of reverence for the body and blood of Our Divine Lord. However, there are some cases in which Holy Communion may be received without fasting.

Therefore whoever eats this bread or drinks the cup of the Lord unworthily, will be guilty of the body and the blood of the Lord. (I Corinthians 11:27)

 

368. Does he who knowingly receives Holy Communion in mortal sin receive the body and blood of Christ and His graces? He who knowingly receives Holy Communion in mortal sin receives the body and blood of Christ; but he does not receive His graces and he commits a grave sin of sacrilege. Therefore whoever eats this bread or drinks the cup of the Lord unworthily, will be guilty of the body and the blood of the Lord. (I Corinthians 11:27)

 

369. What should we do to receive more abundantly the graces of Holy Communion?

To receive more abundantly the graces of Holy Communion we should strive to be most fervent and to free ourselves from deliberate venial sin.

 

370. Does the Church now command us to fast from midnight before Holy Communion?

The Church does not now command us to fast from midnight before Holy Communion, as it did formerly. The laws enacted by Pope Pius XII now regulate this matter by the number of hours we must fast.

 

371. When may Holy Communion be received without fasting?

Holy Communion may be received without fasting when one is in danger of death, or when it is necessary to save the Blessed Sacrament from insult or injury.

 

372. What are the laws enacted by Pope Pius XII regarding the fast required before Holy Communion?

The laws enacted by Pope Pius XII regarding the fast required before Holy Communion are the following:

1. Water may be taken at any time before Holy Communion without breaking the fast.

2. Sick persons, though not confined to bed, may receive Holy Communion after taking medicine or nonalcoholic drinks. A priest's permission is not necessary.

3. All Catholics may receive Holy Communion after fasting one hour from food and drink including even alcoholic beverages in moderation. This rule applies to Holy Communion at midnight Mass as well as at Masses celebrated in the morning, afternoon or evening. A priest's permission is not needed.

 4. One may not receive Holy Communion a second time on the same day, unless the danger of death arises, when he can receive the Blessed Sacrament as Viaticum. But one who has received the Holy Eucharist at the midnight Mass of Christmas or at the Mass of the Easter Vigil may receive again in the course of the day. These rules show the Church's desire that all Catholics partake of the Holy Eucharist frequently.

 

373. How should we prepare ourselves for Holy Communion?

We should prepare ourselves for Holy Communion by thinking of Our Divine Redeemer whom we are about to receive, and by making fervent acts of faith, hope, love, and contrition. Lord, I am not worthy that thou shouldst come under my roof. (Matthew 8:8)

 

374. What should we do after Holy Communion?

After Holy Communion we should spend some time adoring Our Lord, thanking Him, renewing our promises of love and of obedience to Him, and asking Him for blessings for ourselves and others. Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and you shall find; knock, and it shall be opened to you. (Matthew 7:7)

 

375. What are the chief effects of a worthy Holy Communion?

The chief effects of a worthy Holy Communion are: first, a closer union with Our Lord and a more fervent love of God and of our neighbor; second, an increase of sanctifying grace; third, preservation from mortal sin and the remission of venial sin; fourth, the lessening of our inclinations to sin and the help to practice good works. He who eats my flesh, and drinks my blood, abides in me and I in him. (John 6:57)

 

376. When are we obliged to receive Holy Communion?

We are obliged to receive Holy Communion during Easter time each year and when in danger of death.

 

377. Why is it well to receive Holy Communion often, even daily?

It is well to receive Holy Communion often, even daily, because this intimate union with Jesus Christ, the Source of all holiness and the Giver of all graces, is the greatest aid to a holy life. And they continued steadfastly in the teaching of the apostles and in the communion of the breaking of the bread and in the prayers. (Acts 2:42)

 

378. How should we show our gratitude to Our Lord for remaining always on our altars in the Holy Eucharist?

We should show our gratitude to Our Lord for remaining always on our altars in the Holy Eucharist by visiting Him often, by reverence in church, by assisting every day at Mass when this is possible, by attending parish devotions, and by being present at Benediction of the Blessed Sacrament.