Sacrament of

THE EUCHARIST (MASS)

 

The Eucharist is the very sacrifice of the Body and Blood of the Lord Jesus which he instituted to perpetuate the sacrifice of the cross though-out the ages until his return in glory. Thus he entrusted to his Church this memorial of his death and Resurrection. [compendium]

The Eucharist

The Eucharist is the “source and summit” of the Christian life and the “center of the Christian community Through the Eucharist, the Church unites herself to Christ in offering God the Father perfect worship, and through the Eucharist we receive heavenly food and drink to help us live like Christ. [Vatican Council 11]

Other names of The Eucharist [compendium no.275; CCC 1328-1332]

  • Holy Mass,
  • the Lord’s Supper,
  • The Breaking of the Bread,
  • the Eucharistic Celebration,
  • the Memorial of the passion, death and Resurrection of the Lord,
  • the Holy Sacrifice,
  • the Holy and Divine Liturgy,
  • the Sacred Mysteries,
  • the Most Holy Sacrament of the Altar
  • Holy Communion.

Biblical Roots (CCC 1333-1344)

In the Old Testament, bread and wine are seen as gifts from God, to whom praise and thanks are given in return for these blessings and for other manifestations of his care and grace. The story of the priest Melchizedek’s offering a sacrifice of bread and wine for Abraham’s victory is an example of this (Gn 14:18). The harvest of new lambs was also a time for the sacrifice of a lamb to show gratitude to God for the new flock and its contribution to the wellbeing of the family and tribe.

These ancient rituals were given a historical meaning when God delivered the Israelites from the slavery of Egypt. They celebrated their Passover from slavery to freedom with a Passover meal which always involved a young lamb usually called a Paschal lamb. (Ex 12:1- 14 ) At the time of their deliverance or Passover from Egypt, God commanded the Israelites to celebrate each year their freedom with a Passover Meal. During the meal, the father of the family told the story of his people’s deliverance by God. As they celebrated a historical event, it had a new dimension. They believed that the God who delivered their ancestors continued to deliver them year after year (Deut 26:5-11).

“In order that the sacred liturgy may produce its full effect, it is necessary that the faithful come to it with proper dispositions, that their thoughts match their words, and that they cooperate with divine grace lest they receive it in vain” (11)

Constitution on the Liturgy, a Vatican II document

Sacred Heart Cathedral
Mass

Institution of the Eucharist (CCC 1337-1340)

When Jesus instituted the Eucharist, he gave a final meaning to the blessing of the bread and the wine, the sacrifice of the Lamb, and the Passover celebration. Jesus showed himself to be the High Priest of the New Covenant, the Paschal Lamb who was slain. He offered himself as the perfect sacrifice to the Father. During his Last Supper which took place in the context of the annual Passover meal, Jesus changed bread and wine into his Body and Blood, given now as an offering for the salvation of all people.

“Do this in memory of me.”

Towards the end of his Last Supper with his apostles, Jesus said: “Do this in memory of me,” thereby commanding them and their successors to repeat his actions and words, his Eucharistic celebration, “until he comes.” From the earliest times, the Church has remained faithful to the Lord’s command―a practice that has continued for 2,000 years.

Grace Effects of Receiving Christ in the Eucharist
(CCC 1391-1405)

The Catechism lists several effects or spiritual benefits that come to us when we participate in the Eucharist. Four of these are:

  • Holy Communion deepens our relationship with Christ (CCC 1391).
  • Holy Communion separates us from sin and helps us to do battle with the forces of evil (CCC 1393).
  • Holy Communion deepens our relationship with our Church family (CCC 1396).
  • Holy Communion commits us to caring for the poor (CCC 1397).

IFive Behaviors that Help Us to be Active Participants at Mass

The Constitution on the Liturgy states that “full and active participation by all the people is the aim to be considered above all else” (14). It also states that “Pastors of souls must realize… that it is their duty to ensure that the faithful take part in the Mass knowingly, actively and fruitfully” (11). The following are five behaviors to develop for all who wish to be active participants in the Mass.

 

Hospitality

Everyone enjoys coming to a place where there is a spirit of welcome and hospitality. A spirit of hospitality does not mean a lot of chatter before Mass. Rather, it calls for an attitude that says to those around us: “I am glad to see you.” A simple “good morning” or a smile communicates a spirit of hospitality. We help the presence of Christ in the assembly to come alive when we are hospitable to those around us at Mass.

Participating in the Sung Prayer of the Church

Prior to his conversion to Christianity, St. Augustine used to come and sit in the back of the Church while the Mass was going on.

Augustine’s words speak to the power of music and song to touch hearts. An important part of active participation in the Mass is joining in the “sung prayer.” Ideally, at Mass we don’t just sing the songs, but we pray the songs. We do this by paying attention to the text of the song and making an effort to lift our minds and hearts to God during our singing.

Active Listening?

During the proclamation of the readings and the homily, we are especially called to listen attentively. This demands a real effort on our part. It is so easy to allow our minds to be distracted.

Spirit of Generosity

The following are four ways that we can allow a spirit of generosity to impact the way we participate in the Eucharist.

  • Getting to Church on time and remaining until the end of the final song.
  • Giving of ourselves to the songs and prayers of the Mass.
  • Giving of our financial resources to the Church during the collection.
  • Bringing food for the poor – if your parish has sucha project.
Spirit of Thanksgiving

At each Mass we participate in, we come primarily to give of ourselves and not to receive. Though of course, in our giving, we will receive. When we come to Mass with a “what’s in it for me” attitude, we are bringing a consumerist mentality into the house of God.

Reference
The Bible
Catechism of the Catholic Church: Eucharist: 1322-1419.
Compendium of the Catechism of the Catholic Church: 271-294.
Sacrosanctum Concilium
The Code of Canon Law: 897-958.
Reference
The Bible
Catechism of the Catholic Church: Eucharist: 1322-1419.
Compendium of the Catechism of the Catholic Church: 271-294.
Sacrosanctum Concilium
The Code of Canon Law: 897-958.

“How I wept, deeply moved by your hymns, songs, and the voices that echoed through your Church! What emotion I experienced in them! Those sounds flowed into my ears, distilling the truth in my heart. A feeling of devotion surged within me, and tears streamed down my face – tears that did me good.”

(CCC 1157)

Our Behavior at Mass is Contagious

It is important to remember that our behavior at Mass is contagious. When we are hospitable to those around us at Mass – sing enthusiastically, pray devoutly, listen attentively to the readings and homily, place our money offering in the basket, receive the Body and Blood of Christ with love and faith, move with a sense of reverence that reflects awareness that we are on holy ground – we demonstrate that we are participating in something very important, and our good example may impact those around us more than we can ever imagine.

On the other hand, when we miss Mass for no good reason, we give a poor example to our family and others. When we come rushing into Mass, show no hospitality to those around us, behave in a distracted and uninvolved manner, and leave early, we diminish the whole worship atmosphere. We communicate to others that “the Mass is not important, I’m bored and not mentally here.”

Reference
The Bible
Catechism of the Catholic Church: Eucharist: 1322-1419.
Compendium of the Catechism of the Catholic Church: 271-294.
Sacrosanctum Concilium
The Code of Canon Law: 897-958.

Some of the Roles at Mass

Priest

“He [a disciple] is ordained to preach the Gospel, and in the sacraments to act in the person of Christ, to be used by Christ as an instrument of grace”.

Deacon

“The deacon proclaims the Gospel, is an ordinary minister of Communion, prepares the gifts, and helps at the altar”.

Lector/reader

He/she “is called to proclaim the Word of God clearly and effectively”.

Server

An “important”, “noble and unobtrusive role at Mass”, servers “should see that all that is needed is ready, so that there is no distraction during Mass”.

Extraordinary minister of Communion (Eucharistic minister)

They are to distribute the Body and Blood of Christ at Mass or to bring Communion to those who cannot be present at Mass.

Choir

Those who help the whole community to praise God through music.

Ushers/Minister of hospitality and service

“The parishioners who greet those who enter the church, and give them practical help, are messengers of the welcoming love of the local family of faith.” Others assist by taking up the collection and in various ways that strengthen the parish community after Mass.

Cathedral of the Sacred Heart

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