The Eucharist gathers the community of believers (the Church)
- To celebrate
- To listen to God's word
- In the power of the Spirit, to praise and thank our Creator with Jesus
- To receive Jesus in Holy communion as a promise of eternal life
- To commit ourselves to transform our world
Eucharist is a Greek word which means praise and thanksgiving. It has roots in the Jewish Passover. The Eucharist is a meal, a feast, in which the community is invited to share the bread of life. We celebrate the Eucharist with song, story, prayer, sharing the Eucharistic meal. The word Eucharist has been used since the 2nd century - sometimes it referred to the meal ritual as a whole, other times to a specific part of the celebration and yet other times to the consecrated elements. Since the Second Vatican Council, it means the whole Eucharistic liturgy. It is the central act of worship for the Christian and for the Church, the assembly of Christians.
"This is my body ... This is my blood." The changing of bread and wine into the body and blood of the Risen Jesus reminds us that he is truly with us. Bread and wine as earthly substances, sustain and nourish us physically; bread and wine in the Eucharist nourish us spiritually. "This is my body given for you." The Eucharist is a sacrifice that makes present the offering of Christ for our salvation. The Eucharist is a memorial. The words "Do this in memory of me" help us to recall the life, death and resurrection of Jesus; so that empowered by his Spirit we bring his love to the world.
“Coming to the table of the Eucharist, we eat the flesh and drink the blood of the Son of Man so that we may have eternal life and show forth the unity of God’s people.” The Eucharist is a sacrament, a visible sign or symbol of the presence of God. Through the Eucharist we enter into the Paschal Mystery. While never fully understood, Eucharist is to be experienced as a sign of God's unending and unqualified love for us and for all creation.
The liturgy of the Eucharist offers forgiveness. In the penitential rite we ask for the forgiveness of our neighbours and of God. The sign of peace is also an expression of reconciliation and a call to conversion. At the end of our celebration we are challenged to go forth to be a sign of the Lord's presence in our world.
- Eucharist and Reconciliation: A Planning and Resource Guide
- Journey of Faith
- National Bulletin on Liturgy No. 153
- Rite of Baptism for Children
- Sacraments: How Catholics Pray by Thomas Richstatter, O.F.M.
- The Christian Sacraments of Initiation by Kenan B. Osborne, O.F.M.
- What Makes Us Catholic: 8 Gifts for Life by Thomas Groome
How to Prepare Your Child for the Eucharist
Your child needs to know that he or she is unique
There has never been a human being quite like your child nor will there be again. Each person is unique and therefore of value. Make sure your child is aware of this and that this is how you view all other persons. This way a child begins to understand the importance of creation and of all God-given life.
Your child needs to know she or he is loved permanently and unconditionally
Make sure you tell your children how precious they are to you and how much you love them. Even when your child does something wrong, lets you down or behaves badly, you can make it clear that you reject and dislike the behaviour, but not the child. This is important because it is through the experience of unconditional love that a child begins to understand God's love for us.
Your child needs to know that other people are also unique, valuable and lovable
As your child is unique and lovable, so too are all other people regardless of race, creed, colour, class or age. Parents can provide a sound foundation for children to learn and experience freedom from prejudice. In the kind of family life you create, the foundations of a child's concept of loving acceptance and forgiveness are laid.
Your child needs to know that God is at the heart of creation
As you tell your child about life and the world in which he or she lives, talk about God's influence in all areas of creation. Talk about how you see God and what you find easy and not so easy about being a Christian. In this way your child will learn tolerance, understanding and commitment
Your child needs to know the stories of the Gospels
Talk about Jesus: his life, the kind of person he was, his stories, and the way he treated people. Some parishes provide children with a copy of Explaining God’s Word as they arrive for Sunday Eucharist, which is generally tied to the Gospel of that Sunday, and uses age appropriate language when sharing the Gospels with the children.
Your child needs to know how to communicate with other people
Try to make sure you create times in the day to talk to one another as a family. Mealtimes can provide an opportunity for communicating. If not, try to find things you can do together which give you an opportunity to share with one another.
Your child needs to know how to pray
The only way we learn to pray is by doing it. Make prayer a part of family life. Choose a few moments, perhaps at bedtime, to sit together thanking God for the day. Say sorry to God and to one another for things that have gone wrong, remember the sick and oppressed and ask God's blessing on one another. Make it clear that you pray not only about problems and difficulties, but should also thank God for the blessings we receive.
Your child needs to attend mass regularly
Your child needs to know that through Baptism she or he became a member of the community of the church. Help your child to know that he or she is invited by the Christian community to share in the Lord's meal. Explain that at Mass we celebrate what Jesus did at the Last Supper. Help your child to appreciate the Mass by explaining what is happening and answering her/his questions and concerns. Let your child know that the Mass is the center of our sacramental lives. Share the joy you experience in receiving Christ in the Eucharist.
Official church requirements for reception of the Eucharist
"Children must be baptised and it is required that they have sufficient knowledge and careful preparation so as to understand the mystery of Christ according to their capacity, and can receive the Body of the Lord with faith and devotion."