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336

Part Two

it is the Sacrament of sacraments. The Eucharistic species reserved

in the tabernacle are designated by this same name.

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Holy Communion,

because by this sacrament we unite our-

selves to Christ, who makes us sharers in his Body and Blood to

form a single body.

151

We also call it:

the holy things (ta hagia;

sancta)

152

—the first meaning of the phrase “communion of saints”

in theApostles’ Creed—

the bread of angels, bread from heaven, medicine

of immortality,

153

viaticum. . . .

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Holy Mass (Missa

), because the liturgy in which the mystery

of salvation is accomplished concludeswith the sending forth (

missio

)

of the faithful, so that they may fulfill God’s will in their daily lives.

III.

T

he

E

ucharist

in

the

E

conomy of

S

alvation

The signs of bread and wine

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At theheart of theEucharistic celebrationare thebreadandwine

that, by thewords of Christ and the invocation of theHoly Spirit, become

Christ’s Body and Blood. Faithful to the Lord’s command the Church

continues to do, in hismemory and until his glorious return, what he did

on the eve of his Passion: “He took bread. . . .” “[T]aking the chalice filled

withthe fruitof thevine. . . .”Thesignsofbreadandwinebecome, inaway

surpassing understanding, the Body and Blood of Christ; they continue

also to signify the goodness of creation. Thus in the Offertory we give

thanks to the Creator for bread and wine,

154

fruit of the “work of human

hands,” but above all as “fruit of the earth” and “of the vine”—gifts of the

Creator. The Church sees in the gesture of the king-priest Melchizedek,

who “brought out bread andwine,” a prefiguring of her own offering.

155

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In the Old Covenant bread and wine were offered in

sacrifice among the first fruits of the earth as a sign of grateful

acknowledgment to the Creator. But they also received a new

significance in the context of the Exodus: the unleavened bread that

Israel eats every year at Passover commemorates the haste of the

departure that liberated them from Egypt; the remembrance of the

manna in the desert will always recall to Israel that it lives by the

bread of the Word of God;

156

their daily bread is the fruit of the

promised land, the pledge of God’s faithfulness to his promises.

151 Cf.

1 Cor

10:16-17.

152

Apostolic Constitutions

8, 13, 12: PG 1, 1108;

Didache

9, 5; 10:6: SCh248, 176-178.

153 St. Ignatius of Antioch,

Ad Eph.

20, 2: SCh 10, 76.

154

Roman Missal

, Eucharistic Prayer IV, 120; Cf.

Ps

104:13-15.

155

Gen

14:18; cf.

Roman Missal,

EP I (Roman Canon) 93.

156 Cf.

Deut

8:3.

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