it is the Sacrament of sacraments. The Eucharistic species reserved
in the tabernacle are designated by this same name.
because by this sacrament we unite our-
selves to Christ, who makes us sharers in his Body and Blood to
form a single body.
We also call it:
the holy things (ta hagia;
—the first meaning of the phrase “communion of saints”
in theApostles’ Creed—
the bread of angels, bread from heaven, medicine
viaticum. . . .
Holy Mass (Missa
), because the liturgy in which the mystery
of salvation is accomplished concludeswith the sending forth (
of the faithful, so that they may fulfill God’s will in their daily lives.
The signs of bread and wine
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,
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.
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;
their daily bread is the fruit of the
promised land, the pledge of God’s faithfulness to his promises.
8, 13, 12: PG 1, 1108;
9, 5; 10:6: SCh248, 176-178.
153 St. Ignatius of Antioch,
20, 2: SCh 10, 76.
, Eucharistic Prayer IV, 120; Cf.
EP I (Roman Canon) 93.