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The Celebration of the Christian Mystery




Jesus said: “I am the living bread that came down

from heaven; if any one eats of this bread, he will

live for ever; . . . he who eats my flesh and drinks my

blood has eternal life and . . . abides in me, and I in

him” (


6:51, 54, 56).


The Eucharist is the heart and the summit of the

Church’s life, for in it Christ associates his Church and

all her members with his sacrifice of praise and thanks-

giving offered once for all on the cross to his Father;

by this sacrifice he pours out the graces of salvation on

his Body which is the Church.


The Eucharistic celebration always includes: the proc-

lamation of the Word of God; thanksgiving to God the

Father for all his benefits, above all the gift of his Son;

the consecration of bread and wine; and participation

in the liturgical banquet by receiving the Lord’s body

and blood. These elements constitute one single act of



The Eucharist is the memorial of Christ’s Passover,

that is, of the work of salvation accomplished by the

life, death, and resurrection of Christ, a work made

present by the liturgical action.


It is Christ himself, the eternal high priest of the New

Covenant who, acting through the ministry of the

priests, offers the Eucharistic sacrifice. And it is the

same Christ, really present under the species of bread

and wine, who is the offering of the Eucharistic sacrifice.


Only validly ordained priests can preside at the Eucha-

rist and consecrate the bread and the wine so that they

become the Body and Blood of the Lord.


The essential signs of the Eucharistic sacrament are

wheat bread and grape wine, on which the blessing of

the Holy Spirit is invoked and the priest pronounces

the words of consecration spoken by Jesus during the

Last Supper: “This is my body which will be given up

for you. . . . This is the cup of my blood. . . .”