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
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. . . .”