CATECHESIS ON THE HOLY EUCHARIST: PART FIVE

 

EUCHARISTIC LEXICON

 

Part Five of this “Catechesis on the Holy Eucharist” presents some of the words, terms and expressions used in the Catholic Church to describe or refer to the Holy Eucharist or things associated with its celebration. This is not intended to be an exhaustive list by any means.  There is ample literature published or online that can be consulted to supplement this list.

Bread and wine. The physical elements of the Holy Eucharist under whose appearance at every Holy Sacrifice of the Mass become the Body and Blood of Christ, as instituted by the Lord Jesus Christ at the Last Supper.  The bread must be “unleavened” with nothing added and the wine, “true fruit of the vine.”

The Eucharist is the Body and Blood of the Lord Jesus Christ, not merely a sign or symbol or remembrance, first given to us by the Lord Jesus Christ at the Last Supper.

Eucharist is a term that comes from the Greek term “eucharistia,”and means “to give thanks,” the action of the Lord Jesus Christ at the Last Supper’s Passover Meal as recounted in the Gospels.

Transubstantiation is the Catholic Church’s term for the doctrine of faith that explains the Holy Eucharist as the complete substance of bread and wine converted by the power of the Holy Spirit at the words of a priest during the consecration (within the Eucharistic Prayer) of the Holy Mass into the complete substance of Christ’s Body and Blood.

Real Presence is the Catholic Church’s doctrine of faith that the Lord Jesus Christ is fully and entirely present in his Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity under the appearances of bread and wine in the Holy Eucharist.  The Lord Jesus Christ is fully and entirely present at the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, in Holy Communion whenever and wherever it is distributed, and reserved in the tabernacle of a church or chapel.

Eucharist as Mystery of Faith.  A mystery is something that cannot be fully or scientifically explained by human reason alone. The Eucharist as understood and believed in the Catholic Church cannot be fully or scientifically explained but it is fully accessible to faith, hence the Eucharist is a “mystery of faith.”

Eucharist as Sacrifice. "The Eucharist is the very sacrifice of the Body and Blood of the Lord Jesus which he instituted to perpetuate the Sacrifice of the Cross throughout the ages until his return in glory” (Compendium of the Catechism of the Catholic Church, 271). The Eucharist makes present the Sacrifice of the Cross. The Sacrifice of the Cross and the Sacrifice of the Eucharist are one Sacrifice.

Eucharist as Sacrament. A sacrament is a sacred reality instituted by the Lord Jesus Christ to give "grace," which is the free and undeserved help that God gives us to respond to his call to become children of God, partakers in the divine nature and of eternal life. Grace is a participation in the life of God, which is poured unearned into human beings, whom it heals of sin and sanctifies (Catechism of the Catholic Church, 1996-1999).

We recognize that the sacraments have a visible and invisible reality. The visible reality we see in the sacraments is their outward expression, the form they take, and the way in which they are administered and received. The invisible reality we cannot "see" is God's grace, his gracious initiative in redeeming us through the death and Resurrection of his Son (United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, “Sacraments and Sacramentals”). The “visible reality” of the Sacrament of the Holy Eucharist is bread and wine. The “invisible reality” of the Sacrament of the Holy Eucharist is the “Real Presence” of the Lord Jesus Christ, whole and entire.

Eucharist as “Sign of Unity and Charity.” The Holy Eucharist unites the Catholic faithful with the Lord Jesus Christ and, through this union, with one another. In receiving the Holy Eucharist, this unity is not only symbolized but also accomplished in charity. St. Paul writes, “Because there is one bread, we who are many are one body, for we all partake one bread” (1 Corinthians 10:17).

Eucharist as “Pledge of Future Glory.” The Eucharist is described as “a pledge of future glory” because it fills us with every grace and heavenly blessing. It fortifies us for our pilgrimage in this life and makes us long for eternal life. It unites us already to Christ seated at the right hand of the Father, to the Church in heaven and to the Blessed Virgin and all the saints (Compendium of the Catechism of the Catholic Church, 294).

Blessed Sacrament. Another term for the “Real Presence” of the Lord Jesus Christ in the Sacrament of the Holy Eucharist. It is “blessed” because it brings us into direct contact with the holiness of God through the Lord Jesus Christ.

Altar. The altar is a table – the table of the Lord – on which the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass is offered and celebrated (altar of sacrifice) or upon which the tabernacle containing the Blessed Sacrament rests (altar of repose or reservation). The altar of sacrifice is the symbol of Christ himself who is present both as sacrificial victim and as food from heaven which is given to us.

Tabernacle. The tabernacle is the “fixed, locked box” in which the Blessed Sacrament is reserved in a church or chapel.

Sanctuary Lamp. The sanctuary lamp is the wax candle near the tabernacle that remains lit indicating the “Real Presence” of the Lord Jesus Christ within the tabernacle.

Chalice and paten. These are sacred vessels used only at the celebration of the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass. Ordinarily blessed or consecrated by a bishop, the paten holds the bread which will become the Body of Christ and the chalice holds the wine which will become the Blood of Christ.

Ciborium, pyx, monstrance. These are sacred vessels used to contain the Blessed Sacrament in rites of Catholic worship and devotion. The ciborium is the sacred vessel from which Holy Communion is usually distributed at Mass. The pyx is the sacred vessel which holds the Blessed Sacrament for distribution to the Catholic faithful outside of Mass or which is inserted into the monstrance, the sacred vessel which holds the Blessed Sacrament when it is exposed for the worship and adoration of the Catholic faithful.

Genuflection. This is the act of respect, reverence, and worship of the “Real Presence” of the Lord Jesus Christ present on the altar during the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass or present in the tabernacle of a church or chapel. Upon entering a church or chapel, the genuflection involves the bending of the right knee briefly touching the floor, in the direction of the altar or tabernacle. In certain circumstances, a reverent bow of the head may substitute for a genuflection.

Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament. This is the act of worship of the “Real Presence” of Lord Jesus Christ either within the tabernacle of a church or chapel or when exposed on the altar for devotion.

Benediction of the Blessed Sacrament. This is the Catholic ritual of worship of the Blessed Sacrament, composed of exposition of the sacred host accompanied by hymns and prayers and concluding with the blessing with the Blessed Sacrament.

Viaticum. The administration of the Eucharist to the dying, often accompanied by the Sacrament of the Anointing of the Sick.

Ministers of the Eucharist. The Holy Sacrifice of the Mass may only be celebrated by a validly ordained Catholic bishop or priest who distributes the Eucharist to the Catholic faithful as its “ordinary minister.” A validly ordained deacon may assist in the distribution of the Eucharist, within or outside of Mass. In virtue of his ordination, he is also considered an “ordinary minister.” Baptized Catholic members of the laity may also be commissioned or authorized to distribute the Eucharist within or outside of Mass as “extraordinary ministers.”

Worthy reception of the Eucharist.  Aware that the Holy Eucharist is the very Body and Blood of the Lord Jesus Christ, baptized members of the Catholic Church are invited to receive the Holy Eucharist (Holy Communion) if they are in the “state of grace,” that is, not conscious of having committed serious or mortal sin prior to Eucharistic reception without the benefit of first receiving the Sacrament of Penance by confessing their sins to a priest with a firm purpose or intention of amendment and receiving sacramental absolution. 

St. Paul writes, “whoever eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord unworthily will have to answer for the body and blood of the Lord. A person should examine himself, and so eat the bread and drink the cup. For anyone who eats and drinks without discerning the body, eats and drinks judgment on himself” (1 Corinthians 11:27-29). To receive the Eucharist worthily, baptized members of the Catholic Church should believe in the Eucharist as the Catholic Church teaches, should prepare themselves spiritually to receive the Eucharist, and should observe the proper Eucharistic fast (no solid food or beverages other than water or medicine for one hour prior to receiving Holy Communion). Illness excuses an individual from the Eucharistic fast.

Eucharistic miracles. A miracle is any event that cannot be explained by the laws of nature or science. For Catholics, miracles are usually attributed to the intervention of God. “Eucharistic miracles” are those phenomena that involve the Eucharist.

TLM (“The Latin Mass”) also referred to as usus antiquior or “extraordinary form of the Mass” describes the celebration of the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass in Latin according to the 1962 Roman Missal.

Novus Ordo (“New Order”) refers to the celebration of the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass in Latin or vernacular languages according to the 1970 Roman Missal, revised in 2011.