The following are excerpts from the document “The Mystery of the Eucharist in the Life of the Church,” developed by the Committee on Doctrine of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops. The full document and a free online course can be found at www.usccb.org/resources/mystery-eucharist-life-church

The pandemic has forced us to stay physically distant from one another and, for a time, to view the celebration of the Mass on a television or computer screen. Many ... having lived without Mass for so long, may have become discouraged or accustomed to life without the Eucharist. In many ways the pandemic is still with us.

The words of the liturgy on the night the Church commemorates the institution of the Eucharist [Holy Thursday] speak to us of the Mass as the re-presentation of Christ’s unique sacrifice on the Cross ...

The salvation offered in the Life, Death, and Resurrection of Christ is nothing less than sharing in the very life of God, in the communion of love among the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. There is no greater gift that God could possibly give us.

In Christ, we are sharers in the divine nature (2 Pt 1:4). … Pope Francis reminds us that “in the bread of the Eucharist ‘creation is projected towards divinization, towards the holy wedding feast, towards unification with the Creator himself.’”

We have abundant experience of evil, yet so many of us deny the cause of much of that evil—our own selfishness, our own sins. ... Without the grace of Christ received at Baptism, strengthened in Confirmation, and nourished by the Eucharist, this selfishness dominates us.

In Christ, however, what was lost by sin has been restored and renewed even more wondrously by grace. … At the Last Supper, celebrating the Passover, Jesus makes explicit that his impending death, freely embraced out of love, is sacrificial.

The Eucharist is a sacrificial meal ... Its fundamental pattern is found in the Jewish celebration of the Passover … At the Last Supper, Jesus reveals himself to be the Paschal Lamb (“Behold the Lamb of God”) whose sacrifice brings liberation from slavery to sin and whose blood marks out a new people belonging to God. All the sacrifices in the Old Testament prefigure and find their fulfillment in the one perfect sacrifice of Jesus.