The Holy Eucharist is the second step in Christian initiation which began at Baptism. The reception of the Eucharist or Holy Communion allows us to become more firmly united to the Christian community of believers.
The Eucharist is at once both Sacrifice and Sacrament.
‘At the Last Supper, on the night he was betrayed, our Saviour instituted the Eucharistic sacrifice of his Body and Blood. This he did in order to perpetuate the sacrifice of the cross throughout the ages until he should come again, and so to entrust to his beloved Spouse, the Church, a memorial of his death and resurrection: a sacrament of love, a sign of unity, a bond of charity, a Paschal banquet ‘in which Christ is consumed, the mind is filled with grace, and a pledge of future glory is given to us’.
At Mass, the priest celebrates the Sacrifice of the Cross, when he offers the bread and wine to be consecrated through the power of God into the sacrifice of His only Son.
We share in that sacrifice when present at Mass, but we also receive Christ in the sharing of the Eucharistic bread and wine, transformed at the Consecration into the Real Presence of Christ.
When we receive the Eucharist, we are present at that Last Supper, sharing with the Apostles that gift of Christ, Himself, which he has left us.
He has told us that ‘I will not leave you orphans’ and His continuing presence is felt through the consecrated hosts which are left for us in the Tabernacle, and which so many believers venerate through Eucharistic Adoration.
It is through this great Act of sacrifice that we come to share in the continuing presence of Christ amongst us and it is why we venerate and respect the presence of Christ in the tabernacle.