Lesson 22: The Sacrament of the Holy Eucharist (Holy Communion)
"I am the bread of life.  Your fathers did eat manna in the desert, and are dead.  This is the bread which cometh down from Heaven; that if any man eat of it, he may not die.  I am the living bread which came down from Heaven.  If any man eat of this bread, he shall live forever; and the bread that I will give, is My flesh, for the life of the world."
   "The Jews therefore strove among themselves, saying:  How can this man give us His flesh to eat?"
   "Then Jesus said to them:  Amen, amen I say unto you:  Except you eat the flesh of the Son of man, and drink His blood, you shall not have life in you.  He that eateth My flesh, and drinketh My blood, hath everlasting life:  and I will raise Him up in the last day."
   "For My flesh is meat indeed:  and My blood is drink indeed.  He that eateth My flesh, and drinketh My blood, abideth in Me, and I in him.  As the living Father hath sent Me, and I live by the Father; so he that eateth Me, the same also shall live by Me.  This is the bread that came down from Heaven.  Not as your fathers did eat manna, and are dead.  He that eateth this bread, shall live forever.  These things he said, teaching in the synagogue, in Capharnaum." 
(John 6:48-60)
JESUS INSTITUTES THE EUCHARIST
"And whilst they were at supper, Jesus took bread, and blessed, and broke:  and gave to His disciples, and said:  Take ye, and eat.  This is My body.  And taking the chalice, He gave thanks, and gave to them, saying:  Drink ye all of this.  For this is My blood of the new testament, which shall be shed for many unto the remission of sins."  (Matthew 26:26-28)

  1. What is the Holy Eucharist?

  2.    The Holy Eucharist is the Sacrament in which Jesus Christ is really and physically present under the appearances of bread and wine.
    "The chalice of benediction, which we bless, is it not the communion of the blood of Christ?  And the bread, which we break, is it not the partaking of the body of the Lord?"    (1 Corinthians 10:16)

  3. Why is it also called "the Blessed Sacrament"?

  4.    Because it is the most blessed of all the Sacraments, since it is Jesus Christ Himself.

  5. When did Jesus make this Sacrament?

  6.    At the Last Supper, on the night before He died.

  7. How could Jesus change bread and wine into His Body and Blood?

  8.    Jesus Christ is God and therefore can do anything.

  9. Did the bread and wine change their appearance?

  10.    No, the appearances of the bread and wine (taste, smell, color, size, shape, weight) did not change, even though the bread and wine were actually changed into the Body and Blood of Jesus.
    The entire substance of the bread and wine are changed into the substance of the Body and Blood of Jesus; thus the bread and wine no longer exist.  This change is called Transubstantiation.

  11. Are both the Body and Blood of Christ present under the appearances of bread alone?

  12.    Yes, it is the living Christ who is present; that is, His Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity are present both under the appearance of bread and under the appearance of wine.

  13. Did Jesus give anyone the power of changing bread and wine into His body and Blood?

  14.    Yes, to His twelve Apostles at the Last Supper, when He told them, "Do this for a commemoration of me."

  15. Did Jesus ordain that His Apostles hand this power down to others?

  16.    Yes, because He wanted all men to eat His Flesh and drink His Blood.
    "Amen, amen, I say to you:  Except you eat the flesh of the Son of man, and drink His blood, you shall not have life in you."    (John 6:54)  (Here, "Life" means Sanctifying Grace.)

  17. How did the Apostles hand down this power?

  18.    They handed it down by making other men priests and bishops through the Sacrament of Holy Orders.  (See Lesson 28).

  19. When does the priest change bread and wine into the Body and Blood of Jesus Christ?

  20.    At Mass, when he says, "This is My Body," and "This is the chalice of My Blood..."

  21. Where is the Blessed Sacrament kept?

  22.    In a little safe (called a tabernacle) on the altar.
    "And my tabernacle shall be with them, and I will be their God, and they shall be my people."    (Ezechiel 37:27)

  23. What is Holy Communion?

  24.    Receiving the Body and Blood, soul and divinity of Jesus Christ in the Holy Eucharist.

  25. What is necessary to receive Holy Communion worthily?

    1. You have to be a baptized Catholic...
    2. have no mortal sin on your soul...
    3. be fasting.

  26. Do you have to go to Confession first every time you receive Communion?

  27.    No, unless you have mortal sin on your soul.

  28. What kind of sin is it to receive Communion unworthily?

  29.    To do so knowingly and willingly is a mortal sin called a sacrilege.

  30. What does "fasting" mean?

  31.    "Fasting" means that, for one hour before receiving Communion, you have to stop eating solid food and drinking all liquids except water.
    You may take water, and if sick, medicine any time before receiving.  You must stop chewing gum at least one hour before.  Until the 1950s, the Church required fasting from midnight before Communion; this rule was later shortened to three hours for food and one hour for liquids (with water being allowed at any time); then it was changed to one hour for food and drink, except water.  It is very praiseworthy to continue observing the traditional fast either from midnight or for three hours.

  32. How often do you have to receive Communion?

  33.    At least once a year, during the Easter Season, that is, any time from the 6th Sunday before Easter to the 8th Sunday after Easter.  This is called your Easter Duty.
    The 6th Sunday before Easter is called the First Sunday of Lent; the 8th Sunday after Easter is called Trinity Sunday.

  34. What kind of sin is it to miss your Easter Duty?

  35.    A mortal sin.

  36. How often does a good Catholic receive Communion?

  37.    A good Catholic receives Communion every Sunday, or every day, if possible, but only once on the same day.
    [The 1917 Code at cc 857, 858 1 allowed the reception of holy communion a second time on the same day if in danger of death or in order to avoid irreverence to the blessed Eucharist.]

  38. What does Holy communion do for your soul?

  39.    It makes the Sanctifying Grace in your soul grow.
    "Except you eat the flesh of the Son of man, and drink His blood, you shall not have life in you."    (John 6:54)

  40. What else does Communion do for you?

    1. Communion unites you with Jesus.
    2. "He that eateth My flesh, and drinketh My blood, abideth in Me and I in him."    (John 6:57)
    3. It is food for your soul, to help you love God and obey His laws.
    4. "Give us this day our daily bread."    (Luke 11:3)
    5. It is a promise of your resurrection and future glory in Heaven.
    6. "He that eateth My flesh, and drinketh My blood hath everlasting life:  and I will raise him up in the last day."    (John 6:55)
    7. It weakens your sinful inclinations.
PRACTICAL POINTS

  1. Ordinarily, you receive communion during Mass. However, the priest may bring you Communion when you are sick at home or in the hospital.
  2. Communion is called Viaticum when received when a person is in danger of death.
  3. After receiving Communion, you should spend some time praying to Our Lord, adoring Him, thanking Him, loving Him, and asking His help.
  4. You are not forbidden to receive Communion with venial sins on your soul, but you are advised to recite the Confiteor or the Act of Contrition before receiving.