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The Sacraments Instituted By Christ… The Holy Eucharist As A Sacrament

March 4, 2018 Our Catholic Faith No Comments

By RAYMOND DE SOUZA, KM

Part 18

The greatest thing after receiving the Eucharist in our lifetime is to die and be in Heaven, contemplating God’s infinite beauty. Hence it is of the greatest importance that we understand as much as possible everything we can about the Holy Eucharist — in order to love it and adore it, since it is the Real Presence of Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, the same Divine Person who was conceived in Nazareth, born in Bethlehem, and died and rose again in Jerusalem.
The solemn teaching of the Holy Mother Church is that the Blessed Eucharist is a sacrament. Let us make that clear in order to distinguish it from the Protestant-like ideas that have unfortunately invaded many Catholic circles in the postconciliar era:
The Eucharist is not a community meal, however sacred a meal one may suppose it to be. It is not a beautiful symbol of Christ’s Presence among us, as many would like it to be. It is not a mere memorial of the Last Supper of Christ, which merely re-enacts the ceremony but does not impart any special grace.
No, none of these ideas are true. The Blessed Eucharist is a sacrament, and because it is a sacrament, just like Baptism, Confirmation, Confession and the others, it gives an increase of grace to those who receive it worthily.
Again, “worthily” means to receive it with the right dispositions and in a state of grace.
For us to receive the increase of grace we must be in the state of grace, to be able to receive it worthily. This is a most important aspect of the Holy Eucharist. In St. Paul’s First Letter to the Corinthians, chapter 11, he warns Christians that if they receive the Eucharist unworthily they purchase for themselves judgment and condemnation.
A very serious business indeed! And he goes on to say that unworthy Communions are the cause of illnesses and even death among the people. Let us read the full text to get it loud and clear:
“For I received from the Lord what I also passed on to you: The Lord Jesus, on the night he was betrayed, took bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it and said, ‘This is my body, which is for you; do this in remembrance of me.’ In the same way, after supper he took the cup, saying, ‘This cup is the new covenant in my blood; do this, whenever you drink it, in remembrance of me.’ For whenever you eat this bread and drink this cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until he comes.
“Therefore, whoever eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner will be guilty of sinning against the body and blood of the Lord. A man ought to examine himself before he eats of the bread and drinks of the cup. For anyone who eats and drinks without recognizing the body of the Lord eats and drinks judgment on himself. That is why many among you are weak and sick, and a number of you have fallen asleep” (1 Cor. 11).
If the effects of receiving the Holy Eucharist unworthily bring about judgment, condemnation, illness, and even death, what are the good effects of receiving it worthily? That is a natural question anyone may ask.
Its effects on the Christian soul in state of grace and with the right dispositions resemble that of food on the body, supporting, strengthening, refreshing, and delighting it. It helps us to avoid mortal sin, and to overcome all imperfections.
In our days, when a growing number of people have lost the sense of sin, we need to constantly recall the legislation of the Church about receiving the Holy Eucharist:
You must be a Roman Apostolic Catholic.
You must be in state of grace, that is, you have no mortal sin on your conscience since your last Confession.
All the faithful who have come to the use of reason are bound to receive Holy Communion at least once a year in Paschaltide, and, if possible, at the hour of death.
Previous Confession is necessary for one to receive Holy Communion if one has one or more mortal sins on one’s conscience.
The eucharistic fast means that we must abstain from taking any food one hour before Holy Communion. Water is allowed at any time.
No fast at all is required of the elderly, the sick, and those who are charged with their care. But piety and reverence require that alcohol be avoided beforehand.
In principle, one may not go to Communion in a state of mortal sin, because it would be a sacrilege. But the Church is a Mother, and has also legislated that a person who is conscious of mortal sin may go to Communion: a) if there is a grave reason, such as danger of death; b) it is physically or morally impossible to go to Confession first; c) the penitent has perfect contrition for his sins; d) he resolves to go to Confession as soon as possible.
But such circumstances are rare in our days, where Confession is available and it is extremely seldom that one would have a grave reason to receive Communion.

Ministers Of The
Blessed Sacrament

There is a major difference between the Sacrament of the Blessed Eucharist and the other sacraments, like Baptism, Confirmation, or Confession. Since the Blessed Eucharist is the Body and the Blood of Christ under the appearance of bread and wine, the Real Presence remains all the time, as long as the Sacred Species remain unchanged.
But the other sacraments exist only in the instant of their conferring. They are actions, and therefore transient, whereas the Blessed Eucharist consists in the continued Presence of Christ. It not only gives grace like the other sacraments, but contains the very Author of Grace.
That is why those modernist priests who throw away the unconsumed Hosts also commit a sacrilege, as they throw away the Body and Blood of Jesus Christ. Priests who act in this reprobate manner usually do not believe in the Real Presence, and they think they give a snack of bread to the people in the “masses” that they “celebrate.” But that is another topic, to be dealt with at another time.
Who is the minister of the Blessed Eucharist? There are two: The former and the latter. The former is the priest who confects or consecrates the Blessed Eucharist at Mass; the latter is the priest or deacon who distributes it to the faithful.
Today there are extraordinary ministers of Holy Communion, lay faithful who distribute Communion to the people at Mass. Unfortunately, many times the celebrating priests forget the first word in the title “extraordinary minister of Holy Communion,” and make the lay person an ordinary minister. It should not be so; the extraordinary minister should be there only if there are way too many people and it would take also way too long for the priest to distribute Holy Communion.
Otherwise, it can degenerate into the trendy idea that there is little difference between the clergy and the laity.
Next article: Who can receive the Blessed Sacrament?

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(Raymond de Souza, KM, is a Knight of the Sovereign and Military Order of Malta; a delegate for International Missions for Human Life International [HLI]; and an EWTN program host. Website: www.RaymonddeSouza.com.)

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