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The Eucharist Defined

The Term

Eucharist is expressed in countless names owing to its beauty, mystery, and salvific complexity.  Some titles by which it is known are the Liturgy;[*] the Holy Mass[†]; the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass; the Memorial of the Last Supper; a feast; a banquet; the Breaking of the Bread; our Daily Bread; the Spiritual Food; the Bread of Life; a thanksgiving; the Eulogia;[‡] the sacramental re-presentation of the passion, death, and resurrection; the body, blood, soul, and divinity of Christ; the Most Holy Eucharist; the Eucharistic assembly, or Synaxis;[§] Holy Communion; the Holy of Holies; the Sacrament of the Altar; the Sacrament of Sacraments; the source of charity;[**] and of course, the source and summit of Christian life.  Mother Church’s doctrine on the Most Holy Eucharist has been developed to this point over a span of two millennia and the topic deserves a multi-volume series of books.  Yet, a brief introduction to the meaning and significance of it is more than obligatory in a book about the Mass.

The word eucharist originates from ancient Greek[††] and has been used throughout Christian history as well as in Sacred Scripture (the Bible).  Derived from eucharistia (also rendered eukharistia), it generally means “to give thanks,” or “thanksgiving,” as eu is equivalent to the word “well” and kharistia to “offer graciously.”[1]  It is used throughout the Old and New Testaments to denote giving thanks to God and throughout Christian history when addressing what is currently known as the Mass and the sacrament it celebrates.

The Old Testament

The Old Testament has many and varied uses of the word eucharist.  Most of these instances simply pertain to giving thanks to the Lord but some take on a ceremonial and even sacrificial nature. 

As the term means thanksgiving, it is no wonder that it would be used throughout to thank the Lord for His gifts and blessings.  In The Book of Psalms (book of praise), the psalmist, who writes of the times determined to be between ~722 B.C. and 107 B.C., writes in this manner in Psalm 100:

              A psalm of thanksgiving.

Shout joyfully to the LORD, all you lands; …

Enter his gates with thanksgiving,

    his courts with praise.

Give thanks to him, bless his name…[2]

Another example, given in The Book of Isaiah pertaining to events of the early sixth century, is:

Yes, the LORD shall comfort Zion,

    shall comfort all her ruins;

Her wilderness he shall make like Eden,

    her wasteland like the garden of the LORD;

Joy and gladness shall be found in her,

    thanksgiving and the sound of song.[3]

This thanksgiving also hinted of ceremonial purposes in the Jewish literature of antiquity.  Upon celebrating their return to Jerusalem (~538-445 B.C.) after the Babylonian exile (~597-539 B.C.), the books of Ezra and Nehemiah give voice to such ceremonies tied to the rebuilding of the city and its temple:

    At the dedication of the wall of Jerusalem, the Levites were sought out wherever they lived and were brought to Jerusalem to celebrate a joyful dedication with thanksgiving hymns and the music of cymbals, harps, and lyres;[4]


They alternated in songs of praise and thanksgiving to the LORD, “for he is good, for his love for Israel endures forever;” and all the people raised a great shout of joy, praising the LORD because the foundation of the LORD’s house had been laid.[5]

Turning again to the Psalms, a ceremonial thanksgiving is found in Psalm 42 where the psalmist longs to join worship liturgies in the temple at Jerusalem:

Those times I recall

    as I pour out my soul,

When I would cross over to the shrine of the Mighty One,

    to the house of God,

Amid loud cries of thanksgiving,

    with the multitude keeping festival.[6]

 Most significantly, however, the term eucharist is used by the ancient Jewish authors to denote a sacrificial thanksgiving.  Alluded to in The Book of Jonah (written in the fifth century B.C.), is a thankful sacrifice in which Jonah will partake should God save him from the belly of a giant fish:

But I, with thankful voice,

    will sacrifice to you;

What I have vowed I will pay:

  deliverance is from the LORD.[7]

From this prophetical story comes the indication of a thanksgiving sacrifice, but in The Book of Leviticus (which documents events believed to have occurred between 1272 and 1442 B.C.) is found unquestionable evidence of God’s want for sacrifices.  This is how eucharist is used in the thanksgiving sacrifice described in there:

“This is the ritual for the communion sacrifice that is offered to the LORD.  If someone offers it for thanksgiving, that person shall offer it with unleavened cakes mixed with oil, unleavened wafers spread with oil, and cakes made of bran flour mixed with oil and well kneaded.  One shall present this offering together with loaves of leavened bread along with the thanksgiving communion sacrifice.  From this the individual shall offer one bread of each type of offering as a contribution to the LORD; this shall belong to the priest who splashes the blood of the communion offering. 

The meat of the thanksgiving communion sacrifice shall be eaten on the day it is offered…”[8]

In all these instances, the term used to give thanks is a form of the word eucharist.  So we can see that from the beginning of Revelation[‡‡] the word eucharist had been used in Sacred Scripture to convey thanksgiving.  It is a word with lasting and deep meaning which stretches from the creation of time to that of Jesus.  The Lord, in His divine Providence, had used eucharist to prepare His people for the thanksgiving offerings and sacrifice of His only Son who completes the Revelation in The New Testament. 

The New Testament

Like the Testament of Old, the term eucharista, can be found throughout the New Testament.  There however, the word derives a new meaning assuming a sacrificial and sacramental nature as found in the Last Supper and the Bread of Life Discourse.  It is this understanding of the term that is most relevant, thus it is this usage the following selections provide.  

The apostle, Paul, has the privilege of penning the first extant usage of the word in The New Testament.  Written ~A.D. 56, shortly after leaving the Corinthian Christians, Paul’s First Letter to the Corinthians, retells the events of The Last Supper as follows:

For I received from the Lord what I also handed on to you, that the Lord Jesus, on the night he was handed over, took bread, and, after he had given thanks, broke it and said, “This is my body that is for you.  Do this in remembrance of me.”[9] 

Next, written ~A.D. 65-70 to gentile Christians, The Gospel According to Mark, relays the Last Supper in this manner: 

While they were eating, he took bread, said the blessing, broke it, and gave it to them, and said, “Take it; this is my body.”  Then he took a cup, gave thanks, and gave it to them, and they all drank from it.[10] 

The Gospel According to Matthew, written to Jewish Christians ~A.D. 70-90, memorializes the same event in the twenty-sixth chapter:

While they were eating, Jesus took bread, said the blessing, broke it, and giving it to his disciples said, “Take and eat; this is my body.”  Then he took a cup, gave thanks, and gave it to them, saying, “Drink from it, all of you, for this is my blood of the covenant, which will be shed on behalf of many for the forgiveness of sins.”[11] 

Again, The Gospel According to Luke, written within the same time frame as Matthew, conveys to Greek Christians the meal before Jesus’ betrayal as such:

Then he took a cup, gave thanks, and said, “Take this and share it among yourselves; for I tell you [that] from this time on I shall not drink of the fruit of the vine until the kingdom of God comes.”  Then he took the bread, said the blessing, broke it, and gave it to them, saying, “This is my body, which will be given for you; do this in memory of me.”[12]

In The Gospel According to John, written to all Christians ~A.D. 90-100, the Last Supper narrative does not include the institution of the Eucharist.  Though, the Eucharistic theme is present in The Multiplication of the Loaves where Jesus feeds over five-thousand persons with five loaves of bread and two fish.  It is tied closely to the Bread of Life Discourse which appears shortly after it in which Jesus reveals that the multiplication of the loaves filled stomach, but He, the bread of life, will fill the soul with eternal life.  The term eucharist is found as Jesus prepares to multiply the loaves:

Jesus said, “Have the people recline.”  Now there was a great deal of grass in that place.  So the men reclined, about five thousand in number.  Then Jesus took the loaves, gave thanks, and distributed them to those who were reclining, and also as much of the fish as they wanted.[13]

In these accounts of The Last Supper and The Multiplication of the Loaves, as in The Old Testament, the word used for giving thanks is, in the original Greek, a form of the term eucharist.[§§]  It is here, in these New Testament passages, that we find the transition from the many blood offerings of beasts for various reasons to the one blood offering of Christ’s body and blood.[***]  While maintaining its original meaning and purpose, eucharist takes on a new sacrificial and salvific nature in the body of Christ which is now to be consumed.  Thus, the term is found in the New Testament with the full meaning of what we today call the Most Holy Eucharist.

The Extra-Biblical Usage

The term was also used by the first Christians outside of the documents that would eventually be deemed Sacred Scripture by the Catholic Church.[†††]  It is important to realize something which is often not considered when reading Holy Scripture.  The Gospels and Apostolic epistles are historical documents and there were other contemporaneous works which did not find their way into the Sacred Cannon.

Jesus’ life spanned some thirty-three years from ~7-5 B.C. to ~A.D. 26-28[‡‡‡] and are memorialized by the Gospels which were written from ~A.D. 65 to ~110.  Some of the events of the Church directly following His ascension up to the first quarter of the second century are captured by the letters of the apostles, their close companions, or later disciples in the remaining books of the New Testament.  Other events of Christianity were captured by the first Christians who wrote about the same timeframe as the Sacred Authors, but whose works do not hold pages in the Bible.  Sacred Scripture is infallibly the work of God conveyed through the Holy Spirit and written by a human author,[14] but the extra-biblical texts, which do not come close to holding such authority, can be used to fill-in the blanks and determine what the true interpretation of Scripture is. 

A look at the timing of these writings will illustrate just how much Scripture and extra-biblical history are chronologically intermingled.  The first New Testament book written is commonly agreed to be Paul’s Letter to the Galatians, authored ~A.D. 48-55 and the last is probably The Second Letter of Peter, which is believed to have been written sometime after A.D. 125.  As we will soon see, the first extant extra-biblical writings of the Christian fathers appear around A.D. 80-110, right in the middle of this time period.  The Sacred texts and extra-biblical writings often complement each other and taken together, give us the full knowledge and understanding of meanings of Christ’s teachings.  What then do the extra-biblical works tell us about the understanding of the term, eucharist

Even before Christianity bore the name Catholic, the word eucharist was used to address the communal assemblage of Christians which took place  on “the first day of the week when [they] gathered to break bread;”[15] devote “themselves to the teaching of the apostles and…[to] prayers;”[16] memorialize The Last Supper; and recall the passion, death, and resurrection of our Savior.  The aforementioned Didache, written less than 80 years after Jesus assumed His seat at the Father’s right hand, speaks of a “Thanksgiving (Eucharistic)” service in which bread and wine are blessed, the “broken bread” and “spiritual food” is consumed, and a “pure sacrifice” is offered to the Lord.[17] 

Ignatius of Antioch, en-route to his martyrdom ~A.D. 107, not only gives the name Catholic to Christ’s Church[§§§] in an epistle to the Smyrnaeans, but also adjoins the term eucharist to the natural body of Christ.  Speaking of those who would spout heresy, he says “they confess not the Eucharist to be the flesh of our Saviour Jesus Christ”[18] and recommends that these persons be avoided and not spoken of.  In the following chapter, he demands that a “proper Eucharist” should only be “[administered] either by the bishop, or by one to whom he has entrusted it” for “[i]t is not lawful without the bishop…to celebrate a love-feast.”[19]  In the same timeframe, he wrote another letter warning the people of Philadelphia about “schismatics” adding a sacrificial tone to his celebration of the Eucharist.  In it, Ignatius recommends holding “but one Eucharist.  For there is one flesh of our Lord Jesus Christ, and one cup to [show forth] the unity of His blood; one altar.”[20]  Decades before the last book of the Bible was to be written, before Christ’s Church was officially known as Catholic, and less than a hundred years after the life of Jesus, Ignatius of Antioch uses the term eucharist to indicate the bread consecrated into flesh and conjoins it to the ceremony which officiates the transformation. 

In ~A.D. 155, Justin Martyr, writes of the food called “the Eucharist” which is “blessed by the prayer of His word” and becomes the “flesh and blood of that Jesus who was made flesh.”[21]  “[O]n the day called Sunday,” he continues, all “gather together to one place, and the memoirs of the apostles or the writings of the prophets are read…”[22]  The presider of the ceremony, then “verbally instructs, and exhorts to the imitation of these good things.”[23]  Bread and wine are presented over which the priest “offers prayers and thanksgivings,”[24] consecrating the gifts which are then distributed to and consumed by those worthy.   In The Dialogue with Trypho, an A.D. 150-160 conversation St. Justin had with a prominent Jew, he again speaks of the Eucharist illuminating its sacrificial and salvific aspects.  The Eucharist, he proclaims, is “the celebration of which our Lord Jesus Christ prescribed, in remembrance of the suffering which He endured on behalf of those who are purified…in order that we may at the same time thank God.”[25]  During this celebration and remembrance, Christians also “offer sacrifices to Him, i.e., the bread of the Eucharist, and also the cup of the Eucharist.”[26]  Firmly seated here in Christian history, is the usage of the term eucharist applied to the body and blood of Christ and, in a more direct way than Ignatius, the Mass itself.

Such writings can be found throughout the time of Justin Martyr, into the era of his successor Fathers of the Church, and eventually the term eucharist found its way into the official language of the Church as a whole.   Hippolytus’ Apostolic Traditions (~A.D. 215), warns that “All shall be careful so that no unbeliever tastes of the eucharist, nor a mouse or other animal, nor that any of it falls and is lost.  For it is the Body of Christ, to be eaten by those who believe, and not to be scorned.”[27]  Origen’s Contra Celsum (~A.D. 248), relays that Christians “are much more concerned lest we should be ungrateful to God….And we have a symbol of gratitude to God in the bread which we call the Eucharist.”[28]  The Council of Nicea (A.D. 325), concerned about the worthiness of individuals in receiving the body and blood, ruled that “any dying person whatsoever asking to receive the Eucharist” may receive it upon the Bishop’s approval.[29]  Having also learned of some deacons administering the Eucharist to presbyters, the Council held that they should “receive the Eucharist according to their order, after the presbyters, and let either the bishop or the presbyter administer to them.”[30]  Cyril of Jerusalem, ~A.D. 350, taught that “the Bread and Wine of the Eucharist” are common bread and wine before the consecration, but afterwards “the Bread becomes the Body of Christ, and the Wine the Blood of Christ.”[31]  

By the 16th century, eucharist had become fully integrated and commonly used in the Church.  The Council of Trent, which bridged eighteen years from its beginning in A.D. 1545 to its final session in 1563 dealt extensively with the Eucharist as we understand it today and publically proclaimed it for the centuries to come.  Its thirteenth session (1551), in its “Decree Concerning the Most Holy Sacrament of the Eucharist,” aimed to “pluck up by the roots those tares of execrable errors and schisms, with which the enemy hath… oversown the doctrine of the faith, in the use and worship of the sacred and holy Eucharist,”[32] and asserted the following beliefs:

With “the Sacred Eucharist…our Savior left in His Church as a symbol of that unity and charity with which He wished all Christians to be mutually bound and united;”[33]

“[I]n the august sacrament of the holy Eucharist, after the consecration of the bread and wine, our Lord Jesus Christ, true God and man, is truly, really, and substantially contained under the species of those sensible things;”[34]

“[O]ur Savior…instituted this sacrament, in which He poured forth…the riches of His divine love towards men, making a remembrance of his wonderful works, and commanded us in the participation of it to reverence His memory and to show forth his death until he comes to judge the world;”[35]

There exists an “excellence of The Most Holy Eucharist over the other sacraments” because “immediately after the consecration the true body and the true blood of our Lord, together with His soul and divinity exist under the form of bread and wine;”[36]

Transubstantiation[****] is the name given to the change which takes place when “the whole substance of the bread [changes] into the substance of the body of Christ our Lord, and of the whole substance of the wine [changes] into the substance of His blood;”[37]

And, reaffirmed the two proclamations of Eucharistic reception for the sick[38] and “that no one, conscious to himself of mortal sin…ought to approach to the sacred Eucharist without previous sacramental confession,”[39] first given in Nicea.   

The venerable council, after defining exactly what the Eucharist is, next turned to the Mass itself.  In the twenty-second session, in 1562, striving to protect the “perfect faith and teaching regarding the great mystery of the Eucharist in the Catholic Church,” from “errors and heresies,” the Bishops issued the “Doctrine Concerning the Sacrifice of the Mass.”[40]  It reiterated that Jesus established the Mass by perfecting in Himself the priesthood of the order of Melchisedech, replacing the Old Testament sacrifice of burnt offerings with that of His on the cross, and appointing the Apostles, the “priests of the New Testament,” to carry on His remembrance.[41]  The “divine sacrifice which is celebrated in the mass” is timeless and is a prayer offered to the Father which benefits “the faithful who are living…[and] those departed in Christ but not yet fully purified”[42] (i.e. those in Purgatory).  It claims the cannon of the Mass consists “partly of the very words of the Lord, partly of the traditions of the Apostles, and also of pious regulations of holy pontiffs” which are designed in such a manner to “raise up to God the minds of those who offer.”[43]  So too are the rites of the Mass which:

in accordance with apostolic discipline and tradition, made use of ceremonies…whereby both the majesty of so great a sacrifice might be emphasized and the minds of the faithful excited by those visible signs of religion and piety to the contemplation of those most sublime things which are hidden in this sacrifice.[44]

Finally, “the holy council command[ed] pastors and all who have the cura animarum [loosely translated the care of souls] that they…explain frequently…some of the things read during the mass, and…some mystery of this most holy sacrifice.”[45]

These are the nascent undercurrents we see in today’s use of eucharist.  Should someone, after the passage of over four centuries from Trent and two millennia from Christ, choose to scour current Church doctrine for the term, he would find it used in all the same, but refreshed ways.  The Catechism, quoting from Eucharisticum Mysterium, says that the “‘Eucharist is the efficacious sign and sublime cause of that communion in the divine life’”[46] in speaking of the body of Christ while the next passage acknowledges it as the Mass: “by the Eucharistic celebration we already unite ourselves with the heavenly liturgy and anticipate eternal life….”[47]  Pope Francis, in Evangelii Gaudium (2013), restated that “Jesus leaves us the Eucharist as the Church’s daily remembrance of, and deeper sharing in, the event of his Passover,” referring to consecrated host; and in the same document uses it in reference to the assembly: “God’s word, listened to and celebrated, above all in the Eucharist, nourishes and inwardly strengthens Christians, enabling them to offer an authentic witness to the Gospel in daily life.”[48] 

Outside of Sacred Scripture, we can see that the use of the term continues in an unbroken line throughout the bimillenary history of Christianity.  Before the various books of the Bible were officially formed into the cannon,  eucharist had been used in a liturgical and sacramental fashion by the earliest Christians.  This usage continued through the various eras of God’s Church and is unchanged in the one, holy, universal, and apostolic Church of the modern-day.  The contemporary understanding is only more fulfilled as the Holy Spirit has worked, through the Church, to deepen the understanding of what the term and its meaning really is.

One may notice there is a bit of difficulty in differentiating the Eucharistic Host from the Eucharistic celebration; that is, the body of Christ in the appearance of bread from the ceremony commemorating Jesus’ sacrifice and consecrating the host.  This is precisely because the two cannot be separated.  The celebration of the Mass forms a gateway from Heaven directly to earth.  This gateway is the mechanism the Spirit has chosen to use to transubstantiate the bread to the body of Christ.  The Eucharistic celebration can only be performed by an apostolic priest who professes this Eucharistic truth and via the ceremony popularly known as the Catholic Mass. 

Simply put, the word eucharist has come to mean the body of Christ.  It is both the body of Christ to be consumed under the species of bread and wine and the body of Christ in which we partake in communal worship, remembrance, and sacrifice in the Mass.  Just as Jesus is both human-being in possession of a soul and God as a member of the Holy Trinity, the Eucharistic host is the body and divinity of Christ.  And just as Jesus is the merger of the earthly and heavenly, the Eucharistic celebration is the merger of the world and Heaven, the created and the Creator.  Finally, as the Eucharistic celebration connects Heaven and earth and the Eucharistic Host connects the body of our Lord with the bodies of man, so too the Eucharist connects us to the source and summit of Christianity.

[*] From the ancient Greek leitourgia, roughly translated as a public service and in Jewish and Christian spheres it is known as a religious service of the Temple or Church respectively.  cf. The Catholic Encyclopedia Online, s.v. “Liturgy,” (accessed March 29, 2018).

[†] Mass was first used to name the celebration of the Eucharist by St. Ambrose in the late fourth century.  The term originates from the Latin missa meaning “a dismissal” and pertains to being sent out to preach the gospel. Cf The Catholic Encyclopedia Online, s.v. “Sacrifice of the Mass.”

[‡] Eulogia originates from ancient Greek and means “a blessing.”  In some early writings of the Church Fathers it was used as synonymous with the Eucharist but more commonly is understood as bread blessed but not consecrated. cf. The Catholic Encyclopedia Online, s.v. “Eulogia.”

[§] From the ancient Greek synago, meaning a gathering or assembly—usually in a religious context—and related to synagogue, the Jewish temple.  cf. The Catholic Encyclopedia, s.v. “Synaxis.”

[**] Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI, explains the word charity, originates from the Latin caritas which means love and originates “in God, Eternal Love and Absolute Truth.”  Thus, it is from Christ, through reception of the Eucharist, that one receives the grace to be charitable in its complete understanding. cf. Benedict XVI, Caritas in Veritate, June 29, 2009, The Vatican, 1, (accessed March 22, 2018).  

[††] The oldest extant writings of the books of the Bible are found in Hebrew, Greek, or Aramaic.  These documents have been dated to 1000 B.C. for some Old Testament writings and A.D. 125-150 for the latest New Testament book (2 Peter).  The Old Testament was translated from its original Hebrew or Aramaic to a more popular language known as Koine Greek ~200 B.C. and is known as the Septuagint.  Though it is believed that portions of the New Testament were written in Aramaic, the earliest extant copies are found in this form of ancient Greek.  As Latin became the language of the Church the Bible was translated into a Latin version known as the Vulgate in the late 4th century.  Thus, the Bible has words rooted in Hebrew and Greek while the extra-Biblical Church language is rooted in Latin.  Modern translations of the New Testament, however, are derived from the original Greek, which illustrates the importance of the Greek derivatives throughout the Bible as will be observed.   

[‡‡] Revelation, in the Christian sense, is God’s voluntary and gradual communication to man of His existence, His creation of the natural world—including us—and His divine plan for man.  This revelation came in stages beginning with creation, the covenants with the fathers of the Old Testament, and through Jesus Christ in the New Testament.  The transmission of this Revelation is continued through Sacred Scripture (Bible) and Apostolic Tradition (Catholic Church) guided by the Holy Spirit.  cf. Catechism, par. 50-100.

[§§] Additionally, in the synoptic versions of The Last Supper, giving the blessing over the bread is one in the same as giving thanks as the blessing was the giving of thanks. Therefore, even though the word eucharistia is not explicitly used with regards to the bread, it has the same meaning in the text when taken in context. See Mt 14:n14:19; Mt 26:n27-28; Mt 15:n15:36; Mk 14:n14:24 (The New American Bible, Revised Edition). 

[***] Moses era Jews offered sacrifices in atonement for sins, joyful worship, giving thanks to the Lord, purification of sins and impurity, and reparation or penance for their sins.  Jesus’ one, final, and perfect sacrifice of His own body and blood have made these previous sacrifices inefficacious and grants eternal life.

[†††] Nowhere in the Bible does it state “these are the books that are considered Sacred Scripture.”  During Jesus’ time the books of the Old Testament had not been agreed upon by the different Jewish sects and the New Testament books had not been written.  The 73 books of the Bible that Catholics possess today were proclaimed in the Synod of Rome (A.D. 382), re-affirmed by the councils of Carthage (A.D. 397), and again in the Second Council of Carthage (A.D. 419).  Protestants however, use versions of the Bible first altered by Martin Luther during the Protestant Reformation by placing seven books, considered sacred for over a thousand years, into the appendix.

[‡‡‡] In the fifth century, a Catholic monk named Dionysius, attempted to calculate the birth of Jesus and renumber the years based on the event.  Anno Domini (A.D., meaning “the year of the Lord”) was applied to the year of His birth and those following while those prior were designated Before Christ (B.C.).  His calculations were incorrect however, and most scholars hold Jesus’ birth to between 7-5 B.C.  cf. Dan Alexandru Streza, “Historical Considerations Regarding the Birth Date of Our Lord,” Revista Teologica 23, no.1 (January, 2013): 50-60.

[§§§] In the immediate aftermath of Jesus’ resurrection and the ensuing evangelization, there were no divisions in Christianity and thus there was one unnamed “Church of Christ.”  It was not until heretical sects had emerged that a name was needed for the Church which stayed true to Christ.  Ignatius, then Bishop of Antioch, addressed this Church as Catholic, a word derived from the Greek katholikos, meaning universal.  From thence on, the one, holy, catholic (universal), and apostolic Church founded by Christ has been known as the Catholic Church.

[****] The root word, substance, originates from the Latin substantia, meaning “being or essence.”  It is used in the Aristotelian philosophical sense as the nature of a thing.  Our observations of the object or event, the accidents, may vary, but the nature of the thing or event, its substance, is separate.  In this respect, after the Host is consecrated, God mystically alters its substance from that of bread to that of Christ’s body, blood, soul, and divinity.  The accidents our senses observe, however, remain those of bread. cf. The Catholic Encyclopedia, s.v. “Substance,” (accessed July 26, 2018).

[1] English Oxford Living Dictionaries, s.v. “Eucharist,” (accessed March 22, 2018).

[2] Ps 100:1, 4 (The New American Bible, Revised Edition).

[3] Is 51:3 (The New American Bible, Revised Edition).

[4] Neh 12:27 (The New American Bible, Revised Edition).

[5] Ezr 3:11 (The New American Bible, Revised Edition).

[6] Ps 42:5 (The New American Bible, Revised Edition).

[7] Jon 2:10 (The New American Bible, Revised Edition).

[8] Lv 7:11-5 (The New American Bible, Revised Edition).

[9] 1 Cor 11:23-24 (The New American Bible, Revised Edition).

[10] Mk 14:22-23 (The New American Bible, Revised Edition).

[11] Mt 26:26-28 (The New American Bible, Revised Edition).

[12] Lk 22:17-19 (The New American Bible, Revised Edition).

[13] Jn 6:10-11 (The New American Bible, Revised Edition).

[14] John Paul II, Catechism of the Catholic Church, (Vatican), (accessed May 3, 2018), par. 105-8.

[15] Acts 20:7 (The New American Bible, Revised Edition).

[16] Acts 2:42 (The New American Bible, Revised Edition).

[17] The Didache: The Lord’s Teaching Through the Twelve Apostles to the Nations,, (accessed March 22, 2018), chap. 9-10.

[18] St. Ignatius, The Epistle of Ignatius to the Smyrnaeans,, (accessed March 23, 2018), chap. 7.

[19] Ibid., chap. 8.

[20] St. Ignatius, The Epistle of Ignatius to the Philadelphians,, (accessed March 23, 2018), chap. 4.

[21] St. Justin Martyr, The First Apology,, (accessed March 29, 2018), chap. 66.

[22] Ibid., chap. 67.

[23] Ibid.

[24] Ibid., chap. 67.

[25] St. Justin Martyr, The Dialogue with Typho,, (accessed March 22, 2018), chap. 41.

[26] Ibid.

[27] St Hippolytus of Rome, The Apostolic Tradition of Hippolytus of Rome, (accessed September 20, 2018), chap. 37.

[28] Origen, Contra Celsum,, (accessed December 14, 2021), book 8, chap. 57.

[29] First Council of Nicea,, (accessed December 14, 2021), cannon 13.

[30] Ibid., cannon 18.

[31] Saint Cyril of Jerusalem, The Catechetical Lectures,, (accessed December 14, 2021), lecture 19, 7.

[32] Council of Trent, “Session XIII: Decree Concerning The Most Holy Sacrament of the Eucharist,” October 11, 1551,, (accessed March 31, 2018), Prologue.

[33] Council of Trent, “Session II: Decree Touching the Manner of Living, and Other Matters to be Observed, During the Council,” January 7, 1546,, (accessed March 31, 2018), Prologue.

[34] Council of Trent, “Session XIII: Decree Concerning The Most Holy Sacrament of the Eucharist,” October 11, 1551,, (accessed December 14, 2021), chap. 1.

[35] Ibid., chap. 2.

[36] Ibid., chap. 3.

[37] Ibid., chap. 4.

[38] Ibid., chap. 6.

[39] Ibid.,chap. 7.

[40] Council of Trent, “Session XXII: Doctrine Concerning the Sacrifice of the Mass,” September 17, 1562,, (accessed March 31, 2018), Prologue.

[41] Ibid., chap. 1.

[42] Ibid., chap. 2.

[43] Ibid., chap. 4.

[44] Ibid., chap. 5.

[45] Ibid., chap. 8.

[46] Congregation of Rites, Eucharisticum Mysterium, May 25, 1967, (Vatican), par. 6, quoted in John Paul II, Catechism of the Catholic Church, (Vatican), (accessed April 5, 2018), par. 1325.

[47] John Paul II, Catechism of the Catholic Church, (Vatican), (accessed April 5, 2018), par. 1326.

[48] Pope Francis, Evangelii Gaudium, November 24, 2013, Vatican, (accessed March 31, 2018), 13; Ibid., 174.

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