E is for Eucharist
Baptism and the Eucharist are called the Dominical Sacraments: in other words, the two that the Lord Jesus ‘ordered’ us to celebrate. Both, therefore, are of prime importance in the Church. When a church is built, many things may be put in, like pulpits, lecterns, choir stalls, etc., or they may be left out. Only two things have to be there for it to be a church - a font and an altar. In our church, this is made even plainer because they are fixed, immovable. We can move everything else, and even remove some things, but not the font or the altar.
So why is the Eucharist so important?
It is important because Our Lord commanded is to “do this” as a memorial of Him. That doesn’t mean a ‘reminder’. It means making the past real in the present - that Jesus who celebrated the Last Supper is with us now. He is really present in the bread and the wine.
The scriptures also tell us that Jesus gave thanks over the bread and wine. The word EUCHARIST means thanksgiving. Each time we celebrate the sacrament, we give thanks for God as our creator and as creator of the world. And we give thanks for the whole drama of our salvation - for the coming of Christ, for his death, resurrection and ascension, for the gift of the Holy Spirit and for the promise of final fulfilment in heaven.
The Eucharist is also given to us to be an act of sharing by the whole Church Community, just as it was by the twelve Apostles. All of us share the Eucharistic action, and the priest is the president of the assembly. The action includes offering (“He took”), sharing (“He broke”), consecration (“He blessed), and receiving (“He gave”).
But this service has power beyond the Church building. It is deeply connected to the rest of our lives. “Mass” means being sent out - dismissed - into the world. We are saying “Go in peace to love and serve the Lord.” God renews us in Christ in the Eucharist. We are then sent out to offer our lives to God, to share them with others, and to find Christ in our neighbours. We are united with Christ sacramentally in the Eucharist so that all our ordinary life may be lived in common with this - and that makes it extraordinary.
However long we have been communicants, we should always approach the sacrament of the Eucharist with reverence, expectation and longing. We will always be changed as individuals, and as a people, by our participation. It is Christ’s gift to us - to bind us to Him and to each other, and it gives us a foretaste of the heavenly banquet.
Communion of the Apostles
by Justus of Ghent