Probably, there’s so much you know about the Eucharist — the Blessed Sacrament, Holy Communion.
Here are the four things you need to understand about the Eucharist:
1. Feast day
The solemnity of Corpus Christi — the feast of the Most Holy Body and Blood of Christ — is a holy day of duty. While it’s prescribed as such in the general law of the Church, it’s not seen as one in the United States. It, along with the Epiphany, is transferred to a Sunday. (Also not observed as holy days of duty in America are the solemnities of St. Joseph, March 19, and Sts. Peter and Paul, June 29).
2. Consecration customs
It was during that period that the priest started elevating the host and chalice at Mass after the purification. Back then, people received Holy Communion inconsistently but at least they could see the host and cup. And, yes, that seems to be when the custom of ringing a bell at the elevation came into practice. At some churches, it was the tower bell that was rung. The use of a handbell actually started in England.
One more item from the 13th century. That was when churches started placing the host in a monstrance to be exposed on the altar. And they started carrying it in a procession in the church or out through the streets as part of the Corpus Christi celebrations.
The Eucharist has a lot of other names, too. The breaking of the bread, Eucharistic assembly, memorial of the Lord’s passion and resurrection, Holy Sacrifice, Holy and Divine Liturgy, Holy Mass, Sacred Mysteries, Most Blessed Sacrament and Holy Communion.
And, probably recently in our own parish, we refer to as “the Saturday evening” or “the 9 o’clock.” As in, “This weekend I’m going to … ”
There’s no mention of those in the Catechism.
Nor is there a paragraph about coffee and donuts following in the parish hall.
4. Parts of the prayer
The Mass’ Eucharistic prayer is divided into different parts:
A prayer of thanks, including the preface. The proclamation (the Sanctus; Holy, Holy, Holy). The epiclesis, an invocation of the Holy Spirit. (Here the priest puts his hand over the bread and wine.) The institution narrative and consecration.
The memorial proclamation. (For example, one begins “When we eat this bread …”) The anamnesis, focusing on Christ’s passion, resurrection, and ascension.
The oblation, an offering from us: “Therefore as we celebrate the memorial of his death and resurrection, we offer you, Lord, the bread of life and the chalice of salvation, expressing gratitude that you have held us worthy to be in your presence and minister to you” (Eucharistic Prayer II). Intercessions, when the priest, in our name, prays for and with all the Church.
And the ending doxology (“through him, with him, and in him) to which the audiences reply “Amen.”