Catechism of the Catholic Church / Part Two: The Celebration of The Christian Mystery
Section Two - The Seven Sacraments of The Church
Christ instituted the sacraments of the new law. There are seven: Baptism,
Confirmation (or Chrismation), the Eucharist, Penance, the Anointing of the
Sick, Holy Orders and Matrimony. the seven sacraments touch all the stages and
all the important moments of Christian life:1 they give birth and
increase, healing and mission to the Christian's life of faith. There is thus a
certain resemblance between the stages of natural life and the stages of the
Following this analogy, the first chapter will expound the three sacraments of
Christian initiation; the second, the sacraments of healing; and the third, the
sacraments at the service of communion and the mission of the faithful. This
order, while not the only one possible, does allow one to see that the
sacraments form an organic whole in which each particular sacrament has its own
vital place. In this organic whole, the Eucharist occupies a unique place as
the "Sacrament of sacraments": "all the other sacraments are
ordered to it as to their end."2
Chapter One - The Sacraments of Christian Initiation
The sacraments of Christian initiation - Baptism, Confirmation, and the
Eucharist - lay the foundations of every Christian life. "The sharing in
the divine nature given to men through the grace of Christ bears a certain
likeness to the origin, development, and nourishing of natural life. the faithful
are born anew by Baptism, strengthened by the sacrament of Confirmation, and
receive in the Eucharist the food of eternal life. By means of these sacraments
of Christian initiation, they thus receive in increasing measure the treasures
of the divine life and advance toward the perfection of charity."3
THE SACRAMENT OF BAPTISM
Holy Baptism is the basis of the whole Christian life, the gateway to life in the
Spirit (vitae spiritualis ianua),4 and the door which gives access to
the other sacraments. Through Baptism we are freed from sin and reborn as sons
of God; we become members of Christ, are incorporated into the Church and made
sharers in her mission: "Baptism is the sacrament of regeneration through
water in the word."5
I. What is This Sacrament Called?
This sacrament is called Baptism, after the central rite by which it is carried
out: to baptize (Greek baptizein) means to "plunge" or
"immerse"; the "plunge" into the water symbolizes the
catechumen's burial into Christ's death, from which he rises up by resurrection
with him, as "a new creature."6
This sacrament is also called "the washing of regeneration and renewal by
the Holy Spirit," for it signifies and actually brings about the birth of
water and the Spirit without which no one "can enter the kingdom of
"This bath is called enlightenment, because those who receive this
[catechetical] instruction are enlightened in their understanding
. . . ."8 Having received in Baptism the Word, "the true
light that enlightens every man," the person baptized has been "enlightened,"
he becomes a "son of light," indeed, he becomes "light"
Baptism is God's most
beautiful and magnificent gift....We call it gift, grace, anointing,
enlightenment, garment of immortality, bath of rebirth, seal, and most precious
gift. It is called gift because it is conferred on those who bring nothing of
their own; grace since it is given even to the guilty; Baptism because sin is
buried in the water; anointing for it is priestly and royal as are those who
are anointed; enlightenment because it radiates light; clothing since it veils
our shame; bath because it washes; and seal as it is our guard and the sign of
II. Baptism in the Economy of Salvation
of Baptism in the Old Covenant
In the liturgy of the Easter Vigil, during the blessing of the baptismal water,
the Church solemnly commemorates the great events in salvation history that
already prefigured the mystery of Baptism:
Father, you give us grace
through sacramental signs which tell us of the wonders of your unseen power.
In Baptism we use your gift of
water, which you have made a rich symbol of the grace you give us in this
Since the beginning of the world, water, so humble and wonderful a creature,
has been the source of life and fruitfulness. Sacred Scripture sees it as
"oveshadowed" by the Spirit of God:12
At the very dawn of creation
your Spirit breathed on the
making them the wellspring of
The Church has seen in Noah's ark a prefiguring of salvation by Baptism, for by
it "a few, that is, eight persons, were saved through
The waters of the great flood
you made a sign of the waters
that make an end of sin and a
new beginning of goodness.15
If water springing up from the earth symbolizes life, the water of the sea is a
symbol of death and so can represent the mystery of the cross. By this
symbolism Baptism signifies communion with Christ's death.
But above all, the crossing of the Red Sea, literally the liberation of Israel
from the slavery of Egypt, announces the liberation wrought by Baptism:
You freed the children of
Abraham from the slavery of Pharaoh,
bringing them dry-shod through
the waters of the Red Sea,
to be an image of the people
set free in Baptism.16
Finally, Baptism is prefigured in the crossing of the Jordan River by which the
People of God received the gift of the land promised to Abraham's descendants,
an image of eternal life. the promise of this blessed inheritance is fulfilled
in the New Covenant.
All the Old Covenant prefigurations find their fulfillment in Christ Jesus. He
begins his public life after having himself baptized by St. John the Baptist in
the Jordan.17 After his resurrection Christ gives this mission to his
apostles: "Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them
in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them
to observe all that I have commanded you."18
Our Lord voluntarily submitted himself to the baptism of St. John, intended for
sinners, in order to "fulfill all righteousness."19 Jesus'
gesture is a manifestation of his self-emptying.20 The Spirit who had
hovered over the waters of the first creation descended then on the Christ as a
prelude of the new creation, and the Father revealed Jesus as his "beloved
In his Passover Christ opened to all men the fountain of Baptism. He had
already spoken of his Passion, which he was about to suffer in Jerusalem, as a
"Baptism" with which he had to be baptized.22 The blood and
water that flowed from the pierced side of the crucified Jesus are types of
Baptism and the Eucharist, the sacraments of new life.23 From then on,
it is possible "to be born of water and the Spirit"24 in
order to enter the Kingdom of God.
See where you are baptized,
see where Baptism comes from, if not from the cross of Christ, from his death.
There is the whole mystery: he died for you. In him you are redeemed, in him
you are saved.25
From the very day of Pentecost the Church has celebrated and administered holy
Baptism. Indeed St. Peter declares to the crowd astounded by his preaching:
"Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for
the forgiveness of your sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy
Spirit."26 The apostles and their collaborators offer Baptism to
anyone who believed in Jesus: Jews, the God-fearing, pagans.27 Always,
Baptism is seen as connected with faith: "Believe in the Lord Jesus, and
you will be saved, you and your household," St. Paul declared to his
jailer in Philippi. and the narrative continues, the jailer "was baptized
at once, with all his family."28
According to the Apostle Paul, the believer enters through Baptism into
communion with Christ's death, is buried with him, and rises with him:
Do you not know that all of us
who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? We were
buried therefore with him by baptism into death, so that as Christ was raised
from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of
baptized have "put on Christ."30 Through the Holy Spirit,
Baptism is a bath that purifies, justifies, and sanctifies.31
Hence Baptism is a bath of water in which the "imperishable seed" of
the Word of God produces its life-giving effect.32 St. Augustine says
of Baptism: "The word is brought to the material element, and it becomes a
III. How is the Sacrament of Baptism
From the time of the apostles, becoming a Christian has been accomplished by a
journey and initiation in several stages. This journey can be covered rapidly
or slowly, but certain essential elements will always have to be present:
proclamation of the Word, acceptance of the Gospel entailing conversion,
profession of faith, Baptism itself, the outpouring of the Holy Spirit, and
admission to Eucharistic communion.
initiation has varied greatly through the centuries according to circumstances.
In the first centuries of the Church, Christian initiation saw considerable
development. A long period of catechumenate included a series of preparatory
rites, which were liturgical landmarks along the path of catechumenal
preparation and culminated in the celebration of the sacraments of Christian
infant Baptism has become the form in which this sacrament is usually
celebrated, it has become a single act encapsulating the preparatory stages of
Christian initiation in a very abridged way. By its very nature infant Baptism
requires a post-baptismal catechumenate. Not only is there a need for
instruction after Baptism, but also for the necessary flowering of baptismal
grace in personal growth. the catechism has its proper place here.
second Vatican Council restored for the Latin Church "the catechumenate
for adults, comprising several distinct steps."34 The rites for
these stages are to be found in the Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults
(RCIA).35 The Council also gives permission that: "In mission
countries, in addition to what is furnished by the Christian tradition, those
elements of initiation rites may be admitted which are already in use among
some peoples insofar as they can be adapted to the Christian
in all the rites, Latin and Eastern, the Christian initiation of adults begins
with their entry into the catechumenate and reaches its culmination in a single
celebration of the three sacraments of initiation: Baptism, Confirmation, and
the Eucharist.37 In the Eastern rites the Christian initiation of
infants also begins with Baptism followed immediately by Confirmation and the
Eucharist, while in the Roman rite it is followed by years of catechesis before
being completed later by Confirmation and the Eucharist, the summit of their
mystagogy of the celebration
The meaning and grace of the sacrament of Baptism are clearly seen in the rites
of its celebration. By following the gestures and words of this celebration
with attentive participation, the faithful are initiated into the riches this
sacrament signifies and actually brings about in each newly baptized person.
The sign of the cross, on the threshold of the celebration, marks with the
imprint of Christ the one who is going to belong to him and signifies the grace
of the redemption Christ won for us by his cross.
The proclamation of the Word of God enlightens the candidates and the assembly
with the revealed truth and elicits the response of faith, which is inseparable
from Baptism. Indeed Baptism is "the sacrament of faith" in a
particular way, since it is the sacramental entry into the life of faith.
Since Baptism signifies liberation from sin and from its instigator the devil,
one or more exorcisms are pronounced over the candidate. the celebrant then
anoints him with the oil of catechumens, or lays his hands on him, and he
explicitly renounces Satan. Thus prepared, he is able to confess the faith of
the Church, to which he will be "entrusted" by Baptism.39
The baptismal water is consecrated by a prayer of epiclesis (either at this moment
or at the Easter Vigil). the Church asks God that through his Son the power of
the Holy Spirit may be sent upon the water, so that those who will be baptized
in it may be "born of water and the Spirit."40
The essential rite of the sacrament follows: Baptism properly speaking. It
signifies and actually brings about death to sin and entry into the life of the
Most Holy Trinity through configuration to the Paschal mystery of Christ.
Baptism is performed in the most expressive way by triple immersion in the
baptismal water. However, from ancient times it has also been able to be
conferred by pouring the water three times over the candidate's head.
Latin Church this triple infusion is accompanied by the minister's words:
"N., I baptize you in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the
Holy Spirit." In the Eastern liturgies the catechumen turns toward the
East and the priest says: "The servant of God, N., is baptized in the name
of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit." At the invocation
of each person of the Most Holy Trinity, the priest immerses the candidate in
the water and raises him up again.
The anointing with sacred chrism, perfumed oil consecrated by the bishop,
signifies the gift of the Holy Spirit to the newly baptized, who has become a
Christian, that is, one "anointed" by the Holy Spirit, incorporated
into Christ who is anointed priest, prophet, and king.41
In the liturgy of the Eastern Churches, the post-baptismal anointing is the
sacrament of Chrismation (Confirmation). In the Roman liturgy the
post-baptismal anointing announces a second anointing with sacred chrism to be
conferred later by the bishop Confirmation, which will as it were
"confirm" and complete the baptismal anointing.
The white garment symbolizes that the person baptized has "put on
Christ,"42 has risen with Christ. the candle, lit from the Easter
candle, signifies that Christ has enlightened the neophyte. In him the baptized
are "the light of the world."43
The newly baptized is now, in the only Son, a child of God entitled to say the
prayer of the children of God: "Our Father."
First Holy Communion. Having become a child of God clothed with the wedding
garment, the neophyte is admitted "to the marriage supper of the
Lamb"44 and receives the food of the new life, the body and blood
of Christ. the Eastern Churches maintain a lively awareness of the unity of
Christian initiation by giving Holy Communion to all the newly baptized and
confirmed, even little children, recalling the Lord's words: "Let the
children come to me, do not hinder them."45 The Latin Church,
which reserves admission to Holy Communion to those who have attained the age
of reason, expresses the orientation of Baptism to the Eucharist by having the
newly baptized child brought to the altar for the praying of the Our Father.
The solemn blessing concludes the celebration of Baptism. At the Baptism of
newborns the blessing of the mother occupies a special place.
IV. Who can Receive
"Every person not yet baptized and only such a person is able to be
Since the beginning of the Church, adult Baptism is the common practice where
the proclamation of the Gospel is still new. the catechumenate (preparation for
Baptism) therefore occupies an important place. This initiation into Christian
faith and life should dispose the catechumen to receive the gift of God in
Baptism, Confirmation, and the Eucharist.
The catechumenate, or formation of catechumens, aims at bringing their
conversion and faith to maturity, in response to the divine initiative and in
union with an ecclesial community. the catechumenate is to be "a formation
in the whole Christian life . . . during which the disciples will be joined to
Christ their teacher. the catechumens should be properly initiated into the
mystery of salvation and the practice of the evangelical virtues, and they
should be introduced into the life of faith, liturgy, and charity of the People
of God by successive sacred rites."47
Catechumens "are already joined to the Church, they are already of the
household of Christ, and are quite frequently already living a life of faith,
hope, and charity."48 "With love and solicitude mother Church
already embraces them as her own."49
Born with a fallen human nature and tainted by original sin, children also have
need of the new birth in Baptism to be freed from the power of darkness and brought
into the realm of the freedom of the children of God, to which all men are
called.50 The sheer gratuitousness of the grace of salvation is
particularly manifest in infant Baptism. the Church and the parents would deny
a child the priceless grace of becoming a child of God were they not to confer
Baptism shortly after birth.51
Christian parents will recognize that this practice also accords with their
role as nurturers of the life that God has entrusted to them.52
practice of infant Baptism is an immemorial tradition of the Church. There is
explicit testimony to this practice from the second century on, and it is quite
possible that, from the beginning of the apostolic preaching, when whole
"households" received baptism, infants may also have been
Baptism is the sacrament of faith.54 But faith needs the community of
believers. It is only within the faith of the Church that each of the faithful
can believe. the faith required for Baptism is not a perfect and mature faith,
but a beginning that is called to develop. the catechumen or the godparent is
asked: "What do you ask of God's Church?" the response is:
For all the baptized, children or adults, faith must grow after Baptism. For
this reason the Church celebrates each year at the Easter Vigil the renewal of
baptismal promises. Preparation for Baptism leads only to the threshold of new
life. Baptism is the source of that new life in Christ from which the entire
Christian life springs forth.
For the grace of Baptism to unfold, the parents' help is important. So too is
the role of the godfather and godmother, who must be firm believers, able and
ready to help the newly baptized - child or adult on the road of Christian
life.55 Their task is a truly ecclesial function (officium).56
The whole ecclesial community bears some responsibility for the development and
safeguarding of the grace given at Baptism.
V. Who can Baptize?
The ordinary ministers of Baptism are the bishop and priest and, in the Latin
Church, also the deacon.57 In case of necessity, any person, even
someone not baptized, can baptize, if he has the required intention. the
intention required is to will to do what the Church does when she baptizes, and
to apply the Trinitarian baptismal formula. the Church finds the reason for
this possibility in the universal saving will of God and the necessity of
Baptism for salvation.58
VI. The Necessity of Baptism
The Lord himself affirms that Baptism is necessary for salvation.59 He
also commands his disciples to proclaim the Gospel to all nations and to
baptize them.60 Baptism is necessary for salvation for those to whom
the Gospel has been proclaimed and who have had the possibility of asking for
this sacrament.61 The Church does not know of any means other than
Baptism that assures entry into eternal beatitude; this is why she takes care
not to neglect the mission she has received from the Lord to see that all who
can be baptized are "reborn of water and the Spirit." God has bound
salvation to the sacrament of Baptism, but he himself is not bound by his
The Church has always held the firm conviction that those who suffer death for
the sake of the faith without having received Baptism are baptized by their
death for and with Christ. This Baptism of blood, like the desire for Baptism,
brings about the fruits of Baptism without being a sacrament.
For catechumens who die before their Baptism, their explicit desire to receive
it, together with repentance for their sins, and charity, assures them the
salvation that they were not able to receive through the sacrament.
"Since Christ died for all, and since all men are in fact called to one
and the same destiny, which is divine, we must hold that the Holy Spirit offers
to all the possibility of being made partakers, in a way known to God, of the
Paschal mystery."62 Every man who is ignorant of the Gospel of
Christ and of his Church, but seeks the truth and does the will of God in
accordance with his understanding of it, can be saved. It may be supposed that
such persons would have desired Baptism explicitly if they had known its
As regards children who have died without Baptism, the Church can only entrust
them to the mercy of God, as she does in her funeral rites for them. Indeed,
the great mercy of God who desires that all men should be saved, and Jesus'
tenderness toward children which caused him to say: "Let the children come
to me, do not hinder them,"63 allow us to hope that there is a way
of salvation for children who have died without Baptism. All the more urgent is
the Church's call not to prevent little children coming to Christ through the gift
of holy Baptism.
VII. The Grace of Baptism
The different effects of Baptism are signified by the perceptible elements of
the sacramental rite. Immersion in water symbolizes not only death and purification,
but also regeneration and renewal. Thus the two principal effects are
purification from sins and new birth in the Holy Spirit.64
forgiveness of sins . . .
By Baptism all sins are forgiven, original sin and all personal sins, as well
as all punishment for sin.65 In those who have been reborn nothing
remains that would impede their entry into the Kingdom of God, neither Adam's
sin, nor personal sin, nor the consequences of sin, the gravest of which is
separation from God.
Yet certain temporal consequences of sin remain in the baptized, such as
suffering, illness, death, and such frailties inherent in life as weaknesses of
character, and so on, as well as an inclination to sin that Tradition calls
concupiscence, or metaphorically, "the tinder for sin" (fomes
peccati); since concupiscence "is left for us to wrestle with, it cannot
harm those who do not consent but manfully resist it by the grace of Jesus
Christ."66 Indeed, "an athlete is not crowned unless he
competes according to the rules."67
Baptism not only purifies from all sins, but also makes the neophyte "a
new creature," an adopted son of God, who has become a "partaker of
the divine nature,"68 member of Christ and coheir with
him,69 and a temple of the Holy Spirit.70
The Most Holy Trinity gives the baptized sanctifying grace, the grace of
- enabling them to believe in God, to hope in him, and to love him through the
- giving them the power to live and act under the prompting of the Holy Spirit
through the gifts of the Holy Spirit;
- allowing them to grow in goodness through the moral virtues.
Thus the whole organism of the Christian's supernatural life has its roots in
into the Church, the Body of Christ
Baptism makes us members of the Body of Christ: "Therefore . . . we are
members one of another."71 Baptism incorporates us into the
Church. From the baptismal fonts is born the one People of God of the New
Covenant, which transcends all the natural or human limits of nations,
cultures, races, and sexes: "For by one Spirit we were all baptized into
The baptized have become "living stones" to be "built into a
spiritual house, to be a holy priesthood."73 By Baptism they share
in the priesthood of Christ, in his prophetic and royal mission. They are
"a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God's own people, that
[they] may declare the wonderful deeds of him who called [them] out of darkness
into his marvelous light."74 Baptism gives a share in the common
priesthood of all believers.
Having become a member of the Church, the person baptized belongs no longer to
himself, but to him who died and rose for us.75 From now on, he is
called to be subject to others, to serve them in the communion of the Church,
and to "obey and submit" to the Church's leaders,76 holding
them in respect and affection.77 Just as Baptism is the source of
responsibilities and duties, the baptized person also enjoys rights within the
Church: to receive the sacraments, to be nourished with the Word of God and to
be sustained by the other spiritual helps of the Church.78
"Reborn as sons of God, [the baptized] must profess before men the faith
they have received from God through the Church" and participate in the
apostolic and missionary activity of the People of God.79
sacramental bond of the unity of Christians
Baptism constitutes the foundation of communion among all Christians, including
those who are not yet in full communion with the Catholic Church: "For men
who believe in Christ and have been properly baptized are put in some, though
imperfect, communion with the Catholic Church. Justified by faith in Baptism,
[they] are incorporated into Christ; they therefore have a right to be called
Christians, and with good reason are accepted as brothers by the children of
the Catholic Church."80 "Baptism therefore constitutes the
sacramental bond of unity existing among all who through it are reborn."81
indelible spiritual mark . . .
Incorporated into Christ by Baptism, the person baptized is configured to
Christ. Baptism seals the Christian with the indelible spiritual mark
(character) of his belonging to Christ. No sin can erase this mark, even if sin
prevents Baptism from bearing the fruits of salvation.82 Given once for
all, Baptism cannot be repeated.
Incorporated into the Church by Baptism, the faithful have received the sacramental
character that consecrates them for Christian religious worship.83 The
baptismal seal enables and commits Christians to serve God by a vital
participation in the holy liturgy of the Church and to exercise their baptismal
priesthood by the witness of holy lives and practical charity.84
The Holy Spirit has marked us with the seal of the Lord ("Dominicus
character") "for the day of redemption."85 "Baptism
indeed is the seal of eternal life."86 The faithful Christian who
has "kept the seal" until the end, remaining faithful to the demands
of his Baptism, will be able to depart this life "marked with the sign of
faith,"87 with his baptismal faith, in expectation of the blessed
vision of God - the consummation of faith - and in the hope of resurrection.
1275 Christian initiation is
accomplished by three sacraments together: Baptism which is the beginning of
new life; Confirmation which is its strengthening; and the Eucharist which
nourishes the disciple with Christ's Body and Blood for his transformation in
1276 "Go therefore and
make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of
the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have
commanded you" (⇒ Mt 28:19-20).
1277 Baptism is birth into
the new life in Christ. In accordance with the Lord's will, it is necessary for
salvation, as is the Church herself, which we enter by Baptism.
1278 The essential rite of
Baptism consists in immersing the candidate in water or pouring water on his
head, while pronouncing the invocation of the Most Holy Trinity: the Father,
the Son, and the Holy Spirit.
1279 The fruit of Baptism, or
baptismal grace, is a rich reality that includes forgiveness of original sin
and all personal sins, birth into the new life by which man becomes an adoptive
son of the Father, a member of Christ and a temple of the Holy Spirit. By this
very fact the person baptized is incorporated into the Church, the Body of
Christ, and made a sharer in the priesthood of Christ.
1280 Baptism imprints on the
soul an indelible spiritual sign, the character, which consecrates the baptized
person for Christian worship. Because of the character Baptism cannot be
repeated (cf. DS 1609 and DS 1624).
1281 Those who die for the
faith, those who are catechumens, and all those who, without knowing of the
Church but acting under the inspiration of grace, seek God sincerely and strive
to fulfill his will, are saved even if they have not been baptized (cf. LG 16).
1282 Since the earliest times,
Baptism has been administered to children, for it is a grace and a gift of God
that does not presuppose any human merit; children are baptized in the faith of
the Church. Entry into Christian life gives access to true freedom.
1283 With respect to children
who have died without Baptism, the liturgy of the Church invites us to trust in
God's mercy and to pray for their salvation.
1284 In case of necessity,
any person can baptize provided that he have the intention of doing that which
the Church does and provided that he pours water on the candidate's head while
saying: "I baptize you in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of
the Holy Spirit."
THE SACRAMENT OF CONFIRMATION
Baptism, the Eucharist, and the sacrament of Confirmation together constitute
the "sacraments of Christian initiation," whose unity must be
safeguarded. It must be explained to the faithful that the reception of the
sacrament of Confirmation is necessary for the completion of baptismal
grace.88 For "by the sacrament of Confirmation, [the baptized] are
more perfectly bound to the Church and are enriched with a special strength of
the Holy Spirit. Hence they are, as true witnesses of Christ, more strictly
obliged to spread and defend the faith by word and deed."89
I. Confirmation in the Economy of Salvation
In the Old Testament the prophets announced that the Spirit of the Lord would
rest on the hoped-for Messiah for his saving mission.90 The descent of
the Holy Spirit on Jesus at his baptism by John was the sign that this was he
who was to come, the Messiah, the Son of God.91 He was conceived of the
Holy Spirit; his whole life and his whole mission are carried out in total
communion with the Holy Spirit whom the Father gives him "without
This fullness of the Spirit was not to remain uniquely the Messiah's, but was
to be communicated to the whole messianic people.93 On several
occasions Christ promised this outpouring of the Spirit,94 a promise
which he fulfilled first on Easter Sunday and then more strikingly at
Pentecost.95 Filled with the Holy Spirit the apostles began to proclaim
"the mighty works of God," and Peter declared this outpouring of the
Spirit to be the sign of the messianic age.96 Those who believed in the
apostolic preaching and were baptized received the gift of the Holy Spirit in
"From that time on the apostles, in fulfillment of Christ's will, imparted
to the newly baptized by the laying on of hands the gift of the Spirit that
completes the grace of Baptism. For this reason in the Letter to the Hebrews
the doctrine concerning Baptism and the laying on of hands is listed among the
first elements of Christian instruction. the imposition of hands is rightly
recognized by the Catholic tradition as the origin of the sacrament of
Confirmation, which in a certain way perpetuates the grace of Pentecost in the
Very early, the better to signify the gift of the Holy Spirit, an anointing
with perfumed oil (chrism) was added to the laying on of hands. This anointing
highlights the name "Christian," which means "anointed" and
derives from that of Christ himself whom God "anointed with the Holy
Spirit."99 This rite of anointing has continued ever since, in
both East and West. For this reason the Eastern Churches call this sacrament
Chrismation, anointing with chrism, or myron which means "chrism." In
the West, Confirmation suggests both the ratification of Baptism, thus
completing Christian initiation, and the strengthening of baptismal grace -
both fruits of the Holy Spirit.
traditions: East and West
first centuries Confirmation generally comprised one single celebration with
Baptism, forming with it a "double sacrament," according to the
expression of St. Cyprian. Among other reasons, the multiplication of infant
baptisms all through the year, the increase of rural parishes, and the growth
of dioceses often prevented the bishop from being present at all baptismal
celebrations. In the West the desire to reserve the completion of Baptism to
the bishop caused the temporal separation of the two sacraments. the East has
kept them united, so that Confirmation is conferred by the priest who baptizes.
But he can do so only with the "myron" consecrated by a
custom of the Roman Church facilitated the development of the Western practice:
a double anointing with sacred chrism after Baptism. the first anointing of the
neophyte on coming out of the baptismal bath was performed by the priest; it
was completed by a second anointing on the forehead of the newly baptized by
the bishop.101 The first anointing with sacred chrism, by the priest,
has remained attached to the baptismal rite; it signifies the participation of
the one baptized in the prophetic, priestly, and kingly offices of Christ. If
Baptism is conferred on an adult, there is only one post-baptismal anointing,
that of Confirmation.
practice of the Eastern Churches gives greater emphasis to the unity of
Christian initiation. That of the Latin Church more clearly expresses the
communion of the new Christian with the bishop as guarantor and servant of the
unity, catholicity and apostolicity of his Church, and hence the connection
with the apostolic origins of Christ's Church.
II. The Signs and the Rite of Confirmation
In treating the rite of Confirmation, it is fitting to consider the sign of
anointing and what it signifies and imprints: a spiritual seal.
Anointing, in Biblical and other ancient symbolism, is rich in meaning: oil is
a sign of abundance and joy;102 it cleanses (anointing before and after
a bath) and limbers (the anointing of athletes and wrestlers); oil is a sign of
healing, since it is soothing to bruises and wounds;103 and it makes
radiant with beauty, health, and strength.
Anointing with oil has all these meanings in the sacramental life. the
pre-baptismal anointing with the oil of catechumens signifies cleansing and
strengthening; the anointing of the sick expresses healing and comfort. the
post-baptismal anointing with sacred chrism in Confirmation and ordination is
the sign of consecration. By Confirmation Christians, that is, those who are
anointed, share more completely in the mission of Jesus Christ and the fullness
of the Holy Spirit with which he is filled, so that their lives may give off
"the aroma of Christ."104
By this anointing the confirmand receives the "mark," the seal of the
Holy Spirit. A seal is a symbol of a person, a sign of personal authority, or
ownership of an oblect.105 Hence soldiers were marked with their leader's
seal and slaves with their master's. A seal authenticates a juridical act or
document and occasionally makes it secret.106
Christ himself declared that he was marked with his Father's seal.107
Christians are also marked with a seal: "It is God who establishes us with
you in Christ and has commissioned us; he has put his seal on us and given us
his Spirit in our hearts as a guarantee."108 This seal of the Holy
Spirit marks our total belonging to Christ, our enrollment in his service for
ever, as well as the promise of divine protection in the great eschatological
celebration of Confirmation
The consecration of the sacred chrism is an important action that precedes the
celebration of Confirmation, but is in a certain way a part of it. It is the
bishop who, in the course of the Chrism Mass of Holy Thursday, consecrates the
sacred chrism for his whole diocese. In some Eastern Churches this consecration
is even reserved to the patriarch:
The Syriac liturgy of Antioch
expresses the epiclesis for the consecration of the sacred chrism (myron) in
this way: "[Father . . . send your Holy Spirit] on us and on this oil
which is before us and consecrate it, so that it may be for all who are
anointed and marked with it holy myron, priestly myron, royal myron, anointing
with gladness, clothing with light, a cloak of salvation, a spiritual gift, the
sanctification of souls and bodies, imperishable happiness, the indelible seal,
a buckler of faith, and a fearsome helmet against all the works of the
When Confirmation is celebrated separately from Baptism, as is the case in the
Roman Rite, the Liturgy of Confirmation begins with the renewal of baptismal
promises and the profession of faith by the confirmands. This clearly shows
that Confirmation follows Baptism.110 When adults are baptized, they
immediately receive Confirmation and participate in the Eucharist.111
In the Roman Rite the bishop extends his hands over the whole group of the
confirmands. Since the time of the apostles this gesture has signified the gift
of the Spirit. the bishop invokes the outpouring of the Spirit in these words:
All-powerful God, Father of our
Lord Jesus Christ,
by water and the Holy Spirit
you freed your sons and
daughters from sin
and gave them new life.
Send your Holy Spirit upon
to be their helper and guide.
Give them the spirit of wisdom
the spirit of right judgment
the spirit of knowledge and
Fill them with the spirit of
wonder and awe in your presence.
We ask this through Christ our
The essential rite of the sacrament follows. In the Latin rite, "the
sacrament of Confirmation is conferred through the anointing with chrism on the
forehead, which is done by the laying on of the hand, and through the words:
'Accipe signaculum doni Spiritus Sancti' [Be sealed with the Gift of the Holy
Spirit.]."113 In the Eastern Churches, after a prayer of epiclesis
the more significant parts of the body are anointed with myron: forehead, eyes,
nose, ears, lips, breast, back, hands, and feet. Each anointing is accompanied
by the formula: "The seal of the gift that is the Holy Spirit."
The sign of peace that concludes the rite of the sacrament signifies and
demonstrates ecclesial communion with the bishop and with all the
III. The Effects of Confirmation
It is evident from its celebration that the effect of the sacrament of
Confirmation is the full outpouring of the Holy Spirit as once granted to the
apostles on the day of Pentecost.
From this fact, Confirmation brings an increase and deepening of baptismal
- it roots us more deeply in the divine filiation which makes us cry,
- it unites us more firmly to Christ;
- it increases the gifts of the Holy Spirit in us;
- it renders our bond with the Church more perfect;116
- it gives us a special strength of the Holy Spirit to spread and defend the
faith by word and action as true witnesses of Christ, to confess the name of
Christ boldly, and never to be ashamed of the Cross:117
Recall then that you have
received the spiritual seal, the spirit of wisdom and understanding, the spirit
of right judgment and courage, the spirit of knowledge and reverence, the
spirit of holy fear in God's presence. Guard what you have received. God the
Father has marked you with his sign; Christ the Lord has confirmed you and has
placed his pledge, the Spirit, in your hearts.118
Like Baptism which it completes, Confirmation is given only once, for it too
imprints on the soul an indelible spiritual mark, the "character,"
which is the sign that Jesus Christ has marked a Christian with the seal of his
Spirit by clothing him with power from on high so that he may be his witness.119
This "character" perfects the common priesthood of the faithful,
received in Baptism, and "the confirmed person receives the power to
profess faith in Christ publicly and as it were officially (quasi ex officio)."120
IV. Who can Receive This Sacrament?
Every baptized person not yet confirmed can and should receive the sacrament of
Confirmation.121 Since Baptism, Confirmation, and Eucharist form a
unity, it follows that "the faithful are obliged to receive this sacrament
at the appropriate time,"122 for without Confirmation and
Eucharist, Baptism is certainly valid and efficacious, but Christian initiation
Latin tradition gives "the age of discretion" as the reference point
for receiving Confirmation. But in danger of death children should be confirmed
even if they have not yet attained the age of discretion.123
Although Confirmation is sometimes called the "sacrament of Christian
maturity," we must not confuse adult faith with the adult age of natural
growth, nor forget that the baptismal grace is a grace of free, unmerited
election and does not need "ratification" to become effective. St.
Thomas reminds us of this:
Age of body does not determine
age of soul. Even in childhood man can attain spiritual maturity: as the book
of Wisdom says: "For old age is not honored for length of time, or
measured by number of years. "Many children, through the strength of the
Holy Spirit they have received, have bravely fought for Christ even to the
shedding of their blood.124
Preparation for Confirmation should aim at leading the Christian toward a more
intimate union with Christ and a more lively familiarity with the Holy Spirit -
his actions, his gifts, and his biddings - in order to be more capable of
assuming the apostolic responsibilities of Christian life. To this end
catechesis for Confirmation should strive to awaken a sense of belonging to the
Church of Jesus Christ, the universal Church as well as the parish community.
the latter bears special responsibility for the preparation of
To receive Confirmation one must be in a state of grace. One should receive the
sacrament of Penance in order to be cleansed for the gift of the Holy Spirit.
More intense prayer should prepare one to receive the strength and graces of
the Holy Spirit with docility and readiness to act.126
Candidates for Confirmation, as for Baptism, fittingly seek the spiritual help
of a sponsor. To emphasize the unity of the two sacraments, it is appropriate
that this be one of the baptismal godparents.127
V. The Minister of Confirmation
The original minister of Confirmation is the bishop.128 In the East,
ordinarily the priest who baptizes also immediately confers Confirmation in one
and the same celebration. But he does so with sacred chrism consecrated by the
patriarch or the bishop, thus expressing the apostolic unity of the Church
whose bonds are strengthened by the sacrament of Confirmation. In the Latin
Church, the same discipline applies to the Baptism of adults or to the
reception into full communion with the Church of a person baptized in another
Christian community that does not have valid Confirmation.129
In the Latin Rite, the ordinary minister of Confirmation is the
bishop.130 Although the bishop may for grave reasons concede to priests
the faculty of administering Confirmation,131 it is appropriate from
the very meaning of the sacrament that he should confer it himself, mindful
that the celebration of Confirmation has been temporally separated from Baptism
for this reason. Bishops are the successors of the apostles. They have received
the fullness of the sacrament of Holy Orders. the administration of this
sacrament by them demonstrates clearly that its effect is to unite those who
receive it more closely to the Church, to her apostolic origins, and to her
mission of bearing witness to Christ.
If a Christian is in danger of death, any priest should give him
Confirmation.132 Indeed the Church desires that none of her children,
even the youngest, should depart this world without having been perfected by
the Holy Spirit with the gift of Christ's fullness.
1315 "Now when the
apostles at Jerusalem heard that Samaria had received the word of God, they
sent to them Peter and John, who came down and prayed for them that they might
receive the Holy Spirit; for it had not yet fallen on any of them, but they had
only been baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus. Then they laid their hands on
them and they received the Holy Spirit" (⇒ Acts
1316 Confirmation perfects
Baptismal grace; it is the sacrament which gives the Holy Spirit in order to
root us more deeply in the divine filiation, incorporate us more firmly into
Christ, strengthen our bond with the Church, associate us more closely with her
mission, and help us bear witness to the Christian faith in words accompanied
1317 Confirmation, like
Baptism, imprints a spiritual mark or indelible character on the Christian's
soul; for this reason one can receive this sacrament only once in one's life.
1318 In the East this sacrament
is administered immediately after Baptism and is followed by participation in
the Eucharist; this tradition highlights the unity of the three sacraments of
Christian initiation. In the Latin Church this sacrament is administered when
the age of reason has been reached, and its celebration is ordinarily reserved
to the bishop, thus signifying that this sacrament strengthens the ecclesial
1319 A candidate for
Confirmation who has attained the age of reason must profess the faith, be in
the state of grace, have the intention of receiving the sacrament, and be
prepared to assume the role of disciple and witness to Christ, both within the
ecclesial community and in temporal affairs.
1320 The essential rite of
Confirmation is anointing the forehead of the baptized with sacred chrism (in
the East other sense-organs as well), together with the laying on of the
minister's hand and the words: "Accipe signaculum doni Spiritus
Sancti" (Be sealed with the Gift of the Holy Spirit.) in the Roman Rite,
or "The seal of the gift that is the Holy Spirit" in the Byzantine
1321 When Confirmation is
celebrated separately from Baptism, its connection with Baptism is expressed,
among other ways, by the renewal of baptismal promises. the celebration of
Confirmation during the Eucharist helps underline the unity of the sacraments
of Christian initiation.
THE SACRAMENT OF THE EUCHARIST
The holy Eucharist completes Christian initiation. Those who have been raised
to the dignity of the royal priesthood by Baptism and configured more deeply to
Christ by Confirmation participate with the whole community in the Lord's own
sacrifice by means of the Eucharist.
"At the Last Supper, on the night he was betrayed, our Savior instituted
the Eucharistic sacrifice of his Body and Blood. This he did in order to
perpetuate the sacrifice of the cross throughout the ages until he should come
again, and so to entrust to his beloved Spouse, the Church, a memorial of his
death and resurrection: a sacrament of love, a sign of unity, a bond of
charity, a Paschal banquet 'in which Christ is consumed, the mind is filled
with grace, and a pledge of future glory is given to us.'"133
I. The Eucharist - Source and Summit of Ecclesial Life
The Eucharist is "the source and summit of the Christian
life."134 "The other sacraments, and indeed all ecclesiastical
ministries and works of the apostolate, are bound up with the Eucharist and are
oriented toward it. For in the blessed Eucharist is contained the whole
spiritual good of the Church, namely Christ himself, our
"The Eucharist is the efficacious sign and sublime cause of that communion
in the divine life and that unity of the People of God by which the Church is
kept in being. It is the culmination both of God's action sanctifying the world
in Christ and of the worship men offer to Christ and through him to the Father
in the Holy Spirit."136
Finally, by the Eucharistic celebration we already unite ourselves with the
heavenly liturgy and anticipate eternal life, when God will be all in all.137
In brief, the Eucharist is the sum and summary of our faith: "Our way of
thinking is attuned to the Eucharist, and the Eucharist in turn confirms our
way of thinking."138
II. What is This Sacrament Called?
The inexhaustible richness of this sacrament is expressed in the different
names we give it. Each name evokes certain aspects of it. It is called:
Eucharist, because it is an action of thanksgiving to God. the Greek words
eucharistein139 and eulogein140 recall the Jewish blessings
that proclaim - especially during a meal - God's works: creation, redemption,
The Lord's Supper, because of its connection with the supper which the Lord
took with his disciples on the eve of his Passion and because it anticipates
the wedding feast of the Lamb in the heavenly Jerusalem.141
The Breaking of Bread, because Jesus used this rite, part of a Jewish meat when
as master of the table he blessed and distributed the bread,142 above
all at the Last Supper.143 It is by this action that his disciples will
recognize him after his Resurrection,144 and it is this expression that
the first Christians will use to designate their Eucharistic
assemblies;145 by doing so they signified that all who eat the one
broken bread, Christ, enter into communion with him and form but one body in
The Eucharistic assembly (synaxis), because the Eucharist is celebrated amid
the assembly of the faithful, the visible expression of the Church.147
The memorial of the Lord's Passion and Resurrection.
The Holy Sacrifice, because it makes present the one sacrifice of Christ the
Savior and includes the Church's offering. the terms holy sacrifice of the
Mass, "sacrifice of praise," spiritual sacrifice, pure and holy
sacrifice are also used,148 since it completes and surpasses all the
sacrifices of the Old Covenant.
The Holy and Divine Liturgy, because the Church's whole liturgy finds its
center and most intense expression in the celebration of this sacrament; in the
same sense we also call its celebration the Sacred Mysteries. We speak of the
Most Blessed Sacrament because it is the Sacrament of sacraments. the
Eucharistic species reserved in the tabernacle are designated by this same
Holy Communion, because by this sacrament we unite ourselves to Christ, who makes
us sharers in his Body and Blood to form a single body.149 We also call
it: the holy things (ta hagia; sancta)150 - the first meaning of the
phrase "communion of saints" in the Apostles' Creed - the bread of
angels, bread from heaven, medicine of immortality,151 viaticum....
Holy Mass (Missa), because the liturgy in which the mystery of salvation is
accomplished concludes with the sending forth (missio) of the faithful, so that
they may fulfill God's will in their daily lives.
III. The Eucharist in the Economy of Salvation
of bread and wine
At the heart of the Eucharistic celebration are the bread and wine that, by the
words of Christ and the invocation of the Holy Spirit, become Christ's Body and
Blood. Faithful to the Lord's command the Church continues to do, in his memory
and until his glorious return, what he did on the eve of his Passion: "He
took bread...." "He took the cup filled with wine...." the signs
of bread and wine become, in a way surpassing understanding, the Body and Blood
of Christ; they continue also to signify the goodness of creation. Thus in the
Offertory we give thanks to the Creator for bread and wine,152 fruit of
the "work of human hands," but above all as "fruit of the
earth" and "of the vine" - gifts of the Creator. the Church sees
in the gesture of the king-priest Melchizedek, who "brought out bread and
wine," a prefiguring of her own offering.153
In the Old Covenant bread and wine were offered in sacrifice among the first
fruits of the earth as a sign of grateful acknowledgment to the Creator. But
they also received a new significance in the context of the Exodus: the
unleavened bread that Israel eats every year at Passover commemorates the haste
of the departure that liberated them from Egypt; the remembrance of the manna
in the desert will always recall to Israel that it lives by the bread of the
Word of God;154 their daily bread is the fruit of the promised land,
the pledge of God's faithfulness to his promises.
The "cup of blessing"155 at the end of the Jewish Passover
meal adds to the festive joy of wine an eschatological dimension: the messianic
expectation of the rebuilding of Jerusalem. When Jesus instituted the
Eucharist, he gave a new and definitive meaning to the blessing of the bread
and the cup.
The miracles of the multiplication of the loaves, when the Lord says the
blessing, breaks and distributes the loaves through his disciples to feed the
multitude, prefigure the superabundance of this unique bread of his
Eucharist.156 The sign of water turned into wine at Cana already
announces the Hour of Jesus' glorification. It makes manifest the fulfillment
of the wedding feast in the Father's kingdom, where the faithful will drink the
new wine that has become the Blood of Christ.157
The first announcement of the Eucharist divided the disciples, just as the
announcement of the Passion scandalized them: "This is a hard saying; who
can listen to it?"158 The Eucharist and the Cross are stumbling
blocks. It is the same mystery and it never ceases to be an occasion of
division. "Will you also go away?":159 The Lord's question
echoes through the ages, as a loving invitation to discover that only he has
"the words of eternal life"160 and that to receive in faith
the gift of his Eucharist is to receive the Lord himself.
institution of the Eucharist
The Lord, having loved those who were his own, loved them to the end. Knowing
that the hour had come to leave this world and return to the Father, in the
course of a meal he washed their feet and gave them the commandment of
love.161 In order to leave them a pledge of this love, in order never
to depart from his own and to make them sharers in his Passover, he instituted
the Eucharist as the memorial of his death and Resurrection, and commanded his
apostles to celebrate it until his return; "thereby he constituted them
priests of the New Testament."162
The three synoptic Gospels and St. Paul have handed on to us the account of the
institution of the Eucharist; St. John, for his part, reports the words of
Jesus in the synagogue of Capernaum that prepare for the institution of the
Eucharist: Christ calls himself the bread of life, come down from
Jesus chose the time of Passover to fulfill what he had announced at Capernaum:
giving his disciples his Body and his Blood:
Then came the day of
Unleavened Bread, on which the passover lamb had to be sacrificed. So Jesus
sent Peter and John, saying, "Go and prepare the passover meal for us,
that we may eat it...." They went ... and prepared the passover. and when
the hour came, he sat at table, and the apostles with him. and he said to them,
"I have earnestly desired to eat this passover with you before I suffer;
for I tell you I shall not eat it again until it is fulfilled in the kingdom of
God.".... and he took bread, and when he had given thanks he broke it and
gave it to them, saying, "This is my body which is given for you. Do this
in remembrance of me." and likewise the cup after supper, saying,
"This cup which is poured out for you is the New Covenant in my
By celebrating the Last Supper with his apostles in the course of the Passover
meal, Jesus gave the Jewish Passover its definitive meaning. Jesus' passing over
to his father by his death and Resurrection, the new Passover, is anticipated
in the Supper and celebrated in the Eucharist, which fulfills the Jewish
Passover and anticipates the final Passover of the Church in the glory of the
this in memory of me"
The command of Jesus to repeat his actions and words "until he comes"
does not only ask us to remember Jesus and what he did. It is directed at the
liturgical celebration, by the apostles and their successors, of the memorial
of Christ, of his life, of his death, of his Resurrection, and of his
intercession in the presence of the Father.165
From the beginning the Church has been faithful to the Lord's command. of the
Church of Jerusalem it is written:
They devoted themselves to the
apostles' teaching and fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers....
Day by day, attending the temple together and breaking bread in their homes,
they partook of food with glad and generous hearts.166
It was above all on "the first day of the week," Sunday, the day of
Jesus' resurrection, that the Christians met "to break
bread."167 From that time on down to our own day the celebration
of the Eucharist has been continued so that today we encounter it everywhere in
the Church with the same fundamental structure. It remains the center of the
Thus from celebration to celebration, as they proclaim the Paschal mystery of
Jesus "until he comes," the pilgrim People of God advances,
"following the narrow way of the cross,"168 toward the
heavenly banquet, when all the elect will be seated at the table of the
IV. The Liturgical Celebration of the Eucharist
The Mass of
As early as the second century we have the witness of St. Justin Martyr for the
basic lines of the order of the Eucharistic celebration. They have stayed the
same until our own day for all the great liturgical families. St. Justin wrote
to the pagan emperor Antoninus Pius (138-161) around the year 155, explaining
what Christians did:
On the day we call the day of
the sun, all who dwell in the city or country gather in the same place.
The memoirs of the apostles and the writings of the prophets are read, as much
as time permits.
When the reader has finished, he who presides over those gathered admonishes
and challenges them to imitate these beautiful things.
Then we all rise together and offer prayers* for ourselves . . .and for all
others, wherever they may be, so that we may be found righteous by our life and
actions, and faithful to the commandments, so as to obtain eternal salvation.
When the prayers are concluded we exchange the kiss.
Then someone brings bread and a cup of water and wine mixed together to him who
presides over the brethren.
He takes them and offers praise and glory to the Father of the universe,
through the name of the Son and of the Holy
Spirit and for a considerable time he gives thanks (in Greek: eucharistian)
that we have been judged worthy of these gifts.
When he has concluded the prayers and thanksgivings, all present give voice to
an acclamation by saying: 'Amen.'
When he who presides has given thanks and the people have responded, those whom
we call deacons give to those present the "eucharisted" bread, wine
and water and take them to those who are absent.169
The liturgy of the Eucharist unfolds according to a fundamental structure which
has been preserved throughout the centuries down to our own day. It displays
two great parts that form a fundamental unity:
- the gathering, the liturgy of the Word, with readings, homily and general
- the liturgy of the Eucharist, with the presentation of the bread and wine,
the consecratory thanksgiving, and communion.
The liturgy of the Word and liturgy of the Eucharist together form "one
single act of worship";170 The Eucharistic table set for us is the
table both of the Word of God and of the Body of the Lord.171
Is this not the same movement as the Paschal meal of the risen Jesus with his
disciples? Walking with them he explained the Scriptures to them; sitting with
them at table "he took bread, blessed and broke it, and gave it to
movement of the celebration
All gather together. Christians come together in one place for the Eucharistic assembly.
At its head is Christ himself, the principal agent of the Eucharist. He is high
priest of the New Covenant; it is he himself who presides invisibly over every
Eucharistic celebration. It is in representing him that the bishop or priest
acting in the person of Christ the head (in persona Christi capitis) presides
over the assembly, speaks after the readings, receives the offerings, and says
the Eucharistic Prayer. All have their own active parts to play in the
celebration, each in his own way: readers, those who bring up the offerings,
those who give communion, and the whole people whose "Amen" manifests
The Liturgy of the Word includes "the writings of the prophets," that
is, the Old Testament, and "the memoirs of the apostles" (their
letters and the Gospels). After the homily, which is an exhortation to accept
this Word as what it truly is, the Word of God,173 and to put it into
practice, come the intercessions for all men, according to the Apostle's words:
"I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be
made for all men, for kings, and all who are in high
The presentation of the offerings (the Offertory). Then, sometimes in procession,
the bread and wine are brought to the altar; they will be offered by the priest
in the name of Christ in the Eucharistic sacrifice in which they will become
his body and blood. It is the very action of Christ at the Last Supper -
"taking the bread and a cup." "The Church alone offers this pure
oblation to the Creator, when she offers what comes forth from his creation
with thanksgiving."175 The presentation of the offerings at the
altar takes up the gesture of Melchizedek and commits the Creator's gifts into
the hands of Christ who, in his sacrifice, brings to perfection all human
attempts to offer sacrifices.
From the very beginning Christians have brought, along with the bread and wine
for the Eucharist, gifts to share with those in need. This custom of the
collection, ever appropriate, is inspired by the example of Christ who became
poor to make us rich:176
Those who are well off, and who are also willing, give as each chooses.
What is gathered is given to him who presides to assist orphans and widows,
those whom illness or any other cause has deprived of resources, prisoners,
immigrants and, in a word, all who are in need.177
The anaphora: with the Eucharistic Prayer - the prayer of thanksgiving and
consecration - we come to the heart and summit of the celebration:
In the preface, the Church gives thanks to the Father, through Christ,
in the Holy Spirit, for all his works: creation, redemption, and
sanctification. the whole community thus joins in the unending praise that the
Church in heaven, the angels and all the saints, sing to the thrice-holy God.
epiclesis, the Church asks the Father to send his Holy Spirit (or the power of
his blessing178) on the bread and wine, so that by his power they may
become the body and blood of Jesus Christ and so that those who take part in
the Eucharist may be one body and one spirit (some liturgical traditions put
the epiclesis after the anamnesis).
In the institution narrative, the power of the words and the action of Christ,
and the power of the Holy Spirit, make sacramentally present under the species
of bread and wine Christ's body and blood, his sacrifice offered on the cross
once for all.
anamnesis that follows, the Church calls to mind the Passion, resurrection, and
glorious return of Christ Jesus; she presents to the Father the offering of his
Son which reconciles us with him.
In the intercessions, the Church indicates that the Eucharist is celebrated in
communion with the whole Church in heaven and on earth, the living and the
dead, and in communion with the pastors of the Church, the Pope, the diocesan
bishop, his presbyterium and his deacons, and all the bishops of the whole
world together with their Churches.
In the communion, preceded by the Lord's prayer and the breaking of the bread,
the faithful receive "the bread of heaven" and "the cup of
salvation," the body and blood of Christ who offered himself "for the
life of the world":179
Because this bread and wine
have been made Eucharist ("eucharisted," according to an ancient
expression), "we call this food Eucharist, and no one may take part in it
unless he believes that what we teach is true, has received baptism for the
forgiveness of sins and new birth, and lives in keeping with what Christ
V. The Sacramental Sacrifice Thanksgiving, Memorial, Presence
If from the beginning Christians have celebrated the Eucharist and in a form
whose substance has not changed despite the great diversity of times and
liturgies, it is because we know ourselves to be bound by the command the Lord
gave on the eve of his Passion: "Do this in remembrance of
We carry out this command of the Lord by celebrating the memorial of his
sacrifice. In so doing, we offer to the Father what he has himself given us:
the gifts of his creation, bread and wine which, by the power of the Holy
Spirit and by the words of Christ, have become the body and blood of Christ.
Christ is thus really and mysteriously made present.
We must therefore consider the Eucharist as: - thanksgiving and praise to the
- the sacrificial memorial of Christ and his Body;
- the presence of Christ by the power of his word and of his Spirit.
and praise to the Father
The Eucharist, the sacrament of our salvation accomplished by Christ on the
cross, is also a sacrifice of praise in thanksgiving for the work of creation.
In the Eucharistic sacrifice the whole of creation loved by God is presented to
the Father through the death and the Resurrection of Christ. Through Christ the
Church can offer the sacrifice of praise in thanksgiving for all that God has
made good, beautiful, and just in creation and in humanity.
The Eucharist is a sacrifice of thanksgiving to the Father, a blessing by which
the Church expresses her gratitude to God for all his benefits, for all that he
has accomplished through creation, redemption, and sanctification. Eucharist
means first of all "thanksgiving."
The Eucharist is also the sacrifice of praise by which the Church sings the
glory of God in the name of all creation. This sacrifice of praise is possible
only through Christ: he unites the faithful to his person, to his praise, and
to his intercession, so that the sacrifice of praise to the Father is offered
through Christ and with him, to be accepted in him.
sacrificial memorial of Christ and of his Body, the Church
The Eucharist is the memorial of Christ's Passover, the making present and the
sacramental offering of his unique sacrifice, in the liturgy of the Church
which is his Body. In all the Eucharistic Prayers we find after the words of
institution a prayer called the anamnesis or memorial.
In the sense of Sacred Scripture the memorial is not merely the recollection of
past events but the proclamation of the mighty works wrought by God for
men.182 In the liturgical celebration of these events, they become in a
certain way present and real. This is how Israel understands its liberation
from Egypt: every time Passover is celebrated, the Exodus events are made
present to the memory of believers so that they may conform their lives to
In the New Testament, the memorial takes on new meaning. When the Church
celebrates the Eucharist, she commemorates Christ's Passover, and it is made
present the sacrifice Christ offered once for all on the cross remains ever
present.183 "As often as the sacrifice of the Cross by which
'Christ our Pasch has been sacrificed' is celebrated on the altar, the work of
our redemption is carried out."184
Because it is the memorial of Christ's Passover, the Eucharist is also a
sacrifice. the sacrificial character of the Eucharist is manifested in the very
words of institution: "This is my body which is given for you" and
"This cup which is poured out for you is the New Covenant in my
blood."185 In the Eucharist Christ gives us the very body which he
gave up for us on the cross, the very blood which he "poured out for many
for the forgiveness of sins."186
The Eucharist is thus a sacrifice because it re-presents (makes present) the
sacrifice of the cross, because it is its memorial and because it applies its
[Christ], our Lord and God, was once and for all to offer himself to God
the Father by his death on the altar of the cross, to accomplish there an
everlasting redemption. But because his priesthood was not to end with his
death, at the Last Supper "on the night when he was betrayed," [he
wanted] to leave to his beloved spouse the Church a visible sacrifice (as the
nature of man demands) by which the bloody sacrifice which he was to accomplish
once for all on the cross would be re-presented, its memory perpetuated until
the end of the world, and its salutary power be applied to the forgiveness of
the sins we daily commit.187
The sacrifice of Christ and the sacrifice of the Eucharist are one single
sacrifice: "The victim is one and the same: the same now offers through
the ministry of priests, who then offered himself on the cross; only the manner
of offering is different." "In this divine sacrifice which is
celebrated in the Mass, the same Christ who offered himself once in a bloody
manner on the altar of the cross is contained and is offered in an unbloody
The Eucharist is also the sacrifice of the Church. the Church which is the Body
of Christ participates in the offering of her Head. With him, she herself is
offered whole and entire. She unites herself to his intercession with the
Father for all men. In the Eucharist the sacrifice of Christ becomes also the
sacrifice of the members of his Body. the lives of the faithful, their praise,
sufferings, prayer, and work, are united with those of Christ and with his
total offering, and so acquire a new value. Christ's sacrifice present on the
altar makes it possible for all generations of Christians to be united with his
In the catacombs the Church is often represented as a woman in prayer,
arms outstretched in the praying position. Like Christ who stretched out his
arms on the cross, through him, with him, and in him, she offers herself and
intercedes for all men.
The whole Church is united with the offering and intercession of Christ. Since
he has the ministry of Peter in the Church, the Pope is associated with every
celebration of the Eucharist, wherein he is named as the sign and servant of the
unity of the universal Church. the bishop of the place is always responsible
for the Eucharist, even when a priest presides; the bishop's name is mentioned
to signify his presidency over the particular Church, in the midst of his
presbyterium and with the assistance of deacons. the community intercedes also
for all ministers who, for it and with it, offer the Eucharistic sacrifice:
Let only that Eucharist be regarded as legitimate, which is celebrated
under [the presidency of] the bishop or him to whom he has entrusted
Through the ministry of priests the spiritual sacrifice of the faithful
is completed in union with the sacrifice of Christ the only Mediator, which in
the Eucharist is offered through the priests' hands in the name of the whole
Church in an unbloody and sacramental manner until the Lord himself
To the offering of Christ are united not only the members still here on earth,
but also those already in the glory of heaven. In communion with and
commemorating the Blessed Virgin Mary and all the saints, the Church offers the
Eucharistic sacrifice. In the Eucharist the Church is as it were at the foot of
the cross with Mary, united with the offering and intercession of Christ.
The Eucharistic sacrifice is also offered for the faithful departed who
"have died in Christ but are not yet wholly purified,"191 so
that they may be able to enter into the light and peace of Christ:
Put this body anywhere! Don't trouble yourselves about it! I simply ask
you to remember me at the Lord's altar wherever you are.192
Then, we pray [in the anaphora] for the holy fathers and bishops who
have fallen asleep, and in general for all who have fallen asleep before us, in
the belief that it is a great benefit to the souls on whose behalf the
supplication is offered, while the holy and tremendous Victim is present.... By
offering to God our supplications for those who have fallen asleep, if they
have sinned, we . . . offer Christ sacrificed for the sins of all, and so
render favorable, for them and for us, the God who loves man.193
St. Augustine admirably summed up this doctrine that moves us to an ever more
complete participation in our Redeemer's sacrifice which we celebrate in the
This wholly redeemed city, the assembly and society of the saints, is
offered to God as a universal sacrifice by the high priest who in the form of a
slave went so far as to offer himself for us in his Passion, to make us the
Body of so great a head.... Such is the sacrifice of Christians: "we who
are many are one Body in Christ" the Church continues to reproduce this
sacrifice in the sacrament of the altar so well-known to believers wherein it
is evident to them that in what she offers she herself is offered.194
presence of Christ by the power of his word and the Holy Spirit
"Christ Jesus, who died, yes, who was raised from the dead, who is at the
right hand of God, who indeed intercedes for us," is present in many ways
to his Church:195 in his word, in his Church's prayer, "where two
or three are gathered in my name,"196 in the poor, the sick, and
the imprisoned,197 in the sacraments of which he is the author, in the
sacrifice of the Mass, and in the person of the minister. But "he is
present . . . most especially in the Eucharistic species."198
The mode of Christ's presence under the Eucharistic species is unique. It
raises the Eucharist above all the sacraments as "the perfection of the
spiritual life and the end to which all the sacraments tend."199
In the most blessed sacrament of the Eucharist "the body and blood,
together with the soul and divinity, of our Lord Jesus Christ and, therefore,
the whole Christ is truly, really, and substantially
contained."200 "This presence is called 'real' - by which is
not intended to exclude the other types of presence as if they could not be
'real' too, but because it is presence in the fullest sense: that is to say, it
is a substantial presence by which Christ, God and man, makes himself wholly
and entirely present."201
It is by the conversion of the bread and wine into Christ's body and blood that
Christ becomes present in this sacrament. the Church Fathers strongly affirmed
the faith of the Church in the efficacy of the Word of Christ and of the action
of the Holy Spirit to bring about this conversion. Thus St. John Chrysostom
It is not man that causes the
things offered to become the Body and Blood of Christ, but he who was crucified
for us, Christ himself. the priest, in the role of Christ, pronounces these
words, but their power and grace are God's. This is my body, he says. This word
transforms the things offered.202
Ambrose says about this conversion:
Be convinced that this is not
what nature has formed, but what the blessing has consecrated. the power of the
blessing prevails over that of nature, because by the blessing nature itself is
changed.... Could not Christ's word, which can make from nothing what did not
exist, change existing things into what they were not before? It is no less a
feat to give things their original nature than to change their nature.203
The Council of Trent summarizes the Catholic faith by declaring: "Because
Christ our Redeemer said that it was truly his body that he was offering under
the species of bread, it has always been the conviction of the Church of God,
and this holy Council now declares again, that by the consecration of the bread
and wine there takes place a change of the whole substance of the bread into
the substance of the body of Christ our Lord and of the whole substance of the
wine into the substance of his blood. This change the holy Catholic Church has
fittingly and properly called transubstantiation."204
The Eucharistic presence of Christ begins at the moment of the consecration and
endures as long as the Eucharistic species subsist. Christ is present whole and
entire in each of the species and whole and entire in each of their parts, in
such a way that the breaking of the bread does not divide Christ.205
Worship of the Eucharist. In the liturgy of the Mass we express our faith in
the real presence of Christ under the species of bread and wine by, among other
ways, genuflecting or bowing deeply as a sign of adoration of the Lord.
"The Catholic Church has always offered and still offers to the sacrament
of the Eucharist the cult of adoration, not only during Mass, but also outside
of it, reserving the consecrated hosts with the utmost care, exposing them to
the solemn veneration of the faithful, and carrying them in procession."206
tabernacle was first intended for the reservation of the Eucharist in a worthy
place so that it could be brought to the sick and those absent outside of Mass.
As faith in the real presence of Christ in his Eucharist deepened, the Church
became conscious of the meaning of silent adoration of the Lord present under
the Eucharistic species. It is for this reason that the tabernacle should be
located in an especially worthy place in the church and should be constructed
in such a way that it emphasizes and manifests the truth of the real presence
of Christ in the Blessed Sacrament.
It is highly fitting that Christ should have wanted to remain present to his
Church in this unique way. Since Christ was about to take his departure from
his own in his visible form, he wanted to give us his sacramental presence;
since he was about to offer himself on the cross to save us, he wanted us to
have the memorial of the love with which he loved us "to the end,"207
even to the giving of his life. In his Eucharistic presence he remains
mysteriously in our midst as the one who loved us and gave himself up for
us,208 and he remains under signs that express and communicate this
The Church and the world have a great need for Eucharistic worship.
Jesus awaits us in this sacrament of love. Let us not refuse the time to go to
meet him in adoration, in contemplation full of faith, and open to making
amends for the serious offenses and crimes of the world. Let our adoration
"That in this sacrament are the true Body of Christ and his true Blood is
something that 'cannot be apprehended by the senses,' says St. Thomas, 'but only
by faith, which relies on divine authority.' For this reason, in a commentary
on Luke 22:19 ('This is my body which is given for you.'), St. Cyril says: 'Do
not doubt whether this is true, but rather receive the words of the Savior in
faith, for since he is the truth, he cannot lie.'"210
Godhead here in hiding, whom I
Masked by these bare shadows,
shape and nothing more,
See, Lord, at thy service low
lies here a heart
Lost, all lost in wonder at
the God thou art.
Seeing, touching, tasting are in thee deceived;
How says trusty hearing? that shall be believed;
What God's Son has told me, take for truth I do;
Truth himself speaks truly or there's nothing true.211
VI. The Paschal Banquet
The Mass is at the same time, and inseparably, the sacrificial memorial in
which the sacrifice of the cross is perpetuated and the sacred banquet of
communion with the Lord's body and blood. But the celebration of the Eucharistic
sacrifice is wholly directed toward the intimate union of the faithful with
Christ through communion. To receive communion is to receive Christ himself who
has offered himself for us.
The altar, around which the Church is gathered in the celebration of the
Eucharist, represents the two aspects of the same mystery: the altar of the
sacrifice and the table of the Lord. This is all the more so since the
Christian altar is the symbol of Christ himself, present in the midst of the assembly
of his faithful, both as the victim offered for our reconciliation and as food
from heaven who is giving himself to us. "For what is the altar of Christ
if not the image of the Body of Christ?"212 asks St. Ambrose. He
says elsewhere, "The altar represents the body [of Christ] and the Body of
Christ is on the altar."213 The liturgy expresses this unity of
sacrifice and communion in many prayers. Thus the Roman Church prays in its
We entreat you, almighty God,
that by the hands of your holy
this offering may be borne to
your altar in heaven
in the sight of your divine
so that as we receive in
communion at this altar
the most holy Body and Blood
of your Son,
we may be filled with every
heavenly blessing and grace.214
this and eat it, all of you": communion
The Lord addresses an invitation to us, urging us to receive him in the
sacrament of the Eucharist: "Truly, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh
of the Son of man and drink his blood, you have no life in
To respond to this invitation we must prepare ourselves for so great and so
holy a moment. St. Paul urges us to examine our conscience: "Whoever,
therefore, eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner
will be guilty of profaning the body and blood of the Lord. Let a man examine
himself, and so eat of the bread and drink of the cup. For any one who eats and
drinks without discerning the body eats and drinks judgment upon
himself."216 Anyone conscious of a grave sin must receive the
sacrament of Reconciliation before coming to communion.
Before so great a sacrament, the faithful can only echo humbly and with ardent
faith the words of the Centurion: "Domine, non sum dignus ut intres sub
tectum meum, sed tantum dic verbo, et sanabitur anima mea" ("Lord, I
am not worthy that you should enter under my roof, but only say the word and my
soul will be healed.").217 and in the Divine Liturgy of St. John
Chrysostom the faithful pray in the same spirit:
O Son of God, bring me into
communion today with your mystical supper. I shall not tell your enemies the
secret, nor kiss you with Judas' kiss. But like the good thief I cry,
"Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom."
To prepare for worthy reception of this sacrament, the faithful should observe
the fast required in their Church.218 Bodily demeanor (gestures,
clothing) ought to convey the respect, solemnity, and joy of this moment when
Christ becomes our guest.
It is in keeping with the very meaning of the Eucharist that the faithful, if
they have the required dispositions, receive communion each time they
participate in the Mass.219 As the Second Vatican Council says:
"That more perfect form of participation in the Mass whereby the faithful,
after the priest's communion, receive the Lord's Body from the same sacrifice,
is warmly recommended."220
The Church obliges the faithful "to take part in the Divine Liturgy on
Sundays and feast days" and, prepared by the sacrament of Reconciliation,
to receive the Eucharist at least once a year, if possible during the Easter
season.221 But the Church strongly encourages the faithful to receive
the holy Eucharist on Sundays and feast days, or more often still, even daily.
Since Christ is sacramentally present under each of the species, communion
under the species of bread alone makes it possible to receive all the fruit of
Eucharistic grace. For pastoral reasons this manner of receiving communion has
been legitimately established as the most common form in the Latin rite. But
"the sign of communion is more complete when given under both kinds, since
in that form the sign of the Eucharistic meal appears more
clearly."222 This is the usual form of receiving communion in the
of Holy Communion
Holy Communion augments our union with Christ. the principal fruit of receiving
the Eucharist in Holy Communion is an intimate union with Christ Jesus. Indeed,
the Lord said: "He who eats my flesh and drinks my blood abides in me, and
I in him."223 Life in Christ has its foundation in the Eucharistic
banquet: "As the living Father sent me, and I live because of the Father,
so he who eats me will live because of me."224
On the feasts of the Lord,
when the faithful receive the Body of the Son, they proclaim to one another the
Good News that the first fruits of life have been given, as when the angel said
to Mary Magdalene, "Christ is risen!" Now too are life and
resurrection conferred on whoever receives Christ.225
What material food produces in our bodily life, Holy Communion wonderfully
achieves in our spiritual life. Communion with the flesh of the risen Christ, a
flesh "given life and giving life through the Holy
Spirit,"226 preserves, increases, and renews the life of grace received
at Baptism. This growth in Christian life needs the nourishment of Eucharistic
Communion, the bread for our pilgrimage until the moment of death, when it will
be given to us as viaticum.
Holy Communion separates us from sin. the body of Christ we receive in Holy
Communion is "given up for us," and the blood we drink "shed for
the many for the forgiveness of sins." For this reason the Eucharist
cannot unite us to Christ without at the same time cleansing us from past sins
and preserving us from future sins:
For as often as we eat this
bread and drink the cup, we proclaim the death of the Lord. If we proclaim the
Lord's death, we proclaim the forgiveness of sins. If, as often as his blood is
poured out, it is poured for the forgiveness of sins, I should always receive
it, so that it may always forgive my sins. Because I always sin, I should
always have a remedy.227
As bodily nourishment restores lost strength, so the Eucharist strengthens our
charity, which tends to be weakened in daily life; and this living charity
wipes away venial sins.228 By giving himself to us Christ revives our
love and enables us to break our disordered attachments to creatures and root
ourselves in him:
Since Christ died for us out
of love, when we celebrate the memorial of his death at the moment of sacrifice
we ask that love may be granted to us by the coming of the Holy Spirit. We
humbly pray that in the strength of this love by which Christ willed to die for
us, we, by receiving the gift of the Holy Spirit, may be able to consider the
world as crucified for us, and to be ourselves as crucified to the world....
Having received the gift of love, let us die to sin and live for God.229
By the same charity that it enkindles in us, the Eucharist preserves us from
future mortal sins. the more we share the life of Christ and progress in his
friendship, the more difficult it is to break away from him by mortal sin. the
Eucharist is not ordered to the forgiveness of mortal sins - that is proper to
the sacrament of Reconciliation. the Eucharist is properly the sacrament of
those who are in full communion with the Church.
The unity of the Mystical Body: the Eucharist makes the Church. Those who
receive the Eucharist are united more closely to Christ. Through it Christ
unites them to all the faithful in one body - the Church. Communion renews,
strengthens, and deepens this incorporation into the Church, already achieved
by Baptism. In Baptism we have been called to form but one body.230 The
Eucharist fulfills this call: "The cup of blessing which we bless, is it
not a participation in the blood of Christ? the bread which we break, is it not
a participation in the body of Christ? Because there is one bread, we who are
many are one body, for we all partake of the one bread:"231
If you are the body and
members of Christ, then it is your sacrament that is placed on the table of the
Lord; it is your sacrament that you receive. To that which you are you respond
"Amen" ("yes, it is true!") and by responding to it you
assent to it. For you hear the words, "the Body of Christ" and
respond "Amen." Be then a member of the Body of Christ that your Amen
may be true.232
The Eucharist commits us to the poor. To receive in truth the Body and Blood of
Christ given up for us, we must recognize Christ in the poorest, his brethren:
You have tasted the Blood of
the Lord, yet you do not recognize your brother,.... You dishonor this table
when you do not judge worthy of sharing your food someone judged worthy to take
part in this meal.... God freed you from all your sins and invited you here,
but you have not become more merciful.233
The Eucharist and the unity of Christians. Before the greatness of this mystery
St. Augustine exclaims, "O sacrament of devotion! O sign of unity! O bond
of charity!"234 The more painful the experience of the divisions
in the Church which break the common participation in the table of the Lord,
the more urgent are our prayers to the Lord that the time of complete unity
among all who believe in him may return.
Eastern churches that are not in full communion with the Catholic Church
celebrate the Eucharist with great love. "These Churches, although
separated from us, yet possess true sacraments, above all - by apostolic
succession - the priesthood and the Eucharist, whereby they are still joined to
us in closest intimacy." A certain communion in sacris, and so in the
Eucharist, "given suitable circumstances and the approval of Church
authority, is not merely possible but is encouraged."235
communities derived from the Reformation and separated from the Catholic
Church, "have not preserved the proper reality of the Eucharistic mystery
in its fullness, especially because of the absence of the sacrament of Holy
Orders."236 It is for this reason that Eucharistic intercommunion
with these communities is not possible for the Catholic Church. However these
ecclesial communities, "when they commemorate the Lord's death and
resurrection in the Holy Supper . . . profess that it signifies life in communion
with Christ and await his coming in glory."237
in the Ordinary's judgment, a grave necessity arises, Catholic ministers may
give the sacraments of Eucharist, Penance, and Anointing of the Sick to other
Christians not in full communion with the Catholic Church, who ask for them of
their own will, provided they give evidence of holding the Catholic faith
regarding these sacraments and possess the required dispositions.238
VII. The Eucharist - "Pledge of the Glory To Come"
In an ancient prayer the Church acclaims the mystery of the Eucharist: "O
sacred banquet in which Christ is received as food, the memory of his Passion
is renewed, the soul is filled with grace and a pledge of the life to come is
given to us." If the Eucharist is the memorial of the Passover of the Lord
Jesus, if by our communion at the altar we are filled "with every heavenly
blessing and grace,"239 then the Eucharist is also an anticipation
of the heavenly glory.
At the Last Supper the Lord himself directed his disciples' attention toward
the fulfillment of the Passover in the kingdom of God: "I tell you I shall
not drink again of this fruit of the vine until that day when I drink it new
with you in my Father's kingdom."240 Whenever the Church
celebrates the Eucharist she remembers this promise and turns her gaze "to
him who is to come." In her prayer she calls for his coming: "Marana
tha!" "Come, Lord Jesus!"241 "May your grace come
and this world pass away!"242
The Church knows that the Lord comes even now in his Eucharist and that he is
there in our midst. However, his presence is veiled. Therefore we celebrate the
Eucharist "awaiting the blessed hope and the coming of our Savior, Jesus
Christ,"243 asking "to share in your glory when every tear
will be wiped away. On that day we shall see you, our God, as you are. We shall
become like you and praise you for ever through Christ our
There is no surer pledge or dearer sign of this great hope in the new heavens
and new earth "in which righteousness dwells,"245 than the
Eucharist. Every time this mystery is celebrated, "the work of our
redemption is carried on" and we "break the one bread that provides
the medicine of immortality, the antidote for death, and the food that makes us
live for ever in Jesus Christ."246
1406 Jesus said: "I am
the living bread that came down from heaven; if any one eats of this bread, he
will live for ever; . . . he who eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal
life and . . . abides in me, and I in him" (⇒ Jn
6:51, ⇒ 54,
1407 The Eucharist is the
heart and the summit of the Church's life, for in it Christ associates his
Church and all her members with his sacrifice of praise and thanksgiving
offered once for all on the cross to his Father; by this sacrifice he pours out
the graces of salvation on his Body which is the Church.
1408 The Eucharistic
celebration always includes: the proclamation of the Word of God; thanksgiving
to God the Father for all his benefits, above all the gift of his Son; the
consecration of bread and wine; and participation in the liturgical banquet by
receiving the Lord's body and blood. These elements constitute one single act
1409 The Eucharist is the
memorial of Christ's Passover, that is, of the work of salvation accomplished
by the life, death, and resurrection of Christ, a work made present by the
1410 It is Christ himself,
the eternal high priest of the New Covenant who, acting through the ministry of
the priests, offers the Eucharistic sacrifice. and it is the same Christ,
really present under the species of bread and wine, who is the offering of the
1411 Only validly ordained
priests can preside at the Eucharist and consecrate the bread and the wine so
that they become the Body and Blood of the Lord.
1412 The essential signs of
the Eucharistic sacrament are wheat bread and grape wine, on which the blessing
of the Holy Spirit is invoked and the priest pronounces the words of
consecration spoken by Jesus during the Last Supper: "This is my body
which will be given up for you.... This is the cup of my blood...."
1413 By the consecration the
transubstantiation of the bread and wine into the Body and Blood of Christ is
brought about. Under the consecrated species of bread and wine Christ himself,
living and glorious, is present in a true, real, and substantial manner: his
Body and his Blood, with his soul and his divinity (cf. Council of Trent: DS
1414 As sacrifice, the Eucharist
is also offered in reparation for the sins of the living and the dead and to
obtain spiritual or temporal benefits from God.
1415 Anyone who desires to
receive Christ in Eucharistic communion must be in the state of grace. Anyone
aware of having sinned mortally must not receive communion without having
received absolution in the sacrament of penance.
1416 Communion with the Body
and Blood of Christ increases the communicant's union with the Lord, forgives
his venial sins, and preserves him from grave sins. Since receiving this
sacrament strengthens the bonds of charity between the communicant and Christ,
it also reinforces the unity of the Church as the Mystical Body of Christ.
1417 The Church warmly
recommends that the faithful receive Holy Communion each time they participate
in the celebration of the Eucharist; she obliges them to do so at least once a
1418 Because Christ himself
is present in the sacrament of the altar, he is to be honored with the worship
of adoration. "To visit the Blessed Sacrament is . . . a proof of
gratitude, an expression of love, and a duty of adoration toward Christ our
Lord" (Paul VI, MF 66).
1419 Having passed from this
world to the Father, Christ gives us in the Eucharist the pledge of glory with
him. Participation in the Holy Sacrifice identifies us with his Heart, sustains
our strength along the pilgrimage of this life, makes us long for eternal life,
and unites us even now to the Church in heaven, the Blessed Virgin Mary, and
all the saints.
Cf. St. Thomas Aquinas, STh III, 65, 1.
2 St. Thomas Aquinas, STh III, 65, 3.
3 Paul VI, apostolic constitution, Divinae consortium naturae: AAS 63 (1971) 657; cf. RCIA Introduction 1-2.
4 Cf. Council of Florence: DS 1314: vitae spiritualis ianua.
5 Roman Catechism II, 2, 5; Cf. Council of Florence: DS 1314;
⇒ CIC, cann. 204 # 1;
⇒ 849; CCEO, can. 675 # 1.
6 ⇒ Gal
6:15; Cf. Rom 6:34; ⇒ Col
7 ⇒ Titus 3:5;
⇒ Jn 3:5[ETML:C/].
8 St. Justin, Apol. 1, 61, 12: PG 6, 421.
9 ⇒ Jn 1:9;
10:32; ⇒ Eph 5:8.
10 St. Gregory of Nazianzus, Oratio 40, 3-4: PG 36, 361C.
11 Roman Missal, Easter Vigil 42: Blessing of Water.
⇒ Gen 1:2.
Missal, Easter Vigil 42: Blessing of Water.
⇒ 1 Pet 3:20.
Missal, Easter Vigil 42: Blessing of Water.
16 Roman Missal, Easter Vigil 42: Blessing of Water: "Abrahae
filios per mare Rubrum sicco vestigio transire fecisti, ut plebs, a Pharaonis servitute liberata, populum baptizatorum praefiguraret."
17 Cf. ⇒ Mt 3:13.
18 ⇒ Mt 28:19-20; cf.
⇒ Mk 16:15-16.
19 ⇒ Mt 3:15.
⇒ Phil 2:7.
⇒ Mt 3:16-17.
22 ⇒ Mk 10:38; cf.
⇒ Lk 12:50.
23 Cf. ⇒ Jn 19:34;
⇒ 1 Jn 5:6-8.
⇒ Jn 3:5[ETML:C/].
25 St. Ambrose, De sacr. 2, 2, 6: PL 16, 444; cf.
⇒ Jn 3:5[ETML:C/].
⇒ Acts 2:38.
27 Cf. ⇒ Acts 2:41;
28 ⇒ Acts 16:31-33.
29 ⇒ Rom 6:3-4; cf.
⇒ Col 2:12.
⇒ Gal 3:27.
31 CE ⇒ 1 Cor 6:11;
32 ⇒ Eph 5:26.
33 St. Augustine, In Jo. ev. 80, 3: PL 35, 1840.
34 SC 64.
35 Cf. RCIA (1972).
36 SC 65; cf. SC
37 Cf. AG 14; ⇒ CIC, cann. 851;
38 Cf. ⇒ 20;
⇒ Rom 6:17.
40 ⇒ Jn 3:5[ETML:C/].
41 Cf. RBC 62.
42 ⇒ Gal 3:27.
43 ⇒ Mt 5:14; cf.
⇒ Phil 2:15.
44 ⇒ Rev 19:9.
45 ⇒ Mk 10 14.
⇒ CIC, can. 864; cf. CCEO, can. 679.
47 AG 14; cf. RCIA
48 AG 14 # 5.
49 LG 14 # 3; cf. ⇒ 788 #
Council of Trent (1546): DS 1514; cf. ⇒ Col
⇒ CIC, can. 867; CCEO, cann. 681; 686, 1.
52 Cf. LG 11; 41; GS 48; ⇒ CIC, can. 868.
53 Cf. ⇒ Acts 16:15,
⇒ 1 Cor
1:16; CDF, instruction, Pastoralis actio: AAS 72 (1980) 1137-1156.
54 Cf. ⇒ Mk 16:16.
55 Cf. ⇒ CIC, cann. 872-874.
56 Cf. SC 67.
57 Cf. ⇒ CIC,
can. 861 # 1; CCEO, can. 677 # 1.
58 Cf. ⇒ 1 Tim 2:4.
59 Cf. ⇒ Jn 3:5[ETML:C/].
60 Cf. ⇒ Mt 28:19-20; cf. Council
of Trent (1547) DS 1618; LG 14; AG 5.
61 Cf. ⇒ Mk 16:16.
62 GS 22 # 5; cf. LG 16; AG 7.
63 ⇒ Mk 10 14; cf.
⇒ 1 Tim 2:4.
64 Cf. ⇒ Acts 2:38;
⇒ Jn 3:5[ETML:C/].
65 Cf. Council of Florence (1439): DS 1316.
66 Council of Trent (1546): DS 1515.
67 ⇒ 2 Tim 2:5.
68 ⇒ 2 Cor 5:17;
69 Cf. ⇒ 1 Cor 6:15;
⇒ Rom 8:17.
70 Cf. ⇒ 1 Cor 6:19.
71 ⇒ Eph 4:25.
⇒ 1 Cor 12:13.
73 ⇒ 1 Pet 2:5.
74 ⇒ 1 Pet 2:9.
75 Cf. ⇒ 1 Cor 6:19;
⇒ 2 Cor 5:15.
76 ⇒ Heb 13:17.
77 Cf. ⇒ Eph 5:21;
Thess 5:12-13; ⇒ Jn 13:12-15.
78 Cf. LG 37; ⇒ CIC, cann. 208 223; CCEO,
79 LG 11; cf. LG
17; AG 7; 23.
80 UR 3.
81 UR 22 # 2.
⇒ Rom 8:29; Council of Trent (1547): DS 1609-1619.
83 Cf. LG 11.
84 Cf. LG 10.
Augustine, Ep. 98, 5: PL 33, 362; ⇒ Eph 4:30; cf.
⇒ 2 Cor
86 St. Irenaeus,
Dem ap. 3: SCh 62, 32.
87 Roman Missal, EP
I (Roman Canon) 97.
88 Cf. Roman Ritual, Rite of Confirmation (OC), Introduction 1.
89 LG 11; Cf. OC, Introduction 2.
90 Cf. ⇒ Isa 11:2;
91 Cf. ⇒ Jn
92 ⇒ Jn 3:34.
93 Cf. ⇒ Ezek 36:25-27;
⇒ Joel 3:1-2.
94 Cf. ⇒ Lk 12:12;
⇒ Jn 3:5-8;
95 Cf. ⇒ Jn 20:22;
⇒ Acts 2:1-14.
⇒ Acts 2:11; Cf.
97 Cf. ⇒ Acts 2:38.
98 Paul VI, Divinae consortium naturae, 659; Cf. ⇒ Acts
8:15-17; ⇒ 19:5-6;
⇒ Heb 6:2.
99 ⇒ Acts 10:38.
100 Cf. CCEO, Can. 695 # 1; 696 # 1.
101 Cf. St. Hippolytus, Trad. Ap. 21 SCh 11, 80-95.
102 Cf. ⇒ Deut 11:14;
⇒ Pss 23:5;
103 Cf. ⇒ Isa 1:6;
⇒ Lk 10 34.
104 ⇒ 2 Cor 2:15.
105 Cf ⇒ Gen 38:18;
⇒ Deut 32:34;
106 Cf. ⇒ 1 Kings 21:8;
⇒ Isa 29:11.
107 Cf. ⇒ Jn 6:27.
108 ⇒ 2 Cor 1:21-22; cf.
⇒ 4, 30.
109 Cf. ⇒ Rev 7:2-3;
⇒ Ezek 9:4-6.
110 Cf. SC 71.
111 Cf. ⇒ CIC, can. 866.
112 OC 25.
113 Paul VI, apostolic constitution, Divinae consortium naturae, 663.
114 Cf. St. Hippolytus, Trad. Ap. 21 SCh 11, 80-95.
115 ⇒ Rom 8:15.
116 Cf. LG 11.
Council of Florence (1439) DS 1319; LG 11; 12.
118 SL Ambrose, De
myst. 7, 42 PL 16,
119 Cf. Council of Trent (1547) DS 1609; ⇒ Lk
120 St. Thomas Aquinas, STh III, 72, 5, ad 2.
121 Cf. ⇒ CIC, can. 889 # 1.
122 ⇒ CIC, can. 890.
123 Cf. ⇒ CIC, cann. 891;
⇒ 883, 3.
124 St. Thomas Aquinas, STh III, 72, 8, ad 2; Cf. Wis 4:8.
125 Cf. OC
⇒ Acts 1:14.
127 Cf. OC Introduction 5; 6; ⇒ CIC, Can. 893 ## 1-
128 Cf. LG 26.
129 Cf. ⇒ CIC, Can. 883 # 2.
130 Cf. ⇒ CIC, Can. 882.
131 Cf. ⇒ CIC, Can. 884 # 2.
132 Cf. ⇒ CIC, Can. 883 # 3.
134 LG 11.
135 PO 5.
Congregation of Rites, instruction, Eucharisticum mysterium, 6.
137 Cf. ⇒ 1 Cor 15:28.
138 St. Irenaeus, Adv. haeres. 4, 18, 5: PG 7/l, 1028.
139 Cf. ⇒ Lk
22:19; ⇒ 1 Cor 11:24.
140 Cf. ⇒ Mt 26:26;
⇒ Mk 14:22.
141 Cf. ⇒ 1 Cor 11:20;
⇒ Rev 19:9.
142 Cf. ⇒ Mt 14:19;
8:6, ⇒ 19.
143 Cf. ⇒ Mt 26:26;
⇒ 1 Cor 11:24.
144 Cf. ⇒ Lk 24:13-35.
145 Cf. ⇒ Acts 2:42,
⇒ 1 Cor 10:16-17.
147 Cf. ⇒ 1
⇒ Heb 13:15; cf. 1 Pet
25; ⇒ Ps 116:13,
149 Cf. ⇒ 1 Cor 10: 16-17.
150 Apostolic Constitutions 8, 13,12 PG 1,1108; Didache 9, 5; 10:6:
SCh: 248,176- 178.
151 St. Ignatius of Antioch, Ad Eph. 20, 2 SCh 10, 76.
⇒ Ps 104:13-15.
153 ⇒ Gen 14:18; cf. Roman Missal, EP I
(Roman Canon) 95.
154 Cf. ⇒ Deut 8:3.
155 ⇒ 1 Cor 10:16.
156 Cf. ⇒ Mt 14:13-21;
157 Cf. ⇒ Jn 2:11;
⇒ Mk 14:25.
158 ⇒ Jn 6:60.
159 ⇒ Jn 6:67.
161 Cf. ⇒ Jn 13:1-17;
of Trent (1562): DS 1740.
163 Cf. ⇒ Jn 6.
164 ⇒ Lk 22:7-20; Cf.
14:12-25; ⇒ 1 Cor 11:23-26.
165 Cf. ⇒ 2 Cor 11:26.
166 ⇒ Acts 2:42,
167 ⇒ Acts 20:7.
168 AG 1; cf. ⇒ 1 Cor
169 St. Justin, Apol. 1, 65-67: PG 6, 428-429; the text before the asterisk (*) is from chap. 67.
170 SC 56.
171 Cf. DV 21.
172 Cf. ⇒ Lk
173 Cf. ⇒ 1 Thess 2:13.
174 ⇒ 1 Tim 2:1-2.
175 St. Irenaeus, Adv. haeres. 4, 18, 4: PG 7/1, 1027; cf.
⇒ Mal 1:11.
176 Cf. ⇒ 1 Cor 16:1;
⇒ 2 Cor 8:9
177 St. Justin, Apol. 1, 67: PG 6, 429.
178 Cf. Roman Missal, EP I (Roman Canon) 90.
179 ⇒ Jn 6:51.
180 St. Justin, Apol. 1, 66,1-2: PG 6, 428.
⇒ 1 Cor 11:24-25.
182 Cf. ⇒ Ex 13:3.
183 Cf. ⇒ Heb 7:25-27.
184 LG 3; cf. ⇒ 1 Cor 5:7.
185 ⇒ Lk 22:19-20.
⇒ Mt 26:28.
of Trent (1562): DS 1740; cf. ⇒ 1 Cor 11:23;
188 Council of Trent (1562): DS 1743; cf.
⇒ Heb 9:14,
189 St. Ignatius of Antioch, Ad Smyrn. 8:1; SCh 10, 138.
190 PO 2 # 4.
of Trent (1562) DS 1743.
192 St. Monica, before her death, to her sons, St. Augustine and his brother; Conf. 9, 11, 27: PL 32, 775.
193 St. Cyril of Jerusalem, Catech. myst. 5, 9. 10 PG 33, 1116-1117.
194 St. Augustine, De civ Dei, 10, 6: PL 41, 283; cf. ⇒ Rom 12:5.
195 ⇒ Rom 8:34; cf. LG 48.
196 ⇒ Mt 18:20.
197 Cf. ⇒ Mt 25:31-46.
198 SC 7.
199 St. Thomas Aquinas, STh III, 73, 3c.
200 Council of Trent (1551): DS 1651.
201 Paul VI, MF 39.
202 St. John Chrysostom, prod. Jud. 1:6: PG 49, 380.
203 St. Ambrose, De myst. 9, 50; 52: PL 16, 405-407.
204 Council of Trent (1551): DS 1642; cf.
14:22 ff.; ⇒ Lk 22:19 ff.;
⇒ 1 Cor 11:24 ff.
205 Cf. Council of Trent: DS 1641.
206 Paul VI, MF 56.
207 ⇒ Jn 13:1.
⇒ Gal 2:20.
209 John Paul II, Dominicae cenae, 3.
Thomas Aquinas, STh III, 75, 1; cf. Paul VI, MF 18; St. Cyril of Alexandria, In Luc. 22, 19: PG 72, 912; cf. Paul VI, MF 18.
211 St. Thomas Aquinas (attr.), Adoro te devote; tr. Gerard Manley Hopkins.
212 St. Ambrose, De Sacr. 5, 2, 7: PL 16, 447C.
213 St. Ambrose, De
Sacr. 4, 2, 7: PL 16, 437D.
214 Roman Missal, EP I (Roman Canon) 96: Supplices te rogamus,
omnipotens Deus: iube haec perferri per manus sancti Angeli tui in sublime
altare tuum, in conspectu divinae maiestatis tuae: ut, quotquot ex hac
altaris participatione sacrosanctum Filii Corpus et Sanguinem sumpserimus,
omni benedictione caelesti et gratia repleamur.
215 ⇒ Jn 6:53.
216 ⇒ 1 Cor 11:27-29.
217 Roman Missal, response to the invitation to communion; cf. ⇒ Mt 8:8[ETML:C/].
218 Cf. ⇒ CIC, can. 919.
219 Cf. ⇒ CIC,
can. 917; AAS 76 (1984) 746-747.
220 SC 55.
221 OE 15; ⇒ CIC, can. 920.
222 GIRM 240.
223 ⇒ Jn 6:56.
224 ⇒ Jn 6:57.
Syriac Office of Antioch, Vol. 1, Commun., 237 a-b.
226 PO 5.
227 St. Ambrose, De Sacr. 4, 6, 28: PL 16, 446; cf. ⇒ 1 Cor
228 Cf. Council of Trent (1551): DS 1638.
229 St. Fulgentius of Ruspe, Contra Fab. 28, 16-19: CCL 19A, 813-814.
230 Cf. ⇒ 1 Cor 12:13.
231 ⇒ 1 Cor 10:16-17.
232 St. Augustine, Sermo 272: PL 38, 1247.
233 St. John Chrysostom, Hom. in 1 Cor. 27, 4: PG 61, 229-230; cf. ⇒ Mt
234 St. Augustine,
In Jo. ev. 26, 13: PL 35, 1613; cf. SC 47.
235 UR 15 # 2; cf. ⇒ CIC, can. 844 # 3.
236 UR 22 # 3.
237 UR 22 # 3.
⇒ CIC, can. 844 # 4.
239 Roman Missal, EP I (Roman Canon) 96: Supplices te rogamus.
22:18; ⇒ Mk 14 25.
241 ⇒ 22
20; ⇒ 1 Cor 16 22.
242 Didache 10, 6: SCh 248,180.
Missal 126, embolism after the Our Father: expectantes beatam spem et adventum Salvatoris nostri Jesu Christi; cf.
⇒ Titus 2:13.
244 EP III 116: prayer for the dead.
⇒ 2 Pet 3:13.
246 LG 3; St.
Ignatius of Antioch, Ad Eph. 20, 2: SCh 10, 76.
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