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About Holy Eucharist

(Lord’s Supper, Holy Communion, Divine Liturgy, the Mass, or the Great Offering)

What is Holy Eucharist? Holy Eucharist is the sacrament commanded by Christ for the continual remembrance of his life, death, and resurrection until his coming again. The word, Eucharist, comes from the Greek word “εὐχάριστος” which means thanksgiving. It is, however, more than just an attitude or expression of thankfulness.

When is the Eucharist Celebrated? Holy Eucharist is the principle act of Christian worship and should be celebrated on the Lord’s Day (Sunday) and other Major Feasts.

What is involved in Making Eucharist? When Jesus instituted the Eucharist at his “Last Supper” on the night before he died, he did four things and these four actions constitute the essentials of the Holy Eucharist.
  1. “He took bread”… (the offertory) Just like Jesus took bread and wine, the priest goes to the altar and receives bread, wine, money, and other offerings. The priest presents them to God and places them on the altar. The gifts brought forth from the gathering symbolize the self-offering of the people of God in response to God’s love revealed to us in Jesus.
  2. “He gave thanks”… (the consecration) Following the Lord’s example, the priest gives thanks to God and recalls the saving work of Jesus. The priest also asks that the Holy Spirit make us and the bread and wine holy so that they will be the body and blood of our Lord and Savior. The real presence in the sacrament is the answer to our prayer, that Christ may dwell in us and we in him. 
  3. “He broke it”… (the fraction) As the Great Thanksgiving ends with the Lord’s prayer, there is a moment of silence, giving worshippers an opportunity to reflect in awe and joy upon the love that God has shown us in Jesus Christ. Like Jesus did, the priest then breaks the bread in preparation for our receiving it and also as a symbol of the Body of Christ that was broken for us on the cross. 
  4. “He gave it to his disciples”… (the communion) Like Jesus, who distributed the bread and wine to his followers, the priest invites the congregation to receive the blessed sacrament which nourishes us spiritually. 
Do I need to be baptized in the Episcopal Church to receive Eucharist? No. Any person, baptized by the making of solemn vows followed by the symbolic purification through water in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit may receive communion in the Episcopal Church regardless age or Christian denomination.

What if I haven’t been baptized? While the Episcopal Church, as with all churches rooted in the historic Christian faith, affirm that the sacrament of Baptism is the ancient and normative entry point for receiving the sacrament of Eucharist, we also believe that anyone who desires to receive the body and blood of our Lord is always welcome at God's table. Wherever you are in your spiritual journey, the Episcopal Church is here for you, and we invite you to explore with us what being baptized could mean for your life.

Why is the Eucharist called a sacrifice? Because the Eucharist is the way by which the sacrifice of Christ is made present, and in which he unites us to his one offering of himself. The Eucharist is also the Church’s sacrifice of praise and thanksgiving,

What are the benefits we receive from the Eucharist? The benefits we receive are the forgiveness of our sins, the strengthening of our union with Christ and one another, and the foretaste of the heavenly banquet which is our nourishment in eternal life.

What is required of us when we come to the Eucharist? It is required that we examine our lives, repent of our sins, and be in love and charity with all people.

What about Transubstantiation or Consubstantiation? Transubstantiation is the change whereby, according to the teachings of the Roman Catholic Church, the bread and the wine used in the sacrament of the Eucharist become, not merely as by a sign or a figure, but also in actual “reality” the body and blood of Christ. Consubstantiation is originally Martin Luther’s reformed answer to Transubstantiation saying “in the communion, the body and blood of Christ, and the bread and wine, coexist in union with each other.”

What is the Episcopal Church’s position on Transubstantiation and Consubstantiation? Neither, both, and… The short answer is that Episcopalians believe in the real presence, meaning that the risen Christ is “really present” with us in the sacrament of Communion. Physical things, like bread, wine, water, oil, etc… become the vehicles God uses to share with us the power and presence of Jesus Christ, through the workings of the Holy Spirit. The presence of the risen Christ in the Eucharist is ultimately an inexhaustible mystery that the Church can never fully explain in words or philosophical ideologies.

What are the Sacraments? The Sacraments are outward and visible signs of inward and spiritual grace (God’s favor for us), given by Christ as sure and certain means by which we receive that grace. The Episcopal Church has two necessary sacraments, Baptism and Holy Eucharist. There are other sacramental rites that the church practices such as Holy Matrimony, Confession, Ordination, Holy Unction, and Confirmation that may be suitable for some.

Other questions? Please feel free to ask the priest about specific questions regarding Holy Communion and other aspects of the Episcopal Church.