The Eucharist is both an act of worship and a sacrament. These are the two basic complementary dimensions of the same, sublime reality of the Eucharist.

So rich is this reality that both the Catechism of the Catholic Church (CCC) and the Catechism for the Filipino Catholics (CFC) list a great variety of "names" or "titles" to express its different and complementary aspects.

After calling the Eucharist the "source and summit of ecclesial life" (quoting Lumen Gentium #11), the CCC lists down no less than 15 other "names" or "titles" of the Eucharist, including also the ones used in the Eastern Churches.

In addition to the very word "Eucharist" (understood as thanksgiving to God), the other terms are:
The Lord's Supper,
The Breaking of Bread,
The Eucharistic Assembly,
The Memorial of the Lord's Passion and Resurrection,
The Holy Sacrifice,
The Holy Mass,
The Holy and Divine Liturgy,
The Sacred Mysteries,
The Holy Communion,
The Bread of Angels,
The Bread from Heaven,
The Most Blessed Sacrament,
Medicine of Immortality, and
(See CCC 1324, 1328-32).

The same Catechism also explains in considerable detail the main "aspects" of the Eucharist as:

  •  Sacramental Sacrifice (1356-58)
  • Thanksgiving (1359-61)
  • Memorial (1362-72)
  • Presence (1373-81)
  • Paschal  Banquet (1382-1401), and
  • Pledge of the Glory to Come (1402-05).
The CFC, as a "national " catechism, takes up many of these aspects of the Eucharist and treats them in reference to the Philippine context, having in mind some of the lights and shadows which such "context" presents. (See CFC 1669-75). Arranging these aspect of the vast topic in its own original way, the CFC treats the Eucharist as:

  •   "Thanksgiving Worship," emphasizing its Trinitarian dimension and "Christ-centeredness" (1682-85); and its being at the same time
  • "Sacrifice-Sacrament" (1689-1701);
  • "Presence-Sacrament" (1721-29); and
  • "Pledge of Future Glory" (1730-32).
It then ends by reflecting briefly on the "Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament", considered as "a shining quality of Catholic prayer and piety" (1733-34).

Both Catechisms explain these different and complementary aspects of the Eucharist, each in its own way, bringing out both their deep scriptural roots and a great variety of applications in the life of the Christian community and of the individual believers.


All human beings are expected to worship God as their Creator and Source of all good. We Christians worship Him also as our Savior and Sanctifier. We worship Him not only as individuals, but also as members of the Church, the worshipping community established by Jesus Christ.

All our acts of worship are directed not to the Deity in general, but to the God revealed by Jesus Christ, that is: the Blessed Trinity - Father, Son and Holy Spirit. As simple and sinful human beings, we have innumerable reasons to adore, praise, and thank the Blessed Trinity. In fact, the three divine Persons, each in his own way, have done and do wonderful things for us in creation and in bringing about our salvation and sanctification.

Likewise, like all other human beings, we have many favors and graces to ask from Him, for we are poor and weak. We also direct to the Lord our God our prayers and sacrifices in atonement for our own sins, as well as for the sins of the rest of mankind. Finally, we feel the need to offer to the Blessed Trinity whatever good we may be able to accomplish, and especially we offer to Him ourselves and the people dear to us.

All these personal and communitarian acts of worship have their most perfect manifestation and culmination in the Eucharist, the act of worship whose "core" was established by Jesus Christ himself when he commanded his disciples to repeat in memory of him what he did at the Last Supper. The Church, guided by the Holy Spirit, has structured the Eucharistic celebration around this essential "core", enriching it with a variety of rites and prayers that are meant to enable the faithful to ever better understand and appreciates this "Sacred Mystery" and to participate in it properly disposed.

The Eucharist, therefore, has a "Trinitarian orientation." This may sound surprising to some, since most of the prayers in the Eucharistic celebration are addressed to the Father. This is so because He is the "core/origin" of everything that exists, including God the Son and God the Holy Spirit. In reality, however, the whole Eucharistic celebration is intended to honor and worship the entire Trinity, who is indivisible and undivided.

In fact, when we gather to celebrate the Eucharist, we explicitly mention the three Divine Persons when we start the liturgical action by making the Sign of the Cross, then in the Gloria, the proclamation of the Creed, the Eucharistic Prayer, the final blessing and the closing Sign of the Cross. 


There is no doubt that the Eucharistic celebration, or "Mass", is the richest and most important act of worship in the Catholic Church because it expresses and contains all the essential goals of personal and communitarian worship, namely: adoration , praise, and thanksgiving, atonement for sins, petitions for graces, and offering of all that we have, do, and are.

But even more important than this is the fact that the Church celebrates the Eucharist not simply in the name and as the sum total of its members, but as the MYSTICAL BODY OF CHRIST and the empowerment of the HOLY SPIRIT. This means that the Eucharist is offered by the whole Church - Head and members - through the indispensable enabling power of the Holy Spirit.

We are poor and sinful creatures. By ourselves we would not be worthy to approach the all-Holy God. Jesus Christ comes to our help as the great "Mediator" who not only offers his life for us, but also associates us to himself as members of his Mystical Body. Likewise, we do not know how to pray in a way that fully pleases God. The Holy Spirit comes to our help by uniting us to Christ, by making Christ's sacrifice present and enabling us to participate in it and benefit from it. This means that no matter how good our intentions may be, it is only Jesus, our Redeemer and Savior, who gives meaning and value to our worship. Likewise, it is only in the power of the Holy Spirit that we become able to pray and worship the Blessed Trinity as we should.

Participation in the Eucharist is a unique and undeserved grace. We have been granted such a privilege when we were baptized and came to share in the universal priesthood of Christ. All Christians exercise their priesthood every time they participate in the celebration of the Eucharist, under the presidency of the ordained minister (the presiding priest or "celebrant") who has been God in offering this official act of worship by the successors of the Apostles.


It is the presence of Jesus Christ, the Word made flesh, which makes the Eucharist more precious than any other act of worship because he is "THE PERFECT WORSHIPPER". In fact, not only did he spend long hours at night in personal prayer, but also as the Son/Servant with whom the Father was well pleased, he always did the will of the Father. (See Jn 4:34; 5:30;6:38;Mt 26:39 and parallels.)

In his letter to the Philippians, St Paul summarizes the implication of Jesus' heroic obedience.

"Christ Jesus... emptied himself, taking the form of a slave, coming in human likeness; and found human in appearance, he humbled himself, becoming obedient to death, even death on a cross." (Phil 2:6-8).
 The author of the Letter to the Hebrews states even more emphatically, "In the days when he was in the flesh, he (Jesus) offered prayers and supplications with loud cries and tears to the One who was able to save him from death. And he was heard because of his reverence. Son though he was, he learned obedience from what he suffered" (Heb 5:7-8). Further ahead, the same author declares: "When he came into the world, he said: 'Sacrifice and offering you did not desire, but a body you prepared for me; ... then i said: As is written of me in the scroll, behold, I come to do your will, O God!...'" (Hebrew 10:5-7).

Our participation in Christ's supreme act of worship is made possible and effective thanks to the intervention of the HOLY SPIRIT. It is He who convokes and gathers the believers for the Eucharistic celebration. He is the one who speaks through the Scriptures that are proclaimed in the Liturgy of the Word; He is the one who makes this world effective in the lives of the hearers. He changes the bread and wine into the Body and Blood of Christ. He effects the "fusion" between Jesus and the members of his Body; and finally, He is the one who makes acceptable to the Blessed Trinity the act of worship offered in the name of the whole Church.


While the offering of the act of worship to the three Divine Persons gives the Eucharist a "Trinitarian dimension", the determinant role of the crucified and risen Christ makes this act of worship "CHRIST-CENTERED." "Only in Christ," states the CFC, "can the Christian offer fitting worship" (CFC 1687). He is the one who invites us  join him in adoring, praising, and thanking the Father. Together with Jesus we offer to the Father the Holy Sacrifice in atonement for the sins of all mankind, while asking for the graces that we need for our salvation.

Both the "Trinitarian dimension" of the Eucharist and its "Christ-centeredness" are emphasized in a special manner in the conclusion of all Eucharistic Prayers when the priest presider proclaims:

"Through him (Christ), with him, and in him, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, all glory and honor in yours, Almighty Father, forever and ever!" (Doxology in the Canon of the Mass)

As a consequence of this, in celebrating the Eucharist "the Christian community grows in deeper understanding of the Holy Trinity, for the Eucharistic celebration immerses us within the direct, saving, liberating action of the Triune God; Father, Son and Holy Spirit" (CFC 1683). 

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