You are on page 1of 9

Sacrament of The Holy Eucharist|1


By: Jojimar Kenneth M. Gonowon
Our Lady of the Angels Seminary
Pre Postulancy Formation Year


Theology of the Sacrament of the Holy Eucharist

a. Eucharist as Sacrifice and meal
b. Eucharist as the sacrament of Love
i. Offertory: Love of the poor
ii. Breaking of bread: love through sacrifice
iii. Holy communion: sharing with the poor
iv. The washing of the feet: love through humble service

a. Eucharist as Sacrifice and Meal

In the sacrament of the Eucharist, we can describe it by sacrifice and meal
and by word and sacrament. We can also speak about the liturgical
sequence made up of the liturgy of the word and liturgy of the Eucharist.
The anamnesis or the memorial of Christs sacrifice on the cross is
considered as the heart of Eucharistic theology. It is a culmination of the
entire history of salvation on the cross and there alone God redeemed us,
reconciled us to Himself and favoured us with participation in the divine
life.1 It is actually the reflection of the past making present here and now.
We all know that the last supper was celebrated in the intertwining effect of
the Passover feast, most probably of the yearly Passover meal itself. Looking
through the exodus event, we saw how God led the Israelites out of slavery
and bringing them to the promise land. But instead of going back to the
exodus event, the Eucharist is considered as the anticipation of Jesus
looking forward to his death on the cross which is His Passover from this
world to the Father.
Chupungco, The Eucharist and Sacrament of Love, Scientia Liturgica, San
Beda Graduate School of Liturgy research Journal, II no. 1. 2005 p. 1

Sacrament of The Holy Eucharist|2

Salvatore Marsili said that our Eucharistic celebration is the sacrament of

Christ sacrifice or the sacramental celebration of his paschal sacrifice. It
is the memorial and the anamnesis of Christs sacrifice. What the Last
Supper that was instituted by Christ anticipated as a future event of our
redemption, our Eucharist commemorates as a past event not only
commemorates but also making present reflecting the past event.
The Eucharistic celebration is highlighted as a form of a meal which is
patterned after the basic plan of the Last Supper: He took bread/cup, he
said a prayer of blessing, and he broke the bread, and gave the broken
bread and the blessed cup to his disciples. This meal signifies the sacrifice
of Jesus on the cross. We must remember that the concept of death and
sacrifice on the cross theology includes separably the concept of the
resurrection and glorification of Jesus. The stress however is on the cross.2
The Eucharistic liturgy must not reduce to a mere fellowship meal nor a
purely sacrificial action because what we are doing in the Eucharistic
celebration has components: assembly and presider, word around the table,
offering of gifts by the assembly, meal prayer or Eucharistic prayer and a
communion. These were the meal components. However, there were also
sacrificial components which completed the Eucharistic celebration. These
are: the presider performs the priestly role, the table symbolizes the altar
of sacrifice, and the bread and wine are the sacrament of the pierced body
of Jesus and of his blood shed on the cross. These components must work
together as one fundamental meaning the anamnesis and memorial of
Christ sacrifice on the cross.3
b. Eucharist as Sacrament of Love

2 Chupungco, The Eucharist and Sacrament of Love, Scientia Liturgica p 1

3 Chupungco, The Eucharist and Sacrament of Love, Scientia Liturgica p .2

Sacrament of The Holy Eucharist|3

Let us now recall how God loved us so much during in the Old
Testament. God manifested His love for the Israelite people. He freed the
Israelites out of slavery in Egypt which primarily represented the unending
love of God despite of their murmuring and experience of hunger and thirst
in the desert. However, God is a patient God who always has confidence for
the sake of the common good. It was before the Passover and Jesus knew
that the hour had come for Him to pass from this world to the Father. He
had always loved those who were in this world, but now he showed them
how perfect his love was.4 Let us remember that the Last supper, the
washing of the feet, and the crucifixion are his expressions of perfect love
for His disciples. The love shown by Jesus in the Last supper, the washing of
the feet, and the crucifixion is now re-expressed or finds resonance in the
celebration of the Eucharist.
i. Offertory Rite: Love of the poor
In the seventh century, the Roman Ordo gave descriptions about the
offertory rite. These were the assembly offering bread and wine; the
presider chose a loaf and took an amount of wine just enough for
communion. The other was placed on the credence table for the distribution
of the poor. According to the testimony of Justin the Martyr, the said
offerings and other material things were offered for the distribution of the
orphans, widows and especially the poor.5
The poor, in the third century we saw that they offered and brought gifts
of bread and wine. St. Cyprian of Carthage rebuke a rich lady who never
offered and brought gift for the communitys Eucharist yet dared to eat the
bread of the poor.
In line with the offering of the poor is the practice of adding water to the
wine (watered wine or poterion)6 because during the old centuries, the wine
4 From the Gospel of John 13:1, New American Bible
5 Chupungco, The Eucharist and Sacrament of Love, Scientia Liturgica p .3
6 Justin Martyr

Sacrament of The Holy Eucharist|4

coming from the poor definitely manifests a poor class of wine. The product
of their wine taste like vinegar, it lacks fermentation process. The Romans
did not mix good wine with water. Now we continue in practicing it not
about the wine is poor in quality but we are trying to participate and affirm
the reality of the church of the poor.
We should also remember that






furthermore, that on Holy Thursday the offerings at the Evening mass of the
Lords Supper are to be given to the poor.



of Bread: Love Through sacrifice.

entails pain. When something breaks there is pain. When we experience
this, sometimes, we tend to lurk in the ground and cry but in many other
instances there is a need to break in order to share: we break bread, slice it,
cake or pizza. Unless we break we cannot share, unless we share we cannot
express our love.7 In this expression, it reminds us that breaking does not
separate but it unites. This brokenness expresses and transforms the
unification of peoples.8
At the meal that Jesus instituted, he broke the break and gave the broken
pieces to his disciples as a sign of his ultimate love for them. They partake
the body by which Christ himself signifies his unending love for men. In the
mass, the Eucharist, the priest breaks the bread in order to signify the love
of Christ whose body is broken for all of us.

7 Chupungco, The Eucharist and Sacrament of Love, Scientia Liturgica, San Beda
Graduate School of Liturgy research Journal, II no. 1. 2005
8 Chupungco, The Eucharist and Sacrament of Love, Scientia Liturgica p. 3

Sacrament of The Holy Eucharist|5

Every time we celebrate the Eucharist, every time the bread is broken we
are reminded of the pain endured by Christ on the cross. We are reminded
on how God offered His only Son to all of us in order to redeem us from our
sins. This is the perfect love and a model of sacrificial love to all men. Every
time the priest breaks the bread, he identifies himself with Christ, who
broke himself for others; every time the faithful receive communion, they
are reminded that they have also a mission a mission to be broken like
Christ whom they receive.
This significant event is gradually weakened when the priest breaks the
bread and consumes all by himself, forgetting that he breaks in order to
share. But due to practicality, we use pre-broken bread called small hosts,
but the significance of sharing must be put in our hearts and minds.
In the breaking, sharing and loving, they perfectly describe the Eucharist.
We break in order to share; and we share in order to express love.
iii. Holy Communion: sharing with the poor 9
Going back to the early Christians, they were forgetting the significance of
the Eucharist. St. Paul reminded them that when they meet together, he
said it is not Lords supper that you are eating, since when the time comes
to eat everyone is such hurry to start his or her own supper that one person
goes hungry while another gets drunk. Surely you have homes for eating
and drinking in? Surely you have enough respect for the community of God
not to make poor people embarrassed?10
In the seventh-century Roman Ordo, during the offertory rite the presider
took a loaf and a quantity of wine just enough to distribute to the assembly
for the communion. The rest was place on the credence table for the option
for the poor.
9 Chupungco, The Eucharist and Sacrament of Love, Scientia Liturgica p. 4
10 First Letter of St. Paul to the Corinthians 11:20, New American Bible

Sacrament of The Holy Eucharist|6

In the part of the communion rite, we do not eat and drink to be satisfied
but we eat and drink as little as possible in order that the poor may have
more to eat and drink. This is the significance of the communion.
iv. The washing of the feet: Love through Humble service. 11
In the middle of the fifth century in Jerusalem, the washing of the feet preexisted and later adopted by the other churches in the East and the West. In
the seventh century, the papal household practiced it, but it did not form a
part of the liturgy until the reform of Vatican II. The washing of the feet
primarily treated and expressed care and hospitality towards guest and
especially travelers on foot.
In the gospel of John, we cannot see the narration of Eucharistic institution
but in reality it exists in the symbol of the washing of the feet. This implies
the humbly action of Jesus which expresses what he meant by the Eucharist.
Love one another by serving one another.
We saw the theology of the Eucharist as both sacrifice and of the various
elements of its celebration is a powerful way to bring out its aspects as
sacrament of love and sharing that builds up the Christian community. In
the history, we saw the unending connection of the Old Testament and the
New Testament. From the Old Testament, it presented the prefiguration of
Christ as a sacrifice while in the New Testament; it gave a concrete
manifestation of Gods Love to all mankind.
The church is composed of the community of believers with the connection
with Christ. The presence of both congregations and clergy creates a
dynamic give and take, and helps broaden and deepen the intensity of the
experience. I don't think it is at all meant to be an esoteric thing - yes, it is
reserved for those privileged few of us who have taken the first step on our
own towards shedding the scales on our eyes, but it is essentially exoteric not something reserved solely for the initiated.
11 Chupungco, The Eucharist and Sacrament of Love, Scientia Liturgica p 4

Sacrament of The Holy Eucharist|7

When things flow well, the energy in the room is palpable, and even
transformative (both to congregation and clergy, but especially the latter).
The Eucharist creates an altered state of consciousness - especially for
those of us who have spent years and years participating in a particular
form of it, it clears your mind and prepares it for the experience of Gnosis in
a way that is structured, and guided.
In my view, this is how the mystery of the ineffable the experience of
Christ happens in a group setting - each alone must experience it, but the
Eucharist allows us to stand on the shoulders of our forebears, all the way
back to the original teacher, "Do this is Remembrance of Me" - we are lifted
up, and we lift up, lifting each other as we are lifted up with the Father
through Christ.

Sacrament of The Holy Eucharist|8


CHUPUNGCO, The Eucharist and Sacrament of Love,

Scientia Liturgica,

San Beda Graduate School of Liturgy research Journal, II no. 1.

CHUPUNGCO (ed.), Handbook for Liturgical Studies 3: The Eucharist,
Collegeville 1999.
FLANNERY, A. O.P. ed., Vatican Council II . The Conciliar and Post Conciliar
Documents, Paulines Publishing House, Pasay City 1984.
FINK, P. E., Worship, Praying the Sacraments, Pastoral Press, Washington
D.C. 1991.
FOUREZ, S.J. Sacraments and Passages, Celebrating the tensions of Modern
Life, Ave Maria Press, Notre Dame, Indiana 1983.
General Instruction of the Roman Missal
HELWIG, M. The Meaning of the Sacraments, Pflaum/ Standard, Dayton Ohio
LEBON, J., How to Understand Liturgy, SCM Press LTD., London 1987.

Sacrament of The Holy Eucharist|9

MANABAT, J., (ed.), Liturgy for Filipino Church: a collection of Talk of

Anscar Chupungco, San Beda College, Manila 2004.
MC DONALD J.F., The Sacraments in the Christian Life, St. Pauls Publication,
England 1983.
MARTOS, J., Doors to the Sacred, A Historical introduction of the Sacraments
in the Catholic Church, Image books, a division of double day and
company, Inc., Garden City, New York 1981.
OSBORNE, K. B., Sacramental Theology, a general instruction, Paulist Press,
New York 1998.

A. M., The New Mass, Catholic Book Publishing Co., New York

The New American Bible, Catholic Book Publishing Co., New York 2004.