Some years ago, for a few weeks parishioners wrote in questions they had about our church and faith life that were answered in the Sunday bulletins. Once again, the opportunity is here: “Anything you ever wanted to know about our church and faith tradition—but were afraid to ask—is back”!!!!
Don’t delay; send in your questions! The answer will be in the bulletin before you know it!
Here is a sample question from before:
I know that we receive the Eucharist as babies and that “first holy communion” is a Roman Catholic practice, but don’t we have to go to confession before communion? Are we supposed to have communion every Sunday? My Baba says one thing but others have different ideas. What are the rules?
What is the Eucharist?
Eucharist means thanksgiving. The Divine Liturgy (RC call it Mass) is a celebration of Eucharist, where we participate in the transfiguration of our material reality into the heavenly or Divine reality that Christ revealed to his apostles at the Last Supper or Tajna Vechera (Mystical Supper).
The Divine (Sunday) Liturgy is when we come together as Faithful, as believers in Christ, to celebrate the new life we have in the Resurrection of Christ. We pray as a community for the world and humanity. As a community, as a family, we take part in a meal—the Eucharist—which unites us as the Body of Christ through the Holy Spirit.
Are we supposed to receive the Eucharist every week?
The sacrament of Eucharist is the fulfilment of the Divine Liturgy; it is how we physically take part in Christ’s heavenly presence among us. As with all sacraments, the Eucharist is a gift of grace that unites us as a community of faith, so we are all invited, by Christ, to receive the sacrament.
Don’t we have to go to confession first?
Unless we have committed a mortal sin (that means we are very troubled and need to look for spiritual guidance), we come to the Eucharistic celebration to be renewed in our faith and to strengthen our relationship with Christ through our church community. When we receive the Eucharist the priest reminds us that “the servant of God is communicated with the precious body and blood of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of sins and life everlasting, amen.” We approach the sacraments with “fear of God, faith, and love”. The sacrament of confession (penance) is not mandatory before receiving the sacrament of Eucharist. Can we, as human people, ever pretend to be so perfect as to approach God? We approach, not because we are sinless, but because we accept God’s grace that we know through Christ and experience through the Holy Spirit as community.
Can we eat before receiving the Eucharist?
Church law asks that we don’t eat for 1 hour before the Eucharistic celebration, so that we can focus on preparing for our communion with our community in Christ.
But eating body and blood is cannibalism!
In the Gospels, at the Mystical Supper Christ shared bread and wine with his friends and followers. Food is necessary for life. Christ is necessary for our heavenly life, for the life of resurrection. Christ is our sustenance, and we take part in the resurrected life of Christ by sharing, as a loving faith community, the tangible material reality of bread and wine. This communion is sacramental—a mystical linking heaven and earth. It is not a literal act of cannibalism.
Why do we use bread and wine instead of wafers, as in the RC church?
We use bread, leavened bread, because this is the bread that rises—a symbol of the resurrected Christ as our new life. (The RC church continues the Jewish tradition of using unleavened bread, as for the Passover meal.)