Reception of the Eucharist for the first time completes a person’s reception of the Sacraments of Initiation into the Christian life. The Eucharist brings about our intimate union with Jesus Christ because it is a sacrament of love, with his Church because it is a sign of unity and with the very presence of the risen Christ who shares his life with us. As Jesus announced, ‘Those who eat my flesh and drink my blood abide in me, and I in them’ (John 6:56).
The Sacrament of the Eucharist, which we receive at Mass, is the real physical and spiritual presence of Jesus Christ. As Catholics, we take Jesus at his word when he says ‘This is my body, which is given for you’ (Luke 22:19). Another way of putting this is that Catholics believe in the Real Presence. We believe that Jesus Christ is ‘present in a true, real, and substantial manner: his Body and his Blood, with his soul and his divinity (CCC 1413).’ When we compare the man who walked the earth some two thousand years ago with the consecrated Bread and Wine, the only difference is the outward appearance, the underlying reality is Jesus Christ our Lord.
Such is the intimacy that Christ desires with each one of us! In this union with Christ, we also have communion with all our brothers and sisters spread throughout the world (CCC 1398).
The Church celebrates the sacrifice of the Mass daily, but Catholics are obliged only to attend Mass on Sundays and a few other days of obligation. For this is how the Church wants us to observe the Lord’s Day, by gathering around his table as one family.