The following is an excerpt from Speaking the Love of God: An Introduction to the Sacraments (Emmaus Road Publishing).
Holy Eucharist is the third of the seven sacraments, as well as the third Sacrament of Initiation. It is the greatest of the seven sacraments, the “source and summit of the Christian life” (CCC 1324). Its name comes from the Greek word eucharistia, meaning “thankfulness” or “gratitude.” It also has a number of other names deriving from the various elements involved in its celebration and its effects: the Lord’s Supper, the Breaking of Bread, the Eucharistic assembly, the Memorial of the Lord’s Passion, the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, the Holy and Divine Liturgy, and Holy Communion (CCC 138–1331). All of these various names refer to one sacramental event:
The eucharistic celebration is the action of Christ himself and the Church. In it, Christ the Lord, through the ministry of the priest, offers himself, substantially present under the species of bread and wine, to God the Father and gives himself as spiritual food to the faithful united with his offering (CIC, Canon 899, §1).
In its central moment, when a priest says the words of Jesus over bread and wine (respectively: “This is my body” and “This is my blood”), those elements become the Body and Blood of Jesus, and, through becoming his Body and Blood, are offered as a sacrifice to God—a re-presentation of the Sacrifice of Jesus on Calvary. They are given to the faithful to eat.
Learn more about Speaking the Love of God: An Introduction to the Sacraments visit Emmaus Road Publishing.