The Holy Eucharist

The Holy Eucharist


In his treatment of the Eucharist in the Suma theologiae, Thomas Aquinas said that the sacrament has three names, each one corresponding to one of the dimensions of time. As we look to the past, we call the sacrament sacrificium (sacrifice) for it embodies the self-immolation of Christ on the cross…. As we look to the present, we call it communio (communion), since it realizes the coming together of the body of Christ here and now. Finally, as we look to the future, we call it Eucharistia (Eucharist), since it anticipates the great thanksgiving that will take place in heaven when we are in the company of the holy ones, at the eschatological banquet. It is this final feature that the liturgy emphasizes when it invokes so consistently the angels and saints.

God is, in his ownmost reality, not a monolith, but a communion of persons… For Christian faith, God is a family of love, a sharing of life, a breathing in and breathing out, a looking toward one another. Whereas for the ancient philosophers substance is ontologically superior to relationship, for Christian theology relationship is metaphysically basic, for God is nothing but love.

This family love is expressed in the great biblical image of the sacred banquet. The Eucharist sums it up and brings it to perfect expression, and hence the Eucharist is the richest participation in the very being of the God who is nothing but love.

Robert Barron, Eucharist, (2021)
©Word on Fire Catholic Ministries, Park Ridge, IL