Summary of Doctrine on the Eucharist
The greatest of the seven sacraments is the Holy Eucharist. The Catholic Church teaches
that in the Eucharist, Our Lord Jesus Christ, true God and true man, is really present
under the appearances of bread and wine. Our Lord is not merely symbolized by the bread
and wine; nor is he present only through the faith of those present. Rather, the two
material things, bread and wine, are completely changed into the body and blood of Jesus
Christ, leaving behind only their sensible appearances. Thus, through the words of
consecration spoken by the priest, Jesus, without ceasing to be present in a natural way
in heaven, is also present sacramentally, body, blood, soul and divinity, in many places
throughout the world.
The Eucharist is not only a sacrament but also a sacrifice. In it Jesus, acting through
the priest, makes present again in an unbloody manner the sacrifice which he offered once
for all by shedding his blood on Calvary. In Holy Communion, by obeying Jesus' command to
eat his flesh and drink his blood, the faithful are also united spiritually with Jesus
himself, and they unite their own prayers, works and sufferings to his perfect sacrifice.