Eucharist (yōō´kərĬst) [Gr.,=thanksgiving], Christian sacrament that repeats the action of Jesus at his last supper with his disciples, when he gave them bread, saying, "This is my body," and wine, saying, "This is my blood." (Mat. 26; Mark 14; Luke 22; 1 Cor. 11.) Partaking is called communion. For Roman Catholics the sacrament is a bloodless reenactment of the crucifixion and therefore an act of sacrifice, but Protestant Christians reject the idea of the Eucharist as sacrifice. The performance is called the Eucharistic liturgy; the Roman and Anglo-Catholic liturgy is the Mass. The official Roman Catholic explanation of the change taking place in the sacrament, called transubstantiation, is that the substances of bread and wine are turned miraculously into the substance of Christ himself, the elements changed retaining only the appearance, taste, etc. (the accidents) of bread and wine. Catholic doctrine holds that the Godhead is indivisible so every particle or drop thus changed is wholly identical in substance with the divinity, body, and blood of the Crucified Savior. The views of the Orthodox Eastern Church are similar. The Anglican Church has not formally defined the sacrament. In receiving communion the Christian attains union with Jesus, and all who partake are mystically united. Traditionally in the Mass (but not in Eastern liturgies of the Roman Catholic Church) others than the celebrant received the Host only, a practice that arose from the difficulty of transport and storage of wine, and perhaps also because wine is more easily spilled and dropped than bread. In this communion in one kind the believer was held to receive the same divine whole as the celebrant, who receives both kinds at the altar. Communion in two kinds was restored in the Roman Catholic Church in the liturgical renewal proclaimed at the Second Vatican Council. The Roman Catholic and Orthodox churches set conditions for the reception of communion, which is a sign of membership; to be "in communion with" means mutual recognition of membership in the true church. Devotion to the Eucharist (the Blessed Sacrament) is important in the Roman Catholic Church. The object of the cult of the Blessed Sacrament is the Host reserved in churches (see benediction and Corpus Christi). Every leader of the Protestant Reformation attacked the traditional teaching of the Eucharist. For the communion services in many Protestant churches, see Lord's Supper.

The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright© 2013, The Columbia University Press.

Selected full-text books and articles on this topic

Eucharistic Origins: From the New Testament to the Liturgies of the Golden Age
Daly, Robert J.
Theological Studies, Vol. 66, No. 1, March 2005
His Presence in the World: A Study in Eucharistic Worship and Theology
Nicholas Lash.
Sheed & Ward, 1968
The Eucharist: The Mystery of Holy Thursday
François Mauriac; Marie-Louise Dufrenoy.
Longmans, Green, 1944
Corpus Christi: Essays on the Church and the Eucharist
E. L. Mascall.
Longmans, Green, 1953
Eucharistic Presence: An Invitation to Dialogue
Mckenna, John H.
Theological Studies, Vol. 60, No. 2, June 1999
Ecumenism, Christian Origins, and the Practice of Communion
Nicholas Sagovsky.
Cambridge University Press, 2000
Karlstadt and the Origins of the Eucharistic Controversy: A Study in the Circulation of Ideas
Amy Nelson Burnett.
Oxford University Press, 2011
Ascetic Eucharists: Food and Drink in Early Christian Ritual Meals
Andrew McGowan.
Clarendon Press, 1999
Liturgical Piety
Louis Bouyer.
University of Notre Dame Press, 1955
Evelyn Underhill.
Harper & Brothers, 1937
Liturgy, Order and the Law
Rupert D. H. Bursell.
Clarendon Press, 1996
The Presence of Christ in the Eucharist and the Formularies of the Church of England
Cocksworth, Christopher J.
Journal of Ecumenical Studies, Vol. 35, No. 2, Spring 1998
The Legal Framework of the Church of England: A Critical Study in a Comparative Context
Norman Doe.
Clarendon Press, 1996
Librarian’s tip: Chap. 12 "Eucharist, Confession, and Penance"
Roman Catholic Theologies of Eucharistic Communion: A Contribution to Ecumenical Conversation
Power, David N.
Theological Studies, Vol. 57, No. 4, December 1996
The Idea of Catholicism: An Introduction to the Thought and Worship of the Church
Walter J. Burghardt; William F. Lynch.
Greenwich-Meridian, 1960
Christianity Divided, Protestant and Roman Catholic Theological Issues
Heiko A. Oberman; Daniel J. O'Hanlon; Daniel J. Callahan.
Sheed and Ward, 1961
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