The Importance of the Eucharist

According to the unanimous testimony of the Saints from different ages, the Eucharistic Celebration is anything but ordinary (Haumonte, 2021). St. John Chrysostom says, “At such a time angels stand by the Priest; and the whole sanctuary, and the space round about the altar, is filled with the powers of heaven, in honour of Him who lies thereon. For this, indeed, is capable of being proved from the very rites which are being then celebrated. I myself, moreover, have heard someone once relate, that a certain aged, venerable man, accustomed to see revelations, used to tell him, that he being thought worthy of a vision of this kind, at such a time, saw, on a sudden, so far as was possible for him, a multitude of angels, clothed in shining robes, and encircling the altar, and bending down, as one might see soldiers in the presence of their King, and for my part I believe it.” (1889, para. 4) While it may be difficult to visualise this, we can imagine a glimpse of the Heavenly Court decked out in their full regalia attending to and awaiting the instructions of Christ the King, whenever the Eucharistic Celebration happens. Yet, this can only be seen through the eyes of faith.


The mystery of the Eucharist is that it is so humble according to outward appearances, that many of us miss the entire point of the Eucharistic Celebration altogether, to the extent of even dismissing and trivialising it completely (Haumonte, 2021). While our human eyes see only a simple piece of bread and a humble cup of wine, St. Justin Martyr eloquently exhorts us to honour the Eucharist with greater reverence, “We call this food Eucharist; and no one is permitted to partake of it, except one who believes our teaching to be true… For not as common bread nor common drink do we receive these; but…. as we have been taught, the food which has been made into the Eucharist by the Eucharistic prayer set down by Him…. is both the Flesh and the Blood of that incarnated Jesus.” (Osbourne, 2011; Finke, 2013)


The Eucharistic Celebration is the highest form of prayer that the Catholic Faithful can pray. It is the fount from which flows and sustains the Christian life, and it is the fastigium or summit of what our Faith is about. As the Faithful takes part in the Eucharistic Sacrifice, Christ allows Himself to be transubstantiated into the lowly external form of bread and wine, and the Priest offers the Divine Victim, who is Christ Himself to God our Father. In the process, we the Faithful, in our active participation of the Eucharistic Celebration also offer ourselves together with this Sacrifice of Christ (Pope Paul VI, 1964; cf. John 12:32).


While the Eucharist was instituted by Jesus on the evening before His betrayal by Judas Iscariot, and His passion, we see the unifying work of the Holy Spirit and the unfolding of God our Father’s plan of Salvation, as we trace Scripture and see parallels in the Passover Meal that had been celebrated for generations by the Jewish people. As the People of God prepared to flee the bondage of their slave masters in Egypt, the Israelites sacrificed an unblemished lamb, used its blood to mark their doorposts, and shared of its meat in a meal together as they awaited the fruition of God’s promises. As the Angel of the Lord passed over Egypt, the markings of the blood of the lamb, marked the houses as those belonging to God’s own, and this allowed the wrath of God to pass over the Israelites leaving them unharmed (cf. Exodus 12).


The first Eucharist was instituted in precisely such a Passover Meal, recalling the deliverance of the People of God from Egypt, but as Christ instituted the New Passover in the Eucharist, it became thus the means for the deliverance of sin. Christ takes on the place of the Passover Lamb and becomes the Lamb of God (John 1:29), who is sacrificed for us – “Christ, our Paschal Lamb, has been sacrificed” (1 Corinthians 5:7). In a similar light, the Body of Christ as the Lamb of God, strengthens the Faithful in our journey to the New and Heavenly Jerusalem, as the meat of the Passover lamb strengthened the Israelites in their exodus; and the Blood of Christ, like the blood of the passover lamb, spares us from the wrath of God, by shielding us in forgiveness (Akin, 2021).


Understanding the immensity and the importance of the Eucharistic Celebration is a first step. How then do we actively participate in the Eucharistic Sacrifice?


There is a general misconception that active participation in the Eucharist means that a member of the laity has to be part of a liturgical ministry, for example the choir, the altar servers, the extraordinary ministers of Holy Communion, lectors, or the wardens.


However, as Pope St. Pius X explains, active participation in the Eucharist has to do with the assimilation of the Divine mysteries, especially that of the Blessed Sacrament, so that the Faithful could be more and more configured unto Christ and be more like Christ (Rouselle, 2020). As Sacrosanctum Concilium expounds, “In the earthly liturgy we take part in a foretaste of that heavenly liturgy which is celebrated in the holy city of Jerusalem toward which we journey as pilgrims, where Christ is sitting at the right hand of God, a minister of the holies and of the true tabernacle; we sing a hymn to the Lord’s glory with all the warriors of the heavenly army; venerating the memory of the saints, we hope for some part and fellowship with them; we eagerly await the Saviour, Our Lord Jesus Christ, until He, our life, shall appear and we too will appear with Him in glory.” (1963, 8)


Part of active participation at the Eucharistic Celebration also has to do with attuning our minds and attention fully to what is happening during the celebration; and using the moments of sacred silence to contemplate on the Truths and Beauty of God. Our singing, reverent postures, and our heartfelt responses help to bridge our intellects with our heart spaces and to better connect with God. The more we invest in these, the greater the fruit of Grace. While the Eucharistic Celebration fosters the active participation of the Faithful, via the Call and Response format, there are some parts of the Eucharistic Celebration that are structured so as to allow the Faithful to participate even more. These include:


The Collect

At the start of the Liturgy of the Word, the priest calls the Faithful to pray, and as the Priest prays the words of the Collect, the Faithful are supposed to join in this petition, make this prayer their own, and to inaudibly pray their own intentions, that the priest collects and offers to God on our behalf (General Instruction of the Roman Missal, 54)


The Offertory

As the gifts of bread and wine are offered, the Faithful also offer up their gifts – in the form of money or gifts for the poor. The Bread and Wine are brought up to the altar, while the Faithful’s Gifts are placed at a suitable location away from the Eucharistic Table, for example at the foot of the Sanctuary (General Instruction of the Roman Missal, 73). We can also participate in this through and active offering of ourselves and our gifts and charisms as the offerings of Bread and Wine are brought to the Sanctuary.


The Intercessions

The intercessions express how the Eucharist is celebrated in communion with the whole Universal Church around the world, and with the Communion of Saints (General Instruction of the Roman Missal, 79g). We participate actively through our praying for ourselves and for someone else who may be in need of our prayers because that person in the world may have the same exact issue that we are praying for, and also because we believe that it is not by coincidence that we have been called as honoured guests to the Lord’s Supper, and precisely because of the Communion of Saints, and because we belong to the Body of Christ, we have been called to stand as proxies for someone out there who is undergoing the same struggles that we ourselves undergo.


Concluding Remarks

The Eucharist is the Sacrament where the Mystery of the Incarnation is made alive, time and again, as it transcends the space-time continuum. It is the sacrament of God’s infinite love and mercy, and it is a visible and tangible sign of the Body of Christ coming together in worship and thanksgiving. It is the fulcrum of the Christian life, from which all Christian life emanates, and revolves around. In it, we have a glimpse of heaven, and through it, the heavens are made real in our earthly realm, as the Kingdom of God is now, with Christ dwelling in our midst and as invisible hosts tend to Him. Knowing the gravitas of the sacrament, am I going to waste this grace or am I going to truly participate in this foretaste of the heavenly banquet?


By the Grace of God,

Brian Bartholomew Tan



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Chrysostom, J. (1889). On the Priesthood. (Trans. Stephens, W.R.W.). Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers, First Series, Vol. 9. (Ed. Schaff, P.) (Buffalo, NY: Christian Literature Publishing Co., 1889.) Revised and edited for New Advent by Kevin Knight. Retrieved December 6, 2022 from


Finke, T. (2013). Embracing Catholicism. LuLu Publishing Company.


General Instruction of the Roman Missal. (2003). Libreria Editrice Vaticana. Retrieved December 6, 2022 from – A._The_Introductory_Rites


Haumonte, O. (2021). Encounters with Angels: The Invisible Companions of our Spiritual Life. Sophia Institute Press.


Osbourne, G. (2011).  The Early Church Fathers and the Eucharist. The B.C. Catholic. Retrieved December 6, 2022 from


Pope Paul VI. (1961). Lumen Gentium. [Dogmatic Constitution of the Church]. Libreria Editrice Vaticana. Retrieved from


Pope Paul VI. (1963). Sacrosanctum Concilium. [Constitution of the Sacred Liturgy]. Libreria Editrice Vaticana. Retrieved from


Rouselle, C. (2020). What does it mean to “actively participate” in Mass? Catholic News Agency. Retrieved December 6, 2022 from