Circle of Prayer - The Blessed Eucharist
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Holy Eucharist is the sacrament and sacrifice in which Jesus Christ, under the appearances of bread and wine, is contained, offered, and received. As a sacrifice, the Eucharist is known as the Mass; and as the sacrament, it is known as Holy Communion.

The Eucharist is a sacrifice in which Christians, through the hands of their priests, offer to God the Father the most precious gift possible - His only begotten Son. God is so pleased with this offering that He shares with them this gift by giving His Son to them in Holy Communion as food for their souls. The Eucharist, both sacrifice and sacrament, should be the center of all Christian life and worship, because it brings man to God and brings God to man. 

The following extracts are taken from the Catholic Church Code of Canon Law:

THE BLESSED EUCHARIST

CThe most venerable sacrament is the blessed Eucharist, in which Christ the Lord himself is contained, offered and received, and by which the Church continually lives and grows. The eucharistic Sacrifice, the memorial of the death and resurrection of the Lord, in which the Sacrifice of the cross is forever perpetuated, is the summit and the source of all worship and Christian life. By means of it the unity of God's people is signified and brought about, and the building up of the body of Christ is perfected. The other sacraments and all the apostolic works of Christ are bound up with, and directed to, the blessed Eucharist. 

Christ's faithful are to hold the blessed Eucharist in the highest honor. They should take an active part in the celebration of the most august Sacrifice of the Mass; they should receive the sacrament with great devotion and frequently, and should reverence it with the greatest adoration. In explaining the doctrine of this sacrament, pastors of souls are assiduously to instruct the faithful about their obligation in this regard. 

THE CELEBRATION OF THE EUCHARIST 

Can. 899 §1 The celebration of the Eucharist is an action of Christ himself and of the Church. In it Christ the Lord, through the ministry of the priest, offers himself, substantially present under the appearances of bread and wine, to God the Father, and gives himself as spiritual nourishment to the faithful who are associated with him in his offering. 

In the eucharistic assembly the people of God are called together under the presidency of the Bishop or of a priest authorized by him, who acts in the person of Christ. All the faithful present, whether clerics or lay people, unite to participate in their own way, according to their various orders and liturgical roles. 

The eucharistic celebration is to be so ordered that all the participants derive from it the many fruits for which Christ the Lord instituted the eucharistic Sacrifice. 

THE MINISTER OF THE BLESSED EUCHARIST

CThe only minister who, in the person of Christ, can bring into being the sacrament of the Eucharist, is a validly ordained priest. 

Any priest who is not debarred by canon law may lawfully celebrate the Eucharist, provided the provisions of the following canons are observed. 

A priest is entitled to offer Mass for anyone, living or dead. 

Unless the benefit of Christ's faithful requires or suggests otherwise, priests may concelebrate the Eucharist; they are, however, fully entitled to celebrate the Eucharist individually, but not while a celebration is taking place in the same church or oratory. 

A priest is to be permitted to celebrate the Eucharist, even if he is not known to the rector of the church, provided either that he presents commendatory letters, not more than a year old, from his own Ordinary or Superior, or that it can be prudently judged that he is not debarred from celebrating. 

Remembering always that in the mystery of the eucharistic Sacrifice the work of redemption is continually being carried out, priests are to celebrate frequently. Indeed, daily celebration is earnestly recommended, because, even if it should not be possible to have the faithful present, it is an action of Christ and of the Church in which priests fulfill their principal role. 

Apart from those cases in which the law allows him to celebrate or concelebrate the Eucharist a number of times on the same day, a priest may not celebrate more than once a day. 

If there is a scarcity of priests, the local Ordinary may for a good reason allow priests to celebrate twice in one day or even, if pastoral need requires it, three times on Sundays or holydays of obligation. 

A priest may not celebrate the eucharistic Sacrifice without the participation of at least one of the faithful, unless there is a good and reasonable cause for doing so. 

In the celebration of the Eucharist, deacons and lay persons are not permitted to say the prayers, especially the eucharistic prayer, nor to perform the actions which are proper to the celebrating priest. 

Catholic priests are forbidden to concelebrate the Eucharist with priests or ministers of Churches or ecclesial communities which are not in full communion with the catholic Church. 

A priest is not to omit dutifully to prepare himself by prayer before the celebration of the Eucharist, nor afterwards to omit to make thanksgiving to God. 

The ordinary minister of holy communion is a Bishop, a priest or a deacon. 

The extraordinary minister of holy communion is an acolyte, or another of Christ's faithful deputed in accordance with can. 230 §3. 

The duty and right to bring the blessed Eucharist to the sick as Viaticum belongs to the parish priest, to assistant priests, to chaplains and, in respect of all who are in the house, to the community Superior in clerical religious institutes or societies of apostolic life. 

In a case of necessity, or with the permission at least presumed of the parish priest, chaplain or Superior, who must subsequently be notified, any priest or other minister of holy communion must do this. 

PARTICIPATION IN THE BLESSED EUCHARIST

CAny baptized person who is not forbidden by law may and must be admitted to holy communion. 

For holy communion to be administered to children, it is required that they have sufficient knowledge and be accurately prepared, so that according to their capacity they understand what the mystery of Christ means, and are able to receive the Body of the Lord with faith and devotion. 

The blessed Eucharist may, however, be administered to children in danger of death if they can distinguish the Body of Christ from ordinary food and receive communion with reverence. 

It is primarily the duty of parents and of those who take their place, as it is the duty of the parish priest, to ensure that children who have reached the use of reason are properly prepared and, having made their sacramental confession, are nourished by this divine food as soon as possible. It is also the duty of the parish priest to see that children who have not reached the use of reason, or whom he has judged to be insufficiently disposed, do not come to holy communion. 

Those upon whom the penalty of excommunication or interdict has been imposed or declared, and others who obstinately persist in manifest grave sin, are not to be admitted to holy communion. 

Anyone who is conscious of grave sin may not celebrate Mass or receive the Body of the Lord without previously having been to sacramental confession, unless there is a grave reason and there is no opportunity to confess; in this case the person is to remember the obligation to make an act of perfect contrition, which includes the resolve to go to confession as soon as possible. 

One who has received the blessed Eucharist may receive it again on the same day only within a eucharistic celebration in which that person participates, without prejudice to the provision of can. 921 §2. 

It is most strongly recommended that the faithful receive holy communion in the course of a eucharistic celebration. If, however, for good reason they ask for it apart from the Mass, it is to be administered to them, observing the liturgical rites. 

Whoever is to receive the blessed Eucharist is to abstain for at least one hour before holy communion from all food and drink, with the sole exception of water and medicine. 

A priest who, on the same day, celebrates the blessed Eucharist twice or three times may consume something before the second or third celebration, even though there is not an hour's interval. 

The elderly and those who are suffering from some illness, as well as those who care for them, may receive the blessed Eucharist even if within the preceding hour they have consumed something. 

Once admitted to the blessed Eucharist, each of the faithful is obliged to receive holy communion at least once a year. 

This precept must be fulfilled during paschal time, unless for a good reason it is fulfilled at another time during the year. 

Christ's faithful who are in danger of death, from whatever cause, are to be strengthened by holy communion as Viaticum. 

Even if they have already received holy communion that same day, it is nevertheless strongly suggested that in danger of death they should communicate again. 

While the danger of death persists, it is recommended that holy communion be administered a number of times, but on separate days. 

Holy Viaticum for the sick is not to be unduly delayed. Those who have the care of souls are to take assiduous care that the sick are strengthened by it while they are in full possession of their faculties. 

Christ's faithful may participate in the eucharistic Sacrifice and receive holy communion in any catholic rite, without prejudice to the provisions of can. 844. 

THE RITES AND CEREMONIES OF THE EUCHARISTIC CELEBRATION

The most holy Sacrifice of the Eucharist must be celebrated in bread, and in wine to which a small quantity of water is to be added. 

The bread must be wheaten only, and recently made, so that there is no danger of corruption. 

The wine must be natural, made from grapes of the vine, and not corrupt. 

Holy communion is to be given under the species of bread alone or, in accordance with the liturgical laws, under both species or, in case of necessity, even under the species of wine alone. 

In the eucharistic celebration, in accordance with the ancient tradition of the Latin Church, the priest is to use unleavened bread wherever he celebrates Mass. 

It is absolutely wrong, even in urgent and extreme necessity, to consecrate one element without the other, or even to consecrate both outside the eucharistic celebration. 

The eucharistic celebration is to be carried out either in the Latin language or in another language, provided the liturgical texts have been lawfully approved. 

In celebrating and administering the Eucharist, priests and deacons are to wear the sacred vestments prescribed by the rubrics. 

A priest who is ill or elderly, if he is unable to stand, may celebrate the eucharistic Sacrifice sitting but otherwise observing the liturgical laws; he may not, however, do so in public except by permission of the local Ordinary. 

A priest who is blind or suffering from some other infirmity, may lawfully celebrate the eucharistic Sacrifice by using the text of any approved Mass, with the assistance, if need be, of another priest or deacon or even a properly instructed lay person. 

THE TIME AND PLACE OF THE EUCHARISTIC CELEBRATION

The celebration and distribution of the Eucharist may take place on any day and at any hour, except those which are excluded by the liturgical laws. 

The eucharistic celebration is to be carried out in a sacred place, unless in a particular case necessity requires otherwise; in which case the celebration must be in a fitting place. 

The eucharistic Sacrifice must be carried out at an altar that is dedicated or blessed. Outside a sacred place an appropriate table may be used, but always with an altar cloth and a corporal. 

For a good reason, with the express permission of the local Ordinary and provided scandal has been eliminated, a priest may celebrate the Eucharist in a place of worship of any Church or ecclesial community which is not in full communion with the catholic Church. 

THE RESERVATION AND VENERATION OF THE BLESSED EUCHARIST

The blessed Eucharist: 

  • must be reserved in the cathedral church or its equivalent, in every parish church, and in the church or oratory attached to the house of a religious institute or society of apostolic life
  • may be reserved in a Bishop's chapel and, by permission of the local Ordinary, in other churches, oratories and chapels. 
In sacred places where the blessed Eucharist is reserved there must always be someone who is responsible for it, and as far as possible a priest is to celebrate Mass there at least twice a month. 

It is not lawful for anyone to keep the blessed Eucharist in personal custody or to carry it around, unless there is an urgent pastoral need and the prescriptions of the diocesan Bishop are observed. 

In a house of a religious institute or other house of piety, the blessed Eucharist is to be reserved only in the church or principal oratory attached to the house. For a just reason, however, the Ordinary can permit it to be reserved also in another oratory of the same house. 

Unless there is a grave reason to the contrary, a church in which the blessed Eucharist is reserved is to be open to the faithful for at least some hours every day, so that they can pray before the blessed Sacrament. 

The blessed Eucharist is to be reserved habitually in only one tabernacle of a church or oratory. 

The tabernacle in which the blessed Eucharist is reserved should be sited in a distinguished place in the church or oratory, a place which is conspicuous, suitably adorned and conducive to prayer. 

The tabernacle in which the blessed Eucharist is habitually reserved is to be immovable, made of solid and non­transparent material, and so locked as to give the greatest security against any danger of profanation. 

For a grave reason, especially at night, it is permitted to reserve the blessed Eucharist in some other safer place, provided it is fitting. 

The person in charge of a church or oratory is to see to it that the key of the tabernacle in which the blessed Eucharist is reserved, is in maximum safe keeping. 

Consecrated hosts, in a quantity sufficient for the needs of the faithful, are to be kept in a pyx or ciborium, and are to be renewed frequently, the older hosts having been duly consumed. 

A special lamp is to burn continuously before the tabernacle in which the blessed Eucharist is reserved, to indicate and to honor the presence of Christ. 

In churches or oratories which are allowed to reserve the blessed Eucharist, there may be exposition, either with the pyx or with the monstrance, in accordance with the norms prescribed in the liturgical books. 

Exposition of the blessed Sacrament may not take place while Mass is being celebrated in the same area of the church or oratory. 

It is recommended that in these churches or oratories, there is to be each year a solemn exposition of the blessed Sacrament for an appropriate, even if not for a continuous time, so that the local community may more attentively meditate on and adore the eucharistic mystery. This exposition is to take place only if a fitting attendance of the faithful is foreseen, and the prescribed norms are observed. 

The minister of exposition of the blessed Sacrament and of the eucharistic blessing is a priest or deacon. In special circumstances the minister of exposition and deposition alone, but without the blessing, is an acolyte, and extraordinary minister of holy communion, or another person deputed by the local Ordinary, in accordance with the regulations of the diocesan Bishop. 

Wherever in the judgment of the diocesan Bishop it can be done, a procession through the streets is to be held, especially on the solemnity of the Body and Blood of Christ, as a public witness of veneration of the blessed Eucharist. 

It is for the diocesan Bishop to establish such regulations about processions as will provide for participation in them and for their being carried out in a dignified manner. 

THE OFFERING MADE FOR THE CELEBRATION OF MASS

In accordance with the approved custom of the Church, any priest who celebrates or concelebrates a Mass may accept an offering to apply the Mass for a specific intention. 

It is earnestly recommended to priests that, even if they do not receive an offering, they celebrate Mass for the intentions of Christ's faithful, especially of those in need. 

The faithful who make an offering so that Mass can be celebrated for their intention, contribute to the good of the Church, and by that offering they share in the Church's concern for the support of its ministers and its activities. 

Even the semblance of trafficking or trading is to be entirely excluded from Mass offerings. 

Separate Masses must be applied for the intentions of those for whom an individual offering, even if small, has been made and accepted. 

One who is obliged to celebrate and apply Mass for the intentions of those who made an offering, is bound by this obligation even if the offering received is lost through no fault of his. 

If a sum of money is offered for the application of Masses, but with no indication of the number of Masses to be celebrated, their number is to be calculated on the basis of the offering prescribed in the place where the donor resides, unless the donor's intention must lawfully be presumed to have been otherwise. 

A priest who celebrates a number of Masses on the same day may apply each Mass for the intention for which an offering was made, subject however to the rule that, apart from Christmas Day, he may retain for himself the offering for only one Mass; the others he is to transmit to purposes prescribed by the Ordinary, while allowing for some compensation on the ground of an extrinsic title. 

A priest who on the same day concelebrates a second Mass may not under any title accept an offering for that Mass. 

The provincial council or the provincial Bishops' meeting is to determine by decree, for the whole of the province, what offering is to be made for the celebration and application of Mass. Nonetheless, it is permitted to accept, for the application of a Mass, an offering voluntarily made, which is greater, or even less, than that which has been determined. 

Where there is no such decree, the custom existing in the diocese is to be observed. 

Members of religious institutes of all kinds must abide by the decree or the local custom mentioned in §1 and 2. 

No one may accept more offerings for Masses to be celebrated by himself than he can discharge within a year. 

If in certain churches or oratories more Masses are requested than can be celebrated there, these may be celebrated elsewhere, unless the donors have expressly stipulated otherwise. 

One who intends to transfer to others the celebration of Masses to be applied, is to transfer them as soon as possible to priests of his own choice, provided he is certain that they are of proven integrity. He must transfer the entire offering received, unless it is quite certain that an amount in excess of the diocesan offering was given as a personal gift. Moreover, it is his obligation to see to the celebration of the Masses until such time as he has received evidence that the obligation has been undertaken and the offering received. 

Unless it is established otherwise, the time within which Masses are to be celebrated begins from the day the priest who is to celebrate them receives them. 

Those who transfer to others Masses to be celebrated are without delay to record in a book both the Masses which they have accepted and those which they have passed on, noting also the offerings for these Masses. 

Each priest must accurately record the Masses which he has accepted to celebrate and those which he has in fact celebrated. 

Each and every administrator of pious causes and those, whether clerics or lay persons, who are in any way obliged to provide for the celebration of Masses, are to transfer to their Ordinaries, in a manner to be determined by the latter, such Mass obligations as have not been discharged within a year. 

The duty and the right to see that Mass obligations are fulfilled belongs, in the case of churches of the secular clergy, to the local Ordinary; in the case of churches of religious institutes or societies of apostolic life, to their Superiors. 

The parish priest, as well as the rector of a church or other pious place in which Mass offerings are usually received, is to have a special book in which he is accurately to record the number, the intention and the offering of the Masses to be celebrated, and the fact of their celebration. 

The Ordinary is obliged to inspect these books each year, either personally or through others.

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