last supper
Divine Liturgy: The Sacrifice

"In the Liturgy of the Church, it is principally his own Paschal mystery that Christ signifies and makes present." [CCC 1085]

Having been fed by the Word of God, we now turn to the central mystery of our faith - participation in the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ through the celebration of the Eucharist. "Eucharist" refers to the Body and Blood of Christ; it literally means "thanksgiving," and it expresses our gratitude for the forgiveness of sins and eternal life we receive in Holy Communion. "Primarily in the Eucharist . . . the Liturgy is the memorial of the mystery of salvation." [CCC 1099]

The Liturgy of the Sacrifice is as follows:

• The Great Entrance: While the Cherubic Hymn is sung, the bread and wine are brought to the altar. We are invited to unite ourselves with the angels in worship and to "lay aside all earthly cares so that we may receive the King of All."

• The Creed: A declaration of our common faith in the Trinity, the deity of Christ, and other tenets of the Catholic Church.

• The Eucharistic Prayer: Recalls the institution of the Eucharist by Christ at the Last Supper and proclaims the holiness and love of God through the death, resurrection, and ascension of the Saviour.

• The Consecration: The gifts of bread and wine are changed, by the power of the Holy Spirit, into the Body and Blood of Jesus Christ.

• The Commemorations: These help us to recall all those for whom our sacrifice is offered.

• The Lord's Prayer: Our acknowledgement that God is our Heavenly Father.

• Prayer Before Communion: We profess our faith in ChristÕs real presence in the Eucharist, and ask Him to make us worthy to receive Him in the sacrament.

• Reception of Holy Communion: The climax of the Liturgy, when we partake of the Eucharist, "the source and summit of the Christian life." [CCC 1324] By partaking of Holy Communion we fulfill the purpose of our worship by uniting ourselves with Christ "for the forgiveness of sins and unto life everlasting." After receiving the Eucharist, we express our thanks by worshipping the Trinity who saves us:

• We pray to depart in peace, in the name of the Lord, in order to bear witness to Christ, our Saviour and Lord.

• We pray for salvation and guidance
during the closing prayer recited by the priest in the center of the Church.

• We receive the Lord's blessing, proclaimed by the priest through the veneration of the Cross, and take a piece of the Antidor (blessed bread). Pieces of this bread, which is not the Eucharist, are especially for those who could not receive Communion and for those who could not come to Liturgy.

"In the earthly Liturgy we share 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, Minister of the sanctuary and of the true tabernacle. With all the warriors of the heavenly army we sing a hymn of glory to the Lord; venerating the memory of the saints, we hope for some part and fellowship with them; we eagerly await the Savior, our Lord Jesus Christ, until he, our life, shall appear and we too will appear with him in glory." [CCC 1090]