The Mass consists of two principal parts, namely the liturgy of the
Word and the liturgy of the Eucharist during which Holy Communion is
distributed. Within this set structure considerable variation is
possible in the use of music, pageantry, and other devices to render
the service appropriate for a given occasion.
The Mass is first of all a sacrifice-the perfect sacrifice, created by
Jesus. Through the priest we offer Jesus, Body and Blood, to the
Father, just as Jesus offered Himself to the Father on the Cross. In
an unbloody way, we repeat-make present-Christ's death and
Resurrection. Through this memorial of Jesus, we offer God our praise,
sorrow for our sins, and deepest thanks.
The Mass is also a meal. At the Consecration, the bread and wine,
through the power of the Holy Spirit, become the Body and Blood of
Christ. Not a mere symbol, but Jesus' real flesh and real blood, under
the appearance of bread and wine. When we receive Holy Communion, we
receive Jesus Himself. He is real food for our soul.
As we take Holy Communion it strengthens our union with Jesus; He
lives within us in a special way. It cleanses us from mortal sins that
require forgiveness in Confession. It gives us grace to avoid sin in
the future. It increases our love of God and our neighbours.
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 sacrament ally, body, blood,
soul and divinity, in many places throughout the world.
The Eucharist is not only a sacrament but also a sacrifice, 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