The Eucharist as Real Presence
The Council of Trent taught that in the Sacrament of the Eucharist, “Our Lord as true God and truly man is present truly, really and substantially under the form of visible things.” The Church teaches that the bread and wine are changed, a change traditionally and appropriately expressed by the word transubstantiation, so that, while the appearances of bread and wine remain, the reality is the body and blood of Christ.
This is the reason we visit a church, that is, to visit the Blessed Sacrament, the real presence of Christ in the Eucharist. This is the reason we place a sanctuary light near the tabernacle where we repose the Blessed Sacrament. We genuflect as a sign of our respect and adoration of the Person of Christ present in the form and bread reposed in the tabernacle. The real presence of Christ in the Eucharist is the reason for the importance of the exposition of the Blessed Sacrament and the Eucharistic benediction at certain times.
As we approach the Eucharistic minister or the priest to receive the sacred species at communion time, the words “The Body of Christ!” is proclaimed before the host is actually given to us for consumption and to which proclamation we respond “Amen!” as our expression of total faith in Christ’s presence in the form of the bread.
Our holy communion with the one bread transformed into the body of Jesus Christ embodies our sharing of his immortal spirit in our mortal lives. It signifies our unity in Him. When we eat of this same bread that has become His own flesh, we become what we eat. We are transformed into Christ, becoming His witnesses in our world. Our hands and feet become the hands and feet of Christ in bringing the Good News to our world. Our communion or oneness with Christ as we receive His Body at the Eucharist makes us assimilate his mentality so we are disposed to think, speak and act like Him. It is for this reason that the Eucharist becomes the center and heart of Christian life, increasing our sense of Christ and our identity as a Christian community.