Each issue carries an
Archdiocese of Cincinnati.
(A summary of this month's Youth Update)
If you would like to preview a
future edition in Youth Update's private online chat room,
Young people preparing for the Sacrament of Confirmation
spent a Saturday afternoon serving lunch at an area soup kitchen.
As an adult working with them, I wandered the tables pouring
The people finishing their lunches seemed
as hungry for conversation as they were for food. Time and again,
I paused, coffeepot in hand, to listen to their stories. Each
conversation ended with, "Thank you, ma'am."
Immediately after soup-kitchen clean-up,
I went to Saturday evening Mass where I was a Communion minister.
As I held up and distributed each host, I looked into the face
in front of me. "Body of Christ" was answered with a quiet "Amen."
It hit me that there was a strong connection between these two
events. Earlier, we had been serving our brothers and sisters
in the family of God. We had offered them needed physical nourishment
and warm companionship.
Then, at Mass, I had the great honor of
giving the Body of Christ to my brothers and sisters. Now
the nourishment was the very Body and Blood of Jesus, and the
companionship was our loving God and supportive Church.
The Eucharist, the Body of Christ, became
the lens through which I saw all of us, as members of Christ's
body: those in need, those in pain, the elderly, the young, the
poor. In this Youth Update, I trace the Eucharist as the
Body and Blood of Christ and I marvel at our own ability to be
one with that Body in so many wonderful ways.
1. Word and Story
Jesus is present at Mass through the
unfolding of story. We hear the inspired narrative of God's people
in Scripture. We hear letters from long-dead preachers who still
speak directly to our hearts and lives. We also hear the life
of Jesus in the Gospels.
2. Presider and Priest
As the leader of our shared prayer, the
priest is our continuing representation of how God is incarnate.
(Incarnation is the word for how God became human, in Jesus,
to be with us.) Through Baptism, we are called into a special
type of "priesthood" where we are "priests" of Christ just because
we live as true believers.
The Eucharist is not something we watch.
Eucharist is a celebration, a joyful meal shared together. We eat
together, at Communion time, exactly as the first apostles and disciples
ate with Jesus at the Last Supper. The risen Christ promises to
be with us whenever we gather. We believe that promise. Our active
participation demonstrates our belief.
4. Bread and Wine
Without the nourishment of food, our bodies
die. Without the nourishment of the Eucharist, our spirits would
be weak and dry. When the bread and wine at Mass are blessed, broken
and shared, they become the body and Blood of Christ. We too offer
ourselves to God be blessed, broken and shared. In a most meaningful
way, we really are what we eat!
Saying Amen is saying yes. We need to understand
what Eucharist is, what the "Body of Christ" means, so we can fully
understand to what we are saying "Amen." Eucharist is where we experience
the Real Presence of Jesus.
There are many ways we do this in our celebration
of the Mass. The Eucharist is our meal, our time of thanksgiving
and our participation in the great sacrifice of Jesus. Christ is
revealed to us in our sacred Scripture, through our priest presiders,
in our assembly, and becomes present in our bread and wine. Receive
the Body of Christ. Amen!
Tiffinie Elliot, youth minister
at St. Mary Parish in Franklin, Ohio, gathered Dan Brown (14), Abigail
A. Wellbrock (15) and Rachel Wellbrock (16) to preview this issue
of Youth Update.
How does the Church get the hosts which
are consecrated and why do they look like they do?
Churches get the hosts from companies
that make them and ship them to church supply stores. The
bread used at Mass must be unleavened, that is, no ingredients
that make bread rise (like yeast or baking soda) may be in
the bread. This makes it like the bread that Jesus used at
the Last Supper. In the earliest Christian Church, the bread
used for Eucharist looked much like any other bread. Our present
flat, round hosts came into use around the ninth century when
people received the Eucharist very rarely and only on the
tongue. It was just more practical to make the hosts small
and easy to swallow. But many churches today, in an effort
to be faithful to the vision of Eucharist taught by Church
documents, are returning to using unleavened bread that comes
When the priest consecrates the wine, he says,
"so that sins may be forgiven." Is that only true of the wine
or Blood of Christ? I don't usually receive both the Body
and Blood and that worries me.
Not to worrywhenever you receive
the consecrated host you receive both the Body and Blood of
Christ. (For a number of years, we only received the bread
at Mass!) The phrase you quote is from the Gospel of Matthew,
which tells us the importance of receiving the Eucharist.
Therefore, I want to encourage you to receive both the Body
and the Blood when you attend Mass. Our celebration of the
Eucharist is certainly enriched by the return of the common
cup to the Mass. Jesus did ask us to eat and drink.
You say Jesus is really present in the Eucharist
and I believe that. But isn't Jesus really present other times
Of course Jesus keeps his promise to be
with us always. But there is a difference between Jesus being
really present and the Real Presence of Jesus in the Eucharist.
Real Presence means that Jesus is not just remembered at Mass
but is actually there, truly and particularly, in a way that
can only happen in this sacrament. This too is what Jesus
promised us at the Last Supper when he commanded us, "Do this
in memory of me." We accept this on faith as part of God's
great love for us.