OCF 3-4: The Eucharistic Connection

The Eucharist is a sacrament of initiation, as we read yesterday. But it is also a celebration of renewal, nourishment, and strengthening–the basic and esssential spiritual maintenance of the Christian. Both aspects of the Eucharist, meal and sacrifice, are emphasized here:

3. In the eucharistic sacrifice, the Church’s celebration of Christ’s Passover from death to life, the faith of the baptized in the paschal mystery is renewed and nourished. Their union with Christ and with each other is strengthened: “Because there is one bread, we who are many, are one body, for we all partake of the one bread.” (1 Corinthians 10:17)

This emphasis on unity is essential to the notion of sacramental sustenance. We eat not only to fill ourselves, but we eat from a single source, the Bread of Life, to express and strengthen our unity. We share a meal not just to engage in a community activity, but to do so in the grace of the originator of our unity. How does this figure into human mortality? We’re getting to it:

4. At the death of a Christian, whose life was begun in the waters of baptism and strengthened at the eucharistic table, the Church intercedes on behalf of the deceased because of its confident belief that death is not the end nor does it break the bonds forged in life. The Church also ministers to the sorrowing and consoles them in the funeral rites with the comforting word of God and the sacrament of the eucharist.

So the priorities are set for the funeral rites. Christ is proclaimed even in the face of death. The Christian community, called in baptism and strengthened in the Eucharist, prays for one of its own. The deceased believer remains a part of the sacramental community because Christ conquered death and transcends our biological mortality. And those who are in need, especially the friends and family left to mourn, are served by the Church’s liturgy. The funeral rites give the framework by which the Church’s ministers attend to the pastoral and spiritual needs of the grieving.

Thoughts?

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About catholicsensibility

Todd and his family live in Ames, Iowa. He serves a Catholic parish of both Iowa State students and town residents.
This entry was posted in Order of Christian Funerals, post-conciliar liturgy documents, Rites. Bookmark the permalink.

One Response to OCF 3-4: The Eucharistic Connection

  1. Liam says:

    This underscores the eschatalogical dimension of the sacraments, which is more than just the Four Last Things.

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