THE CATECHISM OF ST. PIUS X – The Blessed Eucharist
The Nature of This Sacrament — The Real Presence
1 Q: What is the sacrament of the Eucharist?
A: The Eucharist is a sacrament in which, by the marvelous conversion of the whole substance of bread into the Body of Jesus Christ, and that of wine into His precious Blood, is contained truly, really, and substantially, the Body, the Blood, the Soul and Divinity of the same Lord Jesus Christ, under the appearance of bread and wine as our spiritual food.
2 Q: In the Eucharist is there the same Jesus Christ who is in heaven, and who was born on earth of the Blessed Virgin?
A: Yes, in the Eucharist there is truly the same Jesus Christ who is in heaven, and who was born on earth of the Blessed Virgin.
3 Q: Why do you believe that in the Eucharist Jesus Christ is really present?
A: I believe that in the Eucharist Jesus Christ is truly present, because He Himself has said it, and holy Church teaches it.
4 Q: What is the matter of the sacrament of the Eucharist?
A: The matter of the sacrament of the Eucharist is that which was used by Jesus Christ Himself, that is, wheaten bread and wine of the vine.
5 Q: What is the form of the sacrament of the Eucharist?
A: The form of the sacrament of the Eucharist consists of the words used by Jesus Christ Himself: “This is My Body: This is My Blood.”
6 Q: What is the host before consecration?
A: The host before consecration is bread.
7 Q: After consecration what is the host?
A: After consecration the host is the true Body of our Lord Jesus Christ under the species of bread
8 Q: What is in the chalice before consecration?
A: In the chalice before consecration there is wine with a few drops of water.
9 Q: After consecration what is in the chalice?
A: After consecration there is in the chalice the true Blood of our Lord Jesus Christ, under the species of wine.
10 Q: When does the change of the bread into the Body and of the wine into the Blood of Jesus Christ take place?
A: The change of the bread into the Body and of the wine into the Blood of Jesus Christ is made in the very moment in which the priest pronounces the words of consecration during holy Mass.
11 Q: What is the consecration?
A: The consecration is the renewal, by means of the priest, of the miracle wrought by Jesus Christ at the Last Supper, of changing bread and wine into His adorable Body and Blood by saying: “This is My Body: This is My Blood.”
12 Q: What does the Church call the miraculous change of bread and of wine into the Body and Blood of Jesus Christ?
A: The Church calls the miraculous change which is daily wrought upon our altars transubstantiation.
13 Q: Who gave this great power to the words of consecration?
A: Our Lord Jesus Christ Himself, who is Almighty God, gave this great power to the words of consecration.
14 Q: Is there nothing left of the bread and of the wine after consecration?
A: After consecration the species of the bread and of the wine alone are left.
15 Q: What are the species of the bread and of the wine?
A: The species of the bread and of the wine are the quantity and sensible qualities of the bread and of the wine, such as the form, the color, and the taste.
16 Q: How can the species of the bread and of the wine remain without their substance?
A: The species of the bread and of the wine remain without their substance in a wonderful way by the power of God Almighty.
17 Q: Under the species of the bread is there only the Body of Jesus Christ and under the species of the wine only His Blood?
A: Both under the species of the bread and under the species of the wine the living Jesus Christ is all present, with His Body, His Blood, His Soul and His Divinity.
18 Q: Can you tell me why Jesus Christ is whole and entire both in the host and in the chalice?
A: Both in the host and in the chalice Jesus Christ is whole and entire, because He is living and immortal in the Eucharist as He is in heaven; hence where His Body is, there also are His Blood, His Soul, and His Divinity; and where His Blood is, there also are His Body, His Soul and His Divinity, all these being inseparable in Jesus Christ.
19 Q: When Jesus Christ is in the host does He cease to be in heaven?
A: When Jesus Christ is in the host He does not cease to be in heaven, but is at one and the same time in heaven and in the Blessed Sacrament.
20 Q: Is Jesus Christ present in all the consecrated hosts in the world?
A: Yes, Jesus Christ is present in all consecrated hosts in the world.
21 Q: How can Jesus Christ be present in all the consecrated hosts in the world?
A: Jesus Christ is present in all the consecrated hosts in the world by the Omnipotence of God, to whom nothing is impossible.
22 Q: When the host is broken is the Body of Jesus Christ broken also?
A: When the host is broken, the Body of Jesus Christ is not broken, but only the species of the bread are broken.
23 Q: In which part of the host is the Body of Jesus Christ?
A: The Body of Jesus Christ is entire in all the parts into which the host is broken.
24 Q: Is Jesus Christ just as much in a particle of a host as in a whole host?
A: Yes, the same Jesus Christ is just as much in a particle of a host as in a whole host.
25 Q: Why is the Most Blessed Eucharist preserved in our churches?
A: The Most Blessed Eucharist is preserved in our churches that It may be adored by the faithful, and brought to the sick when necessary.
26 Q: Ought the Eucharist to be adored?
A: The Eucharist ought to be adored by all, because it contains really, truly, and substantially, our Lord Jesus Christ Himself.
The Institution and Effects of the Sacrament of the Eucharist
27 Q: When did Jesus Christ institute the sacrament of the Eucharist?
A: Jesus Christ instituted the sacrament of the Eucharist at the last supper, which He took with His disciples, the evening before His passion.
28 Q: Why did Jesus Christ institute the Most Holy Eucharist?
A: Jesus Christ instituted the Most Holy Eucharist for three principal reasons: (1) To be the Sacrifice of the New Law; (2) To be the food of our souls; (3) To be a perpetual memorial of His passion and death and a precious pledge both of His love for us and of eternal life.
29 Q: Why did Jesus Christ institute this sacrament under the appearances of bread and wine?
A: Jesus Christ instituted this sacrament under the appearances of bread and wine, because, the Eucharist being intended to be our spiritual nourishment, it was therefore fitting that it should be given to us under the form of food and drink.
30 Q: What are the effects which the Most Holy Eucharist produces in us?
A: The principal effects which the Most Holy Eucharist produces in those who worthily receive it are these: (1) It preserves and increases the life of the soul, which is grace, just as natural food sustains and increases the life of the body; (2) It remits venial sins and preserves us from mortal sin; (3) It produces spiritual consolation.
31 Q: Does not the Most Holy Eucharist produce other effects in us?
A: Yes; the Most Holy Eucharist produces three other effects in (1) It weakens our passions, and in particular it allays in us the fires of concupiscence; (2) It increases in us the fervor of charity towards God and our neighbor, and aids us to act in conformity with the will of Jesus Christ; (3) It gives us a pledge of future glory and of the resurrection of our body.
The Dispositions necessary to Receive Holy Communion worthily
32 Q: Does the sacrament of the Eucharist always produce its marvelous effects in us?
A: The sacrament of the Eucharist produces its marvelous effects in us when it is received with the requisite dispositions
33 Q: What conditions are necessary to make a good Communion?
A: To make a good communion three conditions are necessary: (1) To be in the grace of God (2) To be fasting from midnight until the moment of Holy Communion; (3) To know what we are about to receive, and to approach Holy Communion devoutly.
- NOTE: The discipline of fasting from midnight has been changed. Currently, only a fast of one hour before Communion is required (CIC 919).
34 Q: What is meant by being in the grace of God?
A: To be in the grace of God means to have a pure conscience And to be free from every mortal sin.
35 Q: What should one who knows that he is in mortal sin do before receiving Communion?
A: One who knows that he is in mortal sin must make a good confession before going to Holy Communion, for even an act of perfect contrition is not enough without confession to enable one who is in mortal sin to receive Holy Communion properly.
36 Q: Why does not even an act of perfect contrition suffice to enable one who knows he is in mortal sin to go to Communion?
A: Because the Church, out of respect for this sacrament, has ordained that no one in mortal sin should dare to go to Communion without first going to confession.
37 Q: Does he who goes to Communion in mortal sin receive Jesus Christ?
A: He who goes to Communion in mortal sin receives Jesus Christ but not His grace; moreover, he commits a sacrilege and renders himself deserving of sentence of damnation.
38 Q: What sort of fast is required before Communion?
A: Before communion there is required a natural fast which is broken by taking the least thing by way of food or drink.
- NOTE: Under the current discipline, taking water or medicine does not break the Eucharistic fast (CIC 919).
39 Q: If one were to swallow a particle that had remained between the teeth, or a drop of water while washing, might he still go to Communion?
A: If one were to swallow a particle that had remained between the teeth, or a drop of water while washing, he might still go to Communion, because in both cases these things would either not be taken as food or drink, or they would have already lost the nature of either.
40 Q: Is it ever allowed to go to Communion after having broken the fast?
A: To go to Communion after having broken the fast is permitted to the sick, who are in danger of death, and to those who on account of prolonged illness have received a special dispensation from the Pope. Communion given to the sick in danger of death is called viaticum, because it supports them on their way from this life to eternity.
- NOTE: The discipline concerning exemption from the Eucharistic fast has been significantly changed. See Code of Canon Law, canon 919 for the current regulations.
41 Q: What is meant by the words: To know what we are about to receive?
A: To know what we are about to receive means to know and firmly believe what is taught in Christian doctrine concerning this sacrament.
42 Q: What do the words: To receive Holy Communion with devotion mean?
A: To receive Holy Communion with devotion means to approach Holy Communion with humility and modesty in person And dress; and to make a preparation before, and an act of thanksgiving after, Holy Communion.
43 Q: In what does the preparation before Communion consist?
A: Preparation before Communion consists in meditating for some time on Whom we are about to receive, and on who we are; and in making acts of faith, hope, charity, contrition, adoration, humility, and desire to receive Jesus Christ.
44 Q: In what does the thanksgiving after Communion consist?
A: Thanksgiving after Communion consists in keeping ourselves recollected in order to honor the Lord who is within us; renewing our acts of faith, of hope, of charity, of adoration, of thanksgiving, of offerings, and of requests, especially for those graces which are most necessary for ourselves and for those for whom we are bound to pray.
45 Q: What should we do during the day on which we have received Communion?
A: During the day on which we have received Communion we should remain as recollected as possible, occupy ourselves in works of piety, and discharge the duties of our state with greater diligence.
46 Q: How long does Jesus Christ abide within us after Holy Communion?
A: After Holy Communion Jesus Christ abides within us by His grace as long as we commit no mortal sin; and He abides within us by His Real Presence until the sacramental species are consumed.
- NOTE: The consumption of the species is not the same as the consumption of the sacrament. We consume the sacrament when we receive Communion. The species are consumed when what we have received would no longer appear to be bread or wine.
The Way to Go to Communion
47 Q: How should we act while receiving Holy Communion?
A: In the act of receiving Holy Communion we should be kneeling, hold our head slightly raised, our eyes modest and fixed on the sacred Host, our mouth sufficiently open, and the tongue slightly out over the lips.
- NOTE: Reception of Communion in the hand is now commonly permitted. This also affects the next question.
48 Q: How should the Communion cloth be held?
A: The Communion cloth should be held in such a way as to receive the sacred Host in case it should fall.
49 Q: When should the sacred Host be swallowed?
A: We should try to swallow the sacred Host as soon as possible, and we should avoid spitting for some time.
50 Q: If the sacred Host should cling to the palate what should be done?
A: If the sacred Host should cling to the palate it should be removed with the tongue, but never with the finger.
The Precept of Holy Communion
51 Q: When are we bound to receive Communion?
A: We are bound to go to Communion once a year, at Easter, each one in his own parish; and also when in danger of death.
52 Q: At what age does the precept of paschal Communion begin to bind?
A: The precept of paschal Communion begins to bind as soon As a child is capable of receiving with the requisite dispositions.
53 Q: Do they sin who are old enough to receive Communion and do not?
A: They who are old enough to receive Communion and do not either because they are unwilling, or because, through their own fault, they are not instructed, undoubtedly sin. Their parents or guardians also sin if the delay of Communion is owing to their fault, and they shall have to render a strict account to God for it.
54 Q: Is it a good and useful thing to go often to Communion?
A: It is an excellent thing to go to Communion often, and even daily in accordance with the desire of the Church, provided we do so with the requisite dispositions.
55 Q: How often may we go to Holy Communion?
A: We may go to Holy Communion as often as we are advised to do so by a pious and learned confessor.
The Essence, Institution and Ends of the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass
1 Q: Should the Holy Eucharist be considered only as a sacrament?
A: The Holy Eucharist, besides being a sacrament, is also the permanent Sacrifice of the New Law, which Jesus Christ left to His Church to be offered to God by the hands of His priests.
2 Q: In what in general does a sacrifice consist?
A: In general a sacrifice consists in the offering of some sensible thing to God and in some way destroying it as an acknowledgment of His Supreme Dominion over us and over all things.
3 Q: What is this Sacrifice of the New Law called?
A: This Sacrifice of the New Law is called the Holy Mass.
4 Q: What, then, is the Holy Mass?
A: The Holy Mass is the Sacrifice of the Body and Blood of Jesus Christ offered on our altars under the appearances of bread and wine, in commemoration of the Sacrifice of the Cross.
5 Q: Is the Sacrifice of the Mass the same as that of the Cross?
A: The Sacrifice of the Mass is substantially the same as that of the Cross, for the same Jesus Christ, Who offered Himself on the Cross, it is Who offers Himself by the hands of the priests, His ministers, on our altars; but as regards the way in which He is offered, the Sacrifice of the Mass differs from the Sacrifice of the Cross, though retaining the most intimate and essential relation to it.
6 Q: What difference and relation then is there between the Sacrifice of the Mass and that of the Cross?
A: Between the Sacrifice of the Mass and that of the Cross there is this difference and relation, that on the Cross Jesus Christ offered Himself by shedding His Blood and meriting for us; whereas on our altars He sacrifices Himself without the shedding of His Blood, and applies to us the fruits of His passion And death.
7 Q: What other relation has the Sacrifice of the Mass to that of the Cross?
A: Another relation of the Sacrifice of the Mass to that of the Cross is, that the Sacrifice of the Mass represents in a sensible way the shedding of the Blood of Jesus Christ on the Cross, because, in virtue of the words of consecration, only the Body of our Savior is made present under the species of the bread and only His Blood under the species of the wine; although by natural concomitance and by the hypostatic union, the living And real Jesus Christ is present under each of the species.
8 Q: Is not the Sacrifice of the Cross the one only Sacrifice of the New Law?
A: The Sacrifice of the Cross is the one only Sacrifice of the New Law, inasmuch as through it Our Lord satisfied Divine Justice, acquired all the merits necessary to save us, and thus, on His part, fully accomplished our redemption. These merits, however, He applies to us through the means instituted by Him in His Church, among which is the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass.
9 Q: For what ends then is the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass offered?
A: The Sacrifice of the Mass is offered to God for four ends: (1) To honor Him properly, and hence it is called Latreutical; (2) To thank Him for His favors, and hence it is called Eucharistical; (3) To appease Him, make Him due satisfaction for our sins, and to help the souls in Purgatory, and hence it is called Propitiatory; (4) To obtain all the graces necessary for us, and hence it is called Impetratory.
10 Q: Who is it that offers to God the Sacrifice of the Holy Mass?
A: The first and principal Offerer of the Sacrifice of the Holy Mass is Jesus Christ, while the priest is the minister who in the Name of Jesus Christ offers the same Sacrifice to the Eternal Father.
11 Q: Who instituted the Sacrifice of the Holy Mass?
A: Jesus Christ Himself instituted the Sacrifice of the Holy Mass when He instituted the Sacrament of the Blessed Eucharist and said that this should be done in memory of His passion.
12 Q: To whom is the Holy Mass offered?
A: The Holy Mass is offered to God alone.
13 Q: If the Holy Mass is offered to God alone why are so many Masses celebrated in honor of the Blessed Virgin And the Saints?
A: Mass celebrated in honor of the Blessed Virgin and the Saints is always a sacrifice offered to God alone; it is said to be celebrated in honor of the Blessed Virgin and the Saints to thank God for the gifts He has given them, and through their intercession to obtain from Him more abundantly the graces of which we have need.
14 Q: Who shares in the fruits of the Mass?
A: The entire Church shares in the fruits of the Mass, but more particularly: (1) The priest and those who assist at Mass, the latter being united with the priest; (2) Those for whom the Mass is applied, both living and dead.
The Way to Assist at Mass
15 Q: What is required in order to assist at Holy Mass well and profitably?
A: To assist at Holy Mass well and profitably two things are necessary: (1) Modesty of person and (2) Devotion of heart.
16 Q: In what does modesty of person consist?
A: Modesty of person consists especially in being modestly dressed, in observing silence and recollection and, as far as possible, in remaining kneeling, except during the time of the two Gospels which are heard standing.
17 Q: In hearing Holy Mass which is the best way to practice true devotion?
A: In hearing Holy Mass the best way to practice true devotion is the following: (1) From the very beginning to unite our intention with that of the priest, offering the Holy Sacrifice to God for the ends for which it was instituted. (2) To accompany the priest in each prayer and action of the Sacrifice. (3) To meditate on the passion and death of Jesus Christ And to heartily detest our sins, which have been the cause of them. (4) To go to Communion, or at least to make a spiritual Communion while the priest communicates.
18 Q: What is spiritual Communion?
A: Spiritual Communion is a great desire to be united sacramentally with Jesus Christ. saying, for example: “My Lord Jesus Christ, I desire with my whole heart to be united with Thee now and forever;” and then make the same acts that are to be made before and after sacramental Communion.
19 Q: Does the recitation of the Rosary or other prayers during Mass prevent us from hearing it with profit?
A: The recitation of the Rosary and other prayers during Mass does not prevent us from hearing it with profit, provided we try As far as possible to follow the parts of the Holy Sacrifice.
20 Q: Is it advisable to pray for others while assisting at Mass?
A: Yes it is advisable to pray for others while assisting at Mass; nay more, the time of Holy Mass is the most suitable of all times to pray for the living and the dead.
21 Q: What should we do after Mass?
A: After Mass we should give God thanks for having allowed us to assist at this great Sacrifice, and we should ask pardon for All the faults we may have committed while assisting at it.