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Chapter 17. The Eucharist: Source and Summit of the Christian Life • 223

Holy Communion increases our union with Christ. Just as bodily

food sustains our physical life, so Holy Communion nourishes our spiri-

tual life. This Communion moves us away from sin, strengthening our

moral resolve to avoid evil and turn ever more powerfully toward God.

“The more we share the life of Christ and progress in his friendship,

the more difficult it is to break away from him by mortal sin” (CCC,

no. 1395).


By the power of the Holy Spirit, Christ is present in the proclamation of

God’s Word, in the Eucharistic assembly, in the person of the priest, but

above all and in a wholly unique manner in the Eucharist. “This pres-

ence is called ‘real’—by which is not intended to exclude the other types

of presence as if they could not be ‘real’ too, but because it is presence

in the fullest sense: that is to say, it is a


presence by which

Christ, God and man, makes himself wholly and entirely present” (CCC,

no. 1374, citing Pope Paul VI,

Mystery of Faith

, no. 39).

Since the Middle Ages, the change of bread and wine into the Body

and Blood of Christ has been called “transubstantiation.” This means

that the substance of the bread and wine is changed into the substance

of the Body and Blood of Christ. The appearances of bread and wine

remain (color, shape, weight, chemical composition), but the underlying

reality—that is, the substance—is now the Body and Blood of Christ.

The Real Presence of Jesus Christ endures in the consecrated elements

even after the Mass is ended. Once Communion has been distributed,

any remaining hosts are placed in the tabernacle. If any of the Precious

Blood remains, it is reverently consumed. The hosts are reserved to pro-

vide Communion for the sick,


(Communion for the dying), and

to allow the faithful to worship Christ in the reserved Sacrament and to

pray in his presence. As a sign of adoration, Latin Catholics genuflect to

the Real Presence of Jesus Christ in the tabernacle or genuflect or kneel

when the Blessed Sacrament is exposed for prayer. Eastern Catholics

show their reverence by a profound bow rather than a genuflection: “It

is for this reason the tabernacle should be located in an especially wor-