Meaning of the word.
The word "eucharist" comes from the Greek word eucharistia (meaning: thanksgiving). The word "communion" comes from the Greek word communio (meaning: shared in common). Communion is generally used to reference the partaking of the eucharist.
Matthew, Mark, and Luke are often cited as the biblical precedent for the celebration of the Eucharist/Communion. The "Words of Institution" are a combination of texts from the Gospels and from Paul's first letter to the Corinthians. Usually, these references equate the Eucharist to be a celebration of Christ's offerings to his apostles at the last supper.
Communion in the Catholic Church/Transubstantiation
Within the Catholic Church, the sacrament of communion is necessary for salvation. Catholics believe that partaking of the eucharist allows one to purge their sins and diminish the desire to sin in the future. To take communion, in the Catholic Church, one must be baptized and beyond the age of reason (generally regarded to be seven or eight years old). To participate, one must fast prior to communion (although, the length of time is a much argued piece of knowledge). One also must be free from the weight of a mortal or grievous sin; hence the generally accepted standard of attending confession before partaking in communion.
The priest offers the Words of Institution and performs a ritualized script of actions, before the congregants.
- "Take this all of you and eat it."
- "This is my body which will be given up for you."
- "Take this all of you and drink from it."
- "This is the cup of my blood,"
- "the blood of the New and Everlasting Convenant,"
- "which will be shed for you and for all,"
- "so that sins shall be forgiven."
- "Do this in memory of me."
Catholics must subscribe to a belief in transubstantiation. The Catholic believes that the words above, along with the actions of the priest, literally change the substance of the Eucharist into the body and blood of Christ.
Communion is given to the congregant in the hands (which are presented with the left hand over the right hand) or on the tongue, by the priest. As given, the priest presents the Eucharist with the words, "Body of Christ." To which the recipient is expected to respond: "Amen". After receipt of the wafer, the recipient steps to the side and may choose to partake of the wine. After receipt of the wine, the recipient is expected to bless him/herself with the sign of the cross (spectacles, testicles, wallet and watch) and return to their pew and kneel in silent prayer and reflection.
Communion in the Christian Faith
[This section is incomplete.]