This is my body. … This is my blood. (Matthew 26: 26, 28).
The church regards the sacrament of the Holy Eucharist—also known as Holy Communion—as “the fount and apex of the whole Christian life”.
The Eucharist is a sacrament, instituted by Jesus Christ at the Last Supper on Holy Thursday. “Do this in memory of me” was the instruction of Jesus to the church to repeat his actions and words. It is through the ministry of the priest at the Mass that the bread and wine are transformed entirely and substantially into the body and blood of Jesus.
Holy Communion is distributed during all Masses at St. Alphonsus and to the sick and home-bound by Eucharistic Ministers. If you are in need of this service, please call the parish office at 724-935-1151. Click here for the Mass schedule.
Like all the sacraments, the Holy Eucharist is a visible sign that conveys grace; and yet it is very much more. It is Jesus Christ Himself—body, blood, soul, and divinity—under the outward appearances of bread and wine. As ordinary bread and wine nourish and enliven the body, the bread and wine of the Eucharist nourish and enliven the soul.
The Eucharist is the fulfillment of the Passover rite in the Old Covenant, in which the people partake of a sacred meal connected to a saving sacrifice. On the eve of God’s liberation of the Israelites from slavery in Egypt, He instructs them through Moses to take a male lamb without blemish, slaughter the lamb, paint its blood upon the door frames of their houses, and consume its flesh (Exodus 12: 3-13). Those households that carry out this ritual are spared from the plague of the death of the firstborns, the blood of the innocent lamb covering their sins.
In the New Covenant, the blood of Jesus—“the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world” (John 1:29)—covers us, and we are spared from eternal death. The consuming of the lamb’s flesh was a symbolic way by which the people became one with the saving sacrifice, taking the lamb’s spotlessness upon themselves.
In the New Covenant, we are no longer dealing with symbols. Now in consuming the flesh of the Lamb of God at Mass we take His sinlessness upon ourselves in actuality, and truly become one with Him, our saving sacrifice.
Jesus declares, “Amen, Amen, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you do not have life within you. Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him on the last day. For my flesh is true food, and my blood is true drink.” (John 6: 53-55).