A little over a year ago I attended a Theology on Tap session where a priest was speaking about the Eucharist and he mentioned the idea that while the fullness of the Eucharist existed in the transubstantiated bread and wine, that there was a lesser Eucharist which subsisted in the Catholic community since we as a Church are also Christ’s body. I thought this was interesting and tried to find more about later, but couldn’t really find much information on the concept and wasn’t sure what source he had been drawing the idea from nor could I remember who the actual priest was so contacting him was out of the question. Thus I brushed it off at the time as something interesting, but not worth really bringing up in conversation since I wouldn’t be able to support the idea.
However in Pope Benedict XVI’s recent Holy Thursday homily he said things which seem to fall into the same idea and it made me think about it again:
With the Eucharist, the Church is born. All of us eat the one bread and receive the one body of the Lord; this means that he opens each of us up to something above and beyond us. He makes all of us one. The Eucharist is the mystery of the profound closeness and communion of each individual with the Lord and, at the same time, of visible union between all. The Eucharist is the sacrament of unity. It reaches the very mystery of the Trinity and thus creates visible unity. Let me say it again: it is an extremely personal encounter with the Lord and yet never simply an act of individual piety. Of necessity, we celebrate it together. In each community the Lord is totally present. Yet in all the communities he is but one. Hence the words “una cum Papa nostro et cum episcopo nostro” are a requisite part of the Church’s Eucharistic Prayer. These words are not an addendum of sorts, but a necessary expression of what the Eucharist really is. Furthermore, we mention the Pope and the Bishop by name: unity is something utterly concrete, it has names. In this way unity becomes visible; it becomes a sign for the world and a concrete criterion for ourselves.
So is the idea valid? Where does it originate from? Are there any official doctrinal teachings on the idea of a “lesser” Eucharist, or at least famous writings from one of the Popes or saints?