The "Lesser" Eucharist?

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?

Sacred Scripture - Jesus’ words in John 14:23-28

Jesus answered and said to him, "Whoever loves me will keep my word, and my Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our dwelling with him. Whoever does not love me does not keep my words; yet the word you hear is not mine but that of the Father who sent me.

"I have told you this while I am with you. The Advocate, the holy Spirit that the Father will send in my name–he will teach you everything and remind you of all that (I) told you. Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give it to you. Do not let your hearts be troubled or afraid…

From a sermon by St. Augustine: “… So how can bread be his body? And what about the cup? How can it (or what it contains) be his blood?” My friends, these realities are called sacraments because in them one thing is seen, while another is grasped. What is seen is a mere physical likeness; what is grasped bears spiritual fruit. So now, if you want to understand the body of Christ, listen to the Apostle Paul speaking to the faithful: “You are the body of Christ, member for member.” [1 Cor. 12.27] If you, therefore, are Christ’s body and members, it is your own mystery that is placed on the Lord’s table! It is your own mystery that you are receiving! You are saying “Amen” to what you are: your response is a personal signature, affirming your faith. When you hear “The body of Christ”, you reply “Amen.” Be a member of Christ’s body, then, so that your “Amen” may ring true!" (From ). I think this sermon is part of the current Liturgy of the Hours, Office of Readings.

Similar to “With the Eucharist, the Church is born.”:

“2. We were born from the Eucharist. If we can truly say that the whole Church lives from the Eucharist (“Ecclesia de Eucharistia vivit”), as I reaffirmed in my recent Encyclical, we can say the same thing about the ministerial priesthood:” (John Paul II, Letter to Priests for Holy Thursday 2004, at ).

From the 2003 Encyclical:
“3. The Church was born of the paschal mystery. For this very reason the Eucharist, which is in an outstanding way the sacrament of the paschal mystery, stands at the centre of the Church’s life. This is already clear from the earliest images of the Church found in the Acts of the Apostles: “They devoted themselves to the Apostles’ teaching and fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers” (2:42).” (At ).

“39. This presence is called “real” not to exclude the idea that the others are “real” too, but rather to indicate presence par excellence, because it is substantial and through it Christ becomes present whole and entire, God and man.” (From the 1965 Encyclical Mysterium fidei of Paul VI, under heading “Various Ways in Which Christ is Present” n. 35 - 39, at ).

It seems like such an obvious connection when I think about it, but somehow it still strikes me as something amazing at the same time.

EWTN program “Bookmark” A Fractured Relationship - Doug Keck with Fr Thomas J Norris - 04-24-2011

They talk about various things: Eucharist, Trinity, Communion, Community of the Church, Unity, etc.

In the first millennium the Church (Jesus Christ as head, the Holy Spirit as unifying spirit, teh hierarchy, the clerics and the faithful) were considered Christ’s body. The explicit worship of the Eucharist started only in the 13th Century.

The second millennium was spent mostly in this worship, even to the extent that no communion, only once a year.

We hope that in the third millennium we will find the synthesis, and Jesus Christ is either in the Church and in the Eucharist.

DISCLAIMER: The views and opinions expressed in these forums do not necessarily reflect those of Catholic Answers. For official apologetics resources please visit