What is the role of the Eucharist?


This is one of those questions that seems so simple that it’s difficult to answer. I’ve taken a course on the sacraments that was separate from RCIA, but after thinking about some things today I still feel a bit confused. What has thrown me into loop is the varying practices in Church history on the frequency of receiving.

There was a point in time in the Middle Ages where many people only received the Body & Blood once in a lifetime, and then the rest of their lives they would just participate in the Mass, and then maybe they would receive viaticum (Eucharist for the journey) shortly prior to death as part of the sacrament of healing.

What is the differences between receiving once in a lifetime and receiving once a month, or once a week, or once a day? Is there some spiritual advantage of a contemporary Catholic receiving once a week compared to a past Catholic that may have received only on rare occasions? What caused a shift in thinking to have a far more frequent reception of the Eucharist?

Also, when we look into the gospel that speaks of the bread of life, Jesus has this to say:

John 6: 52-58:
The Jews therefore strove among themselves, saying: How can this man give us his flesh to eat? Then Jesus said to them: Amen, amen I say unto you: Except you eat the flesh of the Son of man, and drink his blood, you shall not have life in you. He that eateth my flesh, and drinketh my blood, hath everlasting life: and I will raise him up in the last day. For my flesh is meat indeed: and my blood is drink indeed. He that eateth my flesh, and drinketh my blood, abideth in me, and I in him. As the living Father hath sent me, and I live by the Father; so he that eateth me, the same also shall live by me. This is the bread that came down from heaven. Not as your fathers did eat manna, and are dead. He that eateth this bread, shall live for ever.

So the person who receives the Eucharist has life in them. If this is the case, then why - looking at the matter through the ordinary means - would a person who is baptized but has not received the Eucharist have eternal life? The baptism removes their sins, or reconciliation would remove their sins post-baptism, but Jesus tells us that it is by eating his flesh and drinking his blood that one receives eternal life, not by baptism. It is by baptism that one is cleansed of original sin and forgive of others sins, but this doesn’t speak on the matter of eternal life. However, this can’t be right, because Church teaching tells us that a baptized person, contrite of their sins, would have eternal life. What am I missing?


I can answer part of this easily. At the times the Church
has withheld the Eucharist it was usually during an historical
period of Eucharistic abuse. First job of a Church is to
protect that Host. If there is a good chance of sacrilege
the Host is withheld. Sometimes for years.


The currency of life in the divine economy. It redeems all who partake, discharges their sin debt, and distributes grace among the faithful.


Whenever we receive the Eucharist with the right dispositions, God communicates Himself to our souls; we receive His strength; His love; His light etc. The more often we receive Our Lord, the more we will be inflamed with love for Him.

Jesus, the Author of Grace, Who is Life Itself, is the ultimate pledge of eternal life. When we receive Him unworthily (in the Adorable Eucharist), we bring death upon ourselves, but when we receive Him with an upright heart, we receive His life and grace, which is a participation in the divine nature. In this sense, the Eucharist is the beginning or seed of eternal life within us (though we can forfeit this inheritance), just as grace is referred to by theologians as ‘the seed of glory.’

The Heavenly Father said to St. Catherine of Siena: ‘My mercy offers you this (the Holy Eucharist) in order that you may not fall through weakness during your pilgrimage, that you may not forget the benefits of the Blood so lovingly shed for you, and that you may always be full of strength and fervour during the journey.

Jesus said to St. Gertrude: "My delights are to be with the children of men. To satisfy My love I instituted this Sacrament. I remain thus with them until the end of the world, and I desire that they receive Me frequently.”

I highly suggest that you read this book: amazon.com/The-Incredible-Catholic-Mass-Explanation/dp/0895556081 (You will never want to miss a day of Mass for the rest of your life!)

Also, here is an excellent work by St. Alphonsus on the topic of ‘The Holy Eucharist’: archive.org/stream/alphonsusworks06alfouoft#page/n5/mode/2up

God bless.


Grace is a *participation in the life of God. CCC 1997 (whhich we receive in all the sacraments.)

  • In the Holy Eucharist the soul receives spiritual food. We become one with Christ. But the sacraments produce effects in proportion to the disposition of the recipient.

Pope Pius X wrote in 1905 that: “by the frequent or daily reception of the Holy Eucharist union with Christ is strengthened, the spiritual life more abundantly sustained, the soul more richly endowed with virtues, and the pledge of everlasting happiness more securely bestowed on the recipient”.


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