EUCHARIST: THE SACRAMENT OF OUR FELLOWSHIP WITH JESUS AND ONE ANOTHER
Along with Baptism and Confirmation, the Eucharist is one of the three sacraments of initiation into the life of the Church. Of these three sacraments, it is the only one that we receive more than once. Regular reception of the Eucharist is the means we have been given to support the new life in Christ which we received in Baptism and which was strengthened in Confirmation by the Holy Spirit. Just as we need ordinary food and drink to sustain our natural life, so does the Eucharist nourish our spiritual, supernatural lives.
St. Paul, writing within two decades after the Last Supper, tells the Christians of Corinth, "For I received from the Lord what I also handed on to you, that the Lord Jesus, on the night he was handed over, took bread, and after he had given thanks, broke it and said, 'This is my body that is for you. Do this in remembrance of me.' In the same way also the cup, after supper, saying, 'This cup is the new covenant in my blood. Do this, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of me'" (1 Cor. 11.23-25). This institution of the Eucharist is also recorded in the Gospels of Matthew, Mark and Luke.
The Gospel of John does not give a narrative of the institution, but it does devote a chapter to Christ as the "Bread of Life," culminating in Jesus telling his disciples, "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. Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood remains in me and I in him. Just as the living Father sent me and I have life because of the Father, so also the one who feeds on me will have life because of me. This is the bread that came down from heaven. Unlike your ancestors who ate and still died, whoever eats this bread will live forever" (John 6:53-58).
Children are prepared to receive their First Holy Communion as students either in St. Thomas the Apostle School or in the St. Thomas the Apostle Religious Education Program. There is a minimum of two (2) years preparation for the reception of First Holy Communion and it is preceded by the reception of the sacraments of Baptism and First Penance.
Adults who have not received First Holy Communion should contact Cindy, our adult initiation coordinator, at 516-489-8585 or Cindy.StThomas@live.com to discuss the kind of preparation that will best fit your specific circumstances.