The Sacrament of the Eucharist
The Eucharist (a Greek word meaning “Thanksgiving”) is what is referred to as the celebration of the Mass (a word meaning “to be dismissed”). The term Eucharist is also used to describe the moment when ordinary bread and wine are consecrated and “transubstantiated” (meaning their substance has been changed) into the Body and Blood of Jesus Christ. Only validly ordained priests can consecrate the bread and wine at Mass. From Sacred Scripture, our Catholic tradition teaches that Jesus instituted the Eucharist and Priesthood at the Last Supper.
Devotional terms also used for the Eucharist are Blessed Sacrament, Holy Communion and Consecrated Hosts. The consecrated Eucharistic hosts are always kept reserved in a locked tabernacle so that the Blessed Sacrament can be brought to the sick and dying outside of the normal Mass times. Having the Eucharist reserved in a tabernacle also makes possible the practice of Eucharistic adoration. Because Christ himself is present in the Blessed Sacrament, He is to be honored with the worship of adoration always.
During Eucharistic Adoration, a monstrance (a word meaning to “manifest”) is placed on the altar with a consecrated host contained within, which gives worshippers an opportunity to view the Eucharist and pray in the Lord’s presence.
Extraordinary Ministers of the Eucharist are appointed and trained to give out the Eucharist at Mass and to bring the Eucharist to the sick and homebound as well. These ministers would therefore bring the consecrated hosts in a “pyx” (round metal container with a lid) to those whom they are to visit.
The Sacrament of the Eucharist, which is ordinarily first received by children once they reach the age of discretion (around 7 or 8) is considered a Sacrament of Initiation (along with Baptism and Confirmation) for membership into the Roman Catholic Church.