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May 22, 2024
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May 22, 2024

Eucharist: source and summit

By Msgr Michael de Verteuil

Chair, Liturgical Commission


The Catholic Church speaks of the celebration of the  Eucharist as the source and summit of the Christian life (e.g. 1324, Catechism of the Catholic Church, quoting the Second Vatican Council).

A source, we know, is a place or thing from which something begins or can be obtained. How is the Eucharist the source? The Eucharist forms us to live the Christian life.

We are fed at the tables of God’s Word and the Body and Blood of Christ, and we go from this source to live the Christian life. Richard Fragomeni of the Catholic Theological Union in Chicago says that the Eucharist “…. is a fashioning of a people who become renewed in humanity [emphasis mine]. The flow of the new life originates in Christ, then in the Eucharistic sharing, through the discipleship, to the cultures and societies of the world.”

St Paul (1Cor 10:16) reminds us that as we come into communion with the Body and Blood we come into union with Christ—thus nourishing us for the Christian journey and forming us more and more into Christ.

The Eucharist is like a school which forms us, influencing the life that follows the celebration. It teaches us (as we surrender to it) to live in gratitude, service, unity, dependence on God, all these things we celebrate in the Eucharist (and which I discussed in greater length in last week’s Catholic News).

We celebrate these things in the Mass then go as from the source to live them out in our daily lives. As St John Paul II wrote in The Day of the Lord, “Christ’s disciples return to their everyday surroundings, with the commitment to make their whole life a gift, a spiritual sacrifice pleasing to God.”



The summit is the highest point of something. What is the summit of our Christian life? The summit of the Christian life on Earth is when we become as much like Christ as possible, glorifying God in everything; but another summit awaits us and that is eternal life with God.

Jesus glorified the Father in everything, and we are called to do the same – everything about our lives should be an offering to the Lord, a sacrifice (1 Cor 10:31; Rom 12:1).

We bring this sacrifice to the Eucharist to unite it to the perfect offering of Christ to the Father so that, “Through him, with him, in him, O God almighty Father, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, all glory and honour is yours forever and ever.”

Jesus made the perfect offering and in the celebration of the Eucharist we join our meagre offering to that of Jesus. Thus, the Eucharist is the summit on Earth of our vocation in life to glorify God.

The ultimate goal of our lives is our everlasting enjoyment of God. The Eucharist is the summit of our lives because in this celebration we come into communion with the Lord and with one another (1 Cor 10:15–16).

This will be perfect in Heaven but on earth the closest we get to this state of communion is in the celebration of the Eucharist—a foretaste of glory divine where right relationships will be restored and all will be well.

Just before Communion the presider says, “Blessed are those called to the supper of the Lamb.” This is a quote from Rev 19:9. John has a vision of Heaven in which the Blessed are getting ready for the celebration of the Supper. Its use at this point in the Mass reminds us that what we are about to do is a taste of glory divine, that glory that is the summit of our lives.

“The Eucharist is a glimpse of heaven on earth, a glorious ray of the heavenly Jerusalem which pierces the clouds of our history and lights up our journey,” (Pope John Paul II).


Photo by Laura Allen on Unsplash