HOLY EUCHARIST

"I am the living bread that came down from heaven; whoever eats this bread will live forever…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" (John 6:51, 55-56).


Home, Hospital, or Nursing Home Visit

If you are sick or homebound, contact the parish office at (630) 932-9640 to make arrangements for the Eucharist to be brought to you in a pyx.


First Eucharist for Children in 2nd Grade

Preparation for First Eucharist is held during second grade. Successful completion of first grade religious education is required. Please contact the parish office if you would like to enroll your child in Maronite Religious Education (MRE) or for other inquiries.


First Eucharist for Adults 

For people who have never before received this Mystery, such as people whom God has mercifully led to conversion, please contact the parish office at (630) 932-9640. The procedure will depend on how much you know about Christianity and whether or not you have been baptized. In order to receive the Eucharist, one must be properly catechized and understand the meaning of the Mystery.


What is the Mystery of the Holy Eucharist?

Receiving the body and blood of our Lord in the Mystery of the Holy Eucharist, also known as Communion or the Lord’s Supper, is the climax of every apostolic liturgy. In English, the word Eucharist comes from the Greek and it means "thanksgiving," for the gift of his own self is the greatest gift God has ever given to humanity, and we remember his incarnation and sacrifice in thanksgiving in every liturgy. In Syriac, the word used for Eucharist is Qurbono which means "offering" since Christ, the first priest, offered himself for us on the cross as a sacrifice for our salvation from sin. In the Maronite Church, we receive the Eucharist by intinction (the host dipped in the chalice). The Eucharist is mentioned explicitly in verses such as: 


"Jesus said to them, '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)."Jesus said to them, '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).


"On the first day of the week when we gathered to break bread, Paul spoke to them because he was going to leave on the next day, and he kept on speaking until midnight" (Acts 20:7).


"Then the two recounted what had taken place on the way and how he was made known to them in the breaking of the bread" (Luke 24:35).


"The cup of blessing that we bless, is it not a participation in the blood of Christ? The bread that we break, is it not a participation in the body of Christ?" (First Epistle of St. Paul to the Corinthians 10:16)


"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.' For as often as you eat this bread and drink the cup, you proclaim the death of the Lord until he comes" (First Epistle of St. Paul to the Corinthians 11:23-26).


The celebration of the Last Supper that happens in the liturgy is not merely symbolic or commemorative, but breaks through the veil that separates heaven and earth as the Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity of Jesus Christ become present for all to consume and adore following the consecration of the bread and wine. Yes, the Eucharist is Jesus Christ himself, the Manna from Heaven, the Bread of Life, the Word Made Flesh born in Bethlehem, the House of Bread. He is the perfect sacrifice, the perfect oblation, whom we offer to the Father at every liturgy which he commanded us to do when he said “do this in memory of me” (Luke 22:19). Early Christians were accused of, and persecuted for, being cannibals because they confessed to eating the flesh and drinking the blood of Christ which apostolic Christians still do to this day, following their example (and that of St. Paul too, as shown above).


If you read writings from the Church Fathers, you will find that belief in the True Presence of the Eucharist (that it is not symbolic) was universal. Why? Because this doctrine was passed down to them from the Apostles and from Jesus himself. St. Ignatius of Antioch, in just one instance of such attestation, wrote in his Epistle to the Smyrnaeans “They [the heretics] abstain from the Eucharist and from prayer, because they confess not the Eucharist to be the flesh of our Saviour Jesus Christ, which suffered for our sins, and which the Father, of His goodness, raised up again. Those, therefore, who speak against this gift of God, incur death in the midst of their disputes. But it were better for them to treat it with respect, that they also might rise again” (Ch. 7). The writer of this epistle is St. Ignatius of the ancient city of Antioch (which is now a town in modern-day Turkey). He was a bishop in the first century, taught and ordained by St. John the Apostle, and later eaten by lions in the Roman Colosseum which is often reflected in his iconography, as in the photo above. In this letter, he writes to the Christians in the city of Smyrna (also in modern-day Turkey). This letter in particular gives a clarifying glimpse into what early Christians believed. Remember, he was an ordained bishop taught by St. John, and remember, “the disciples were first called Christians in Antioch,” so we can trust his testimony (Acts 11:26).


If you desire the Eucharist (that is, the Bread of Life: Jesus himself), there is only one place you can find it: in apostolic churches who keep to this tradition and have priests to offer the sacrifice. As Maronites, we are apostolic Christians because we want to worship God not in a man-made way or through a man-made tradition, but in the way he wants us to, in the way that the first Christians were taught, and in the way they passed it down for the generations to follow, to the point that modern day apostolic priests have a direct connection, a line of apostolic succession, to Jesus himself and the first priests: the 12 Apostles. The reason apostolic Christians have priests is because this is a continuation from the Old Testament. Jesus did not come to abolish the Old Covenant, but to fulfill it (Matthew 5:17). The liturgy is the fulfillment of the Passover feast in which the priest offers Jesus as the Lamb who takes away the sins of the world (John 1:29).


There is a fundamental difference between trying to live a version of Christianity based solely on one’s own fallible personal interpretation of the Bible (Sola Scriptura) or personal theory of what Christianity should teach (progressive Christianity), and living the Christianity that the first Christians in the Bible themselves practiced, and passed on (Sacred Scripture + Sacred Tradition). As an apostolic church in the Syro-Antiochene and Maronite tradition, we cling to the teachings that were passed down to us from the Apostles themselves and their successors. Jesus said that unless you eat his flesh, you will have no life in you (John 6:53). All Christians who cling to the true faith understand his words to be true.


In the Maronite Church, we chant the Words of Institution (the words that Christ spoke at the Last Supper) in Syriac, the liturgical language closest to the Aramaic that our Lord spoke. We are very proud of this, and hope that one day you might join us in celebrating the Eucharist for what it truly is: the Body and Blood of our Savior Jesus Christ.


 




950 N Grace St, Lombard, IL 60148   T: (630) 932-9640   F: (630) 932-9463   E: office@ollchicago.org
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