1. What does the word ‘Eucharist’ mean?
The word ‘Eucharist’ comes from a Greek word meaning thanksgiving. This sacrament is called the Eucharist because it is the Church’s sacrifice of praise and thanksgiving. It is also called the Lord’s Supper or the Holy Communion because it is the meal of fellowship which unites us to Christ and to the whole Church. (Revised Catechism, 50)
2. What does the Church of Ireland teach about this sacrament?
In the sacrament of the Eucharist, by Christ’s command, we make continual remembrance of him: we remember his passion and death, we celebrate his resurrection and ascension, and we look for the coming of his kingdom. In doing this we give thanks for the benefits of his sacrifice conveyed to us in the sacrament. In receiving his body and blood, we are strengthened in our union with Christ and his Church, we receive the forgiveness of our sins and we are nourished for eternal life. (Revised Catechism, 54)
3. How does the Church of Ireland celebrate the Eucharist?
The Church of Ireland continues to use an order of service derived from the ancient common practice of the Christian Church. This liturgy is divided into two parts: the ministry of the word and the ministry of the sacrament. In the ministry of the word, passages from the Bible (Old Testament, Epistles and Gospels) are read, and may be followed by a sermon. The congregation affirms its faith using the words of the Nicene Creed, followed by intercession (prayers of the Church), confession of sin and absolution. The ministry of the sacrament is centred on the words and actions of Jesus at the Last Supper when he took the bread and wine, gave thanks over them, broke the bread and shared the bread and wine with all of his disciples. In the Eucharist, these same words and actions are repeated in response to the command of Jesus: ‘Do this in remembrance of me’ .
4. How does the Church of Ireland understand Christ’s presence in the sacrament?
The Church of Ireland teaches that a sacrament has two parts: an outward and visible sign and an inward and spiritual grace. The outward and visible sign in Holy Communion is bread and wine. The inward and spiritual grace is the body and blood of Christ received in faith, that is the life of the risen Christ. (Revised Catechism, 53)
The Church of Ireland teaches that there is no change in the physical properties of the bread and wine. However, there is a change in the significance they have for worshippers. Through them the life of the risen and glorified Christ is communicated and received by faith. Thus, following consecration, they are considered as Christ’s sacramental body and blood.
It is the glorified Lord himself whom the community of the faithful encounters in the eucharistic celebration through the preaching of the word, in the fellowship of the Lord’s supper, in the heart of the believer, and, in a sacramental way, through the gifts of his body and blood, already given on the cross for their salvation.
(ARCIC, The Final Report, p.21)
5. Does the Church of Ireland teach that the Eucharist is a sacrifice?
The Church of Ireland believes that the Eucharist is a sacrifice of praise and thanksgiving to God in which we remember and show forth the sacrifice of Christ, made once for all, on the cross, and receive the benefits of that sacrifice. In response to this we show our thanks by offering our souls and bodies to be a living sacrifice. (Romans 12: 1)
6. Does the Church of Ireland permit members of other Christian Churches to receive communion in the Church of Ireland?
Communicant members of other Christian churches may receive Holy Communion in the Church of Ireland. This reflects the spirit of the Lambeth Conference resolution, affirmed by the General Synod in 1969: ‘Christians duly baptised in the name of the Holy Trinity and qualified to receive Holy Communion in their own churches may be welcomed at the Lord’s table in the Anglican Communion.’ (The Lambeth Conference 1968, Resolutions and Reports, p.2)
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