The Eucharist (Greek eucharistia = thanksgiving) is a sacrament, also called Holy Communion (Catholic) and the Lord’s Supper (Protestant), in which Jesus is believed to be present under bread and wine.
It is based on the New Testament account of the Last Supper, in which Jesus asks his disciples to take and eat bread and wine in order to remember him (1 Corinthians 11.23-5; Matthew 26.26-8; Mark 14.22-4; Luke 22.17-20).
The bread and wine are consecrated by a priest or, in Protestantism, a minister and is given to disciples. Theological differences arise among different Christian groups as to whether the bread and wine become the real presence of Christ, coexist with the real presence of Christ or serve as mere symbols.
Drawing on a distinction from Aristotelian logic, Catholic theology indicates that the essence of the bread and wine are transformed but not the observable form. Moreover, Catholicism adheres to the position known as ex opere operato (by the action performed), which indicates that the sacrament is always effective when administered by a consecrated priest, regardless of the moral condition of his soul at the time.
If one believes that we’re all born with the taint of original sin and remain imperfect throughout our lives, ex opere operato seems a reasonable and, indeed, necessary position.
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