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The Story of the Eucharist

Fier Hugo stood before a large painting and asked, "Who can tell me what this picture is about?"

"It's the Last Supper," replied Enrico. "We have a picture like it in our house."

"That is correct! Now, can you tell me what is happening here? Why is this such a famous picture? Who are these people? Do we have to wear communion dresses"? Father continued to question.

"It's Jesus in the middle and these other guys are the Apostles," said Romano pointing to the men in the picture.

"Father,it looks like Jesus is saying Mass and giving Communion. See the chalice and the circle of bread in front of him. That's like what you do when you say Mass,"observed Jesusspeakstome.

"Brilliant observation!" commented Father Hugo. "You are all correct.

This is a very famous picture. It is called The Last Supper. Many artists have painted different versions of this event,the Last Supper of Jesus. The most famous one was painted on a wall in Milano, Italy, by a man named Leonardo Da Vinci. The Da Vinci painting is now over 500 years old and people come from all over the world to see it. This picture of the Last Supper was painted in recent years by a very good friend of mine. My friend's name is Bill Shurtliff and he too is a famous artist."

"This picture shows Jesus with his twelve Apostles as they share the Passover meal on the night before Jesus was crucified. It was on this night that Jesus gave the Eucharist as a sacrament to the Apostles. He asked them to remember Him always by celebrating the Eucharist and sharing it with other people. So you are correct, Jesusspeakstome, that is Jesus saying the very first Mass and giving the Apostles Communion.

"Months before this Last Supper, Jesus had explained to the Apostles that to have eternal life, which means to be with God forever, they would need to believe in Him,follow Him, and eat His Flesh and drink His Blood. Jesus said: 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. John 6:54- 57

"At the Last Supper, Jesus was telling the Apostles that the bread He was holding in His hand and giving to them was His Body," Father said pointing to the picture. "He said that they should take it and eat it so that they could live with Him forever. He also was telling them that the wine was His Blood, and it would be shed for the forgiveness of their sins and the sins of all. Later on He told the Apostles to 'do this in memory of me,(Luke 22:19). This meant that the Apostles and the ordained priests who are the Apostles' successors should act in the person of Jesus to bring Christ to you in the Eucharist.

"Did they, do we, really eat flesh and drink blood?" asked Yasmine. "That sounds awful! I don't want to do that!"

"I know this is the hardest part to understand, children," Father Hugo began to explain. "Remember we talked a little about this when we were looking at the symbols of the lamb, wheat, and grapes in the windows of the church.

"You know that God can do anything and everything. At the Last Supper, and also when all the people of God are celebrating the Mass, Jesus is saying that these things that look like bread and wine actually become His Body and His Blood. God performs a miracle right before our very eyes. The bread and wine offered at the Last Supper and at our Mass really and truly become the Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity of our Lord, Jesus Christ. We use a very big word to describe this. It is called 'transubstantiation'. The substance is truly Jesus; it just looks and tastes like bread and wine.

Father Hugo continued, "When you and I receive the Body and Blood of Jesus in Holy Communion, we receive special sacramental graces that help us to live our lives according to His rules. And,if we believe in Ilim, love our neighbors, and live our lives according to the Commandments, we will live forever with God in heaven"

The children sat quietly, thinking about what they had heard. Then Riley asked "Wasn't Jesus crucified the next day after this supper?"

"Yes He was," said Father Hugo. "During the Last Supper He was predicting His death, His sacrifice for the sake of the salvation of all people everywhere throughout time. Remember when we were looking at the stained glass windows and talked about the sacrifice of the lambs? Well, Jesus became the final, living sacrifice for the atonement of sins and protection from evil."

"So why did Jesus have to die and why was He tortured first? That's what these Stations of the Cross are about," said T.J. as he motioned to the Stations of the Cross.

"Very observant, T.J." Father explained. "When we make a sacrifice, we have to suffer somehow don't we? Otherwise it wouldn't be a sacrifice. what Jesus did was so tremendous and so good for us, that all the pain and suffering He went through was worth it to Him and to us. Jesus willingly endured the pain out of His love for us. Besides, He knew that He was going to rise up from being dead and would soon be in heaven with His Father. And He knew that He had shown all of us how we too can get to heaven and live eternally with Him, God the Father, and the Holy Spirit.

"Quite a set of miracles don, t you think? Quite a mystery, too, wouldn't you say?" asked Father Hugo with a nod toward Maria and Riley.

Father Hugo noticed that both Maria and Riley had troubled expressions on their faces. Finally Riley asked, "Father,is it even possible to solve this mystery?"

Father, understanding his confusion, replied, "Children,remember how Maria's aunt explained the mysteries of the rosary. These mysteries are things that we would not ordinarily understand unless God revealed them to us. Well, that is true of the Mystery of the Eucharist. God has revealed the truth of the Eucharist to us through the Bible and Tradition. It is part of our faith."

Most children accepted what Father Hugo was saying. Only Maria and Riley still had doubts.