God's Presence in Holy Communion
The Eucharist is another word for Holy Communion. As Catholics, we believe that Jesus is truly present in the Eucharist: that means that the Holy Communion we receive is the Body and Blood of Jesus. The bread and wine that are offered at Mass are changed into the Body and Blood of Jesus by God, when the priest uses the words of Jesus.
"Take this, all of you and eat it: for this is my body which will be given up for you." "Take this, all of you, and drink from it: for this is the chalice of my blood, the blood of the new and eternal covenant, which will be poured out for you and for many for the forgiveness of sins. Do this in memory of me".
Because we believe that Jesus is present in the Eucharist, and because we believe that Jesus is God, we can say that God is truly present in the Eucharist. For this reason, the Eucharist is called a treasure of the Catholic Church. Imagine digging on a beach and finding a chest full of treasure. If you took the treasure home, you would want to make sure that you kept it in a safe place, where no one could steal it or damage it.
The first thing that we will talk about is like a safe for the Eucharist. It is called the Tabernacle. Other items, called vessels are also important. They are used during Mass, and cannot be used for anything else except holding the Body and Blood of Jesus. They are called the Ciborium and the Chalice.
The Tabernacle: Every Treasure needs a Safe.
Because the Eucharist is the Body and Blood of Jesus, it is very important that we keep it safe. Holy Communion is always kept in the Tabernacle.
In St Charles' Church, the Tabernacle is the golden chest that sits behind the Altar.
When we see the Tabernacle we should genuflect towards it. That means that we should kneel on one knee and bless ourselves by making the Sign of the Cross. This is a mark of respect for Jesus.
When we walk into the Church, we should genuflect towards the Tabernacle and make the Sign of the Cross.
Look Around! In some churches, the Tabernacle is not behind the Altar. That doesn't mean that there isn't a Tabernacle! Every Catholic church has one. When you walk into a church, look for the Tabernacle and genuflect towards it, making the Sign of the Cross. Sometimes it is easier to look for the Sanctuary Lamp - a red candle that is lit to tell us that the Eucharist is reserved in the Tabernacle.
When the Eucharist is not in the Tabernacle, it is still important to keep it safe. The priest will not carry Holy Communion around in his hand. It sits in a Ciborium.
The ciborium is a special kind of bowl that is used only for Holy Communion and the pieces of bread (which are called hosts) that will become Holy Communion. At Mass, people bring the ciborium to the priest during the Offertory. The priest takes it to the Altar, and during the Eucharist Prayer, when he says Jesus' words, God changes the hosts into Holy Communion. It is a miracle! Any Holy Communion that does not get used at Mass is kept in the ciborium, which is placed in the Tabernacle for safe keeping.
The hosts are not the only things that are changed by God at Mass. Wine is also offered and changed into the Blood of Jesus. Wee call the Body and Blood of Jesus Holy Communion, so there is a special cup that is only used for the Blood of Jesus and the wine that is offered. The special cup is called the Chalice.
Jesus used a chalice at the Last Supper. This is why we still use a chalice at Mass today. Although both the ciborium and the chalice are sacred vessels, the chalice is cleaned after Mass and so there is no reason to place it in the Tabernacle.
The Baptismal Font
Everyone who makes their First Holy Communion has already been baptised. That means that they have already become children of God. Most people are baptised when they are babies, and everyone is baptised at a Baptismal Font.
There is a bowl in the front that holds holy water. When someone is baptised, the priest or deacon pours holy water over their head and says that he baptised them "in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit".
"I baptise you in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit"
You will see lots of statues in and around the church. They remind us of holy men and women called saints, who lived lives dedicated to God. the patron saint of our church is St Charles Borromeo, and you can see his statue outside the church.
Our Lady, the Mother of God
As you already know, Mary is the mother of Jesus. Because we believe that Jesus is God, we can call Mary the "Mother of God". For this reason, Catholic honour Mary in a special way.
We pray to Mary, asking her to bring our prayers to her Son. Every Catholic church will have either a picture or a statue of Mary. Whenever you are in the Church, remember to go to the statue of Mary and say a "Hail Mary" prayer, especially in May and October, which are the months of Mary.
The Bible is the book that contains the scriptures. Catholics believe that the authors of the scriptures were inspired by God, and so we call all stories from the Bible the Word of God.
The Word of God is proclaimed at Mass from the Lectern, which is near the altar.