What Is Catholic Mass?

Catholic Mass symbolically reenacts the Lord's Supper.
... diego_cervo/iStock/Getty Images

In the Catholic Church, Mass serves as a title for the sacrament of the Eucharist. Also called Communion, the Eucharist, one of the Catholic Church's seven sacraments, is a holy obligation and required for Catholics to remain in a complete relationship with the Church. Mass recalls the Lord's Supper in which Jesus and the disciples shared in the Passover meal, which became the Christian tradition of communion or the Eucharist. Although Mass is synonymous with the Eucharist, the part of the service following scripture readings in which Catholics receive Communion, they usually refer to the entire service as "Mass."

1 The Catholic Eucharistic Celebration

Mass includes prayers, scripture readings from the Old and New testaments, and Communion. During Communion, Catholics focus their attention on what they believe is Jesus' real presence in the communion bread and wine. According to the Catholic doctrine of transubstantiation, with a priest's consecration, the bread and wine literally become the body and blood of Christ. During the ritual of consecrating the bread and wine, the priest's words echo Jesus' words at the Lord's Supper. After breaking the bread, he said, "This is my body, which will be given for you; do this in memory of me.” Referring to the wine, Jesus said, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood, which will be shed for you." (Luke 22:19-20) After the consecration, Catholics in attendance receive Communion.

With a Master of Arts in systematic theology, concentrating in world religions, and additional graduate hours in Middle Eastern studies, Marie Baptiste possesses extensive experience writing religion and theological articles, essays and research papers. Her work appears in such respected print publications as "TIFERET" and "High Country News."