What does the term eucharist mean? Where does it come from? I know that we call the Mass the Eucharist and use the same term for the Blessed Sacrament. Why the same name for both?
Eucharist comes from the Greek word eucharistein – to give thanks. It is the word for giving thanks in the Greek translation of the Hebrew Scriptures, also called the Septuagint, and in the New Testament. What we call the Mass (which comes from the Latin word Misa) was originally called the Eucharistia. Clement of Rome, who died about 101 AD, uses the term generally and specifically for the worship service. Justin Martyr, who died about 167 AD, uses the term to refer to the whole service and to Holy Communion.
The prayers of the Mass are focused on praise and thanksgiving for the blessings God pours out on us and on all of creation. The gift of the Blessed Sacrament, of Jesus’ true presence in Communion, is also a gift of thanksgiving that combines the offering of our lives, Jesus’ sacrifice, and God’s action in transforming bread and wine into the body and blood of Jesus to be food for us on our journey of faith. What a great reason to give thanks!
Agape Feast – from the Early Christian Catacombs – Public domain image