This Is My Body: 10 Questions to Help Explain the Holy Eucharist

The word Eucharist strictly means pleasing, and this Sacrament is so called because it renders us most pleasing to God by the grace it imparts, and it gives us the best means of thanking Him for all His blessings.

The elevation of the host.

Listers, the following lesson is taken from the Baltimore Catechism. The Baltimore Catechism was the standard catechism of teaching the faith and catechizing children from 1885 to Vatican II. Its basic question-and-answer approach is the most natural learning style for the human mind and simplifies even the most complex theological questions. SPL has also reproduced 29 Questions Explaining Indulgences, 46 Questions to Help Explain the Sacraments, and What Is Meant By the “End of Man” and 10 other Questions.


Baltimore Catechism No. 3

On the Holy Eucharist 869-878


Q. 869. What does the word Eucharist strictly mean?

A. The word Eucharist strictly means pleasing, and this Sacrament is so called because it renders us most pleasing to God by the grace it imparts, and it gives us the best means of thanking Him for all His blessings.


Q. 870. What is the Holy Eucharist?

A. The Holy Eucharist is the Sacrament which contains the body and blood, soul and divinity, of our Lord Jesus Christ under the appearances of bread and wine.


Q. 871. What do we mean when we say the Sacrament which contains the Body and Blood?

A. When we say the Sacrament which contains the Body and Blood, we mean the Sacrament which is the Body and Blood, for after the Consecration there is no other substance present in the Eucharist.


Q. 872. When is the Holy Eucharist a Sacrament, and when is it a sacrifice?

A. The Holy Eucharist is a Sacrament when we receive it in Holy Communion and when it remains in the Tabernacle of the Altar. It is a sacrifice when it is offered up at Mass by the separate Consecration of the bread and wine, which signifies the separation of Our Lord’s blood from His body when He died on the Cross.


Q. 873. When did Christ institute the Holy Eucharist?

A. Christ instituted the Holy Eucharist at the Last Supper, the night before He died.


Q. 874. Who were present when our Lord instituted the Holy Eucharist?

A. When Our Lord instituted the Holy Eucharist, the twelve Apostles were present.


Q. 875. How did our Lord institute the Holy Eucharist?

A. Our Lord instituted the Holy Eucharist by taking bread, blessing, breaking, and giving to His Apostles, saying: “Take ye and eat. This is my body”; and then, by taking the cup of wine, blessing and giving it, saying to them: “Drink ye all of this. This is my blood which shall be shed for the remission of sins. Do this for a commemoration of me.”


Q. 876. What happened when our Lord said, “This is my body; this is my blood”?

A. When Our Lord said, “This is my body,” the substance of the bread was changed into the substance of His body; when He said, “This is my blood,” the substance of the wine was changed into the substance of His blood.


Q. 877. How do we prove the Real Presence, that is, that Our Lord is really and truly present in the Holy Eucharist?

A. We prove the Real Presence — that is, that Our Lord is really and truly present in the Holy Eucharist:

By showing that it is possible to change one substance into another;
By showing that Christ did change the substance of bread and wine into the substance of His body and blood;
By showing that He gave this power also to His Apostles and to the priests of His Church.


Q. 878. How do we know that it is possible to change one substance into another?

A. We know that it is possible to change one substance into another, because:

God changed water into blood during the plagues of Egypt.
Christ changed water into wine at the marriage of Cana.
Our own food is daily changed into the substance of our flesh and blood; and what God does gradually, He can also do instantly by an act of His will.

  • Sandi

    Where can I get a copy of the Baltimore Catechism?

    • Sandi, the Baltimore Catechism is an irreplaceable resource for Catholics. They are available on Amazon. We have a link to the Baltimore Catechism Amazon page in the first paragraph of this list.


  • I think the Holy Spirit prompted this article. I just dealt with an issue of the trivialization of the Eucharist. So I’m glad to have the resource.

  • Wow. I thought the word Eucharist meant “thanksgiving” not “pleasing.” All of the materials with which I used to teach second graders preparing for the sacrament said that it was thanksgiving.

    • “Thanksgiving” is also a definition used by the Catholic Church and the Greek underneath literally means “thanksgiving.”

      From the Catechism of the Catholic Church

      II. What is This Sacrament Called?

      1328 The inexhaustible richness of this sacrament is expressed in the different names we give it. Each name evokes certain aspects of it. It is called: Eucharist, because it is an action of thanksgiving to God. the Greek words eucharistein139 and eulogein140 recall the Jewish blessings that proclaim – especially during a meal – God’s works: creation, redemption, and sanctification.

      1329 The Lord’s Supper, because of its connection with the supper which the Lord took with his disciples on the eve of his Passion and because it anticipates the wedding feast of the Lamb in the heavenly Jerusalem.141

      The Breaking of Bread, because Jesus used this rite, part of a Jewish meat when as master of the table he blessed and distributed the bread,142 above all at the Last Supper.143 It is by this action that his disciples will recognize him after his Resurrection,144 and it is this expression that the first Christians will use to designate their Eucharistic assemblies;145 by doing so they signified that all who eat the one broken bread, Christ, enter into communion with him and form but one body in him.146

      The Eucharistic assembly (synaxis), because the Eucharist is celebrated amid the assembly of the faithful, the visible expression of the Church.147

      1330 The memorial of the Lord’s Passion and Resurrection.
      The Holy Sacrifice, because it makes present the one sacrifice of Christ the Savior and includes the Church’s offering. the terms holy sacrifice of the Mass, “sacrifice of praise,” spiritual sacrifice, pure and holy sacrifice are also used,148 since it completes and surpasses all the sacrifices of the Old Covenant.
      The Holy and Divine Liturgy, because the Church’s whole liturgy finds its center and most intense expression in the celebration of this sacrament; in the same sense we also call its celebration the Sacred Mysteries. We speak of the Most Blessed Sacrament because it is the Sacrament of sacraments. the Eucharistic species reserved in the tabernacle are designated by this same name.

      1331 Holy Communion, because by this sacrament we unite ourselves to Christ, who makes us sharers in his Body and Blood to form a single body.149 We also call it: the holy things (ta hagia; sancta)150 – the first meaning of the phrase “communion of saints” in the Apostles’ Creed – the bread of angels, bread from heaven, medicine of immortality,151 viaticum….

      1332 Holy Mass (Missa), because the liturgy in which the mystery of salvation is accomplished concludes with the sending forth (missio) of the faithful, so that they may fulfill God’s will in their daily lives.


      ORIGIN late Middle English : from Old French “eucariste,” based on ecclesiastical Greek “eukharistia” ‘thanksgiving,’ from Greek “eukharistos” ‘grateful,’ from eu ‘well’ + kharizesthai ‘offer graciously’ (from kharis ‘grace’ ).


    • granny

      get yourself a Baltimore Catechism and throw away all the balloons and banners stuff. You can’t go wrong teaching the children the basic building blocks of the Catholic Faith, Catechism is the simple way to do that. An added benefit is the parents will also get proper catechisis which none have if they were raised in the post vat 2 church.

      • granny

        Should say, St. Joseph Baltimore Catechism was reprinted in 1989 and there are 3 of them. You can see them here do a search for St. Joseph revised catechism. Each one builds on the previous one going into more depth as the age level progresses.

  • Donna Pioli

    I am a convert since 1963 and was given a Baltimore Catchism to study from. I still have it.
    Then Vatican 2 followed closely. What I had learned began to change. But it was mostly outward
    Things of the church not the heart of the church, inward signs, spirituality of the church was deepened.
    At least that is what it seemed like to me. We got to do things we had not experienced before.
    We were allowed to have home Masses. I thought those were wonderful. New music, guitars!
    Being young, in my 20s when these changes happened, I loved it. Yet, I also loved the liturgy, the
    Rites, Sacraments, the new look of the confessional. I love the Catholic Church!