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What does the word Eucharist mean?
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November 26, 2006
Dear Rev. Know-It-All,

What does the word Eucharist mean?  Is it related to the card game euchre? 

Signed: Befuddled

Dear Befuddled,

First, the short answer to the second question.  No

Now the long answer to the first question. 

Eucharist is, of course, a Greek word.  It means thanksgiving.

Many Ancient Jewish teachers believed that when the Messiah came all the temple sacrifices would cease, save one: the thanksgiving sacrifice.  That is precisely what happened.  The offering for thanksgiving continues in every church despite the fact that the Temple in Jerusalem is no more. 

There is a wonderful old book by a Pentecostal minister called Prison to Praise by Rev. Merlin Carothers.  It is the story of his conversion from a convict to a Christian.  In his journey he learned to thank God in all circumstances, and to praise Him. This is what we do at Mass. 

Mass is the renewal of the sacrifice of Calvary.  Paul says that he makes up in his own body what is lacking in the sufferings of Christ. 

What could possibly be lacking in the sufferings of Christ? 

Simply this: that He did not die in the 21st century, here at 8148 Karlov in Skokie, or anywhere else. 

He opens the doors of time and space every time we have Mass and take us back to Calvary’s hill where we stand at the foot of the cross and share in his sufferings uniting ours to His. 

On the cross, Jesus said, “My God, My God, why have you forsaken?”  He was not despairing as some people think.  He was quoting the 22nd Psalm, “They have pierced my hands and my feet, they have numbered all my bones. ...Yet shall I praise thee in the land of the living.” 

In the mist of his agony he thanked God and glorified Him. 

So we thank God at Mass for all he gives uniting our prayer of thanksgiving to that of Christ.  It is a good practice to come to Mass with a specific thing for which you’re grateful to God.

For the Catholic everyday is Thanksgiving, though not necessarily involving a turkey and a football game.

Rev. Know-It-All

The Question Was
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What does the word Eucharist mean?
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