By Dr. Jenny O'Brien
Christians have always gathered together to give praise to God on Sunday, the day of the Lord’s resurrection. In this they carry out Jesus’ words at the Last Supper: “Do this in memory of me.” We know that Christ is always present when the faithful come together, and whenever we gather for Eucharist it is the whole Body of Christ that gathers, with Christ as head and us as his members.
The priest who leads the baptised in worship is part of the assembly by virtue of his baptism and presider by virtue of his ordination. Sometimes he prays on behalf of the assembly, sometimes he speaks or acts on behalf of Christ, and sometimes he speaks on his own behalf, but any act of liturgical worship is always ‘an exercise of the priestly office of Jesus Christ…performed by the entire Body of Christ, that is, by the head and his members’. (Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy, #7) During the extraordinary mystery of the Eucharist the ordinary elements of bread and wine are taken, blessed, broken and given, transformed by the power of the Holy Spirit into the Body and Blood of Christ, to be received as spiritual nourishment by those present.