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Catholic Culture Liturgical Living

Catechism of the Catholic Church

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1383 The altar, around which the Church is gathered in the celebration of the Eucharist, represents the two aspects of the same mystery: the altar of the sacrifice and the table of the Lord. This is all the more so since the Christian altar is the symbol of Christ himself, present in the midst of the assembly of his faithful, both as the victim offered for our reconciliation and as food from heaven who is giving himself to us. "For what is the altar of Christ if not the image of the Body of Christ?" 214 asks St. Ambrose. He says elsewhere, "The altar represents the body [of Christ] and the Body of Christ is on the altar." 215 The liturgy expresses this unity of sacrifice and communion in many prayers. Thus the Roman Church prays in its anaphora:

We entreat you, almighty God,
that by the hands of your holy Angel
this offering may be borne to your altar in heaven
in the sight of your divine majesty,
so that as we receive in communion at this altar
the most holy Body and Blood of your Son,
we may be filled with every heavenly blessing and grace. 216

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TABLE OF CONTENTS

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PART TWO: THE CELEBRATION OF THE CHRISTIAN MYSTERY

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SECTION TWO: THE SEVEN SACRAMENTS OF THE CHURCH

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CHAPTER ONE: THE SACRAMENTS OF CHRISTIAN INITIATION

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ARTICLE 3: THE SACRAMENT OF THE EUCHARIST

Notes for the above paragraph:

214 St. Ambrose, De Sacr. 5, 2, 7: PL 16, 447C.

215 St. Ambrose, De Sacr. 4, 2, 7: PL 16, 437D.

216 Roman Missal, EP I (Roman Canon) 96: Supplices te rogamus, omnipotens Deus: iube haec perferri per manus sancti Angeli tui in sublime altare tuum, in conspectu divinae maiestatis tuae: ut, quotquot ex hac altaris participatione sacrosanctum Filii Corpus et Sanguinem sumpserimus, omni benedictione caelesti et gratia repleamur.

English Translation of the Cathechism of the Catholic Church for the United States of America © 1997, United States Catholic Conference, Inc.

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