Small Catechism (6): The Sacrament of the Altar

What is the Sacrament of the Altar?
It is the true body and blood of our Lord Jesus Christ, under the bread and wine, for us Christians to eat and to drink, instituted by Christ Himself.

Where is this written?
The holy Evangelists Matthew, Mark, Luke and St. Paul write: Our Lord Jesus Christ, on the same night in which He was betrayed, took bread; and when He had given thanks, He broke it and gave it to the disciples and said: “Take, eat; this is My body, which is given for you. Do this in remembrance of Me.” In the same way, after supper, he took the cup and gave thanks, and gave it to them, saying, “Take this and drink of it, all of you. This cup is the new testament in My blood, which is shed for you for the remission of sins. Do this, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of Me.”

What is the benefit of this eating and drinking?
This is shown by the words: “Given and shed for you for the remission of sins.” In the Sacrament, forgiveness of sins, life, and salvation are given to us through these words. For where there is forgiveness of sins, there is also life and salvation.

How can bodily eating and drinking do such great things?
It is not the eating and drinking that do these things, but these words: “Given and shed for you for the remission of sins.” These words are, along with the bodily eating and drinking, the main thing in the Sacrament. Anyone who believes these words has what they say: that is, the forgiveness of sins.

Who receives this sacrament worthily?
Fasting and bodily preparation are a fine outward training. But the one who is truly worthy and well prepared is the one who has faith in these words: “Given and shed for you for the remission of sins.” But the one who does not believe these words, or who doubts them, is unworthy and unprepared, because the words “for you” require wholehearted belief.

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