The writings of the Fathers of the Church reveal the wonderfully pluriform nature of their reflections on the Eucharist, a plurality of approaches that highlights the many aspects of the Sacrament itself. They all worked from two apparently fundamental data of faith: the Presence of Christ himself in the Sacrament and the sacrificial aspect of the Sacrament. The Presence was the Flesh born of Mary, and so the Eucharist was to be adored. With increasing perception they mentioned and reflected upon the change that takes place in the elements of bread and wine, although it is surely true that some of them realized the extent and profundity of that change and made more of it than did others. In none of them were the symbolic aspects of the Sacrament neglected. The very formation of the bread and wine mirrored the unity of the Church. The Reality that the bread and wine became in the Consecration created the unity of the Church and was the motive and cause for fraternal charity. For the Fathers the Eucharist was, as well, meal and nourishment, pledge of eternal life to all who received worthily, even while it brought condemnation to the unworthy communicant, an antidote to sin, the means by which our humanity is made sharer of the divine nature, thanksgiving to the Heavenly Father for his creation and for what he had done for us in Christ, our share in Christ's heavenly offering.

St. Thomas Aquinas wrote: "The common spiritual good of the whole Church is substantially contained in the Sacrament of the Eucharist." (S. Th., III, q. 65, a. 3, ad I.) The teaching of Aquinas can be considered a fair summation of the writings of the Church Fathers. The Eucharist is Christ who is himself our life and all our good.

The Hidden Manna, A Theology Of The Eucharist
Rev. James T. O'Connor