Most Catholics live out their faith in and through their marriage commitment and their family responsibilities. Indeed, marriage and the Eucharist have a special connection as ‘sacraments of the body,' celebrations of the spousal love of Christ, and sources of the unity of those who receive them (Eph 5:28-30; Catechism 1617-1621).
In both sacraments we experience the ‘marital’ love that Christ has for his Church and in which he gives his very body in love. In response, those who receive the Eucharist give themselves to Christ; while a married couple make a reciprocal gift of themselves to each other. Marriage unites the spouses (and their families) and communicates the grace to sustain them in their marriage covenant; the Eucharist unites those present and likewise sustains them in their Christian calling.
Both the Eucharist and Marriage are also transformative. In the Eucharist, we experience not only the transubstantiation of the gifts of bread and wine into Christ’s body and blood, but also the transformation of the participants into the likeness of Christ as they receive those gifts into their body and soul.
Marriage similarly changes the spouses as they offer themselves 'so that the two may become one flesh' and, through that union, in due course the two become three or more in the gift of family life. Through receiving each other body and soul they express a reciprocal love and fruitfulness which transforms their identities and relationship.
Thus both the Eucharist and Marriage transmit and nourish unity, life, and love. They also make manifest the unbreakable determination of God to continue to do this for humanity and to continue to call us to do so for each other. By identifying themselves with Christ in his Marital and Eucharistic self-giving, even unto death, Christians in general and spouses in particular share in the selfless sacrifice and communion of Christ.
The unity of husband and wife and of their families as a domestic church is a sacred sign of the unity of the Church. Families then gather to celebrate a broader and deeper unity at the Eucharist with the wider Church.
The Eucharist is a celebration of the Church’s identity as 'one body' sharing one faith and baptism in its Risen Lord. It is the sacrament of unity that brings us into communion with the rest of the Church and reflects and strengthens that communion where it already exists.