The breaking or the fraction of 'bread' is one of the rites of Christianity, and it involves the breaking up of the Eucharistic bread, after which the Eucharistic wine will be poured, in order to prepare for Holy Communion. In early times, in fact, all Christians generally referred to their Church going activities as the "Breaking of the Bread," as seen in 'the Acts of the Apostles', wherein Saint Luke describes the life of Christians as being devoted to the 'breaking of bread', and to the prayers in Acts 2:42. Here, the 'breaking' stated by Saint Luke refers to the so-called 'celebration of the Eucharist', or the 'Lord's Supper'. The description in the Acts 2:42 reminds one of the story that Saint Luke retold of the time of the Resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ, when two of Jesus' disciples happened to encounter Him on the road to Emmaus, and Christ He was in fact, 'made known to them in the breaking of the bread'. (The Communion Rite in accordance with the General Instruction of the Roman Missal and the Norms for the Distribution and Reception of Holy Communion under Both Kinds)
When Jesus happened to perform this liturgical action of breaking the bread, He would in fact repeat the action during the Last Supper, and the action would be repeated at His command by his disciples, in his loving memory, and this in fact gave the entire Eucharistic action its name. Therefore, it has become clear that the 'Breaking of the Bread' is another name for the Mass, and this in turn indicates the importance of the Eucharistic ceremony. This important Christian Rite signifies to all believers that it is a "sign that in sharing the on bread of life which is Christ, we who are many are made one body," according to GIRM, 56-c, wherein the very act reveals the people's unity with the body of Christ.
However, there is a liturgical meaning to the breaking of the bread, and this relates to the Last Supper. Jesus Christ, the night before His Death, gathered together all his followers for one final meal, and during the last meal, Christ is supposed to have taken the bread, and the wine, and broken the bread into pieces and offered it to all of his followers present at the table, after saying a blessing and a prayer to the Father. Christ then declared that the bread in fact was his own body broken for all, and the cup of wine that he offered as his own blood that was being offered as a salvation for all. At Mass, bread is broken and wine is poured, and the significance of these two acts is that Christ is offering his own body and his own blood so that mankind may be saved. The Eucharist is usually celebrated at the moment of the breaking of the bread, and this signifies the recalling of the sacrifices and the sufferings and the obedience in our own lives to Christ's own Paschal mysteries. Therefore, it is evident that a believer would see Christ in the bread and in the wine that is offered at Mass, and would also see Christ's presence in the lives and in the deaths of Christians everywhere, all over the world. (The Communion Rite in accordance with the General Instruction of the Roman Missal and the Norms for the Distribution and Reception of Holy Communion under Both Kinds)
The Eucharist is also known as the virtual "Source and the Summit of the Christian life," and that all the other sacraments of Christian faith are irretrievably bound up with the Eucharist and are in fact completely oriented towards it. The reason for this type of orientation and faith in the Eucharist is because it is stated that it is within the Eucharist that the entire spiritual good of the Church is contained, and this in turn signifies that within the Church, what good can there be other than Christ himself, who is also the people's 'Pasch'? The Eucharist is also the efficacious sign and the cause of Communion in Divine life, and the innate beauty of the meaning of the Eucharist lies in the fact that it is a veritable culmination and a finale to the dual actions of God sanctifying the world of mankind in Christ, and of the action by which mankind worship Christ, and through Christ, to the Father of the Holy Spirit. (Article 3, the Sacrament of the Eucharist)
In addition, it is through the Eucharist that man unites with Heavenly liturgy, and looks forward and anticipates Eternal life, at which time God would be in all. Therefore, it can be said that the Eucharist is in fact a summary of the faith of mankind in God, and in Christ, and while man's way of thinking is completely attuned to the Eucharist, in a similar manner, the Eucharist in turn confirms man's way of thinking to him and also reaffirms his faith. The sacrament of the Eucharist is so very rich and is so full of meaning that many different names are used while attempting to describe it, and each name in turn is able to evoke that part of the Eucharist that is pertinent at that point, and one aspect can b taken at any one single time while describing this sacrament. For one, it is referred to as the 'Eucharist' because of the fact that it is basically a Thanksgiving to God, and it stems from the Greek word, 'eucharistein', which means God's works, like for example, creation, redemption, and sanctification.
The Eucharist can also be taken to mean the Last Supper, which Christ took part in on the day before his Passion and his death. In this context, the Eucharist may also mean that there is anticipation at this point that there would be a 'wedding feat of the Lamb' in heavenly Jerusalem. The 'breaking of the bread', a ritual that Christ used at this Last Supper, when he, as a master of the table, broke the bread and distributed it among all present, became the most important part of the Last Supper, wherein all Christ's disciples partook of the bread and the win that Christ offered, and because of this act, would recognize Christ after his Resurrection. In fact, during the designation of the First Assemblies, all Christians use this term of the 'Eucharistic', while starting off, thus signifying that everybody who ate the one broken bread that Christ had distributed at the Last Supper, would in fact be able to enter into communion with him, and "form but one body in him." (Article 3, the Sacrament of the Eucharist)
Therefore, the Eucharistic assembly became a visible expression for all concerned, of the church. The Eucharist can also be taken to signify the 'memorial' of the Lord's Passion and also his Resurrection, and can also signify the 'Holy Sacrifice' of Christ the Savior, which would include among others, the Church's offering to man. In addition, it can also be taken to mean the Holy Communion, wherein by the Holy Sacrament of the Eucharistic rituals, it is possible for man to be reunited with the body of Christ. Christ had in fact made mankind sharers in his Body and in his Blood, so that a single body would be formed out of it.
This is the reason that believers of the Christian faith also refer to the Eucharist as the 'Holy Things', or the 'ta hagia, sancta', which is also the very first meaning of the 'communion of Saints', in the apostle's Creed, which refers to the 'bread of angels, bread form Heaven, medicine of immortality'. (Article 3, the Sacrament of the Eucharist) Therefore, it is quite clear that although there are quite a few diverse meanings to the word 'Eucharist', in the final run, they all refer to the same ritual and sacrament, which is the breaking of the bread and the sharing of the wine, which are symbolic representations of the body of Christ and the blood of Christ, which are offered to the faithful in the Eucharistic ritual of the breaking of the bread.
The relationship between the State and the Christian Church is rife with different types of problems, throughout history. One particular thing that almost everybody thinks that they know about early Christians is the fact that they generally went around and threatened or burnt down anything, including libraries, which they were being threatened by. However, there is no evidence at all to support such statements, and the closest to truth that this statement comes to is that Christians, at one point of time, did indeed destroy the Library of Alexandria. Most probably, however, even this may be a myth of sorts, but this has not served to stop people like Carl Sagan who had written about that particular incident in Cosmos in order to put across his own 'pagan' and anti-Christian sentiments. At this point, it must be stated that what…