When I was in junior high school (back when it was thought the concept was thought superior to middle school) one of the prizes handed out at carnivals was a necklace that had a heart on it that was broken in half. The other half you were supposed to give to the person with whom you were going steady to show that you were one of the same heart. (Eash. Please tell me they don’t do that anymore.) Of course, never mind the fact that they handed out millions of those things and so there was a good chance that any number of people were walking around with the other half of your heart.
But the cool thing about it is that, although trite and not efficacious, it does give an insight into the Eucharist. Today we move from the part of the Mass in which the sacrifice was offered to the Father on behalf of mankind, and now (paragraph 83 of the GIRM) we prepare to become one in Christ and with each other as we partake in the One Body of Christ and share in His benefits.
So, in an action reserved to the ordained clergy, Christ’s Body is broken and divided among His brothers and sisters not unlike that heart that was divided between two people involved in the trials of puppy love.
Now obviously the analogy only takes us so far. The necklace does not actually unite anybody. And it is only an object, not a Person. And the Eucharist is the entirety of Christ; Body and Blood, Soul and Divinity, not just half a heart.
Christ’s Body is arced toward unity. There is only the appearance of the Body being divided, but spiritually it is bringing us all together into unity with Christ and with each other. Understanding this allows you to understand better Flannery O’Conner’s comment, “Because if it is only a symbol, to hell with it.” And if I belonged to a Church that didn’t celebrate the Eucharist, if I didn’t like the music, I think I would stay home and pray with my family and maybe a couple of neighbors. But if the Eucharist is what Christ said it was, what a magnificent event this is. Nothing compares.