For this day, I offer something from Lauren Winner's wonderful Girl Meets God:
When I began attending church, I didn't know much about the Eucharist. I didn't understand what it is was, exactly, or how it worked, but I knew, deeply, that the Eucharist was somehow essential, that it was the heart of what we do in those spired buildings.
'What is really happening at the altar?' I would ask Jo. Jo would murmur about mystery, or about remembering what Jesus said at the Last Supper, remembering his sacrifice for us. "Orthodoxy," I would say. "Right doctrine. I want to know what's really going on. Does the cup of wine, really, actually become Christ's blood, or not?'
Finally Jo pulled down her Oxford Companion to the Christian Church and turned to the entry on "Eucharist." "This article outlines about eight different understandings of the Eucharist,' she said, 'and you can find Anglicans who believe any or all of them.'
Hearing that I could believe just about anything and still remain a good Anglican didn't help much. So I did what I always do: I read. I read guides to Anglican thinking about the Eucharist, which laid out the positions of Thomas Hooker, Thomas Crammer, John Tillotson. I read surveys of medieval Eucharistic thought, which explained that theologians like Thomas Aquinas, seizing about Aristotle, said that the "substance" of the bread and wine became Christ's blood and body, but that the elements' "accidents," that is, the appearance of the bread and wine, remained the same. I read about Martin Luther's doctrine of consubstantiation. Finally, I lit upon some twentieth-century Catholics who put forward a view called transsignification, which affirmed the Real Presence of the Lord in the Eucharist, but focused on the symbolic, rather than the purely phenomenological, change that happened at the altar. This was a theology of the Eucharist that made sense to me. One Tuesday afternoon, I burst into Jo's rooms carrying a thin orange paperback, The Eucharist, by Edward Schillebeeckx, a Dominican from Antwerp. 'This is it,' I said triumphantly. 'This is what's really happening at Communion.'
'Great!' said Jo. 'Now you've read up on the Eucharist, would you mind participating in the Eucharist' She handed me a bundle of purificators - the squares of linen with which ministers wipe the rim of the chalice while serving communion. They needed laundering by Sunday.
Lauren Winner, Girl Meets God: on the path to a spiritual life (Authentic, 2002), pp.183-185