We live in a broken world and we’re journeying through times when being a Catholic appears to mean many different things, depending on who might be giving an opinion (especially regarding Eucharist). There are varying views about Pope Francis, Priests, Bishops, Cardinals, and a plethora of queries and challenges arise to argue against many Church teachings. Obviously, I can’t speak to such a broad swath of issues swirling around the Catholic faith, so, I’ve decided to take the plunge into one area: the Eucharist. I hope you will take this journey with me.
Intense! That’s a reasonable word to use to describe our times. It seems everywhere we look, there are serious (perhaps grave is a better term) problems and threats facing the United States, it’s population and the world. We know there have been many “intense” periods throughout history, yet knowing the past is filled with extraordinary times guides us to solutions.
If you have faith, as I do, you’ll likely agree that God can help lead us to solutions for the problems inflicting us and the world. However, how can we access God’s blessings and Grace?
The Eucharist is one major path to seeking God’s Grace blessings! Let’s set the table for this issue by asking a few questions:
- Catholics, how often do you give thought to the Eucharist?
- Is the Eucharist a symbol of the faith, or is it the Real Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity, of Jesus Christ?
- If you believe the Eucharist is truly Christ, do you accept that means that the Eucharist is God?
- If you could speak with God (in person) about your own life, and about the world, would you do so?
Across the Christian world, there are diverging views of the Eucharist. Most non-Catholic Christians (not all) consider the Eucharist a symbolic remembrance mandated by Christ; however, the Catholic Church has always held the Eucharist as the actual Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity of Jesus Christ. There is no ambiguity in the Church’s teachings, and it was held by the early Christians. Here is a short taste of what the Church teaches:
“Christ Jesus, who died, yes, who was raised from the dead, who is at the right hand of God, who indeed intercedes for us,” is present in many ways to his Church: in his word, in his Church’s prayer, “where two or three are gathered in my name,” in the poor, the sick, and the imprisoned, in the sacraments of which he is the author, in the sacrifice of the Mass, and in the person of the minister. But “he is present . . . most especially in the Eucharistic species.”
The mode of Christ’s presence under the Eucharistic species is unique. It raises the Eucharist above all the sacraments as “the perfection of the spiritual life and the end to which all the sacraments tend.” In the most blessed sacrament of the Eucharist “the body and blood, together with the soul and divinity, of our Lord Jesus Christ and, therefore, the whole Christ is truly, really, and substantially contained.” “This presence is called ‘real’ – by which is not intended to exclude the other types of presence as if they could not be ‘real’ too, but because it is presence in the fullest sense: that is to say, it is a substantial presence by which Christ, God and man, makes himself wholly and entirely present.”
It is by the conversion of the bread and wine into Christ’s body and blood that Christ becomes present in this sacrament. The Church Fathers strongly affirmed the faith of the Church in the efficacy of the Word of Christ and of the action of the Holy Spirit to bring about this conversion. Thus St. John Chrysostom declares:
It is not man that causes the things offered to become the Body and Blood of Christ, but he who was crucified for us, Christ himself. The priest, in the role of Christ, pronounces these words, but their power and grace are God’s. This is my body, he says. This word transforms the things offered.
And St. Ambrose says about this conversion:
Be convinced that this is not what nature has formed, but what the blessing has consecrated. The power of the blessing prevails over that of nature, because by the blessing nature itself is changed. . . . Could not Christ’s word, which can make from nothing what did not exist, change existing things into what they were not before? It is no less a feat to give things their original nature than to change their nature.
The Bible has much to say about the Eucharist as the following passages reflect.
Mark 14:22-24 (RSV-CE)
And as they were eating, he took bread, and blessed, and broke it, and gave it to them, and said, “Take; this is my body.” And he took a cup, and when he had given thanks he gave it to them, and they all drank of it. And he said to them, “This is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many.
Luke 22:19-20 (RSV-CE)
And he took bread, and when he had given thanks he broke it and gave it to them, saying, “This is my body which is given for you. Do this in remembrance of me.” And likewise the cup after supper, saying, “This cup which is poured out for you is the new covenant in my blood.
John 6:35 (RSV-CE)
Jesus said to them, “I am the bread of life; he who comes to me shall not hunger, and he who believes in me shall never thirst.
John 6:51 (RSV-CE)
I am the living bread which came down from heaven; if any one eats of this bread, he will live for ever; and the bread which I shall give for the life of the world is my flesh.”
John 6:53-57 (RSV-CE)
So Jesus said to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of man and drink his blood, you have no life in you; he who eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day. For my flesh is food indeed, and my blood is drink indeed. He who eats my flesh and drinks my blood abides in me, and I in him. As the living Father sent me, and I live because of the Father, so he who eats me will live because of me.
1 Corinthians 10:16-17 (RSV-CE)
The cup of blessing which we bless, is it not a participation in the blood of Christ? The bread which we break, is it not a participation in the body of Christ? Because there is one bread, we who are many are one body, for we all partake of the one bread.
1 Corinthians 11:23-30 (RSV-CE)
For I received from the Lord what I also delivered to you, that the Lord Jesus on the night when he was betrayed took bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it, and said, “This is my body which is for you. Do this in remembrance of me.” In the same way also the cup, after supper, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood. Do this, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of me.” For as often as you eat this bread and drink the cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until he comes.
Whoever, therefore, eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner will be guilty of profaning the body and blood of the Lord. Let a man examine himself, and so eat of the bread and drink of the cup. For any one who eats and drinks without discerning the body eats and drinks judgment upon himself. That is why many of you are weak and ill, and some have died.
Note: RSV-CE = REVISED STANDARD VERSION – CATHOLIC EDITION
Note: Bible quotes copied from Bible Gateway
Note: Some information taken from my book, Catholics: It is our Fault!
There are many more passages from the Bible, numerous additional paragraphs from the Catechism of the Catholic Church, a depth of statements from the early Church fathers, all teachings from the Apostles in the Didache, all of which supports the Catholic Church’s teaching that the Eucharist is the real Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity of Jesus Christ.
Assuming the Church, the early fathers, and the Bible, are correct, the implications are genuinely staggering. Combining all the data leads to one conclusion: Jesus Christ, our Lord, our Savior, our God, is actually present in the Eucharist/Communion, and inside nearly all tabernacles of Roman Catholic Churches – across the globe.
Forgive me for creating somewhat of a theology lesson in this post—that was not my intention. Rather, I’m laying a foundation for several significant questions:
- If you knew you could visit the Lord in person, and the visit would be free and close to home, would you make the trip?
- If you could kneel before the Lord and ask Him to help you find solutions for problems in your own life, and for the country/world, would you?
- Even if you are lax in your faith, if the Lord was coming to a town near you, would you want to be with Him?
Our lives are often complicated, and we know both our nation and the world is filled with complex problems; however, how often do people take time to ask God for help for those issues? We strive through politics and our own cleverness to create resolutions but, how many of us go to God and ask Him to show us the way?
Perhaps now, with the planet in such need, Catholics will begin to visit the Lord in the Eucharist and ask for His help. Maybe it is time for us to place our faith in action by turning to God entirely and beg for His guidance, blessings, and Grace. If you were to spend just two 10 minute periods before the Lord in the Eucharist each week, other than a bit of time, what will you lose (and counter that with the reality you might help yourself and the world make incredible gains)?
Before you choose to ignore this post and the solutions found within, think (again) of the many ways we try to solve our problems:
- By passing new laws.
- We attempt through political channels to solve problems.
- Employ new technology to provide solutions.
- We take issues to our court system.
- By using our military.
Considering the list above, those are the general paths we use to solve problems, and each has an appropriate time and place. However, the list contains nothing of God, nothing of bringing our problems (personal, national, and global) to God for His guidance, help and blessings. Perhaps we can add God to the list of solutions.
Many Catholic Churches have Eucharistic Adoration, during which Jesus is before us to pray. If your church does not have adoration, maybe you will ask for it to start, and if not, perhaps you can spend 10 minutes before the Lord in the Tabernacle two-three times a week, or even daily. Imagine the potential positive changes that would come upon our lives and the world if all Catholics made this one commitment.
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Thanks for reading,