Author Topic: The Real Presence of Christ in the Eucharist  (Read 331 times)

Lorenzo

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The Real Presence of Christ in the Eucharist
« on: January 15, 2012, 09:27:16 PM »
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  • by Frank J. Sheed

    The Blessed Eucharist is the Sacrament. Baptism exists for it, all the others are enriched by it. The whole being is nourished by it. It is precisely food, which explains why it is the one sacrament meant to be received daily. Without it, one petition in the Our Father-"Give us this day our daily bread"-lacks the fullness of its meaning.

    Early in his ministry, as St. John tells us (ch 6), Our Lord gave the first promise of it. He had just worked what is probably the most famous of his miracles, the feeding of the five thousand. The next day, in the synagogue at Capernaum on the shore of the sea of Galilee, Our Lord made a speech which should be read and reread. Here we quote a few phrases: "I am the Bread of Life"; "I am the Living Bread, which came down from heaven. If any man eat of this bread, he shall live forever: and the bread that I will give, is my flesh for the life of the world"; "He that eats my flesh, and drinks my blood, has everlasting life: and I will raise him up in the last day. For my flesh is meat indeed: and my blood is drink indeed. He that eats my flesh, and drinks my blood, abides in me, and I in him"; "He that eats me shall live by me."

    He saw that many of his own disciples were horrified at what he was saying. He went on: "It is the spirit that quickens: the flesh profits nothing." We know what he meant: in saying they must eat his flesh, he did not mean dead flesh but his body with the life in it, with the living soul in it. In some way he himself, living, was to be the food of their soul's life. Needless to say, all this meant nothing whatever to those who heard it first. For many, it was the end of discipleship. They simply left him, probably thinking that for a man to talk of giving them his flesh to eat was mere insanity. When he asked the Apostles if they would go too, Peter gave him one of the most moving answers in all man's history: "Lord, to whom shall we go?" He had not the faintest idea of what it all meant; but he had a total belief in the Master he had chosen and simply hoped that some day it would be made plain.

    There is no hint that Our Lord ever raised the matter again until the Last Supper. Then his meaning was most marvellously made plain. What he said and did then is told us by Matthew, Mark, and Luke; and St. Paul tells it to the Corinthians (1 Cor 10 and 11). St. John, who gives the longest account of the Last Supper, does not mention the institution of the Blessed Eucharist; his Gospel was written perhaps thirty years after the others, to be read in a church which had been receiving Our Lord's body and blood for some sixty years. What he had provided is the account we have just been considering of Our Lord's first promise.

    Here is St. Matthew's account of the establishment: "Jesus took bread, and blessed, and broke: and gave to his disciples, and said, Take ye and eat: This is my body. And taking the chalice he gave thanks: and gave to them, saying: Drink ye all of this. For this is my blood of the New Testament, which shall be shed for many unto remission of sins."

    Since they deal with the food of our life, we must examine these words closely. What we are about to say of "This is my body" will do for "This is my blood" too. The word is need not detain us. There are those, bent upon escaping the plain meaning of the words used, who say that the phrase really means "This represents my body." It sounds very close to desperation! No competent speaker would ever talk like that, least of all Our Lord, least of all then. The word this, deserves a closer look. Had he said, "Here is my body," he might have meant that, in some mysterious way, his body was there as well as, along with, the bread which seems so plainly to be there. But he said, "This is my body"-this which I am holding, this which looks like bread but is not, this which was bread before I blessed it, this is now my body. Similarly this, which was wine, which still looks like wine, is not wine. It is now my blood.

    Every life is nourished by its own kind-the body by material food, the intellect by mental food. But the life we are now concerned with is Christ living in us; the only possible food for it is Christ. So much is this so that in our own day you will scarcely find grace held to be Christ's life in us unless the Eucharist is held to be Christ himself.

    What Our Lord was giving us was a union with himself closer than the Apostles had in the three years of their companionship, than Mary Magdalen had when she clung to him after his Resurrection. Two of St. Paul's phrases, from 1 Corinthians 11 and 10, are specially worth noting:

    "Whosoever shall eat this bread, or drink the chalice of the Lord unworthily, shall be guilty of the body and of the blood of the Lord"; and "We, being many, are one bread, one body, all that partake of one bread"- a reminder that the Eucharist is not only for each man's soul but for the unity of the Mystical Body.

    I can see why a Christian might be unable to bring himself to believe it, finding it beyond his power to accept the idea that a man can give us his flesh to eat. But why should anyone to escape the plain meaning of the words?

    For the Catholic nothing could be simpler. Whether he understands or not, he feels safe with Peter in the assurance that he who said he would give us his body to eat had the words of eternal life. Return again to what he said. The bread is not changed into the whole Christ, but into his body; the wine is not changed into the whole Christ, but into his blood. But Christ lives, death has no more dominion over him. The bread becomes his body, but where his body is, there he is; the wine becomes his blood but is not thereby separated from his body, for that would mean death; where his blood is, he is. Where either body or blood is, there is Christ, body and blood, soul and divinity. That is the doctrine of the Real Presence.

    http://www.ewtn.com/faith/teachings/eucha3.htm


    Lorenzo

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    Transubstantiation
    « Reply #1 on: January 15, 2012, 09:28:06 PM »
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  • by Frank J. Sheed

    Besides the Real Presence which faith accepts and delights in, there is the doctrine of transubstantiation, from which we may at least get a glimpse of what happens when the priest consecrates bread and wine, so that they become Christ's body and Christ's blood.

    At this stage, we must be content with only the simplest statement of the meaning of, and distinction between substance and accidents, without which we should make nothing at all of transubstantiation. We shall concentrate upon bread, reminding ourselves once again that what is said applies in principle to wine as well.

    We look at the bread the priest uses in the Sacrament. It is white, round, soft. The whiteness is not the bread, it is simply a quality that the bread has; the same is true of the roundness and the softness. There is something there that has these and other properties, qualities, attributes- the philosophers call all of them accidents. Whiteness and roundness we see; softness brings in the sense of touch. We might smell bread, and the smell of new bread is wonderful, but once again the smell is not the bread, but simply a property. The something which has the whiteness, the softness, the roundness, has the smell; and if we try another sense, the sense of taste, the same something has that special effect upon our palate.

    In other words, whatever the senses perceive-even with the aid of those instruments men are forever inventing to increase the reach of the senses- is always of this same sort, a quality, a property, an attribute; no sense perceives the something which has all these qualities, which is the thing itself. This something is what the philosophers call substance; the rest are accidents which it possesses. Our senses perceive accidents; only the mind knows the substance. This is true of bread, it is true of every created thing. Left to itself, the mind assumes that the substance is that which, in all its past experience, has been found to have that particular group of accidents. But in these two instances, the bread and wine of the Eucharist, the mind is not left to itself. By the revelation of Christ it knows that the substance has been changed, in the one case into the substance of his body, in the other into the substance of his blood.

    The senses can no more perceive the new substance resulting from the consecration than they could have perceived the substance there before. We cannot repeat too often that senses can perceive only accidents, and consecration changes only the substance. The accidents remain in their totality-for example, that which was wine and is now Christ's blood still has the smell of wine, the intoxicating power of wine. One is occasionally startled to find some scientist claiming to have put all the resources of his laboratory into testing the consecrated bread; he announces triumphantly that there is no change whatever, no difference between this and any other bread. We could have told him that, without the aid of any instrument. For all that instruments can do is to make contact with the accidents, and it is part of the doctrine of transubstantiation that the accidents undergo no change whatever. If our scientist had announced that he had found a change, that would be really startling and upsetting.

    The accidents, then, remain; but not, of course, as accidents of Christ's body. It is not his body which has the whiteness and the roundness and the softness. The accidents once held in existence by the substance of bread, and those others once held in existence by the substance of wine, are now held in existence solely by God's will to maintain them.

    What of Christ's body, now sacramentally present? We must leave the philosophy of this for a later stage in our study. All we shall say here is that his body is wholly present, though not (so St. Thomas among others tells us) extended in space. One further element in the doctrine of the Real Presence needs to be stated: Christ's body remains in the communicant as long as the accidents remain themselves. Where, in the normal action of our bodily processes, they are so changed as to be no longer accidents of bread or accidents of wine, the Real Presence in us of Christ's own individual body ceases. But we live on in his Mystical Body.

    This very sketchy outline of the doctrine of transubstantiation is almost pathetic. But like so much in this book, what is here is only a beginning; you have the rest of life before you.


    http://www.ewtn.com/faith/teachings/eucha4.htm


    Lorenzo

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    The Holy Eucharist Is The Whole Christ
    « Reply #2 on: January 15, 2012, 09:29:33 PM »
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  • by Fr. John A. Hardon, S.J.

    The most fundamental question to ask about the Blessed Sacrament is, "Who is the Holy Eucharist?" And the correct answer is: The Holy Eucharist is Jesus Christ.

    There is more behind this answer than many Catholics realize. When the Council of Trent in the sixteenth century defined the meaning of the Eucharist, it declared that "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 in the sacrament of the Holy Eucharist."

    Shortly after Trent, Pope St. Pius V authorized the publication of the Roman Catechism which built on the Council of Trent and explained its teachings for the pastors of the Church.

    Regarding the Real Presence, the pastors were told to explain that "in this sacrament is contained not only the true Body of Christ-and that means everything that goes to make up a true body, such as bones, nerves, and so on-but also Christ whole and entire." Consequently the Eucharist contains Jesus Christ in the fullness of his divinity and the completeness of his humanity.

    Jesus is therefore in the Blessed Sacrament "whole and entire: the Soul, the Body and Blood of Christ, with all their component parts. In heaven a complete human nature is united to the divine nature in one. . . person. It is a denial of the faith to suppose that in this sacrament there is anything less."

    It is not speculation but cold revealed fact that the Holy Eucharist is the Son of God who became the Son of Mary.

    Whatever makes Christ, Christ, is in the Holy Eucharist; nothing less.

    Consequently when we speak of transubstantiation, we mean that the whole substance of bread and wine, its "breadness" and "wineness," is replaced by the living and glorified Jesus Christ. What remains of what had been bread and wine is only their external properties that can be perceived by the senses. As the Greek Fathers of the Church say, the ousia or being of bread and wine is changed into the being or reality of Jesus Christ. On the altar after the consecration there is no longer bread and wine but the same Jesus who was crucified, died and rose from the grave; and who will come in his glory on the last day to judge the living and the dead.

    Is there any real difference between Jesus in heaven and Jesus in the Eucharist? No, it is the same Jesus. The only difference is in us. We now on earth cannot see or touch him with our senses. But that is not a limitation in him; it is a limitation in us.

        JESUS is really now on earth in the Eucharist.
        Jesus IS really now on earth in the Eucharist.
        Jesus is REALLY now on earth in the Eucharist.
        Jesus is really NOW on earth in the Eucharist.
        Jesus is really now ON earth in the Eucharist.
        Jesus is really now on EARTH in the Eucharist.
        Jesus is really now on earth IN THE EUCHARIST.

    The foregoing six statements, repeated and separately emphasized, explain why the Catholic Church has defended the reality of the Real Presence so strenuously down the centuries.

    What else could she do? She believes that our Lord's promise, "I will be with you all days, even to the end of the world," is being literally fulfilled in every tabernacle of the Catholic world. He is in our midst with all that makes him man, including his pulsating Sacred Heart. And he is here to continue his work of redemption by giving us the light and strength we need to serve him with all our heart.

    We speak correctly of believing in the Real Presence. But we should grow in our understanding of what this implies.

    The living, breathing Jesus Christ is in the Blessed Sacrament. This is the reality. When we speak of presence, however, we are saying something more.

    Two people may be really near each other physically, but not present to each other spiritually. To be present to each one means to have another person in mind by being mentally aware of their existence, and to have them in one's heart by loving that other person.

    What, then, is the most important implication of our belief that Jesus is on earth in the Holy Eucharist? It is our duty to cultivate an awareness of this fact and to act on the awareness with our love.

    When we sing the Tantum Ergo at Benediction, we ask "that our faith may supply for what our senses cannot perceive." What are we saying? We profess to believe that Jesus is in the Eucharist with all the qualities of his risen humanity, although our senses cannot perceive what we know, on faith, is true.

    The reality of the Eucharist is clear. It is Jesus of Nazareth who was born of the Virgin Mary. But we must make ourselves mentally conscious of this reality and voluntarily respond to what we believe.

    Jesus is on earth in the Blessed Sacrament. Why? In order that we might come to him now no less than his contemporaries did in first century Palestine. If we thus approach him in loving faith, there is no limit to the astounding things he will do. Why not? In the Eucharist he has the same human lips that told the raging storm, "Be still" and commanded the dead man, "Lazarus, come forth!"

    There are no limitations to Christ's power, as God, which he exercises through his humanity in the Eucharist. The only limitation is our own weakness of faith or lack of confidence in his almighty love.


    http://www.ewtn.com/faith/teachings/eucha5.htm

    Lorenzo

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    THE MYSTERY OF FAITH (Mysterium Fidei)
    « Reply #3 on: January 15, 2012, 09:34:29 PM »
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  • THE MYSTERY OF FAITH (Mysterium Fidei)

    Encyclical Letter of His Holiness Pope Paul VI

    Given at Rome, at St. Peter's, the third day of September, the Feast of Pope St. Pius X, in the year 1965, the third year of our pontificate.

    Venerable brothers, in this very matter which we are discussing, there are not lacking reasons for serious pastoral concern and anxiety. The awareness of our apostolic duty does not allow us to be silent in the face of these problems. Indeed, we are aware of the fact that, among those who deal with this Most Holy Mystery in written or spoken word, there are some who with reference either to Masses which are celebrated in private, or to the dogma of transubstantiation, or to devotion to the Eucharist, spread abroad opinions which disturb the faithful and fill their minds with no little confusion about matters of faith. It is as if everyone were permitted to consign to oblivion doctrine already defined by the Church, or else to interpret it in such a way as to weaken the genuine meaning of the words or the recognized force of the concepts involved.

    To confirm what we have said by examples, it is not allowable to emphasize what is called the "communal" Mass to the disparagement of Masses celebrated in private, or to exaggerate the element of sacramental sign as if the symbolism, which all certainly admit in the Eucharist, expresses fully and exhausts completely the mode of Christ's presence in this sacrament. Nor is it allowable to discuss the mystery of transubstantiation without mentioning what the Council of Trent stated about the marvelous conversion of the whole substance of the bread into the Body and of the whole substance of the wine into the Blood of Christ, speaking rather only of what is called "transignification" and "transfiguration," or finally to propose and act upon the opinion according to which, in the Consecrated Hosts which remain after the celebration of the sacrifice of the Mass, Christ Our Lord is no longer present.

    Everyone can see that the spread of these and similar opinions does great harm to the faith and devotion to the Divine Eucharist.

    And therefore, so that the hope aroused by the council, that a flourishing of eucharistic piety which is now pervading the whole Church, be not frustrated by this spread of false opinions, we have with apostolic authority decided to address you, venerable brothers, and to express our mind on this subject.

    http://www.ewtn.com/faith/teachings/euche1.htm

    Lorenzo

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    John Paul II: Dominicae cenae (On the Holy Euacharist)
    « Reply #4 on: January 15, 2012, 09:37:55 PM »
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  • ON THE MYSTERY AND WORSHIP OF THE EUCHARIST (DOMINICAE CENAE)

    Apostolic Exhortation of Pope John Paul II promulgated on February 24, 1980.

    To All the Bishops of the Church.

    My venerable and dear brothers,


    2. The present letter that I am addressing to you, my venerable and dear brothers in the episcopate--and which is, as I have said, in a certain way a continuation of the previous one--is also closely linked with the mystery of Holy Thursday, and is related to the priesthood. In fact I intend to devote it to the Eucharist, and in particular to certain aspects of the Eucharistic Mystery and its impact on the lives of those who are the ministers of It: and so those to whom this letter is directly addressed are you, the bishops of the Church; together with you, all the priests; and, in their own rank, the deacons too.

    In reality, the ministerial and hierarchical priesthood, the priesthood of the bishops and the priests, and, at their side, the ministry of the deacons--ministries which normally begin with the proclamation of the Gospel--are in the closest relationship with the Eucharist. The Eucharist is the principal and central raison d'être of the sacrament of the priesthood, which effectively came into being at the moment of the institution of the Eucharist, and together with it.[2] Not without reason the words "Do this in memory of me" are said immediately after the words of eucharistic consecration, and we repeat them every time we celebrate the holy Sacrifice.[3]

    Through our ordination--the celebration of which is linked to the holy Mass from the very first liturgical evidence[4]--we are united in a singular and exceptional way to the Eucharist. In a certain way we derive from it and exist for it. We are also, and in a special way, responsible for it--each priest in his own community and each bishop by virtue of the care of all the communities entrusted to him, on the basis of the sollicitudo omnium ecclesiarum that St. Paul speaks of.[5] Thus we bishops and priests are entrusted with the great "mystery of Faith," and while it is also given to the whole People of God, to all believers in Christ, yet to us has been entrusted the Eucharist also "for" others, who expect from us a particular witness of veneration and love towards this sacrament, so that they too may be able to be built up and vivified "to offer spiritual sacrifices."[6]

    In this way our eucharistic worship, both in the celebration of Mass and in our devotion to the Blessed Sacrament, is like a life-giving current that links our ministerial or hierarchical priesthood to the common priesthood of the faithful, and presents it in its vertical dimension and with its central value. The priest fulfills his principal mission and is manifested in all his fullness when he celebrates the Eucharist,[7] and this manifestation is more complete when he himself allows the depth of that mystery to become visible, so that it alone shines forth in people's hearts and minds, through his ministry. This is the supreme exercise of the "kingly priesthood," "the source and summit of all Christian life."[8]

    3. This worship is directed towards God the Father through Jesus Christ in the Holy Spirit. In the first place towards the Father, who, as St. John's Gospel says, "loved the world so much that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him may not be lost but may have eternal life."[9]

    It is also directed, in the Holy Spirit, to the incarnate Son, in the economy of salvation, especially at that moment of supreme dedication and total abandonment of Himself to which the words uttered in the Upper Room refer: "This is my body given up for you.... This is the cup of my blood shed for you...."[10] The liturgical acclamation: "We proclaim your death, Lord Jesus" takes us back precisely to that moment; and with the proclamation of His resurrection we embrace in the same act of veneration Christ risen and glorified "at the right hand of the Father," as also the expectation of His "coming in glory." Yet it is the voluntary emptying of Himself, accepted by the Father and glorified with the resurrection, which, sacramentally celebrated together with the resurrection, brings us to adore the Redeemer who "became obedient unto death, even death on a cross."[11]

    And this adoration of ours contains yet another special characteristic. It is compenetrated by the greatness of that human death, in which the world, that is to say each one of us, has been loved "to the end."[12]

    Thus it is also a response that tries to repay that love immolated even to the death on the cross: it is our "Eucharist," that is to say our giving Him thanks, our praise of Him for having redeemed us by His death and made us sharers in immortal life through His resurrection.

    This worship, given therefore to the Trinity of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, above all accompanies and permeates the celebration of the Eucharistic Liturgy. But it must fill our churches also outside the timetable of Masses. Indeed, since the Eucharistic Mystery was instituted out of love, and makes Christ sacramentally present, it is worthy of thanksgiving and worship. And this worship must be prominent in all our encounters with the Blessed Sacrament, both when we visit our churches and when the sacred species are taken to the sick and administered to them.

    Adoration of Christ in this sacrament of love must also find expression in various forms of eucharistic devotion: personal prayer before the Blessed Sacrament, Hours of Adoration, periods of exposition--short, prolonged and annual (Forty Hours)--eucharistic benediction, eucharistic processions, eucharistic congresses.[13] A particular mention should be made at this point of the Solemnity of the Body and Blood of Christ as an act of public worship rendered to Christ present in the Eucharist, a feast instituted by my predecessor Urban IV in memory of the institution of this great Mystery.[14] All this therefore corresponds to the general principles and particular norms already long in existence but newly formulated during or after the Second Vatican Council.[15]

    The encouragement and the deepening of eucharistic worship are proofs of that authentic renewal which the council set itself as an aim and of which they are the central point. And this, venerable and dear brothers, deserves separate reflection. The Church and the world have a great need of eucharistic worship. Jesus waits for us in this sacrament of love. Let us be generous with our time in going to meet Him in adoration and in contemplation that is full of faith and ready to make reparation for the great faults and crimes of the world. May our adoration never cease.


    http://www.ewtn.com/faith/teachings/euche2.htm

     

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