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Wednesday, June 22, 2005
The Eucharist
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"And whilst they were at supper, 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.'" (Matthew 26:26-28)

Preface: All images used on this page are from The Holy Mass Website. All Scripture readings used are from the Douay-Rheims version of the Bible, the English translation of the Latin Vulgate.

The Eucharist - Holy Communion - simply is Christ's body, blood, soul, and divinity under the appearance of bread and wine. It is not a symbol of Christ, but rather, it is truly and really Jesus Christ! At the point in the Mass known as the consecration the priest, acting in persona Christi, will say "This is my Body, which will be given up for you" and "This is my Blood...". These were the words of Our Savior when He turned the bread and wine at the Last Supper into His Body and Blood, and, by the divine power of God in the priesthood, the bread and wine become Jesus Christ. Note: It is correct to say the Bread and wine become Jesus, not Jesus becomes bread and wine.

At the Consecration during the Mass everyone present except the celebrant should kneel in adoration because by God's divine power the bread and wine become His eternal Son, Jesus Christ (GIRM 21). The bread and wine become Jesus Christ's Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity as Our Lord Himself taught in Sacred Scripture specifically at the Last Supper. The only thing remaining of bread and wine is the appearance of bread and wine (called the "accidents"). Jesus Christ gave this awesome power to his disciples, the first bishops who have passed this down through the Sacrament of Holy Orders.

The Catechism of the Catholic Church, a collection of all Catholic beliefs produced in 1992, calls the Eucharist the "source and summit of our faith" (1324). It is in that moment when we receive the Eucharist that our soul is in ecstasy because Christ is truly in us. Jesus Christ loved us so much at the last Supper, even though He knew His death was near, He gave us the joy of being with Him eternally.

Clearly we need Jesus Christ as He is the "...only way, truth, and life", and it is in the Most Holy Eucharist that the veil between Heaven and earth is the shortest and we receive Our Lord, Most High. That intimate moment can not be put into words as it is only the soul that speaks with such fervent love that some are moved to tears. We truly are living Our Savior's Command: "Take ye, and eat. This is my body" (Matthew 26:26).


Objections

Some people that don't believe in the Real Presence of Jesus in the Eucharist claim that Jesus meant for it to be symbolic. Such disbelievers need to merely examine the Gospel of John Chapter 6. That chapter is focused entirely on the Eucharist, and we see this clearly when Our Lord tells them "Unless you eat my Body and Drink my Blood you will have no life within you". After Our Lord finished, His followers do one thing - they leave Him. If Jesus was speaking symbolically He would have said "No, you misunderstand" like He did before in the Gospels, but this time He just let them walk away. Thousands left Him, but He let them because what He spoke was literally true and they just couldn't accept it. In the past when Jesus said "I am the Door" or "I am the vine" thousands did not leave Him because they could accept a metaphor. This time was clearly different as thousands of Jesus's followers left Him because they couldn't believe what He was saying. Those that remained where the apostles. This was what was said:

"After this many of his disciples went back; and walked no more with him. Then Jesus said to the twelve: 'Will you also go away?' And Simon Peter answered him: 'Lord, to whom shall we go? thou hast the words of eternal life. And we have believed and have known, that thou art the Christ, the Son of God." (John 6:67-72).

The Gospel of Matthew states: "And whilst they were at supper, 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.'" (Mt 26:26-28; cf. Mk 14:22-24, Lk 22:17-20, 1 Cor 11:23-25)


Eucharistic Miracles:

Several times through history the divinity of Christ in this Supreme Sacrament have shown through the bread and wine in rare but miraculous events. "Eucharist" literally means "thanksgiving" as through this sacrament we receive the greatest joy of them all. These Eucharistic miracles not only confirm the Real Presence but also that Jesus Christ remains with us. The Miracle of Lanciano, Italy (8th Century); Cascia, Italy (1300s); and Sienna, Italy (1730) are just three of these miraculous events. In the Eucharistic Miracle of Betania, Venezuela, the Eucharist is beating like a human heart and it is engulfed with flames! Watch a video of it!

Council of Trent:

The Thirteenth Session
ON THE MOST HOLY SACRAMENT OF THE EUCHARIST

CANON I.-If any one denieth, that, in the sacrament of the most holy Eucharist, are contained truly, really, and substantially, the body and blood together with the soul and divinity of our Lord Jesus Christ, and consequently the whole Christ; but saith that He is only therein as in a sign, or in figure, or virtue; let him be anathema.

CANON lI.-If any one saith, that, in the sacred and holy sacrament of the Eucharist, the substance of the bread and wine remains conjointly with the body and blood of our Lord Jesus Christ, and denieth that wonderful and singular conversion of the whole substance of the bread into the Body, and of the whole substance of the wine into the Blood-the species Only of the bread and wine remaining-which conversion indeed the Catholic Church most aptly calls Transubstantiation; let him be anathema.

CANON III.-If any one denieth, that, in the venerable sacrament of the Eucharist, the whole Christ is contained under each species, and under every part of each species, when separated; let him be anathema.

CANON IV.-If any one saith, that, after the consecration is completed, the body and blood of our Lord Jesus Christ are not in the admirable sacrament of the Eucharist, but (are there) only during the use, whilst it is being taken, and not either before or after; and that, in the hosts, or consecrated particles, which are reserved or which remain after communion, the true Body of the Lord remaineth not; let him be anathema.



CANON V.-If any one saith, either that the principal fruit of the most holy Eucharist is the remission of sins, or, that other effects do not result therefrom; let him be anathema.

CANON VI.-If any one saith, that, in the holy sacrament of the Eucharist, Christ, the only-begotten Son of God, is not to be adored with the worship, even external of latria; and is, consequently, neither to be venerated with a special festive solemnity, nor to be solemnly borne about in processions, according to the laudable and universal rite and custom of holy church; or, is not to be proposed publicly to the people to be adored, and that the adorers thereof are idolators; let him be anathema.

CANON VII.-If any one saith, that it is not lawful for the sacred Eucharist to be reserved in the sacrarium, but that, immediately after consecration, it must necessarily be distributed amongst those present; or, that it is not lawful that it be carried with honour to the sick; let him be anathema.

CANON VIII.-lf any one saith, that Christ, given in the Eucharist, is eaten spiritually only, and not also sacramentally and really; let him be anathema.

CANON IX.-If any one denieth, that all and each of Christ's faithful of both sexes are bound, when they have attained to years of discretion, to communicate every year, at least at Easter, in accordance with the precept of holy Mother Church; let him be anathema.

CANON X.-If any one saith, that it is not lawful for the celebrating priest to communicate himself; let him be anathema.

CANON XI.-lf any one saith, that faith alone is a sufficient preparation for receiving the sacrament of the most holy Eucharist; let him be anathema. And for fear lest so great a sacrament may be received unworthily, and so unto death and condemnation, this holy Synod ordains and declares, that sacramental confession, when a confessor may be had, is of necessity to be made beforehand, by those whose conscience is burthened with mortal sin, how contrite even soever they may think themselves. But if any one shall presume to teach, preach, or obstinately to assert, or even in public disputation to defend the contrary, he shall be thereupon excommunicated.

Quotations on the Eucharist:
  • "Who does not see that the hidden life of Nazareth is continued in the divine Host of the tabernacle, and that the Passion of the God-Man on Calvary is renewed in the Holy Sacrifice at every moment of the day and night and all over the world? Is not our Lord as meek and humble in His Sacrament as during His mortal life? Is He not always the Good Shepherd, the divine Consoler, our bosom Friend?" (St. Peter Julian Eymard)
  • Since Christ Himself has said, "This is My Body" who shall dare to doubt that It is His Body?" (St. Cyril of Jerusalem)
  • "If we don't want to be fools and blind the intellect there's no reason for doubt. Receiving Communion is not like picturing with the imagination, as when we reflect upon the Lord on the cross or in other episodes of the Passion, when we picture within ourselves how things happened to Him in the past. In Communion the event is happening now, and it is entirely true. There's no reason to go looking for Him in some other place far away" (St. Teresa of Avila)
  • Go to adoration as one who would go to heaven, to the divine banquet. Our Lord will give us audience of grace and love. He is waiting for us. He is longing for us." (St. Peter Julian Eymard)
  • "The soul that receives the Divine Blood becomes beautiful, as being clothed in a more precious garment, and it appears so beautifully aglow that if you could see it you would be tempted to adore it" (St. Mary Magdalene di Pazzi)
  • "My children, we can never prepare ourselves too much for Holy Communion" (St. Padre Pio).
  • "This Sacrament being a mystery of faith, we must believe firmly that Jesus Christ is really present in the Holy Eucharist, and that He is living and glorious there as in heaven" (St. John Vianney).
  • "The Eucharist is the flesh of our Savior Jesus Christ which suffered for our sins, which the Father raised up by his goodness" (St. Ignatius of Antioch).
  • "This Fountain [of the Holy Eucharist] is a fountain of light, shedding abundant rays of truth. And beside it the angelic powers from on high have taken their stand, gazing on the beauty of its streams, since they perceive more clearly than we the power of what lies before us and its unapproachable dazzling rays" (St. John Chrysostom).
  • "Do not, therefore, regard the bread and wine as simply that, for they are, according to the Master's declaration, the body and blood of Christ" (St. Cyril of Jerusalem).
  • “The Eucharist is that love which surpasses all loves in Heaven and on earth” (St. Bernard of Clairvaux).


    Common Questions:
    1. What are the parts of the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass?
    2. Why did Jesus institute the Holy Eucharist?
    3. What are the conditions on receiving Our Lord in Holy Communion?
    4. What is Holy Communion?
    5. Does the Sacred Host also contain Christ's Blood?
    6. What are Eucharistic Miracles?
    7. Can Holy Communion ever be denied?
    8. How many times a day can we receive Communion?
    9. What is Intinction?
    10. What is the Eucharistic fast and how long is it?
    11. How often is one required to receive the Eucharist?
    12. What is a Eucharistic Procession?
    13. What is Eucharistic Adoration?
    Related Websites/Encyclicals:
    1. Adoremus
    2. New Advent, Catholic Encyclopedia
    3. Real Presence Association
    4. Mirae Caritatis, Encyclical of Leo XII on May 28, 1902

    Image Sources: ~The Holy Mass~Home Page. These images are not the property of "A Catholic Life"

    3 comments:

    del_button July 23, 2005 at 6:31 PM
    MrBittersworth said...

    The Eucharist is Christ's body, blood, soul, and divinity. At the point in the Mass known as the transubstantiation (the part of Holy Communion) the ordinary minister - typically a priest - will say "This is my Body, which will be given up for you" and "This is my Blood..."
    --Moneybags


    I think their is a minor discrepencey in that. Transubstantiation is not a part of mass, but the actual transferal from bread and wine to body and blood

    del_button June 15, 2006 at 12:50 PM
    Moneybags said...

    Exactly. Transubstantiation is the act that occurs during the consecration.

    del_button August 14, 2006 at 12:23 PM
    Jennifer said...

    Another great post.
    Catholic communion is totally different than other religions and you explain things so well.

    You'll make a great Priest!

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