St John's Q&A

Friday, July 07, 2006

"This is a hard teaching"

Mass and Adoration tonight! All bloggers are invited to join me tonight (7/7) in St Andrew's Church for Mass (7 pm) and Adoration of Jesus in the Eucharist (7:30-8:30). We'll have some prayerful music and I'll offer a spiritual reflection. These are two great ways to be with our Lord, but especially on First Friday (of the month).
Recently, a SAA blogger wrote the following about the Eucharist: "I JUST DON'T GET IT!!!! I can't really explain but I try to believe that it's God but somehow I just can't. That's a problem that sometimes occurs. The ENORMITY of it all just overwhelms me that I am scared to even try to understand the Eucharist fully. I'd feel safer thinking that it's just a symbol."

This is really good stuff! I don't mean to belittle the anonymous blogger's struggle at all because "this is a hard teaching" (John 6:60). But, this is what faith is all about. A connection has been made for "Anon": he/she has heard the Truth about the Eucharist. For that reason, Anon, you do get it!! You are so right to say that the ENORMITY OF IT ALL IS OVERWHELMING. It is. But, so many Catholics never even approach that point because it never registers with them that it's anything more than bread.

Now, a few practical points, to help you and all those who struggle with the Real Presence in your faith:

1) Trying to understand the Eucharist is like trying to understand the Trinity: 'not gonna do it'. We believe THAT transubstantiation occurs (the substances of bread and wine become the Body and Blood of Christ while retaining their qualities) but we don't understand HOW it happens; it's a mystery.
2) Please read John 6. This is where Jesus teaches about the Eucharist. Neither in this chapter nor in any of the Last Supper accounts does Jesus use the word 'symbol'. The word symbol, in relation to the Eucharist, was first used in the 1500s by the Protestant Reformers.
3) To use an analogy, monopoly money is symbolic only; it means nothing in the real world.

Martin Luther was a Catholic priest who helped start the "protests" against the Church 500 years ago. He changed "this is my body" to "this symbolizes my body" in his biblical translation in order to meet the new theology of his movement. 'The Eucharist is a symbol only' is man-made; the Church has condemned it as heresy (denial of a truth that must be believed in faith). It doesn't appear anywhere in Scripture, Tradition, or in the teachings of the Magisterium. It is not safe at all, then, to believe that the Eucharist is symbolic only; in fact, heresy puts one's soul in REAL DANGER!

The Church has believed for 2000 years that the Eucharist is the Real Presence of Jesus Christ- Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity - because of 4 words: "This is my body". Jesus said these words at the Last Supper when he instituted the Eucharist (and the priesthood). Before that, he spoke in real, literal terms to thousands of Jews when he taught about the Eucharist: "whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal flesh is real food and my blood is real drink" (John 6:54,55). Almost all of them rejected his teaching and left him that day. He didn't stop them, and say 'hey, you all misunderstood me'. They understood him correctly, and didn't believe him.

The Apostles also understood him correctly, but they DID believe Him even though they didn't understand. "Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life, and we believe" (Jn 6:68).


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