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Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Nourishment for Your Soul…The Holy Eucharist

The past few days have been simply quiet here.  I spent a fair bit of my time, caught up in the reading and sourcing of good spiritual books; at used and second hand books store.

Echoing the words of Manchester United Boss, Sir Alex Ferguson, on the use of micro blogging websites, “Get yourself down to the library and read a book.  Seriously, it is a waste of time…”

Anyway, over the weekend, I watched my favorite football (or soccer) team, Manchester United clinch the record 19th English Premier League title.

If United can play to true to its form and absolutely get it correct, tactically, they can end the season with both the Premier League trophy and the European Cup.  But first, they would need to overcome, what is currently the best, passing cum potent attacking, team in Europe, if not, the world, Barcelona, at the Wembley Stadium, this Saturday, May 28.  This would surely cement the Old Trafford team’s presence across the continents.

Speaking of presence, I somehow, dreamt of the Eucharist last night. If I recall it correctly, I was holding this larger-than-normal piece of consecrated host and staring at it with a deep sense of the sacred.  Let me simply share my thoughts on this.

As a youth, I use to be fascinated by this and often wondered…how on earth can Jesus break himself into so many million and billion tiny little pieces?

Even worst, I often stared, without blinking, during the Eucharistic consecration when the priest puts his hands over the bread and wine and say some words, hoping to witness a miracle…yet, I don’t see Jesus physically coming down into them at the altar?

Perhaps, I did not possess the saintly eyes of faith to see beyond the physical form of bread and wine.

Do you truly believe in the real physical presence of Jesus in the Eucharist?

Bishop Fulton Sheen shared that when Jesus made the first Eucharistic statement, Judas Iscariot began his corrupt plot to betray the Lord.  Judas (and even many others today) simply could not embrace the doctrine of the Eucharist.  The Eucharist just does not make human sense!

Many cradle Catholics grow up still bound in this Eucharistic controversy.  Many other Christian denominations continue to accuse and influence Catholics of being non-biblical.

The Holy Eucharist is actually the third sacrament of initiation in the Catholic Church; not only a sacramental sacrifice of thanksgiving and praise, but it makes present again, the sacrifice of Christ’s death on the cross in an unbloody manner.  It reminds us, outside of our human senses, by faith of Christ’s everlasting presence.

“I am the living bread which came down from heaven. If any man eat of this bread, he shall live for ever; and the bread that I will give, is my flesh, for the life of the world.” (John 6:51-52, Douay Rheims)

“And taking bread, he gave thanks, and (break); and gave to them, saying: This is my body, which is given for you. Do this for a commemoration of me. In like manner the chalice also, after he had supped, saying: This is the chalice, the new testament in my blood, which shall be shed for you.” (Luke 22:19-20, Douay Rheims)

These words of Jesus are not mere metaphors.  With over 2,000 years of tradition in this belief, the Eucharistic doctrine is actually very scriptural and is the most important truth of our Catholic faith.  This is what distinguishes Catholics from other Christians.

The bread and wine actually becomes the Body and Blood of Christ.  The changing of the bread and wine into the Body and Blood of Christ is known as “Transubstantiation” - the very heart of the Mass.

Simplistically, it means that whatever makes the bread to be bread or wine to be wine (the substance) is gone, not present, after consecration.  Only validly ordained priests (not pastors or laymen) can perform this act of consecration.

The Host is Jesus Himself, rather than merely a ‘symbol’.  Catholics were actually given the gift of knowledge of this great mystery of faith – the Eucharist, the heart and summit of the Church’s life (Catechism of the Catholic Church) – the most perfect expression of the worship we owe to God.

“At the Last Supper, on the night he was betrayed, our Savior instituted the Eucharistic sacrifice of His Body and Blood.  This he did in order to perpetuate the sacrifice of the cross throughout the ages until He should come again, and so to entrust to…the Church, a memorial of His death and resurrection.” (Vatican Council II, Constitution of the Sacred Liturgy)

In the celebration of the Eucharist, the bread and wine are truly transformed into the Body and Blood of Our Lord, but without any change in their visible outward appearance; together with the soul and divinity of Our Lord Jesus Christ.  “…The whole Christ is truly, really and substantially contained.” (Council of Trent, 1545-1563)

“We believe in the everlasting gift of the Body and Blood of Christ in the Eucharist, brought to us each day in miracle form on every altar in the world, at the Consecration of the Mass.” (Bob and Penny Lord, This is My Body, This is My Blood)

The consecrated bread and wine of the Eucharist signify nourishment and are nourishment for the soul.  Our Lord Jesus never leaves us, pilgrims, on this journey through life.  He is always here to help us, to heal us, to carry us.

Through the Holy Eucharist, we continue to feel His strength and power, especially during our times of weakness, doubt, hopelessness, worries, stress, sickness and temptation.

The various Eucharistic Miracles throughout the world today and centuries past, further testifies of His love for us. However, that topic would have to be an interesting sharing for another Blogosphere day.


  1. The priest who gave first communion to my severely retarded son asked if he could understand transsubstantiation before doing so. My response: More easily than the rest of us because he has no logical structures in his mind to impede his understanding.

  2. Elizabeth,

    Many thanks for the sharing.

    The mystery of the Eucharist is actually the central mystery of the Catholic Church. Mortal beings like us cannot expect to understand it after just one reading or some explanation from some religious…what more little children and often, religious jargon.

    I concur with you that many of us has certain mindsets or conditioning that makes it somewhat more challenging for us to perceive, beyond the physical senses, the substance of the bread and wine in the Eucharist. That’s what they call faith, I guess.

    As Catholics, we simply take Jesus, i.e., God, at His Word when He said that the bread is His Body and the wine is His Blood.

    As children take on things, learn and absorb teachings from their parents at face value, we are also called to be like little children…by who else but God, Our Father in Heaven.

    I remember teaching my kids that the Eucharist represents the climax of all healing – as the bread and wine is being consecrated; there is a spiritual transformation in each person attending. I would teach them to simply visualize Jesus elevating His Body and His Blood…and there would be this white light radiating into our hearts, melting away all the sad stuff, continuing right through our body…washing…healing…making us beautiful once again.

    At the end of the day, through the Eucharist, receiving Jesus with a heart of humility and simplicity, we are made part of the Body of Christ and truly become sons (and daughters) of the living God.

    Praying that the Lord will continue to hold your son and family in the palm of His hands and grant all with the gift of peace, love and healing, in His time.