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Archive for the ‘The Eucharist’ Category

From Frank Sheed’s book, Theology for Beginners:

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 marvelously 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 want 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.

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The old name for the Thursday of Holy week is Maundy Thursday – from the Latin word ‘mande’, meaning mandate or command. On this day, Jesus gave us, through the disciples, several commands:

  • the command to serve one another, as he served the disciples when he washed their feet
  • the new commandment – to love one another as Jesus has loved us
  • the command to offer the Eucharist – ‘do this in remembrance of Me’.

Alyce McKenzie, in an article on Patheos, says this about the footwashing:

…to allow Jesus to touch our feet is to allow him to touch our will. We all have a mind; we all have emotions; and we all have a will—our decision making power. Our feet are how we put our decisions in motion and get places, do things. We can think about doing something. “I think I’ll go to her father’s memorial service out of respect for her.” We can feel we ought to do something. “I have a feeling it would be a good thing to do.” But if we are going to actually show up and walk up to her afterward and offer a comforting embrace, our feet have to be involved.

To allow Jesus to cleanse our feet is to remove all that prevents us from using our feet to follow him. To scrub away our insecurities, to wash away our weariness, to buff off our bitterness…

If we don’t allow him to cleanse our feet, our story with him stops now. The week goes on, but we have chosen darkness rather than light. Jesus’ words to Peter are also addressed to us: “Unless I wash you, you have no share in me” (Jn. 13:8).

Not everybody in this story wants Jesus’ hands on their feet. Peter didn’t. Pilate didn’t. Caiaphas didn’t. Pilate chose to use his feet to pace about his palace, back and forth in front of his medicine cabinet, searching for some salve for his sore conscience. Peter chose to use his feet to stand by a fire warming himself while denying his Lord.

Just before this foot-washing scene, Jesus says to his disciples, “Whoever sees me sees the one who sent me.”

It is the Son of God who takes off his outer robe, ties a towel around himself, and now kneels before you requesting the honor of washing your feet in the hopes that, this year, he will not have to walk the hard, uphill road that lies before him all by himself.

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The text below was written by Mrs Ironic Catholic, and published in 2006 on http://www.ironiccatholic.com.

Blessed sacrament factsWashington, D.C. — The Food and Drug Administration has rejected the Nutrition Facts label submitted by the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops in order to comply with FDA regulations, a USCCB spokeswoman said today. The action was likely to exacerbate the dispute between the Church and the agency following the agency’s ruling last month that the Eucharist, in both species, falls under FDA oversight.

“We submitted what we believe to be a factually accurate label,” said USCCB spokeswoman Sr. Mary Jane Waltz. “Ontologically speaking, it reflects the reality of what the faithful are consuming when they receive the Eucharist.”

But FDA regulators were “not amused” by the label, which listed as ingredients the “Body and Blood, soul and divinity” of Jesus Christ. The label also included a detailed list of the graces received with reception of the Eucharist.

“The agency wishes to respect the religious beliefs of Catholics,” said FDA spokesman Sammy Bonk. “But given that some 38 million people are consuming the Church’s bread and wine on a weekly basis, we feel that it is well within our authority to ensure that consumers are informed about exactly what they’re ingesting. A simple ‘wheat’ would suffice for the ingredients list, along with a basic nutritional analysis. We just don’t see the need to complicate this. We didn’t get any grief from the Unitarians.”

“Of course, the Unitarians don’t believe in the Real Presence of Christ in the Eucharist,” Waltz clarified.

At issue, according to Bishop Harry Barrington, is whether the nutrition facts label applies to the bread and wine before or after consecration. “If we’re talking pre-consecration here, well, no problem,” he said. “But we don’t distribute unconsecrated bread and wine at communion. As the Council of Trent taught, the substance of the bread changes into the substance of our Lord’s body, and the substance of the wine changes into the substance of our Lord’s blood. Frankly, we think that the government is overreaching its authority by trying to regulate the Divine Presence.”

The Church plans to appeal the agency’s ruling. Meanwhile, speculation is running rampant about whether the agency will expand its oversight by classifying chrism oil as a schedule III controlled substance, given its supernatural powers.

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I found a blog new to me, when I followed a link to this article:

There is an estimated (at least) 350,000 Catholic Masses celebrated every day on planet Earth. It is celebrated in every nook and cranny on the planet, by every race and nationality, and using every language. And each of these Masses is celebrated (generally) using the same scripture readings and the same prayers.

Every single one of these 350,000 Masses is actually doing exactly what Jesus said to do in scripture (Luke 22:19, 1 Cor 11:23-29) when he said “Do this in memory of me.” Catholics live that out as a Church over 350,000 times a day. That means there are 4 priests saying those precise words, “Do this in memory of me,” every single second of every single day.

Every one of these Masses is literally and continually making present Christ’s (once and for all) sacrifice on Calvary for all mankind. At any second you can join your own prayers to one. And we don’t only worship in union with those still living here on Earth, we are also joined by heaven’s saints and angels at every Mass.

When you participate in a Catholic Mass, you are participating in the same celebration as these other 350,000 daily Masses all over the world (you wanna talk about a “mega-church”?). We are all joined in the same readings and prayers and we partake of the same, specific Eucharist. And the rest of the time, when we are living out our faith outside of Mass, there are (literally) a billion other Catholics around the world continually offering it up on our behalf.

Now that’s unity (John 17:11). That’s communion.

Fallible Blogma is the name of the blog. I love the latest post – Encouragement. Watch the video; I was glad I did.

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Msgr Pope of the Archdiocese of Washington says this on his blog post for Corpus Cristi:

Somehow what we eat through the miraculous process of digestion becomes the very stuff of which we are made. It is the same with receiving Jesus in Holy Communion. If we are faithful and receive him fruitfully we gradually become the one we receive. If you have been faithful to Holy Communion for years then you know this is true.

I can say that I have seen sins put to death in me, virtues come alive, and am gradually experiencing that Jesus’ life is replacing my own. Jesus is more and more the very one I am becoming.

Do you have a similar witness? Ask the Holy Spirit to show you how your faithful reception of Communion has been changing your life. And then start to tell your children and grandchildren. Jesus warns, “Unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his Blood, you have no life in you.” (Jn 6:53).

Warn your relatives who are away and tell them what Jesus says of those who do not receive Holy Communion, that they have no life and are starving themselves to death spiritually. But don’t just warn them. Be prepared to tell them how you have greater life on account of the Eucharist. Tell your story, your experience.  

And he illustrated with this beautiful video – look at the faces of the children as they receive their Lord; and note the little girl wearing a scapular.

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Thanks to the Anchoress for pointing me to this quote from Servant of God Walter Ciszek, S.J., an American Jesuit interned in a Soviet labor camp for many years on the (false) suspicion of espionage:

When I reached the prison camps of Siberia, I learned to my great joy that it was possible to say Mass daily once again. In every camp, the priests and prisoners would go to great lengths, run risks willingly, just to have the consolation of this sacrament. For those who could not get to Mass, we daily consecrated hosts and arranged for the distribution of Communion to those who wished to receive. Our risk of discovery, of course, was greater in the barracks, because of the lack of privacy and the presence of informers. Most often, therefore, we said our daily Mass somewhere at the work site during the noon break.

Despite this added hardship, everyone observed a strict Eucharistic fast from the night before, passing up a chance for breakfast and working all morning on an empty stomach. Yet no one complained. In small groups the prisoners would shuffle into the assigned place, and there the priest would say Mass in his working clothes, unwashed, disheveled, bundled up against the cold.

We said Mass in draftystorage shacks, or huddled in mud and slush in the corner of a building site foundation of an underground. The intensity of devotion of both priests and prisoners made up for everything; there were no altars, candles, bells, flowers, music, snow-white linens, stained glass or the warmth that even the simplest parish church could offer. Yet in these primitive conditions, the Mass brought you closer to God than anyone might conceivably imagine. The realization of what was happening on the board, box, or stone used in the place of an altar penetrated deep into the soul. Distractions caused by the fear of discovery, which accompanied each saying of the Mass under such conditions, took nothing away from the effect that the tiny bit of bread and few drops of consecrated wine produced upon the soul.

Many a time, as I folded up the handkerchief on which the body of our Lord had lain, and dried the glass or tin cup used as a chalice, the feeling of having performed something tremendously valuable for the people of this Godless country was overpowering. Just the thought of having celebrated Mass here, in this spot, made my journey to the Soviet Union and the sufferings I endured seem totally worthwhile and necessary. No other inspiration could have deepened my faith more, could have given me spiritual courage in greater abundance, than the privilege of saying Mass for these poorest and most deprived members of Christ the Good Shepherd’s flock.

I was occasionally overcome with emotion for a moment as I thought of how he had found a way to follow and to feed these lost and straying sheep in this most desolate land. So I never let a day pass without saying Mass; it was my primary concern each new day. I would go to any length, suffer any inconvenience, run any risk to make the bread of life available to these men.”

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