The Eucharist: Source and Summit of Catholic Christian Faith

This blog post today is about something that brings us Catholics great joy.  It also a source of confusion for my Protestant brethren.  I love them dearly.  They have a zeal for revealing Christ to those who need it that I only wish some of my Catholic Christian brethren had.  But I can’t see how they could be so blind to this concept, which Scripture shows quite clearly.  I can’t give book, chapter, and verse like my Catholic and Protestant brethren can since I don’t have it that well memorized.  But I do know what Jesus has said and not said in Scripture.

First, Jesus said to the people: “Unless you eat of the Flesh of the Son of Man and drink of His Blood, you shall not have life within you.”  And the people knew what he was asking, although most thought he was preaching that the way to eternal life was cannibalism and so a lot of people, not wishing to cannibalize  Jesus, left.  Probably with thoughts along the lines of “I’m not roasting this guy’s flesh and drinking his blood like some kind of vampire!  No way!  This Jesus dude is ’round the twist if he thinks that doing so with his is the way to eternal life!”  But they left before they Heard Jesus clarify Himself.  So for those that stayed to listen to him continue, not having jumped to any conclusions, He said: “My Flesh is true Food, and My Blood true Drink.”

And then at the last supper Jesus Himself instituted what true food is to serve as the flesh of His Precious Body and which true drink is to serve as His Precious Blood: unleavened bread and wine respectively.  In the book of Matthew, chapter 26, Christ broke the bread and gave it to His disciples and said: “Take this, all of you, and eat, for this is my body….”

And then He took the cup, and gave it to His disciples saying: “Drink from this, all of you, for this is my blood, the blood of the new and everlasting covenant, which is to be poured out for many, for the forgiveness of sins.

He then instituted this to be a sacrament celebrated for all time by saying “Do this in remembrance of me.”

But the passage that I think gives greatest witness to the real presence of Christ Himself in the Eucharist is in St. Paul’s letter to the Corinthians (1 Cor. 11:27,29):

“Therefore, whoever eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord unworthily will have to answer for the Body and Blood of the Lord…..for anyone who eats and drinks without discerning the body eats and drinks judgment upon himself.”

Wow.  I ask, does mere bread and wine alone have that power, the power to hold people accountable to the Lord’s Body and Blood?  No.  But bread and wine being used by Christ to make Himself physically apparent to the faithful does.  After the words of consecration according to sacred Scripture itself, the bread and wine ceases to be merely bread and wine and becomes Christ Himself, present in body and blood, soul and divinity, appearing to us in the form of bread and wine.  This is why we as Catholics cannot just dump what is leftover from Mass down the regular drain which goes to the local waste water treatment facility.  Because this is Christ we’re dealing with now.  Christ’s flesh is now in every particle of that bread and His Blood in every drop of that wine.  We cannot in good conscience dispose of Him as waste.  We first rinse out the sacred vessels into a Sacrarium, which is a sink but one that drains into the ground.  THEN we wash the vessels in a regular sink with soap and water.  And, from the very words of Scripture itself, this is why it’s a grave sin to do things like defecate on a consecrated host.  I could defecate on all the unconsecrated hosts I darn well please.  No sin would be committed though the supply of hosts to be used for Masses would be in jeopardy.  But if I were to defecate on a consecrated host, that’s a grave sin.  I just defecated on Christ Himself.  That, my friends, is a whole different ball game.  To do so knowingly incurs the penalty of excommunication automatically.

The passages of Scripture itself only serve to reinforce my faith that when I gaze upon the Blessed Sacrament in adoration, that I gaze in awe and wonder at the power of God who loves us so much that not only did He die for us, but he gave us a gift that lives on, the gift of His Body and Blood under the appearance of bread and wine.  Such awesome power that were He to reveal His full power to us mere mortals, our physical senses would be completely and totally unprepared for processing it.  Say what you will about faith.  Call it a fairy tale if you must.  I daresay I’ve been called worse for my beliefs.  But there is one thing that faith gives us that reason on its own power cannot: the power to live not as we wish but as we ought and the power to use our gift of reason in wise and ethical ways.  I’ve seen the incredible and miraculous changes that human beings have undergone when they gaze upon that sense perceptible sign of the sacrifice of the Lamb of God for such belief to be purely the signs of mere myth.  Incredible.