Presence of the Lord in the Eucharist
By Vic Biorseth, http://www.Thinking-Catholic-Strategic-Center.com
Eucharist is my foundation, my grounding in the Catholic faith; Jesus truly present in the Eucharist is what keeps me sane, on the path and in the Way, no matter what I encounter in this world.
How can I so willingly accept the disdainful title of “bread worshiper” and openly state that I truly believe that that little wafer up there at the front of the church is God?
Well, Jesus said it. That’s good enough for me.
Let’s begin at John; open your bible to John 6:30 (or, go to Bible Browse (RSV) (Opens in a New Window) and browse down to John 6:30 in another window) and follow along. We will look at the actual words of Jesus on the subject. He repeatedly refers to Himself as come down from Heaven, asmanna from Heaven, as food, as drink, as required for life, and as offeringeverlasting life to those who accept what He says.
Verse 30: The followers ask Jesus for a sign, indicating that Moses gave bread to the people in the desert, so what could Jesus do. Our Lord told them it was not Moses, but God who gave them the manna, and that the bread of God is that which comes down from heaven and gives life to the world.
Jesus as Eucharist: 1
He then told them, the first time, “I am the bread of life; he who comes to me shall not hunger, and he who believes in me shall never thirst.”
Jesus as Eucharist: 2
In verse 38 He said, a second time, “For I have come down from heaven, not to do my own will, but the will of him who sent me; . . . ”
At this many murmured at Him because He said He was the bread which came down from heaven.
Jesus as Eucharist: 3
And He said, a third time, “Do not murmur among yourselves. No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him; and I will raise him up at the last day. It is written in the prophets, `And they shall all be taught by God.’ Every one who has heard and learned from the Father comes to me.”
Jesus as Eucharist: 4
And He said, a fourth time, “Not that any one has seen the Father except him who is from God; he has seen the Father. Truly, truly, I say to you, he who believes has eternal life.”
Jesus as Eucharist: 5
And He said, a fifth time, “I am the bread of life. Your fathers ate the manna in the wilderness, and they died.”
Jesus as Eucharist: 6
And He said, a sixth time, “This is the bread which comes down from heaven, that a man may eat of it and not die.”
Jesus as Eucharist: 7
And He said, a seventh time, “I am the living bread which came down from heaven; if any one eats of this bread, he will live for ever; and the bread which I shall give for the life of the world is my flesh.”
Then they disputed among themselves, saying how can this man give us his flesh to eat?
Jesus as Eucharist: 8
And He tied the teaching to salvation, when He said, an eighth time, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of man and drink his blood, you have no life in you;”
Jesus as Eucharist: 9
Then He said, a ninth time, “he who eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day.”
Jesus as Eucharist: 10
Then He said, a tenth time, “For my flesh is food indeed, and my blood is drink indeed.”
Jesus as Eucharist: 11
Then He said, an eleventh time, “He who eats my flesh and drinks my blood abides in me, and I in him.”
Jesus as Eucharist: 12
Then He said, a twelfth time, “As the living Father sent me, and I live because of the Father, so he who eats me will live because of me.”
Jesus as Eucharist: 13
Then He said, a thirteenth time, “This is the bread which came down from heaven, not such as the fathers ate and died; he who eats this bread will live for ever.”
At this many of his followers said this was a hard teaching, and questioned who could follow it. He spoke again, as He did many times in Scripture, about choosing between the flesh (meaning the world and death) and the spirit (meaning the Kingdom and life) but many of His followers left Him and followed Him no more.
He didn’t call them back. He turned to those remaining, including the Twelve, and issued them the stinging challenge: “Do you also wish to go away?”
And Simon Peter answered for them, saying “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life; and we have believed, and have come to know, that you are the Holy One of God.”
Note well that Peter didn’t say that he understood what was taught; how could anyone understand such a mysterious, other-worldly thing? But, what Peter did understand was exactly Who was doing the teaching. He accepted it because Jesus taught it, pure and simple.
And, it must be remarked, Jesus taught it in no uncertain terms. Thirteen times He referred to Himself as food, drink, demanding to be eaten, as coming down from Heaven, as being sent by the Father, in ever increasingly strong terms.
There is absolutely no way to misinterpret what He was saying here. Such sentences as my flesh is true food and my blood is true drink most certainly do not present the language of metaphor. Neither is the term “he who eats (Greek: trogon)” the language of metaphor; it is very crude and direct, and the only reasonable translation is literal.
If He were speaking figuratively, then, in accordance with Hebrew culture at the time, eating one’s flesh and drinking one’s blood was figuratively meant to say to injure someone’s character by slander or libel or calumny; speaking figuratively here makes no sense.
He meant what He said. You can’t get around it.
If you want to understand the Catholic teaching on the Eucharist, this is the Scriptural beginning point. Read and re-read the Eucharistic discourse in John 6 until you are fairly comfortable with the information it gives you. Then you will be ready for the next step.
Jesus said that He was “Bread from Heaven,” that His flesh was food, that His blood was drink, and that, unless we eat of Him and drink of Him, we do not “have life.” So, according to His teaching, we are called upon to actually eat His flesh and to drink His blood.
And the question naturally arises, how, exactly, are we going to do that little trick?
With that question firmly in mind, we are now ready to explore the other Eucharistic passages in the synoptic Gospels, and in the rest of the New Testament. Keep the question in mind; write it down on a note pad if necessary.
Some Protestant objections to the universal Catholic teaching on the Presence of Christ in the Eucharist stem from the “do this in remembrance of me” passages attached to the Eucharistic discourses in Luke and 1 Corinthians. Which, in their interpretation, makes the Eucharist merely some kind of memorial not involving in any way the flesh and blood of our Lord. What they totally ignore is the literal interpretation of the word “is” each time our Lord says “this is my body” and “this is my blood”. Interestingly, many of them interpret so much of the Bible literally, but cannot accept the literal interpretations of the Eucharistic discourses.
Keep the question in mind. You’ve been instructed by Jesus to eat His flesh and drink His blood, if you want life in you, else you do not have life. Exactly how are you going to do as instructed by Jesus Himself? That’s the question.
Turn to Matthew 26:26. Here it is:
“Now as they were eating, Jesus took bread, and blessed, and broke it, and gave it to the disciples and said, “Take, eat; this is my body.” And he took a cup, and when he had given thanks he gave it to them, saying, “Drink of it, all of you; for this is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins. I tell you I shall not drink again of this fruit of the vine until that day when I drink it new with you in my Father’s kingdom.” And when they had sung a hymn, they went out to the Mount of Olives.”
Then, turn to Mark 14:22. Here it is:
“And as they were eating, he took bread, and blessed, and broke it, and gave it to them, and said, “Take; this is my body.” And he took a cup, and when he had given thanks he gave it to them, and they all drank of it. And he said to them, “This is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many. Truly, I say to you, I shall not drink again of the fruit of the vine until that day when I drink it new in the kingdom of God.” And when they had sung a hymn, they went out to the Mount of Olives.”
Then, turn to Luke 22:19. Here it is:
“And he said to them, “I have earnestly desired to eat this passover with you before I suffer; for I tell you I shall not eat it until it is fulfilled in the kingdom of God.” And he took a cup, and when he had given thanks he said, “Take this, and divide it among yourselves; for I tell you that from now on I shall not drink of the fruit of the vine until the kingdom of God comes.” And he took bread, and when he had given thanks he broke it and gave it to them, saying, “This is my body which is given for you. Do this in remembrance of me.” And likewise the cup after supper, saying, “This cup which is poured out for you is the new covenant in my blood.”
Then, turn to 1 Corinthians 11:24. Here it is:
“For I received from the Lord what I also delivered to you, that the Lord Jesus on the night when he was betrayed took bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it, and said, “This is my body which is for you. Do this in remembrance of me.” In the same way also the cup, after supper, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood. Do this, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of me.” For as often as you eat this bread and drink the cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until he comes.”
Now, the very next verses undo the Protestant claim that Eucharist does not contain the sacred body and blood of our Lord. From verse 27 on:
“Whoever, therefore, eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner will be guilty of profaning the body and blood of the Lord. Let a man examine himself, and so eat of the bread and drink of the cup. For any one who eats and drinks without discerning the body eats and drinks judgment upon himself.”
So, if we come to the altar not discerning the body of Christ, we eat our own judgment. Consider also Paul’s admonition in 1 Corinthians 10:16:
“The cup of blessing which we bless, is it not a participation in the blood of Christ? The bread which we break, is it not a participation in the body of Christ?”
Now, I’m no great Scripture scholar, I’m just a Catholic layman; but Protestants I’ve discussed this with seem to know a lot less Scripture than Protestants are publicly touted to know. If Christ meant that all the different Eucharistic discourses were meant to be taken as “this issymbolically my body” then why didn’t he explicitly say that, at least once, somewhere? What He said, repeatedly, was, this is my body. If He didn’t mean that, then, just exactly what did He mean?
Doctrine of the Real Presence in the Eucharist
The doctrine of the Real Presence asserts that in the Holy Eucharist, Jesus is literally and wholly present — body and blood, soul and divinity — under the appearances of bread and wine. The biblical foundation for this doctrine is so solid as to be irrefutable. The early Church Fathers interpreted these passages quite literally.
Ignatius of Antioch, on the true presence in the Eucharist:
(Letter to the Romans 7:3 [A.D. 110]): “I have no taste for corruptible food nor for the pleasures of this life. I desire the bread of God, which is the flesh of Jesus Christ, who was of the seed of David; and for drink I desire his blood, which is love incorruptible”.
(Letter to the Smyrnaeans 6:2–7:1 [A.D. 110]): “Take note of those who hold heterodox opinions on the grace of Jesus Christ which has come to us, and see how contrary their opinions are to the mind of God. . . . They abstain from the Eucharist and from prayer because they do not confess that the Eucharist is the flesh of our Savior Jesus Christ, flesh which suffered for our sins and which that Father, in his goodness, raised up again. They who deny the gift of God are perishing in their disputes”.
Justin Martyr, on the true presence in the Eucharist:
(First Apology 66 [A.D. 151]): “We call this food Eucharist, and no one else is permitted to partake of it, except one who believes our teaching to be true and who has been washed in the washing which is for the remission of sins and for regeneration [i.e., has received baptism] and is thereby living as Christ enjoined. For not as common bread nor common drink do we receive these; but since Jesus Christ our Savior was made incarnate by the word of God and had both flesh and blood for our salvation, so too, as we have been taught, the food which has been made into the Eucharist by the Eucharistic prayer set down by him, and by the change of which our blood and flesh is nurtured, is both the flesh and the blood of that incarnated Jesus”.
Irenaeus, on the true presence in the Eucharist:
(Against Heresies 4:33–32 [A.D. 189]): “If the Lord were from other than the Father, how could he rightly take bread, which is of the same creation as our own, and confess it to be his body and affirm that the mixture in the cup is his blood?”
(ibid., 5:2): “He has declared the cup, a part of creation, to be his own blood, from which he causes our blood to flow; and the bread, a part of creation, he has established as his own body, from which he gives increase unto our bodies. When, therefore, the mixed cup [wine and water] and the baked bread receives the Word of God and becomes the Eucharist, the body of Christ, and from these the substance of our flesh is increased and supported, how can they say that the flesh is not capable of receiving the gift of God, which is eternal life—flesh which is nourished by the body and blood of the Lord, and is in fact a member of him?”
Clement of Alexandria, on the true presence in the Eucharist:
(The Instructor of Children 1:6:43:3 [A.D. 191]): “’Eat my flesh,’ [Jesus] says, ‘and drink my blood.’ The Lord supplies us with these intimate nutrients, he delivers over his flesh and pours out his blood, and nothing is lacking for the growth of his children”.
Tertullian, on the true presence in the Eucharist:
(The Resurrection of the Dead 8 [A.D. 210]): “[T]here is not a soul that can at all procure salvation, except it believe whilst it is in the flesh, so true is it that the flesh is the very condition on which salvation hinges. And since the soul is, in consequence of its salvation, chosen to the service of God, it is the flesh which actually renders it capable of such service. The flesh, indeed, is washed [in baptism], in order that the soul may be cleansed . . . the flesh is shadowed with the imposition of hands [in confirmation], that the soul also may be illuminated by the Spirit; the flesh feeds [in the Eucharist] on the body and blood of Christ, that the soul likewise may be filled with God”.
Hippolytus, on the true presence in the Eucharist:
(Fragment from Commentary on Proverbs [A.D. 217]): “‘And she [Wisdom] has furnished her table’ [Prov. 9:2] . . . refers to his [Christ’s] honored and undefiled body and blood, which day by day are administered and offered sacrificially at the spiritual divine table, as a memorial of that first and ever-memorable table of the spiritual divine supper [i.e., the Last Supper]”.
Origen, on the true presence in the Eucharist:
(Homilies on Numbers 7:2 [A.D. 248]): “Formerly there was baptism in an obscure way . . . now, however, in full view, there is regeneration in water and in the Holy Spirit. Formerly, in an obscure way, there was manna for food; now, however, in full view, there is the true food, the flesh of the Word of God, as he himself says: ‘My flesh is true food, and my blood is true drink’ [John 6:55]”.
Cyprian of Carthage, on the true presence in the Eucharist:
(The Lapsed 15–16 [A.D. 251]): “He [Paul] threatens, moreover, the stubborn and forward, and denounces them, saying, ‘Whosoever eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord unworthily, is guilty of the body and blood of the Lord’ [1 Cor. 11:27]. All these warnings being scorned and condemned—[lapsed Christians will often take Communion] before their sin is expiated, before confession has been made of their crime, before their conscience has been purged by sacrifice and by the hand of the priest, before the offense of an angry and threatening Lord has been appeased, [and so] violence is done to his body and blood; and they sin now against their Lord more with their hand and mouth than when they denied their Lord”.
Council of Nicaea I, on the true presence in the Eucharist:
(Canon 18 [A.D. 325]): “It has come to the knowledge of the holy and great synod that, in some districts and cities, the deacons administer the Eucharist to the presbyters [i.e., priests], whereas neither canon nor custom permits that they who have no right to offer [the Eucharistic sacrifice] should give the Body of Christ to them that do offer [it]”.
Aphraahat the Persian Sage, on the true presence in the Eucharist:
(Treatises 12:6 [A.D. 340]): “After having spoken thus [at the Last Supper], the Lord rose up from the place where he had made the Passover and had given his body as food and his blood as drink, and he went with his disciples to the place where he was to be arrested. But he ate of his own body and drank of his own blood, while he was pondering on the dead. With his own hands the Lord presented his own body to be eaten, and before he was crucified he gave his blood as drink”.
Cyril of Jerusalem, on the true presence in the Eucharist:
(Catechetical Lectures 19:7 [A.D. 350]): “The bread and the wine of the Eucharist before the holy invocation of the adorable Trinity were simple bread and wine, but the invocation having been made, the bread becomes the body of Christ and the wine the blood of Christ”.
(ibid., 22:6, 9): “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. Even though the senses suggest to you the other, let faith make you firm. Do not judge in this matter by taste, but be fully assured by the faith, not doubting that you have been deemed worthy of the body and blood of Christ. . . . [Since you are] fully convinced that the apparent bread is not bread, even though it is sensible to the taste, but the body of Christ, and that the apparent wine is not wine, even though the taste would have it so, . . . partake of that bread as something spiritual, and put a cheerful face on your soul”.
Ambrose of Milan, on the true presence in the Eucharist:
(The Mysteries 9:50, 58 [A.D. 390]): “Perhaps you may be saying, ‘I see something else; how can you assure me that I am receiving the body of Christ?’ It but remains for us to prove it. And how many are the examples we might use! . . . Christ is in that sacrament, because it is the body of Christ”.
Theodore of Mopsuestia, on the true presence in the Eucharist:
(Catechetical Homilies 5:1 [A.D. 405]): “When [Christ] gave the bread he did not say, ‘This is the symbol of my body,’ but, ‘This is my body.’ In the same way, when he gave the cup of his blood he did not say, ‘This is the symbol of my blood,’ but, ‘This is my blood’; for he wanted us to look upon the [Eucharistic elements] after their reception of grace and the coming of the Holy Spirit not according to their nature, but receive them as they are, the body and blood of our Lord. We ought . . . not regard [the elements] merely as bread and cup, but as the body and blood of the Lord, into which they were transformed by the descent of the Holy Spirit”.
Augustine, on the true presence in the Eucharist:
(Explanations of the Psalms 33:1:10 [A.D. 405]): “Christ was carried in his own hands when, referring to his own body, he said, ‘This is my body’ [Matt. 26:26]. For he carried that body in his hands”.
(Sermons 227 [A.D. 411]): “I promised you [new Christians], who have now been baptized, a sermon in which I would explain the sacrament of the Lord’s Table. . . . That bread which you see on the altar, having been sanctified by the word of God, is the body of Christ. That chalice, or rather, what is in that chalice, having been sanctified by the word of God, is the blood of Christ”.
(ibid., 272): “What you see is the bread and the chalice; that is what your own eyes report to you. But what your faith obliges you to accept is that the bread is the body of Christ and the chalice is the blood of Christ. This has been said very briefly, which may perhaps be sufficient for faith; yet faith does not desire instruction”.
Council of Ephesus, on the true presence in the Eucharist:
(Session 1, Letter of Cyril to Nestorius [A.D. 431]): “We will necessarily add this also. Proclaiming the death, according to the flesh, of the only-begotten Son of God, that is Jesus Christ, confessing his resurrection from the dead, and his ascension into heaven, we offer the unbloody sacrifice in the churches, and so go on to the mystical thanksgivings, and are sanctified, having received his holy flesh and the precious blood of Christ the Savior of us all. And not as common flesh do we receive it; God forbid: nor as of a man sanctified and associated with the Word according to the unity of worth, or as having a divine indwelling, but as truly the life-giving and very flesh of the Word himself. For he is the life according to his nature as God, and when he became united to his flesh, he made it also to be life-giving”.
The Catechism of the Catholic Church, on the true presence in the Eucharist:
1373 “Christ Jesus, who died, yes, who was raised from the dead, who is at the right hand of God, who indeed intercedes for us,” is present in many ways to his Church: in his word, in his Church’s prayer, “where two or three are gathered in my name,” in the poor, the sick, and the imprisoned, in the sacraments of which he is the author, in the sacrifice of the Mass, and in the person of the minister. But “he is present . . . most especially in the Eucharistic species.”
1374 The mode of Christ’s presence under the Eucharistic species is unique. It raises the Eucharist above all the sacraments as “the perfection of the spiritual life and the end to which all the sacraments tend.” In the most blessed sacrament of the Eucharist “the body and blood, together with the soul and divinity, of our Lord Jesus Christ and, therefore, the whole Christ is truly, really, and substantially contained.” “This presence is called ‘real’ – by which is not intended to exclude the other types of presence as if they could not be ‘real’ too, but because it is presence in the fullest sense: that is to say, it is a substantial presence by which Christ, God and man, makes himself wholly and entirely present.”
1375 It is by the conversion of the bread and wine into Christ’s body and blood that Christ becomes present in this sacrament. The Church Fathers strongly affirmed the faith of the Church in the efficacy of the Word of Christ and of the action of the Holy Spirit to bring about this conversion. Thus St. John Chrysostom declares:
It is not man that causes the things offered to become the Body and Blood of Christ, but he who was crucified for us, Christ himself. The priest, in the role of Christ, pronounces these words, but their power and grace are God’s. This is my body, he says. This word transforms the things offered.
And St. Ambrose says about this conversion:
Be convinced that this is not what nature has formed, but what the blessing has consecrated. The power of the blessing prevails over that of nature, because by the blessing nature itself is changed…. Could not Christ’s word, which can make from nothing what did not exist, change existing things into what they were not before? It is no less a feat to give things their original nature than to change their nature.
1376 The Council of Trent summarizes the Catholic faith by declaring: “Because Christ our Redeemer said that it was truly his body that he was offering under the species of bread, it has always been the conviction of the Church of God, and this holy Council now declares again, that by the consecration of the bread and wine there takes place a change of the whole substance of the bread into the substance of the body of Christ our Lord and of the whole substance of the wine into the substance of his blood. This change the holy Catholic Church has fittingly and properly called transubstantiation.”
1377 The Eucharistic presence of Christ begins at the moment of the consecration and endures as long as the Eucharistic species subsist. Christ is present whole and entire in each of the species and whole and entire in each of their parts, in such a way that the breaking of the bread does not divide Christ.
1378 Worship of the Eucharist. In the liturgy of the Mass we express our faith in the real presence of Christ under the species of bread and wine by, among other ways, genuflecting or bowing deeply as a sign of adoration of the Lord. “The Catholic Church has always offered and still offers to the sacrament of the Eucharist the cult of adoration, not only during Mass, but also outside of it, reserving the consecrated hosts with the utmost care, exposing them to the solemn veneration of the faithful, and carrying them in procession.”
1379 The tabernacle was first intended for the reservation of the Eucharist in a worthy place so that it could be brought to the sick and those absent outside of Mass. As faith in the real presence of Christ in his Eucharist deepened, the Church became conscious of the meaning of silent adoration of the Lord present under the Eucharistic species. It is for this reason that the tabernacle should be located in an especially worthy place in the church and should be constructed in such a way that it emphasizes and manifests the truth of the real presence of Christ in the Blessed Sacrament.
1380 It is highly fitting that Christ should have wanted to remain present to his Church in this unique way. Since Christ was about to take his departure from his own in his visible form, he wanted to give us his sacramental presence; since he was about to offer himself on the cross to save us, he wanted us to have the memorial of the love with which he loved us “to the end,” even to the giving of his life. In his Eucharistic presence he remains mysteriously in our midst as the one who loved us and gave himself up for us, and he remains under signs that express and communicate this love.
The Church and the world have a great need for Eucharistic worship. Jesus awaits us in this sacrament of love. Let us not refuse the time to go to meet him in adoration, in contemplation full of faith, and open to making amends for the serious offenses and crimes of the world. Let our adoration never cease.
1381 “That in this sacrament are the true Body of Christ and his true Blood is something that ‘cannot be apprehended by the senses,’ says St. Thomas, ‘but only by faith, which relies on divine authority.’ For this reason, in a commentary on Luke 22:19 (‘This is my body which is given for you.’), St. Cyril says: ‘Do not doubt whether this is true, but rather receive the words of the Savior in faith, for since he is the truth, he cannot lie.'”
Godhead here in hiding, whom I do adore
Masked by these bare shadows, shape and nothing more,
See, Lord, at thy service low lies here a heart
Lost, all lost in wonder at the God thou art.
Seeing, touching, tasting are in thee deceived;
How says trusty hearing? That shall be believed;
What God’s Son has told me, take for truth I do;
Truth himself speaks truly or there’s nothing true.
True Presence in the Eucharist: Conclusion
If anyone out there has or can point out a longer, or more solidly documented, or more consistent historical teaching on the subject, show me. If the Roman Catholic teaching consistently goes back to and through the apostolic era and right on into Scripture, then it looks like it hasn’t ever changed, in the Church Christ founded. Any other interpretations are coming out of denominations that didn’t even exist until relatively modern times, long after the doctrine was solidly established and consistently practiced for many, many centuries.
By coming forward to receive Jesus in the Eucharist, we make three important statements of profound significance:
- We state not only that we are not in a state of mortal sin, but we consider ourselves to be in a state of grace worthy of even approaching the Lord.
- We state that we fully recognize the true Presence of our Lord, body, blood, soul and Divinity, under the appearances of common bread and wine.
- We state that we are fully and completely Catholic, as we participate in Communion and become what we eat – the Body of Christ – his whole Church. Which means that we fully accept all that the Church He founded safeguards, teaches and hands on to us.
One Protestant I remember arguing with (and, I learned later, many other Protestants in many other arguments have said virtually the same thing) said, Vic, if I really believed that was God up there, I would crawl on my belly down the aisle to receive Him. He had that part right.
Most of us take for granted the presence of the Lord, perhaps too much; it becomes a commonplace, a ritualized thing to do on Sundays and Holy Days.
But, sometimes, we need to take stock. That’s God up there. We ought to be crawling on our bellies down the aisle to receive Him.
Coming forward in the Eucharist to experience Communion with the Lord is, all at once, the most daring, the most humbling, and the most glorious thing any Catholic man can ever do.
Where are you in your walk, and how well do you recognize the miracle we participate in, involving as it does, actual, physical Communion with Jesus Christ, the Lord thy God, in the Eucharist? Have you fully recognized that we become what we eat, which is, the Body of Christ, His Church, with which we openly profess complete unity by daring to come to the Communion Rail? Do you make certain to have reconciled with any you have sinned against and with the Lord before you come forward to receive?
When I was a boy, an old nun told me that Jesus Christ – body, blood, soul and divinity – remains wholly within and part of me, personally, until the last fragment of physical Host is dissolved and gone. Which makes me, during that time, an actual Tabernacle of the Lord. This is, for me, the holiest of times; a time of silent contemplation and thanksgiving. I cannot sing during that time, or further participate in any other activity. Communion is the reason that the Mass has become my deepest prayer. Meditate upon the significance of it. And come worthily to the Receive the Lord, and live forever, as He faithfully promised. And He will raise you up on the last day.
Blessed be God forever; and thank you, Lord Jesus.
Encyclical Letter: Ecclesia De Eucharistia, of his holiness John Paul the Great.
Apostolic Letter: Rosarium Virginis Mariae, of his holiness John Paul the Great.
(In this letter, John Paul the Great introduced five new mysteries of the rosary, the Mysteries of Light. They include 1) His baptism in the Jordan; 2) His self-manifestation at the wedding at cana; 3) His proclamation of the Kingdom of God, with His call to conversion; 4) His Transfiguration; and, finally, 5) His institution of the Eucharist, as the sacramental expression of the Paschal Mystery.
All of these mysteries deserve attention in study, meditation and contemplation. His holiness gave us, in the fifth mystery, the sacrament of sacraments, ready to be plumbed to the depth of our souls, in recognition of the Truth of His Presence.)
God Is Near Us: The Eucharist, The Heart Of Life; Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger, currently Pope Benedict XVI; Ignatius Press.