The Eucharist; Real Presence of Christ
I have written some articles regarding the Blood of Christ that portrays the reasons why we as Roman Catholics need to adhere to the teaching of the Church on this elaborate truth. My surprise, as with many other Catholics, is the problem from the pews which revolves around misunderstanding the Transubstantiation. The attitude of “who cares” by those who attend Mass and receive the Host during Communion is disheartening. To many the elements of bread and wine are just that; symbols of the Last Supper. What has occurred in our Catholic Church and the catechesis that explains the real presence of Christ in the Eucharist has become a challenge.
One simple explanation is the willingness of students to get through another session of mandatory education to fulfill a requirement in order to get confirmed is like a checklist of steps accomplished on a record of do’s or don’t’s. These classes are not Catholic 101 absorbing information about the church and being able to pass another exam and ultimately graduating as an adult in spiritual formation. With all the different theological premises we might be exposed to, the Holy Eucharist and its very basic criterion is deeper than a class exercise. Our very souls depend on belief in the Truth learned and lived as a Roman Catholic. When the facets of the Eucharist become just another subject to be inserted in a loose-leaf folder to be looked at later in life, we are in trouble as we mature.
Have you ever wondered why the church does not allow intinction by laypeople during distribution of holy communion? The wine is no longer wine but the Precious Blood of Christ. After communion when the priest is cleaning the vessels used and scrupulously wipes the chalice ensuring every drop of precious blood is consumed so that the drops remaining are not washed away by accident. This is real blood, the Blood of Christ. We take all precaution that one drop is not lost or dropped by intinction, or when ablution is carefully performed when cleaning the sacred vessels after communion.
The statistics that stand out are troubling to those who hold the Eucharist as Absolute Truth (one of my articles) and gives concern as to what we are teaching our children about “This is my Body”. From the Pew Study, 69% of all self-identified Catholics said they believed the bread and wine used at Mass are not Jesus, but instead “symbols of the Body and Blood of Jesus Christ”. The other 31% believe in the real presence of Jesus in the Eucharist, known as transubstantiation.
Many might have heard about the miracle of Lanciano where a priest Fr. Peter of Prague who struggled with his faith in the Most Holy Eucharist. In 750 AD he made a pilgrimage to Rome and on his way stopped at the tomb of St. Christina to offer Mass. At the words of “This is my Body” the Host began to bleed. Blood fell onto his hands and the white corporal. He stopped the Mass and went to the residence of Pope Urban IV and told him what had happened. From this experience the Feast of Corpus Christi was inaugurated. In 1970, 1200 years later, scientists began to examine the miraculous substances, and in 1973, the World Health Organization of the United Nations began an examination. The results were:
The coagulated substance is human blood, AB type, with the same protein distribution as found in normal, fresh blood.
The Host is human muscular stirred tissue of the myocardium, left ventricle (heart) arteries, veins, the branch of the vagus nerve and adipose all can be identified.
Like the blood, the flesh is also fresh, living tissue, because it responded rapidly to all the clinical reactions distinctive of living beings.
Most remarkably, the blood is divided into five unequal-sized parts, and yet each part weighs exactly the same 15.85 g, and all parts together also weigh the same 15.85g.
There are many recorded instances of miraculous examples, but to reach the main thrust of this article lets take a look at the Crucifixion. I have heard by many who say that the Eucharist is like receiving the Spirit of Christ and it is just the same as Protestant denominations. Really?
Was the carrying of the cross on the Via Del Corso a spirit or flesh and blood? Who did the Roman soldier nail to the cross? A spirit! When the cross was uprighted and Jesus died; was it a spirit or flesh and blood that died?
If the Crucified Christ was a man, consisting of flesh and blood, it was not a spirit who Rose from the dead. Jesus said to his disciples: “Look at my hands and my feet, that it is I myself. Touch me and see, because a ghost does not have flash and bones as you can see I have.” (Lk. 24: 39).
The Eucharistic species is not spirit, but human with DNA and blood type. The only difference is they never die. That is why the left-over elements are always preserved in the tabernacle. This is the reason Roman Catholics only receive communion in Catholic Churches, while others are denied; not because they may not be worthy but they do not adhere to the Real Presence in their communion celebrations. Their’s is a simple remembrance of the Last Supper, but only a symbol. The Catholic Catechism proclaims that following the dictates of Jesus to eat his flesh and drink his blood has eternal life.
As Jesus describes in the text on the bread of life in John Chapter 6, so we adhere to the same theological premise. Notice that most if not all protestant preachers side-step this chapter of John. It is the basic teaching on the Eucharist from the bible.
Ralph B. Hathaway, The Holy Eucharist, September 2021