Wednesday, November 29, 2006

"Words can't describe"

Here are some recent comments from anonymous bloggers about the Eucharist:

"It is a gift from God to be able to experience and partake in the Eucharist as it was intended. And not everyone gets it, which is something that is hard for me to understand."

"From lots of entries on this blog about the Eucharist etc, this takes some (Catholics) many years, if ever, to actually 'get.'"

"I don't get the whole real presence thing."

Thank you all for your comments. Firstly, it is very good that we are discussing this on here because we are at least trying to process one of the great mysteries of our faith. Something has registered in our minds and hearts that the presence of Christ in the Eucharist is REAL. For many people, nothing ever registers, as some of you have acknowledged.

Secondly, there is a difference between BELIEVING THAT and UNDERSTANDING HOW the Eucharist is truly Jesus' Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity. When I write about people 'getting it' about the Eucharist, I am usually referring to them BELIEVING THAT it is true. I don't understand HOW it is true, but I believe THAT it is true. It comes down to four words: "This is my body". Jesus says it, and I believe it. He doesn't tell us that we need to understand the Eucharist, and he knows we never will because of our finite, limited intellects. But, he does tell us to believe and receive the Eucharist.

Thirdly, why is it that so many don't 'get it' about the Eucharist? As I've mentioned before, statistics from years ago revealed that 70% of Catholics don't believe in the Real Presence; they believe it is a symbol only of Christ's flesh and blood. I truly believe this is the case because so many Catholics don't know the teaching. Culpability about the ignorance of most Catholics about the Eucharist lies with both clergy and laity.

By and large, people don't know a) what Christ taught about the Eucharist (John 6), b) what the Church teaches (transubstantiation), and c) what really happens at Mass (Consecration). In scores of conversations with people over the years, I have found that when people hear these things, the "light" goes on, and they "get it". And when they "get it", it doesn't just stay in their minds: it leads them to a real encounter with the Real Presence. It leads them to receive the Eucharist in their heart, body, and soul.

The Mass is the greatest encounter we have with the Eucharist because we become one with the Risen flesh of our Lord (in much the same way a husband and wife become one flesh). If we open our hearts and minds to what is said and done during Mass, then we will have a deep and profound encounter with our Lord in Holy Communion. We will be inundated by his Grace - whether we feel it or not - and be one with Love, Peace, Joy, and Mercy. Whether the Grace will be fruitful in us does require our openness. Grace builds on nature; for the grace of the Eucharist to be fruitful, we have to be open to it. I would recommend attending a weekday Mass for those who are struggling with the Eucharist.

Another great way to experience Christ's presence in the Eucharist is Adoration. This generally means praying in front of the tabernacle in Church; some times, however, the Eucharist is brought out of the tabernacle and exposed in a monstrance. We do this "exposed Adoration" every Friday night here at St. A's for an hour (7-8 pm). It is a moving and awesome experience! Words can't describe what it's like to be in the presence of Christ, and to be able to see Him. Like daily Mass, I would recommend Adoration to anyone who desires to have a stronger faith and love for Jesus in the Eucharist.

1 comment:

Alison said...

Greg,

I teach third-grade at a Catholic school and some of my girls say the most amazing things about the faith and about the Eucharist. One of my students very frankly admitted last week that it is very hard to believe that the Eucharist is the body of Christ. Why, she wanted to know, does it still taste like bread?

Thanks to excellent GW catechesis, I was able to tell her about substance and accidents (believe it or not, these brilliant nine year-olds follow such things fairly well). And I could remind her that the Real Presence is a revealed truth, not a natural one--we know it because God and the Church tells us. It's a matter of faith.

I'm so glad that I was taught how to answer this type of question. It makes me really sad to realize that many CCD teachers seem unable/unwilling to really take the time to explain these things, prefering the "that's just the way it is" attitude. Thanks for the role you played in answering my questions while I was converting!