Corpus Christi: The Real Presence of Jesus in the Eucharist

(repost)

Real Presence of Jesus in the Eucharist

Image by Icb (2015) via Pixabay, CCO Public Domain

I will never forget watching an episode of Women of Grace  on EWTN a while back where the guest speaker said that only 30% of Catholics believe in the real presence of Jesus in the Eucharist. This statistic shocked me. Belief in the Real Presence is a central and essential doctrine of our Catholic faith. Truly, the Real Presence is part of the foundation of our Catholic faith. In fact, it is a non-negotiable article of faith; to be Catholic one must believe in the real presence of Jesus in the Eucharist. However, the doctrine of the Eucharist remains a source of confusion and misunderstanding among Catholics and non-Catholics alike.

There are many passages in the Bible that deal with the Eucharist. Most of us are aware of the words of Jesus at the Last Supper (Matthew 26:26-30 and in all the gospels) and the “Bread of Life” discourse (John 6:22-69). The Catechism of the Catholic Church has whole sections that deal with the Eucharist (See Part 2, Section 2). Additionally, the Presence of Jesus in the Eucharist has been spoken about by many saints. I highly recommend that you take a look at these references for yourself and pray about them. For now, I just want to do is give you, in a nutshell, is what it means to believe in the Real Presence:

Believe in the Real Presence of Jesus in the Eucharist means that at the consecration at Mass the bread and wine is transformed into the very real body and blood, soul and divinity of Jesus Christ. Although the physical appearance of the bread and wine do not change, they are no longer bread and wine but Jesus Himself.

This is hard for many people to accept. That is why so many walked away from Jesus (see John 6:66-67) when He said those words and why many are still walking away from Him in our own time. How is it possible that Jesus can be contained in the Eucharist? How can this happen? Those are valid questions. However, it is a sublime mystery and we trust Jesus at His word. The mystery of the Eucharist is a miracle. It is a gift from God Himself out of love for us. With God, all things are possible – including Jesus making Himself present in the Eucharist!

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Give Yourself the Gift of Confession this Lent

Give Yourself the Gift of Confession this LentGo to confession. Truly.

Church teaching requires that Catholics go to confession at least once a year. However, to grow in the spiritual life, the Church encourages Catholics to go at least once a month (when I was young, we were encouraged to go every two weeks). But this post isn’t about the theology behind confession or Church teach.

You see, I love going to confession. Besides the Eucharist, Confession is my favorite sacrament. (Crazy, I know!) Don’t get me wrong, I still get nervous sometimes when I go to confession. I sometimes think I don’t have anything to say. And yes, I often confess the same things over again. But that’s okay!

When we go to Confession, we don’t just have our sins forgiven. We gain grace and strength to live out our womanly vocation. Additionally, depending on the priest, we can get some really good insights and/or advice. Even if we don’t, we still encounter Christ in a very real and profound way in Confession.

Sure, just like the liturgy, it is great if get to confess to a priest who is on fire for his faith and truly a vessel of Christ. But, sadly, that just isn’t always going to happen unless we are blessed to be in a parish with priests who understand the value of the sacrament. We just need to remember that no matter what vessel Jesus decides to use, it is JESUS we confess to in the Sacrament. Years ago, I read in a book that when we go to confession we “whisper into the ear of Jesus.” That has made such an impact on me and to this day I try to remember that when I go to confession.

Over the years, I have gone to confession to some wonderful priests and there have been times when I left the confessional wondering if the sacrament was valid! One day I realized that I have a choice. I know the priests in the area that I like and I try to make a point of confessing to them. Of course, I realize that I am blessed to live in an area where there are several churches with at least two priests in the parish. If you live in an area where that is not possible, please don’t let that stop you from the Sacrament. The grace is still there!

So please, if you can, please take the opportunity to go to confession. Here is a little blurb on how to make a good confession, if you need it.

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Three Cheers for Lent!

Three Cheers for Lent!Ash Wednesday is this week and as you can tell from the title of this post, I’m excited about the arrival of Lent! For a lot of people, Lent is about “giving up” something, such as candy, or coffee or whatever. Some people consider the penances of Lent a drudgery. And that’s too bad. Lent isn’t about giving up something and then becoming frustrated with oneself for failing to live up to one’s promises. That’s what New Year’s Resolutions are for! Now, I’m not saying not to give up something for Lent. I am giving up something, but Lent is more than that.

Lent is about renewal!

New Year’s is a time when many people make resolutions to lose weight, do this, don’t do that. August/September is the beginning of a new school year and a time when kids (and adults) resolve to make “this year better than last year.” And technically, everyday is a chance for a restart. But Lent is unique. Lent is a time that is especially meant for a spiritual renewal, almost even more so than the Advent/Christmas Season. It is a time to recalibrate our souls and remind ourselves of what is important in life. It is a time to refocus and rekindle (or deepen) our relationship with Jesus, with the Blessed Trinity.

The purpose of the “mandates” of Lent: prayer, sacrifice and almsgiving is to help us go deeper into the truths of our faith and our relationship with Christ, NOT to give us yet another thing to do or not do for the next six weeks. So, I’d like to invite you to rethink your strategy for Lent this year. If you have been in the habit of giving up something for Lent and it hasn’t worked for ya, how about instead of giving up something, give yourself something. Here are four things you can give yourself:

1. Give yourself the gift of Confession. If you haven’t been to the Sacrament of reconciliation in a while, now would be a good time to go. The Church requires Catholic to go to Confession at least once a year for a reason. The Sacrament of Reconciliation is a sacrament of healing and an opportunity to encounter Christ in a very special way.

2. Give yourself the gift of the Eucharist. If you aren’t in the habit of going to daily mass, now would be a great time to start – even if it just one or two days a week – or just on Saturdays. The readings for Lent are just as powerful during the week as they are on Sundays.

3. Give yourself the gift of prayer. The rosary is a particularly powerful prayer and it is a wonderful way to meditate on the mysteries of Our Lord’s Life, Death and Resurrection. It is even better if you can pray together as a family. Many Churches offer the Stations of the Cross each Friday which is a beautiful way to enter one’s self into Our Lord’s suffering. If you can’t do that, try to just spend five minutes or so reading the Bible and/or sitting quietly before the Lord.

4. Give yourself the gift of intention. Finally, above all, no matter what you do the Lent, let it be intentional and focused. Be fully present to your devotions, family or whatever it is you are doing/not doing for Lent. That alone will transform your Lenten experience!

Now, let’s support each other. Tell me, what are you doing for Lent this year? What are you going to do/not do in order to truly deepen your relationship with Jesus and renew your spirit this season? By putting it out there, it will help you stay accountable and give me the opportunity to pray for you!

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7 Quick Takes: Scripture and the Eucharist Edition

Bible Heart

In yesterday’s Theological Thursday post I talked about the Real Presence of Jesus in the Eucharist. In today’s 7 Quick Takes I want to share just a few Scripture readings about the Eucharist for you to pray over.

1. Psalm 110:4 (Foreshadowing the Eucharist)

2. Exodus 29:38-39 (Foreshadowing the Eucharist)

3. John 6:22-69 (“Bread of Life Discourse”)

4. Matthew 26:26-30 (The Last Supper)

5. 1 Corinthians 10:16 (Is not the cup we share…)

6. Acts 2:42 (They devoted themselves…to the breaking of the bread…)

7. Hebrews 12:22-24 (Jesus and mediator)

For more scripture verses related to the Eucharist, I highly recommend ScriptureCatholic. It has done an amazing job laying out and explaining all the various scriptures that foreshadow the Eucharist, the institution of the Eucharist and the relation between the Cross and the Eucharist. Under the long list of scripture verses there are also a ton of quotes and explanations from Tradition and Church Fathers that are worth reading and praying over, too.

Also, catholicbible101 also has a page dedicated to explaining the real presence of Jesus in the Eucharist that you can check out.

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How to “Get Something” out of Mass

Over the years people have told me (usually in explaining why they don’t bother with church anymore), “I don’t get anything out of the Mass.” I’ve been hearing it again recently by several different people. This is a sad statement. It tells me that the person saying this doesn’t understand what the Mass is all about and that’s a shame. It is a sorry testament of how little many of us, even many of us faithful Catholics, really know what our own faith.*

Eucharist

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The statement “I don’t get anything out of the Mass” also brings me to ask at least two questions. 1) “What are you looking to get out of Mass?” and 2) “What are you putting into the Mass?”

“What are you looking to get out of Mass?

If you are looking for good music, a great preacher and being filled with fluffy feelings, you aren’t always going to get it. That’s not what mass is about. Sure it helps if the music is beautiful and uplifting but that won’t always be the case. Sometimes the singing stinks. Sometimes there isn’t any music at all. Sometimes the priest is a good speaker that gets everyone fired up; however, the reality is that most priests do the best they can but they aren’t good speakers. Who hasn’t fallen asleep (or almost fallen asleep) listening to a priest who is monotone and uninspiring? And most times when you go to mass you aren’t going to have fluffy feelings. Sure, once in a while you’ll get an overwhelming emotional “something” when yo go to mass but more often you won’t. But here’s the thing, Mass isn’t about good music, good preaching or good feelings.

“What are you putting into the Mass?”

Do you show up for mass at the last second or late? Do you leave right after communion? Do you spend time talking with the Lord or chatting up the people around you? Do you let yourself get distracted or caught up in whatever is going through your mind? Is your heart and mind open to what the Lord wants to do or say to you during Mass? If so, how do you expect to get anything out of Mass if you aren’t willing to put any effort into it? I think it is safe to say that most of us know that the more we put ourselves into something the more we get out of it. This is true even with the Mass. Don’t get me wrong. We all have things that distract us. We all have crosses to bear and life can push its way into our minds, distracting us. But are you trying to make an effort? There are things we can do to prepare ourselves so that we can get more out of mass. I’ll talk about those things tomorrow.

What DO you get out of Mass?

JESUS! We get the honor and privilege of participating in the un-bloody sacrifice of the Lord. Jesus gives himself, Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity, completely to us in the Eucharist. He does this, not for Himself, but for us. God doesn’t need our worship, but we have a deep desire and need to worship HIM. We need to receive Him and be united to Him.

Another thing we get out of Mass is grace. We get God’s grace to help us and strengthen us in our daily lives, to help us avoid and overcome sin, and to live the life we have been called to live.

The secret to getting “something” out of Mass.

Want to know the secret to getting something out of Mass? Forget yourself. Just drop the idea that you are supposed to get something out of Mass. Refocus your attention to where it belongs – on Jesus. I promise you, if you shift your mindset and focus on Jesus, if you keep your heart and mind open, looking for Him to speak to you, He will.

Don’t get me wrong, if you have children, don’t ignore them if they need something or have to be settled down. If you have elderly parents, don’t pretend they aren’t there! What I’m saying here is do your best to focus on what is happening at the Altar, expecting God to touch you. Every time we receive the Eucharist Jesus comes to us. Let’s be ready to receive him. In tomorrow’s post I will offer some practical tips and ideas to help you do this.

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