Friday, June 8, 2012
A Catholic argument for the Eucharist
Last evening in East Hampton, CT there was a beautiful rainbow. The rainbow is significant in scripture because Our Lord promised to Noah with a Rainbow in the sky that never again would he punish the earth. This became a sign of the covenant. For Catholics the sign of the New Covenant is the Eucharist-the real presence of the Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity of Our Lord Jesus Christ in a tiny piece of bread. It is an act of faith. It is an important act of faith because Jesus says in John 6:53: "Jesus said to them, 'amen,amen, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you do not have life within you. Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him on the last day. For my flesh is true food, and my blood is true drink. Whoever eats my flesh and drinks y blood remains in me and I in him. Just as the living Father sent me and I have life because of the Father, so also the one who feeds on me will have life because of me." Sadly, a teaching that was intended to unite and to bring life has become a source of division in Christianity. Catholics will sometimes say "I am not being fed " and leave the Catholic Church for a bible church that offers better fellowship, but no Eucharist. They do not know what they are leaving. Perhaps they were not taught. Perhaps they did not understand it. Perhaps the scandal of Catholics not believing caused them to leave. Regardless, if Catholics truly believed that God became present at every mass they would be walking across broken glass on hand and knee to make it to mass. There is the wonderful story that Fulton Sheen likes to share. A mass is being held in secret in China. The communists come in, arrest the priest and the congregants. For the next nine days the priest is able to watch a young teenage girl who survived the raid. Each day she would pick up a host thrown on the floor with her tongue and spend an hour in quiet adoration. The priest, under house arrest next door, was able to watch through a window. He knew there were nine hosts left on the floor. On the ninth day the young lady came in, as was her custom, knelt down and consumed the host on her tongue and prayed for an hour. As soon as the hour was over, the authorities came in and shot her on the spot. The young lady was a martyr for the Eucharist! Do we have that kind of faith? Sr. Briege McKenna tells the story of giving a retreat in Thailand. She is a nun (poor Clare) with the gift of healing. Sr Briege had her own miraculous healing in front of the exposed Blessed Sacrament. She was instantly healed of crippling rheumatoid arthritis. Wheel chair bound at the time she now travels the world ministering to priests and sharing her gift of healing. At this particular conference there was a loud commotion of Buddhist monks in the back of the chapel. As the priest held the Monstrance aloft Our Lord revealed Himself to the monks and they were on their knees shouting Jesus is Lord! Jesus is Lord! Fr. Dwight Longenecker is a convert to Catholicism from the Evangelical world. He has a great love and passion for C. S. Lewis and has written a book titled More Christianity. In a chapter titled "The Real Presence" he notes: "The Protestant theologians at the Reformation violently refuted the doctrine of the Eucharist. In different ways they all denied that the consecrated bread and sine were really and truly the Body and Blood of Christ. Yet this is the understanding of the Eucharist from the earliest days of the Church. The earliest writings are unanimous that the bread and wine of the Communion service become just what Jesus said it is-his Body and Blood. Before the year 108 Ignatius of Antioch says, 'Take great care to keep one Eucharist. For there is one flesh of our Lord Jesus Christ and one cup that unites us with his blood.' He says heretics deny that the Communion bread is really the Body of Christ. 'The Docetists stay away from the Eucharist and prayer, because they do not admit that the Eucharist is the flesh of our Savior Jesus Christ which suffered for our sins.' The early Christian writings fervently insist that the bread and wine of commuion are supernatural gifts. Through them the flesh and blood of Jesus is with us in a real way. Justin Martyr, who died in the year 165, notes: 'We do not receive these gifts as ordinary food or ordinary drink. Buat as Jesus Christ our savior was made flesh through the Word of God and took flesh for our salvation, in the same way the food over which thanksgiving has been offered through the word of prayer that we have from him-the food by which our blood and flesh are nourished through its transformation-is, as we are taught, the flesh and blood of Jesus who was made flesh.'" The Catholic teaching on the Eucharist is not, as some claim, a "teaching of men." It is the teaching of Jesus Christ and has been the constant teaching of the church from its earliest days. Praised be Jesus Christ the God man, who humbles Himself to feed us with His own Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity!