Bread of Life

BREAD OF LIFE
 this is the bread that comes down from heaven so that one may eat it and not die. (john 6: 50)
The miracle of God’s physical presence to us at every Mass is the truest testament to Christ’s love for us and His desire for each of us to have a personal relationship with Him. Jesus Christ celebrated the first Mass with His disciples at the Last Supper, the night before He died. He commanded His disciples, “Do this in remembrance of me” (Luke 22:19). The celebration of the Mass then became the main form of worship in the early Church, as a reenactment of the Last Supper, as Christ had commanded. Each and every Mass since commemorates Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross through the Holy Eucharist. Because the Mass “re-presents” (makes present) the sacrifice on Calvary, Catholics all around the world join together to be made present in Christ’s timeless sacrifice for our sins. There is something fascinating about continuing to celebrate the same Mass—instituted by Christ and practiced by the early Church—with the whole community of Catholics around the world…and in heaven.

THE REAL PRESENCE

Why does the Catholic Church believe Christ is really present in the Eucharist?
The Catholic doctrine of the Real Presence is the belief that Jesus Christ is literally, not symbolically, present in the Holy Eucharist—body, blood, soul and divinity. Catholics believe in the Real Presence of Christ in the Eucharist because Jesus tells us this is true in the Bible:

“I am the bread of life. Your fathers ate the manna in the wilderness, and they died. This is the bread which comes down from heaven, that a man may eat of it and not die. 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." The Jews then disputed among themselves, saying, ‘How can this man give us his flesh to eat?’ So Jesus said to them,

"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; he who eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day. For my flesh is food indeed, and my blood is drink indeed. He who eats my flesh and drinks my blood abides in me, and I in him” - John 6:48-56
Furthermore, the early Church Fathers either imply or directly state that the bread and wine offered in the celebration of the Lord’s Supper is really the body and blood of Jesus Christ. In other words, the doctrine of the Real Presence that Catholics believe today was believed by the earliest Christians 2,000 years ago!

This miracle of God’s physical presence to us at every Mass is the truest testament to Christ’s love for us and His desire for each of us to have a personal relationship with Him.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

MORTAL SIN / QUICK QUESTIONS

Q:“ Since Judas's betrayal of Jesus likely was a grave sin, why did Jesus give him Communion at the Last Supper? Or had Judas left the table by that point?”
A: If Judas did receive Communion—as Scripture appears to indicate (Lk 22:19-23)—then there may be any number of reasons why Christ allowed it even though he had already been plotting Christ’s betrayal (Lk 22:3-4).

Two possibilities include: Christ may have hoped that the grace of Communion ultimately could save Judas’s soul. Judas did indeed feel remorse for what he did (Mt 27:3-4), although he chose the wrong means to demonstrate that remorse (Mt 27:5).

Or perhaps Christ respected Judas’s free will, just as he respects our free will, and so did not deny Judas Communion even though he apparently did not have faith that it was Christ’s body and blood (Jn 6:66-71).
—Michelle Arnold

Q:“ I receive the Eucharist every Sunday; however, should I do so if I have an unconfessed mortal sin on my conscience? A priest told me as long as I am actively trying to eliminate this sin from my life, the Eucharist is helpful, and I shouldn't deprive myself of the grace present in the Eucharist. He said if I stop trying to eliminate this sin, then don't present myself, but as long as I'm trying, don't deny the Eucharist to myself. Is this good advice?”
A: Three requirements must be met for sin to be mortal: grave matter, full knowledge, and deliberate consent. Since you say that you are "actively trying to eliminate this sin" from your life, your priest may believe that your action lacks deliberate consent and, therefore, does not qualify as mortal sin. If this is the case, the Eucharist may benefit you greatly. On the other hand, if your sin is indeed mortal sin, then you should not receive the Eucharist without first going to confession.

The Code of Canon Law is clear that a person conscious of mortal sin may only receive the Eucharist under grave circumstances:

A person who is conscious of grave sin is not to celebrate Mass or receive the body of the Lord without previous sacramental confession unless there is a grave reason and there is no opportunity to confess; in this case the person is to remember the obligation to make an act of perfect contrition which includes the resolution of confessing as soon as possible. (CIC 916)

The Catechism of the Catholic Church explains, The Lord addresses an invitation to us, urging us to receive him in the sacrament of the Eucharist: "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." To respond to this invitation we must prepare ourselves for so great and so holy a moment. St. Paul urges us to examine our conscience:

"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."

Anyone conscious of a grave sin must receive the sacrament of reconciliation before coming to Communion. (CCC 1384-1385)
I recommend that, after engaging in grave matter, you go to confession as soon as possible and then receive the Eucharist as often as possible. "By the same charity that it enkindles in us, the Eucharist preserves us from future mortal sins. The more we share the life of Christ and progress in his friendship, the more difficult it is to break away from him by mortal sin" (CCC 1395).
Jim Blackburn

Q:“ The Code of Canon Law states: "A person who is conscious of grave sin is not to celebrate Mass or receive the body of the Lord without previous sacramental confession unless there is a grave reason and there is no opportunity to confess" (CIC 916).


In this canon, what constitutes "grave reason" and what is understood as "no opportunity to confess"?
A: The New Commentary on the Code of Cannon Law explains what may be considered "grave reason" and "no opportunity to confess":

Grave reasons for going to communion without confessing include danger of death and serious embarrassment if Communion is not taken. Lack of opportunity to confess includes absence of a confessor, inability to approach the confessor at a scheduled time for the sacrament, and the availability only of a confessor who is known personally and who cannot be approached without embarrassment. (1111)

Keep in mind that a person in such a situation must still make an act of perfect contrition which includes the resolution of confessing as soon as possible. Also, understand that "celebrate Mass" is what the priest does; a person who is conscious of grave sin but does not have "grave reason" and "no opportunity to confess" may still attend Mass—in fact, ordinary obligations to attend Mass remain—but must forego receiving the Eucharist.
Jim Blackburn

Q:“ I'm 15 years old. I recently confessed sins of masturbation and perverted thoughts. I have spoken to two priests from different parishes, and they gave me this answer: that because of my age, and because of "raging hormones," I should not worry about it. The Catechism says otherwise. Is masturbation truly a grave sin if you're 15 years old?”
A: Go with the Catechism. It represents what the Church actually teaches. Many teenagers with raging hormones remain chaste. It is quite possible. I suggest that you check out the Pure Love Web site:
Fr. Vincent Serpa
Q:“ Suppose someone committed a mortal sin (meeting all the conditions of grave matter, full knowledge, and free will) and later sincerely and fully repented of it. The person desired to go to confession as soon as possible to be reconciled with God but was killed in an accident before doing so. What would be the state of that person's soul? I know there's a "baptism of desire"; is there such a thing as a "reconciliation of desire"?
A: In a sense, the Church does indeed recognize a "reconciliation of desire" — perfect contrition. The Catechism of the Catholic Church defines contrition as "sorrow of the soul and detestation for the sin committed, together with the resolution not to sin again" (CCC 1451).

For contrition to forgive mortal sins it must arise out of our love of God. "When it arises from a love by which God is loved above all else, contrition is called ‘perfect’ (contrition of charity). Such contrition remits venial sins; it also obtains forgiveness of mortal sins if it includes the firm resolution to have recourse to sacramental confession as soon as possible" (CCC 1452).
Jim Blackburn

Q:“ It is my understanding that we should be cleansed of our sins before we receive the Eucharist because God cannot be in the presence of sin. What happens to the presence of Christ in the Eucharist if someone receives but has not repented or has not gone to confession? Does Christ cease to be present? If he remains present, what happens?”
A: Who says God cannot be in the presence of sin? One need only read Scripture to find Jesus in the presence of sin. Perhaps you’re confusing this notion with "nothing unclean shall enter [heaven]" (Rev. 21:27).

Receiving Christ in the Eucharist forgives venial sins. The Catechism of the Catholic Church explains, "As bodily nourishment restores lost strength, so the Eucharist strengthens our charity, which tends to be weakened in daily life; and this living charity wipes away venial sins" (CCC 1394).

However, the reception of the Eucharist does not forgive mortal sins, so a person who is conscious of mortal sin must go to confession before receiving communion. The Code of Canon Law states,

A person who is conscious of grave sin is not to . . . receive the body of the Lord without previous sacramental confession unless there is a grave reason and there is no opportunity to confess; in this case the person is to remember the obligation to make an act of perfect contrition which includes the resolution of confessing as soon as possible. (CIC 916)

When a person conscious of mortal sin receives the Eucharist without prior forgiveness he commits another mortal sin and only compounds his desperate situation. Paul tells us, "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" (1 Cor. 11:27). The Church calls this sacrilege:

Sacrilege consists in profaning or treating unworthily the sacraments and other liturgical actions, as well as persons, things, or places consecrated to God. Sacrilege is a grave sin especially when committed against the Eucharist, for in this sacrament the true Body of Christ is made substantially present for us. (CCC 2120)
Jim Blackburn

Q:“ I have heard two different things regarding the requirement for yearly confession. One person said that we need to go to confession once a year only if we have committed a mortal sin. The Catechism of the Catholic Church states that one must confess serious sins at least once a year (CCC 1457). One can commit a serious sin without it being a mortal sin. So what is exactly is the requirement?”
A: The Catechism of the Catholic Church statement, "after having attained the age of discretion, each of the faithful is bound by an obligation faithfully to confess serious sins at least once a year" (CCC 1457), includes a footnote reference to the Code of Canon Law: "After having reached the age of discretion, each member of the faithful is obliged to confess faithfully his or her grave sins at least once a year" (CIC 989).

"Grave sins"
here means "mortal sins" so, accordingly, "serious sins" in the Catechism are to be understood as mortal. Keep in mind that for a sin to be mortal, three conditions must be met: grave matter, full knowledge, and complete consent (cf. CCC 1857). A sin of grave matter which lacks either of the other conditions is not a mortal sin. In such a case the matter is grave but the sin is not. The Catechism explains, "One commits venial sin . . . when he disobeys the moral law in a grave matter, but without full knowledge or without complete consent" (CCC 1862).
Jim Blackburn

Q:“ For a while I could not receive Communion as a decision had not yet been made regarding the validity of my previous marriage. I have since
wondered why the Church holds the worst sinners at arm's distance. Is the Eucharist truly the body and blood of Christ (who wants all sinners to come to him) or is it a "symbol" of our membership in this exclusive club called the Catholic Church?”
A: The Church doesn’t hold the worst sinners at arm’s distance: The sinners themselves do. The Church isn’t forcing them to sin. They are doing that quite on their own. The Church does not withhold the Lord’s compassion any more than he did. But he was only compassionate with those who were repentant, and then he warned them not to engage in such activity again.

When you were waiting for an annulment, you could have received Holy Communion if you were not having marital relations with someone with whom you were not validly married. Perhaps you didn’t know that to do so is a grave sin. One cannot profess one’s unconditional love for the Lord while at the same time engaging in sinful activity. The Church wasn’t holding you at arm’s distance. You could have gone to confession and determined to live as brother and sister until you were validly married—and then received Holy Communion. Many do. Unfortunately, priests often fail to tell people this.
Fr. Vincent Serpa

Q:“ Why is skipping Mass such a grievous sin as opposed to murder, which directly harms the life of another person? Skipping Mass affects no one but myself and God.”
A: "Skipping Mass affects no one but myself and God." And God? Since when are human persons more important than God?

There is an infinite difference between measuring God by our standards and measuring ourselves by his. We have to start with God when we look at everything. Since he came first, he comes first. He is not just a bigger version of us. He has commanded us to "Keep holy the Lord’s day," and he has a right to demand this of us. Anything of value in our lives (including human life) has value only because of his infinitely greater value. But Mass is not just a matter of acknowledging his sovereignty, which is what worship is. It is being present at the foot of the cross and giving thanks for the Passion and death that he endured for our benefit.

He loves us so much that he underwent all that suffering to demonstrate his love for us in a way we could somewhat understand. To skip Mass is one of many ways of turning our backs on that love.
Fr. Vincent Serpa

Q:“ What are the standards in regards to the faithful choosing one priest to hear their confession over another? If a person goes to confession, but deliberately does not confess a sin by choice because of fear or anxiety, what should he do? On a similar note, if a person fails to confess a grave sin by accident, what should he do?”
A: People are allowed to avoid any confessor for any personal reason—including the embarrassment over a particular sin. No one is obliged to confess face to face. One is free to go to any parish he chooses for confession.

If one deliberately chooses to withhold a mortal sin in confession, that in itself is a further mortal sin and the whole confession is invalid. If the Lord could suffer such agony on Good Friday to forgive our sins, the least we can do is humbly and honestly confess them. If one forgets to confess a mortal sin, that sin is still forgiven in confession, but the person is required to mention it the next time he goes to confession as an act of sorrow and contrition. It’s the least we can do in the face of God’s love for us.
Fr. Vincent Serpa

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6 comments:

Anonymous said...

Brothers and sisters:

Through faith you are all children of God in Christ Jesus.

For all of you who were baptized into Christ

have clothed yourselves with Christ.

There is neither Jew nor Greek,

there is neither slave nor free person,

there is not male and female;

for you are all one in Christ Jesus.

And if you belong to Christ,

then you are Abraham’s descendant,

heirs according to the promise.
(Galatians 3:26-29)

KenN said...

Hi, I write a blog, kensdevotional.blogspot, and for a post I am writing I would like to use the picture you have here . Where is it from originally? What is it that is in the top right corner, it doesn't make any sense to me. I write the posts each day, and I'm about 2 weeks up, but I've been writing using a word of the week for this year, so the post I'm writing won't be up until May 14 if you'd like to see it. I don't get many page views, but it's made a great difference in my life. I'm sure you feel the same.

Michael said...

What is it that is in the top right corner, it doesn't make any sense to me.

Do you mean the picture of Adam and Eve and how they committed the first mortal sin?

KenN said...

No, the scene in the very top right corner; It looks more like a wedding. Does that depict the bride of Christ? The painting is quite cool, almost like heaven, with maybe the bride of Christ? Earth with temptation, and the fall; and hell with eternal death. The disturbing, yet essential thing is Christ on the cross.

Michael said...

I am sorry, but you have lost me; are you referring to the header?

KenN said...

Oh, maybe I misunderstood you first! Yes, it is the picture of Adam and Eve. I see them, the serpent, and underneath that an angel directing them to eternal death, and at the top left there is Christ on the cross, already there, not coming 4000 years later; but at the top right corner: is that a wedding? A very cool painting. Sorry for the confusion.
Ken