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.


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.

Monday, July 12, 2010


Many non-Catholics do not understand the Mass. Television evangelist Jimmy Swaggart wrote, "The Roman Catholic Church teaches that the Holy Mass is an expiatory sacrifice, in which the Son of God is actually sacrificed anew on the cross" (Swaggart, Catholicism and Christianity).

The late Loraine Boettner, the dean of anti-Catholic Fundamentalists, said the Mass is a "jumble of medieval superstition."

Fundamentalists insist that when Christ says, "This is my body," he is speaking figuratively. But this interpretation is precluded by Paul’s discussion of the Eucharist in 1 Corinthians 11:23–29 and by the whole tenor of John 6, the chapter where the Eucharist is promised. The Greek word for "body" in John 6:54 is sarx, which means physical flesh, and the word for "eats" (trogon) translates as "gnawing" or "chewing." This is certainly not the language of metaphor.

No "figurative presence"

The literal meaning can’t be avoided except through violence to the text—and through the rejection of the universal understanding of the early Christian centuries. The writings of Paul and John reflect belief in the Real Presence.

There is no basis for forcing anything else out of the lines, and no writer tried to do so until the early Middle Ages. Christ did not institute a Figurative Presence.

Some Fundamentalists say the word "is" is used because Aramaic, the language Christ spoke, had no word for "represents." Those who make this feeble claim are behind the times, since, as Cardinal Nicholas Wiseman showed a century ago, Aramaic has about three dozen words that can mean "represents."

The Catholic position

The Church teaches that the Mass is the re-presentation of the sacrifice of Calvary, which also is invariably misunderstood by anti-Catholics. The Catholic Church does not teach that the Mass is a re-crucifixion of Christ, who does not suffer and die again in the Mass.
Loraine Boettner mounts another charge. In chapter eight of Roman Catholicism, when arguing that the meal instituted by Christ was strictly symbolic, he gives a cleverly incomplete quotation. He writes, "Paul too says that the bread remains bread: ‘Wherefore whosoever shall eat the bread and drink the cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner. . . . But let each man prove himself, and so let him eat of the bread, and drink of the cup’ (1 Cor. 11:27–28)."

The part of verse 27 represented by the ellipsis is crucial. It reads, "shall be guilty of the body and blood of the Lord." Why does Boettner omit this? Because to be guilty of someone’s body and blood is to commit a crime against his body and blood, not just against symbols of them. The omitted words clearly imply the bread and wine become Christ himself.

Profaning the Eucharist was so serious that the stakes could be life and death. In the next two verses (29–30), Paul states, "For any one who eats and drinks without discerning the body eats and drinks judgment upon himself. That is why many of you are weak and ill, and some have died."

Boettner’s omitted statements reveal that when Paul uses the term "bread," he’s using the language of appearances, what scholars call "phenomenological language."

In this form of speech, something is described according to how it appears, rather than according to its fundamental nature. "The sun rose," is an example of phenomenological language. From our perspective, it appears that the sun rises, though we know that what we see is actually caused by the earth’s rotation.

Scripture uses phenomenological language regularly—as, for example, when it describes angels appearing in human guise as "men" (Gen. 19:1-11; Luke 24:4–7, 23; Acts 1:10–11). Since the Eucharist still appears as bread and wine, Catholics from Paul’s time on have referred to the consecrated elements using phenomenological language, while recognizing that this is only description according to appearances and that it is actually Jesus who is present.

We are not merely symbolically commemorating Jesus in the Eucharist, but actually participating in his body and blood, as Paul states, "The cup of blessing which we bless, is it not a participation in the blood of Christ? The bread which we break, is it not a participation in the body of Christ?" (1 Cor. 10:16).


1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Hear the word of the LORD, princes of Sodom! Listen to the instruction of our God, people of Gomorrah!

What care I for the number of your sacrifices? says the LORD.
I have had enough of whole-burnt rams and fat of fatlings; In the blood of calves, lambs and goats
I find no pleasure.

When you come in to visit me, who asks these things of you? Trample my courts no more! Bring no more worthless offerings; your incense is loathsome to me.

New moon and sabbath, calling of assemblies, octaves with wickedness: these I cannot bear.

Your new moons and festivals I detest; they weigh me down, I tire of the load.

When you spread out your hands,
I close my eyes to you; Though you pray the more, I will not listen.

Your hands are full of blood!
Wash yourselves clean!

Put away your misdeeds from before my eyes; cease doing evil; learn to do good.

Make justice your aim: redress the wronged, hear the orphan's plea, defend the widow.
(Isaiah 1:10-17)