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.

Friday, July 23, 2010


In October 1977 the philosopher Leszek Kolakowski was awarded the Peace Prize of the German Booksellers' Association. In his acceptance speech he spoke about hatred, with special reference to the event that was on many people's minds at that time, the hijacking of a Lufthansa plane to Mogadishu.

Kolakowski said that time after time there have been instances of people who are completely free of hatred and who therefore offer proof that it is possible to live without it. It is not surprising for a philosopher to talk like this if he identifies humanness with consciousness.

But for someone who has been confronted with manifestations of unconscious psychic reality on a daily basis and who sees over and over again how serious the consequences of overlooking this reality are, it will no longer be a simple matter of course to divide people into those who are good or bad, loving or hate-filled.

Such a person knows that moralizing concepts are less apt to uncover the truth than to conceal it. Hatred is a normal human feeling, and a feeling has never killed anyone. Is there a more appropriate reaction than anger or even hatred in response to the abuse of children, the rape of women, the torture of the innocent--especially if the perpetrator's motives remain hidden?

A person who has had the good fortune from the beginning to be allowed to react to frustration with rage will internalize his empathic parents and will later be able to deal with all his feelings, including hatred, without need for analysis. I don't know if such people exist; I have never met one. What I have seen are people who did not acknowledge their hatred but delegated it to others without meaning to and without even knowing they were doing it.

Under certain circumstances, they developed a severe obsessional neurosis accompanied by destructive fantasies, or, if this did not occur, their children had the neurosis. Often they were treated for years for physical illness that was really psychic in origin.
Some suffered from severe depressions. But as soon as it became possible for them to experience their early childhood hatred in analysis, their symptoms disappeared, and with them the fear that their feeling of hatred might cause someone harm.
It is not experienced hatred that leads to acts of violence and destructiveness but hatred that must be warded off and bottled up with the aid of ideology, a situation that can be examined in detail in the case of Adolf Hitler. Every experienced feeling gives way in time to another, and even the most extreme conscious hatred of one's father will not lead a person to kill--to say nothing of destroying a whole people.

But Hitler warded off his childhood feelings totally and destroyed human life because "Germany needed more Lebensraum," because "the Jews were a menace to the world," because he "wanted young people to be cruel so they could create something new"--the list of supposed reasons could go on and on.

How are we to explain the fact that, in spite of growing psychological awareness in the last decades, two-thirds of the people polled in Germany still believe that corporal punishment is necessary, good, and right for children? And what about the remaining third? How many of the parents among them feel compelled to strike their children against their better judgment and in spite of their good intentions? This situation is understandable if we take the following points into consideration.

For parents to be aware of what they are doing to their children, they would also have to be aware of what was done to them in their own childhood. But this is exactly what was forbidden them as children. If access to this knowledge is cut off, parents can strike and humiliate their children or torment and mistreat them in other ways, without realizing how they are hurting them; they simply are compelled to behave this way.

If the tragedy of a well-meaning person's childhood remains hidden behind idealizations, the unconscious knowledge of the actual state of affairs will have to assert itself by an indirect route. This occurs with the aid of the repetition compulsion. Over and over again, for reasons they do not understand, people will create situations and establish relationships in which they torment or are tormented by their partner, or both. Since tormenting one's children is a legitimate part of child-rearing, this provides the most obvious outlet for bottled up aggression.

Because an aggressive response to emotional and physical abuse is forbidden by parents in almost all religions, this outlet is the only one available.  There would be no incest taboo, say the sociologists, if sexual attraction among members of a family were not a natural impulse. That is why this taboo exists in every civilized nation and is an integral part of child-rearing from the beginning.

I sense a similarity here to the way a child's aggressive feelings toward the parents are traditionally treated. I do not know how people in other cultures who have not grown up, as we have, with the Fourth Commandment have solved this problem, but wherever I look, I see signs of the commandment to honor one's parents and nowhere of a commandment that calls for respect for the child.

Could this be analogous to the incest taboo and indicate that respect is instilled in the child as early as possible because the child's natural reactions to ward the parents can be so violent that parents would have to fear being beaten by their children or even killed by them?

We constantly hear about the cruelty of the times, and yet it seems to me there is a ray of hope in the trend to examine and question inherited taboos. If parents need the Fourth Commandment to keep their children from expressing natural and legitimate aggressive feelings from the outset, with the result that the child's only option is to pass this same commandment on to the next generation, then it would be a sign of great progress if this taboo were done away with.

If the mechanism becomes conscious, if people are allowed to become aware of what their parents did to them, they would surely try to direct their response to the preceding generation and not the following one. This would mean, for example, that Hitler would not have needed to kill millions of human beings if it had been possible for him as a child to rebel directly against his father's cruelty.

It would be an easy matter to misunderstand my claim that the untold deep humiliation and mistreatment Hitler suffered at his father's hands without being allowed to respond was responsible for his insatiable hatred.

Someone may object by saying that an individual human being cannot destroy an entire people on such a scale, that the economic crisis and the humiliation suffered by the Weimar Republic contributed to producing the catastrophe.

There can be no doubt that this is true, but it was not "crises" and "systems" that did the killing, it was human beings--human beings whose fathers were able to point with pride to the obedience instilled in their little ones at a very early age.

Many of the facts we have reacted to for decades with moral indignation and uncomprehending aversion can be understood from this perspective. An American professor, for example, has been conducting experiments for years with brain transplants.

In an interview with the magazine Tele, he reports that he has already succeeded in replacing the brain of one monkey with that of another. He does not doubt that in the foreseeable future it will be possible to do the same thing with human beings. Readers have a choice here: they can be thrilled at so much scientific progress, or they can wonder how such absurdity can be possible and what purpose such pursuits can serve.

But a piece of seemingly unimportant information may produce an "aha!" reaction in them, for Professor White speaks of "religious feelings" connected with his endeavor. Questioned by the interviewer, he explains that he had a very strict Catholic upbringing and in the opinion of his ten children had been raised like a dinosaur.

I don't know what is meant by this, but I can imagine that this image refers to antediluvian methods of child-rearing. What does that have to do with his scientific work? Perhaps this is the unconscious background for Professor White's experiments: by devoting all his energy and vitality to the goal of one day being able to transplant brains in human beings, he is fulfilling his long-harbored infantile wish to be able to replace his parents' brains.

Sadism is not an infectious disease that strikes a person all of a sudden. It has a long prehistory in childhood and always originates in the desperate fantasies of a child who is searching for a way out of a hopeless situation.

Every experienced therapist is familiar with ministers' children who were never allowed to have so-called bad thoughts and who managed not to have any, even at the cost of a severe neurosis. If infantile fantasies are finally allowed to come to the surface in therapy, they generally have a cruel and sadistic content.

In these fantasies, the early fantasies of revenge of the child who has been tormented by his or her upbringing merge with the introjected cruelty of the parents, who have attempted to stifle or have actually stifled the child's vitality by making impossible moral demands.

Everyone must find his own form of aggressiveness in order to avoid letting himself be made into an obedient puppet manipulated by others. Only if we do not allow ourselves to be reduced to the instrument of another person's will can we fulfill our personal needs and defend our legitimate rights.

But this appropriate form of aggression is unattainable for many people who have grown up with the absurd belief that a person can have nothing but kind, good, and meek thoughts and at the same time be honest and authentic. The effort to fulfill this impossible demand can drive sensitive children to the brink of madness.

No wonder they try to free themselves from their prison by means of sadistic fantasies. Yet this attempt is also forbidden and must be repressed. Thus, the comprehensible and empathic part of these fantasies remains fully concealed from consciousness, covered over by the gravestone of a dismaying, split-off cruelty.

Although this gravestone is not totally invisible, it is carefully avoided and is feared for a lifetime. Nevertheless, there is no other path to one's true self in the entire world than this one leading past the gravestone that has been shunned for such a long time.

For before a person can develop an appropriate form of aggressiveness, he or she must discover and experience the old fantasies of revenge, which were repressed because they were forbidden. Only these fantasies can lead one back to genuine childhood indignation and rage, which can then give way to mourning and reconciliation.
The career of the Swiss writer Friedrich Dürrenmatt, who in all probability has never undergone therapy, can serve as an example here. He grew up in a Protestant parsonage, and his first act as a young writer was to confront the reader with the grotesque absurdity, hypocrisy, and cruelty of the world.

Even his studied emotional coldness, even the most abrasive cynicism cannot completely erase the traces of his early experiences. Like Hieronymus Bosch, Dürrenmatt depicts an experienced hell, even though he probably no longer has any clear memory of it.

The Visit could never have been written by someone who had not learned for himself that hatred finds its strongest and most cruel expression when there are very close ties to the hated object. In spite of all he has sensed so deeply, the young Dürrenmatt consistently displays the coldheartedness acquired by a child who must always conceal his feelings from those around him.

In order to free himself from the moral strictures of the parsonage, he must first reject those highly extolled virtues, such as pity, altruism, and mercy, that he has come to distrust, and finally express his forbidden and cruel fantasies in a loud and distorted voice.

In his more mature years, Dürrenmatt seems less compelled to conceal his true feelings. In his later works we sense not so much the provocative nature of the earlier ones as the urgent need to do humankind the service of confronting it with uncomfortable truths.

For, as a child, Dürrenmatt must have been able to see through the world around him uncommonly well. Because he is able to describe what he has seen in a creative way, he also helps his readers to become more attentive and aware. And having seen things with his own eyes, he has no need to submit to the stultifying influence of ideologies.

This is one form of working through childhood hatred that is of immediate benefit to humankind--it doesn't have to be "socialized" first. Likewise, those who have benefited from analysis will not have the need to inflict harm on others once they have confronted their childhood "sadism." Quite the contrary, they become much less aggressive if they are able to live with their aggressions and not in opposition to them.

This is not a case of sublimation but a normal process of maturation that can begin when certain obstacles have been removed. It does not require any great effort, because the warded-off hatred has been experienced and not abreacted. These people become more courageous than they were before: they no longer aim their hostility at those "below" them (e.g., their children), but directly at those "above" (who wounded them and thus caused their anger).

They are no longer afraid of standing up to their superiors and are no longer compelled to humiliate their partners or their children. They have experienced themselves as victims and now do not have to split off their unconscious victimization and project it onto others. Yet there are still countless numbers of people who utilize this mechanism of projection.

As parents they use it on their children; as psychiatrists, on the mentally ill; and as research scientists, on animals. No one is surprised or indignant at this. What Professor White is doing with the brains of monkeys is acclaimed as science, and he himself is quite proud of his activities. Where is the line to be drawn between him and Dr. Mengele, who performed experiments on human beings in Auschwitz?

Since Jews were considered nonhuman, his experiments were deemed "morally" legitimate. In order to understand how Mengele was able to remove the eyes and other organs of healthy people, we only have to know what was done to him in childhood. I am convinced that something almost inconceivably horrible to outsiders would be uncovered, which he himself no doubt regarded as the best upbringing in the world, one to which, in his opinion, he "owed a great deal."

The choice of available objects on which a person can take revenge for his or her childhood suffering is practically limitless, but one's own children provide an almost automatic outlet. In nearly all of the old child-rearing manuals, major emphasis is placed on how to combat willfulness and the tyranny of the infant and how to punish infantile "obstinacy" with the severest of measures.

Parents who were once tyrannized by these methods are understandably eager to try to free themselves from the burden of the past as quickly as possible by means of an ersatz object; they experience their own tyrannical father in their child's anger, but here they finally have him at their mercy--like Professor White his monkeys.

Therapists are often struck by the fact that their patients regard themselves as very demanding for having the most modest--but vitally important--of needs and by the fact that they hate themselves for this. A man who has bought a house for his wife and children, for example, may find he does not have a room he can retire to, although he ardently wishes for one.

That would be too demanding or "bourgeois." But because he feels smothered without this space of his own, he considers abandoning his family and escaping to the desert. A woman who entered analysis after a series of operations considered herself especially demanding because she was not grateful enough for all that she had been granted in life and wanted still more.

In therapy it was revealed that for years she had had a compulsion to keep buying new dresses that she really didn't need and seldom wore and that this behavior was in part a substitute for the autonomy she had never been given. From the time she was a little girl, her mother had told her how demanding she was; she was very ashamed and tried all her life to be frugal.

For this reason, she did not even consider psychoanalysis. Not until she had had several organs removed in surgery did she reach the point of allowing herself the expense of treatment. And then it slowly became clear that this woman had provided the arena in which her mother tried to assert herself against her own father.

No resistance whatsoever had been possible against this tyrannical man. But from the very beginning her daughter accepted a pattern of behavior that made all her wishes and needs look like exaggerated and extravagant demands, which her mother then opposed with moral indignation. As a result, any impulses on the daughter's part in the direction of autonomy were accompanied by guilt feelings, which she tried to hide from her mother.

Her most fervent wish was to be undemanding and frugal, while at the same time she suffered from the compulsion to buy and amass unneeded things, thereby proving to herself that she had the demanding nature attributed to her by her mother. She had to undergo many difficult sessions of analysis before it was possible for her to cast aside the role of her tyrannical grandfather.

Then it became obvious that basically this woman had very little interest in material things--now that she was able to realize what her true needs were and to be creative. She no longer was compelled to buy what she didn't need in order to make her mother believe she was tyrannically demanding or to secretly seize autonomy for herself, and she was finally able to take seriously her true spiritual and emotional needs without feeling guilty.

This example illustrates several of the ideas advanced in this chapter.

Even when the needs a child expresses are quite harmless and normal, she can be perceived by her parents as demanding, tyrannical, and threatening if the parents have suffered under a tyrannical father, for example, without being able to defend themselves against him.

A child can respond to these "labels" with demanding behavior that comes from his or her false self, thereby embodying the aggressive father the parent is seeking.

Reacting to the behavior of the child or later patient on the level of drives, or even trying to help him or her learn "drive renunciation," would mean ignoring the true history of this tragic substitution and leaving the patient alone with it.

There is no need to attempt "drive renunciation" or "sublimation" of the "death wish" if the personal roots of an aggressive or even destructive way of acting are understood, for then psychic energy will of itself be transformed into creativity, provided that no attempts have been made to "educate" the patient.

Mourning over what has happened, over the irreversibility of the past, is the prerequisite for this process.

By Alice Miller

1 comment:

Anonymous said...


Jesus said to his disciples:
"Hear the parable of the sower.

The seed sown on the path is the one who hears the word of the Kingdom without understanding it,
and the Evil One comes and steals away what was sown in his heart.

The seed sown on rocky ground is the one who hears the word and receives it at once with joy.

But he has no root and lasts only for a time.

When some tribulation or persecution comes because of the word, he immediately falls away.

The seed sown among thorns is the one who hears the word, but then worldly anxiety and the lure of riches choke the word and it bears no fruit.

But the seed sown on rich soil
is the one who hears the word and understands it, who indeed bears fruit and yields a hundred or sixty or thirtyfold."
(Matthew 13:18-23)