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, March 11, 2011


Q: “The truth is that we cannot remain prisoners of the past; people need a sort of ‘healing of the memories’ so that past evils will not come back again.”  My question arises from this quote. HOW, HOW do I make it so that the past evils not come back, when the Hurt is there. The Mistrust is there?

A: This question is relevant for all of us, because all of have wounds from the past, whether wounds caused by our own sins, or by others whose sins affect us.  Often, a vague understanding of how the healing process happens can cause frustration, and that can distract us from following God’s lead on a day-to-day basis, seriously hindering our spiritual growth.

Standing on the Right Foundation

In the case alluded to by this question, the origin of the past wound seems to with someone else.  The questioner has been hurt and, it seems, betrayed.  That reality is inhibiting them from hoping that the future can ever be truly joyful, healthy, and fruitful.  The pain and the fallout from the past betrayal has created an impenetrably black horizon, or so it seems.

The same experience can result from one’s own sins and betrayals.  Having fallen over and over again, having sinned grievously in relation to a crucial relationship or responsibility, or having culpably missed a God-given opportunity – these failures can sap hope and vitality as much when we commit them as when we suffer them.

In either case, God wants to pierce the dark horizon with his unconquerable light. And he not only wants to, he can. God is both all-good, and all-powerful: “And the light shines in darkness, a darkness which was not able to master it” (John 1:5).  We must consciously return to that conviction of our faith when we run up against this painful situation.  In prayer, we should express our faith in God’s goodness and omnipotence, and we should also express the depths of our sorrow and pain.  Look, for example, at Psalm 32 (for situations in which we are the ones who have failed), or Psalm 22 (for situations in which we are suffering because of the sins of others).  This is the foundation of supernatural hope: We know, by the sure knowledge of faith, that the hurt and mistrust we experience now is, in God’s plan, only a short part of the story, not the end of the story.

Having taken our stand on that foundation, God will usually roll back the darkness in one of two ways.

Two Paths to Heal Past Wounds

First, he can dissipate the darkness directly and quickly.  This happens.  Sometimes he grants an extraordinary grace in which the battered heart is renewed almost as soon as it has been wounded.  A memorable example of this was seen in John Paul II’s visit to the prison cell of his would-be assassin, Mehmet Ali Agca, in 1983, almost as soon as he was released from the hospital.  Later, the Pope also greeted and embraced the assassin’s mother.  The common and oppressive – and in this case even justifiable – darkness of anger and vengeance never even had a chance to take root in the pontiff’s heart.  Certainly, John Paul II’s long life of prayer and penance had created a spiritual maturity that allowed God’s grace to act quickly and decisively.  But even for less mature Christians, God in his wisdom sometimes grants quick release from darkness and hurt.

Second, and more frequently, God performs the healing gradually, and he allows us to be active participants in the process.  In this case, the spiritual wound, like a serious physical injury, requires time and treatment.  The treatment takes the form of grace obtained through prayer and the sacraments.  We not only need to ask for God’s healing in prayer, but we need to learn to reflect deeply and meditatively on the example of Christ – this is commonly called mental prayer.  At the same time, we need to approach the sacraments of confession and the Eucharist frequently and with supernatural confidence.
When God chooses to follow this second path, we usually face a couple temptations.  In the first place, we become impatient.  We just want the healing process to be over already!  And secondly, we can begin to rebel against God by refusing the treatment, through giving up on prayer and distancing ourselves from the sacraments.  But if God chooses to lead us along the path of time and treatment, he has his reasons.  He will use that path to heal other wounds too, wounds we don’t even know we have.  He will use it to help us grow in virtues that we don’t even know we need.  Throughout this long and painful journey, in other words, God is coaching us in hidden ways, helping us fulfill the dream for our lives that he has always had, even since before he formed us in the womb.  Along the way, it’s helpful to keep St Peter’s dictum in view: “But one thing, beloved, you must keep in mind, that with the Lord a day counts as a thousand years, and a thousand years count as a day” (2 Peter 3:8).

A Couple Practical Tactics

I can’t finish without mentioning two very practical tactics we can use to cooperate with God’s time and treatment: forgiving and giving.  Forgiveness takes place in the core of our being, in our will.  If someone has wounded us, we forgive them by praying that God absolve them from their sin and lead them to heaven.  If you wish someone would go to hell, you have not forgiven them.  This spiritual forgiveness can coexist with a lot of emotional pain, resentment, and anger.  Those emotions reside in a more superficial part of the soul, and they will gradually diminish, especially if you begin to pray for the person who has offended you.  On the other hand, if it is one’s own sins that are causing the darkness, this “forgiving” step takes the form of accepting God’s forgiveness.  This acceptance takes place at that core of our being, and can also coexist with tricky emotions.  But in our hearts, we know that God’s mercy is infinite, and infinitely capable of forgiving our sins: “Though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be white as snow; though they are red as crimson, they shall be like wool” (Isaiah 1:18).

Giving is the second tactic.  It involves focusing our energy on living the here-and-now as God would have us, in spite of the pain, darkness, and interior storms.  Each moment, we know pretty well what God’s will is for us: being faithful to the normal, everyday responsibilities of our lives, whether it’s washing dishes or preparing for a board meeting.  By giving ourselves to these duties with a spirit of faith, and doing so because God wants us to and as God would like us to, we invest less energy in the past, the source of the darkness.  It’s like moving forward under a cloudy sky knowing that the sun is still shining above the clouds.  In other words, we can still make a decent effort to do all the good we can do here-and-now, even if the here-and-now happens to look a bit like a shipwreck.  And doing good is the best way to outsmart evil: “Do not be mastered by evil, but master evil with good“ (Romans 12:21).

Yours in Christ, Father John Bartunek, LC, ThD


Tortoise said...


1 Of David. A maskil. 1 Happy the sinner whose fault is removed, whose sin is forgiven.

2 Happy those to whom the LORD imputes no guilt, in whose spirit is no deceit.

3 As long as I kept silent, my bones wasted away; I groaned all the day.

4 For day and night your hand was heavy upon me; my strength withered as in dry summer heat. Selah

5 Then I declared my sin to you; my guilt I did not hide. I said, "I confess my faults to the LORD," and you took away the guilt of my sin. Selah

6 Thus should all your faithful pray in time of distress. Though flood waters threaten, they will never reach them.

7 You are my shelter; from distress you keep me; with safety you ring me round. Selah

8 I will instruct you and show you the way you should walk, give you counsel and watch over you.

9 Do not be senseless like horses or mules; with bit and bridle their temper is curbed, else they will not come to you.

10 Many are the sorrows of the wicked, but love surrounds those who trust in the LORD.

11 Be glad in the LORD and rejoice, you just; exult, all you upright of heart.

Tortoise said...


1 For the leader; according to "The deer of the dawn." A psalm of David.

2 My God, my God, why have you abandoned me? Why so far from my call for help, from my cries of anguish?

3 My God, I call by day, but you do not answer; by night, but I have no relief.

4 Yet you are enthroned as the Holy One; you are the glory of Israel.

5 In you our ancestors trusted; they trusted and you rescued them.

6 To you they cried out and they escaped; in you they trusted and were not disappointed.

7 But I am a worm, hardly human, scorned by everyone, despised by the people.

8 All who see me mock me; they curl their lips and jeer; they shake their heads at me:

9 "You relied on the LORD--let him deliver you; if he loves you, let him rescue you."

10 Yet you drew me forth from the womb, made me safe at my mother's breast.

11 Upon you I was thrust from the womb; since birth you are my God.
12 Do not stay far from me, for trouble is near, and there is no one to help.

13 Many bulls surround me; fierce bulls of Bashan encircle me.

14 They open their mouths against me, lions that rend and roar.

15 Like water my life drains away; all my bones grow soft. My heart has become like wax, it melts away within me.

16 As dry as a potsherd is my throat; my tongue sticks to my palate; you lay me in the dust of death.

17 Many dogs surround me; a pack of evildoers closes in on me. So wasted are my hands and feet

18 that I can count all my bones. They stare at me and gloat;

19 they divide my garments among them; for my clothing they cast lots.

20 But you, LORD, do not stay far off; my strength, come quickly to help me.

21 Deliver me from the sword, my forlorn life from the teeth of the dog.

22 Save me from the lion's mouth, my poor life from the horns of wild bulls.

23 Then I will proclaim your name to the assembly; in the community I will praise you:

24 "You who fear the LORD, give praise! All descendants of Jacob, give honor; show reverence, all descendants of Israel!

25 For God has not spurned or disdained the misery of this poor wretch, Did not turn away from me, but heard me when I cried out.

26 I will offer praise in the great assembly; my vows I will fulfill before those who fear him.

27 The poor will eat their fill; those who seek the LORD will offer praise. May your hearts enjoy life forever!"

28 All the ends of the earth will worship and turn to the LORD; All the families of nations will bow low before you.

29 For kingship belongs to the LORD, the ruler over the nations.

30 All who sleep in the earth will bow low before God; All who have gone down into the dust will kneel in homage.

31 And I will live for the LORD; my descendants will serve you.

32 The generation to come will be told of the Lord, that they may proclaim to a people yet unborn the deliverance you have brought.