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.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011


14. The Eucharistic Liturgy

The Catholic term ”Liturgy" derives from the Greek word leitourgia, which means "a public duty" or "a public action?" This meaning took on a religious connotation in regard to the public ministrations of the Old Testament priests in the Temple (cf. Exodus 38:27, 39:12; Joel 1:9, 2:17; where the term leitourgeo is used in the Greek, Septuagint, version). The ancient Tradition of the Liturgy has been taught and believed by Christians since the days of Christ. Latin Rite Catholics are accustomed to referring to it as the "Mass," while Eastern Catholics call it the "Divine Liturgy." Both refer to the same doctrine.

Since the night Christ was betrayed, the Catholic Church has been celebrating the Liturgy of the Eucharist. This is part of Sacred Tradition, a revealed doctrine of the Faith that came from Christ himself and was preached and taught by the Apostles and their successors from the earliest days of the Church. About the year 56, St. Paul wrote about this Tradition and of how important it was to the life of the Church:

"I praise you because you remember me in everything and hold fast to the traditions, just as I handed them on to you "

For the first few centuries, the Eucharistic Liturgy was not a formally codified ritual as we know it today, though it was universally celebrated in the East and West with its essential elements and according to the particular meaning the Catholic Church has always understood it to contain: the once-for-all sacrifice of Christ on the cross, re-presented in time and space.

The Catechism explains the Church’s meaning when it refers to the Church’s Tradition of the Eucharistic Liturgy, defining it to mean:
An action of thanksgiving to God (CCC 1328);
The Lord’s Supper (CCC 1329; cf. 1 Corinthians 11:20; Revelation 19:9);
The Breaking of Bread (CCC 1329; cf. Matthew 14:19,15:36,26:26; Mark 8:6, 19.);
The Eucharistic assembly (CCC 1329; cf. 1 Corinthians 11:17-34);
The memorial of the Lord’s Passion and Resurrection (CCC 1330);
A Holy Sacrifice (CCC 1330; cf. Hebrews 13:15; cf. 1 Peter 2:5; Psalm116:13, 17; Malachi 1:11);
The Holy and Divine Liturgy;
Holy Communion (CCC 1331; cf. 1 Corinthians 10: 16-17);
Holy Mass (CCC 1332).
From these explanatory sections from the Catechism, we can see the essential elements of the Tradition of the Eucharistic Liturgy. This has been an ever-present, ubiquitous Tradition in the Church since the time of Christ and the Apostles. What makes this Tradition so powerful when a Catholic dialogues with Protestants is that it is undeniable that the early Christians did not gather for a "Sunday service," as Protestants typically understand the term. Rather, the early Christians gathered together to celebrate the Eucharistic sacrifice, complete with the essential prayers and gestures we use today in the Catholic Church (as well as in the Eastern Catholic and Orthodox Churches).

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