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, November 28, 2011


by Kathryn Marcellino, OCDS

Yesterday was the beginning of Advent - Advent (from the Latin word adventus or "coming") is a time of expectant waiting and preparation for the celebration of the birth (nativity) of Jesus at Christmas. It is also the beginning of the Western liturgical year. This year in the United States it also marks the beginning of the use of the new English translation of the Mass. Some of the new translation is really the same as many of us heard as children many years ago and is a more accurate translation of the Bible verses from which the prayers originated and refer to.
During this time the faithful are admonished
• to prepare themselves worthily to celebrate the anniversary of the Lord's coming into the world as the incarnate God of love,
• thus to make their souls fitting abodes for the Redeemer coming in Holy Communion and through grace, and
• thereby to make themselves ready for His final coming as judge, at death and at the end of the world. (Catholic Encyclopedia 1917)
The theme of readings at Mass during Advent is often to prepare for the Second Coming of Christ while commemorating the First Coming of Christ at Christmas.

The Catechism of the Catholic Church talks about "The Preparations" for Christmas:

522 The coming of God's Son to earth is an event of such immensity that God willed to prepare for it over centuries. He makes everything converge on Christ: all the rituals and sacrifices, figures and symbols of the "First Covenant". He announces him through the mouths of the prophets who succeeded one another in Israel. Moreover, he awakens in the hearts of the pagans a dim expectation of this coming.

523 St. John the Baptist is the Lord's immediate precursor or forerunner, sent to prepare his way. "Prophet of the Most High", John surpasses all the prophets, of whom he is the last. He inaugurates the Gospel, already from his mother's womb welcomes the coming of Christ, and rejoices in being "the friend of the bridegroom", whom he points out as "the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world". Going before Jesus "in the spirit and power of Elijah", John bears witness to Christ in his preaching, by his Baptism of conversion, and through his martyrdom.

524 When the Church celebrates the liturgy of Advent each year, she makes present this ancient expectancy of the Messiah, for by sharing in the long preparation for the Savior's first coming, the faithful renew their ardent desire for his second coming. By celebrating the precursor's birth and martyrdom, the Church unites herself to his desire: "He must increase, but I must decrease."

Advent is a time to prepare for the celebration of Christ's birth and also a time to seek a greater coming of Jesus into our own personal lives, minds, hearts, and souls. Some ways to do this are being faithful to daily prayer, spiritual reading, doing works of charity and penance, and going to confession (the sacrament of reconciliation).

One tradition for Advent is the use an Advent wreath. The wreath is made of fresh plant material with three candles that are purple (symbolizing penance) and one pink candle for the third Sunday of Advent, Gaudete Sunday, which symbolizes joy and marking the half way point of Advent. The light of the candle represents Christ, the Light of the World, who conquers the darkness of evil and shows us the way of righteousness.

Beginning with the first Sunday of Advent, the lighting of a candle can be accompanied by a Bible reading and/or prayers which are often said in a family setting. An additional candle is lit each week so that by the last Sunday before Christmas, all four candles are lit. This is one way for families to remember the true meaning of Christmas and is a reminder that Christmas is a holy time of celebrating the birth of Jesus Christ, our Lord and Savior. Children especially seem to like the lighting of candles; praying together and using an Advent wreath are some ways to remember the real meaning of Christmas. Even though our lives are busy, times like Advent remind us to keep our priorities straight, i.e. putting God first and other things second.

A prayer for the first Sunday of Advent: "Father in heaven, our hearts desire the warmth of your love and our minds are searching for the light of your Word. Increase our longing for Christ our Saviour and give us the strength to grow in love, that the dawn of his coming may find us rejoicing in his presence and welcoming the light of his truth. Through Christ our Lord. Amen."


Anonymous said...

Come, long-expected Jesus. Excite in me a wonder at the wisdom and power of Your Father and ours. Receive my prayer as part of my service of the Lord who enlists me in God's own work for justice.

Come, long-expected Jesus. Excite in me a hunger for peace: peace in the world, peace in my home, peace in myself.

Come, long-expected Jesus. Excite in me a joy responsive to the Father's joy. I seek His will so I can serve with gladness, singing and love.

Come, long-expected Jesus. Excite in me the joy and love and peace it is right to bring to the manger of my Lord. Raise in me, too, sober reverence for the God who acted there, hearty gratitude for the life begun there, and spirited resolution to serve the Father and Son.

I pray in the name of Jesus Christ, whose advent I hail. Amen.

daveg4g said...

O shepherd of Israel, hearken,
O guide of the flock of Joseph!
Rouse your power, and come to save us.

O Lord of hosts, restore us,
if your face shine upon us, then we shall be safe.
O Lord of hosts, how long will you burn with anger while your people pray?

You have fed them with the bread of tears and given them tears to drink in ample measure.

You have left us to be fought over by our neighbors, and our enemies mock us.

O Lord of hosts, restore us,
if your face shine upon us, then we shall be safe.

a39greenway said...

Father in heaven, the day draws near when the glory of your Son will make radiant the night of the waiting world. May the lure of greed not impede us from the joy which moves the hearts of those who seek him. May the darkness not blind us to the vision of wisdom which fills the minds of those who find him. We ask this in the name of Jesus the Lord. Amen.