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.

Saturday, October 13, 2012


"Isn't God all-good? If He loves His children, why do I have to suffer? Why am I being punished? My prayers go unanswered."

You are not being punished by God. He does not either punish or reward people in this life. That all has to wait until the next.

God is indeed infinitely good. Therefore He could not keep the infinite happiness of His existence in heaven all to Himself. His goodness led Him to create others like Himself, His true children, to share that happiness.

If we were not His true children, we could not experience infinite happiness the way He does, just as our cats and dogs here on earth cannot possibly experience happiness as we do, or share with us the pleasures of this world—music, plays, literature, Super Bowls, sunsets. It is all lost on them. God does not want His happiness to be lost on us.

But this turns out to be a very tricky thing to do. Just as God was not created, a true child of God must be partially self made. We must be able to choose right over wrong, good over evil; and these choices must be made in spite of pain and misery and sorrow. We must be able to choose what we know in our heart is right even though that choice apparently leads us into more pain, and to be able to reject what we know is wrong even though what is wrong apparently leads to pleasures of this world.

For that, we must live in a world of pain and sorrow, at least for a miniscule amount of time (compared to eternity). Until we have proven that we can freely choose to maintain faith and trust in God no matter how hard our lives are, we are not fully His true children, and are not able to share the glorious happiness of heaven with Him.

Pain and suffering are not a punishment. Both good and evil people suffer. Christ Himself suffered terribly, and was cruelly executed as His mother watched. No, more than anything it is an opportunity. It is our chance to maintain firm faith and trust in God through the worst that this random world of pain can throw at us, making God very proud that we are His children. To God, our troubles here are like an instant.

A billion times a billion years is not even a fraction of a nanosecond in eternity. That is a whale of a lot of happiness (and infinite happiness at that!) to balance against whatever travails we have in this eye blink of a life on earth. If something bad happened to us in the first instant of our lives, lasting only one second, and then we were assured of a fabulous life of great wealth and ease and happiness, do you think you would be concerned about that first instant? The whole of our lives, whether we live one year or a hundred years, is like an instant in eternity.

I wish I could tell you that prayer would change God's mind and take away your suffering. But prayer is just to increase our faith. God wants us to meet the challenges of this world and come through them with faith intact, which we will do only with the aid of prayer. Our eternal happiness is all that is important to Him, and all that should be important to us. So right now, on earth, prayer is absolutely essential. Don't ever give up on it.

"But if God is all powerful, why can't we just live like angels here on earth and be happy all our lives? "

To begin with, the angels are not true children of God, and so do not share with Him the same kind of infinite happiness which is our destiny. But more to the point, that is indeed exactly how we started out: in a place with no suffering at all!

Although we once lived in Paradise where there was no suffering, we rebelled against God and were expelled. Now, thanks to Christ, we have a second chance for eternal happiness.

From the beginning, God knew that He wanted to share, with true children, the happiness of existence that He enjoyed. He knew that we must have free will, because free will is the essence of His nature. He did not want pets or toys, he wanted children, made in His own likeness and image. This would be difficult, and complicated.

He knew that He wanted us in Paradise with Him, and that is where He started us out. But He also knew that we would soon (being very much like Him) think that we were His equal, and rebel against Him. He knew that once we had to leave Paradise that He did not want to simply destroy us. We would be given another opportunity in this new world, a world of pain and sorrow, the consequences of our pride and wrong choices.

In His love for us, God has a glorious plan to give us all an eternity of happiness in Paradise. He became true man Himself, and suffered and died so that He could, even in His infinite Justice, forgive the unforgivable sin of rebelling against God.

Therefore God does not consider the suffering that we have to go through as evil. Indeed, it was only through His own suffering and death that He is able to bring His plan forward and redeem us all. If the pain were avoidable, God Himself, as Christ, would certainly not have elected to be tortured to death here. He certainly would not have allowed His dear mother to endure the agony of watching her son be crucified. So the one thing that is certain is that pain and sorrow is an unavoidable part of His plan.

Using suffering as an excuse to turn away from God, to once again set ourselves up as a higher authority that does not have to obey Him, is evil. This time around, we are expected to maintain complete confidence that God knows better how to run the universe than we do. Do not lose faith. Believe in His love. It is the one constant in our lives.

"God will not interfere in our lives? That is discouraging. It would almost seem that a little 'Divine Intervention' would be necessary sometimes, and certainly appreciated."

God will not interfere in His Plan for our lives, because it is already the best possible plan to bring us to heaven with Him. But we certainly can (and should) pray that this plan includes the special favors that we ask of Him. His plan takes into account all of the free-will choices that we make, including how much we pray and how diligently we try to follow His commands. By all means talk to God all the time about a happier life here on earth.

Here is a big tip: It does not make sense for you to ignore helping God, and then ask for Him to help you.

But how are you ignoring God? Christ (God) said this: You have my Father's blessing! Inherit the kingdom prepared for you. For I was hungry and you gave me food; I was thirsty and you gave me a drink; I was a stranger and you welcomed me; I was naked and you clothed me; I was ill and you comforted me; I was in prison and you came to visit me."

Then the just will ask Him, "Lord, when did we do such things to you?" And the Son of Man will answer them: "I assure you, as often you did any of these things for the least of your brothers, you did it for me."

(Matthew 25:31-46)

This is our basic interaction with God. When we help others, we are helping Him. It just makes sense that His plan for us might include more help if we always give Him (others) all the help possible. Favors are a two-way street. But even then, be aware that His best plan for getting you to heaven with Him might still include a hard, painful life on earth. After all, His own life on earth was extremely painful. You can ask and ask for it not to be (as He did also), but you must trust Him, and if that is your lot in life, you must accept His decision, and trust that that He knows better than you do how to run the universe .

And never stop praying. The best way to get through difficult times is to constantly say to God, who is right there with you, "Stay with me, Father. Please stay right here with me!"

A full discussion of the mystery of prayer is on our page at Prayer.

No comments: