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.

Thursday, February 28, 2013


by Fr. William G. Most

The other Sacraments give us grace, the Holy Eucharist gives us not only grace but the Author of all grace, Jesus, God and Man. It is the center of all else the Church has and does.

As St. Mark records that, at the Last Supper, Jesus "took bread, blessed and broke it and gave it to them: "Take this, this is my Body" (Mk 14:22). That word blessed in Greek is eucharistesas, from which the Eucharist derives its name.

Three of the four Gospels record the institution of the Holy Eucharist: Matthew 26:25-29; Mark 14:22-25; Luke 22:19-23. St. Paul also records it in First Corinthians 11:23-25. St. John's Gospels does not report this, presumably because he intended chiefly to fill in what the others had not written, for he wrote probably between 90 and 100 A.D. There are small variations in the words, but the essentials are the same in all accounts: This is my body... this is my blood.

In John 6:53 Jesus said: "Unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink His blood you will not have life in you." Of course, He did not mean to cut off salvation from those who through no fault of their own do not know or grasp this truth. It is like the case of Baptism: one must receive it if one knows.

The form, that is the words required for the Eucharist, are of course the words of institution. The matter is wheat bread (white or whole wheat) for the host, and natural wine (mixed with a very little water) for the chalice. Addition of a notable amount of other matter would make the material invalid.

Jesus is present wherever the appearances (species) of bread and wine are found after the consecration. Hence He is found even when the host is divided. The substance of bread and wine is gone, only the appearances remain. The Church calls this change transubstantiation: change of substance.

In John 6:47-67 Jesus did not soften His words about His presence even when so many no longer went with Him: had He meant only that bread and wine would signify Him, He could have so easily explained that, and they would not have left.

The Church has always understood a Real Presence. For example, St. Ignatius of Antioch, who was eaten by the beasts in Rome around 107 A.D., wrote: "The Eucharist is the flesh of our Savior Jesus Christ" (To Smyrna 7:1). St. Justin the martyr wrote around 145 A. D: "We have been taught that the food is the flesh and blood of that Jesus who was made flesh" (Apology 1. 66. 2). The Council of Trent in 1551 defined that Jesus is really present in the Eucharist, body and blood, soul and divinity.

Obviously, this divine presence deserves our worship. Really, someone who believes in it should be much inclined to come before the tabernacle often. Benediction with the Blessed Sacrament seems to have started in the 15th century. The Church also promotes Forty Hours devotion. In some places there is perpetual adoration.

We can correctly speak of other kinds of presence of Jesus. (On this see our discussion on the Ascension in the sixth article of the Creed, and Vatican II, On the Liturgy #7). But none of them compare to that in the Holy Eucharist.

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