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, December 18, 2014


The Catholic Understanding of the Virgin Birth

The Apostle's Creed states that Jesus was conceived by the Holy Spirit and born of the Virgin Mary. This concept is also found in the infancy stories in the Gospels of Matthew and Luke, which assert that the Blessed Virgin Mary, although pregnant with Jesus, was still a virgin before and after his birth. This doctrine has been termed the Virgin Birth. Above all, the doctrine of the Virgin Birth asserts that Jesus' conception and birth were miraculous and unlike any other: conceived by the Holy Spirit and born of a virgin, Jesus had no earthly biological father. perpetual virginity Even after Jesus' birth, Mary still remained a virgin. The doctrine of the Virgin Birth is not only about biology, but the Catholic understanding has always recognized that, whatever the symbolism applied to the Virgin Birth, it was first a biological miracle. The Virgin Birth of Jesus Christ has been and remains today essential Catholic doctrine.

The Virgin Birth also points to the uniqueness of Christ. The Gospel writers were not ignorant: they knew that people were not normally born of virgins and they included the story of the Virgin Birth to express the uniqueness of Jesus as well as his miraculous origins. Christ's earthly life began in a miraculous way and ended in a miraculous way (the resurrection and ascension).

There is also symbolism of the Church in the Virgin Birth. Mary's virginity has been perceived as symbolic of the righteous remnant of Israel, the Church. Also, Mary's role as both virgin and Mother has been compared to the Church which creates new sons and daughters through baptism and who keeps the purity of the apostolic faith as pledged to Christ, her Spouse (1).

Many people today reject the Virgin Birth because they say it is impossible to believe in an age of modern science and think that the early Christians believed in it simply because they were ignorant. This attitude is quite unfair and even arrogant, because it assumes the early Christians were stupid. The early Christians may not have possessed all of our scientific knowledge, but, like us, they knew the Virgin Birth was not in the natural order of things. This is why it was a miracle. The eleventh council of Toledo (AD 675) wrote: "[The Virgin Birth is] neither grasped by reason nor illustrated by example. Were it grasped by reason it would not be wonderful; were it illustrated by example it would not be unique" (2).

The Virgin Birth has never been recognized as a natural possibility, but as a miracle fitting the birth of God himself. We can never prove the Virgin Birth in a scientific or historical manner (modernist criteria), but we believe it through faith, and through the collective witness of the Catholic and Orthodox Churches

There has been some recent debate over whether or not Mary remained a virgin after the birth of Jesus, a doctrine known as "the perpetual virginity of Mary." Historically speaking, belief in Mary's perpetual virginity is strongly and decisively supported by witness of the universal Church from its earliest days to the present (including the original Protestant Reformers). Those referred to as Jesus' "brothers" were either cousins, other relatives, or step brothers.

It has only been questioned within Protestantism due to the influence of the Enlightenment on the Protestant churches. Catholics, the Orthodox, and many other Christians believe in the ancient witness of the Church, which trumps Western philosophical movements. Thus, the truth of Mary's perpetual virginity is, like the Virgin Birth, essential Catholic belief. As St. Augustine said: [Mary] remained a virgin in conceiving her Son, a virgin in giving birth to him, a virgin in carrying him, a virgin in nursing him at her breast, always a virgin (Serm. 186).