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.

Sunday, January 22, 2017


Conscience, hope and the double bind

Michael Whelan SM

One of the most wonderful gifts one human being can give another is the sense of realistic possibility. The presence of faith, hope and love tends to do this for us – especially when we are young and vulnerable.

When others – typically parents – communicate faith in us, hope for us and love no matter what, it can awaken a realistic sense of our own dignity and worth and allow us to engage the world with some confidence and honesty.

It tends to engender in us a life-giving sense of possibility, preparing us for adulthood ...

where we are confidently responsible and accountable for what we do and say.

One of the most destructive things we can do to another person is to rob them of a sense of realistic possibility.

When faith, hope and love are more or less inadequate to the child’s real needs or are replaced by over-control, cynicism, lack of care or even violence, it is highly likely that the child will grow up with a more or less poor sense of self and what is truly possible for them.

In this way, a person’s ability to be open to the future with a good measure of joy and grace, freedom and hope, will also be more or less diminished.

William Lynch SJ reminds us of the critical connection between a sense of the possible and hope – and by implication, the connection between a sense of the impossible and despair:

“... hope is, in its most general terms, a sense of the possible, that what we really need is possible, though difficult, while hopelessness means to be ruled by a sense of the impossible. Hope therefore involves three basic ideas that could not be simpler: what I hope for I do not yet have or see; it may be difficult; but I can have it – it is possible. Without this way of feeling about ourselves and things, we do nothing. We do not act or function. There is no energy.” (William Lynch, Images of Hope, University of Notre Dame Press, 1974, 32.)

Lynch goes on:

“One of the best safeguards of our hopes ... is to be able to mark off the areas of hopelessness and to acknowledge them, to face them directly, not with despair but with the creative intent of keeping them from polluting all the areas of possibility. There are thousands of things that we cannot do, thousands of things that some can do and others cannot.

To keep the two, the possible and the impossible, in place is to stay free of intolerable burdens. Thus with hope and hopelessness. We must have both. We all have areas of hopelessness, areas where we know that we are helpless or incompetent. We all know that there are situations we cannot handle, things we cannot do, tasks which for us would be hopeless.

But it contributes enormously to our well-being to keep all of these areas and problems sorted out from the things we can do, or can at least do with help. Thus, I repeat, the hopelessness does not get into the hope, nor do the areas of adequacy get into the areas of inadequacy. I know what I can do.

It is good to come to rest in the possible, letting the other people be, leaving them to the secret of their own possibilities. I stay within the human and leave the rest to fools and angels.” (Lynch, op cit, 62)

A particular obstacle to a healthy sense of the possible – and therefore hope – can come through the double bind. (See Gregory Bateson, Steps to an Ecology of Mind (Ballantine Books, 1972/1985)). In a double bind a person is faced with:

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