The Crisis Behind the Crisis of Faith in the Real Presence

The crisis of Eucharistic faith among a majority of Catholics is not an effect of Vatican II and the Catechism of the Catholic Church. Rather, these are the solutions.

"Christ and St.Paul" (c.1113), a mosaic in St. Michael's Golden-Domed Monastery, Kyiv, Ukraine. (WikiArt.org)

Not too long ago, I had occasion to observe in a piece for Catholic World Report (CWR) that a series of previous articles on the Brebeuf Jesuit controversy in the Archdiocese of Indianapolis were conspicuous for failing to discuss the issue of same-sex unions and marriage in terms of love. My comments were meant to be not so much an accusation as an exhortation to be aware that public discourse on matters of faith are an opportunity to bear witness to the fulness of Catholic faith, the center of which is the love of God fully revealed in Jesus Christ.

Now I find myself experiencing elevated theological blood pressure over a similar lack of definitive context regarding recent articles on the crisis in faith among Catholics regarding the Real Presence of Christ in the Eucharist. A survey of the Pew Research Center, made public in early August, confirmed yet again that there is a crisis of faith among Catholics regarding the doctrine of the Real Presence of Christ in the Eucharist. Since then, CWR has served its readers by hosting several articles on the subject. These articles address various aspects—doctrinal, liturgical, historical—of the Church’s faith regarding the Eucharist, as well as pastoral concerns related to the current crisis. Yet, it is telling that, with the exception of two passing mentions of love, neither of which concerns the love that Christ made the meaning of His sacrifice, there is no mention of Christ’s love.

It is understandable that short articles focus on the issue at hand and cannot always bring things back to first principles. But at some point the failure to place matters of doctrine and morals in a Christocentric perspective that emphasizes Christ’s mission to reveal God’s love verges on being scandalous. How can serious and well-informed Catholics write about the Real Presence of Christ in the Eucharist without making any mention of His love? And why should the doctrine of the Real Presence be meaningful to anyone if not for the fact that the One Who is present in the Eucharist is present as Love? How can the fundamental meaning of the Eucharist as thanksgiving—as the response of faith to Christ’s redeeming love FOR US—be absent?

The result is that the doctrine of the Real Presence is isolated from that which gives it its definitive meaning, the very meaning that Jesus attributed to His death and anticipated at the Last Supper. It suffices to read through the section on the Eucharist to be impressed by the emphasis given to Christ’s love by the Catechism of the Catholic Church (CCC). The Eucharist is “a sacrament of love” (1323), which Christ instituted “in order to leave them a pledge of His love” (1337). “Them” in this sentence refers to those whom Jesus loved as His own and whom He loved to the end. This is a clear paraphrase of John 13:1 (the biblical verse that is quoted most often in the CCC, and most frequently in the section on the liturgy) precisely to establish the link between His love and His paschal mystery. Finally:

It is highly fitting that Christ should have wanted to remain present to his Church in this unique way. Since Christ was about to take his departure from his own in his visible form, he wanted to give us his sacramental presence; since he was about to offer himself on the cross to save us, he wanted us to have the memorial of the love with which he loved us “to the end” (Jn 13:1), even to the giving of his life. In his Eucharistic presence he remains mysteriously in our midst as the one who loved us and gave himself up for us (cf. Gal 2:20), and he remains under signs that express and communicate this love. (CCC, 1380).

Christopher Plance’s article for CWR calls for addressing the crisis of faith in the Eucharist by placing the doctrine of transubstantiation in a complete theological context, i.e., of the economy of salvation. That is by no means a novel suggestion. Following Vatican II, the CCC deliberately and systematically presents the Church’s faith from the perspective of the history or economy of salvation. This is a key element of Vatican II’s pastoral presentation of doctrine, which is so commonly misunderstood, exaggerated, and maligned by not-a-few well-educated Catholics, and who are prone to place the blame for the crisis of faith on the Council. The crisis of Eucharistic faith among a majority of Catholics is not an effect of Vatican II and the CCC. Rather, these are the solution.

If, by miracle, every Catholic in the U.S. were to learn overnight the Church’s teaching on the Real Presence, what would it mean for them to say “I believe this” without knowing Who is present and why He is present? The Mass itself points to the answer. In the Penitential Rite, the celebrant invites the faithful thusly: “Brethren, let us acknowledge our sins and so prepare ourselves to celebrate the sacred mysteries.” And in the Creed we profess, “FOR US men and FOR OUR SALVATION He came down from heaven,” and “FOR OUR SAKE He was crucified …” The point is that faith in the Real Presence cannot be isolated from Christ’s mission to reveal God’s love FOR US.

Even more, this FOR US dimension of professing faith cannot be a mere assertion of factuality, as if a believer had not encountered and experienced Christ’s love. To believe in God’s love is not merely to adhere to an objective truth about God. It is also to bear witness to the fact that this love is efficacious, and thus to the effects of His love. This is the place of the Church in the Creed. The Church is the effect of Christ’s saving love. And since by Baptism all participate in the mystery of the Church, every believer professes faith according to the paradigm of the Blessed Virgin Mary and St. Paul: “He who is might has done great things FOR ME” (Lk 1:57); “The life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who LOVED ME and gave himself FOR ME” (Gal 2:20).

There can be no thanksgiving without this FOR ME awareness of having been efficaciously loved by Christ. This is seen in the one of ten lepers who, “when he saw that he was healed, turned back, praising God with a loud voice; and he fell on his face at Jesus’ feet, giving him thanks” (Lk 17:15–16). For “giving Him thanks,” St. Luke uses the verb, eucharisto.

When the post-Vatican II popes identify the need for a personal encounter with Jesus Christ, it is this FOR ME dimension, this awareness of having been loved, that they have in mind. This corresponds to a theme in the teaching of Thomas Aquinas: “Nothing can provoke love more than to know that one is loved.”1 Again, “Nothing so induces us to love someone as the experience of his love for us.”2 Benedict XVI conveys the same thing when he writes: “this is faith: being loved by God and letting oneself be loved by God in Jesus Christ”;3 “Everything begins from the humble acceptance of faith (“knowing that one is loved by God”) …”;4 and, “The source of Christian joy is the certainty of being loved by God.”5

The CCC links this certainty of having been loved to the liturgy when it comments on the priest’s invitation to pray the Our Father: “At the Savior’s command and formed by divine teaching, we dare to say.” The Greek word for this daring is parrhesia, a supernatural boldness, rooted in “the certainty of being loved” (CCC, 2778). The experience of being loved by Christ makes it possible for our spirit to bear witness with the Holy Spirit that we are children of God (see Rom 8:16). This is the baptismal faith—which includes the FOR ME/FOR US profession of faith as seen St. Paul, the Blessed Mother, and the Creed—that the liturgy presupposes and intends to stir as the necessary condition for full, conscious, and active participation in the liturgy (see CCC, 1072, 1098, 1122, 1128, 1229, 1415).

Quoting the Roman Catechism, the CCC also makes the love of God revealed in Jesus Christ the unifying theme of all that the Church believes, celebrates, lives, and prays:

The whole concern of doctrine and its teaching must be directed to the love that never ends. Whether something is proposed for belief, for hope or for action, the love of our Lord must always be made accessible, so that anyone can see that all the works of perfect Christian virtue spring from love and have no other objective than to arrive at love. (CCC, 25)

Similarly, John Paul II:

The Church’s faith reaches its peak in this supreme truth: God is love! … The truth that God is Love constitutes as it were the apex of all that has been revealed “by the prophets and in these last days by the Son …” as is stated in the Letter to the Hebrews (1:1). This truth illumines the whole content of divine revelation …6

And Benedict XVI:

Following in the wake of the teachings of the Second Vatican Council and of my venerable Predecessors John XXIII, Paul VI, John Paul I and John Paul II, I am convinced that humanity today stands in need of this essential message, incarnate in Jesus Christ: God is love. Everything must start from here and everything must lead to here, every pastoral action, every theological treatise.7

The preceding should make it clear that the crisis regarding faith in the Real Presence is yet another manifestation of a crisis of faith tout court. Any strategy for addressing lack of faith in the Real Presence must take this into account by inserting the doctrine of transubstantiation into the history of salvation, that is, the economy of God’s love fully revealed in Jesus Christ. As an eminent theologian of our day has observed, this is precisely what Vatican II intended: “To see doctrine as the representation of the history of salvation was the principal lesson they [the Fathers of Vatican II] drew from the patristic Church.”8

Long before Fr. Nichols, and prior to the Council, Joseph Ratzinger wrote an important piece on Christocentric preaching,9 in which he elucidates the relation between metaphysically oriented dogmas of faith and the biblical witness to the history of God’s saving love:

The clarification of the ontological difficulty in the doctrine of the hypostatic union was essential to proper Christian belief, yet as far as salvation was concerned, of less import than the acknowledgment of God’s past activity among men in this world through Jesus Christ. It is evident, then, where the real emphasis of the Christocentric must lie. Theology and preaching become truly Christocentric when they proceed directly from the saving action of God upon man, from the history of salvation between man and God, and when they understand ontological declarations as safeguards for proper Christian belief, necessary for theology, but not the primary object of preaching.

“While dogma,” he writes, “stresses the ontological aspect … Scripture is concerned almost exclusively with the soteriological aspect of Christ, His salvific work for mankind.” With this he emphasizes the FOR ME dimension of revelation and thus of faith. And with this we possess the key to understanding his pontificate as an extended meditation and preaching on the text that he takes as a summary of Christian faith: “We know and believe the love that God has for us” (1 Jn 4:16).

No doubt, preachers and catechists can do a better job of building up the Church’s faith in the Real Presence. Nor is there any doubt that art, architecture, vestments, decorum, and rubrics have their own contribution to make. Explicit catechesis on the real presence, by all means; and liturgy worthy of its sacred nature, of course. But all in the context of living faith in the economy of salvation, which is the economy of man’s sin and God’s mercy—an economy, a history, of God’s love that culminates in the paschal mystery that is re-actualized in the Eucharist, that is, in the memorial of Christ’s anticipation of His sacrificial death in the Last Supper, during which He says, “This is my body, which is given FOR YOU,” and “This cup which is poured out FOR YOU is the new covenant in my blood” (Lk 22:19–20).

Endnotes:

1 Thomas Aquinas, De rationibus fidei, Ch. 5.

2 Thomas Aquinas, Summa contra gentiles, IV, 54.

3 Benedict XVI, General Audience, February 16, 2011.

4 Benedict XVI, Message for Lent, 2013.

5 Benedict XVI, Address, June 5, 2006.

6 John Paul II, General Audience, October 2, 1985.

7 Benedict XVI, Homily, April 22, 2007.

8 Aidan Nichols, Conciliar Octet: A Concise Commentary on the Eight Key Texts of the Second Vatican Council (San Francisco: Ignatius Press, 2019), 45.

9 Joseph Ratzinger, “Christocentric Preaching,” The Word: Readings in Theology (New York: P. J. Kenedy & Sons, 1964), 206–219. The original German appeared in 1961. Ratzinger elaborates on this in Principles of Catholic Theology: Building Stones for a Fundamental Theology (San Francisco: Ignatius Press, 1987), 153–190.


If you value the news and views Catholic World Report provides, please consider donating to support our efforts. Your contribution will help us continue to make CWR available to all readers worldwide for free, without a subscription. Thank you for your generosity!

Click here for more information on donating to CWR. Click here to sign up for our newsletter.


About Douglas Bushman 7 Articles
Douglas Bushman holds a licentiate in sacred theology from the University of Fribourg. He is the Pope St. John Paul II Chair of Theology for the New Evangelization at the Augustine Institute in Denver, and author of the adult faith enrichment program In His Image, published by Ignatius Press.

22 Comments

  1. Two recent relevant articles:

    Substance and Accidents: A Beginner’s Guide to Defending the Eucharist
    by Peter Kwasniewski
    September 18, 2019

    https://onepeterfive.com/substance-accidents/

    Bishop Daniel R. Jenky of Peoria, Illinois has a new document on the
    Real Presence:

    Boston Pilot story:

    Jenky: Real Presence not ‘opinion,’ but ‘foundational’ to Catholic faith

    https://www.thebostonpilot.com/article.asp?ID=185868

    The news story begins:

    PEORIA, Ill. (CNS) — Acknowledging evidence that “for several generations”
    the Catholic Church has not sufficiently taught its core truths, Bishop Daniel
    R. Jenky has called for all ministries of the Diocese of Peoria to be
    “intentionally centered” on the Real Presence in the holy Eucharist.

    The bishop’s document has been posted at:

    https://cdop.org/wp-content/uploads/2019/09/DRJFestivalLetter2020.pdf

  2. “A thousand difficulties do not constitute a doubt,” so said John Henry Cardinal Newman, to be canonized next month.

    As a supportive FOOTNOTE to the above article and links, might we still say that the idea of “substances” can be a “difficulty,” although the actual definition from the Council of Trent providentially also uses the more generic and resilient term “species”?

    Trent defines Transubstantiation as “that wonderful and singular conversion of the whole substance of the bread into the Body, and of the whole substance of the wine into the Blood – the SPECIES [category] only of the bread and wine remaining – which conversion indeed the Catholic Church most aptly calls Transubstantiation”.

    As for ARISTOTELIAN substances or physical things, do they actually have “color” as an “accident”? Or, is color in fact only an intermediate human perception of light waves and, as such, not to be found in the atomic/molecular structure of the “thing” itself? And, do we sometimes speak too indiscriminately of “beings” as ranging from merely physical things (a category of a lesser sort) to beings that are categorically different, e.g., persons, the Incarnation, and even the Trinity?

    Given the very nominalistic sub-mentality (as in Nominalism) of today—e.g., fluid gender theory, double-speak, political euphemisms and word games—does the Real Presence (truly in the consecrated species of bread and wine) enable us to “remember,” also, not only the subsisting Christ, but also (to remember) the more self-evident existence of other created “things” as such? More than reducible to names/labels assigned by us, for the purpose of utility, onto atomistic non-entities? Whether “named” or not, the unborn child, for example, IS a human being RATHER THAN merely atomistic “tissue,” or a matter of “choice” superimposed by a larger aggregate of older protoplasm (arbitrarily named a “mother”).

    Rather than a medieval myth, and as a fringe benefit, the Real Presence also connects us to the presence of all of Reality. All things are gathered in Christ! The unity of the Real Presence (body and blood, AND soul and Divinity) is indeed totally mysterious, totally present, and totally real.

    Is the reason Christ is veiled behind the “accidents” simply that, in our present state, we could not bear it if we saw Infinite Love face-to-face? It’s gift enough that the reality of the Eucharist is the CONSTITUTIVE heart of the “assembled” Catholic Church (NOT a lesser and merely congregated “faith community”).

    The One Self-immolation on the Cross extended across space and time. I write from a parish that in the earlier turmoil of the 1980s responded by instituting PERPETUAL ADORATION. The pastor hoped it might last at most three years. Now, seven pastors later, we still have it—or rather “it”/He has all of us, around the clock and around the world. Real and Constitutive.

  3. For a concise, readable and yet awesomely profound teaching on the real presence of Christ in The Eucharist, read “A Key to The Doctrine of the Eucharist,” re-published not long ago by Zacheus Press, originally written by the brilliant priest and Abbot Father Vonier (Belgian if I recall correctly).

    He explains that many Christians can find it easier to understand that Jesus is really present in his soul and divinity, but they cannot understand how Jesus can be even further present in The Eucharist in His Body and His Blood. Vonier, who I believe held a PhD as a scholar of Aquinas, gives “the key”: it is because of the Hypostatic Union…The Second Person of The Holy Trinity is eternally, inseparably united with the Body and Blood of The Man Jesus, the Son of Mary, The Immaculate Woman.

    Stunning…beautiful…powerful.

    • There will come a time when the State will intervene & forbid the act of consecration that turns the bread & wine into the body & blood of Christ. It will come much sooner than many people anticipate or expect.
      Lamenting at the knowledge that a majority of Baptised Catholics today have fallen away from the faith & don’t believe in the real presence is understandable but Jesus did warn us the road was straight & the gate was “narrow and many are invited but few are chosen. Every human in the fullness will come to believe in the real presence but by then it will be too late for many. Glory to God in the highest.

  4. Excellent point. All of these crises in the Church — from the sex scandals to the acceptance of contraception to the Pope’s self-dealing to the unbelief in the Real Presence of Christ — amount to different aspects of the same phenomenon: A lack of faith.

    If all “Catholics” really believed what the Church teaches, this world would be a totally different, far more glorious place.

  5. As a priest experiencing decline in belief of the Real Presence – throughout the Church inclusive of clergy a general loss of faith is the underlying cause. We can’t realistically expect the Laity [including clergy with limited capacity] to comprehend Aquinas’ explanations [except during a span of lecture series] or by other well meaning intellectually complex explanations such as cited of Real Presence except that Aquinas calls it a miracle of love. Words all can understand because the Real Presence defies human understanding. It is and will remain a Mystery subject to limited comprehension more suitable to an act of Faith. St Faustina calls it the Hidden Christ. Who reveals himself when received with faith and love. Simple terminology expressed with conviction is the solution provided the congregation is at all willing to believe. Simply put Christ is not in the bread or under [Luther’s mistake] rather the Bread becomes Jesus Christ simply by his power as God who gives each being its existence [act of existence as preeminent compared to the secondary act of the form of bread or wine]. If the Word can become Flesh He can become present to us as our saving Bread. The Words this is my Body this is my Blood say it all. We may add during lecture or sermon Substance simply means something that is. That this bread called a substance becomes the Word of God who gives substance its form and reality.

    • An anecdote. True story. A young Canadian woman, Presbyterian visited friends upstate NY and attended Mass. After Mass she stood alone silently looking at the tabernacle shuttered in a small room near the entrance. I asked her what her thoughts were. She said Why is Jesus here alone away from the altar? She sensed, despite the insensitivity of Catholics who long ago banished Him there paying no attention whatsoever as they left church – believed He was Really Present likely because of the words of consecration, the manner in which they were said, comportment at the altar, reverence to the Holy Eucharist, the sermon. What the children of the Covenant have lost the less privileged hunger for.

  6. Those Catholics who do not believe in the real presence need to get the CD/DVD by Bishop Robert Barron entitled the “Eucharist”. If after watching/listening to this if they still do not believe in the real presence, they are simply not listening! Bishop Barron’s explanation is the clearest, most precise presentation I have ever hear on the subject! THIS will change your mind!

    • But when one observes the manner in which Mass is actually celebrated so widely – the casual irreverence, the frivolous, silly music, the stand-up one-liners by the priest/celebrant, the complete lack of mystery – the disconnect between what Catholics believe and how those beliefs are expressed ritually for most of those attending Mass is beyond glaring. No wonder so many younger Catholics brought up in this wilderness are attracted to the old, pre-VII liturgy, to the consternation and outrage of the clergy from that era, on whom it has yet to dawn that they aren’t the Church’s “youth movement” any longer.

  7. Is belief in the Real Presence of Jesus in the Holy Eucharist an issue of love? Let’s clear some terms. High intelectualism can be quite easily twisted and corrupted, True Wisdom can not. High IQ is a guarantee of nothing, as psychopaths, serial killers, dictators, etc. can display high intelectual intelligence. Love also can be quite easily ill-defined, twisted and corrupted, Authentic Truth can not. Even murder, including that of the unborn, has been justified by “love”.

    St. John The Apostle defined God as Love (1 John 4:7-8)) but God Incarnate Jesus Christ did not, defining Himself instead as the Way, the Truth and the Life (John 14:6). Didn’t Jesus get the divine memo, email or tweet from the Father? No! What Jesus makes eternally clear is that without Him, Truth Himself, there’s no love, no way and no life, there’s only death. Inside and outside the Church, people race, hustle and fall over each other as to promote “love”, to be the top one to define and exalt it in the most tear-jerking, heart-warming, soul-moving ways, shaking heaven and earth, or at least trying to. It makes for great effect, whatever you’re up to, good or bad. If used for good, does this “love high” last? No, it never does!

    What lasts is Authentic Truth and it is the Door to the Most Authentic True Love, as Jesus said: “I am the Door… the thief does not come except to steal… I have come that they may have life and have it more abundantly”, (John 10:9-10). The “thief” is Satan and his most preferred and powerful weapon is false charity, false love, and he has intensified its use today, eroding Truth and with it, our Faith in Incarnate Truth present in the Holy Eucharist, Jesus Christ. Liberals say they preach “love”, traditionalists say they preach “truth”, it’s time to preach them as ONE, so we stop preaching and promoting our own selves, and preach the Sacrificed One and sacrifice like Him, the Door to Abundant Life!

    • Good analysis–to say that love and truth are one.

      But,isn’t it true–and faithful to the “God Incarnate Jesus Christ…the Way, the Truth and the Life (John 14:6)”–for John to still say that “God is love” (1 John 4:7-8)?

      Untrue, instead, is the reductionist failure in logic to then hold the reverse that “love [only]is God,” viz, while God IS love, He IS ALSO always infinitely more as well–such as the true, the good, the just and the beautiful, etc.

  8. All the theology doesn’t mean a thing becausr of how The Eucharist is treated in Church. My hands, a layman, are “consecrated” to take our trash to the local dump. The hands of a priest are consecrated to touch the sacred body, blood, soul and divinity of Jesus. If so, then why are laymen, Eucharistic ministers allowed to distribute communion. There is nothing sacred in that. Just a “dog and pony show.

    And what about the Eucharistic particles? Many Eucharistic ministers and priests do not use a paten to collect the sacred particles. And when communion in the hand is practiced, more Holy Particles are generated and brought back to the pew. From there they are trampled on and carried outside on shoes and clothing. Our churches have tens of thousands of Sacred Particles that are Jesus on the floor.

    Is this how to treat our Creator, benefactor and judge? Does this practice foster reverential belief? Absolutely no!

    And then we top off the debacle by encouraging everyone to sing during communion. So the most sacred moment of our day is dominated by singing. Some may say singing is a form of prayer but there are three other very important components of prayer that are ignored by singing: contrition, supplication and thanksgiving. So the most intimate time of our day is spent singing when we should all be praying to our God, telling him of our troubles, problems and needs.

    So we go up to receive, don’t genuflect or kneel. take the host in our hands, generate particles that carelessly drop to the ground, go back to our pew and pick up the hymnal and start singing.

    How could this nonsense ever contribute or foster belief in the real presence. Receiving Our Lord is as lackadaisical as presorming any other action in our daily lives.

    • If so, then why are laymen, Eucharistic ministers(sic) allowed to distribute communion.

      Many Eucharistic ministers(sic) and priests do not use a paten to collect the sacred particles.
      You mean extraordinary ministers of Holy Communion. As Redemptionis Sacramentum unambiguously explains, only a validly ordained Priest may be referred to as a Eucharistic Minister. Mistakenly calling an extraordinary minister of Holy Communion a Eucharistic Minister is as much of an abuse as the all too frequent and ordinary use of them has become.

  9. My birthday (12-21) is the “olde” feast of St. Thomas the Apostle and as a child I was taught to pray at Holy Mass elevation of the Host … “My Lord and my God” and for the Precious Blood… “My Jesus mercy”.
    Long years later, I am still doing! A graced rich and powerful expression of LOVE. What great depths in those few words… Deo Gratias!

  10. First, the Real Presence and the theological explanation of transubstantiation are two different things. Belief in the former is necessary for the Christian while belief in the second is not.

    As for Thanksgiving and having an acknowledgement of what God has done for me; yes that is necessary but as it is, is it sufficient? Whom am I receiving in the Eucharist, and why? God’s love does make demands of us, He does have expectations, contrary to what Latins might be tempted to say about Jesus who loves us so much that He came to dwell with us, as if He were needy. No, Jesus came to heal us and to elevate us to be sons of God but do we acknowledge that when we receive His Body and Blood? Do we have the requisite holy fear when we approach the Sacred Mysteries? And are priests and laity properly teaching neophytes these things? Or has receiving His Body and Blood become a rote exercise for those who no longer have a living faith, or never learned to live that in the first place?

    • Belief in the “second” confirms what we believe in the “first”. Otherwise the path taken by reformers and dissidents as with Nestorius Patriarch of Constantinople is error. The Church to insure faith in the Real Presence reasoned a way of expressing this with certitude, that the bread itself becomes the Body of Christ. Bread has its own act of being called its form. Over and above the act of the form as said is the Act of Existence given by God. As are all things that exist. The Church confirms that God who gives all things existence is present to us by his actual existence in the form of bread in the very act of existence. Thus there can be no mistake or question whether the bread itself actually becomes Christ himself. “Jesus who loves us so much that He came to dwell with us, as if He were needy”. How can anyone reasonably hold that God who is Love does not love us? It is not that we have loved God but that he loved us (1 Jn 4:10). God’s love while sufficient in itself not requiring our love for fulfillment loved us nonetheless as revealed through the mystery of the incarnate Word. “We Latins” understand that quite well, which is the reason we have saints that are doctors of mystical theology.

      • “The Church to insure faith in the Real Presence reasoned a way of expressing this with certitude, that the bread itself becomes the Body of Christ.”

        Not the Church Universal but the patriarchate of Rome. Transubstantiation is not a dogma for Eastern Catholics unless they’ve been Latinized.

        • Sol the Church necessarily required that clarity on the Real Presence be held throughout East and West. The crux of the issue was Nestorius’ implicit denial of the body and blood of Christ conveying the entire Christ Soul and Divinity. Cyril of Alexandria revered by East and West supported that clarity in his 11th Anathema contra Nestorius at the Council of Ephesus 431 AD. Cyril also repudiated Nestorius on the Virgin Mother of God which Nestorius denied. At Ephesus the Blessed Virgin was proclaimed Theotokos Mother of God in conjunction with Cyril’s 1st Anathema. That controversy of a deficient secondary humanness in Christ counter to the Eternal Word made flesh persisted in the East for centuries and Catholics of the Eastern Rite benefited from Rome’s insistence of orthodoxy realized with the formula transubstantiation. Cyril reflected that in his teaching on the Eucharist: “Christ said indicating (the bread and wine): ‘This is My Body,’ and ‘This is My Blood,’ in order that you might not judge what you see to be a mere figure. The offerings, by the hidden power of God Almighty, are changed into Christ’s Body and Blood, and by receiving these we come to share in the life-giving and sanctifying efficacy of Christ” (Source: St. Cyril of Alexandria, Commentary on the Gospel of Matthew 26,27, 428 A.D). “We have been instructed in these matters and filled with an unshakable faith, that that which seems to be bread, is not bread, though it tastes like it, but the Body of Christ, and that which seems to be wine, is not wine, though it too tastes as such, but the Blood of Christ draw inner strength by receiving this bread as spiritual food and your soul will rejoice” (Source: St. Cyril of Alexandria, Catecheses, 22, 9; Myst. 4; d. 444 A.D).

          • Fr. Peter Morello, please reread what I wrote:

            “Transubstantiation is not a dogma for Eastern Catholics unless they’ve been Latinized.”

            I did not say that Eastern Catholics do not believe in the Real Presence, or that it is not a dogma for them.

  11. Knowledge without faith is useless, as His Living/‘Way’, Word/Will is radial, and enlightens all ‘honest’ hearts who encounter It, as they seek out the Wisdom (Kingdom) of God (Truth).

    I have read “No Real Presence, no Christianity”

    I have entered several empty none Catholic Churches, during my life time and have always been struck by a sense of deadness, apart from one occasion, when in a small country Chapel I was confront by a vase of freshly cut flowers on the altar, as I felt the living beauty of His creation/presence before me.

    I believe that the reason for this is that I am subconsciously looking for the red Sanctuary Light with its gentle living/active flame that is usually situated close to the Tabernacle. As it always provokes a feeling of recognition, in that I am not alone as a mutual presence is manifest/felt.

    Approximately fifteen years ago, one Sunday morning the Sanctuary lamp was not lit, this was the first time that I had encountered this in a Catholic Church and once again I felt this same sense of deadness. For most of my life I have always genuflected before His Divine Presence in the Tabernacle, but several years ago I became perturbed and in doing so stopped, my reasoning for doing this, for some, may be a bit confusing, but made sense to me at the time, as I had become aware of what could be described as self grandioso by some of those following the Monstrance/ Ostensorium from the main altar to the side chapel in carrying a parasol (With other factors of control rather than humility) above it, in an ostentatious manner, accompanied by heightened emotion.

    A round the same time I had a similar awareness when I followed a group of parishioners leaving the Church after mass to go and pray outside an Abortion Clinic, the praying by some was vindictive, as its vocal emphasis (Heightened emotion) stressed words of condemnation, rather than repentance (Change of direction) and compassion. They appeared to think that they owned (the judgement of) God.

    The question I had placed before myself in effect was this, can His physical presence be held in isolation by His ‘creatures’ in a box or Monstrance or be stolen desecrated and misused, as

    “Heaven is My throne and the earth is My footstool. What kind of house will you build for Me, says the Lord, or what will be My place of repose? Has not My hand made all these things”

    Without the flame in the sanctuary lamp His presence is not known /felt, as it could be said, that if there was no consecrated Eucharist host within the tabernacle, the same sense of a mutual presence is manifest/felt and on the spiritual plane, it would be the real acceptance of God’s presence. As in the symbolic everlasting light, or eternal flame that shines before the altar of sanctuaries in many Jewish places of worship.

    A lit candle metaphorically speaking could be described as the Trinity, the source (candle/ mass) of all creation (Matter/Flesh). The Holy Spirit, His Will within the candle/mass igniting and giving life to the flame, seen as His living Word, Jesus Christ, who in shedding His light gives light to our consciousness, for us to see and know His Will, that emanates from the source and mystery of our Creator/ Father.

    “It is the Spirit who gives life; the flesh profits nothing. The words that I speak to you are spirit, and they are life”

    When the priest says the “Body of Christ” we say Amen a declaration of affirmation and for me He is present when devoured as we become ‘living’ tabernacles, living been the operative word, without this affirmation in faith, would the bread of life give life to an unbeliever? Is it not the willing acceptance/consent of His living presence within the Eucharist that gives life to our spirit that wells up into eternal life, as the flesh profits not.

    It could be said that the bread and wine are the ordained means to “total change basic reality” to draw us into the spiritual constant reality before God of His Divine Presence (Eternal living sacrifice) now and always present before/within us, when we willingly say in faith Amen, as we partake of the living bread of life and transforming Sacrificial Cup of eternal salvation.

    This reflection has for me solved my initial concern of making a genuflection, as with the bush of fire before Moses

    “Take off your sandals because this place where you are standing is holy ground”

    A genuflect, an act of humility, is more than in order before the ‘acknowledged’ reality of the mystery of the divine, His presence in this holy place, before Him in His tabernacle, while the Sanctuary flame stirs from deep within our subconscious, His living Inviolate Word “this is my body” and so it is.

    kevin your brother
    In Christ

1 Trackback / Pingback

  1. The Crisis behind the Crisis of Faith in the Real Presence -

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

All comments posted at Catholic World Report are moderated. While vigorous debate is welcome and encouraged, please note that in the interest of maintaining a civilized and helpful level of discussion, comments containing obscene language or personal attacks—or those that are deemed by the editors to be needlessly combative or inflammatory—will not be published. Thank you.


*