In the bulletin of August 7th, we read from the U.S. Bishops’ document “The Mystery of the Eucharist in the Life of the Church” that the Eucharist is the Gift of Christ Himself. Today, I would like to focus on the Real Presence of Christ in the Eucharist.
A survey conducted by RealClear Opinion Research from June 15-23, 2022, found that only 50% of Catholic likely voters believe in the Real Presence of Christ in the Eucharist. The Catechism of the Catholic Church teaches that “In the most blessed sacrament of the Eucharist “the body and blood, together with the soul and divinity, of our Lord Jesus Christ and, therefore, the whole Christ is truly, really, and substantially contained.” “This presence is called ‘real’…because it is presence in the fullest sense: that is to say, it is a substantial presence by which Christ, God and man, makes himself wholly and entirely present.” (CCC, § 1374)
The U.S. Bishops write that “in the Eucharist, with the eyes of faith we see before us Jesus Christ, who, in the Incarnation became flesh (Jn 1:14) and who in the Paschal Mystery gave himself for us (Ti 2:14), accepting even death on a cross (Phil 2:8).” (par 19)
Now, how can Jesus Christ be truly present in what still appears to be bread and wine?
The U.S. Bishops explain that “in the liturgical act known as the epiclesis, the bishop or priest, speaking in the person of Jesus Christ, calls upon the Father to send down his Holy Spirit to change the bread and wine into the Body and Blood of Christ, and this change occurs through the institution narrative, by the power of the words of Christ pronounced by the celebrant.” (“The Mystery of the Eucharist in the Life of the Church,” § 20) In other words, by the words of Christ and the power of the Holy Spirit, bread and wine become the Body and Blood of Christ without ceasing to appear as bread and wine to our bodily eyes. We call this transubstantiation, a term used at the Fourth Lateran Council in 1215. The real, true, and substantial presence of Christ in the Eucharist can only be perceived through the eyes of faith. Every time we respond “Amen” after the Eucharistic Minister says to us the “the Body of Christ” or the “the Blood of Christ,” we profess our faith in the Real Presence of Christ in the Eucharist.
Our belief in the Real Presence of Christ in the Eucharist is also reflected in our reverence and adoration of the Blessed Sacrament. In addition, the U.S Bishops maintain that, “the practices of reverently genuflecting before the Blessed Sacrament reserved in the tabernacle, bowing one’s head prior to the reception of Holy Communion, and refraining from food and drink for at least one hour before receiving Communion are clear manifestations of the Church’s Eucharistic faith. ” (Ibid. § 23)
Let us reflect this week on concrete actions that we can take to better express our belief in the Real Presence of Christ in the Eucharist.