John 6:52 The bread that I will give is my flesh for the life of the world.
Hello everybody and welcome back to another episode of All About My Catholic Faith. I really hope that you're doing great today and having a wonderful Lent so far. If you're not listening to this podcast during Lent then I hope you're having a wonderful week whatever time of year it is.
Before we continue I'd like to welcome back again my terrific son Christopher. "Hey Dad, how you doing?" "I'm doing pretty good how about you?" "Pretty good too, thanks!" "That's awesome!"
"Hey, Christopher I'm wondering before we get started if you have any questions about the Holy Eucharist?
"Yeah, I have a couple. Thanks for asking."
"I'd like to know when Jesus started the Holy Eucharist and how he did it. I'd also like to ask you about how the bread and the wine are changed into the Body and Blood of Jesus, and how can that be done still today when Jesus is not here with us?"
"Great, I’ll answer those to the best of my knowledge as we go through the lesson and if I don't answer them completely just ask a follow-up question."
Before we get started I'd like to have a really quick reading from the Bible this is going to be from 1st Corinthians chapter 10 verses 16 and 17.
The cup of blessing that we bless, is it not a participation in the blood of Christ? The bread that we break, is it not a participation in the body of Christ? Because the loaf of bread is one, we, though many, are one body, for we all partake of the one loaf.
You know we've been talking a lot about sacraments in the last three lessons. Three weeks ago we had an overview of the Seven Sacraments, and two weeks ago we talked about the Sacrament of Baptism, and last week we talked a lot about the Sacrament of Confirmation. The Holy Eucharist is also a Sacrament and it is also a sacrifice. As we'll see as we go through the lesson, in the Holy Eucharist under the appearance of bread and wine, Jesus Christ Our Lord is actually contained, offered, and received.
Remember all the sacraments are outward signs of Christ to show us his love and to lead us to heaven. The Holy Eucharist is a little bit different and a little bit more special.
Because not only is it a sign of Christ, or an action of Christ, but it also really and truly contains Jesus Christ himself.
Three of the four Holy Gospels actually tell us how and when the Sacrament of the Holy Eucharist was started. You can find those accounts in Matthew chapter 26 starting at verse 17, also in Mark chapter 14 starting in verse 12 and in Luke chapter 22 starting verse 7. That’s the one I'm going to read to you right now.
When the day of the feast of Unleavened Bread arrived, the day for sacrificing the Passover lamb, he sent out Peter and John, instructing them, “Go and make preparations for us to eat the Passover.” They asked him, “Where do you want us to make the preparations?” And he answered them, “When you go into the city, a man will meet you carrying a jar of water. Follow him into the house that he enters and say to the master of the house, ‘The teacher says to you, “Where is the guest room where I may eat the Passover with my disciples?”’ He will show you a large upper room that is furnished. Make the preparations there.” Then they went off and found everything exactly as he had told them, and there they prepared the Passover.
When the hour came, he took his place at table with the apostles. He said to them, “I have eagerly desired to eat this Passover with you before I suffer, for, I tell you, I shall not eat it [again] until there is fulfillment in the kingdom of God.” Then he took a cup, gave thanks, and said, “Take this and share it among yourselves; for I tell you [that] from this time on I shall not drink of the fruit of the vine until the kingdom of God comes.” Then he took the bread, said the blessing, broke it, and gave it to them, saying, “This is my body, which will be given for you; do this in memory of me.” And likewise, the cup after they had eaten, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood, which will be shed for you.
So, that reading that I just read plus the other two in the other gospels, talk about Jesus telling the Apostles to go and prepare a place for them to have a Passover meal. Every year at the Passover, Jewish people would gather together and they would have a ceremonial banquet meal that was called the Passover or the Paschal Supper. Again, this done each year to celebrate and to commemorate the freeing of the Jews from slavery in Egypt. During this meal the Jewish people would eat a lamb which had been sacrificed by one of their priests and this sacrifice of the Jews was a symbol for the future sacrifice of Jesus Christ.
Jesus was telling his Twelve Apostles, who were Jewish, that they should get together and find a place to have this Passover meal. Since Jesus is God he already knew the place where this Passover meal would be shared with his apostles but he sent them out on this mission any way to prepare them for the other many missions that they would go forth to do. This Paschal meal that the apostles and Jesus celebrated is called The Last Supper. It's called the Last Supper because this happened the very night before Jesus was to be tried, scourged, and crucified on Calvary. Today, 2000 years after the Last Supper and the crucifixion of Jesus, we continue both the Last Supper and the sacrifice of Jesus at our Holy Mass. At the Mass, we're not having a brand-new Passover meal and we are not crucifying Jesus over and over again, but instead, remember this is a continuation, it's the same last supper and it's the same suffering and death of Jesus that we participate in today.
Christ instituted and started the Holy Eucharist at the Last Supper when he took the bread, and he blessed, it and he broke it, and he gave it to his disciples saying “Take and Eat, This is my Body,” and then he took the cup of wine, he also blessed it and he gave it to his disciples and said “All of you drink this, for this is my Blood of the New Covenant which is being shed for many unto the Forgiveness of sins.” Finally then towards the end of the Last Supper, he gave his apostles a very important assignment which was their commission to go out into the world and do this same celebration in remembrance of him. And this didn't just mean for them to go out and eat bread and drink wine and to remember this last supper that they had just had with Jesus. No, actually he was telling them, his new priests of his Church, to go throughout the world teaching and preaching, as well as giving them the power to change simple bread and simple wine into his real, true Body and Blood.
You know, when the bread and wine are changed into the Body and Blood of Jesus at Holy Mass, we still see bread and wine. Just as when Jesus said this is my Body also when the priest at Mass says the prayers and he says this is my Body and this is my Blood, then the entire substance of the bread and the entire substance of the wine have are changed into the real and true Body and Blood of Jesus. We call this the Real Presence or the True Presence of Jesus in the Eucharist. The reason we still see bread and wine is because of a true miracle. This miracle of God allows the bread and wine after it's been changed into the Body and Blood of Jesus to still appear as bread and wine. They still have the same color, the same taste, the same weight, the same shape, and everything else that makes them appear to our senses as bread and wine. If you test the bread and wine after it is changed into the Body and Blood of Jesus in a scientific laboratory, you will still see all of the, what we call the accidents or appearances of the bread and wine are still there as bread and wine. But remember, only the appearances of bread and wine remain. In actuality, the substance of that bread and wine have been truly changed into our Lord's Body and Blood. Again by a miracle of God, the appearances of bread and wine remain so that it is much easier for us to do as Jesus said and to eat his Body and drink his Blood.
Can you explain a little bit about the difference between substance and appearance?
Sure that's a great question. The substance of anything is what it is. And the appearances of something is what it looks like, what it feels like, and what it tastes like. So for example, the substance of an apple is that it is an apple. It's not an orange, it's not a grape, it's not a watermelon, it’s really and truly an apple. The substance of that thing sitting there on the table in front of you is an apple. Now the appearances of the apple, are what it looks like and feels like and tastes like. So the apple looks red, and it's round, and it feels smooth, and it tastes sweet most the time. So the redness, the roundness, the smoothness, and the juicy sweetness are considered that apple’s appearances.
So the bread after it's been changed into the Body of Christ is now truly the substance of the Body of Jesus, but it still appears to our senses as bread. It tastes like bread it looks like bread and it smells like bread. When the entire substance of the bread and wine at Mass are changed into the Body and Blood of Jesus Christ, this is called transubstantiation.
There are different ways in which things change.
One way something can change is to change its appearance. You know, for example, a green unripe apple as it ripens on the tree will become a full red ripe apple. It changes from a green sour apple to a red sweet apple. Sometimes there's a partial change of a substance, you know for example when you burn oil, the oil will actually change into smoke, and not only will the oil change its substance from this oily nature into a smoky nature, but the appearance will also change. And then finally a complete change of a substance as we see when the bread and wine are changed into the Body and Blood of Jesus. This again is called transubstantiation. You know the only time that we see this total change, this total transformation like this is at the consecration of the Eucharist at Mass.
During Communion at Mass, do I have to take both the body and the blood in order to follow the commands of Jesus? Didn’t he say “eat my body and drink my blood?”
Another great question. Actually, you don't. You only have to have the bread or the wine which is the Body or the Blood of Jesus, you don't need both. Actually in many Masses throughout the world, Jesus is only offered to the people in the form of the bread. An interesting fact is that no matter what form you take the Eucharist, either as bread or as wine, the complete and total Body and Blood of Jesus Christ are truly and completely present in either of those forms. Not only are they in both the bread and the wine they are in the most tiniest fragment of the bread or the most tiny drop of the wine. If you only get a small particle of dust from the bread that has been consecrated into the Body of Jesus, it doesn't matter, it is the same as if you received the entire host. You still receive the entire Body and Blood of Jesus Christ. That’s why it is so very important to take all the care possible not to drop any portion of the precious Body and Blood of Jesus.
In the Latin Mass, you can only receive the Body of Jesus in the Holy Eucharist directly on your tongue. Even in the new Mass, the Novus Ordo, it is such a great practice to receive Holy Communion directly on your tongue. I don’t know about you, but I don’t want to take any chance at all that some tiny particle or even dust from the host gets on my hand if I receive the Body of Christ in my hand. This tiniest particle or dust from the Eucharistic Host is still the real and true and complete Body and Blood of Christ. What if you have Jesus on your hand in the tiniest particle of dust, and then you wipe your hand on your pants or touch something dirty, you have just desecrated the Most Holy Eucharist, the Body, and Blood of Jesus.
Up until 1965, only an ordained priest of the Catholic Church could touch the bread once it was consecrated and became the Body and Blood of Jesus. The priest would give the people communion directly on the tongue. After communion, the priest would then carefully wipe any fragments or dust from his fingers, and then purify them with Holy Water before he touched anything else with the fingers that were handling Jesus in the Eucharistic Bread. That is still the way it is today anytime you participate in the Traditional Latin Mass.
So remember that the change of the bread and the wine into the Body and Blood of Jesus Christ continues today and nearly every single day throughout the world during the Mass through the ministry of Jesus Christ’s priests. Jesus gave his priests the power and the authority to change the bread and wine into his Body and Blood when he made the apostles his first priests at the Last Supper and when he told them, "Do this in remembrance of me." That is when the priesthood of the Church of Jesus Christ, the Catholic Church, started.
As Christianity spread through the world in the early days, the Church needed more and more priests and also bishops. The apostles were not just the first priests of the Church, they were also the first bishops of the Church. Anytime a new priest was needed in the Catholic Church then one of the bishops would ordain and give the power of Jesus to that priest to provide the sacraments to all of us. Baptism, Confirmation, Reconciliation, Anointing of the Sick, Marriage, Holy Orders, and most especially the Holy Eucharist. That has continued for the 2,000 years of the Church.
Anytime a man becomes a new priest in the Church, a bishop passes along those same powers to that priest. If you put it on a timeline, every bishop can trace his priesthood to another Bishop who ordained him, who can trace his priesthood to another Bishop who ordained him, who can trace his priesthood to yet another Bishop who ordained him, and that would continue all the way back to the original apostles who were the first Bishops to ordain priests and were ordained by Jesus himself at the Last Supper. This is what we call the apostolic succession, and this is why we call the Catholic Church the One, Holy, catholic, and Apostolic Church.
So because of this Apostolic succession, the priests of today have the same power that the first priests and Bishops had, to change the bread and wine into the Body and Blood of Christ at Mass during the consecration when they say the words of Christ: “this is my Body and this is my Blood.”
This was just a little introduction to the Holy Eucharist and in our next two lessons will go a little bit deeper into this wonderful, wonderful sacrament. You know there's actually three parts of the Eucharist. The Holy Mass where we offer the sacrifice, Holy Communion where we receive the Body and Blood of Jesus, and adoration when the consecrated host is placed in a tabernacle or a beautiful monstrance for us to Adore the Real Presence of Jesus.
Please make sure you go to Mass this week and every week because where else in the world can you receive the Body and Blood of our Lord Jesus Christ. The answer is nowhere else. Only at the Mass of a Catholic Church or an Eastern Rite Church will you be able to receive the True Presence, the True Body, the True Blood, the Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity of Jesus Christ in the Holy Eucharist.
Often when people fall away and stop practicing their Catholic faith, and afterward they realize what they are missing by not receiving Jesus in the Eucharist, they often come back home to the Church, back to Mass, and back to Jesus and all his sacraments. So, if you fall from the boat if or if you've jumped off the boat and are no longer practicing your Catholic faith, you are welcome back. If no one has welcomed you back then I am welcoming you back to the Catholic Church.
While here on Earth, Jesus told people to turn away from their sins and follow him and you too can turn away from your sins, whatever they are, and follow Jesus in his One, Holy, catholic, and Apostolic Church. If you're not a practicing Catholic, it's very easy to come back to the Church. All you have to do is make a good confession of your past sins and resolve to not commit those sins again. In most cases, that’s all it takes for you to be able to come back to the Church and receive the Body and Blood of Jesus during communion and to again truly have a personal relationship with Jesus. How can it get any more personal than partaking in his Body and Blood in the Eucharist? Quite simply, it doesn't get any better than that.
If you're not Catholic and you want to experience all of the wonderful things about Jesus's Church, the Catholic Church, then you too can come home to the Catholic Church. Just call or visit your closest Catholic Church and ask to talk to a priest and find out what it takes for you to become Catholic. Maybe you've been baptized before in another faith tradition or maybe you've never been baptized at all, maybe being Christian or being Catholic has never ever crossed your mind, maybe being Catholic was the last thing you thought you ever wanted to do. No matter what the case, no matter what your situation, you are welcomed, most welcomed into the One, Holy, catholic, and Apostolic Church.
Have you ever heard of the Bread of Life Discourse? Some people haven’t, perhaps many people. Once you do read or hear it, and you really take that to prayer, then I’m convinced that you’ll want to experience the Eucharist in the Catholic Church. We’ll read and talk about this Bread of Life Discourse in part three of our Eucharist lessons.
Next week in part 2, we will talk about the Holy Eucharist being a sacrifice, and I hope that you'll be able to join us again.
"Christopher, thanks for being here again this week!"
"You got it. I hope you have a great week!"
"Thanks, and the same right back at ya!"
Until next time thanks for listening, remember to pray for me and I will, of course, be praying for you. God bless you and goodbye for now