27 July, 2019
Post By : Jason Charron
From the Desk of the Pastor…
Glory to Jesus Christ! Glory Forever!
Allow me to continue from where I left off in last week’s bulletin on the topic of the Holy Eucharist. But, before I do that it is timely to note that only two daysafter last weekend’s bulletin there appeared a survey from the Pew Forum on this very topic, which found that only 50% of US Catholics correctly understand the Church’s teaching on the Holy Eucharist. You can read it for yourself here: https://www.pewforum.org/2019/07/23/what-americans-know-about-religion/
Everything we do on Sunday at the Divine Liturgy is about the Eucharist. You will note the care we take when handling the chalice. We do not handle it with such care because the bread and wine are symbols. No. We handle it with the utmost care because it is Christ’s own Body and Blood. To help explain this in greater detail I’m sharing with you below a large excerpt taken from another source. If you wish to read it in more detail you can find it at www.catholicfaithandreason.com
The Catholic Church, founded by Jesus Christ, has always taught that these words (“Take this and eat it, this is my body…”) are to be taken literally and this is evident if you study the words of the early Church Fathers, like St. Ignatius of Antioch, who referred to the Eucharist in the following terms in his letter to the Ephesians in 110AD:
Come together in common, one and all without exception in charity, in one faith and in one Jesus Christ, who is of the race of David according to the flesh, the son of man, and the Son of God, so that with undivided mind you may obey the bishop and the priests, and break one Bread which is the medicine of immortality and the antidote against death, enabling us to live forever in Jesus Christ.
The institution of the Eucharist is found in the synoptic Gospels accounts of the Last Supper (Lk. 22:14-20; Mt.26:26-30; Mk.14:22-26). During the meal Jesus took bread, blessed it, broke it, and gave it to his disciples ‘Take this and eat it,’ he said, ‘this is my body.’ Then he took a cup, gave thanks, and gave it to them. ‘All of you must drink from it,’ he said, ‘for this is my blood, the blood of the new covenant, to be poured out in behalf of many for the forgiveness of sins.’ (Mt. 26: 26-30)
Notice that Jesus does not say this is a symbol of my body or this represents my blood, but He is very literal in his description. The gift of himself, was symbolized by the “breaking of the bread,” and it was “this expression that the first Christians used to designate their Eucharistic assemblies.” As St. Paul testifies, “Because there is one bread, we who are many are one body, for we all partake of the one bread.” (1 Cor 10:17). This is the fulfillment of the words of Jesus, when he said, “. . .I am with you always, to the close of the age” (Matthew. 28: 20). The Church, taking Christ at His word, teaches that the Eucharist is “the source and summit of Christian life” and that Christ gave it to us, “to perpetuate the sacrifice of the cross throughout the ages until he should come again, and so to entrust to his beloved Spouse, the Church, a memorial of his death and resurrection: a sacrament of love, a sign of unity, a bond of charity, a Pascal banquet ‘in which Christ is consumed, the mind is filled with grace, and a pledge of future glory is given to us” (Catechism of the Catholic Church, p.334, para.1323). What more powerful and loving gift could our Lord have given than the gift of himself?
When we partake of this holy banquet, the bread of angels, we also need to keep in mind the state of our soul. If we have sinned grievously, then we simply must first confess our sins, repent of them, do penance, trust in God’s loving mercy and only then may we approach the Holy Eucharist. Here is what the Lord taught us through the pen of St. Paul: his means that whoever eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord unworthily sins against the body and the blood of the Lord. A man should examine himself first; only then should he eat of the bread and drink of the cup (1 Cor. 11:28).
My dear parishioners, our God is so utterly good and caring. Until He comes again in glory and gathers us to Himself, He cannot bear the thought of us being abandoned in this world of sin without any lifeline. So, He gives us the best lifeline there is: His own body, blood, soul and divinity. We men are constituted by the physical and the spiritual, so He gives us aid that is also a combination of the physical and the spiritual, the Divine Eucharist. When He first taught the people about this in John chapter 6, most of them were scandalized and left Him. They understood him literally. Notice, He did not chase after them and explain that He was only speaking symbolically. The same God who gushed water out of a rock to feed his thirsty people, is the same God who gave the hungry manna in the desert, and do you think that He would allow us to perish who are spiritually starving? Perish the thought! He has given us Bread from Heaven, the living Water, His own Body and Blood. Let us approach with fear and trembling!
Jason, priest and sinner.