Chapter 11 – The Holy Eucharist: God with Us Love Unveiled 3

Deacon Ralph –

Just last week, a fifth grade CCD catechist asked me to visit their class as their students had a few questions they felt might be better answered by me! Coincidentally, the topic of discussion was the True Presence of Christ in the Eucharist. Just as over 2000 years ago, this topic still generates much discussion. For our 5th grade, they were focused on cannibalism! We had a good chat about transubstantiation and even tossed in a little philosophy concerning “accidents and substance.” It is not surprising that this group of fifth graders had questions, as according to a variety of polls over the past years, belief and clear understanding of the True Presence is not 100% for Catholics. In fact, depending on the poll, the number who don’t believe often is greater than those who do! So, this chapter is very necessary to reiterate what we as Catholics believe.

Sri also speaks about the mass as being a liturgical memorial which “makes present the past event so that it can be relived by later generations.” In this understanding of the celebration of the Mass, I fear, we are too casual in how we approach our attendance and participation at Mass.

Pope Francis at papal audience on November 15, 2017,  said that at Mass we “go to a living encounter with the Lord.” He says that Mass is the highest form of prayer and, before entering into that celebration, we should prepare ourselves for that encounter. At church he continues, Catholics should use the time before Mass, preparing “to meet with Jesus”, spending a period of silence, instead of engaging in small talk and chitchat. I usually arrive one hour before the Masses at which I assist as a deacon. Part of that time is spent setting up for Mass, but I try to spend some quiet time in prayer sitting in the church as well. I agree, it is distracting when others use that time to carry on conversations and “catch up” with parishioners.

Sri ends this chapter with a beautiful quote from Saint John Paul II, “Jesus awaits us in this sacrament of love. Let us not refuse the time to go meet him in adoration, in contemplation full of faith. . . Let our adoration never cease.”

Mary – 

I am pleased that this chapter focusses so much time and attention on the Real Presence of Jesus in the Eucharist – from the teachings presented to the disciples to the terminology and Passover traditions that were emulated at the institution of this sacrament.  We see in the author’s explanation that there is no mistaking what Christ’s words and actions intended.  He was certainly clear.  Watching many disciples turn away from this challenging teaching, there is no attempt to water down what has already been said or to entice those who could not accept those words to stay.  Jesus impressed upon his disciples that the sacrament of the Eucharist would make his sacrifice present to every generation – just as the celebration of Passover made those events present to the believers who participated – by using the same language and the same context as the Passover meal.  If God can do anything, then we must have faith that he can be present in the bread and the wine on the altar.  Understand too that God knows us better than we know ourselves.


Would transubstantiation be more ‘believable’ if the appearance, smell, and taste changed?  Certainly, it would!  We are sensory beings – our senses are how we learn about, perceive, and understand our world.  But human flesh and blood isn’t something that we find appealing or acceptable as a meal.  God understands that.  God created us this way.  In His generosity He has made the Eucharist attractive and acceptable under the species of bread and wine.

Personally, I thank Him for that! One final note that is crucial in this chapter that Sri doesn’t spend much time on – but it’s important to not miss it – is our reverence for the Eucharist.  How we approach this sacrament, how we prepare for it, what we do after receiving it, should all be indicative of the Real Presence of Christ within it.  Yet that seems to be lost on so many today.  Let us, at the very least, remember and exemplify by our actions the awe that we feel knowing that Christ is truly present with us and in us here on earth in our own lifetime.   

Questions for your comments –

  • When did you receive your First Holy Communion? What do you remember best about it?
  • How do you prepare for Mass today? How could you prepare better for Mass? What distracts you from preparing for it and how can you overcome those problems?
  • What place does Eucharistic Adoration have in your life?
  • How are you the “Body of Christ” at work or at home?

Share your thoughts!

3 thoughts on “Chapter 11 – The Holy Eucharist: God with Us

  • Sue Callahan

    Things were different back then – 1949. First thing that comes to mind is fasting before taking communion! I remember being dressed in white and wearing a veil that had to be tied under the chin. Processing in with hands folded with my prayer book and rosary tightly clenched between my folded hands. I was In the second grade and my prayer book and rosary were a gift from my fathers brother who was a Passionist Priest. The second remembrance is of the communion railing and the patton under my chin. We don’t see any of that tradition any more.

    Sometimes the decisions we make block us off from being the Body of Christ for others. We have to really concentrate on how we act and the effect of the decisions we make on others. it is probably the hardest thing for me to do.

    • Deacon Ralph Post author

      I remember the paten well. As a server we would sneak in a not so subtle tap on the throat of friends. Passionists are near and dear to my heart. Worked at Saint Paul’s Monastery in HS, sang on their choir, met Susan there! Special place and special folks. Next time I see you, love to know who was your Passionist uncle! Also, so true. Our words and deeds, have far-reaching effects!

  • Deacon Ralph Post author

    My First Communion was in 1964!! Three things I can remember about the day. It must have been close to the time my paternal grandfather died, because I can remember my mother telling me that on your First Communion Day, Jesus would grant you whatever you asked. I can remember saying, “I wish that grandpap Bachner would go to heaven.” Second, I remember getting a ring from my parents as a gift. It was a simple gold ring, but it had my initials, RWB on it and thought it was awesome. Third, our family was notoriously late in growing in height. So, the good sisters always lined you up from shortest to tallest, needless to say, I was not last!