A question about the Holy Eucharist

Question: To any normal person, this sounds very much like the script of a gruesome horror film. The whole idea of “eating Jesus’ body” and “drinking his blood” is grotesque in the extreme. What do you believers have to say about this?

Answer: The Jews were required to eat the flesh of the Passover Lamb, ever since God liberated them from slavery, in Egypt.

Christians have been required to eat the risen and glorified flesh and blood of Jesus Christ – the true, Lamb of Godever since he liberated all of mankind from perpetual slavery to Satan, sin and death by his atoning sacrifice on the cross, at Calvary and his subsequent, glorious resurrection from the dead.

This is an essential part of a uniquely powerful Eucharistic Celebration/Commemoration (known as the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass) where we Christians joyfully, thankfully and powerfully receive the body, blood, soul and divinity of Jesus Christ (known as “The Real Presence”) under the more palatable and aesthetically pleasing auspices of ordinary bread and wine.

To put it even more simply:
This is merely one more extraordinary and awesome example

of God’s total self-giving for our salvation.

For those in the know, who possess at least a modicum of true faith, this is historically and traditionally consistent, logical, rational and supernaturally nourishing.

For others, it remains a total mystery and a scandal.

Asked and answered today on Yahoo!Answers. Edited for clarity and content.

Sacred Heart, Holy Eucharist, Miracle and Mystery … all Jesus … all the time.

Christ our Lord is really, truly, substantially and sacramentally present in the Eucharist. This Presence is confirmed in a most astonishing way in those Eucharistic miracles where the Host and/or Precious Blood physically and visibly change shape so as to become (in sensible form) flesh and blood.

A question arises, however: Since, in some of these Eucharistic miracles, the Host changes into heart tissue, are we right to say that the Sacred Host is the flesh of the Sacred Heart of Jesus?
Read about the Eucharist and the Miracle of Lanciano

The Real Presence of Jesus Christ in the Holy Eucharist

The Jews therefore strove among themselves, saying:
How can this man give us his flesh to eat? (John 6:52)

Andy P/Doria2’s Final Lenten Catechesis Installment

Mt 26:26ff (Mk 14:22ff., Lk 22:17ff.) – Eucharist instituted – Look them up.

Mt 16:5-12 – Jesus talking symbolically about food – 5 When the disciples reached the other side, they had forgotten to bring any bread. 6 Jesus said to them, “Take heed and beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and Sadducees.” 7 And they discussed it among themselves, saying, “We brought no bread.” 8 But Jesus, aware of this, said, “O men of little faith, why do you discuss among yourselves the fact that you have no bread? 9 Do you not yet perceive? Do you not remember the five loaves of the five thousand, and how many baskets you gathered? 10 Or the seven loaves of the four thousand, and how many baskets you gathered? 11 How is it that you fail to perceive that I did not speak about bread? Beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and Sadducees.” 12 Then they understood that he did not tell them to beware of the leaven of bread, but of the teaching of the Pharisees and Sadducees.

Jn 1:29 – Jesus called “Lamb of God”- 29 The next day he saw Jesus coming toward him, and said, “Behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!

Jn 4:31-34 – Jesus talking symbolically about food – 31 Meanwhile the disciples besought him, saying, “Rabbi, eat.” 32 But he said to them, “I have food to eat of which you do not know.” 33 So the disciples said to one another, “Has any one brought him food?” 34 Jesus said to them, “My food is to do the will of him who sent me, and to accomplish his work.

Jn 6:35-71 – Eucharist promised – 35 Jesus said to them, “I am the bread of life; he who comes to me shall not hunger, and he who believes in me shall never thirst. 36 But I said to you that you have seen me and yet do not believe. 37 All that the Father gives me will come to me; and him who comes to me I will not cast out. 38 For I have come down from heaven, not to do my own will, but the will of him who sent me; 39 and this is the will of him who sent me, that I should lose nothing of all that he has given me, but raise it up at the last day. 40 For this is the will of my Father, that every one who sees the Son and believes in him should have eternal life; and I will raise him up at the last day.” 41 The Jews then murmured at him, because he said, “I am the bread which came down from heaven.” 42 They said, “Is not this Jesus, the son of Joseph, whose father and mother we know? How does he now say, ‘I have come down from heaven’?” 43 Jesus answered them, “Do not murmur among yourselves. 44 No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him; and I will raise him up at the last day. 45 It is written in the prophets, ‘And they shall all be taught by God.’ Every one who has heard and learned from the Father comes to me. 46 Not that any one has seen the Father except him who is from God; he has seen the Father. 47 Truly, truly, I say to you, he who believes has eternal life. 48 I am the bread of life. 49 Your fathers ate the manna in the wilderness, and they died. 50 This is the bread which comes down from heaven, that a man may eat of it and not die. 51 I am the living bread which came down from heaven; if any one eats of this bread, he will live for ever; and the bread which I shall give for the life of the world is my flesh.” 52 The Jews then disputed among themselves, saying, “How can this man give us his flesh to eat?” 53 So Jesus said to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of man and drink his blood, you have no life in you;

54 he who eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day. 55 For my flesh is food indeed, and my blood is drink indeed. 56 He who eats my flesh and drinks my blood abides in me, and I in him. 57 As the living Father sent me, and I live because of the Father, so he who eats me will live because of me. 58 This is the bread which came down from heaven, not such as the fathers ate and died; he who eats this bread will live for ever.” 59 This he said in the synagogue, as he taught at Caperna-um. 60 Many of his disciples, when they heard it, said, “This is a hard saying; who can listen to it?” 61 But Jesus, knowing in himself that his disciples murmured at it, said to them, “Do you take offense at this? 62 Then what if you were to see the Son of man ascending where he was before? 63 It is the spirit that gives life, the flesh is of no avail; the words that I have spoken to you are spirit and life. 64 But there are some of you that do not believe.” For Jesus knew from the first who those were that did not believe, and who it was that would betray him. 65 And he said, “This is why I told you that no one can come to me unless it is granted him by the Father.” 66 After this many of his disciples drew back and no longer went about with him. 67 Jesus said to the twelve, “Do you also wish to go away?” 68 Simon Peter answered him, “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life; 69 and we have believed, and have come to know, that you are the Holy One of God.” 70 Jesus answered them, “Did I not choose you, the twelve, and one of you is a devil?” 71 He spoke of Judas the son of Simon Iscariot, for he, one of the twelve, was to betray him.

1 Cor 5:7 – Jesus called “paschal lamb who has been sacrificed – 7 Cleanse out the old leaven that you may be a new lump, as you really are unleavened. For Christ, our paschal lamb, has been sacrificed.

1Cor 10:16 – Eucharist = participation in Christ’s body & blood – 16 The cup of blessing which we bless, is it not a participation in the blood of Christ? The bread which we break, is it not a participation in the body of Christ?

1 Cor 11:23-29 – receiving unworthily his body & blood – 23 For I received from the Lord what I also delivered to you, that the Lord Jesus on the night when he was betrayed took bread, 24 and when he had given thanks, he broke it, and said, “This is my body which is for you. Do this in remembrance of me.” 25 In the same way also the cup, after supper, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood. Do this, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of me.” 26 For as often as you eat this bread and drink the cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until he comes. 27 Whoever, therefore, eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner will be guilty of profaning the body and blood of the Lord. 28 Let a man examine himself, and so eat of the bread and drink of the cup. 29 For any one who eats and drinks without discerning the body eats and drinks judgment upon himself.

Could St. Paul have said this any clearer than he did here? Where did he say the “symbolic” sharing or the “symbolic” partaking? This verse is absolutely to the point, and there is not a hint of symbolism anywhere. Did you notice the BLESSING THAT WE BLESS, and the BREAD THAT WE BREAK? Here, Saint Paul clearly stated that he and the other Apostles have the authority and the power (Acts 1:8,2:2-4) to call down “THE WORD” with their word, and the cup (of wine) is no longer wine, but the Blood of Christ, and the bread is no longer bread, but the Body of Christ.

All of the above, along with the constant testimony of the Catholic Church, from the earliest days,  proves that actually consuming our Lord’s Body and Blood is literally and precisely what He meant. No where does scripture indicate this is merely symbolic.

This Week’s Ask Alice: Confusion about communal penance services, and a philosophical question about the soul and spirit.

Send A Question To Alice

She’ll answer as many questions as possible,
right here, every Thursday.

Email responses will also be provided, as time permits.

Helen K. asks: If you attend a communal penance service does this absolve you from sins both venial and mortal, or do you still need to go to confession, one-on-one with a priest? I am confused on this matter.

Alice replies: A communal penance service is no substitute for the sacrament of Penance. Absolution for a mortal sin can ONLY be obtained when a penitent confesses his/her sin individually to a priest.

Sin separates us from God. Through the Sacrament of Reconciliation, our relationship with our Heavenly Father is fully restored. Since Penance is a sacrament, the person who goes to confession receives pardon for every mortal and venial sin as well as a wealth of graces. The purpose of a Communal Penance service is to prepare the Faithful for the Sacrament of Reconciliation. Why should I settle for a Communal Penance Service and pass up the treasury of healing graces that the Lord longs to shower upon me in the Confessional?

It is recommended that Catholics receive the Sacrament of Penance once a month. Although I have committed no mortal sins, going to confession refreshes my soul. Confessing my sins to a priest (who represents Jesus) helps me to clean out the junk that accumulates in my soul. A monthly soul cleaning, keeps me spiritually strong and focused, patient and loving. When God forgives me, His grace fortifies me to forgive others. For me going to Confession is like taking vitamins. God’s gracious mercy pumps me up when I am weak and stumbling.

A communal penance service, general confession and general absolution can suffice only in case of dire necessity, such as imminent danger of death without adequate time for a priest(s) to hear each person’s confession. Or if there are not enough priests available to hear each person’s confession in a reasonable time. In this instance, the individual must have the intention of confessing his/her sins as soon as possible. The bishop of the diocese typically decides whether or not the conditions needed for general absolution exist.

****

Peggy G. Asks:

We have been discussing Soren Kierkegaard’s philosophy of the soul in theology, how we are not souls and that we have this ability to bring our souls into existence by the choices we make. So, here I am pondering about it at 2 a.m.

I have always believed that God gives us our soul from the time of conception. As Genesis 2:7 says, “The Lord God formed man from the dust of the ground and breathes into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living being” (Genesis 2:7). Without God’s breath, man would only exist in the physical form and we would all be robots. The breathing individual is alive, living and full of LIFE. I believe that the soul is a little piece of God within us. I have believed that the soul is an inner, vital, and spiritual principle which is capable of existence apart from the body. The freedom to make our own decisions has everything to do with free will, not with the existence of our souls or bringing our souls into existence like Kierkegaard believed, for they already exist prior to our ability to decide for ourselves. I do believe our choices here on this plane of existence will affect what is going to happen to our souls at the end of our existence.

So here are my questions…just because I am curious….

What is a soul?

What compromises the spirit within someone? Is that spirit within us the same as The Holy Spirit?

Are our souls and spirits connected?

Can we alter the soul that was given to us by God through our choices?

Does God judge our soul on judgment day, or does he judge our deeds? Is it possible to judge our deeds without looking upon our souls?

Alice replies:

Your reflections on the theology of the soul are spiritually insightful.

Every human being is created in the image of God. Our soul is the essence of our being. It is spiritual, immortal and will be united with our resurrected body in Heaven. Although the Catholic church uses the words, “soul” and “spirit,” interchangeably, St. Paul refers to “body”, “soul,” and “spirit” separately. Theologians contend that his comments were Trinitarian (spirit-Holy Spirit, soul-Father, and body-Son) in nature.

The Holy Spirit indwells every baptized person.

The state of our soul can be altered through serious sins. “Do not fear those who deprive the body of life but cannot destroy the soul. Rather, fear him who can destroy both body and soul in Gehenna.” (Matthew 10″28) Mortal sin endangers the state of our soul. God will judge the state of our soul when we face Him at our particular judgment day. God does not condemn people to hell. We choose where we will spend eternity. Even the worst sinner has an opportunity to repent and beg for God’s Divine Mercy when he/she dies. The only people in hell are those who choose to refuse His mercy.

Since Soren Kierkegaard is considered the father of the existentialist movement, theologians such as St. Augustine present the soul from a Catholic point of view. “The Catechism of the Catholic Church” is a sound source that clarifies soul questions. St. Thomas Aquinas wrote about the soul and spirit in, “Summa Theologica.”

Hope these ideas provide a bit of inspiration for future 2 a.m. discussions.

Doug Lawrence adds: You’re supposed to ponder this stuff, until it drives you nuts (just like Kierkegaard, with his multiple personas.) It drives me nuts just trying to remember how many a’s are in his name!

Anyway, here goes:

Q: What is a soul?

A: The soul is the receptacle of our human intellect … the “home” of our spirit (and our rational self.) Together with our body, these three (body/soul/spirit) constitute the essence of our eternal, human “person hood”.

Q: What comprises the spirit within someone? Is that spirit within us the same as The Holy Spirit?

A: The spirit is the personal, rational essence which animates the human soul and gives us our distinct, identifiable personality.

The Holy Spirit is God. God’s “essence” is pure spirit and divine, while our essence is human and intended to be composite … consisting (ideally) of body, soul and spirit.

It should be noted that Jesus’ divine essence always existed, as a pure spirit … in the 2nd person of the Holy Trinity.

When he became man, Jesus also “took on” a human body, complete with a human soul, all of which will continue to endure into eternity, as a permanent aspect of his divine person hood. (Also a composite, but as God … with a divine spirit … plus human body … plus human soul.)

Taking on flesh to become man, Jesus never ceased to be God, nor did he become some sort of an amalgamated “mixture”.

Jesus remains true God and true man … and that is suitably demonstrated by the fact that he forever retains: 1) his eternal, divine spirit; 2) his eternal, human soul; 3) and (since the resurrection) his glorified, transformed, eternal and incorruptible human body.

So, under the proper circumstances, the two different essences can and do co-exist.

In particular, at baptism, the Holy Spirit takes up residence in the human soul, and we become temples of the Holy Spirit.

This begins the process of actual spiritual transformation (theosis) which should (eventually) lead us to become like God (although still fully human).

Q: Are our souls and spirits connected?

A: Yes. Just like your body and your brain are connected.

Q: Can we alter the soul that was given to us by God through our choices?

A: God’s grace and his actual presence in the soul (or the lack of it) determines the state of the soul … and whether it will be pleasing and acceptable to God and worthy of/compatible with heaven.

God does not hang around in our soul when we choose to do seriously evil stuff. That’s why mortal sin leaves the soul in danger of hell.

The most practical aspect of this:

God is love. Love is just another name for charity. Anyone who departs this earthly existence with at least a modicum of charity remaining in their soul is not likely to see eternal damnation (although we would expect a whole lot of remedial work to be necessary for those who just “squeak” by.) Alternatively … Mary … full of grace … now in heaven … complete with her spotless soul, forever untainted by sin of any kind … along with with her (already) transformed and glorified human body … practically runs the place! (By the grace of God, of course.)

Q: Does God judge our soul on judgment day, or does he judge our deeds? Is it possible to judge our deeds without looking upon our souls?

A: See the preceding answer regarding God, love, charity, and eternal damnation/reward.

This may not all match up with what is being covered in your philosophy class, but that’s the way philosophy works.

Philosophy is the search for truth, while Jesus IS the truth, and the authentic teachings of the Catholic Church faithfully reflect that truth.

St. Pio: body … soul … and reports of his ability to bilocate

On the feast of Padre Pio, many good Catholics and also many non-Catholics and even atheists recall the stories of his miraculous bilocations. St. Pio of Pietrelcina was known to have bilocated many times throughout his life, a phenomenon which has become central to the telling of his mystical life.

Of course, Padre Pio was not the only saint to have bilocated, but he is certainly the saint most commonly associated with the mysterious gift.

Without denying the fact of bilocation as a phenomenon, there is still some difficulty in explaining just what this event really is. By “bilocation,” do we mean that Padre Pio was present in two places at the same time? If yes, was he present both in his soul and in his body, or just in his soul? If just in his soul, was he materially present, having acted through a momentarily constructed physical body, or was his presence only a spiritual action visible only to the intellect? What follows is more speculative than most of the writing on this blog.

I offer this speculation neither to give any definitive answers nor to induce doubt, but rather to help us all wonder at the glories of God’s works.

Read more

How is the sacrifice of the Mass and the sacrifice of Jesus on Calvary the same?

Q: How is the sacrifice of the Mass and the sacrifice of Jesus on Calvary the same?

A: Jesus was crucified only once … at Calvary … body, blood, soul and divinity … but he will always BE the eternal sacrifice for sin that served to redeem the whole world.

At Mass, the VERY SAME crucified (and risen) body, blood, soul, and divinity of Jesus Christ becomes present for us on the altar.

Since it (he) is the SAME Jesus … then it (he) is also the SAME one time, once for all, eternal sacrifice for sin that was present on the cross at Calvary.

The logic is irrefutable.

There’s other similarities, too, but they get kind of “deep”.

Send me an email if you want more info.