Friday, 22 April 2011


Last night was Holy Thursday, when the Church celebrates the gift of the Eucharist and of the Priesthood.

Modern science assumes that the “substance” of something is simply what it is made of – the atoms and energies that are its various elements. However, something deeper is implied by the Catholic Christian belief in what is termed the “real presence” of our Lord in the Blessed Sacrament. For no one suggests that the host would look any different under an electron microscope before and after its consecration, and yet the Church still teaches that its “substance” has been transformed. To be more precise, she says that during the Mass, as a result of the priest’s words of consecration, the substances of the bread and wine are changed into the substances of Christ’s Body and Blood. This implies that the “substance” of a thing is something deeper than the elements into which we can chop it up. What lies deeper? I think we can say that it is the intention of God – the substance of a thing is the reality of what God is giving in that thing.

Thus when God states “This is my body”, he changes the reality, the substance of what it is that we see and taste. But he need not, and does not, change the way it looks and feels. For the appearances of a thing reflect the gift that is being given, and the appearances of bread and wine are the perfect language in which to express the way in which God wishes to give himself to us – a language that has always been built into creation, waiting for its fulfillment. The ingredients of bread have always existed in order to become the Eucharist. Christ intends to give himself completely, in order to unite himself as closely as possible with those who will receive him, just as intimately as food and drink are united with us when we eat and drink. “For my flesh is real food and my blood is real drink. Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood remains in me, and I in him. Just as the living Father sent me and I live because of the Father, so one who feeds on me will live because of me.” (John 6:55-7)

No comments:

Post a Comment