There are a lot of things (doctrinal and otherwise) that Catholics and Protestants regard differently. One of the main “disputes” is the Sacrament of the Eucharist”. Where Catholics believe that Jesus becomes the bread and wine, Protestants (for the most part as far as I’m aware…but, to be honest, I’m no theological scholar) believe that the bread and wine are symbolically Jesus.
I know, I probably just lost a good number of you reading this. But, if you can unroll your eyes and bear with me for a few hundred words, perhaps we can build together a new foundation and start to find that rock for your shack.
For a Catholic, it’s not just symbolically Jesus. It’s not just a representation of Him. It’s not just His presence come down from Heaven. It is Him.
“For the Catholic nothing could be simpler. Whether he understands or not, he feels safe with Peter in the assurance that he who said he would give us his body to eat had the words of eternal life. Return again to what he said. The bread is not changed into the whole Christ, but into his body; the wine is not changed into the whole Christ, but into his blood. But Christ lives, death has no more dominion over him. The bread becomes his body, but where his body is, there he is; the wine becomes his blood but is not thereby separated from his body, for that would mean death; where his blood is, he is. Where either body or blood is, there is Christ, body and blood, soul and divinity. That is the doctrine of the Real Presence.”
God came down to Earth once, to die for our sins on a cross. He took upon Himself our punishment, suffering for us and in place of us that we might find everlasting life with Him. He continues to come to Earth in the form of the Eucharist. We can receive Him every time we receive Communion.
“Regarding the Real Presence, the pastors were told to explain that “in this sacrament is contained not only the true Body of Christ-and that means everything that goes to make up a true body, such as bones, nerves, and so on-but also Christ whole and entire.” Consequently the Eucharist contains Jesus Christ in the fullness of his divinity and the completeness of his humanity.
Jesus is therefore in the Blessed Sacrament “whole and entire: the Soul, the Body and Blood of Christ, with all their component parts. In heaven a complete human nature is united to the divine nature in one. . . person. It is a denial of the faith to suppose that in this sacrament there is anything less.”
We may not be able to wrap our heads around transubstantiation. And that may cause us to reject it. But, at least within the Eucharist doctrine of the Catholic Church, we discover a faith beyond sight. There are, of course, a variety of other ways to experience God and to believe without seeing. But why deny the beauty of the sacrament?
I don’t need to understand thermonuclear dynamics or fusion to enjoy the warm of the sun or the beauty of a sunset …or sunrise.
For me, part of being Catholic, is the beauty to experience my Creator in new ways. Many of them personal. But, for me, there’s nothing more personal that meeting with Jesus and finding communion with Him in the Eucharist.
If you’ve ever seen a child’s face as they experience their First Holy Communion, you know the awesome power that made the ancient Jews afraid of God and request that Moses keep his face covered.
It’s a shame that we don’t all feel that same joy every Sunday. Part of it might be our sins separating us from God, but part of it might be that we have become so accustomed to it that the miracle becomes ordinary. We reduce the extraordinary to something common and unimpressive. We don’t treat it with awe or approach it with wonder. We simply accept it as fact that God is present. That is both heart-warming and saddening. We’ve allowed the supernatural to become natural.
Life has plenty of ways to attempt to remove God from us. We can easily fall prey to these tricks. Let’s not let ourselves forget the promise of Jesus; instead, let us rely on Him and run to Him in our need. Not just through prayer at home, but through prayer before the Blessed Sacrament.
Perhaps if I saw my entire life through the same eyes that expect to see Jesus in the sacrament, that view it as a fact rather than a miraculous event, I might see the world in a different light. Who’s to say, however, if it would be brighter or dimmer? I just hope that I will strive to increase my awareness of His presence and come into greater communion with Him as He lives within me.
Should we hide our faces? Or, rather, having light, should we not pass it on?