The Real Presence

Do we accept the real presence of the Eucharist?

The faith of the church from the beginning becomes the Body and Blood of the Lord.

The Second Vatican Council tried to bring a balance. The Council recognised many ways Jesus is present. Jesus is present in the community “Where two or three are gathered in my name”. But this is not the Eucharistic presence. Jesus is present in the scriptures. God is the eternal Word. “In the beginning of the Word and the Word was with God”. Jesus of truly present in the scripture. Jesus is truly present in the pastoral presence. We cannot go it alone. Finally, Jesus is present in the sacraments. Saint Augustine said, “it does not matter if it is Judas who baptises or Peter who baptises”. Why? Because it is Christ who baptises.

How did the imbalance come about? History can teach us. Jesus said, “Do this”, “take and eat”. In the early church the Eucharist was kept. Not to be venerated, so that it might be used. Over time the Eastern Church the Eucharist was kept available. The Eastern church does not have the custom of veneration. In the Western Church a customer of veneration where the Eucharist kept in the tabernacle.

By the 6th century the Roman Empire was collapsing. The West entered in the Dark Ages. There were no centres of study. Scholarship was largely lost. In the 12th century, not long the church came out of the Dark Ages. The sacraments are symbols. Symbols represent something else. Symbols are rich in meaning. In the 6th century Saint Augustine said “We die and rise with Christ”. In the 12th century Berengarius of Tours was the first Christian to deny the Real Presence ... taught that Jesus is truly present in the Eucharist or was the Eucharist merely a symbol? Europe rose up in outrange. Berengarius changed his mind about this as the witness of the community revealed the Eucharist’s deeper truth. The Eastern Church also taught in the real presence of the Eucharist. Our understanding of the real presence came out of the 12th century.

During the Dark Ages, it is miraculous the Christian Church survived. Many people in the Dark Ages stopped going to church. In the 13th century the Church created a law to require people to go to church. People became to venerate the raising of the Eucharist. Eucharistic procession became dominate. The Church moved away from mass. There is something gone wrong? Why has veneration become more important than the mass?

The Protestant reluctance to see the real presence came out of the veneration which was practised. Jesus did not teach about veneration. “Jesus is physically present”. This is not true. The word “physical” came out the word “natural”. Jesus is present in a sacramental way. For God Jesus is physically presence. But for us, Jesus is sacramentally presence. We have to use the right “thought forms”. This is a unique kind of presence.

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24 December 2020

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Father John Thornhill SM

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