Jul 3, 2011

Truly Present.

  Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament, the Euchar...          
Perhaps the most divisive belief separating persons from Catholic Christianity is the belief of the True Presence of Jesus in the Eucharist.  In the past it was mainly Protestants who disagreed with this teaching, but today we read disturbing statistics that perhaps a large percentage of American Catholics do not believe in the True Presence of Jesus in the Eucharist!!!  Much of this has been caused by poor catechetical instruction of the last generation and from the air of casualness that has developed by some at Mass. As Secular Franciscans going from life to the Gospel and from Gospel to life, we may come across this question and must be ready to defend it.  I have little doubt that in a non confrontational situation any Secular Franciscan is ready to defend this truth, however, we could be surprised by such a challenge, therefore, it may help to organize our thoughts ahead and be prepared.  As a help in organizing your thoughts, I would like to offer some suggestions.

Who might be presenting this challenge to us?  Besides main line and evangelical Protestants it could be (sadly) friends at church or even members of our families.  Sometimes it could present itself as outright challenge to the doctrine, or could be in the attitude or lack of understanding of how a person receives Our Lord in Communion.  Considering the long communion lines and short (or non- existing) confession lines many Catholics today have become most casual in receiving Our Lord.

In the Gospel accounts of the Last Supper; “This is my Body”, and “This is my Blood” and “do this in remembrance of me" reminds us of the account of St. John 6:48-59, 66-69.  After telling the crowd that His Body and Blood are truly food and drink many walked away, but He did not call them back saying “Wait, I only meant that symbolically!".  No, he let them leave and even asked the apostles if they would be leaving. Our Lord also told his disciples that He would be leaving them, but at the same time that He would be with us until the end of time.  How could this be possible?  It is possible through the Eucharist, and He has now kept this promise for 2000 years unbroken through many persecutions.

In the case of casualness, St Paul warns us to receive unworthily we would be “Guilty of the Body and Blood of Jesus”.  All people must be encouraged to frequent confession and spend time before Mass preparing to receive Him always remembering the Eucharist is the same body and blood of Jesus that we think of hanging on the cross dying for our sins. When we receive, our bodies become tabernacles and for a short time are similar to the first tabernacle to hold Jesus, that is the body of the Blessed Virgin, Mary. In the Old Testament the Hebrews had the Ark of the Covenant. It was treated with great respect and reverence, but it only contained the Ten Commandments, manna and a staff. Our bodies are tabernacles containing the Son of God given as a gift!!  If we really understood what we were doing, and Who we are coming in personal contact with, we might barely be able to move our legs as we approach. In the simple appearance of bread and wine we are able to approach, but of the teaching of the Gospel and Scripture we must be aware.  We must prepare the purity of our soul in confession and the appearance of our bodies in attire and focus.  (Ref. CCC 1387 To prepare for worthy reception of this sacrament, the faithful should observe the fast required in their Church. Bodily demeanor (gestures, clothing) ought to convey the respect, solemnity, and joy of this moment when Christ becomes our guest.)

How would we react if we saw the priest putting the Blessed Sacrament in a Monstrance for adoration that was dirty, broken and bent? Ask the person you are talking to realize that when we bring Our Lord into our bodies, we are a type of Monstrance.  What is our condition?  Please meditate and realize many more of your own reasons and defenses.  POC. Bob, SFO