Skip to content
Catholic Online Logo

By Deal W. Hudson

1/31/2014 (7 months ago)

Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

Christ comes to us in these various ways for one purpose: to draw all men into communion with God through His Pasch

Polls show that more than 60 percent of American Catholics say they do not believe in the Real Presence-that Jesus Christ is bodily present in the Eucharist. What does this mean? Are U.S. Catholics lacking in faith or poorly catechized, or are there more basic flaws in our current understanding of the Real Presence? I think most Catholics understand Real Presence too narrowly.
When people discuss the Real Presence, they usually have in mind what happens at the moment of consecration when the bread and wine turn into the body and blood of Jesus Christ. But this is not all there is to the meaning of Real Presence.

Highlights

By Deal W. Hudson

Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

1/31/2014 (7 months ago)

Published in U.S.

Keywords: beauty, Liturgy, love, relationships, priesthood, culture, enthsuiasm, renewal, reform, Catholic Culture, rubrics, worship, Holy Mass, Divine Liturgy, Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI, Deal W. Hudson, eucharist, sacrament, Holy Communion, adoration, monstrance, literacy


WASHINGTON,DC (Catholic Online) - Polls show that more than 60 percent of American Catholics say they do not believe in the Real Presence-that Jesus Christ is bodily present in the Eucharist. What does this mean? Are U.S. Catholics lacking in faith or poorly catechized, or are there more basic flaws in our current understanding of the Real Presence? I think most Catholics understand Real Presence too narrowly.

When people discuss the Real Presence, they usually have in mind what happens at the moment of consecration when the bread and wine turn into the body and blood of Jesus Christ. But this is not all there is to the meaning of Real Presence.

Given the historic debates over the Eucharist, it is understandable that people think in this way, but it can contribute to confusion in a number of ways. First, the term Real Presence is insufficient when applied to the change of the bread and wine into the body and blood of Christ. The proper term for this substantial change, according to the Catholic faith, is transubstantiation. This means that the Eucharistic species is Jesus, the crucified and risen Savior. Thus, for Catholics, the Eucharist is not only the Real Presence of Jesus-it is Jesus.

Also, by considering the Eucharistic body and blood as the Real Presence, one perhaps forgets the other ways that Christ is really present to us. He is really present in our daily lives by grace in our hearts; He is really present to us in our neighbor and those in need; He is really present in our midst when we gather for group prayer; He is really present when the Church celebrates the liturgy; He is really present in the priest acting in His name; He is really present in the proclamation of His word.

Once Christ's presence is recognized in these diverse ways, the Eucharist understood as the Real Presence might simply come to be seen as one Real Presence among others when, in fact, it is more than that-it is Jesus, whole and entire, body, soul, and divinity. However, there is a difference in kind, not just in degree between the Eucharist and the various other modes of Christ's presence.

The important point is this: Understanding the consecration solely in relation to the Real Presence risks missing the heart of the liturgy-our participation in the paschal mystery of Christ's death, resurrection, and ascension. The Eucharistic prayer, and especially the consecration, offers the Church to God through, with, and in Christ. Certainly the bread and wine become Jesus, but that is the result of God making the Mass to be our participation in Christ's saving paschal sacrifice.

The consecration offers the entire body of Christ, head and members, to God-it does not just change the elements into Jesus. If we forget this, then we easily make the Mass to be about the manifestation of God's presence-or presences-rather than about our communion with Christ in His Pasch, or sacrifice at Calvary, glorifying God and redeeming mankind.

"Pasch" for Catholics refers to the sacrifice of Christ and the application of the merits of his blood -- the human race would be freed from the bondage of the devil and of sin. Good Friday in the early Church was called the Pasch of the Crucifixion, while Easter day was styled the Pasch of the Resurrection.

The difference between the Real Presence of Christ in the Eucharist and the presence of God in daily life should be carefully distinguished. Christ is really present in many ways. My neighbor is the real presence of Jesus to me; the priest is, the Scriptures are, the indwelling of the Trinity is, a cross is, an icon is, etc. He is equally present in the Eucharist and in other non-eucharistic modes, although the presence is achieved in distinct ways for distinct purposes. In that sense, they are equally real but different modes of presence.

But in the Host, Jesus is really and substantially present. Nowhere else, other than at the right hand of God, is Jesus substantially present. Substantial presence is real, but Real Presence need not be substantial. This is why Catholics should not be satisfied with saying the Real Presence to refer to the Eucharist-it does not say enough and easily reduces the Host to one "presence" among others.

The Documents of the Second Vatican Council talk about "four modes of Real Presence. Eucharisticum Mysterium (EM, 55) speaks  of "principal modes" of Christ's presence, saying that the principal modes are successively manifested during Mass: first, in the assembly of the faithful gathered in His name; then, in the reading of Scripture; also in the person of the minister; and finally, under the eucharistic species.

Sacrosanctum Concilium (SC, 7), however, keeps the focus of Christian life and liturgy not on the presence of Christ in various modes, but on the Church's communion with Christ in accomplishing the Pasch. This is why there is no dichotomy in our distinguishing the modes of presence from the Pasch. The Pasch is the reason for the presences-that Christ may accomplish His saving work.

The conventional use of the theory of four modes and their successive manifestations in post-Vatican II liturgical discussions no doubt was intended to remind people of the Church's longstanding teaching that Christ is present in the assembly, the word, the priest, and the Host. However, unlike Vatican II, this theory does not state the purpose of the presence: the Church's participation in the paschal mystery. Consequently, the theory easily leads people to focus on the modes rather than the Pasch.

Christ's presence in the Host, assembly, word, and priest is distinct from the universal presence of God in His creation. God is present to us in specific ways that arise through one specific process having one specific purpose. It is a trinitarian process in which the Father acts through the Son (or Word) by the power of the Holy Spirit to draw mankind into personal communion with Himself in Christ. We see this in the act of creation, in the history of Israel, in the paschal mystery, and in the life of the Church. Thus, God is always present to us as the source of our being and as the saving God who guides human history toward the completion of the Pasch. These are specific ways He is universally present to all men.

Christ is present in a unique way when the Church gathers to celebrate the liturgy because these assemblies act on behalf of the entire Church. Indeed, the one Church of Christ is present in liturgical gatherings of the faithful united to their bishops, so that, especially in the eucharistic assembly, the whole body of Christ, head and members, is present and at work (see SC 7). This gathering of the faithful in communion with Christ and all His members is rightly called a "church."

Christ comes to us in these various ways for one purpose: to draw all men into communion with God through His Pasch. The other ways Christ is present to us should not obscure the primary focus of our worship -- glorifying God in Christ's sacrifice.

Summary:

1. According to polling most  Catholics do not believe in the Real Presence.

2. The reason may be that Catholics identify only the Eucharist with Real Presence and ignore its other "modes," the priest, the Word proclaimed, and the community at worship.

3. However, when broadening our understanding of Real Presence it's essential to affirm the priority of Christ's Eucharistic presence, or Pasch, over the other ways Christ is really present to us

. Deal W. Hudson, Ph.D

-----
Deal W. Hudson is president of the Morley Institute of Church and Culture, Senior Editor at Catholic Online, and former publisher and editor of Crisis Magazine.This column and subsequent contributions are an excerpt from a forthcoming book. Dr. Hudson's new radio show, Church and Culture, will begin broadcasting in February on the Ave Maria Radio Network.

---


Pope Francis: end world hunger through 'Prayer and Action'


2014 - Distributed by THE NEWS CONSORTIUM

Pope Francis Prayer Intentions for September 2014
Mentally disabled:
That the mentally disabled may receive the love and help they need for a dignified life.
Service to the poor: That Christians, inspired by the Word of God, may serve the poor and suffering.



Comments


More U.S.

Values Voters: What We Can Learn from Ted Cruz Being Booed at the In Defense of Christians Conference Watch

Image of Senator Ted Cruz from Texas was the keynote speaker at what was billed as a Gala Solidarity Dinner. Sadly, it certainly did not demonstrate solidarity between Christians. A small group in the assembly, rudely and loudly, reacted negatively to some of the words Senator Cruz spoke as he expressed his convictions concerning the persecution taking place in this land which is properly holy, precisely because of its role in God's loving plan of salvation for the whole human race.

By Deacon Keith A Fournier

The events of Wednesday, September 10, 2014, at the Inaugural In Defense of Christians Gala make abundantly clear that there is a serious and urgent need for values voters to meet and discuss the crisis in the Mideast and ways in which we can work together to ... continue reading


Our Age Need Rebels of Love: The Christian Church is the Real Counterculture Watch

Image of As a young man I rejected secularist, atheistic humanism - but not humanism itself. As I studied the early Church fathers I came to understand that the true humanism is authentic Christianity, the kind professed, in word and deed, by the early Christians. As I read early Church history I was brought back to the mother church of the entire Christian movement, the Catholic Church. I came to believe that she offers the theological anthropology, ecclesiology and world view of the early fathers of the Church. I also came to believe that she was the real counterculture.

By Deacon Keith A Fournier

We can - we will - change the culture of the contemporary West, if we are willing to suffer, struggle and offer ourselves to the Lord for the task. His power, the power of the Holy Spirit, working through us, will accomplish what we can never accomplish on our ... continue reading


What is a Catholic Deacon? Bishop Kevin Rhoades Gives the Answer Watch

Image of The Most Reverend Kevin Rhoades, the Bishop of the Diocese of Ft. Wayne-South Bend, presiding over the Mass of Ordination to the Diaconate of six new Holy Cross Deacons

By Deacon Keith A Fournier

It is a privilege to ordain you permanent deacons.  No, I didn't make a mistake.  Don't worry: you are scheduled to be ordained priests next year by Bishop Jenky!  But what happens today in the sacrament of Orders is not something transitional; it ... continue reading


ISIS among us! New York man sought to kill Iraq war veterans Watch

Image of Mufid Elfgeeh, a 30-year-old, Yemeni born man who lived in New York, attempted to send three people to Iraq to fight for the Islamic State, and purchase firearms to kill veterans from the Iraq War.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

A Yemeni born food store owner in upstate New York sent funding to the Islamic State and attempted to sent three jihadists to Syria to fight alongside the terrorist cell while plotting to perpetrate attacks against American troops who had served in Iraq. LOS ... continue reading


Father Frank Pavone: 16433 Children Buried in One Grave Watch

Image of Fr. Pavone prays at the graveside of the children

By Fr. Frank Pavone

For many years, this mass grave had no marker or headstone, just as the children have no names. But now there is a stone, and we are going to name the babies. Supporters of abortion do not want people to see mass graves in our midst. It's too disturbing a ... continue reading


Nice try! Democrats try to distance themselves from Obama for midterm, but it's too late! Watch

Image of Kentucky Senate candidate, Alison Grimes, seen here with a shotgun in an ad where she attempts to distance herself from the disastrous and unpopular policies of President Barack Obama.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

A Democratic Senate candidate, Alison Grimes, is trying her best to let Kentuckians know that she is certainly not an Obama Democrat, releasing a campaign ad where she wields a gun to prove it. LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - Grimes' 30-second ad takes place in ... continue reading


Are terrorists invading the US through the open border with Mexico? Watch

Image of The Islamic State nay already have sympathizers and cells within the USA. The porous border does nothing to aid the situation.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Americans are worried that the Islamic State will soon conduct terror attacks within the U.S., inserting agents via the porous border between the states and Mexico. At least one sheriff has told the media he received an official alert while the federal government is ... continue reading


'We'll send them to hell!' Texas sheriff declares war on Islamic State Watch

Image of Texas sheriff Gary Painter reveals that he believes the Islamic State has already infiltrated the U.S. through the porous southern border.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Law enforcement agencies along the U.S.-Mexico border have received alerts to be on the lookout for terrorists from Islamic State attempting to cross into the United States, a sheriff from the region has said. LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - Midland County ... continue reading


And you thought you had bad traffic! Tropical storm strands thousands in Nevada Watch

Image of Heavy rain washed out numerous portions of Nevada's critical I-15, leaving many drivers stranded or forced to take roundabout backways.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

In what may be the area's worst storm in decades, a 2-mile-long stretch of highway in Moapa Nevada was destroyed by four inches of rain that occurred in just an hour, part of the end of Tropical Storm Norbert. LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - The rain caused ... continue reading


What do you do when a man takes off with millions in sunken treasure? Watch

Image of Gold coins recovered from the SS Central America.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

For the past two years, U.S. marshals have been on the hunt for Tommy Thompson, the man who made the greatest lost treasure discovery in American history back in 1988. LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - Thompson has been on the run as a fugitive after he skipped a ... continue reading


All U.S. News

Newsletters

Newsletter Sign Up icon

Stay up to date with the latest news, information, and special offers

Daily Readings

Reading 1, First Corinthians 12:31--13:13
31 Set your mind on the higher gifts. And now I am ... Read More

Psalm, Psalms 33:2-3, 4-5, 12, 22
2 Give thanks to Yahweh on the lyre, play for him on ... Read More

Gospel, Luke 7:31-35
31 'What comparison, then, can I find for the people ... Read More

Saint of the Day

Saint of the Day for September 17th, 2014 Image

St. Robert Bellarmine
September 17: Born at Montepulciano, Italy, October 4, 1542, St. Robert ... Read More

Inform, Inspire & Ignite Logo

Find Catholic Online on Facebook and get updates right in your live feed.

Become a fan of Catholic Online on Facebook


Follow Catholic Online on Twitter and get News and Product updates.

Follow us on Twitter