Skip to content
Catholic Online Logo

By Deal W. Hudson

1/31/2014 (1 year 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 (1 year 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'


Copywriter 2015 - Distributed by THE NEWS CONSORTIUM

Pope Francis Prayer Intentions for March 2015
Universal:
Scientists: That those involved in scientific research may serve the well-being of the whole human person.
Evangelization: Contribution of women: That the unique contribution of women to the life of the Church may be recognized always.


Rosaries, Crosses, Prayer Cards and more... by Catholic Shopping .com


Comments


More U.S.

Defend Marriage! Sign the Pledge in Solidarity for Marriage, Join the March

Image of Did you read that these defenders of marriage faced tear gas and clubs from the riot police of the French Socialist regime? They sang La Marseillaise, the French National Anthem, and called for the resignation of the President. Most US news sources did not even report on the Paris March. It was led by a growing movement in France called La Manif  Similar marches have occurred in Taiwan and around the world.

By Deacon Keith Fournier

One of the leaders I have the privilege of calling my friend is a great evangelical Christian and constitutional lawyer named Mat Staver. Mat is the Founder and Chairman of Liberty Counsel and Liberty Counsel Action.  We have joined together on many fronts, ... continue reading


High school faces First Amendment issues with Muslim Student Association's controversial event Watch

Image of A student-sponsored event asking all female students to participate in wearing a hijab was cancelled after parents were outraged.

By Nikky Andres (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

The principal of Mason High School in Mason, Ohio has already cancelled the "Covered Girl Challenge." Earlier last week, parents received an email from the school encouraging female students to wear a hijab, or the Islamic head covering, on the same day. A couple days ... continue reading


Good Samaritan who fed homeless for 10 years charged with unbelievable $2,000 fine Watch

Image of

By Hannah Raissa Marfil (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Founder of the nonprofit mobile food truck Chow Train, Joan Cheever, was fined by the San Antonio, Texas police for about $2,000 due to the lack of permit for the trucks she is using to transport food. Cheever argues she has the right to do her charitable activity ... continue reading


Tragic final hours of Abraham Lincoln recounted on anniversary of his assassination Watch

Image of Abraham Lincoln's assassin John Wilkes Booth's final words were reportedly

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Long troubled by depression, 16th U.S. President Abraham Lincoln awoke on the last day of his life, April 14, 1865 in an uncommonly good mood. Lincoln and his wife Mary Todd decided to attend the hit farce comedy "Our American Cousin," which was playing at ... continue reading


Courage in the Storm: Three Cheers for Wyoming Catholic College! Watch

Image of I do not personally know President Kevin Roberts of Wyoming Catholic. I have never even visited Wyoming Catholic College. However, the action of the President inspires me. The College is now on my radar screen, so to speak. I will be praying for them and paying close attention to their future. I ask my readers to do the same. - Deacon Keith Fournier

By Deacon Keith Fournier

Since the objective of a Catholic University is to assure in an institutional manner a Christian presence in the university world confronting the great problems of society and culture, every Catholic University, as Catholic, must have the following essential ... continue reading


Abercrombie and Fitch employee reveals racial discrimination and sexual harassment at work Watch

Image of

By Nikky Andres (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Over the past ten years, Abercrombie and Fitch has received a number of discrimination lawsuits; they even paid $40 million in settlement back in 2006. Just recently, an unnamed employee went out in the open and gave full information about the constant racial ... continue reading


Know someone in the military? They could be in danger from Islamic militants Watch

Image of The Islamic State is threatening U.S. service members and their families, prompting senior military officials to issue guidelines about social media activity, to protect service members.

By Matt Waterson (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

The Islamic State's threat of violence towards U.S. service members is being taken very seriously by U.S. military officials, who have issued a warning to troops that instructs them to hide all information about them or their families on public accessible sites, ... continue reading


'One nation under God' defense team claims victory after atheists back down Watch

Image of

By Hannah Raissa Marfil (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Marking their fifth victory in a row, the conservative wing in defense of retaining the words "one nation under God" in the Pledge of Allegiance, the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty is claiming victory on the newest court trial. This is due to the decision from the ... continue reading


Emotions spike over 'disrespectful' political cartoon depicting 2-year-old murder victim Watch

Image of Kaden Lum was brutally murdered at just 2-years-old.

By Talia Ramos (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

An editorial cartoon published is viewed as "disrespectful" by the family of 2-year-old Kaden Lum, killed in the still unresolved shooting last March 28. MUNTINLUPA, PHILIPPINES (Catholic Online) - Kaden's family was left outraged with Kitsap Sun newspaper's political ... continue reading


New Islamic State video vows another 9/11 and to 'burn America' Watch

Image of Entitled

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

The evil media machine of Islamic State remains ever ready. The Middle Eastern terror group latest video declares there is "no safety for any American on the globe" and claims that the U.S. will burn in another 9/11-style attack. LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic ... 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, Acts 6:8-15
8 Stephen was filled with grace and power and began ... Read More

Psalm, Psalms 119:23-24, 26-27, 29-30
23 Though princes sit plotting against me, your ... Read More

Gospel, John 6:22-29
22 Next day, the crowd that had stayed on the other ... Read More

Saint of the Day

Saint of the Day for April 20th, 2015 Image

St. Marian
April 20: When St. Mamertinus was Abbot of the monastery which St. ... 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