THE HOLY EUCHARIST
Belief in the Real Presence
I believe, Lord, with a firm and gratifying faith that even when the words of Consecration may have sprung from unworthy lips, like lilies from the mire, in obedience to them Thou wert really and substantially present beneath the forms and appereances of bread and wine. I believe it because Thou, the Absolute Truth; Thou, the Essential and Unfailing Light didst never deceive, art not one to deceive, much less the immense flock of little ones who adore Thee, seek Thee and receive Thee as being truly present; because Thou hast said it. Lord, I believe in Thy creative word.
Why do I believe? Because Christ, the sole Author of the Sacraments, is All-powerful:
He summons the bodies of the dead, and they return to life from the corruption of the grave. He utters a word of command to the most rebellious diseases, either in the sick person’s presence or several miles away, and those diseases leave not a trace behind. He reproves the boisterous winds and waves, and they sing down calm and silent, like a class of prankish schoolboys at the shout of a feared master. He treads the sea, and it sustains Him with rock-like solidity. Over a few loaves and fish, He bestows a single word of blessing, and they multiply indefinitely.
Not once did Christ give a command –and He gave many- to any element of the material world, that He was not obeyed without the slightest resistance or hesitation. In other words, He ever showed Himself an Absolute –we might even say Tyrannycal- Master over matter, doing with it and in it whatever He willed; for the simple reason that it was He Who had brought it into existance out of nothing, endowing it with the capacities He pleased. Will He not, therefore, be able to do with it more, infinitely more, than anything my blunt mind can possibly cope with?
Lord, I believe. For Thou canst annihilate the whole world, if it should please Thee; Thou canst transform it to Thy liking; Thou canst change the substance of bread and wine into Thy own Body and Blood, and thus multiply Thy Presence beyond all human scope and measure. What was possible for Thee became an actual fact, for Thou didst say but the word, and never was it necessary for Thee to voice Thy commands to inert matter twice over. “Ipse dixit et facta sunt” (Ps. 32:9).
Again, why do I believe? Because the whole Church believes. No, I am not alone; I share this belief with millions and millions of human beings from every nation, race, and climate; with all the centuries of Christian history, with people of every age and condition and temperament, with souls joyful and sorrowful, with souls raised aloft in the auroral splendors of grace, or sunk in the night of sin; with the little children who seal the first dawning of reason with an act of faith in Christ’s Eucharistic Presence and their first Holy Communion, as with a morning star; with all those who close their length of days with the heavenly clasp of Holy Viaticum.
I believe with the Church, whose Faith in the Eucharist is Her very life. Wrench from Her this belief, and you will have destroyed Her entire Liturgy, demolished Her Cathedrals and churches, killed Her priesthood, effaced from Her history the most brilliant and holy pages written with Her blood and tears. It was for Thee, O Jesus in the Most Blessed Sacrament, that She allowed Herself to be persecuted and bled, and allowed remnants of Her vesture and entrails to cleave to the claws of tyrants! Today, the same as in the Catacombs, the same as in the Middle Ages, and in the century that witnessed the institution of the Feast of Corpus Christi; today, as truly as then, and perhaps even more so, this belief in the Eucharist urges the faithful on to the sublimest acts of adoration ever recorded in history.
I will make more frequent acts of faith in the Real Presence of Jesus Christ upon our Altars. This I will also teach others time and time again, until they, of their own accord, go eagerly in quest of Christ in the Blessed Sacrament, loving Him and adoring Him in this Sacrament before everything and everyone else, preferring His Presence to every picture or statue or shrine, however devotional or miraculous; giving Him precedence over every popular Saint, over the Most Holy Mother of God Herself, over His most cherished and venerated images.
Labels: Belief, Eucharist, Faith, God, Priesthood, Real Presence, Sacraments, The Church