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The Sacraments Instituted By Christ… Answering Objections To The Real Presence

February 25, 2018 Our Catholic Faith No Comments

By RAYMOND DE SOUZA, KM

Part 17

When St. Paul the Apostle clearly and unmistakably taught the Corinthians that “the cup of blessing which we bless, is it not a participation in the Blood of Christ? The bread which we break, is it not a participation in the Body of Christ?”
We all know that a rhetorical question has such an evident answer, that it is unnecessary to reply. So, when St. Paul used the verb to be about the Eucharist, he naturally expected the Corinthians to answer with the same verb: “Yes, it is.”
Then he logically concluded: “Whoever, therefore, eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner will be guilty of profaning the Body and Blood of the Lord” (1 Cor. 10:16; 11:27).
This was the belief of Christians for nearly one thousand and five hundred years, kept uninterruptedly except for the priest Berengarius (c. 1050) who denied it for a short period of time, but who died reconciled with the truth taught by Jesus (John 6) and preached all over by St. Paul.
But, of course, with the advent of heresies in the 1500s, each one had his own opinion, and cast a doubt on Jesus words and disputed St. Paul’s teaching — to their undoing.
Let us take the most common objections to Jesus’ Real Presence, one by one:
“It seems impossible that the same body could be present at the same time in Heaven and in all the consecrated Hosts throughout the world.”
Reply: The person who concocted this objection — apart from simply stating his individual opinion, not to say open confession of ignorance of God’s power — failed to remember what the Archangel St. Gabriel said to our Lady on the day of the Annunciation when the Word of God became flesh: “For with God nothing shall be impossible” (Luke 1:37).
The archangel was simply stating what every Hebrew knew from previous teachings of Sacred Scriptures, such as:
“Is anything too difficult for the Lord?” (Gen. 18:14); “I know that you can do all things, and that no purpose of yours can be thwarted” (Job 42:2); “Behold, I am the Lord, the God of all flesh; is anything too difficult for me?” (Jer. 32:27); “And He said, the things which are impossible with men are possible with God” (Luke 18:27); “Jesus looked at them and said, ‘With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible’” (Matt. 19:26.).
Since the person who raises that objection supposedly believes in the teachings of the Bible, I prefer to respond first with the Bible itself, and then I add the following reasoning:
a) The ordinary human body, subject to the laws of nature, cannot be present simultaneously in different places. But here, there is a question of no ordinary body but of one united mysteriously to God, the Master of nature and its laws. Other bodies are subject to the laws of space, but to this Body the laws of space are obedient.
b) There is only one soul in man, wholly and entirely present at once in many places, in the eyes, in the ears, and in every organ and member of the body, and yet the soul has no dimensions and occupies no space. The glorified Body of Christ in many distinct Hosts may be compared to a soul: while remaining one and the same, it is present at the same time in different places.
Second objection:
“It seems absurd that the Body of our Savior could be so reduced in size so as to dwell within the small dimensions of a Host.”
Reply: The person who raises this objection must be a firm believer that it must be absolutely impossible to place the Encyclopedia Britannica on a single CD-ROM. But we know that the CD can contain the entire text, the diagrams, illustrations, and photographs — all that is in the “hard copy” — and, as a result, we have the exact same encyclopedia, the only difference being that it exists in a different form.
Similarly, we have Christ’s Body in the Holy Eucharist, in sacramental form, but no less real for that.
Third objection: “Since God is everywhere, what is the need of the Blessed Eucharist? Would not God be present in the Host even though un-consecrated?”
Reply: The person who concocted this objection seems desperate to appeal to anything to contradict the evident teaching of our Lord in the Gospel of St. John. When He asked the apostles if they also wanted to go away, following the disciples who abandoned Him in the synagogue, St. Peter gave the answer all true Christians could have given had they been there at the time:
“Lord, to whom would we go? You have the words of eternal life. We believe and know that you are the Holy One of God” (John 6:67-69). Peter did not understand how Jesus would perform that amazing reality of the Real Presence. Just as he did not understand how Jesus managed to multiply bread and fish, walk on water, give sight to the blind and hearing to the deaf, and cleanse lepers and bring Lazarus back to life. But He did it. So, if He tells us that the “Bread of Heaven” is His Flesh, His Flesh it is!
More: Yes, God is omnipresent, and therefore He is present in the un-consecrated Host as He is present in all His creatures in the vast universe. But this presence does not endow them with any powers over and above their natural ones, since its immediate effect is merely to sustain them in their ordinary existence and action.
The Lord Jesus’ Presence in the Blessed Sacrament is ordained to an effect entirely different from that of God’s sustaining presence in bread — namely, the spiritual nourishment of our souls.
God is present in all His creatures, but no mere creature can be adored, because its activity is its own, not God’s. The only creature that is adorable is the Human Nature which is united to the Second Divine Person of the Holy Trinity. It is adorable, because the acts done by means of it are the acts of God Himself.
God is indeed everywhere, but the Sacred Humanity of Christ in the Blessed Eucharist is not everywhere.
Next article: The Holy Eucharist as a sacrament.

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(Raymond de Souza, KM, is a Knight of the Sovereign and Military Order of Malta; a delegate for International Missions for Human Life International [HLI]; and an EWTN program host. Website: www.RaymonddeSouza.com.)

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