The Pastor's Column

Fr. Maina

The Bread of Life, Part 3

This week I resume my reflections of the Bread of Life discourse, describing how we come to believe in the real presence of Christ in the Eucharist..

Today, many non-Catholic Christian denominations diverge from Catholic teaching on the real presence of Christ in the Eucharist, namely that after the rite of consecration, the bread and wine change into the Body and Blood of Christ so that Christ is present--soul and divinity--as he once was present on the shores of the Sea of Galilee. According to the doctrine of transubstantiation, the bread and wine change in substance to the Body and Blood of Christ.

The late Billy Graham, Joel Osteen, Anthony Campolo, T. D. Jakes, Rick Warren, Jeremiah Wright and other prominent Protestant ministers and theologians attest that Catholics have it wrong when it comes to the real presence of Christ in the Eucharist. But prominent early Christian preachers such as St. Paul or St. John the Evangelist, St. Ignatius of Antioch, St. Irenaeus, Justin Martyr, and Bishop Polycarp, among others, have a very different point of view. Let me tell you why I believe these Church fathers.

All Christians believe that while Jewish people trace their ancestry to Abraham and believe the blood of Abraham flows in their body through this ancestry. Christians believe their faith began in Jesus. We believe we all have the body and blood of Jesus in us. How? Through the Last Supper—the Eucharist! The Body and Blood of Jesus lives in His people and He is present in the world through us. This does not happen through ancestral lines like the Jews, but through consuming the elements of the Eucharist.

Some people, such as Emperor Nero, believed that the Church fathers preached cannibalism. For several hundred years, through careful thinking and reflection, the Church fathers refuted this, using what they knew including platonic philosophy to explain the reality of the Eucharist as found in the words of Jesus. St. Ignatius of Antioch wrote several letters claiming that those who abstain from and do not confess the Eucharist are in opposition to the work of God. He expressed his desire for the flesh and blood of Jesus which is the seed of David. Justin Martyr declared that those who received the food of the Eucharist were receiving both the flesh and the blood of the incarnated Jesus. Irenaeus, a disciple of Bishop Polycarp wrote how Jesus, who had declared the bread and the wine as part of creation, established it as his Body and Blood. Early Christians believed in the real presence of the Eucharist and remain our bridge to the Last Supper when Jesus pronounced the words we read in St. John’s Gospel this week. This is what I believe, what devout Catholics believe.

Next week, I will draw indications of the real presence in the Eucharist through the ritual of the mass.

On another note, I welcome all school-age children back from the summer months of relaxation, travel, and other enjoyments to the 2018-19 academic year. Yes, summer vacation is over! Can you believe it? Is it because the early summer was so wet and cold that it is so hard to believe? Still, August is a time to turn the focus to school. As with every year, some students are embarking on that all-important first step to the next level of their education. This can bring anxiety and tears or anticipation and excitement. Regardless of how your child(ren) approach the school experience, we wish them an exciting and successful academic year. We still have room at St. Catherine Labouré School if you are looking for a great school with high spiritual and moral values, strong academics and a family-like environment. For those who have not registered for Sunday Religious Education (English), we are still taking registrations. Those classes start on September 9.

May God bless you and your family.

Fr. Maina
With you a Christian, for you a priest