St. Pio Parish
The Catholic Communities of St. John and St. Mark
Old Saybrook & Westbrook, CT
3 Year Eucharistic Revival
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LEARN MORE ABOUT THE EUCHARIST
The Eucharistic Revival- The Eucharist, did you know? Part 1
Does the priest do the transubstantiation? Although the priest, who is the representative of Christ among the worshipping assembly, prays the words at Mass, the power to make the change in substance belongs to God alone. No human being can effect this mysterious transformation, but only the power of God’s Holy Spirit working through the priest.
This is clear in the Eucharistic prayer when, before the narrative of Jesus’ actions at the Last Supper, the priest invokes the power of the Holy Spirit to “make holy, therefore, these gifts, we pray, by sending down your Spirit upon them like dewfall, so that they may become the Body and Blood of our Lord Jesus Christ.”
St. John of Chrysostom explains that “It is not the priest who is responsible for the offerings as they become Christ’s body and blood; it is Christ himself who was crucified for us. The priest speaks these words. The power and the grace belong to God. ‘This is my body,’ he says. And these words transform the offerings.” Or as St. John Damascene asks “How can bread become Christ and wine his blood?” I answer: "The power of the Holy Spirit will be at work to give us a marvel which surpasses understanding." Used with permission from God’s Real Presence, by Steve Mueller. Published by Living with Christ. All rights reserved.
The Eucharistic Revival- The Eucharist, did you know? Part 2
So what does a change of substance mean? Transubstantiation tells us that what happens with the bread and wine through the act of consecration, is a change in their substance brought about by the action of God’s Holy Spirit. After the consecration, the bread and wine are no longer the same things (substances they were before. Before the consecration, their substance was that of bread and wine, after it their substance is the person of Jesus Christ. As St. Augustine said, “The bread that you see on the altar is the body of Christ as soon as it is sanctified by God’s word. The chalice, or better what is contained in the chalice, is the blood of Christ as soon as it is sanctified by God’s word.”
St. Ambrose, the Bishop of Milan and Augustine’s teacher, also noted that “The Lord Jesus himself proclaims. ‘This is my body.’ Before the blessing of the heavenly words, something of another character is spoken of; after consecration it is designated ‘body’. He himself speaks of his blood. Before the consecration it is spoken of as something else; after the consecration it is spoken of as ‘blood’. And you say, ‘Amen’, that is, ‘It is true.’ What the mouth speaks, let the mind within confess; what the tongue utters, let the heart feel.” Used with permission from God’s Real Presence, by Steve Mueller. Published by Living with Christ. All rights reserved.
The Eucharistic Revival- The Eucharist, did you know? Part 3
But what about the accidents of the bread and wine? The change in the substance does not affect the accidents at all. After the consecration, the shape, color, taste- everything except the substance- remains exactly the same. There is no way by analyzing the bread and wine for example though chemistry or atomic analysis, to discover any difference. So we cannot just “take a good look” at the consecrated bread and wine and conclude that they have undergone a change of substance.
Only our “eyes of faith” can perceive the change. As St. Francis of Assisi reminds us, “Just as Christ appeared before the holy apostles in true flesh, so now he has us see him in the sacred bread. Looking at him with the eyes of their flesh, they saw only his flesh, but regarding him with the eyes of the spirit, they believed that he was God. In like manner, as we see bread and wine with our bodily eyes, let us see and believe firmly that it is his most holy body and blood, true and living.”
St. Cyril of Jerusalem also teaches us that “Since Christ himself said in reference to the bread: ‘This is my body,’ who will dare remain hesitant? And since with equal clarity he asserted: ‘This is my blood,’ who will dare entertain any doubt and say that this is not his blood? You have been taught these truths. Imbued with the certainty of faith, you know that what seems to be bread is not bread but the body of Christ, although it seems to be bread when tasted. You also know that what seems to be wine is not wine but the blood of Christ although it does taste like wine.”
Used with permission from God’s Real Presence, by Steve Mueller.
Published by Living with Christ. All rights reserved.