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Real Presence In the Eucharist

The Catholic Church, since its inception, has always believed in the Real Presence of Jesus in the form o the Eucharist. As a child celebrates their first communion, they too are about to take part in this honored tradition. The Eucharist is the one sacrament that is representative or Christ’s sacrifice on the cross and his resurrection. The Mass is the vehicle that gives us this special presence.

The teaching that communion was the presence of Jesus and not a symbol goes back the to the council of Trent, which said that the when the bread and wine are consecrated, the whole substance of the bread is transformed into the Body of the Lord.  Additionally the same is the whole substance of the wine is transformed into the Precious Blood. When the point in the mass comes and the host is consecrated the church calls this change the transubstantiation.  It requires the recipient to have a great faith where as it transcends our human understanding of how this change was made, the mystery of the sacrament of Holy Communion.

The simplest way to explain the concept of real presence is the Eucharist really is the Real Jesus. There are no qualifiers. Catholics do not believe it is a symbol of Jesus.  There was a  period in time when the belief of Real Presence was threatened. The first occurrence was  in the Middle Ages, when some of the French Theologians expressed doubt in the Jesus’ real presence in the Eucharist. Berengarius of Tours claimed that it was not possible to change the substance of the bread and wine and denied that Christ’s body was on the altar. He based his argument on the pure fact that Jesus could not be present on Earth prior to the Last Judgment.

Pope Gregory VII demanded that Berengarius to agree with the profession of that that was the outline of faith. The fundamental belief was that without question Jesus was present on the altar. Pope Gregory went on to say that the words are not clearer. That reality means that it is actually Christ in the Eucharist. He said it was “the same Christ that was conceived in Nazareth, Born in Bethlehem, died and rose from the dead at Jerusalem and is now seated at the right hand of God the Father Almighty.  It is also the same Christ that “will call us when we pass out of time into eternity. It is the same Christ who will appear at the end of the world to judge the living and the dead. It is the Christ who is the Omega of the universe and the goal of human destiny,” Pope Gregory concluded.  He ended this crisis of faith and Berengarius died in 1088.

The second time this crisis came forth was at the time of the Protestant Reformation. There were similar claims that Berengarian made in the early middle ages. This time the Church used the Council of Trent to reinforce that Jesus is truly present in the Blessed Sacrament.  

As children wear their communion ties and first communion dresses, there is a great history that long substantiates the basic principle they should have been taught in the communion preparation class, that Jesus is truly present

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This article was published on Saturday 05 April, 2008.



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  • Back to main topic: First Communion
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