Many Catholics do not believe in the Real Presence of Christ in the Eucharist. Some see this Most Blessed Sacrament as a commemoration or reenactment of the Last Supper only. Many say that they don’t get much out of attending mass. If they don’t believe in the Real Presence, I can see how they might feel this way. I believe that the bread and wine actually become the body and blood of Christ (as the Church teaches) in the Holy Sacrifice of the altar with all my heart. It is the loving, miraculous way that Jesus has remained physically present with us for almost 2000 years. How can I be so sure? I’ll attempt to explain.
First and foremost, the practice of adoration of Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament has clinched it for me. When I enter the chapel with Jesus’ body in the monstrance, His presence is undeniable. There in the quiet, I pour my heart out to Him, and He gives me His peace. Adoration has greatly deepened my faith and prayer life, and brought me much closer to Jesus. I highly recommend it!
Secondly, we have something called “apostolic succession” in the Church that Christ Himself initiated. Jesus gave the keys to the kingdom to Peter, who passed his power onto Linus, who passed it onto Cletus… all the way down to Pope Benedict XVI. The Pope, Christ’s vicar on earth anoints the bishops hands. The bishop anoints the priests’ hands when they are ordained. Is there anything special about this anointing or is it simply a ritual?
A priest once told me this story: An older gentleman called him, asking for an appointment. The man claimed that his wife was possessed. The priest chuckled (to himself) thinking that he was simply being asked to referee a lovers’ quarrel. He invited the couple to come to his office. The priest decided to “guard himself” against the devil, just in case the gentleman was correct in his analysis of his wife’s condition. As most people know (from Hollywood movies), evil spirits are supposed to be afraid of holy things like crucifixes, holy water, the name of Jesus, etc. Father decided to spritz his office with holy water as a precaution. For a moment, however, he doubted that it would be effective, because it had been blessed by his own human hands. When the woman came to his office, she seemed very agitated. Everytime she attempted to have a seat in his office, she could not bring herself to sit anywhere that he had sprinkled the holy water. She had to leave his office to find even the slightest bit of peace. Father is just a human, but because of his anointing – his holy priesthood – Christ works through him in a very special way. Even though a priest is sinful because of his human nature, he stands in the person of Christ – “in persona Christi,” and the Holy Spirit acts through him to work the miracle that is the Eucharist.
Jesus Himself said in the bible, “Very truly I tell you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you have no life in you.” (John 6:53) At the Last Supper, Jesus said, “Take, eat; this is My body.” (Matthew 26:26) He didn’t say that it represented His body, He said, “This is His body.” We have Jesus own words!
Finally, there are many Eucharistic miracles that have occurred over the years. Some may argue that this could be the work of the devil, trying to deceive the faithful. Well, to that I borrow a quote from Stuart Chase. “For those who believe, no proof is necessary. For those who don’t believe, no proof is possible.” Check out this amazing you tube video about a Eucharistic Miracle that took place in Argentina. Decide for yourself.
If you are a Catholic who is struggling with the doctrine of Transubstantiation (the bread and wine becoming Christ’s body and blood), I encourage you to pray this prayer that comes from the gospel of Mark. “Lord, I do believe. Help my unbelief.” (Mark 9:24). With faith, the grace of receiving Christ in the Eucharist frequently can literally transform your life. What an incredible grace and blessing!