I kept quiet and listened, not wanting to come off as preachy. “Preachiness” seldom changes minds or hearts. I don’t know what I could have said that this person had not already heard that would change his mind anyway.
Why do I believe? Is it simply because the Church tells me so? Years ago, I would have said, “No,” because I didn’t “buy” all of the Church’s teachings – I was under the mistaken assumption that I could pick and choose my beliefs like I would choose food at a buffet – taking what I liked and dismissing things I didn’t like. In my young adult life, I did do some searching – “shopping” if you will – to see if the Catholic faith in which I had been raised was the right one (for me.) I believe that it was the Eucharist- the Real Presence – that brought me to the conclusion that I was indeed in the right place. What other church can offer me Jesus’ body and blood? None.
How does the Catholic Church hold that “claim to fame” you might ask? – The answer is apostolic succession. We believe that Jesus made Peter the first “pope,” and that Peter anointed the next pope, and that pope anointed the next one, and so on – all the way down to Pope Benedict XIV. There is something special about that succession – that direct line to Peter and to most importantly to JESUS.
Does the priest have magical powers? No. Through his holy priesthood, he operates “in persona Christi” – in the person of Christ – Christ’s representative on earth. At the Last Supper, Christ did not say, this bread represents my body, or is a symbol of my body. He said, “This is my body.” In John’s gospel, Jesus says, “Unless you eat of the flesh of the Son of Man and drink His blood, you do not have life within you.” This tells me that His “Real Presence – the bread BEING His flesh was not a one time only thing. The apostles, the first “priests” so to speak, continued to break the bread – share Christ’s body.
The thing that has totally cinched this belief for me has been Eucharistic Adoration. It has literally changed my life. I have grown so much spiritually just by sitting in the Presence of Jesus. If it were just bread, I don’t think I could make this claim. If this were just bread, I would be guilty of idolatry! That thought literally appalls me. If it were only bread, why would so many people be drawn to adoration? It’s not a requirement or precept of the Church.
Of course, there are many convincing Eucharistic miracles that have taken place over the years. Some may say that it’s the devil at work trying to trick us. How do we discern spirits as being good or evil – by the fruit they produce, right? The devil has nothing to gain with the miracles and everything to lose.
When all is said and done, the Real Presence of Christ in the Eucharist is a matter of faith. Faith is believing that which we cannot see or prove. In the Tantum Ergo, we sing “praestet fides suplementum sensuum defectui.” This means “Let faith supply for what is wanting in the senses.” Do we pray that enough?
Our belief in God is a matter of faith. We can know Him through His Holy Word in the Bible, or through all of the things He has created, but we can’t see Him. There are plenty of things on this planet that we know exist, even though we cannot see them – we see the effects of them instead. Some examples are gravity, freedom, love.
If you are Catholic and are having difficulty believing in the Real Presence of Jesus in the Eucharist, I encourage you to pray about it. It’s too important not to pray about. You don’t want to go to receive Holy Communion, pronounce the word, “Amen, ” and not mean what you say. Ask God to convict you of this truth if it be His Will. Be open. Visit an empty church or adoration chapel. Tell God your doubts, and ask Him to speak to your heart. Then, sit still and Listen…
I’ve posted this before, but if you haven’t seen it, check it out and see what you think: