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Friday, June 8, 2012

Is Jesus present in the Eucharist in the same way that he is present to us in the Scriptures, the other sacraments, and in the people of God? That is, are they all equally deserving of our worship?

“Love the Lord with all your heart, and with all your soul,
         and with all your MIND”--Matt 22:37

This Sunday is the Feast of Corpus Christi, or the Feast of the Most Holy Body and Blood of Christ.

So for 2000 years it has been the constant teaching of the Catholic Church that Jesus is truly and substantially present, Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity in the Eucharist.  It is not a symbol. 

As Pope Benedict XVI has so eloquently stated, "With these words, spoken immediately after the words of consecration, the priest proclaims the mystery being celebrated and expresses his wonder before the substantial change of bread and wine into the body and blood of the Lord Jesus, a reality which surpasses all human understandings."

Sometimes the Church (or rather, people in the Church misunderstanding the constant teaching of the Church) have emphasized one aspect of this theological mystery over another.  As the centuries progressed, other theological nuances were stressed.  After Vatican II, I believe that in an effort to emphasize the sanctity of the laity (a valid reform!), some Church leaders, wrongly, in my opinion, attempted to de-emphasize the adoration and worship given to the Blessed Sacrament, the Most Holy Eucharist. 

Thus, in the 1970's and 80's it was common in some Catholic circles to hear people say that we ought to be bowing and kneeling to each other and before the Sacred Scriptures, as well as before the tabernacle--for was not Christ present in the Church assembly, Scripture as well as in the Eucharist?

This was a misunderstanding of Vatican II's correct emphasis on the laity--Vatican II*rightly proclaimed that Christ is present in the assembly, and that Catholics ought to see the Scriptures as the Word of God, more than this had been emphasized in centuries past. However, it is a fallacy to place our worship of Jesus in the Eucharist on equal footing with the Scriptures and the congregation. 

As Fr. Vincent Serpa of Catholic Answers says, "The Eucharist is the body and blood, soul and divinity of Jesus Christ who is God and the Second Person of the Blessed Trinity. Only the Father and the Holy Spirit are equal to him. To say otherwise is not only the result of fuzzy thinking, it’s heresy!

While we "acknowledge Jesus' presence through the Word, the sacraments, and the laity, the Church emphasizes his presence in the Eucharist in "a way that surpasses all the others." It is his presence in the Sacrament of the Eucharist, which is, for this reason, "a more consoling source of devotion, a lovelier object of contemplation and holier in what it contains" than all the other sacraments because it contains Christ himself and it is "a kind of consummation of the spiritual life, and in a sense the goal of all the sacraments. This presence is called ‘real’ not to exclude the idea that the others are ‘real’ too, but rather to indicate presence par excellence, because it is substantial and through it Christ becomes present whole and entire, God and man" (Mysterium Fidei, 38, 39). source

Thus, the short answer to this 3-minute apologetics question is:  No.  Jesus is not present in the Eucharist in the same way as he is present in those other areas.  He is present in a way that surpasses all the others. 

*Disclaimer:  I am not an expert on Vatican II and the arguments about "the spirit of Vatican II" verses what Vatican II actually proclaimed in its documents make my eyes glaze over.  So please keep this in mind as you read my comments about Vatican II.

For more in-depth study visit these websites:

Papal Encyclical by Pope JPII on the Eucharist

Catholics Come Home

"Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect" - 1 Peter 3:15


  1. Doesn't the Bible specifically mention Jesus' brothers and sisters? So how can the Catholic Church proclaim that Mary was ever-virgin?

    55 Is not this the carpenter’s son? Is not his mother called Mary, and his brethren James, and Joseph, and Simon, and Jude: 56 And his sisters, are they not all with us? Whence therefore hath he all these things? 57 And they were scandalized in his regard. But Jesus said to them: A prophet is not without honour, save in his own country, and in his own house.

    Who in Jesus's house did not honor Him ?

    1. You can search the entire Bible, from Genesis to Revelation, and you will not find a single verse that says that these "brothers and sisters" are the children of Mary.

      That is a man-made tradition, Anonymous. You heard a preacher say, "Mary had other children!"; and he heard another preacher say it. Who heard another preacher say it....

      But no one ever read, in a single page of Scripture, that Mary had other children.

      These brothers and sisters of the Lord were his cousins or other relatives. Not from the womb of Mary, which had been set apart specifically to contain He Who Could Not Be Contained.

    2. I am glad I am not a part of something that has to constantly "find ways to explain" obvious scripture.

      No one will ever read, in a single page of Scripture, that Mary was a perpetual virgin either. That, my friend, is man-made. You will, however, find alluding to Jesus Brothers and sisters...which, anyone reading the Word of God would make the natural judgement that they are his..(clears throat)...brothers and sisters. Unless you were to hear some preacher somewhere tell you Mary was a virgin forever...then you have to find ways to skew the bible to say what YOU want it to say.
      thank you I will stop wasting my time with this page

    3. Thanks for your comment.

      I think you are operating under the misapprehension that Catholics believe that everything God revealed has to be found in the Bible.

      We reject that paradigm. So it's inutile to ask us to show where "in a single page of Scripture" Mary is perpetual virgin.

      That's your paradigm. Not ours.

      Incidentally, it's a paradigm that isn't found in a single page of the Bible, so it's a man-made tradition you've been duped into believing.

  2. Was Jesus estranged by His brothers? John 7:5 says
    "For not even His brothers were believing in Him." Furthermore, Psalm 69:8 says "my mother's sons."
    Are these both to be understood as not referring
    to His siblings?

    1. Yes, some of his "brothers" did not believe in Him.

      In fact, in Acts 1:15 it refers to 120 of Jesus' "brothers". Some believed in him, some didn't.

      Do you really believe that Jesus had 120 brothers? Or could "brothers" refer to something other than "those who come from the womb of Mary"?

  3. Regarding Psalm 69--if you believe that it refers to Jesus, speaking about his "mother's sons" (meaning, Mary), then what do you think about the verses just above that, that talk about the speaker's "folly" and "wrongs".

    "Thou who dost know my folly, And my wrongs are not hidden from Thee."

    If it is referring to Jesus, do you believe that Jesus had "folly" and "wrongs"?

    If it is not referring to Jesus, then the speaker's "mother" could not, of course, be Mary.

  4. Nope,this verse is about David. However,this does
    not mean that Verse 8 isn't prophetic about Jesus
    and His mother.

    Back to my original question: Who in Jesus's
    house did not honor Him ? We know it wasn't
    Joseph or Mary? Saying that His cousins,breth-
    ren,brothers etc. (not from Mary's womb ) lived
    with Jesus in His house would be pure conjecture.
    No, the clear implication is that it was His sib-

    1. Anonymous, can you tell me where the subject changed from David to Jesus in Psalm 69? And how do you know?

      As far as who did not honor him: it's all conjecture, isn't it? Unless you have a specific verse that tells you that it was his womb-brothers? Any verse that describes the children of Mary dishonoring Jesus would be fine.

      (You may search the entire Scriptures, Anonymous, but you will not find any verse describing the children of Mary dishonoring Jesus. For there are no verses that describe any other child coming from the womb of Mary. That is a MAN-MADE TRADITION.)

      It is not right for you to reserve the privilege for yourself to offer conjecture--"it was His siblings", while denying Catholics this right for ourselves.

  5. "As far as who did not honor him: it's all
    conjecture, isn't it?" Ok, it's conjecture.
    Let me ask you, If someone didn't honor your
    friend, in his own house,other than his father
    and mother, who FIRST comes to mind ? (I real-
    ize your answer also will be just conjecture).

    1. Consider the fact that this is an ancient Middle Eastern culture, so "in his own house" MUST have included cousins, aunts, uncles...

      So there were a multitude of folks who fit this descriptor.

      Clearly, one cannot use that verse to determine that Jesus had brothers.

      And even if he did, there is NO VERSE that says they were the children of Mary.

      They may have been Joseph's children from a previous marriage.

      Or adopted brothers.

      But NOTHING says that they were the children of Mary, who was, of course, ever-virgin.

  6. But NOTHING says that they were the children of Mary, who was, of course, ever-virgin.

    Show me one verse in Scripture that states Mary was ever-virgin.

    1. It's right after the verse that says, "Everything we believe about God must be found in the Bible!" ;-)

      That, friend, is a man-made tradition that you have to find everything you believe in the pages of the Bible.

      Now, since that is YOUR tradition (even though the Bible doesn't say this), can you show us where the Bible says that other children came from Mary's womb?

  7. That, friend, is a man-made tradition that you have to find everything you believe in the pages of the Bible.

    As a believer,I know the Bible is all I need.

    God said, "All Scripture is God-breathed and is
    useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, 17 so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.

  8. As a believer, saying "I know the Bible is all I need" is a man-made tradition. You believe that because you heard a preacher preach that, who heard another Christian declare it, who heard another man proclaim it...

    But NO ONE ever read "the Bible is all I need" in a single page of the Bible.

    It is a man-made tradition to believe that, friend, that you have succumbed to and mistakenly fallen for.

    And, amen! to All Scripture being God-breathed. No Catholic denies that Scripture comes from the Hand of God.

    However, that verse most certainly does NOT mean that "the Bible is all I need." That is, indeed, adding to Scripture.

  9. Let me clarify what I mean.

    Since all Scripture is God breathed,
    it is perfect.Therefore, All I need
    is Scripture as my final authority,
    not what any church may teach, that
    includes the church I go to.

  10. Your premise speaks the truth, friend. 'Tis true that "since all Scripture is God-breathed, it is perfect", but your conclusion is a non-sequitur. Just because something is perfect, or infallible, or error-free, does not mean that it is all that is necessary.

    Or that it is a "final authority." (Remember, friend, firstly, that Scripture does not say that it is the final authority. It says that the Church is. So what you are proclaiming is a man-made tradition that you have not read in a single page of Scripture.)

    Also, Scripture says in James that perseverance make us perfect (see James 1: 3-4). Surely you don't believe, then, that perseverance is all that you need, or that you are complete and in need of nothing else?

  11. I absolutely love your blog. I've learned so much more about my Catholic faith (along with catechism classes). You explain things so wonderfully, which makes things easy to understand. Please continue to update. I read almost everyday. Thanks