How can billions of men and women believe that what their eyes see as bread is God? How can sane people support the claim by the Catholic Church according to which, at Holy Mass, bread becomes the Body of Jesus, and wine becomes His Blood? The Church teaches that the Sacred Host is Jesus literally, not symbolically; and that the Sacred Chalice contains the Precious Blood of Jesus literally, not symbolically. If one actually saw Jesus’ Body and Blood after the priest had uttered the words of Consecration, there would be no doubt, no problem. But one still sees only bread and wine after. Is that a problem?
The Eucharist: A Mystery Of Love
A mystery of love, rather: that is what believers call the Eucharistic change. Catholics are not credulous. They are not delusional. Among them are famous thinkers, scientists, artists and politicians such as: Leonardo da Vinci and Michelangelo; Johannes Gutenberg, inventor of the printing press; W. A. Mozart, and A. Vivaldi, best-known composers; Vasco da Gama and Christopher Columbus, explorers; Antoine Lavoisier and Louis Pasteur, fathers of modern chemistry and of bacteriology; social activist Dorothy Day and U.S. President J.F. Kennedy; sportsmen like American football quarterback Tom Brady, and Phil Mulryne, a former Manchester United midfielder ordained a Catholic priest; J.R.R. Tolkien, creator of The Lord of Rings and a daily communicant – and countless others.
For them like for us, the solution lies in distinguishing between what appears and what is. At Consecration the externals of bread and wine remain, while the inside changes. The mere color, size, smell, weight, taste of bread and wine are retained through the power of God, while beneath those, the true Body and Blood of Jesus become present instead of bread and wine. In our experience, when the inside of a thing changes, then the outside must change also. In the Eucharistic Consecration though, God makes an exception to that rule. Why?
The Consecration: An Exception To The Rule
Jesus hides for real under the externals of bread and wine for two main reasons. First, Jesus wants to be the food and drink of our souls. But we would not consume Him if we saw His Flesh and Blood with our eyes. Thus He veils Himself under edible forms. Second, Jesus wants to give us an occasion of showing our love for Him. And love is best expressed here through the trust of faith. Thus He invites us to believe in His true presence under the externals of bread and wine, as an opportunity for us to show our love for Him. “If you love me, keep my commandments” (John 14:15). This is what the Lord Jesus told His apostles on Maundy Thursday, right after having changed bread and wine into His Body and Blood for the very first time. They believed Him and did as He commanded, all the way down to us in 2022, as Holy Church still teaches:
“Christ, our Redeemer, declared that which He offered under the species of bread to be truly His own body, therefore has it ever been a firm belief in the Church of God … that, by the consecration of the bread and of the wine, a conversion is made of the whole substance of the bread into the substance of the body of Christ our Lord, and of the whole substance of the wine into the substance of His blood; which conversion is, by the holy Catholic Church, suitably and properly called Transubstantiation” (cf. Catechism of the Catholic Church, # 1376).
Let us rejoice as we partake in such a great sacrament, in union with Holy Church across space and time.
Learn More About The Eucharist
If you want to know more about the Eucharistic faith of the Church, read Fr Armand de Malleray’s book Ego Eimi-It is I, by Sophia Institute Press, 2022. Whether you are a believer or struggling, this book will help you develop a personal relationship with Jesus in the Most Blessed Sacrament. In these pages, Fr. Armand de Malleray looks afresh at traditional Church teaching on the Holy Eucharist. He demonstrates that it is implemented with precision, strength, and beauty in the time-tested Traditional Latin Mass missal. Fr. de Malleray explains essential doctrines such as transubstantiation, the concomitant presence of Christ’s Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity, and the nature of the Eucharistic fragments. He also describes in moving detail Our Lady’s role in drawing us closer to her Eucharistic Son.