Southwestern Indiana's Catholic Community Newspaper

Real Presence Will Always Be Central To Christianity

By Eric Girten


            My brothers and sisters in Jesus Christ, in my last article I briefly highlighted some of the biblical and post-biblical texts related to the Eucharist, the source and summit of our Catholic faith.  We should not underestimate the power of the Eucharist because it is truly the body and blood of our Lord Jesus Christ.  Is this so hard to believe?  Is it any more difficult to believe that Christ who was crucified rose from his tomb of rock?

I admit that I am befuddled (word of the day) when I hear Christians say they fully give themselves to faith in the risen Jesus but have a hard time, or adamantly oppose, Christ’s true presence in the Eucharist. 

The Eucharist truly is the core and soul of Christianity; and yet, over time, it seems to have fluctuated in its centrality.  The attack on the Eucharist is, in my humble opinion, no coincidence.  Evil cannot destroy the Eucharist, and so the focus then turns to the splintering and obfuscation of the truth.

It goes hand in hand, again in my humble opinion, with the disintigration of the other sacraments of the Church.  If the Eucharist (i.e. Christ Jesus) cannot be destroyed, then evil must attack the sacrament of reconciliation so that the faithful begin to dull their moral senses and attack the sacrament of marriage so that families, the primary stage of Catholic teaching, might be left in division and confusion.

And so for further clarification – if it is not clear enough already – I turn again to those early teachers of the faith who were so much closer to those first followers of Jesus Christ. 

I could recite from the writings of St. Clement of Alexandria, St. Cyprian, St. Ephraim and others; but alas, I am again coming to the end of my time here with you today.  So, I will end with St. Irenaeus of Lyons and St. Justin Martyr (he was beheaded sometime around A.D. 160) and exhort each of you to renew your faith in the Eucharist and to preach this that others, too, might one day partake of the Living Bread.

St. Irenaeus of Lyons:  “Then again, how can they say that the flesh, which is nourished with the body of the Lord and with His blood, goes to corruption, and does not partake of life?  Let them, therefore, either alter their opinion, or cease from offering the things just mentioned.  But our opinion is in accordance with the Eucharist, and the Eucharist in turn establishes our opinion.  For we offer to Him His own, announcing consistently the fellowship and union of the flesh and Spirit.  For as the bread, which is produced from the earth, when it receives the invocation of God, is no longer common bread, but the Eucharist, consisting of two realities, earthly and heavenly; so also our bodies, when they receive the Eucharist, are no longer corruptible, having the hope of the resurrection to eternity.”

            And finally St. Justin Martyr:  “This food we call the Eucharist, of which no one is allowed to partake except one who believes that the things we teach are true, and has received the washing for forgiveness of sins and for rebirth, and who lives as Christ handed down to us.  For we do not receive these things as common bread or common drink; but as Jesus Christ our Savior being incarnate by God’s Word took flesh and blood for our salvation, so also we have been taught that the food consecrated by the Word of prayer which comes from him, from which our flesh and blood are nourished by transformation, is the flesh and blood of that incarnate Jesus.”