The Bread, The Wine, The Wood and The Cloth
These common properties are intricately tied to the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass in commemorating in an unbloodly manner the re-enactment of the Ultimate Propitiatory Sacrifice on Calvary; for every day is Holy Thursday, Good Friday and Easter Sunday combined - all intended for our salvation! Deo gratias!
"Only Christ can turn simple bread, wine, wood, and cloth into vehicles leading us to salvation. These items, however, cannot do this on their own or through some passive involvement on our part. Their value lies in how well we actively use them to spread and live Christ's Word in our lives and our world."
We are two weeks exactly removed from Good Friday, and many have a tendency to put that behind in this era of instant gratification where the lessons of yesterday are forgotten in search of immediate, present fulfillments. And yet as Catholics we can never forget Good Friday, we can never forget the ultimate Sacrifice of the Cross and we can never forget why Our Lord died for us. He didn't need to, He wanted to for it was the Divine Will of His Almighty Father in Heaven, which as Three Persons in One God, was also the same will of Christ and His Spirit which He would leave with His Church - the Holy Ghost - the Sanctifier.
While there is much conjecture that He could have redeemed us by just saying the word, by a sweep of His hand, God chose to send His only-begotten Son which had been long prophesied in the Old Testament in Genesis, Exodus, Daniel and Isaias to mention a few. Rather than choosing supernatural means to represent this most significant event in history, God has chosen to leave us with the simple natural means to identify with the significance of His act. Christ has shown us that He is about making the common uncommon, turning what we see into what we seek, and entering our lives in ways unexpected yet very real. When we look at simple bread, wine, wood, and cloth, we merely see common items of everyday life, yet Our Lord has shown us that His Presence can transcend the commonality of everyday life, even through items such as these!
Physical Practicality Becomes Spiritual Reality
Bread and wine are merely food and drink which nourish and refresh our physical bodies and provide us with energy and strength to do our tasks. They help build our bodies in some way allowing us to continue to function physically in this world. This is obviously a very practical function of food and drink. However, through His consecration of bread and wine at The Last Supper, Christ turned simple bread and wine into His Body and Blood such that He was now humanly and divinely present in that bread and wine. This belief in The Real Presence and Transubstantiation forms the core of our Faith and is the classic example of how Our Lord impressed Himself upon our souls, hearts, and minds through becoming present in physical items. Thus, through His power and majesty, Our Lord turns a practical reality into a spiritual one!
Wood is likewise a practical, physical reality since it allows us to build our structures and many household items. Although it has been replaced by metals, plastics, and other synthetic materials, wood is still present in our lives and still very much represents the solid foundation of our structures. In fact, wood along with stone form a real bridge between our technological present and our distant past when those two materials were the building blocks of this earth. It was upon the solid foundation of stone - the Rock, Cephas upon which Christ built His Church in giving Simon Peter the Keys of the Kingdom (cf. Matthew 16: 18-19).
Christ came to us on the wood of a manger and died for us on the wood of a cross. This material felt His first human movements and His last breath before dying on the cross for us. The cross fell as He fell, bled as His Divine blood was poured over it, and became the Sacred Altar of His ultimate sacrifice. Which each step along The Via Dolorosa, Christ became one with His cross such that He embraced it and it embraced Him.
We do not understand why Christ came to this world unless we understand the role of that cross in that purpose. This critical relevance of the cross was never as evident as the confusion and clueless criticisms of the nature of Mel Gibson's film. Those who see it, get it. Those who do not see it do not get it. We pray that the blind will someday see!
Cloth also has a practical, physical role in our lives by providing covering, comfort, and warmth. Christ left His impression on Veronica's frail cloth and in our Sacred Shroud of Turin. While He is not present in a cross or cloth as He is in Our Sacred Eucharist, He has left His mark on these things, turning the practical into something much more.
Thus we see that when we reach out to Christ, He in turn touches our practical, our common, our everyday, with the transcendence of His love, mercy, and forgiveness and guides us toward salvation.
Contrary To New Order
We know how much The New Order detests The Real Presence, The Crucified Christ, and The Holy Shroud of Turin. These realities represent a threat to The New Order's denial, to its poison, to its virtual reality. In the Host, the Wine, The Crucifix, and The Shroud we experience Christ in a more intimate, more real way that runs counter to everything The New Order is about. Sadly this has been the crux of the Novus Ordo rite in making it easier for the congregations, more accessible for them to take part in what is rightly not their role. They have usurped that which the Church always reserved exclusively for the alter Christus - the priest whose very vestments symbolize the very essence of the Holy Sacrifice.
Where this secular, materialistic world sees bread, wine, wood, and cloth, we see the touch of Christ. Where this world tastes simple food and feels simple wood and cloth, we taste and feel Our Lord embracing us in a very loving, merciful, and forgiving way. Where this world likes to revel in feel good and everything is fine, these items remind us about sin, the need for atonement, sacrifice, suffering, pain, and hardship in our lives. The New Order seeks to complicate the simple and simplify the complex. Our Lord is neither complex nor simple. He is present!
Vehicles of Salvation
Only Christ can turn simple bread, wine, wood, and cloth into vehicles leading us to salvation. These items, however, cannot do this on their own or through some passive involvement on our part. Their value lies in how well we actively use them to spread and live Christ's Word in our lives and our world.
Bread and wine left on a table will not feed us. Wood left on the floor will not build itself. Cloth left in bundles will not become clothing. We are the chosen agents who must use these materials to build salvation through His Word, and so the simple becomes supernatural potential that we must activate into reality by accepting and using.
Yes, Our Lord is present in the Holy Eucharist. Yes, He died on wood and rose from cloth, but it is left to us to accept these gifts and use them to save souls. Our Lord turns the common into the uncommon, and it is up to us to use that uncommon to do uncommon things in His Name and for His Glory!
Editor's Note: We are pleased to announce Gabriel Garnica will be contributing many articles in 2004. Heaven is once again under attack by those who would seek to ignore and overthrow God's majesty and authority. Gabriel Garnica, educator and attorney, will submit regular insights and commentaries to remind and help guide readers toward a deeper and more assertive faith. Touching on topics and issues ranging from personal faith, doctrine, education, scripture, the media, family life, morality, and values, Gabriel's notes will be music to traditional ears but unpleasant tones to those who have bought into the misguided notions so prevalent and spreading in today's Catholic world.