Making Sense of Sensus Catholicus (jun20ssc.htm)

Tuesday
June 20, 2006
vol 17, no. 158

The Essence of Corpus Christi


    Just as Sunday's Gospel illustrates the banquet where the master invites those previously rejected, God has provided the ultimate Banquet in the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass where all are invited to partake of the God-Man in fully participating in God's ultimate love for man. However there are conditions the Almighty has set in order to worthily receive this priceless Gift, provided only through the awesome Sacramental Mystery of the Holy Eucharist and only in the True Church of Christ by an alter Christus validly consecrated to confect the bread and wine into the Body and Blood, Soul and Divinity.
    by
    Father James F. Wathen

      "The Eucharist is the climactic mystery in that it causes and makes possible the perfect communication and union of God with man. We know that the Lord Jesus has many titles: Lord, Savior, Redeemer, Mediator, Priest, King, Shepherd. All these titles refer to manners in which the Son of God causes unity between the Father and the members of His Mystical Body. The immolation of Christ on the cross taught us that God never limits Himself in His love. His love moves Him to do all that is possible to manifest His Own glory and to shower His love on His creatures. He aspires to raise every soul to adoptive sonship in the Church, and every one of His Fatherís adoptive sons to everlasting glory. It is through the Sacrament of the Eucharist that the God-Man gathers His members into the unity of the Godhead. In the Eucharist, Jesus continues to be present corporeally on earth. He is thus present in order, through the Holy Ghost, to sanctify His members and to unite them to the Father in Himself. As was said, when we receive Communion, unlike natural bread, which is absorbed into the recipientís body, it is this Bread which absorbs the communicant into Himself, and into the triune Godhead."


        Consider what a stupendous thing you believe in the doctrine of the most holy Eucharist. Because of its magnificence, it is not surprising that men do not believe in this truth, except that it was given to us by Jesus Christ, Truth Itself, Whom they say they believe in other regards. What we Catholics believe is that at Mass, the priest pronounces the sacred words over bread and wine and they are changed into the Body and Blood of Christ. We must believe this claim to be true because the Lord said that He would give those who believed in Him His Flesh to eat and His Blood to drink. And from the very first days of the Churchís existence, the faithful have understood his words as recorded in the sixth chapter of St. Johnís Gospel to mean this doctrine.

        The Catechism gives us the main tenets of this doctrine, but it makes no effort to go into the matter deeply. All the same, what it says is sufficient matter for endless meditation. The more we consider what the wondrous doctrine is the more awed we become, as indeed we should.

        The Catechism teaches that the priest changes bread and wine into the Body and Blood of Christ. It says that the substance of the bread is changed into the substance of the Body and Blood of Christ. It tell us that once transubstantiation has occurred, nothing of the bread and wine remains except their appearances, those material characteristics which made the two elements identifiable. The appearances of the bread are the color, weight, shape, smell, etc. If leavened bread is used, whose appearances are different from the unleavened hosts of the Western Church, transubstantiation occurs exactly in the same way.

        The bread becomes the Body of Christ. The Body of Christ is what He drew from the womb of His Virgin Mother. Because it is the living, resurrected Body, it is the Incarnate Second Person of the Trinity. Regardless of the size of the host, regardless of the number of hosts in the ciborium, or all the ciboria of the world, in the case of every single one, what appears to be a wafer of bread, is in fact the risen and triumphant Jesus Christ, the very same Person Who sits on the right hand of God the Father.

        We say that the "substance" of the Body of Christ is each host in the ciborium. Christ is each of those Hosts, no matter how great their number. He "multiplies" His physical presence thus many times. When the question is asked how such a thing is possible, the only answer can be "with God all things are possible" (Matthew 19:26).

        A more useful question is: Why would the Almighty wish to expend His power in such a way, seeing how spiritually destitute and treacherous His creatures are. The answer is that, unless the Almighty expend His great power in our behalf, there is no chance or hope or way that we will be anything but wayward ingrates. These lines are written in an attempt to restate what it is that the Lord Jesus, our Good Shepherd, hopes to achieve through the Sacrament of the Eucharist.

        As has been said before, our God takes extreme measures. He is never satisfied with less either from Himself or from us. With regard to His human children, He does all He can to bring them to share all that He possesses including His very Godhead. Through our union with Christ in Holy Communion, we are gathered into God and resemble God, and enjoy the goodness of God as God exults in His Own goodness. He accomplishes this through the Eucharist in those who respond generously to Him. There is no limit to the transformation that is possible in those who surrender their beings to their loving Host.

        We must not be deceived by the smallness and fragility of the sacred Host. It is, after all, God Himself, the eternal and infinite One, the all-holy One, the immense God Who fills the universe, and Heaven and Hell; Who, upon entering our bodies, is not absorbed into them, but takes us to and into Himself. As the bread is converted into Himself, He would convert us into beings like Himself, whom He may share His eternal happiness with. We cheapskate humans would like to have Heaven without deserving it, and it is the common teaching nowadays that we all will be given Heaven without deserving it; with us, it is always "something for nothing." Godís justice forbids His giving anything to the proud and worthless, but most gladly does He do all He can to make us deserving of His lavish rewards, the consummate of which is His very self. For God to give Himself to those who truly love Him, as the Son loves Him, is our eternal Fatherís eternal intention and greatest delight.

        Because the sacred Host still has the appearance of a small wafer of bread, it can be eaten in that fashion. And when eaten, the Host is consumed like ordinary bread, but what happens to ordinary bread does not happen to this. Ordinary bread is eventually liquefied by the body and goes into the organs as nourishment. Since the Sacred Host is not bread, it ceases to exist once the appearances of bread have been lost. The Lord Jesus is simply no longer present in the human system.

        We say that the consecrated Elements on the altar at Mass are the Body and Blood of our Lord and Savior. But we understand that the Body referred to is the same Body which rose from the grave and ascended into Heaven, and now reigns at the right hand of the Father. It is the living Christ. Likewise the Blood in the chalice is the Blood of the Living Christ; it is therefore the same Blood which courses through His veins. This means that whether one consumes the sacred Host or drinks the Precious Blood, he receives the living Christ, His only Savior.

        While we dwell on these powerful realities, it is important for us to recognize the wonderfulness of what it is we believe, the marvel of what God does in this glorious Sacrament. We want to exclaim over the power of God Who is able to do this tremendous thing, and to inquire into His reason for doing such great things for men, who are inclined to be so disinterested and ungrateful, stolid and unresponsive.

        St. John the Evangelist quotes our divine Master as saying: "My flesh is meat indeed: and My blood is drink indeed" (John 6:56). By His infinite power, Christ will make Himself the food of those who believe in Him. He will do this in order to be the immediate source of life for His beloved children, the members of His Church. We understand that the life that He promises is both the condition of being in a special relationship with Himself and the effect of this status. The effect which eating the flesh of Christ will have will be multifarious: It will be life in grace, life in a kind of "fatness" or luxuriance of the spirit, which will mean spiritual health and vigor; it will mean living in Christ the Savior, Who lives in the infinite fruitfulness of the Trinity. Besides, it will be the cause of everlasting life. Those who have feasted on the sacred Food will have something more perfect than the fruit of the tree of life (Cf. Genesis 2:9), because it is the seed of the everlasting life of Heaven, physical immortality and spiritual beatitude, life in the "Bosom of God," a life of utter rapture and fulfilling love.

        In order that the world may have the Food of Angels, it is not necessary for Christ to be visibly present. Transubstantiation is effected by priests, His human collaborators. Where there are priests, it is possible for the multitudes to banquet on this richest of foods, this Divine Manna. The priest pronounces the consecrating words and there are as many Hosts as are "altar breads" in the ciborium. The words are equally effective over one hundred hosts or ten thousand. Christ is as many Hosts as are consecrated. And He bears an infinite love to everyone who receives Him, even those who receive Him unworthily.

        The Eucharist is the climactic mystery in that it causes and makes possible the perfect communication and union of God with man. We know that the Lord Jesus has many titles: Lord, Savior, Redeemer, Mediator, Priest, King, Shepherd. All these titles refer to manners in which the Son of God causes unity between the Father and the members of His Mystical Body. The immolation of Christ on the cross taught us that God never limits Himself in His love. His love moves Him to do all that is possible to manifest His Own glory and to shower His love on His creatures. He aspires to raise every soul to adoptive sonship in the Church, and every one of His Fatherís adoptive sons to everlasting glory. It is through the Sacrament of the Eucharist that the God-Man gathers His members into the unity of the Godhead. In the Eucharist, Jesus continues to be present corporeally on earth. He is thus present in order, through the Holy Ghost, to sanctify His members and to unite them to the Father in Himself. As was said, when we receive Communion, unlike natural bread, which is absorbed into the recipientís body, it is this Bread which absorbs the communicant into Himself, and into the triune Godhead.

        "That they all may be one, as Thou, Father, in Me, and I in Thee; that they also may be one in us: that the world may believe that Thou hast sent Me. And the glory which Thou hast given Me, I have given to them: that, they may be one, as We also are one. I in them, and Thou in Me: that they may be made perfect in one: and the world may know that Thou hast sent Me and hast loved them, as Thou hast also loved Me" (John 17:21-23).

        These are words of Christís prayer for the Apostles after the Last Supper. They were not said only for the Apostles, but for all the Elect. "God is charity" (1 John 4:16), hence everything that He does outside Himself is an expression of what He essentially is. The whole history of creation is but a single act of love which God performs outside Himself in order to express His love and in order to glorify Himself in the act of ineffable charity. The work of divine love is to draw all men to Himself, and then to join them to His Father in the Spirit.

        The Lord wishes not simply to unite men to Himself in a moral union, so that they love Him and serve Him. He wishes to draw them into Himself, into His very being, for which reason the Church, His Mystical Body exists. He established His Church whereby He draws from mankind all who have been predestined to be fulfilled in His love and to be united to His divinity through His sacred humanity. It is through the Sacrament of the Eucharist that our glorious Mediator unites His humanity to His faithful in the most intimate way possible; He unites himself to them body and soul; and through His humanity, He unites them with His divinity and His divine Father.

        The Eucharist has the further effect of uniting all who are in Christ to each other. God abominates anything that divides men from each other, because love causes and purposes union. How He deplores a situation in which many receive Him who are unloving toward, or envious or resentful of, each other! Redemption means that God should be "all in all," as St. Paul wrote to the Corinthians: "And when all things shall be subdued unto him [the Father], then the Son also himself shall be subject unto him [the Father] that put all things under him [the Son], that God may be all in all" (1 Corinthians 15:28).

        This perfect union between His human member and the Father in Christ can only be possible if the human creature be morally perfected. His perfection is not merely a natural perfection, such as men do not even aspire to in our generation. God requires supernatural perfection, moral resemblance to Christ and His Mother, a perfection which is possible only to a "divinized" being. The purpose of the Eucharist is that through Christ, the divine Host, taking us into His Incarnate Self, causes in us a transformation, a perfection which Jesus describes in His sermons on earth, a supernatural perfection which is the proper demeanor and habitude of Heaven. This divinization is not merely a manner of acting, it is a manner of being, or being like God, because the saint is one with God in the completest joining that is possible between the infinite God and the finite creature.

    __________________________________

        This is the best I can do in the way of a personal word of gratitude to everyone who has prayed for me. I thank also everyone who has written to me, or send cards of encouragement, and money for my support. May all your Communions be special, and, through them, may your divine Host sanctify you unto eternal life.

    Yours in Christ,

    Father James Wathen


    For those who want to help Father or write him, you can do so at:

        Father James F. Wathen
        P.O. Box 15152
        Evansville, IN 47716


      For past articles of Making Sense of Sensus Catholicus, see 2006ssc.htm Archives

      Tuesday
      June 20, 2006
      vol 17, no. 158
      Making Sense of Sensus Catholicus