Yes, it’s how many of us raised in the Catholic Church refer to the Solemnity of the Body and Blood of Christi: Corpus Christi.
We celebrate and profess the real presence of Christ in the Eucharist; every time we approach the altar to receive Communion and the priest or the extraordinary minister of the Eucharist says, The Body of Christ, we respond loudly, Amen!
Indeed, I hope our response manifests our firm conviction that the bread we receive is not ordinary bread anymore but the Body and Blood of Jesus.
Recently, the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops released a document, The Mystery of the Eucharist in the Life of the Church, to promote our belief in the real presence of Christ in the Eucharist in light of the latest Pew research that only one-third of Catholics nowadays believe in this doctrine of our faith. Here is an excerpt from the beginning of the document:
Recalling these words of Jesus, the Catholic Church professes that, in the celebration of the Eucharist, bread, and wine become the Body and Blood of Jesus Christ through the power of the Holy Spirit and the instrumentality of the priest. Jesus said: “I am the living bread that came down from heaven; whoever eats this bread will live forever; and the bread that I will give is my flesh for the life of the world. . . . For my flesh is true food, and my blood is true drink” (Jn 6:51-55). The whole Christ is truly present, body, blood, soul, and divinity, under the appearances of bread and wine—the glorified Christ who rose from the dead after dying for our sins. This is what the Church means when she speaks of the “Real Presence” of Christ in the Eucharist. This presence of Christ in the Eucharist is called “real,” not to exclude other types of his presence as if they could not be understood as real (cf. Catechism, no. 1374). The risen Christ is present in his Church in many ways, but most especially through the sacrament of his Body and Blood.
What does it mean that Jesus Christ is present in the Eucharist under the appearance of bread and wine? How does this happen? The presence of the risen Christ in the Eucharist is an inexhaustible mystery that the Church can never fully explain in words. We must remember that the triune God is the creator of all that exists and has the power to do more than we can possibly imagine. As St. Ambrose said: “If the word of the Lord Jesus is so powerful as to bring into existence things which were not, then a fortiori those things which already exist can be changed into something else” (De Sacramentis, IV, 5-16). God created the world in order to share his life with persons who are not God. This great plan of salvation reveals a wisdom that surpasses our understanding. But we are not left in ignorance: for out of his love for us, God reveals his truth to us in ways that we can understand through the gift of faith and the grace of the Holy Spirit dwelling in us. We are thus enabled to understand at least in some measure what would otherwise remain unknown to us, though we can never completely comprehend the mystery of God.
Let’s pray that we stay firm in holding to this belief in the real presence of Christ in the Holy Eucharist!
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The opinions, beliefs and viewpoints expressed by the author do not necessarily reflect the opinions, beliefs and viewpoints of the Asian Journal, its management, editorial board and staff.
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Fr. Rodel “Odey” Balagtas is the pastor of Incarnation Church in Glendale, California.