This Bread is Our Life

I used to consider going to Mass an obligation that took an hour ( if I had a short-winded priest) of my Sunday or Saturday evening. I wouldn’t put it past me to miss Mass if something better came up or if I had stayed out too late the night before, and just couldn’t rouse myself in time for even the latest Mass of the morning. I know that sounds horrible and, at the time, I didn’t even know that knowingly missing Mass was a sin and yet, my life was a mess. I was stressed, anxious and depressed and looking back, it’s not hard to see why.

We have Seven Sacraments of the Catholic Church and these Sacraments are seven special means, instituted by Jesus Christ by which God reaches down to us and shares His Divine Life with us through Baptism, Confirmation, The Eucharist, Penance, The Anointing of the Sick, Holy Orders and Matrimony. They help us in our journey through life and give us special graces to handle the stressors, worries, and anxieties of living and the more we participate, the more graces we receive. Needless to say, I didn’t participate much and the graces were lacking.

The one Sacrament we have the ability to participate in almost daily is the Eucharist. It is the one Sacrament that all others are oriented. The Catechism of the Catholic Church states, ” The Eucharist is the source and summit of Christian life by the invocation of the Holy Spirit and with bread and wine and the very words of Christ repeated by an ordained priest, become Christ’s own body, blood, soul and divinity.” CCC 1324  In other words, Christ is fully present through a process called Transubstantiation.  If you break down that word, Trans means “to change,” and Substance means “the very essence of a thing.” Even though the outward appearances still resemble ordinary bread and wine, through the words given to the apostles by Jesus to ” Do this in memory of me,” transubstantiation changes the essence.

Both Scripture and Tradition tell us this is Christ fully present with us. God of the Universe can do what we can’t comprehend; yet, he doesn’t want to overwhelm our measly, little brains by coming to us in all his omnipotence and power. In the Bible, He appears to men in ways they could handle; like a burning bush, a cloud, or a still small voice. He was often called upon by the Israelites when they cried out to him when they feared they would starve. He sent Manna (which in Aramaic means, “what is it”) to them from Heaven to be gathered and eaten. The Jews ancestors were nourished by this “bread” while on their journey out of Egypt; however, they ultimately died. Jesus was sent by God to become the living bread, and whoever ate this bread would never die. But, why bread?

Bread is found throughout the Old Testament and, in many cultures today, it is a staple of one’s diet. We even have popularized terms like, “breaking bread,” for anything having to do with gathering to eat or, “gonna go make some bread,” for acquiring money to live. Isn’t it interesting that to live and eat are often associated with the word bread?

When poorly Catechized Catholics or non-Catholics attend Holy Mass and look at the bread and wine, I’m sure they ask themselves, “What is it?” and don’t fully understand their question should be “Who is it?” because the God of the Universe chose to appear to us in the form of bread and wine.

I’m sure you are still saying, “It still looks the same,” or, “I don’t see any changes in its appearance,” and that is because the outward appearance is still the same chemical make-up of bread and wine. What is really taking place during transubstantiation is underneath the outward appearances of the consecrated host; we believe Jesus is truly present by changing into the body, blood, soul and divinity of our Lord Jesus Christ. Our Lord told us at the last supper when, “He took bread, said the blessing, broke it and gave it to his disciples saying, this is my body which will be given up for you, do this in memory of me.” Luke 22:19

Dr. Sean Innest says, ” All the Sacraments are all profound mysteries and their outward signs, their appearances, are usually very humble.” They are signs – visible realities which point to the invisible, to a divine grace. For instance, when water is poured over someone during Baptism, it represents cleansing of ones soul, and in Confirmation, when we profess our beliefs in the Catholic Churches teachings and promise to live them out, we are anointed with oil to make us witnesses for our beliefs. When we participate in the Mass and receive the Eucharist, we eat bread that is sustenance for us, both physically and spiritually. These are natural things pointing to the supernatural.

When we share in the Eucharist during the celebration of Holy Mass, we are in effect sharing a table. We can find the importance of sharing a table (meal) in Biblical times, as well as, our own special holiday celebrations where those closest to us, come to celebrate a meal and bond with one another. God wants an intimate, profound union with us and has since He originally created us. The Eucharist is the uniting of Our Lord’s body, blood, soul and divinity with us, and in us. How awesome is that?

The Father’s of the Church said that the Son of God became the Son of Man so that the sons of men become the sons of God. This is the ultimate goal of God; He loves us so much He wants to be with us in all aspects of our life. He is just waiting for us to come to Him through the Sacrament of the Holy Mass and the source and summit of our faith- The Holy Eucharist.

Why not make a visit to Our Lord, today?

 

 

 

Knowing What You’re Yearning For

Things of this world don’t seem to satisfy us for very long. Everyone is always looking for more, striving for something better, or having more meaning; yet, we never seem to satiate those deep hungers our hearts are yearning for. Many people have often sought out material dreams or passing relationships, when what they are really looking for is  peace and contentment; which, only God can provide.

Often, people who are both religious and non-religious complain of not “feeling God” in their lives when they are living as “good people,” or attend church regularly. They often question their continuing practice of praise and worship or even believing in a god that doesn’t seem to “show Himself” or have influence in their life. They believe that their lives are what they make of it, their rules are determined by a moral relativism that is different for everyone and no one should be intolerant to another or another’s viewpoint. This relativistic theory and belief of those living this way, doesn’t allow for truth of the moral laws instituted by God.

Tolerance was a Christian invention. I bet that would surprise many people, but I digress. Christians taught that we needed to be tolerant of those who differ both legally and socially. Governments cannot legally force certain religious beliefs on their citizens and we as Catholic Christians must continue to defend the rights of people to practice their religious beliefs no matter if their beliefs are the truth or not. However, it is our duty to proclaim Christ’s truth, in love, to them. Social tolerance is an ancient practice that Jesus instituted by calling on us to love our neighbors as ourselves, and that includes our enemies and those who are of a different religion, ethnicity, race and moral beliefs. We are always called to pray for those who haven’t come to the fullness of truth into the Catholic Church and while we can be tolerant of others viewpoints and beliefs, we don’t have to agree with them. Also, we often hear the saying, “I don’t judge.” Judging the actions of others that go against the moral law is righteous; however, judging the state of one’s soul ( “he’s going to hell”) is unrighteous, as we never truly know the state of a person’s soul in the last minutes of their life.

God’s law is like an instruction manual for human beings. Knowing that our human nature would run amok without rules for living, we are given the moral laws and if we break God’s laws, we will experience brokenness and consequences for our actions. Just like a loving parent institutes rules for their children, God laws are meant to help his people avoid mistakes that lead to brokenness and sin, not just to restrict them and cause punishment. Unfortunately, many people see these laws as not pertaining to today’s culture and are too restrictive to apply to daily lives; so, those same people, when experiencing hardship or trauma, cry out and curse God because He doesn’t seem to be there for them, in their times of need. How can we push God and his moral laws out of our lives one minute and blame Him for not being there in the next?

When Adam and Eve said no to God’s laws, sin was introduced into the world; however, God didn’t give up on us. “For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world but that the world might be saved through Him. John 3:17 God is love and he loves us unconditionally. We can only love if we are free and God gave us the ability to say yes or no to Him and His laws. The freedom of our wills to love is the essence of our purpose in life and eternity. God wants to have a relationship of love with us so we may have eternal life with Him, through our belief in His only Son, Jesus Christ.

Faith is a personal gift from God. Believing what He has revealed in our hearts through the Holy Spirit and to love, trust and have confidence in Him during all the times in our life, whether we can “feel” His presence or not. “Faith seeks understanding: It is intrinsic to faith that a believer desires to know better the One in whom he has put his faith and to understand better what He has ‘revealed’, a more penetrating knowledge will in turn call forth a greater faith, increasingly set afire by love” CCC no.158

So, let us yearn for God’s love and unending mercy for us sinners. We can never be perfect; however, we can continue to grow in holiness by following the moral laws, learning more about our faith, and continuing to build a relationship with Our Lord through the Church that Jesus Christ founded.