SOME COMMENTS ON THE CURRENT PERCEPTIONS AND ATTITUDES
REGARDING THE HOLY EUCHARIST
I. Coexistence of the Truths about the Holy Eucharist and their Denials in our times
The key teachings of the Catholic Church on the Sacrament of the Holy Eucharist are that,
by the power of Jesus Christ represented by a validly ordained priest, when the priest consecrates bread and wine during the Mass as Jesus did during the Last Supper before His Passion, the substances of the bread and wine change into the true Flesh and Blood of Jesus Christ, while the species of bread and wine remain unchanged and that,
as the Flesh and Blood are of the resurrected and living Jesus and, therefore, are united with His Soul and Divinity, the Full and Real Presence of Our Lord exists in the
Eucharist. The Church Doctrines clarify them further: “If anyone denies that in the sacrament of the most Holy Eucharist the body and blood, together with the soul and divinity, of our Lord Jesus Christ and, therefore, the whole Christ is truly, really, and substantially contained, but says that he is in it only as in a sign or figure or by his power, let him be anathema.” [Council of Trent, DS #1651]
“If anyone says that in the most holy sacrament of the Eucharist the substance of bread and wine remains together with the body and blood of our Lord Jesus Christ and denies that wonderful and unique change of the whole substance of the bread into his body and of the whole substance of the wine into his blood while only the species of bread and wine remain, a change which the Catholic Church very fittingly calls transubstantiation, let him be anathema.” [Council of Trent, DS # 1652]
John Calvin and other reformists of the 16th Century did not accept the Catholic Church’s teachings and said that the bread and wine of the Last Supper only signified the Body and Blood of Jesus. Martin Luther said that the substances of bread and wine co-exist with the substances of the Body and Blood of Jesus, which also contradicted the authentic Church teachings. During the past several centuries since then, the Protestant denominations have maintained the idea that Jesus Christ is only spiritually present in the bread and wine (or grape juice) used in their ceremony of the Last Supper. (Note: The Protestant ministers and theologians have not correctly interpreted Jesus’ assurances that
the gates of hell shall not prevail against the Church that He established on the rock of Peter to the end of the world (Matthew 16:18) and that
He will be with His disciples all days to the end of the world (ibid. 28:18-20) and separated themselves from the original Church established by the Lord. Therefore, the divine power of the Eucharistic Consecration as well as the power of forgiving sins (in the Sacrament of the Confession) that Jesus bestowed on the Apostles have not continued in the Protestant denominations.)
To make things worse in the past several decades, some of the Catholic theologians [Fr. Karl Rahner (1904-1984) of Germany, Fr. Edward Schillebeeckx (1914-2009) of Belgium, and others], enormously popular among the liberal and modernist priests and seminarians worldwide, spread the idea that Our Lord’s Presence in the Eucharist is only a symbolic and spiritual one thus uniting with the Protestant ideas rather than with the Catholic Church teachings. Influenced by these theologians, the majority of the lay people in the entire Catholic Church (over 70% according to some statistics) currently do not believe in the Real Presence of Our Lord in the Eucharist, thinking that the Eucharist is bread and wine that only signify the spiritual presence or power of Jesus, placing more trust in the human senses than in the solemn Words of our Divine Lord. This represents one of the major current crises in the faith life of many Catholics along with the drastic weakening of the Marian devotion and the hardened insensitivity to the danger of sins and the need for sanctity.
God has been deploring the current situation of the worldwide erosion and loss of the true Faith in Our Lord’s Real Presence in the Holy Eucharist and has sent down Eucharistic miracles especially in Naju, Korea (a total of 33 times since 1988) as enlightenings as well as warnings. The miracles of the species of the Eucharist changing from those of bread and wine to those of flesh and blood or to the appearance of the Baby Jesus have occurred at different places in Church history, the best known example until now being the miracle in Lanciano, Italy, in the 8th Century. The 33 Eucharistic miracles in Naju between 1988 and 2010 include (1) the changing of the Eucharist into visible Flesh and Blood on Julia Kim’s tongue 14 times; (2) the bleeding from the Eucharist in a ciborium or a monstrance 3 times in Naju; and (3) the coming down of the Eucharist from above 16 times in Naju. These Eucharistic miracles are God’s own testimonies to the truthfulness of the Church teaching of the Full and Real Presence of Our Lord in the Holy Eucharist. All human persons who have become aware of these miraculous signs are called to discern these signs and messages according to the Church teachings and their consciences and, accordingly, to strengthen their faith, and renew their life. When God sends down to people His Commandments, Teachings, or Warnings, they must humbly and diligently respond to them by correcting their thoughts and reforming their lives. Tepid responses will not suffice the Divine expectations.
One of the 33 Eucharistic Miracles in Naju: The two Sacred Hosts that miraculously came down on April 16, 2005 bled in the ciborium on May 6, 2005.
Unfortunately, the leading priests in the Gwangju Archdiocese (to which the Naju Parish belongs) have been ignoring and opposing the heavenly messages and the accompanying miraculous sings. They have refused to carry out their duty of ordering scientific examinations of the evidences of the reported miracles and have also failed to interview the tens of thousands witnesses of the miraculous signs including Blessed John Paul II, several Bishops, and many priests. Pope John Paul II accepted the truthfulness of the Eucharistic miracle through Julia during the Mass in a Vatican chapel on October 31, 1995 and several times urged the Korean Bishops to handle the supernatural phenomena in Naju objectively and diligently. Disappointing the Pope and many others in the world, the Gwangju Archdiocese in Korea announced a negative Declaration on Naju on January 1, 1998.
In their Declaration on Naju, the Gwangju Archdiocese’s priests attempted to justify their negative decision on Naju on doctrinal grounds. They said in the Declaration that
the Eucharistic miracles in Naju contradicted the Church teaching that says that the species of bread and wine must remain unchanged even after the
Consecration. It is clear and obvious, however, that this statement is not a true presentation of the Church Doctrine, as the Church doctrine only teaches that
the priest’s Consecration causes the change of the substances of bread and wine into the substances of Our Lord’s Flesh and Blood without changing the species of bread and
wine. The Church teaching has never said that the species of the Eucharist must continue to remain unchanged even after the Consecration. If the Gwangju priests’ interpretation were correct, all of the previous church-approved Eucharistic miracles would have to be rejected as violations of the Church teaching. The Gwangju priests invented a new doctrine to justify their negative judgment on Naju. If they are blindly despising and rejecting the true special revelations from God, this already is a most serious mistake and neglect of their duty as they are Church leaders. If they are also distorting the Church doctrines to cover up their mistaken judgment, they are doubling their fault before God and His Church.
The Gwangju Declaration also condemned the reported miracles of the Eucharist that came down from above saying,
“According to the Church doctrine, the Eucharist begins to exist only through the Consecration by the validly ordained
priests.” This statement would be true, if one could justly deny the possibility of miracles. Denying the possibility of miracles, however, violates the teachings of the First Vatican Council. What the Church teaches regarding the Eucharistic consecration is that those who have not been validly ordained to priesthood cannot perform the Consecration, meaning that the lay people or the clergies of other religions and denominations do not have the power to do the Consecration. The Church has never said that even Our Lord Himself, the Highest Priest and the source of all priestly powers, cannot miraculously visit people in the appearance of the Eucharist by His own Will, not relying on the priests’ Consecration. The numerous miraculous descents of the Eucharist to the Saints and children (in Fatima) in Church history (as recorded in The Lives of the Saints and other documents) are evidences that the Gwangju priests’ presentation of the Church teaching is incorrect.
Soon after the Gwangju Declaration was announced, a layman asked a monsignor in Korea,
“Why did the Gwangju Archdiocese not perform any scientific examination of Naju?” The Monsignor answered,
“Now that the phenomena in Naju have been judged as violations of the Church teachings, why should we waste time doing scientific examinations?” It is an extremely serious matter that the shepherds in the Church misrepresent the Church teachings and, then, use their incorrect interpretation of the Church doctrines to justify their unjust judgments. This is a matter that should not be overlooked as the integrity of the Church teachings is at stake. Note: What are stated above are not formal judgments as by the official Church documents but only are the cries of laypersons based on their consciences and the Teachings that they have learned from the sacred shepherds in the Church.
II. God requires of us faith and love before we approach and receive the Holy Eucharist
The critical test given to the people in Judea and its vicinity two thousand years ago was whether they could choose to recognize and accept Jesus as the true Son of God and Messiah or not. Jesus’ teachings and miracles were enormously shocking and amazing to them, but His Divinity was still hidden behind His human appearance. Only those who were humble and open to truth and justice were able to recognize and believe Jesus’ true identity with the help of the grace from above, while those with darkened minds and hearts by their pride, face-saving, and attachment to secular vanities were not willing to acknowledge and accept the truthfulness of Jesus’ teachings. They, eventually, handed Him over to the Roman governor and soldiers to be scourged and killed on the Cross. God wants to save every human being in the world to eternal life and happiness, but, as they were given free will, they need to make their own choices, for which they would be eternally responsible.
Now in our own age, Jesus does not walk on the earth any more, but He, not just His Soul but the whole Jesus with His human body, human soul, and Divinity, comes to us still hiding His Divinity and Humanity from the human senses (not supported by the grace) in the Sacrament of the Holy Eucharist. The test given to us now is whether we can penetrate the external barriers of the species of the Eucharist and the pride in our hearts and are able to recognize and approach the true, real, and living Jesus in the Holy Eucharist with our faith and love. Jesus already gave us His Words about the Eucharist [John 6; Mathew 26:26-28; Mark 14:22-24] before His Last Supper and Suffering. Therefore, those who are humble and open to the truth will be able to recognize the truthfulness of Jesus’ teachings without too much difficulties. Considering the infinite Divine dignity and love of Jesus,
the requirement of faith, trust, and love before receiving Him seems to be an extremely small price indeed for us to pay.
Along with the test about the Eucharist, we are also being tested about the Blessed Mother — if we truly love, respect, rely on the Blessed Mother as our true Mother and Queen. As the Blessed Mother is the Mother of Jesus, Who is God the Son, and Jesus is the Life of our souls, it is undoubtedly correct that she is our souls’ true Mother. Also, it is obvious that Jesus will love more those who love His Mother. The Mother of Jesus formally became our Mother, when Jesus said to her from the Cross:
“Woman, behold thy son (John)” and said to John representing all of Jesus’ disciples:
“Behold thy mother.” It is said that the greatest gift that a father can give to his children is their mother. God’s Eternal Kingdom is a large Family and God gave us the Mother of Jesus as our Mother because He truly loves us and wishes to increase the probability of our salvation.
III. Our Lord explained the Holy Eucharist before He established the Blessed Sacrament and Priesthood at the Last Supper
In St. John’s Gospel, in Chapter 6, from Verses 1 to 71, Jesus explains the Sacrament of the Holy Eucharist which He will give to His Church as a means of perpetuating His Real Presence on earth after His Ascension. Jesus said:
“I am the living bread which came down from Heaven. If any man eats of this bread, he shall live forever; and the bread that I will give, is my flesh, for the life of the world” (John 6:31-32). Some of the Jews complained:
“How can this man give us his flesh to eat?”
(ibid. 6:53). Jesus continued: “Amen, amen I say to you: Except you eat the flesh of the Son of man, and drink his blood, you will not have life in you. He that eateth my flesh, and drinketh my blood, hath everlasting life: and I will raise him on the last day. For my flesh is meat indeed; and my blood is drink indeed. He that eateth my flesh, and drinketh my blood, abideth in me, and I in
him.” (ibid. 6:54-57) Then, many of his disciples said, “This saying is hard, and who can hear it”
Knowing that his disciples were murmuring, Jesus said: “It is the spirit that quickeneth; the flesh profitheth nothing. The words that I have spoken to you, are spirit and life. But there are some of you that believe not”
(ibid. 6:64-65). It is written that many of his disciples went back and walked no more with Him
(ibid. 6:67). Jesus said to his twelve Apostles: “Will you also go away?”
(ibid. 6:68). Peter, representing all of the Apostles, answered, “Lord, to whom shall we go? Thou hast the words of eternal life”
(ibid. 6:69). We can derive some important conclusions from the above conversations:
a. It is obvious that the disciples understood Jesus’ words about His Flesh and Blood not symbolically but literally. That is because they complained and left Him.
b. Jesus also spoke His words in the literal context instead of the symbolical one. The reason is that, when many of the disciples were leaving, He did not say, “You misunderstood Me. I was only speaking in the symbolical context. So, do not leave but stay with Me.”
c. The disciples who complained most likely thought that Jesus was going to cut some of His Flesh with a knife and give it to them to eat. In other words, they only understood Jesus’ teaching physically, while forgetting the more important spiritual aspect. We know that the Eucharist is not lifeless Flesh and Blood cut from the Lord’s Body but is the whole, living Jesus with His Flesh, Blood, Soul, and Divinity. By receiving the Eucharist, we unite ourselves more strongly with the true and living Person of Jesus as the branches can be more strongly united to the vine and, in consequence, receive more supernatural grace from Him and bear more abundant fruits.
d. We sometimes hear from our Protestant friends: “We spiritually receive Jesus into our souls and do not need to receive His Flesh and Blood.” Of course, Jesus can reach us spiritually from Heaven, as He is God and capable of anything that He wills. However, in Jesus Christ the Divine and Human Natures are inseparably united in His Divine Person from the moment of His Incarnation and, therefore, His Full and Real Presence necessarily includes both His Divine Nature and His Human Nature of His Soul and Body. If we exclude Jesus’ Human Nature, we cannot speak of His being present with us in His whole Person. When Our Lord was explaining the Eucharist to the crowds, He meant by the words of His “Flesh” and “Blood” His whole Person instead of “Flesh” and “Blood” separated from His Soul and Divinity and thus lifeless. Therefore, the sentences that Jesus said:
“It is the spirit that quickeneth; the flesh profitheth nothing. The words that I have spoken to you, are spirit and life,” do not contradict what He said earlier:
“Except you eat the flesh of the Son of man, and drink his blood, you will not have life in you. He that eateth my flesh, and drinketh my blood, hath everlasting life: and I will raise him in the last day. For my flesh is meat indeed; and my blood is drink indeed. He that eateth my flesh, and drinketh my blood, abideth in me, and I in him.” Jesus was only rebuking the disciples for their focusing only on the physical aspect of His teaching while forgetting the whole dimension of the Eucharist. They should have remembered what Jesus said at the beginning of His explanation,
“I am the living bread which came down from heaven.” Even in our own time, if anyone thinks that he is receiving the lifeless Flesh and Blood of Jesus instead of the whole, living Jesus, Man and God, he is missing the essential reality and dignity of the Holy Eucharist and is in urgent need of correcting his false perception.
IV. Some common-sense ideas that can help improve our faith life
a. The first and most fundamental principle that we need to establish and follow in our life is to worship and glorify God and obey His Will and Commandments instead of pursuing our own ambitions and glories. To sufficiently train our minds and hearts so that we may feel comfortable
in following this principle, we need to make diligent efforts to educate and discipline our brains and senses by studying and digesting the Truths and Commandments from God and applying them to our daily lives throughout our lifetime. This way of life is the only true and best road to our eternal happiness and success, because God is eternal and absolute and the source of everything that is good, true, and just, while we ourselves are creatures, weak, shaky, and vain. While we live on this earth, we can either make progress in spiritual growth and doing the right things for ourselves and others or fail miserably in achieving our ultimate goals if we made the wrong choices and relied on ourselves and other vanities instead of relying on God and obeying His teachings.
b. Making a sincere Confession with a contrite heart before Communion is the best and powerful way of cleaning our souls and receiving more grace from Our Lord in the Eucharist. Even when we do not make the Confession and feel that we are in the state of grace, we should have a sincere, humble, and contrite heart before every Communion, because we cannot completely avoid sins in our daily lives, especially the venial sins, and we will be better prepared to receive God’s mercy and more graces whenever we admit our pride and other sins before the God of infinite holiness and loftiness, pray for His mercy, and are grateful for everything from Him.
c. The time after Communion is an excellent opportunity to pray to the Lord who spiritually and physically came into us. We should also pray to God the Father and God the Holy Spirit, as Jesus is united as One with the Father and the Holy Spirit. We should also pray to the Blessed Mother for her intermediation. The Incarnation of God the Son was realized through her and she is the Associate to Jesus in His every action for saving us. Thus, we can avoid squandering the most precious time after Communion (for 15 to 30 minutes during which the full Real Presence of Our Lord continues in us) by offering up intimate prayers inside or outside the church. We should also remember that the Holy Communion is a re-confirmation of the Covenant of Faithfulness between the Lord and us. Holy Communion strengthens the union not only between God and us but also between us and all angels and other human persons on earth, in Purgatory, and in Heaven who are the children of God.
d. Our Lord is really present in the tabernacle day and night. That is why the church is the House of God and Place of Prayer, which we visit not only to attend the Mass but also to pray before Jesus in the tabernacle. As we enter the church and leave the church, we should humbly and lovingly genuflect and make the Sign of Cross. In the church, we should avoid all kinds of avoidable noises such as gossiping, laughing, running, the ringing of cellular phones, and more. There should be a cry room in every church for children. Also, children can be trained and encouraged to use the restroom before the Mass begins so that they do not need to go to the restroom in the middle of the Mass. One should be careful not to miss any part of the Mass and especially the parts before, during, and after the Consecration and Elevation until Communion. Especially
in warm weather, everyone should be careful to avoid immodest dress. Chewing gum is also not suitable in the House of God. Men must remove hats or any other
coverings from their heads. The good Catholic traditions are precious and protective of the holy atmosphere in the church and should be preserved.
e. Receiving the Eucharist in the hand has been permitted since the early 1960s at the request of the Bishops in the Netherlands as an exception rather than an obligation. For many centuries in Church history, the Catholics received the Eucharist on the tongue. Sadly, in some churches and in some countries now, Communion in the Hand has become a duty. This is against the Holy See’s intention and instruction. There are some important reasons why Communion on the tongue is more desirable than Communion in the Hand. (1) If the Eucharist is distributed in the hand, it is easy for someone with evil intention to take the Eucharist outside the church and desecrate the Eucharist; (2) It is easy for the particles of the Eucharist to remain in the communicants’ hands and then fall on the floor. It has actually happened many times that tiny particles of the Eucharist on the Communicant’s hands fall on the floor without anybody noticing. Therefore, those who still choose to receive the Eucharist in their hands should at least very carefully examine their hands after putting the Eucharist in their mouths for any little particles of the Eucharist remaining in their hands and consume them. Dropping and losing even one tiny particle of the Eucharist is a very serious matter. Our carefulness toward every little particle of the Eucharist can be a sign of our faith and love for Jesus in the Eucharist. Also, when Communion is given on the tongue, the
minister should be careful not to touch the Communicant’s tongue with the
his finger. Especially the extraordinary ministers should be careful not to drop the Eucharist or spill the Precious Blood.
Fr. Karl Rahner (mentioned on Page 1) promoted his heretical idea: “The Eucharist is a meal and must look like a meal. The particles of the Eucharist do not have the appearance of a meal and, therefore, cannot be considered to be the Eucharist.” As a result, the evil habit has spread worldwide that mistreats and desecrates the particles of the Eucharist. We should remember how sorrowfully and carefully St. Thérèse of Lisieux and other Saints treated the little particles of the Eucharist which were found on the church floors. It is our grave responsibility to give the most loving and thoughtful care to Our Lord in the Holy Eucharist.
f. Before the Vatican II, in almost all Catholic churches there were kneelers and Communion rails, but, soon after the Vatican II, kneelers totally disappeared in some countries and the Communion rails also disappeared in almost all countries. Kneelers and Communion rails are useful aids for our devotional actions and mindset. Communion rails also reduce the risk of dropping the Eucharist and its particles during distribution. In addition, their removal was not ordered by the Vatican II.
g. In the Eastern Orthodox churches and among some Catholics, an incorrect idea has been circulating that the Transubstantiation (the change of the substances of bread and wine into the substances of the Flesh and Blood of Jesus Christ) occurs at the time of the prayer before the Consecration asking the Father to send the Holy Spirit so that by his power bread and wine may become the Body and Blood of Jesus (Epiclesis). The Catechism of the Catholic Church says (#1353):
“In the institution narrative the power of the words and the action of Christ, and the power of the Holy Spirit, make sacramentally present under the species of bread and wine Christ’s body and blood, his sacrifice offered on the cross once for all.” It is clear that the Transubstantiation occurs at the time when the priest, representing the Person of Jesus, offers the consecration prayer that Jesus offered at the Last Supper and, thus, by the power of Jesus and His words as well as the power of the Holy Spirit.
h. The Church law that requires a one-hour fasting before Communion, should be diligently observed (some exceptions mentioned in the Canon Law).
The Catechism of the Catholic Church:
#904: Christ fulfills this prophetic office, not
only by the hierarchy but also by the laity. He accordingly both
establishes them as witnesses and provides them with the sense of
the faith [sensus fidei] and the grace of the word.
#851: God wills the salvation of everyone through
the knowledge of the truth. Salvation is found in the truth. Those
who obey the prompting of the Spirit of truth are already on the way
of salvation. But the Church, to whom this truth has been entrusted,
must go out to meet their desire, so as to bring them the truth.
Because she believes in God's universal plan of salvation, the
Church must be missionary.
Benedict Labre Lee, Gresham, Oregon, USAMarch 5, 2013; revised January 8, 2014
Website address: www.marys-touch.com