Friday, October 12, 2007

Faith and the Eucharist

Here is the last question (for now) from "Lady Mo." It's about the role of faith in the Eucharist. I am very thankful for all of her questions, and I look forward to further opportunities to share my faith with her.

Pax Christi,
phatcatholic
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My last question for now is on the Lord's Table.
During mass, when communion is taken, do Roman Catholics believe that the bread and wine actually turn into the literal blood and body of Jesus when the priest consecrates it, giving the person eternal life?
Yes. When the priest consecrates the bread and wine, it truly, really, and substantially becomes the Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity of Our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. As for "eternal life" being received by it, you shouldn't take this to mean that once a Catholic receives the Eucharist he has his irrevocable ticket to heaven. The Eucharist brings eternal life in that:
  1. through it we receive Jesus Himself, who IS eternal life, and
  2. it helps us to live a life of grace and friendship with the Lord that is necessary in order to receive heaven ("eternal life") when we die.
Catholics don't believe in "once saved always saved."
If that is so, does that not minimize the need for faith?
Of course not! For one, there is no Eucharist without first entering into the Church through Baptism, which the Church calls "the sacrament of faith." So, faith is what grants us the privilege to receive the Eucharist in the first place. Also, note that without faith the Eucharist will not be fruitful. In other words, even though the bread and wine have truly become Jesus Christ Himself, if we do not receive it in faith, believing that it is in fact Jesus Christ Himself, we will not experience the increase in holiness and friendship with God that the Eucharist provides.

St. Paul talks about how important it is to receive the Eucharist in faith:

1 Cor 11:26-29 For as often as you eat this bread and drink the cup, you proclaim the Lord's death until he comes. 27 Whoever, therefore, eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner will be guilty of profaning the body and blood of the Lord. 28 Let a man examine himself, and so eat of the bread and drink of the cup. 29 For any one who eats and drinks without discerning the body eats and drinks judgment upon himself. 30 That is why many of you are weak and ill, and some have died.

As you can see, faith is in every way necessary and in no way diminished by the Eucharist, or for that matter, by any of the the seven sacraments of the Church.

I hope that helps. Thank you very much for these questions. If you have any more, feel free to post them here.

Pax Christi,
phatcatholic

4 comments:

Scott said...

would it be ok to use this info with my 8th grade CCD kids? I love your explanations...

phatcatholic said...

Of course! Feel free to use anything I have written here.

Scott said...

thanks so much! very well explained!

Anonymous said...

Actually to refine the point on Eucharist it changes completely in the sacramental sense, but not in the literal sense ie: real flesh and blood. but mystically the Eucharist is changed but the bread and wine keep there literal properties. as Christ the Rock in Exodus.
G-D Bless 1-1.

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