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Improving My Relationship with the Real Presence

Improving My Relationship with the Real Presence

Several years ago I spent quite some time not practicing the faith. I felt like I was stuck in a cold and empty space, ripe with isolation and distraction. It took the birth of my first baby to slowly drag me out of it and back into the warm and familiar waters of Catholicism. First I eased into learning more about the faith I was raised in, but later it morphed into a relentless pursuit for all the knowledge I could handle. 

Through my prayer and studies, I thankfully came to know (unshakably) in my heart that the Eucharist is the greatest sacrament. I began to think on a more personal level about why we need the Eucharist and that it is indeed the most amazing gift anyone in this life could receive. The more I grasped how incredible it is that Christ continues to give Himself to us, the more seriously I regarded Communion. This was one of the any fruits of my conversion.

For the most part, this quest for a deeper understanding and more sincere love for the Church was a blessing. It was great that I was becoming more spiritually accountable. What wasn’t so great was that I started second-guessing myself to the extreme. I had an unhealthy distrust of my own motives which stifled my potential to love God better. 

Amidst my renewed awe for the Eucharist, I made the mistake of scrutinizing the sincerity of my own belief in the real presence. Catholicism 101 basically starts with the fact that we believe it is not a symbol but is in fact His body. So, like someone carrying a secret, I wrestled internally with my own faith in the true presence. I kept thinking, if I really do believe, wouldn’t I feel more within myself while walking down the aisle to communion? Why am I not overwhelmed by the miracle before me? What if I don’t believe enough?

These questions brought me nothing but doubt and discouragement. I finally mentioned it to one of my best friends and her brief response was perfect. She said, “the miracle itself is part of the mystery, so that’s where our faith comes in. We cannot understand it completely.” I reflected on her words for a few weeks and prayed with them until I finally felt the burden of my self-imposed guilt start to fade. 

My pursuit to be an authentic believer was noble. The problem is that I placed myself at the center of my pursuit instead of Jesus. Insisting that I must fully and intellectually grasp the miracle of the Eucharist was essentially to put myself on the level of the divine. Our earthly life comes with the veil over our eyes, appropriate to our imperfect state due to sin. The more logical approach to the mysteries of our faith is indeed one that is childlike—lacking in some understanding and wisdom, but confident and trusting.

The habit of dotting the “i’s” and crossing the “t’s” of my spiritual life, searching for answers inside myself which rely solely on myself, will never bring me closer to God. The real fruits come when we make an effort to think less and love more, and only looking inward when we acknowledge that God dwells within, ever ready to love and guide us. 

My worrying about motives was all pride and no humility. Only when I let it go and told God that I wish to have as much love as possible for the Eucharist, leaving the level of my understanding to Him alone, did I feel the joy in receiving the gift of His Son. A genuine and grateful smile now erupts when I hear, “The Body of Christ”. 

What I have learned from this journey is that my faith in God and the mysteries of faith increase when my dependence upon myself decreases. If I am front and center, along with all my wavering human feelings and emotions, then I am only distracting and exhausting myself while drifting away from the truth of God’s love. When I quiet the storms of my own intellect and curiosity, then the peaceful waters of Catholicism can nourish me as I drift closer to God. 

If you are prone to second-guessing your own motives like I am, these words from St. Francis de Sales in The Art of Loving God may be worth reflection: “The mistrust of ourselves proceeds from the knowledge of our imperfections. It is a very good thing to mistrust ourselves, but how will it help us, unless we cast our whole confidence upon God and wait for His mercy?” Each of us  needs His mercy in one way or another and we can place our shortcomings or doubts of faith completely in His hands while we focus simply on loving Him. St. Francis also adds that, “Simplicity banishes from the soul that solicitous care which so needlessly urges many to seek out various exercises and means to enable them, as they say, to love God…They torment themselves about finding the art of loving God, not knowing that there is none except to love Him. They think that there is a certain art needed to acquire this love, which is really to be found only in simplicity.” May we always walk the communion line with lightness of heart, with simple love and gratitude for Christ!

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Was the Eucharist Ever a Little Snack?


An acquaintance recently joked, “
-slippery slope! The Eucharist started out as ‘snack time’ for the Catholics and look where that went!

I’m not sure he knows how a slippery slope works.

The Eucharist is a Christian teaching that has remained constant for 2000 years. That is no slippery slope. The real slide is on the protestant side, slipping away from His Church (John 16:13; Matthew 16:18; Matthew 28:16-20) with thousands of competing denominations all claiming to be “Bible only.” The Eucharist has been the pinnacle of our services since Acts; they are the ones who have slid into little snacks. I don’t care if he doesn’t believe in the Real Presence of Christ in the Eucharist, but I do care when Church teaching is misrepresented.

The Eucharist has never been “snack time.” About an hour of reading the first Christian writers (If one can stop after only an hour; we couldn’t!), beginning with the Gospels and epistles, then onward 300 years until the New Testament was codified (and on and on …) makes it crystal clear that these men believed in the Real Presence of Christ in the bread and wine. And these were the same men who picked and prayed our New Testament into life.

The apostles were Jews. They knew about manna from heaven. They knew what the Passover was ~ the sacrifice of the innocent lamb whose blood saved them from death. They ate their lamb. They watched Jesus bless food, break it, and feed 5000. He told them to eat His flesh in John 6. When some left out of horror, Our Lord said again that they had to eat His flesh. At the Last Supper, when He lifted up the Passover bread and wine and said, “This is My Body; this is My Blood,” they were floored. They got it. After the resurrection, with some disciples in Emmaus, He was known in the breaking of the bread (Luke 24:30-32). Paul told the Corinthians that they would be guilty of a sin against the Lord, his body and blood, if they came unworthily (I Corinthians 11:27-29).

The Didache, a catechism written in the 90’s (yes, the 90’s!), directs Christians to confess their sins before partaking in the Eucharist so that the sacrifice would be pure. Since the sacrifice of Jesus is the same yesterday, today, and forever, what He did 2000 years ago is just as efficacious now. He is our perfect sacrifice for sin!

Ignatius of Antioch, writing in the year AD 110, said that he desired the Eucharist, the flesh of our Lord Jesus Christ.

Justin the Martyr, AD 100-165, wrote, “For not as common bread nor common drink do we receive these; but since Jesus Christ our Savior was made incarnate by the word of God and had both flesh and blood for our salvation, so too, as we have been taught, the food which has been made into the Eucharist by the Eucharistic prayer set down by Him, and by the change of which, our blood and flesh is nourished, is both the flesh and blood of that incarnate Jesus.”

And on and on they wrote of the Real Presence of Jesus in the bread and wine, long before the New Testament was even bound and called sacred by Church councils. Men like Irenaus of Lyons, Tertullian, Origen, Clement, Augustine, and the council of Nicaea. The first Church council was in Jerusalem, recorded in Acts 15, when the question of circumcision was hashed out by Church leaders, then explained to the people. We believe what Jesus said to the Twelve in John 16, that the Holy Spirit would guide them into all truth. He still does. And we still follow. 

So I encourage my non-Catholic friends as they insult the Church, to at least make sure the facts are straight. When you falsely say that the Eucharist began as a little snack, your entire witticism falls apart.

To know what the Catholic Church teaches, go to its catechism online or pick up a print copy. Those of us who love our Church will call out blatant untruths and bad jokes. And tell good ones about ourselves!

Want to read some good Catholic jokes? Click here and here.


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His Flesh Is True Food

last supper3

“Take and eat; this is my body… Drink from [the cup], all of you, for this is my blood of the covenant…” (Matthew 26:26-27).

These are Jesus’ words at the Last Supper, on the first “Holy Thursday,” as he offered to his apostles what appeared to be bread and wine. As Catholics, we believe that Jesus meant these words quite literally, just like when he said “my flesh is true food and my blood is true drink” (John 6:55). Thus, we remember the Last Supper not just as Jesus’ last meal with his apostles before his betrayal, but as the event at which he instituted the Eucharist and established the priesthood.

The mystery of Jesus’ true presence in the Eucharist is central to our faith; yet so many Catholics do not believe it. I admit it’s intellectually difficult to grasp (which is why it’s a mystery), but that’s why Jesus told us that we must have the faith of children in order to enter Heaven. In my experience, children readily accept the mystery of the Eucharist even though they do not fully understand it. They are awed, rather than disturbed, by the idea that Jesus offers his true body and blood for us to consume.

When I was a little girl, my mother told me that the beautiful white marble “box” at the front of our church held Jesus. I remember wondering how Jesus’ body could fit into such a small space, and thinking maybe all the marble stretching out on either side was also part of his tomb. Or maybe it was just his bones stacked up in that small compartment, rather than his whole body. Either way, I believed that what my mom said was true. Jesus was present there.

I don’t remember when I realized what my mother had meant – that what was inside the tabernacle was Jesus’ body, blood, eucharist-640x494soul, and divinity disguised by the appearance of bread. But I know I believed that as much as I believed my mother when I thought she was talking about Jesus’ corpse or his bones. I don’t remember questioning it until I was about 19 or 20 years old. When I was 16, I tried to convince my non-Catholic friend that the Eucharist was really Jesus just by reading from John 6. In my simple faith, I assumed he didn’t believe it only because he had never read that part of the Bible. Needless to say, he was not convinced.

I was a freshman in college when influences in my life caused me to doubt the truth of the Catholic faith. I didn’t reject or cease to practice it. I simply went about my normal life, but with the nagging thought that maybe what I had always believed was not true. Sometimes accompanying that thought was a suffocating anxiety and a sick feeling in the pit of my stomach. I was scared of the prospect of abandoning the faith I grew up with. I realized I had to counteract those voices speaking against my faith, so I started researching online to understand more of the “whys” behind the “whats.” I wanted to know the Capital-T-Truth, even if it hurt me, and hurt my family, and made my world come crashing down. I didn’t want just to do and believe what was comfortable.

I don’t know how long I spent researching, or all the different subjects I read about, but I do remember the flashing neon sign indicating that I had found the Truth I sought. That sign was a website about Eucharistic miracles. I read about an 8th century monk who was doubting Transubstantiation. One day when he said the words of the Consecration, the bread and wine changed visibly into flesh and blood in his hands. Those in attendance at the Mass also saw it, and spread news of the occurrence far and wide. The piece of flesh and the coagulated drops of blood remain uncorrupted, and are on display in the town of Lanciano, Italy, where this miracle occurred. The flesh and blood have undergone many investigations of their authenticity, including in the 20th century with modern research tools and methods. Each investigation has confirmed that this is indeed true human flesh and blood, inexplicably preserved. Among other amazing findings, scientists have identified the flesh as heart tissue, and the blood as type AB.

LangianoThe miracle at Lanciano is one of the most famous and earliest of recorded Eucharistic miracles, but countless others have occurred over the centuries, often to strengthen the faith of doubting priests. When I studied abroad in 2005, I had the privilege of seeing a blood-stained cloth from a Eucharistic miracle that occurred in another Italian city, Bolsena (the cloth is displayed in nearby Orvieto). There are also accounts of saints who subsisted for years on the Eucharist, consuming nothing else. Then there are the personal stories of the faithful, which remain hidden in their hearts – not stories of bread and wine visibly becoming flesh and blood, but stories of physical, mental, and spiritual restoration after receiving the Eucharist; stories of an overwhelming sense of peace when praying in front of the Host in adoration; stories of an inexplicable longing for that “bread and wine.”

Truthfully, Eucharistic miracles and the doctrine of Transubstantiation defy all human logic. How is it possible for what looks like bread and wine to be the flesh and blood of Jesus? How can He be present in every tabernacle and at every Mass world-wide at once? How can a piece of bread visibly transform into human flesh in the hands of a doubting priest? How is it possible that the piece of flesh along with the drops of blood remain uncorrupted hundreds of years later? Scripture says, all things are possible with God. These things are not any less possible than God becoming man, dying on a cross, and rising again.

Using your intellect alone to try to make sense of these mysteries is not going to get you anywhere. It will not suddenly lead to belief in the heart of a persistently disbelieving person. You easily could write off the miracles as hoaxes or works of satan. It wasn’t my intellect that told me “this is the Truth” when I read about these miracles. The neon sign that I spoke of was illuminated by the light of faith. I just KNEW in my heart and soul that these were real. And knowing that the Catholic Church got this truth right helped me to know that she really is who she claims to be.

I have read many arguments for a literal interpretation of John 6 (see herehere, and here for examples). I want to “be ready to give an explanation to anyone who asks.” These arguments satisfied my intellect in a manner that was complementary to the faith that I had been granted by God as a gift. When John 6 is read without that supernatural faith, the concept of eating Jesus’ flesh and drinking his blood is easily dismissed as ridiculous and untenable, even by those who call themselves Catholic. But when God gives you the “ears to hear” and “eyes to see,” it becomes so clear that it’s impossible to read Scripture otherwise.

Utmost reverence shown toward the Eucharist greatly aids the nourishment of that gift of faith. I long for the days when the tabernacle was a focal point of every church, when people kneeled to receive our Lord, didn’t make idle conversation inside the nave of the church, genuflected with awareness of what they were doing, sang sacred hymns during Mass, and dressed up for church like they were going to meet a King. Those things clearly communicated the belief that Jesus really meant what he said. Without them, it’s much easier to lose that child-like faith that Jesus is really there inside that marble box and those golden vessels.

 

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7 Quick Takes Friday, No. 18: Catholic Catechesis

Let’s have a little catechtical fun for this installment of 7 Quick Takes!! I asked the other ink slingers to help me identify 7 things that all Catholics should know and I got some great responses. I also know that this list could be much longer than 7, so feel free to add to the list in the comments. One thing we are focusing on with this list is that it is for Catholics. It is not for Protestants who have questions regarding why we believe something or why we do the things we do. In many ways, this should be a review for all of us of basic Catholic beliefs or a way to learn a bit more about the beliefs we take for granted or haven’t given much thought to.

So, here are 7 things we have identified as things that all Catholics should know, with appropriate references and links to further reading. Enjoy!!

–1–

Without a doubt, Catholics should know Jesus. He is our Lord and Savior, the second person of the Trinity, sent to earth by God the Father to redeem all of mankind. We need to have a relationship with Jesus. I was recently at a lecture given by a wonderful priest. He said something that really stuck with me. He said that just to know who Christ is on an intellectual level and what the teachings of the Church are is not enough. If it were, Heaven would be full of lots of very smart people. What we need is a relationship with Jesus, really get to know Him, spend time with Him, talk to Him, and listen to Him. How do we do this?

Spend time in Adoration. See the Catechism of the Catholic Church (CCC) paragraph 2628. Also check out this page from the USCCB on Adoration with many additional links. And check out this great explanation from EWTN on perpetual adoration.

Read Scripture. St. Jerome is quoted as saying: “Ignorance of Scripture is ignorance of Christ.” There’s not much I can add to that.

Its also important here to remind us all that Jesus Christ is both fully man and fully divine. He has both a Divine Nature and a Human Nature. Read more about Jesus as true God and true man in CCC 464-469.

–2–

Every Catholic should know that the Eucharist (the consecrated bread and wine) is the Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity of Jesus. It is not merely symbolic of the Last Supper, it is truly Jesus’ body and blood. Under the two species of the Eucharist, the bread and the wine, Jesus is fully present. For this reason, you can receive Jesus in the Eucharist under either species or both depending on what is available to you. You can also choose to receive under just one and not the other.

For more in depth reading, check out CCC 1333 as well as many of the paragraphs following. Also just look up “Eucharist” in the index and follow the references, there are LOTS of places it is discussed.

Check out this Catholic Answers tract for more on what the early Church Fathers said about the Real Presence.

And do you know the term transubstantiation? You should. For a quick definition check out this link. For a much fuller explanation, NewAdvent.org has a great page devoted to the Real Presence including a section on transubstantiation.

–3–

Yes, we must know Jesus, but we must also know God. God as one God in three Divine persons: Father, Son and Holy Spirit. God as Father and Creator of all. Without God there is nothing. Again, the Catechism is a great source for understanding more about God and the Trinity. Belief in the Trinity is what defines us as Christians.

Start learning more about God at CCC 1 and go from there. Seriously, paragraph 1. Another place to read is CCC 238-240.

The One True God (Catholic Answers tract)

New Advent has this list of articles all devoted to God. Go check them out.

–4–

As Catholics, we believe that the Church of Christ is the Catholic Church. Jesus established the Church as His bride with Himself as the bridegroom. We proclaim this every time we profess the Creed at Mass: I believe in one, holy, catholic, and apostolic Church.

You can start at CCC 748 for the section entitled “I Believe in the Holy Catholic Church.” For more specific paragraphs: CCC 796 explains the unity of Christ and the Church, CCC 830 begins the section “The Church is Catholic,” and CCC 857-865 explains the apostolic nature of the Church.

–5–

Can you name all seven of the sacraments? Do you know what makes them sacraments? Do you know what it means that something is a sacrament? If you’re like me, you know it but can’t articulate it. Here’s the quick definition for you:

A sacrament is an outward, visible sign instituted by Jesus Christ that gives the grace it signifies. (see CCC 1084)

This link from AmericanCatholic.org provides a good summary of the sacraments as well as a bit on each individual sacrament.

This article by Peter Kreeft appeared just recently on Integrated Catholic Life. It’s a good explanation on why we need the sacraments.

–6–

As Catholics we are obligated to attend Mass every Sunday and every Holy Day of Obligation. This is the first precept of the Church. See CCC 2042.

See here for a list of Holy Days of Obligation in the United States.

–7–

Did you know that the phrase “Roman Catholic” was originally used by Protestants as a pejorative phrase? Catholics in the west, where Protestantism flourished, eventually adopted it for themselves. As a result, we often equate “Roman Catholic” with what is really considered “Latin Catholic” since most western Catholics are part of the Latin Rite of the Church. Really, “Roman” would refer to any group of Catholics that is in communion with the Pope, the Bishop of Rome. There are many different rites in the Catholic Church. Who says the Church isn’t diverse!? No way! We are incredibly diverse. EWTNs website contains this great explanation of what a Catholic Rite is, what makes a community a church, and a brief explanation of each of the individual rites.

Also, while I don’t normally use this particular website as a resource, I do like that in this case there are links out to the various Catholic Rites in the list. So check out this article to learn more about the various Catholic rites.

As Latin Rite Catholics, we may be the largest group of Catholics, but we are by no means the only Catholics around. I assume we have plenty of blog readers who are members of other rites in the Church (say hi and let us know in the comments). In many ways, we need to choose our words carefully when it comes to identifying ourselves with our particular rite. Otherwise, were all just simply Catholics.

I hope this Quick Takes installment was interesting and informative, or at least a review. We’d love to see what else you would add to this list. (I know there could be many, many more!!) While you think about it, don’t forget to also go visit Jen at Conversion Diary to check out many more Quick Takes posts from around the blogosphere.

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Thanksgiving in the Eucharist: Reflections on the Gospel of John 6

Pope Benedict XVI celebrates the mass

The word Eucharist literally means “thanksgiving” and since tomorrow is Thanksgiving Day in the United States I couldn’t help but use this time to write reflect the Eucharist! There are several places in the Bible to turn to for proper catechesis on the the Blessed Sacrament, and for today I will be sharing my thoughts on and love for the Gospel of John, chapter six.  This chapter of John is simply amazing.  It is a treasure trove of support for the Real Presence in the Eucharist, and I certainly haven’t uncovered it all so I look forward to learning more!

Open John 6 in another tab to reference and read along!

This chapter of John is not actually at the Last Supper, that comes later along the time line.  For the most profound things Jesus did in His Earthly ministry He prepared His disciples ahead of time and told them what to expect.  For instance, Jesus forewarns His disciples that He must die but that He will rise again (Matt 16:21), and He also forewarns that the Holy Spirit will be sent to teach and guide the Church (Jn 14:26) , which is later sent at Pentecost.  In this similar pattern we see Jesus prepare His disciples for the profound miraculous nature of the institution of the Eucharist.

John 6 first contains descriptions of two of Jesus’ miracles, a multiplication of loaves and His walking on water.  So Jesus is opening the disciples’ eyes to the miracles He’ll be performing in the institution of the Eucharist by demonstrating first that He can do miraculous things with bread in the multiplication of the loaves, and later He demonstrates that He can do miraculous things with His body, by walking on water.

Next, I love how a reference to God feeding the Israelites in the desert by raining manna from Heaven precedes Jesus’ discourse on eternal life.  How easy is it to believe that little flakes of bread rained down for 40 years?  Jesus came with a new covenant, so even more miraculous than raining bread is the Real Presence of Christ in the Eucharist.  Jesus uses this reference to the manna to introduce the Eucharist, He proclaims, “I am the bread that came down from heaven.

In the Old Testament signs of faith were very physical, such as the raining of manna and even the Passover Feast of sacrificing a perfect lamb for God, adorning the door of a believer’s home with the blood of the lamb then eating it (for fun, reflect on how the Passover Feast relates to the raining of manna).  Jesus continues this physical sign of faith in the new covenant, charging ahead with very physical words.

1) “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.” 51
2) “I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you do not have life within you.”53
3) “Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life.” 54
4) “For my flesh is true food, and my blood is true drink” 55
5) “Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood remains in me and I in him. “ 56
6) “I have life because of the Father, so also the one who feeds on me will have life because of me.” 57

Jesus pounded the crowd with very literal and vibrant words, repeating Himself because He knew how hard this teaching was to accept.  Jesus spoke of flesh many times in the Gospels, but by context the use means “humanly” or “earthly”, much like how He uses the word flesh in verse 63 “It is the spirit that gives life, while the flesh is of no avail.”  Meanwhile the rest of the references in this passage to flesh He takes ownership of, “my flesh”, “the flesh of the Son of Man”.  In fact, as far as I am aware, the only times recorded in the Gospels that Jesus speaks of His own flesh is when He commands us to eat it.  How unnerving this must have been to hear!

The ascension of Jesus

If I had been amongst the disciples I doubt my my astonishment would have been so gently expressed as “This saying is hard; who can accept it?”(61).   Jesus replied curtly “Does this shock you?”  Well… YES!  It IS shocking!  No Christian wants to believe anything against the teachings of Christ.   I’ve seen it argued that so many disciples left not because they understood Jesus to be saying to literally eat His flesh, but that they understood Him to be saying that He was God and that’s why they left.  This is definitely intellectually easier to swallow.  By our sinful nature we can’t help but think of ourselves as true followers of Christ compared to those who left Him in this passage.  We tend to consider ourselves more advanced and more intelligent than previous generations, especially those from thousands of years ago.  For some, it may even be intellectually embarrassing to admit to believing that the little host and cup of wine the priest is holding up during the consecration are anything more than “a cracker and grape juice”.  So, we see many Catholics abandoning the belief in the Real Presence, because to this day, this saying is hard… truly, who can accept it?

What if you were to see the Son of Man ascending to where he was before?” (62) I find it interesting that Jesus uses His Ascension as the example for difficult belief, because this is still difficult to explain today.  For instance if He’d said, “What if you were to see the Son of Man die and come back to life three days later?” well, in today’s world we’d just be able to dismiss this as a medical miracle.  Maybe the tomb had been so cold as to lower His temperature enough that He was in some sort of state of suspended animation.  However, we still have no ability to explain Jesus ascending to Heaven.  This still takes a seemingly gullible amount of faith to believe in.  About as gullible as it seems to believe that the bread and wine are authentically the body, blood, soul and divinity of God’s dearly beloved Son.

Jesus, being infinitely wise, made sure to issue the disclaimer that only a select few would believe Him.  Jesus speaks of those in disbelief, “For this reason I have told you that no one can come to me unless it is granted him by my Father.” (65) which is a call back to “For this is the will of my Father, that everyone who sees the Son and believes in him may have eternal life, and I shall raise him [on] the last day.” (40)  Jesus joins with the condition of believing in Him seeing Him.  The only way for this amazing statement of salvation to be binding on people of all generations is for us to be able to see Him in the Eucharist.

At every mass in every Catholic Church every day around the world we can approach Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament on bended knee and give Him proper thanks.  We know that Jesus is present to our souls at all times, but it is in the Blessed Sacrament that Jesus makes Himself present to our bodies – the bodies He gave us to separate us from the angels, and the bodies He’ll reunite with our souls upon His second coming.  Thanks be to God for the institution of the Eucharist.

“My sheep hear my voice; I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish. No one can take them out of my hand. My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all, and no one can take them out of the Father’s hand.  The Father and I are one.”
Jesus, John 10:27

 

St. Ignatius learned from St. John the Apostle directly and was martyred in a death sentence by lions in Colosseum.

“Take note of those who hold heterodox opinions on the grace of Jesus Christ, which have come to us, and see how contrary their opinions are to the mind of God…. They abstain from the Eucharist and from prayer because they do not confess that the Eucharist is the flesh of our Savior Jesus Christ, flesh that suffered for our sins and that the Father, in his goodness, raised up again.  They who deny the gift of God are perishing in their disputes.”
~ St. Ignatius of Antioch, Letter to the Smyrnaeans, A.D. 110  (this guy learned from the Apostle John himself!)

“If the Lord were from other than the Father, how could he rightly take bread, which is of the same creation as our own, and confess it to be his body and affirm that the mixture in the cup is his blood?”
~ St. Irenaeus of Lyons, Against Heresies, A.D. 189

“What you see is the bread and the chalice; that is what your own eyes report to you.  But your faith obliges you to accept that the bread is the body of Christ and the chalice is the blood of Christ.  This has been said very briefly, which may perhaps be sufficient for faith; yet faith does not desire instruction.”
~ St. Augustine of Hippo, ibid 272