Categories
Ink Slingers Michelle Schroeder

The True Presence and Our Conviction

There’s been a lot of talk lately about many Catholics not believing in the True Presence of Christ in the Eucharist. Certain I was fully convicted, I hadn’t given much thought to my own conviction, until we met with our confirmation class and the topic was the Mass. One of the other adults who was leading the discussion talked about what it means to wholeheartedly believe in the True Presence and he posed a question: Would you die for a consecrated Host? It’s one thing to ask if you’d be willing to die for Jesus but it’s an entirely different thing to ask whether you would give up your life for a little round, flat piece of bread that you believe is Jesus. The truth is, American Catholics probably don’t have to ponder that question often. That is not our reality. We are not attending Mass in secret or having to attend moving churches that change locations so anti-Catholic militia won’t find us. We don’t worry about being abducted walking from our car in the parking lot to the church door. We don’t risk our lives to receive communion. And as a result, it’s easy to say we believe. We haven’t been tested. That is not to say that I want to switch places with Catholics in parts of the world where there is a very real and very significant threat, today. At this very moment, there are people in other parts of our world who are risking their lives to consume that host. I am friends with one such person who lives in India and as a Catholic priest, he is in danger. I pray for him and I worry about him, but I would not want to be in his shoes. While I’m grateful to be able to freely live my life as a Catholic, I am also aware that I’ve never had to put my money where my mouth is when it comes to the Eucharist. I can go through life believing
that I am a believer, yet I never have to prove it. This is, most certainly, a true first world problem. So, let’s take it down a notch to try to evaluate our conviction.

Let’s put it in terms that may be more relevant to our experience by asking ourselves these questions:

  1. Am I always in a state of grace when I receive Holy Communion? Many of us perceive it as a walk of shame to go through the line and receive a blessing but no Jesus. The fear of embarrassment may actually cause us to sin again if we receive Jesus while having a mortal sin on our soul.
  2. Every time I consume the host, am I free from all distraction and I completely focused on receiving Christ? We may be wrangling kids in the line or simply allowing our minds to wander as we stroll up the aisle.
  3. If I saw someone in line slip the consecrated host in their pocket, what would I do? It’s not just the job of the ushers to prevent sacrilege but it would take courage of conviction to actually stop someone and ask them to consume the host or return it to the priest. We would
    possibly second guess ourselves either because we were unsure if we really saw them pocket it or out of fear of causing a scene. As I consider my own answers to these questions (#2 got me), I realize I have to grow in my conviction.

Fortunately for me, and maybe you, the way to do that is to simply ask God to help you. “Lord, I believe, help me to believe more,” is a simple, effective prayer that shows God our humility and desire to deepen our faith. May we all grow in love for the True Presence that we so freely receive at every Mass!

Categories
7 Quick Takes Catechism Doctrine Faith Formation Holy Days of Obligation Ink Slingers Kerri Mass Resources Sacraments Sacred Scripture

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.