While they were eating, he took bread, said the blessing, broke it, gave it to them,
and said, "Take it; this is my body."
These words from the Gospel of Mark bring us close to the new translation of the words of institution in the Mass, The day before he suffered he took bread in his sacred hands and looking up to heaven, to you, his almighty Father, he gave you thanks and praise. He broke the bread, gave it to his disciples, and said: Take this, all of you, and eat of it:?for this is my body which will be given up for you.
Notice a few slight differences, but the essence of what is said is the same. For the Church, the most important thing is that it is Christ’s essential word, said with the intention of the Church, that is transformative over the bread and the wine. A priest, as an unconsecrated man, cannot consecrate the host and wine into the Body and Blood of Christ. It is Christ’s word over the priest at ordination that prepares him to say Christ’s words over the bread and the wine.
Notice too how the priest shifts into the first person at the words of institution, ‘as if’ Jesus Himself were pronouncing the consecration. Our belief about the priesthood and the ministration of Christ during a Sacrament says that it is not ‘as if’, but it is truly Christ who consecrates and offers Himself to the Father through the body of the priest.
While the priest is called to be a transparent instrument of this miraculous act, he is an organic conduit who is, like Christ, called to be both priest and victim, offering himself and his body to the Father with the Body and Blood of Christ as an oblation of love. Jesus’ real presence in the Eucharist has always been attested to down through the ages. It is not a medieval invention of the Church to keep the ‘masses’ (no pun intended) under control. Listen to a few early Church fathers, writing in the first two centuries:
"Consider how contrary to the mind of God are the heterodox ( = opinions that dissent from the official or orthodox belief of the Church) in regard to the grace of God which has come to us. They have no regard for charity, none for the widow, the orphan, the oppressed, none for the man in prison, the hungry or the thirsty. They abstain from the Eucharist and from prayer, because they do not admit that the Eucharist is the flesh of our Savior Jesus Christ, the flesh which suffered for our sins and which the Father, in His graciousness, raised from the dead."
- "Letter to the Smyrnaeans", paragraph 6. circa 80-110 A.D.
"This food we call the Eucharist, of which no one is allowed to partake except one who believes that the things we teach are true, and has received the washing for forgiveness of sins and for rebirth, and who lives as Christ handed down to us. For we do not receive these things as common bread or common drink; but as Jesus Christ our Savior being incarnate by God's Word took flesh and blood for our salvation, so also we have been taught that the food consecrated by the Word of prayer which comes from him, from which our flesh and blood are nourished by transformation, is the flesh and blood of that incarnate Jesus."
-"First Apology", Ch. 66, inter A.D. 150. St. Justin the Martyr
"So then, if the mixed cup and the manufactured bread receive the Word of God and become the Eucharist, that is to say, the Blood and Body of Christ, which fortify and build up the substance of our flesh, how can these people claim that the flesh is incapable of receiving God's gift of eternal life, when it is nourished by Christ's Blood and Body and is His member?
- St. Irenaeus, 180 A.D. "Five Books"
May the word of Christ, which consecrates the bread and the wine, also consecrate us, His people, as His Mystical Body, and render us as pure love poured out upon the earth.
30 Day Retreat
I will be away on a 30 Day Ignatian Retreat beginning June 16th and returning July 20th. This is part of my graduate study program in spirituality. Know that you will be in my daily prayers. Fr. Brian, Fr. Yu, Deacon Marshall, and our whole pastoral team will be available for any urgencies that arise. Please pray for me as well.
Vocation Director Here June 16th and 17th
Fr. Bryan Dolesji, who grew up in St. Stephens, is now Vocation Director for the Archdiocese and will be here next weekend. Please welcome him and pray for an increase of vocation to the priesthood and the religious life.
Congratulations to Stephens Ministers
7 new Stephen Ministers, Sylvia Dela Cruz, Helen Chaze, Dori Fajardo, Marijean Heutmaker, Clare Ettensohn, Mary Moran, and Dolly Geonanga, were commissioned this past weekend for ministry to those who are suffering grief, illness, or other hardships in their lives. Thanks to all who generously give of their time to this valuable ministry.