Sunday, September 13, 2009

What About Communion

The Catholic Church and Holy Communion

Holy Communion is possibly the most difficult Doctrine of the Catholic Church for people to believe. I was going to say for non Catholics to believe, but I think it is fair to say that a large percentage of Catholics don't really believe what the Church teaches about Holy Communion.

The Catholic Church teaches that the wafer you receive at communion is the Body and Blood of Our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, no ifs ands or buts. If you also receive wine in the communion ceremony, that too is the Body and Blood. Now, to the naked eye that is not possible, and that is part of what sets the Catholic Church apart from other Christian bodies, with all due respect to my beloved brothers and sisters. The Catholic Church embraces this particular mystery, for it is a mystery, the Eucharist.

David MacDonald at Catholic Bridge has an excellent explanation of it over here. It is well worth reading for Catholics and those of other faiths. he explains things not as St. Thomas Aquinas or some other theologian would but as one human being to another. I get that.

One problem is that many Catholics do not treat the Eucharist with the reverence it deserves, wandering up to communion, lacking the understanding that they are coming to the table of the Lord to receive Him, so it is hard for others to see it and grasp it. It is a matter of faith that must be caught not taught.

But, for me, I know that I know, that it is the Body of my Saviour. I believed it as a matter of faith, long before I BELIEVED it as a matter of my heart, but I had a personal experience that made it a heart matter for me one Sunday.

I was kneeling in prayer in our newly renovated church St. Joseph in London, many years ago, and there was a new crucifix behind the altar that was modeled off the crucifix of Pope John Paul II, and it was very simple but beautiful. The priest was a good friend of mine at the time, and I was kneeling during the consecration of the Eucharist, the moment when Christ is believed to enter into the bread and wine. As the priest raised the large host above his head, from where I was kneeling, I looked up and saw it dissolve into the Christ figure that was on the cross directly behind him. My heart lept with joy as at that moment, I knew that I knew that Christ was present in the Eucharist. Interestingly, my priest friend has left the priesthood, and the church has been closed, but the vision remains as fresh as the day it occurred.

I later read about Eucharistic miracles that have occurred down through the years to help others grow in their faith in the mystery of the Eucharist. Here is a site link where some of the Eucharistic miracles are referenced. In many cases the Eucharist has become real flesh and blood, and in all cases where there has been blood it has tested to be type AB.

Believing that the Eucharist is the Body and Blood of our Lord and Saviour is not a requirement for salvation. We are saved by faith. But, the Eucharist gives me sustenance, and strengthens me to live my faith day by day, and I need that. I am so grateful that I can attend the Mass and receive the Eucharist regularly. It is difficult for me to attend mass daily here when I am in Canada, in part due to my health, but when I am in Arizona during the winter, I attend mass on almost all week days, and it is a great blessing to share in this Communion with brothers and sisters knowing that other brothers and sisters around the world are doing the same.

It excites me to know that in a few short hours I will be attending mass and receiving the body and blood of my Lord.

May all who read this have a blessed and holy day.

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