Saturday, 11 May 2019
The Real Presence
Catechism lessons with the 15 years-old at the local Catholic school were often a challenge to Father Ignatius. The youngsters were unremitting with their questions and they certainly pulled no punches. Today was no exception.
“Is it true that the Host and Wine at Communion are actually the Body and Blood of Jesus?” asked one of the pupils.
“Why would Jesus want us to eat Him?” asked another.
“That’s cannibalism” retorted a third. And so the questions went on.
Father Ignatius waited until they had stopped and then said calmly:
“Our Faith is full of mysteries. That’s why they call it Faith. If everything was explained to us by God, with every little detail made known, and every fact analysed by scientists, learned people and so on; then it wouldn’t be Faith would it?
“For reasons best known to Himself God has chosen to keep certain things hidden from us. And just as well I think, considering how we managed to mess up the world so far.”
“But is the Host the Body of Christ?” interrupted an impatient youngster.
The priest smiled and continued: “Catholics are invited, by the Church, to believe that the Host is indeed the Body of Christ, and the wine is His Blood.
“Many people have difficulties in believing this; and I can understand why.
“They can’t see what Christ meant at the Last Supper when He uttered those words we know so well. Was it symbolism? Was it fact?
"Also, we read in the Gospel of John Chapter 6 verse 52 onwards; Jesus says again that unless we eat His body and drink His blood, we have no eternal life. Some of His followers did not understand this; as you don't right now. They got up and left Him, to follow Him no more.
"What did Jesus do? He did not call them back. He did not say, 'Hey ... wait ... let me explain what I meant!' He just let them go. I guess He forgave them and let them go.
"He also asked His disciples whether they wanted to leave too. Peter, speaking for everyone there, said that they would remain with Jesus as His followers."
“So what do you think Father? Is the Communion we take in church the body of Jesus?” asked a young girl sitting up front.
Fr Ignatius habitually cleaned his spectacles as a natural pause and to allow the class to settle. He now knew he had their attention. All eagerly awaiting his reply to the challenging question.
“Let me tell you something first before I answer you” he said.
“Many years ago, about seven hundred years after the Birth of Jesus, there was a Basilian monk who lived in Italy in the Church of St Legontian. He doubted, like many others, the Presence of Christ in the Eucharist.
“One day, as he was celebrating the Holy Mass at the moment of Consecration the Host turned into live flesh, and the wine was changed into live blood.”
“Gosh …" gasped a young girl.
“This flesh and blood have been preserved, totally intact until today.”
“What? How is this possible?” asked one of the boys, "unbelievable!"
“That’s true … the flesh is the same dimension as the large Host used in Church, it is light brown in colour. The Blood has coagulated and is slightly brownish yellow.
“Various scientific tests have been undertaken over the years on the flesh and blood and it was discovered that the flesh is real human flesh and the blood is real human blood. The flesh is essentially a human heart.
“The flesh and blood are the same blood-type, AB. That’s the same blood type uncovered in the Holy Shroud of Turin.”
“Wow …” said one of the children.
“The preservation of the flesh and blood still in their natural state for all these years, over twelve centuries, is an extraordinary phenomenon,” declared the priest.
“After all this time?”
“Yes,” said Father Ignatius, “after all this time the flesh and blood still exist in their natural state. Why don’t you do some research in the library in time for next week’s lesson.
“Here are some clues on what to look for. Search for Eucharistic Miracle, Lanciano, Italy, 8th century AD, The Real Presence.
“I think that’s enough clues to keep you going for now.”