A Sure Way to Save the Church

Developing the Doctrine on the Eucharist

Part I – Jesus Christ Seems to Be Just a Memory

It’s been centuries since there has been such open opposition between cardinals and bishops as there is today over Pope Francis’s perplexing Amoris Laetitia, which has spawned so much discord in the Church, even among highly ranked Church leaders.

Even before Amoris Laetitia, many recognized the Church was in a state of growing disunity. Faithful Catholics are perplexed and concerned and offering solutions. Peter Kwasniewski, in his book Noble Beauty, Transcendent Holiness, argues that the only way out of the spiritual crisis in the Church today is to “return to the ancient, slowly and organically developed liturgy of the Latin Church.”1 Others suggest solutions which are more simple, like a de fide proclamation declaring Our Lady as Co-redemptrix or explicitly consecrating Russia to the Immaculate Heart of Mary.2

Of course there is a precedent for such thinking. The proclamation of the dogma of the Assumption on Nov. 1, 1950, generated a powerful spiritual decade during the Marian Years. Pope John XXIII called it the “Marian Age.” In America, that age produced many fruits, centered around strong families and loyalty to the Church. The age was notable for promoting chastity among the young, and for a surge in religious vocations.3

Today, however, the times are very different. Worldwide, Catholics are confused about the fundamental teachings of the Catholic faith. Many Catholics feel abandoned by God, and many others have abandoned Him. We live in times that require a special solution, and any de fide statement from a pope or bishops would have to be so powerful and so dramatic that it would turn people enthusiastically toward belief in Christianity itself.

In fact, there is only one solution. That is, to turn people’s attention to the living heart of Christianity, which is Jesus Christ Himself. The only way to do this is to reaffirm, in a dramatic way, that Jesus Christ is truly present to us to this day.

In other words, the Church must proclaim, clearly and openly, the truth of the Real Presence of Christ in the Eucharist. But this must involve something new.

It is no longer possible to assume that the teachings in John chapter 6 and the de fide dogmas of the Church are sufficient. This is tragic, because it should be enough. When Jesus said, “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,” He meant this literally, not figuratively. Even at the time He said it, many people misunderstood Him, that He was talking about something miraculous, not “cannibalistic” (Jn 6:51).

In the past, the Church has done a wonderful job explaining this. There was a time when even lay Catholics could explain in rough outline the doctrine of “transubstantiation,” which means that “the wonderful and singular conversion of the whole substance of the bread into the Body, and of the entire substance of the wine into the Blood,” has occurred.4 Consequently, we already have very clear de fide statements on the Real Presence of Christ in the Eucharist, involving words like “transubstantiation” and the “Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity of Christ,” solemnly declared by Church Councils, speaking infallibly.5

Why is this no longer enough? Do we need new words or formulas to help us understand the Real Presence better?

We must always make room for the development of the dogma of the Real Presence of Christ in the Eucharist. New phrases and explanations can make clearer what the Church already teaches. Certain phrases appearing in new cultures can better explain concepts used by the Church for centuries. We must not be afraid to use them.

For example, in the twentieth century the doctrine of the Real Presence was reinforced by two statements of Paul VI which define the Real Presence of Christ in the Eucharist more clearly than ever: one in no. 46 of the encyclical The Mystery of Faith (Mysterium Fidei) and the other in no. 25 of Credo of the People of God (Solemni Hac Liturgia). These statements make use of the phrases that, after the consecration of the Mass, the “‘physical’ reality of Christ is bodily present” and the bread and wine “cease to exist.” This is so very important to understanding the true teaching of the Catholic Church on the Real Presence of Christ in the Mass. This understanding must come to the forefront of the consciousness of the Church.

But don’t Catholics already understand and believe this?

Apparently not. We know that there is a great division among those who are called Catholics. But, significantly, along with this there is a serious division about what Catholics believe about the Real Presence of Christ in the Eucharist. Statistics show a serious loss of knowledge or faith among today’s Catholics. The Georgetown Pew Research Center’s CARA 2008 study of Catholics in the United States found that 43 percent of Catholics questioned about the meaning of the Real Presence of Christ after the consecration of the Mass said that the “bread and wine are symbols of Jesus, but Jesus is not really present.” And 57 percent said that “Jesus Christ is really present in the bread and wine of the Eucharist.”6

But the fact that the majority of Catholics believe that Jesus is “in” the bread and wine is of little comfort to us. For neither of these two explanations of the Real Presence are correct. The consecrated bread and wine are certainly not mere “symbols” of Jesus, but neither is Jesus “in” the bread and wine.

According to the teaching of the Catholic Church, which was passed on by Christ Himself in the Gospel of John, after the consecration of the Eucharist, there is no bread and wine for Jesus to be “in.” Under the appearance of bread and wine, Jesus “is.” He “is” what we touch and handle. One can say that Jesus is “in” the Mass or “in” the Eucharist or “in” the Sacrament because each of these refers to more than the bread and wine. But one cannot say that Jesus is “in” the bread and wine. To believe that He is “in” the bread and wine is to believe the heresy that bread and wine continue to exist after the consecration at the Eucharist.

But it should not surprise us that today we find confusion, trouble, and division over the Real Presence of Christ in the Eucharist, since it was this way from the very beginning. Remember that Jesus gave us a direct lifeline to Himself. He made his presence clear at the Last Supper, but in case people missed His meaning, He was crystal clear in John 6:66, where He stirred up the first big controversy in the Church. It was the first recorded serious division among followers of Jesus, and it was over the Real Presence of Christ in the Eucharist. John 6:66 says that, after Jesus explained His teaching that His disciples would really eat His Body and drink His Blood, “many of His disciples said that ‘this saying is hard; Who can accept it?’” and turned back and “no longer accompanied Him.” Others, like Peter, remained believing the words of Jesus, and one, Judas, stayed even though he did not believe — just to have Satan enter him and deliver him up to his own destruction (Jn 6:60–71; 13:27; Mt 27:3–10).

So, we can see from the very beginning of the Church, belief in the Eucharist was a core belief that separated true followers from the hangers-on and those who would fall away. In fact, from the very beginning of Christianity, every time a major crisis appears in the Church, we find that a disagreement over the Real Presence of Christ in the Eucharist is present. Some famous examples are the Eucharistic heresies surrounding Berengarius of Tours in the eleventh century, the Waldensian and Albigensian heresy in the twelfth and thirteenth centuries, and the Reformation in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries.7

However, to begin to correct this, all Catholics must first have a clearer grasp of the Church’s teaching on the Real Presence of Christ in the Eucharist.

The Church’s teaching on the Real Presence is not precise enough

The Church teaching on “transubstantiation,” that at the consecration the “whole substance of the bread” is changed into Christ’s Body and the “entire substance of the wine” is changed into Christ’s Blood, always implied a physical change of the bread and wine into the physical Body and Blood of Jesus Christ, although this was never explicitly defined. The physical reality is part of the substance of every “thing,” including you and I. We are physical and that is part of our substance. It is part of the makeup of any “body.” It enables us to have “bodily” contact with one another instead of being invisible spirits floating in the air, unable to touch one another.

So, the Church has always implied that the word physical and the word material belonged to the definition of the Real Presence of Christ in the Eucharist. These words spelled out in no uncertain terms that Jesus Christ is with us today in “bodily” form. Thus, we actually come into bodily contact with the Divine Person of Jesus Christ in Holy Communion. So, a belief in the Real Presence of Christ in the Eucharist which denies the bodily presence of Christ’s physical reality would leave the members of the Church with just a memory of Jesus. This is scary.

We seem to have forgotten how important the word physical really is. Let me explain this with an obvious example.

If you were a young man looking to get married, would you rather have an idea of a beautiful girlfriend or a symbol of a beautiful girlfriend (say, with a class ring or picture), or to spiritually communicate with a beautiful girl friend by e-mail? Or would you rather be with your beautiful physical girlfriend on a date?

Obviously, you would rather be with your physical girlfriend because this is the real thing, or the real girlfriend! Well, this is the mystery and the reality of Christ truly present in the Eucharist. It is a mystery too deep for us to fully understand; it is a matter of faith. But for centuries this belief in the Real Presence of Christ has been the constant teaching of the Catholic Church.

So, the big question to consider is this: Is the confusion and strife among Catholics today, including cardinals and bishops wrangling over Amoris Laetitia, caused by a division and difference in their understanding and faith in the Real Presence of Christ in the Eucharist?

I believe the answer is yes.

Isn’t it a fact that, if we examine Amoris Laetitia closely, we will see that the wrangling among cardinals and bishops hubs around the Eucharist? Cardinal Mueller admitted as much when he noted that a negative aspect of the “debate” over Amoris Laetetia was that for many the “debate boils down to only one issue . . . ‘What do you think about Holy Communion for divorcees who are living in non-sacramental unions?’”8

This difference over the belief in the Real Presence of Christ in the Eucharist is the true wound at the heart of the Church. As it is now, there is an unbridgeable abyss which exists between the two factions in the Church over the key question: After the consecration of the Mass, is Christ’s total Person, including His physical body, really present? If He is, then one must be very careful not to bring the Lord into contact with publicly known intransient evil. One must avoid sacrilege. But, if He is not present in this way, then one does not have to be so cautious. One can then open up the Eucharist to all people, even those intent on doing evil. Maybe it will help them.

So, when did today’s division over the Real Presence of Christ in the Eucharist begin?

Part II – The Problem and Solution

A mortal wound in the side of the Church: Doubt spreads like wildfire

Up until the end of the Second Vatican Council (1965), Catholics were very much sure that they had bodily contact with Jesus Christ whenever they received the Eucharist. You could tell this by the enthusiasm at the Sunday eucharistic liturgies and the kneeling in adoration and Benediction of the Blessed Sacrament and Forty Hours Devotions. The Real Presence of Christ in the Eucharist was explicitly taught in Catholic schools and in seminaries.

The decline in the belief in the Real Presence matched the decline in vocations. The population in American convents of nuns, for example, reached a maximum of about 200,000 in 1965. But the enthusiasm for these religious vocations, along with religious devotions and activity like kneeling in adoration of the Blessed Sacrament, gradually slowed to a trickle as the population of religious women in the United States fell to about 50,000 in 2014.9

By 1965 it was already clear that a so-called new theology of the Real Presence was developing among theologians. The philosophical thrust for this so-called new Eucharistic theology most likely came from the late German Idealist Karl Rahner (1904–84), who denied that the physical is real or part of a thing’s substance. Rahner stated: “The mental event as such is the individually occurring real and actual event. The fact that besides this there is physical being with activities, but not present to itself in its own awareness, does not make such being a paradigm case of what being ‘real’ means.”10

This philosophical conviction of Karl Rahner’s affected his belief in all “real” things, including his belief in the “Real” Presence of Christ in the Eucharist. So, in his Encyclopedia of Theology, Karl Rahner accepted the Swiss Jesuit Engelbert Gutwenger’s description of “transubstantiation” which did not include a change in the “physical” or “material” bread and wine. With Rahner’s approval, Gutwenger stated: “As regards ‘transubstantiation,’ it may then be said that substance, essence, meaning and purpose of the bread are identical. But the meaning of a thing can be changed without detriment to its matter.”11 “Without detriment to its matter” is a sly way of saying that there need not be a “material” or “physical” change to the bread. Therefore, for Gutwenger and Rahner, the consecration of the bread and wine at Mass involves a change in “meaning and purpose” of the bread and wine, but not a change in the physical bread and wine. According to this Eucharistic theology, when the priest consecrates the bread and wine, it is a change in mind but not a change outside the mind.

This new theology of the “Real Presence” spread throughout the Church like a wildfire. Practically every Catholic University and new adult catechism of the Catholic Church made it a point to insist that the change in the bread and wine at the consecration of the Mass did not involve a “physical” change. The bread and wine were merely a “sign” or “symbol” of Jesus Christ effecting a presence of Jesus in one’s mind.

Theologians in the United States, like Tad W. Guzie, SJ, of Marquette University, for example, stated that “The ‘change’ in the bread and wine can be understood as a change at the second level of looking at reality (Symbol): as a very real change, but not one that has to do with the physical order. . . .” Continuing, Guzie says: “In recent years theologians have brought into play concepts like ‘transignification’ (change of meaning) which strive to emphasize that the change is not a physical one.”12

The theories of these theologians deeply influenced the writing of the catechisms of the Catholic Church in the United States. For example, Anthony J. Wilhelm’s Christ Among Us (which boasted of “2 million copies sold” in 1990) seemed to show up on the shelves of every religious-education department. Here Wilhelm brazenly rejects the traditional Catholic doctrine on the Real Presence of Christ in the Eucharist by saying:

When we say that the bread and wine “become Christ,” we are not saying that bread and wine are Christ, nor are we practicing some form of cannibalism when we take this in communion. What we mean is that the bread and wine are a sign of Christ present, here and now, in a special way — not in a mere physical way, as if condensed into a wafer. Somehow his presence has “taken over” the bread and wine, so that, for us who believe, it is no longer merely bread that is present, but Christ himself.13

The effect of these theological acrobatics was devastating to Catholic belief. They infected popular catechisms and Catholics schoolrooms, even seminaries. It was easier to believe the Protestant explanation because it fits so much better with human experience, that nothing miraculous happens to the bread and wine at all. Some Protestants, for example, used the old heresy of Martin Luther to explain the presence of Christ in the Eucharist as “consubstantiation,” which meant that, after the consecration, the body and blood of Christ “coexisted” with the bread and wine.14 This error quickly spread among Catholics. For example, one would hear a Catholic say, “Jesus was in the bread and wine.” As already pointed out, this is an error, a heresy. It is a dagger thrust into the side of the Church, producing a mortal wound. If the wound is not healed, the Church will vanish.

However, God has not abandoned His Church. To prevent this error from destroying the Church, God sent us a powerful formula which began under the pontificate of St. Paul VI.

Binding the mortal wound

Back in 1965, Paul VI realized the danger in this new Eucharistic theology coming from these modern theologians. He warned in his encyclical Mysterium Fidei: “For We can see that some of those who are dealing with this Most Holy Mystery in speech and writing are disseminating opinions . . . on the dogma of transubstantiation that are disturbing the minds of the faithful and causing them no small measure of confusion about matters of faith.” Furthermore, the pope said, they try “to discuss the mystery of transubstantiation without mentioning what the Council of Trent had to say about the marvelous conversion of the whole substance of the bread into the Body and the whole substance of the wine into the Blood of Christ.” Continuing, he says that they speak as if these mysteries involve nothing more than “‘transignification,’ or ‘transfinalization,’ as they call it.”15

So, Paul VI tried to head off the potential harm done to the central doctrine of the Holy Eucharist with his magnificent encyclical Mysterium Fidei by clearly stating in the encyclical what remains after the consecration of the bread and wine. He states that, after the consecration of the Mass, “Christ is present whole and entire in His physical ‘reality,’ corporeally present, although not in the manner in which bodies are in a place.”16

By saying “not in a manner in which bodies are present in place,” the pope is saying that this involves a miracle. All bodies, because they are physical, are circumscribed or confined to a place or space. This, however, is not the case with the consecrated Host. The same Host (the same physical or “corporeal” Body of Christ) can exist on one person’s tongue and on another person’s hand at the same time during Communion because Our Lord’s Body transcends space and place, or is not confined to space or place, even though it is perfectly “physical” and perfectly “corporeal.”

To make it absolutely clear that the consecration of the Mass effects a “physical” change of the entire substance of the bread and wine into the entire substance of Jesus Christ, Paul VI stated in Credo of the People of God:

Any theological explanation intent on arriving at some understanding of this Mystery, if it is to be in accordance with Catholic faith, must maintain, without ambiguity, that in the order of reality which exists independently of the human mind, the bread and wine cease to exist after the consecration.17

There is obviously something physical and corporeal existing outside of the mind (“independently of the human mind”) after the consecration, or the priest and people would not be able to eat and drink it. Paul VI is saying that this is absolutely not physical bread and wine, but rather exclusively the Body and Blood of Jesus Christ.

This is the “real” Good News. This means that, what St. John said about Jesus as the Word of Life, we can also say today about our relationship to the Word of Life because of the Real Presence of Christ in the Eucharist. When we say today that the consecrated bread and wine are really Jesus Christ we are speaking about that “which we looked upon and have touched with our hands” — “the Word of Life” Himself — Jesus Christ (cf. 1 Jn 1:1; my emphasis).

So, the reason why Catholics have lost their trust and enthusiasm for Jesus Christ and His Church today is because they do not realize that He has not abandoned them. In fact, He is still with them “whole and entire” — in His total and complete Person, in the flesh. He is “really” here with us today in the Mass and in the tabernacle of churches.

The solution, therefore, is clear. The Church must proclaim more convincingly what she has always held to be true, that Jesus Christ is truly present in the Eucharist, and therefore is actively present and directing the Church. (In other words, Catholics must understand that Jesus is not to be treated as just the revered Deity of history, whose teachings must be adapted to modern times.) Once this proclamation takes place, we will not only see in the Church a superabundance of adoration of the Blessed Sacrament, we will also see a return to unity and peace.

Here is how to get this done: The Pope, preferably with all the bishops in the Church, should declare ex cathedra — in a solemn proclamation with his highest authority, as de fide — Pope Paul VI’s formula of the Real Presence of Christ in the Eucharist from no. 46 of Mystereium Fidei and its companion clarification from no. 25 of Credo of the People of God. I am speaking about the phrase of Paul VI which says that “Christ is present whole and entire in His physical ‘reality,’ corporeally present, although not in the manner in which bodies are in a place,” and its companion clarification that “in the order of reality which exists independently of the human mind, the bread and wine cease to exist after the consecration.”

We know what will happen. Many will not accept this and will walk away from the Church — just as many disciples no longer walked with Jesus after He first taught this powerful teaching when He was visibly on earth. But the unity of those who remain and the consolation given to them will be beyond human imagination. The Church will become an agent of peace and unity for the whole world.

Yes, when this is done, we can expect the Church will be smaller because the “tree has been pruned” (Jn 15:2). But, then, the tree will grow!

  1. Dorothy Cummings McLean, “New book offers powerful solution to today’s crisis in the Catholic Church,” LifeSiteNews, July 18, 2017, lifesitenews.com/blogs/book-review-author-makes-strong-case-for-traditional-latin-mass.
  2. Mark Miravalle, “How is Mary the ‘Spiritual Mother of Humanity?’” Fifth Marian Dogma, Vox Populi: Mariae Miediatrici, June 4, 2012, fifthmariandogma.com/; John-Henry Westen, “Cardinal Burke calls for Consecration of Russia to Immaculate Heart of Mary,” LifeSiteNews, May 19, 2017, lifesitenews.com/news/breaking-cardinal-burke-calls-for-consecration-of-russia-to-immaculate-hear; Peter Baklinski, “Catholic Historian: We need consecration of Russia to save the Church,” Life Site News, April 12, 2017, lifesitenews.com/news/catholic-historian-we-need-consecration-of-russia-to-save-the-church.
  3. James J. McQuade, John XXIII, et al., “Second Congress of Sodalities — World Federation,” Marian Reprints, no. 75 (Dayton: Marian Library Publications, 1960), 5, available at ecommons.udayton.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1073&context=marian_reprints; Marion A. Habig, The Marian Era, Vol. I (Chicago: Franciscan Herald Press, 1960), 6.
  4. Council of Trent, “Canons of the Council of Trent,” Catholic Liturgical Library, catholicliturgy.com/index.cfm/FuseAction/DocumentContents/Index/2/SubIndex/37/DocumentIndex/502; Council of Trent, Denzinger, no. 884.
  5. Council of Trent, Session XIII, cann. I and II; Denzinger, 30th edition, no. 883–84.
  6. Center for Applied Research on the Apostolate (CARA), “The Mass and Eucharist,” Sacraments Today: Belief and Practice among U.S. Catholics (Georgetown University, 2008), 54, available at cara.georgetown.edu/masseucharist.pdf.
  7. George Sauvage, “Berengarius of Tours,” Catholic Encyclopedia, vol. 2 (New York: Robert Appleton Co., 1907), newadvent.org/cathen/02487a.htm; C.E. Sheedy, “Berengarius of Tours,” New Catholic Encyclopedia, vol. 2 (Detroit: Gale Research Inc., 2002), 321; James T. O’Connor, The Hidden Manna (San Francisco: Ignatius Press, 1988), 97; Lateran Council IV, Denzinger, 30th edition, no. 430; Fr. John A. Hardon, SJ, “Protestantism,” Catholic Encyclopedia for School and Home, vol. 9, 26–34, available at therealpresence.org/archives/Protestantism/Protestantism_052.htm.
  8. Kanrad Sawicki, “Exclusive interview: Cardinal Müller on Medjugorje, Amoris Laetitia and radical Islam,” Aleteia, April 21, 2017, aleteia.org/2017/04/21/exclusive-interview-cardinal-muller-on-medjugorje-amoris-laetitia-and-radical-islam/2/.
  9. Michael Lipka, “U.S. nuns face shrinking numbers and tensions with Vatican,” Fact-tank: News in the Numbers (Pew Research Center), Aug. 8, 2014, pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2014/08/08/u-s-nuns-face-shrinking-numbers-and-tensions-with-the-vatican/.
  10. Karl Rahner, Hominization (New York: Herder & Herder, 1965), 81–82. My emphasis.
  11. Engelbert Gutwenger, “Transubstantiation,” Encyclopedia of Theology: The Concise Sacramentum Mundi, ed. Karl Rahner, (New York: Seabury Press, 1975), 1754. My emphasis.
  12. Tad W. Guzie, SJ, Jesus and the Eucharist (New York: Paulist Press, 1974), 67–68. My parentheses.
  13. Anthony Wilhelm, Christ Among Us, 5th rev. ed. (San Francisco: Harper Collins, 1990), cover and 216. My emphasis.
  14. Martin Luther, Confession concerning Christ’s Supper in Luther’s Works, vol. 37, ed. Robert Fischer (Philadelphia: Muhlenberg Press, 1961), 303; “Consubstantiation,” The Free Dictionary, thefreedictionary.com/consubstantiation.
  15. Paul VI, Mysterium Fidei (Vatican City: Libreria Editrice Vaticana, 1965), nos. 10–15. Available at w2.vatican.va/content/paul-vi/en/encyclicals/documents/hf_p-vi_enc_03091965_mysterium.html.
  16. Paul VI, Mysterium Fidei 46. Partially my emphasis.
  17. Paul VI, “Solemni hac liturgia (The Credo of the People of God),” June 30, 1968, no. 25, found in Vatican Council II: More Post Conciliar Documents, vol. 2, ed. Austin Flannery, OP (Collegeville, MN: Liturgical Press, 1982), 393. Also available at w2.vatican.va/content/paul-vi/en/motu_proprio/documents/hf_p-vi_motu-proprio_19680630_credo.html.
Fr. Regis Scanlon, OFMCap About Fr. Regis Scanlon, OFMCap

Fr. Regis Scanlon, OFMCap, was ordained in Aug. 26, 1972. He is currently in the process of developing the Julia Greeley shelter for homeless, unaccompanied women in metro Denver. He is spiritual director and chaplain for Mother Teresa of Calcutta's Missionaries of Charity in Denver, as well as being one of the spiritual directors for the Missionaries of Charity in the western United States. He was director of prison ministry for the Archdiocese of Denver, from 1999 to 2010; a chaplain for Missionaries of Charity at their now-closed AIDS hospice, Seton House, and at Gift of Mary homeless shelter for women in Denver from 1989 to 2008; and in 1997, he was sent by Mother Teresa to instruct Missionaries of Charity in Madagascar and South Africa on the subject of the Real Presence of Christ in the Eucharist . His articles have been published in Homiletic & Pastoral Review, The Catholic Faith, Soul Magazine, Pastoral Life, and The Priest. He has also made two series for Mother Angelica's EWTN: "Crucial Questions," "Catholic Answers," and "What Did Vatican II Really Teach?"

Comments

  1. Father is spot on! The catechetical illiteracy of the laity is astounding! But I’m afraid the hierarchy no longer has the credibility to correct the situation, so it’s left up to the creativity of the laity who are catechetically literate.

  2. Tom McGuire says:

    Father Scanlon, I heard it said that the Eucharist is the only sure way of meeting Christ. Is this a conclusion one can make based on what you wrote here?

    Can we be sure of meeting Christ in the poor?
    Can we be sure of meeting Christ in the Eucharistic Assembly?

    I remember when I was a kid. I walked into a room full of priests gathered after a forty hours closing. I can still hear our pastor say, “All you have to do is tell them (the laity) what to do and they will do it.” Even in those days, people did not follow the commands made by the pastor.

    So I wonder even if the Pope and all the BIshops made an ex cathadra statement about the Eucharist it would make a huge difference in the transformation of hearts.

    Would it be better to improve the way we proclaim the Kerygma?

  3. Tom McGuire says:

    Fr Scanlon,

    Your article stirred further thought about the “Mass”. I am now 79 years old so I grew up way before the “new thinking” in the Church. In my youth, no one in my parish questioned the theology of Eucharist. We just practiced our religion. Judging anyone who was not Catholic as lost forever. Thomas Merton captures better than I, the tone of what it was like then and for some is like today:

    “For there exists a kind of “hard” and rigid religious faith that is not really alive or spiritual, but resides entirely in the exterior self and is the product of conventionalism and systematic prejudice. Speaking of the obedience and docility of the man of faith, Christ made clear that this union with the will of God in action is the necessary step to contemplative awareness of God…”

    He goes on to write, “As St. Thomas says: Per obedientiam homo efficitur idoneus ad videndum Deum. “It is obedience that makes a man fit to see God.”

    I continue to find it hard to understand how defined doctrine will bring about such obedience. What are your thoughts?

    Merton, Thomas. The Inner Experience (p. 55-56). HarperOne. Kindle Edition. 55

    • Tom,

      Belief and obedience are certainly important but it is only by defined doctrine that one knows what to believe and obey. And this makes an enormous difference. For example, are we obedient when we adore the White Host at Mass or are we obedient if we refuse to adore the White Host at Mass? It is because defined doctrine teaches that the White Host is really a divine Person that we know that we must obediently adore the Host. If the Catholic doctrine taught that the White Host was just a piece of bread after the consecration of the Mass we would be disobedient by adoring the White Host. We should then just throw the left over White Hosts in the trash basket after Mass instead of putting them in the tabernacle for adoration. So it is by defined doctrine that we are able to believe and obey correctly.

      I hope this helps.

      • Richard , I hope Tom got your point for it is as simple as you say.

      • Tom, I’m not sure if my previous reply to your comment
        went through.
        I repeat;
        I trust that Richard got your point as it is as simple as you say
        it is.
        Fathers full article is Brilliant , absolutely brilliant !
        I want to stand up and cheer. Thank you so much Fr. Scanlon.
        As you stated before and now RAM HOME, Pope Paul vi
        statement:
        “ The Presence of Jesus in the Eucharist is the presence
        pat excellence of Jesus Christ to the Catholic Church.” –
        . That – and that ALONE – is what makes us supreme
        among believers.

        ONE, TRUE , CATHOLIC and APOSTOLIC.
        Shout it from the rooftops: WE GOT IT ALL.
        For
        We got HIM, still truly physically with us in all the
        tabernacles of the world and in every corner of the world .
        As Saint John Vianney says:
        “ Oh the outrages HE suffers so as to remain .with us
        His children.” Yet so few visit Him, making the good saint
        weep at such ingratitude; ingratitude that is maybe
        reaching an all time high and causing Fr. Scanlon to warn
        us as never before: To say of the Eucharist
        “ Jesus is in bread and wine.”
        is an error, a heresy. It is a dagger thrust into the side
        of the Church, producing a mortal wound. If the wound
        is not healed the Church will vanish.”
        Fifty years ago , as a young father I wrote a poem of my
        own real experience of his Real Presence in my local
        Belfast N. Ire. church . A few verses:

        WHERE THE CANDLE BURNS.

        When I was young and troubled
        With nowhere else to turn
        I’d seek you in the sanctuary
        Where near a candle burned

        So often when so full of doubts
        It seemed I couldn’t cope
        YOU were there to strengthen me
        And fill my heart with hope

        When I would leave to face the world
        My deepest fears all gone
        I’d know that you were with me
        That I had been transformed

        And when I’d meet my neighbor
        And see your love come through
        How could there be the slightest doubt
        I owed it all to you.

        Fr. Scanlon ( If noone else ) will never let us forget that,
        and as such is “ a pearl of great price”.

        ………..

      • Sorry,
        Please reverse the names in my 12,21am Comment .
        I was praising Richard’s 8.33 pm answer to Tom Maguire –
        not the other way round. Richard gets Father’s point , Tom does not
        but maybe I need to read it again.
        Tom Maguite you ask: Can we
        be sure of meeting Christ in the poor?
        And can we be sure of meeting Christ in the Eucharistic Assembly?
        Jesus seemed to answer your questions when He said: “ Where two
        or more are gathered in my name there am I in the midst.”
        But No. Not the same at all.
        An example.over 20 years ago a deacon in California was giving us bible classes
        in a building a short distance from the Church. He did a good job in explaining the power of God’s written word but added “ Jesus is as real here in His word as next door in the chapel..( no need to travel there in fact ) when we have Him here in His Bible.” I replied : “ Wrong wrong wrong !!! One can Adore Jesus in the chapel tabernacle but one can not Adore this Bible before us , This is a physical book – words on paper whereas in the tabernacle Jesus is as really physically present as you are before me now. “ Tom, I am 74 but did not have your experience of
        priests demanding unquestioning acceptance of all they taught. They did not need to . Even as a boy it made sense to me. You could see it in the deep reverence paid this little white host by my parents, priests and the people. Kneeling and receiving on the tongue ( as I still do daily today ) was the least one could do then when receiving God Himself. See my Candle Burns poem. Here is a true story about it. I had given many copies of that poem away ( clearly to God’s divine good pleasure as you will see. ) but one day I was conflicted. I had promised a customer in San Francisco to bring him a copy as I was getting ready for the 15 minute drive to his home. The conflict happened because I realized I had only two copies left. Being very busy I was afraid that leaving myself with only one remaning copy I ran the risk of my forgetting to make copies before I parted with this last one. I put the poem back in the drawer , took it out again then returned it to the drawer. And taking it out again. He’s expecting it I chastised myself, but you see that leaving myself with no copy at all ( it originally was on the back page of our San Francisco University monthly bulletin, printed some years before ).had HAPPENED before and it took me months to contact the editor who had moved to Los Angeles ) I was actually getting annoyed with God for not helping me make a decision. The message came back : Michael, you are conflicted because you are generous but remember Michael I am never outdone for generosity. I gave the customer the copy but when I got home there were two copies in the drawer. How? On my way home I made a stop at a burnt out building. On the pavement under charred black wood I saw the words
        Where the Candle Burns. It was not just a single page copy like I gave him but an actual copy
        of the original bulletin itself . I had not had that complete
        bulletin in my possession for years.
        Almighty God had gone to great lengths to sanction my actions.
        How else to explain it. I can’t.

  4. Tom, did you read the whole article? Both Part 1 and Part II? I think if you do, you will find out why Fr. Scanlon is talking about the importance of Eucharistic doctrine. He is saying that the old way or old truths are not sufficient today. We must have something new in the way of development of Eucharistic doctrine. There is nothing old and stale or something that smacks of “conventional systematic prejudice” about what he is proposing.

  5. In the Eastern Orthodox the Divine Liturgy is filled with glory and a witness to the blessed Trinity. It also gives great beauty to the consecration. If we believe in the real presence of Christ then why are so many tabernacles drab and adoration in convents as well as other places so simple. How can we leave Christ alone in the tabernacle if we truly believe Christ is there? We trap God in a box?
    What does God do in the tabernacle?

  6. Another question…. Please tell me what value is praying the acclamation-when we eat this bread and drink this cup, we proclaim your death, lord Jesus, until you come in glory? Does this help the faithful to ascend in the belief of the true presence of Christ?

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