Our homeschooling group has a Moms' Night Out (MNO). There are usually a dozen regulars or so and we dish pretty explicitly. Some months ago, there were even pregnancy tests taken (one was positive). Really.
So it's no surprise that talk turns to religion. Don't get nervous; there is very rarely any raised voices or harsh words; it's almost always in the vein of clarifying one's own beliefs and educating others--not necessarily to convert anyone.
It seems a few folks had seen the video Common Ground and there were some questions about the Real Presence. I'd talked about it with one person before but... I'll be honest. My 1970's Glitterchesis was thirty years ago, and while Madeleine made her First Communion last year, Daddy did the teaching. I needed to knock some rust off.
See, in the video, Father Riccardo (whose orthodoxy I have no reason to question--quite the contrary) said something very like if not exactly, "It's not literally the Body of Christ." (I haven't seen the video--yet.) This gave me the screaming willies. I need to see this, and quickly, to put it in context.
I lead a busy life, so renting and watching videos is one of those things that gets done rarely. Instead, I mulled it. I thought about it. And I realized that "literally" has a very narrow meaning. It appeared I had two options.
Did I believe that Jesus' Body is literally made of unleavened bread and, were He to cut Himself shaving, would bleed wine? Hmm. That sounds vaguely familiar...
In a word--no.The other apparent option if we're talking literally is that, upon consecration, the bread and wine undergo some kind of chemical change that turns them into Glorified Human Flesh and Blood-down to their molecular makeup. That one is just as silly and even scientifically disprovable. Is there a third option? I decided to consult the Catechism to see what actual Church teaching is. Paragraph 1374, in its entirety, says: The mode of Christ's presense under the Eucahristic species is unique. It raises the Eucharist above all the sacraments as "the perfection of the spiritual life and the end to which all the sacraments tend." In the most blessed sacrament of the Eucharist "the body and blood, together with the soul and divinity, of our Lord Jesus Christ and, therefore the whole Christ is truly, really, and substantially contained." "This presence is called 'real'--by which is not intended to exclude the other types of presence as if they could not be 'real' too, but because it is presence in the fullest sense: that is to say, it is a substantial presence by which Christ, God and man, makes himself wholly and entirely present."Whoa. There's no talk of "literally." We look through the eyes of faith and see Jesus present sacramentally--really, truly present, but not literally. I mean, the Blessed Sacrament to my knowledge has not cured a woman's issue of blood by simple contact, restored sight, or healed a withered hand. While It may float on water, I don't think It will walk. I'm not trying to be disrespectful. I'm trying to get a grip on the doctrine of the Real Presence and how to explain it. I read John 6 and it's like algebra--makes sense while I'm reading it but ten minutes later, it's gone. When I watch Common Ground, I'll bet Father Riccardo's explanation will help. I think, though, that it's called a Sacred Mystery for a reason. Better minds than mine have thought about it for longer than I have time to do, and haven't been able to explain it fully. For those non-Catholics, "Sacred Mystery" is Catholic-speak for "let it go."
Labels: Catholica, tough questions