Friday, 29 April 2016

The Catholic Church Alone. The One True Church of Christ. Part 51.

REV. F. LEWIS, of Granada


Q. What is the holy Eucharist?

A. It is a sacrament wherein are contained the body and blood of Christ, under the forms or appearances of bread and wine, given for our spiritual nourishment.

Q. By what names is it usually known?

A. It was called in the primitive Church, and by the holy fathers Eucharist, which is a Greek word, and signifies thanksgiving; and is applied to this sacrament, because of the thanksgiving, which our Saviour Christ, offered in the first institution of it, according to St. Matthew xxvi. 27; St. Mark xiv. 23; St. Luke xxii. 19.

And, because of the thanksgiving with which we are obliged to offer and receive this great sacrament and sacrifice, which contains the fountain of all grace, the standing memorial of our redemption, and the pledge of a happy eternity. It is called the Lord's supper, because it was instituted by Christ at his last supper. It is called the Viaticum, as being the bread of a Christian during the journey of this life. It is called the holy communion, because all partakers are joined in faith and love by it. It is called the sacrifice, being by immolation offered to God.

Q. Is it a memorial, and of what?

A. It is in general a memorial of love, being the greatest of legacies. It is a memorial of Christ's passion. It is demonstrative of grace present, and prognostic of future glory.

Q. How does the eucharist differ from the rest of the sacraments ?

A. First, in dignity; hence, it is called the holy sacrament. Secondly, it contains the fountain of grace. Thirdly, there is a miraculous conversion, by destroying the matter. Fourthly, it consists not only in use but in a permanent thing.

Q. What figures were there formerly of the eucharist, and how did they represent it?

A. It was prefigured by Melchisedec's offering bread and wine, as to the matter; for Christ was a priest according to the order of Melchisedec. As to the effect, it was prefigured by the manna, which had all sorts of delicious tastes. As to the thing contained, Christ's body that suffered, it was prefigured by all the sacrifices, immolated by the law of Moses. Hence, Christ is called the " Lamb slain from the beginning of the world." But the most express figure was the killing and eating of the paschal lamb. The blood of the lamb was sprinkled on their doors, whom the destroying angel spared. So the blood of Christ is sprinkled, to redeem men from sin. Christ again, is called the innocent Lamb. Again the paschal lamb was eaten with unleavened bread.

Q. What is the faith of the Catholic Church concerning this sacrament ?

A. That the substance of bread and wine is changed, by the words of consecration, into the real body and blood of Jesus Christ. That under each form is truly and really the body and blood; as also the soul and divinity of Jesus Christ, which by the apostatical union is inseparable from his body and blood. That whosoever receives under one kind alone, receives whole Christ, as much as if he received under both. That by dividing the species, the body of Christ is not hurt, but remains entire under the least particle.

Q. In what manner is Christ present in this sacrament ?

A. By the true and real presence of his divine and human nature, and not in figure only, as some would have it.

Q. Is the body of Christ present in the eucharist, after a natural, corporeal, and visible manner, as he was upon earth before he suffered ?

A. No; for according to St. Paul, there is a natural body, and there is a spiritual body; so that it may be called a spiritual body in the sense of St. Paul, speaking of the resurrection of the body, where he says, " it is sown a natural body, it is raised a spiritual body." i Cor. xv. 44. Not but that it still remains a true body, as to all that is essential to a body; for surely no one will pretend to say that the body of Christ, which is now in heaven, is not the same true and real body which was born of the blessed Virgin Mary, and which suffered upon the cross. And as Christ's body has now the qualities of a glorified body, as being spiritualized, so it partakes in some measure of the qualities and properties of a spirit. Therefore, it is easier conceived how Christ's body may be in the sacrament, without extension or greatness of place; for as a spirit requires no extension for its being, so neither does a body when it is become spiritual and immortal; and since Christ's body is in the eucharist, in the manner of being, as it was in after his resurrection, viz.: Incorruptible, immortal, and impassible, (Christ rising from the dead, dies no more, death shall no more have dominion over him, Rom. vi. 9). So, it is not to be imagined Christ suffers when the sacrament is broken, eaten, and the like. Thus may be conceived how Christ's body may be whole and entire in every part, after the sacred host is divided; and also, how it may be in many places at once: for though we cannot easily understand this possible to an extended body, remaining in its corporeal manner of being, yet there is no such difficulty in relation to a spirit, or any other thing, in its manner of being like a spirit; because a spirit has no dependence on place, nor is confined either to it, or by it. Neither is it more strange for Christ to be in the blessed sacrament, and at the same time in heaven, than it was for him to be in heaven, and at the same time on earth, when he appeared to St. Paul; Acts ix. 29. Nor after all, are our senses to guide us in this, or in any other mystery of faith; but faith itself viz.: The word of God, of Jesus Christ, who says, " this is my body;" 1 Cor. xv. 8. His power and truth make it to be, what he solemnly asserts; this we believe, as well as all other mysteries upon his word, proposed unto us by his Church; upon his word we rely, by which he made all things out of nothing, and changes the nature of things, when, and as he pleases; as when he changed Lot's wife into a pillar of salt, Genesis xix. Water into blood, Exodus vii. As likewise water into wine, John ii. 9. Neither is the difficulty greater here in believing upon God's word, against our senses, than in believing upon God's word, the young man to be an angel, Mark xvi; Matthew xxviii. The dove and fiery tongues to be the Holy Ghost, Matt, iii., Acts ii.; when to our senses they appear otherwise. God's word makes things infinitely surer to us, than our senses; for alas, how often, and easily are our senses deceived? while God's word can never deceive us: we ought therefore, always to submit to it, when we know it to be God's word.