Sacred Heart of Jesus
Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ Jesus, The month of June is dedicated to increased devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus. Let us ask our good Lord for the grace to know and understand His personal love for each one of us! This Sunday we celebrate Corpus Christi – the Body of Christ! This week I share with you a meditation on the Holy Eucharist. I encourage you to reflect over this message a few times this week: “Corpus Christi - The Eucharist: Substantial Presence of Christ. Transubstantiation: Visus, tactus, gustus in te fallitur… Sight, touch and taste in Thee are each deceived;The ear alone most safely is believed. I believe all the Son of God has spoken: Than truth‟s own word there is no truer token. (Hymn, Adoro te Devote) When our sight, touch and taste make a judgment about the true, real and substantial presence of Christ in the Eucharist, each one of these senses totally fails us. They can grasp the external appearances, the accidents; they can perceive the color, the smell, the shape and the quantity of the bread or of the wine, but they are unable to infer from them the underlying reality, because they lack the information that is given only by Faith, and that come to us only in the words by which Divine Revelation has been transmitted to us: The ear alone most safely is believed. That is why when we contemplate this ineffable mystery with the eyes of our soul we must do so with humble reverence, not following human arguments, which ought to be hushed, but in steadfast adherence to Divine Revelation (Paul VI, Mysterium Fidei, 3 September 1965), in order to make it possible for us to grasp this true and mysterious reality. The Church teaches us that Christ becomes really present in the Blessed Eucharist through the conversion of the entire substance of bread into His Body and through the conversion of the entire substance of wine into His Blood, leaving unchanged only those properties of bread and wine which are open to our senses. This hidden conversion is appropriately and justly called by the Church „transubstantiation‟. (idem., Creed of the People of God, 30 June 1968) And Holy Mother Church herself warns us that any explanation given with the object of making this ineffable mystery easier to understand must maintain, without ambiguity, that order of reality which exists independently of the human mind, the bread and wine cease to exist after the consecration. From then on, therefore, the Body and Blood of the Lord Jesus, under the sacramental species of bread and wine, are truly presented before us for our adoration. (ibid.) That order of reality which exists independently of the human mind… After the Consecration, Jesus is present on the altar or in the tabernacle in which the consecrated Hosts are reserved, even though out of blindness I should fail to make the smallest act of Faith, or out of hardness of heart I were to make no manifestation of Love. It is not ‘my fervor’ that causes Him to be present - He is there. In the fourth century, when Saint Cyril of Jerusalem wanted to explain this extraordinary Truth to some recent converts, he used, by way of example, the miracle that Our Lord performed at the wedding feast at Cana of Galilee, when He changed the water into wine. (cf. St. Cyril of Jerusalem, Mystagogical Catechesis, 4a, 2) Saint Cyril asked: if He was able to do such a wonderful thing as change water into wine, are we to think it is undignified to believe that He changed wine into His Blood? If He worked this wonderful miracle at a wedding feast, should we not think with still greater reason that He would give the offspring of marriage His Body and His Blood as their food? Therefore, do not look on the bread and wine as simple common elements… and, although your senses may suggest the opposite to you, your Faith must give you the certainty of what is there in reality. (ibid., 4a, 2 and 5) This reality is Christ Himself, Who, quite helpless, surrenders Himself to us. Our senses are completely deceived, but Faith gives us the greatest certainty. The real presence of Christ in the tabernacle: At the miracle in Cana, the color of the water was changed and became the color of wine; the taste of the water also changed and was turned into the taste of wine - of good wine. The natural properties of water were changed… Everything about the water the servants took to Jesus was changed. Not only the appearances of the water, the accidents, but the very being of the water, its substance. The water was turned into wine by Our Lord’s words. All the people present not only tasted but drank the excellent real wine that only a few moments before had been ordinary water. In the Holy Eucharist, Jesus does not change through the words of the priest - as He did in Cana - the accidents of bread and wine (their color, taste, shape, quantity), but only their substance, the very being of bread and wine, which ceases to be bread and wine and is changed in an admirable and supernatural way into the Body and Blood of Christ. The appearances of bread remain, but there is no longer bread there; the appearances of wine remain, but there is no longer wine there. The substance of bread and the substance of wine have changed from what they were before in themselves, from that by which a thing is such and such a thing in the eyes of the Creator. God, who can create and who can annihilate, can also transform one thing into another; in the Blessed Eucharist He wanted to effect this miraculous transformation of bread and wine into the Body and Blood of Christ and for the change to be perceived only by means of Faith.
In the miracle of the multiplication of the loaves and fishes (cf. John 6:1 et. seq.), the substance and accidents did not undergo any change: there were loaves and fishes to start with, and this same food was eaten by those five thousand men who were fully satisfied. Our Lord had increased the amount of it. In Cana, He changed a certain quantity of water into the same amount of wine, without increasing it at all. In the most Blessed Sacrament, through the action of the priest, Jesus transforms the very substance, whilst the accidents, the outward appearances, remain unchanged. Christ does not come to the Sacrament of the Altar by spatial movement, as when we move from one place to another. He makes Himself present through that admirable conversion of bread and of wine into His Body and into His Blood.
Quod non capis, quod non vides animosa firmat fides… Sight has failed, nor thought conceives, but a dauntless Faith believes, resting on a power Divine. (Sequence, Lauda, Sion, Salvatorem) Christ is present in the Holy Eucharist with His Body, His Blood, His Soul and His Divinity. It is the same Jesus as the Jesus Who was born in Bethlehem, Who had to be carried in the arms of Joseph and Mary on the flight into Egypt. It is the same Jesus as the Jesus Who grew up and worked hard in Nazareth, Who died and rose again on the third day and Who now, glorious, sits at the right hand of God the Father. It is Jesus Himself! But it is logical that He cannot be in the same way, even though His Presence is the same Presence. In the order of Christ, writes St. Thomas, His natural Being is not the same as His sacramental Being. (St. Thomas, Summa Theologiae, 3, q. 76, a. 6) But the reality of His Presence is no less in the tabernacle than in Heaven: Christ is present whole and entire, bodily present too, in His physical „reality‟ although not in the manner in which bodies are present in a place. (Paul VI, Mysterium Fidei, 46 cit.) There is little more we can say about this admirable presence. When we go to visit the Blessed Sacrament we can say, in the literal meaning of the words, ‘I am in the presence of Jesus, I am in front of God’. We can say this in just the same way as could have done those people who, filled with Faith, encountered Him on the roads and streets of Palestine. We too can say, ‘Lord, I look at the tabernacle and my sight, touch and taste are all deceived… but my Faith pierces through the veils that cover this little tabernacle and finds You there, truly present, waiting for me to make an act of Faith, an act of Love or an act of thanksgiving… just as You patiently hoped those people would do on whom in Your public life You poured out Your power and Your Mercy. Lord, I believe, I hope, I love’. Trust and respect for Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament: Sight, touch and taste in Thee are each deceived… It is true that in the Blessed Eucharist the senses are unable to perceive the most real Presence that exists anywhere. This is because it is a question of the Presence of a Body which is both glorified and Divine. Therefore it is a Divine Presence, a divine mode of existence, which differs essentially from the modes of being and existing of bodies which are subject to space and time. The Eucharist never exhausts the ways in which Jesus can be present among us. He announced to us: Lo, I am with you always until the close of the age. (Matt. 28:20) He is with us in many ways. The Church reminds us that Christ is present in the needy, whether they belong to our family or whether they are strangers to us. He is present whenever we gather together in His Name. (cf. Matt. 18:20) In a special way He is present in the Divine Word… (cf. Second Vatican Council, Sacrosanctum Concilium, 7) All these are real ways of being present among us, but in the Holy Eucharist, God is present among us in a way par excellence, given that in this Sacrament Christ is there in His very Person, in a true, real and substantial way. This Presence, St. Paul VI teaches, is called „real‟ not in an exclusive sense as though the other forms of presence were not „real‟, but by reason of its excellence. It is the substantial Presence, by which Christ is made present here among us, whole and entire, without doubt, both God and Man. (St. Paul VI, Mysterium Fidei, 39 cit.) Let us consider today how we should behave in His presence, and what kind of trust and respect we should have for Him. Let us ask ourselves whether our Faith becomes deeper and more penetrating when we are before the tabernacle, or whether the darkness of the senses prevails and they remain as though blind in the Presence of this Divine Reality. How often have we said to Jesus: I firmly believe, Lord, that You are here, that You see me, that You hear me; I adore You with profound reverence… The miracles of the wedding feast of Cana and the multiplication of the loaves and fishes that we considered earlier can help us try to understand better this wonder of Divine Love. In both these miracles Jesus asks others for their collaboration. The disciples distributed the food to the crowds and everyone was satisfied. In Cana He said to the servants, Fill the jars with water; and they filled them to the brim, until they could hold no more. If they had been careless and had put in less water, the amount of wine would also have been smaller. Something similar happens in Holy Communion. Even though grace is always without limit and we have not merited the honor we receive, Jesus asks us too for our collaboration; He invites us to correspond, with our own devotion, to the grace we receive. He rewards us in proportion as He finds in our hearts that good disposition He asks us for. The constantly greater desire, the purity of our hearts, the spiritual communions, our sense of the presence of God throughout the day, and particularly when we pass close to a tabernacle… will enable us to receive more and more Grace and Love whenever Jesus comes into our hearts. (From: In Conversation with God by Francis Fernandez) Through the intercession of the Immaculate Heart of Mary, St. Joseph, and St. Columbkill, may God grant us the grace of a great love for the Sacred Heart of Jesus and the Immaculate Heart of Mary! In Christ through Mary, Fr. Kasel