THE HOLY EUCHARIST IS THE WHOLE CHRIST
by Rev. John A. Hardon, S.J.
The most fundamental question to ask about the Blessed Sacrament is, "Who
is the Holy Eucharist?" And the correct answer is: The Holy Eucharist is
There is more behind this answer than many Catholics realize. When the
Council of Trent in the sixteenth century defined the meaning of the
Eucharist, it declared that "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 in the sacrament of the Holy
Shortly after Trent, Pope St. Pius V authorized the publication of the
which built on the Council of Trent and explained its
teachings for the pastors of the Church.
Regarding the Real Presence, the pastors were told to explain that "in this
sacrament is contained not only the true Body of Christ-and that means
everything that goes to make up a true body, such as bones, nerves, and so
on-but also Christ whole and entire." Consequently the Eucharist contains
Jesus Christ in the fullness of his divinity and the completeness of his
Jesus is therefore in the Blessed Sacrament "whole and entire: the Soul,
the Body and Blood of Christ, with all their component parts. In heaven a
complete human nature is united to the divine nature in one. . . person. It
is a denial of the faith to suppose that in this sacrament there is
It is not speculation but cold revealed fact that the Holy Eucharist is the
Son of God who became the Son of Mary.
Whatever makes Christ, Christ, is in the Holy Eucharist; nothing less.
Consequently when we speak of , we mean that the whole
substance of bread and wine, its "breadness" and "wineness," is replaced by
the living and glorified Jesus Christ. What remains of what had been bread
and wine is only their external properties that can be perceived by the
senses. As the Greek Fathers of the Church say, the or being of
bread and wine is changed into the being or reality of Jesus Christ. On the
altar after the consecration there is no longer bread and wine but the same
Jesus who was crucified, died and rose from the grave; and who will come in
his glory on the last day to judge the living and the dead.
Is there any real difference between Jesus in heaven and Jesus in the
Eucharist? No, it is the same Jesus. The only difference is in us. We now
on earth cannot see or touch him with our senses. But that is not a
limitation in him; it is a limitation in us.
JESUS is really now on earth in the Eucharist.
Jesus IS really now on earth in the Eucharist.
Jesus is REALLY now on earth in the Eucharist.
Jesus is really NOW on earth in the Eucharist.
Jesus is really now ON earth in the Eucharist.
Jesus is really now on EARTH in the Eucharist.
Jesus is really now on earth IN THE EUCHARIST.
The foregoing six statements, repeated and separately emphasized, explain
why the Catholic Church has defended the reality of the Real Presence so
strenuously down the centuries.
What else could she do? She believes that our Lord's promise, "I will be
with you all days, even to the end of the world," is being literally
fulfilled in every tabernacle of the Catholic world. He is in our midst
with all that makes him man, including his pulsating Sacred Heart. And he
is here to continue his work of redemption by giving us the light and
strength we need to serve him with all our heart.
We speak correctly of believing in the Real Presence. But we should grow in
our understanding of what this implies.
The living, breathing Jesus Christ is in the Blessed Sacrament. This is the
reality. When we speak of presence, however, we are saying something more.
Two people may be really near each other physically, but not present to
each other spiritually. To be present to each one means to have another
person in mind by being mentally aware of their existence, and to have them
in one's heart by loving that other person.
What, then, is the most important implication of our belief that Jesus is
on earth in the Holy Eucharist? It is our duty to cultivate an awareness of
this fact and to act on the awareness with our love.
When we sing the at Benediction, we ask "that our faith may
supply for what our senses cannot perceive." What are we saying? We profess
to believe that Jesus is in the Eucharist with all the qualities of his
risen humanity, although our senses cannot perceive what we know, on faith,
The reality of the Eucharist is clear. It is Jesus of Nazareth who was born
of the Virgin Mary. But we must make ourselves mentally conscious of this
reality and voluntarily respond to what we believe.
Jesus is on earth in the Blessed Sacrament. Why? In order that we might
come to him now no less than his contemporaries did in first century
Palestine. If we thus approach him in loving faith, there is no limit to
the astounding things he will do. Why not? In the Eucharist he has the same
human lips that told the raging storm, "Be still" and commanded the dead
man, "Lazarus, come forth!"
There are no limitations to Christ's power, as God, which he exercises
through his humanity in the Eucharist. The only limitation is our own
weakness of faith or lack of confidence in his almighty love.
Taken from the November-December issue of "Soul Magazine."
The electronic form of this document is copyrighted.
Copyright (c) Trinity Communications 1994.
Provided courtesy of:
The Catholic Resource Network
PO Box 3610
Manassas, VA 22110
The Catholic Resource Network is a Catholic online information and
service system. To browse CRNET or join, set your modem to 8 data
bits, 1 stop bit and no parity, and call 1-703-791-4336.