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THE REAL PRESENCE The Real Presence of Christ in the Eucharist CHRIST IN THE EUCHARIST

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The Marian Catechist

April, 1989   Easter Season Issue

by Fr. John A. Hardon, S.J.

Dear Marian Catechists:

This letter is being written on Easter Sunday. Its first purpose is to ask our Risen Savior to grant you and your families an abundance of those graces which He obtained for us by His Passion and Death, and is now giving us through His Resurrection from the dead.

"If Christ has not risen," St. Paul told the Corinthians, "vain then is our preaching, vain too is your faith."

There is a profound sense in which Christ's Resurrection is the rational foundation of our faith. During His visible stay on earth, He taught so many superhuman doctrines and demanded such superhuman obedience that He had to, logically, provide His followers with superhuman grounds for believing what He said. That is why He worked so many miracles during His mortal life, and performed the crowning miracle of rising by His own divine power from the grave.

This is the first reason why Jesus rose from the dead: to insure the reasonableness of our faith. Our reason tells us it is rational to believe in Christ and His teaching because we have the historical evidence of His bodily Resurrection on Easter Sunday.

But the purpose of the Resurrection is still deeper. We believe that God became man in order that by His humanity He might redeem the world. The infinite God assumed a finite human nature, with body and soul and a human will. Although He did not have to die, He chose to die by allowing His blood-drained body to be separated from the soul; and He made the sacrifice by an act of His human will.

It was, therefore, through the humanity of the Incarnate God that the graces of our Redemption were merited by Jesus Christ. Except for His death on Calvary, none of us could hope to see the face of God.

However, we may say that was only the beginning of Christ's humanity as the source of our Redemption. Not only did He deliver us from sin by dying on the Cross in His human nature. He continues to use His humanity now on earth as the channel of His redeeming grace.

The Holy Eucharist is the principal "conduit" by which the Savior communicates the blessings He won for us on Good Friday.

To see this is to understand something of what the Church means when she speaks of the Eucharist as The Mystery of Faith. For it is mainly through the Blessed Sacrament that Christ continually pours out the graces that a sinful mankind needs to reach its eternal destiny.

The Risen Savior is now on earth, really present in the Holy Eucharist; really offering Himself in the Sacrifice of the Mass; and really coming to us in His living humanity in Holy Communion.

His parting message to the disciples was also a promise to us, "Behold, I am with you all days, even to the end of time." He is literally with us, the same Jesus who was born on Christmas Day, who died on Good Friday, and who rose from the dead on Easter Sunday.

-He is here, the Son of the living God who became the Son of Mary.

-He is here, in the fullness of His divinity and humanity.

-He is here, physically in our midst and near to us, so that we might be near to Him.

As Marian Catechists, you have the privilege of proclaiming the true faith and of leading others to do the same. Yet, if I were to identify one single, basic doctrine of this faith which you are to proclaim, I would say it is the Real Presence of Jesus Christ in the Holy Eucharist.

Implied in the Real Presence are all the cardinal mysteries of Christianity: the Trinity and the Incarnation, original and actual sin and the Redemption, the supernatural life and the sacraments, the Church founded by Christ and the powers of the priesthood which He first gave to the Apostles and, through them, has given to their successors.

Deriving from the Real Presence are all the great achievements of Christianity, which are made possible only because it is Christ who continues doing now on earth what He had begun in first-century Palestine. Except for His presence in the Eucharist, there would be no Mass, no Communion, and no Blessed Sacrament. In other words, the Church would be deprived of its principal source of grace here on earth, and the faithful would not have the light and strength they need to live up to the humanly impossible conditions for following in the footsteps of Jesus Christ.

Copyright © 2003 Inter Mirifica

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