Private library of St. John Henry Newman, Birmingham Oratory

Source and Summit of the Christian Life.

The Eucharist is “the source and summit of the Christian life.” “The other sacraments, and indeed all ecclesiastical ministries and works of the apostolate, are bound up with the Eucharist and are oriented toward it. For in the blessed Eucharist is contained the whole spiritual good of the Church, namely Christ himself, our Pasch.” (CCC1324)

Council of Trent

Principal truths on the Real Presence

–Christ is present in the Eucharist, whole and entire, with a substantial presence.

–At the words of consecration, the substances of the bread and the wine are converted into the substance of Christ’s Body and Blood, a unique conversion fittingly called “transubstantiation.”  Only this doctrine offers a coherent explanation of the real and substantial presence of our Lord in the Most Blessed Sacrament.

–The substance of the Bread and wine do not remain after the consecration.

–Christ’s substantial presence under the consecrated species remains as long as the appearances of bread and wine have not been corrupted and transformed into something else (as occurs in digestion after some minutes).

–Christ is contained whole and entire under each species through concomitance.  The faithful who receive only under one species still receive the whole Christ.  Furthermore, Christ is present whole and entire in every part of either species.  Thus, a broken particle of the host or a drop of wine from the chalice contains the whole Christ.

–Christ present in the Eucharist is entitled to the adoration and the worship of latria proper to God alone.  Because the Eucharist deserves the worship of latria, it is very fitting for the Church to institute and promote forms of Eucharistic adoration. (Eucharist, Feingold, 312)

The union of divine and human: the wonder of God becoming man.

What excites our wonderment most in the Incarnation is that the God who fills all space and is not comprehended by it, whose infinitude we cannot grasp, should take a limited form in order to dwell in a human, body.  Marvel of marvels! (23)

Here again, Christ contracts himself, so to speak, in order to identify himself with the lowliest elements. What are union of two extremes, the sovereign majesty and omnipotence of God, and a glorified state circumscribed so as to adapt Himself to our limitations!

In the Incarnation, Christ concealed the divine beauty of the Godhead in finite nature. In the Holy Eucharist, he veils his perfect divine and human natures with the appearances of bread and wine. (Transforming Your Life Through the Eucharist, Kane, 23)

The Eucharist is a reality we can’t measure.

“Reality” is not just what we can measure. It is not only “quantums”… that are real; on the contrary, these are always only manifestations of the hidden mystery of true being. But here, where Christ meets us, we have to do with this true being. This is what was being expressed with the word “substance”.

This…[reveals]… the profound and fundamental basis of being. Jesus is not there like a piece of meat, not in the realm of what can be measured and quantified. … Concerning the Eucharist it is said to us: The substance is transformed, that is to say, the fundamental basis of its being. (God Is Near Us, Ratzinger, 85)

The Eucharist is more real than the things we have to do with every day. Here is the genuine reality. This is the yardstick, the heart of things; here we encounter that reality against which we need to learn to measure every other reality. (God Is Near Us, Ratzinger, 87-88)

The Eucharist is reality, not symbol.

Flannery O’Connor, in one of her letters, recalls a visit she made to another well-known author and former Catholic. This latter “said that when she was a child and received the host, she thought of it as the Holy Ghost, he being the ‘most portable’ person of the Trinity.

Now, she thought of it as a symbol and implied that it was a pretty good one. I then said in a very shaky voice, ‘Well, if it’s a symbol, to hell with it.’ That was all the defense I was capable of, but I realize now that this is all I will ever be able to say about it, outside of a story, except that it is the center of existence for me; all the rest of life is expendable. (The Hidden Manna, O’Connor, 95)

Christ is objectively (real) and ontologically (in being) present.

As a result of transubstantiation, the species of bread and wine undoubtedly take on a new meaning and a new finality, for they no longer remain ordinary bread and ordinary wine, but become the sign of something sacred, the sign of a spiritual food. However, the reason they take on this new significance and this new finality, is simply because they contain a new “reality” which we may justly term ontological. …

[A]fter the change of the substance or nature of the bread and wine into the Body and Blood of Christ, nothing remains of the bread and wine but the appearances, under which Christ, whole and entire, in His physical “reality” is bodily present, although not in the same way that bodies are present in a given place. (Mysterium Fidei, Pope Paul VI, #46)

God communicates the effects of His salvation by contact, touch.

In the human nature he created for himself, God worked our salvation.  Now, raised in glory it is through that human nature that God communicates to us the effects of the salvation he has won.  Not by some remote action at a distance, but by person-to-person, even body-to-body, contact has God willed to save us in Christ.

In a general sense, this person-to-person contact is a spiritual reality; it operates through grace and faith’s response to grace.  It is a spiritual contact made concrete in word and sign through the sacraments.  …  In the Eucharist, however, which among the sacraments is the most noble, this person-to-person contact with Christ’s humanity occurs through touch. (The Hidden Manna, O’Connor, 270-271)

The Eucharist is spiritual food.

[Transiturus, Pope Urban IV:]  This is the food that fully restores, truly nourishes, completely satisfies—not the body but the heart, not the flesh but the [soul], not the stomach but the mind.  Therefore, to man who needed spiritual nourishment, the merciful Savior himself provided, by a holy ordinance, a food to feed the soul, a food that is more powerful and more noble than any food of this world. (The Hidden Manna, O’Connor, 194)

Christ reconciles the human race in His Resurrected humanity.

Christ lives now in the Father’s Presence as the “Lamb who was slain” making intercession for us…  In that heavenly intercession, it is himself that he presents or offers to the Father.  He offers himself as Calvary’s Victim.  In his resurrected and glorified Body, he is the human race reconciled to God.  He, who “had no sin” and was made sin for our sake” (2 Cor 5:21), merited, by his Passion and death, his own glorification and, in that, through his own humanity, the reconciliation of mankind with God. (The Hidden Manna, O’Connor, 300)

The Eucharist is Holiness itself because it is Christ.

The Eucharist is holiness itself, says St. Thomas, because it is Christ.  The other sacraments produce holiness in us since Christ acts through them; they are holy themselves because they are things set aside for sacred purposes  They are not, however, in themselves, subjects of holiness as is the Eucharist. (The Hidden Manna, O’Connor, 314)

The Eucharist is the Author of grace; He is active by grace in the other sacraments.

But the difference between the Eucharist and the other sacraments goes beyond that; the former is the Author of Grace, the others his actions.  Since the Eucharist is Christ, the “source of the whole Christian life’, the Eucharist is both the source of the other sacraments and their perfection. (The Hidden Manna, O’Connor, 314-315)

The Spirit unites us to Him, to each other, and in fellowship with the Father.

Through the Sacrament, the physical Presence of Christ remains with us for only a brief time; it perdures only as long as the sacramental species of bread and wine remain.  This union in Flesh is intended, however, to bind us to him in the Spirit, the Lord’s Flesh serving as instrument for the bestowal of the Spirit.  …

God the Son uses his very humanity for a purpose beyond itself, namely, to unite us to the divinity and, in him, to each other so that our fellowship may be with the Father as well as with the Son (cf. 1 Jn 1:3). (The Hidden Manna, O’Connor, 327)

God cannot give us anything greater than the Eucharist.

[H]is omnipotence and wisdom cannot give us a greater gift than Eucharist. Why not? Because in the Eucharist, Christ is giving us Himself, whole and entire, as a gift, and God has nothing better to give than Himself. The Eucharist is Christ’s complete gift of self to His church, His bride. It is the greatest gift of God to man because in this sacrament Christ, the Word Incarnate, becomes present in His full personal reality throughout the life of the Church. (Eucharist, Feingold, xxviii)

The Eucharist prolongs and extends the Incarnation.

We may say with profound truth that the Eucharist is a real and universal prolongation and extension of the mystery of the Incarnation. … The changing of the bread into the body of Christ by the power of the Holy Spirit is a renewal of the wonderful act, by which, in the power of the same Holy Spirit, He originally formed His body in the womb of the Virgin and took it to His Person. (The Mysteries of Christianity, Matthias Scheeben, 485-86)

Christ is wholly present in the consecrated species: all that He is.

After the Resurrection…until the end of time, Christ’s physical Body and Blood have been reunited to one another and to His soul, and all three are in separably united to His divinity. Therefore, the words of consecration in every Mass make Christ’s entire reality as it currently exists–His divine Person united to His living and breathing glorious Body–present under every part of the consecrated species. (Eucharist, Feingold, 284)

Christ’s dimensions are present whole and entire in the form and way of substance.

[C]hrist’s dimensions are present in the way of substance, which means that they are present, whole and entire under every part of the quantity of the species of bread and wine. The fact that Christ is present in the mode of substance enables each of us to receive the whole Jesus Christ, and not just a part of Him. (Eucharist, Feingold, 287)

He is present in the Eucharist, through the conversion of bread and wine.

Christ Himself receives no change by transubstantiation.  He is not bilocated, moved, multiplied, or divided. He is not increased by any additional matter in transubstantiation, nor is anything changed in Him when the consecrated host is fractured or digested.  He comes to be substantially present in the Eucharist not through a change in Him, but through a conversion of the bread and wine into Him.  … (Eucharist, Feingold, 290)

Christ is not killed again, but His sacrifice is made present sacramentally in an unbloody way.

Christ was offered on Calvary by a bloody sacrifice in which His Blood was physically separated from His Body so as to bring about His violent death.  In the Mass Christ is the same Victim who is offered, but here His Blood is separated from the Body not physically, because Christ can die no more, but under sacramental signs.  Sacramental separation takes the place of physical separation of Body and Blood. (Eucharist, Feingold, 388-389)

Jesus’ one sacrifice on the Cross is multiplied sacramentally by a separate consecration.

On Calvary, the Victim was transferred to the dominion of God by a physical death that could occur only once.  In the Mass, that same interior oblation of the Victim is outwardly represented by the sacramental separation of Christ’s Body and Blood in the separate consecration of the two species.  This sacramental immolation can occur as many times as there are priests to offer the Mass in every time and place. (Eucharist, Feingold, 389)

The priest is identified with, and acts in persona Christi.

the priest offers the holy Sacrifice in persona Christi; this means more than offering “in the name of” or “in place of” Christ. In persona means in specific sacramental identification with “the eternal High Priest” who is the author and principal subject of this sacrifice of His, a sacrifice in which, in truth, nobody can take His place.

[The priest] by confecting the Holy Sacrifice and acting “in persona Christi,” is sacramentally (and ineffably) brought into that most profound sacredness, and made part of it, spiritually linking with it, in turn, all those participating in the eucharistic assembly. (Dominicae Cenae, Pope John Paul II, #8)

Through apostolic succession, an ordained priest acts in personal Christi, bringing us the Eucharistic sacrifice through his sacramental identification with Christ.

The Eucharist…was entrusted by Jesus to the Apostles and has been handed down to us by them and by their successors. (27)

Succession to the Apostles in the pastoral mission necessarily entails the sacrament of Holy Orders, that is, the uninterrupted sequence, from the very beginning, of valid episcopal ordinations. This succession is essential for the Church to exist in a proper and full sense. (28)

…[T]he phrase in persona Christi “means more than offering ‘in the name of’ or ‘in the place of Christ. In persona means in specific sacramental identification with the eternal High Priest who is the author and principal subject of this sacrifice of his, a sacrifice in which, in truth, nobody can take his place”. (Ecclesia de Eucharistia, 29)

By faith, when we possess the reality of truth, we possess the reality of God within those truths.

The generative light of the Word, shared through faith, causes the human intellect in this life to attain to the very reality of revealed truths, and this reality is the divine person of the Word, in whom divinity has manifested itself to men in order to be seen as the incarnate Word and to be believed in the mystery of the Incarnation. (Faith According to St. John of the Cross, St. John Paul II, 176)

Blog at