The Eucharist

“This is my body given up for you. This is my blood shed for you and for all that sins may be forgiven.”

It is the belief of Catholics that the bread and the wine offered in the Mass become the body and blood of Jesus Christ.

But why?  An even tougher question is how?


Now then, we believe in this doctrine of the faith simply because Christ says so.  His word after all being the word of God has more authority, more binder power than a simple word said by say Brad or Raj. This word brought forth being, and in that same faith has the power to turn bread into the body of Christ.  Hence, we believe that this bread, once simply unleavened bread, now is the body of Christ.

But members of the Church have tried their “darndest” to answer the how of this mystery.  Is it possible to even remotely answer how?

Thomas Aquinas argued that the “form” of the bread was now the body of Christ.  That is though we see, taste and touch bread, in actual fact, its nature so to speak is now Jesus.

To understand this point one need only reflect on the “act of understanding” of one’s own mind.  To have an insight into something, is to grasp in some way the underlying intelligibility of a phenomena.


It is to connect, the dots with an pattern that goes beyond the data, and rather unites it all the same.  This pattern is grasped by the mind in an insight and yet in itself is not observed.  The underlying form is what is grasped by the perceptive mind as it unites the data of sense experience. It is this form which Catholics believe is transformed once from bread now into the divinity. Hence, the bread is in its nature the Body of Christ.

Very abstract?  So what!

Perhaps this is where reflection must bow out and experience must enter.  Perhaps the only way to be fully convinced of this doctrine, is to spend a few minutes or so perhaps daily in front of the Blessed Sacrament.  I think with this practice we will see that our spirits will be raised, our hearts will find more peace, and we will see with our interior eyes that God is here.

Raj Vijayakumar, SJ is a Jesuit scholastic studying philosophy in Toronto.


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