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Friday, 23rd April

Bread and Wine or Flesh and Blood?

– Friday of the 3rd Week of Easter –

“For my flesh is true food and my blood is true drink” [John 6:55] 

One of the great mysteries of the Catholic tradition is how the bread and wine on the altar are transformed into the body and blood of Christ. Questions also emerge from the experience of Mass. Anyone can see that the bread still looks and tastes like bread after it’s consecrated. Anyone can see that the wine still looks like and tastes like wine after it’s consecrated. Yet the Church teaches that “by the consecration the transubstantiation of the bread and wine into the Body and Blood of Christ is brought about. Under the consecrated species of bread and wine Christ himself, living and glorious, is present in a true, real, and substantial manner: his Body and his Blood, with his soul and his divinity (CCC 1413, cf. Council of Trent: DS 1640; 1651).

So how do we explain this? I recently purchased a new iPhone. Having previously owned an iPhone, I needed to transfer all the data from my old phone to my new phone. This includes all my contacts, my apps, my photos, my videos and my notes. So I went through the process, and at the end, all my data was now on the new phone, and my new phone was now very useful to me. At this point you might think, what has this got to do with the Eucharist?! Well, here’s the point. My phone with all my data on it is much more valuable to me than without my data. It has all my photo memories that are personal to me. The phone still looks the same, has the same hardware, is the same weight – but it has become something entirely different. It is now personal to me, contains a great deal of personal information, and is a serious problem if lost or misplaced.

Though a coarse illustration, something similar happens with the bread and wine in the Mass. When the priest prayers the prayer over the bread and wine, they literally transform into Jesus’ body and blood. They still look the same, feel the same and taste the same, but they have become something entirely different. They have become Christ’s body and blood, soul and divinity. It’s a miracle, it’s a mystery, it requires faith, but it will change the lives of all those who receive it!

by Dcn Peter Pellicaan

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