By Tom Quiner
I took the Bread and then I took the Cup.
This happened at Mass this morning. What happened? I encountered Christ.
The Catholic Catechism explains:
“The signs of bread and wine become, in a way surpassing understanding, the Body and Blood of Christ; they continue also to signify the goodness of creation.”
Eucharist is sacred. It is beautiful. It is the focal point of the Catholic Mass. Christ is present in the communion, not as a symbol, but in reality, although shielded from our senses.
I was thinking about this and asked some of my Catholic friends this question:
“When we take communion, Christ is present, but shielded from our senses. Is He shielded from our soul? In other words, is our soul conscious of His Real Presence?”
I received some interesting responses.
“I would back the bus up a little bit to say, is Christ’s presence really shielded from our senses? If we truly believe…then I think our senses coincide with that belief. It takes a true belief and being conscience in the moment to truly make something of the miracle of the True Presence.”
There’s no doubt some people have profound experiences at communion that surpass the realm of the senses.
Lee weighed in:
“Assuming Jesus was hidden/shielded from both body and soul, there would be no element left. What value would that be?
If we consider the spiritual plane as another frequency that we cannot perceive very well in this life, the essence of the Eucharist would be shining brightly as perceived by our soul/spirit. However the body is connected to soul, which is why the recipient may have a physical response when receiving the Eucharist.
I often find myself relating to audio and video…. so if you’ve seen the Matrix trilogy, picture Neo in Revolutions (3rd film) when his physical eyes are damaged: a new power manifests itself where he can then see enemies as silhouettes of golden light. When I look at the Eucharist, I (try to) picture it as shining with a golden light.”
Carol had this to say:
“Tom, this is only my opinion but I believe our souls are very much aware or conscious of Christ’s True Presence. I would like to hear what Catholic Answers would say about that. Great question.”
Carol’s view mirrors the view presented in a mini-musical I wrote a few years ago called, “The Day I Lived Forever?” You can watch a scene above as two wounded souls ask the question, “Jesus, are you really here’?” immediately prior to taking communion.
A priest, Fr. Chris, offered an explanation which included the Old Testament in his thinking:
“It should be, the ancient Jews would see the body and soul as integrated. All parts of us should be aware of His Real Presence-body, blood, soul, and divinity.”
My friend, Bob, who has been a Catholic for a long time had some deep insights into the question:
“What a deep question that provokes interesting avenues of exploration. It seems undoubtable that the human mind with its consciousness, the thought process, must share and continue on with the human soul. After death the mind’s memory must be retained by the soul, for how else could there possibly be a continum or relationship between the two?
According to Webster, the soul is the animating, vital principle in the human being, credited with the faculties of thought and emotion, separable from the body after death. The precise question of whether the soul experiences something that the conscious mind cannot, seems plausible to me. There is the dichotomy of senses separating the conscious mind from the soul.
The soul perceives elements that are beyond the awareness of the word symbols used by the mind, but felt by the latter nevertheless. These things are felt, shared and perceived to some degree but are blocked out from one’s consciousness and left to the intellect as a belief.
Well Tom, that is about all I can muster. Sages throughout the ages have pondered this phenomenon and have elecited numberous theories, frequently countering one another. Very interesting subect matter without a final answer.”
A Catholic scholar, Dr. Tom, went even deeper:
“In the holy Sacrament Christ is concealed and revealed to our senses under the form of signs — His glorified Body is hidden, but His nature as life-giving Food and Drink is manifest to our senses; His humility is manifest in the Food and Drink; His faithfulness in being present always is manifest in the Food and Drink; and so on. The same is true of our spirit’s capacity to perceive His presence in the holy Sacrament. In our spirit as we receive Him we can, if we are well disposed and He so wills, experience a conscious awareness of His intimate presence, his consoling light and power and love and mercy and truth. But more so, we are able to be aware of His coming by the effects of the holy Sacrament in our life, i.e. inasmuch as we see an increase in the natural and theological virtues in our life. God manifests Himself primarily in His effects — and the supreme effect of God is charity, love for God, neighbor, and especially of enemy.”
These are great insights.
My friend, Lisa, drove it home with a very direct reaction:
“Absolutely. Our senses are limited to our bodies but our souls are eternal. It is not our ears or eyes or nose that craves to know Jesus but our soul. It is our knowledge of His presence in the Eucharist at the level of our soul that leads us to believe when we cannot see, in other words, to have faith.”
Thanks to everyone who took the time to make the point that, yes, Jesus is really here.