03 June 2009

Not 'bread' or 'wine'

Since the swine flu scare started I have read of steps the Church has taken in some places to prevent the possible spread of the illness. Some parishes, for example, have temporarily stopped giving Holy Communion under both kinds. Others have asked the people not to receive Holy Communion on the tongue but on the hand.

However, I have seen reports and comments, some by Catholics, saying that ‘the wine’ will not be given at Holy Communion. I have even heard priests use that term.

Bishop Fulton Sheen celebrating Mass, photo by Karsh of Ottawa

The Church has never given ‘wine’ at Holy Communion. At Holy Communion we receive the Body and Blood of Christ, under one form or both. Most of us normally receive Holy Communion under the form of bread. When the priest celebrates Mass he consecrates the bread and the wine that are brought up at the offertory. Through the power of the Holy Spirit they become the Body and Blood of Christ the Risen Lord. They are not symbols of Jesus the Lord but the Lord himself.

Mass at Abbaye de Sainte-Madeleine du Barroux

On the home page of Misyon , under Daily Prayer Online you can find a link to Tradition Day By Day, published by the Augustinian Press, Villanova, PA, USA. Today’s reading is by St Cyril of Jerusalem (316-386) and is absolutely clear:

The bread from heaven and the cup of salvation

Under the old covenant there was showbread, but it came to an end with the old dispensation to which it belonged. Under the new covenant there is bread from heaven and the cup of salvation. These sanctify both soul and body, the bread being adapted to the sanctification of the body, the word to the sanctification of the soul.

Do not, then, regard the eucharistic elements as ordinary bread and wine: they are in fact the body and blood of the Lord, as he himself has declared. Whatever your senses may tell you, be strong in faith.

You have been taught and you are firmly convinced that what looks and tastes like bread and wine is not bread and wine but the body and the blood of Christ. You know also how David referred to this long ago when he sang: Bread strengthens the heart and makes the face glow with the oil of gladness. Strengthen your heart, then, by receiving this bread as spiritual bread, and bring joy to the face of your soul.

May purity of conscience remove the veil from the face of your soul so that by contemplating the glory of the Lord, as in a mirror, you may be transformed from glory to glory in Christ Jesus our Lord. To him be glory for ever and ever. Amen.

1 comment:

Brian said...

Dear Fr. Sean -

Your reflection is right on target.
I am an Extraordinary Minister of the Eucharist in my parish (USA) and also a Permanent Diaconate candidate. So many parishioners do not partake in the Precious Blood. It is so sad, a real lack of Faith. we must "Trust in God."

I see you are from Dublin - I visited there 2 times, both times I visited the Missionaries of Charity on circular road.

God bless you !