Chapter One: Grace and Devotion to Mary
Chapter Two: Mary, Holy Objects and God
Chapter Three: Primary Teachings - Mary the Virgin
Chapter Four: Mary and Jesus
Chapter Five: Deeper Teachings -
Chapter Six: Teachings Not Yet Declared Dogmas -
Jesus and Mary
A Mediator with our Mediator
Chapter Seven: Final Thoughts and Reflections
of the Holy Spirit
of Jesus Made Present
and Church Unity
Consecration to Mary Individual and
Litany of Mary's Faith Journey
© Copyright, J. Roy MacIntyre 2009
The Eucharist, the Body and Blood of Jesus Made Present
In John six (vs 48-69), there is a discourse between Jesus and His disciples on the teaching of the Eucharist. In this passage Jesus taught that he would give His disciples His Body and Blood as food. When He made this teaching many of His followers turned away from Him. He then taught the disciples that this teaching of His is a matter of spirit and life. Nevertheless, there were some of His disciples who did not believe and stopped following Him.
What did Jesus mean by His teaching that He would give us His Body to eat and His Blood to drink and what did He mean by saying that His words were, “spirit and life”? fe”?
First of all, it is clear from this and other passages that Jesus meant precisely that he would give us His Body and Blood as food. This would be a memorial or making present His sacrifice on Calvary. The last supper when He said “do this in memory of Me” He was including everything culminating with His final drink of wine on the cross. Secondly, He meant that those who accepted the teaching, hard though it may be, were yielding to the Holy Spirit. There are other ‘hard’ directions from God in the Bible. For instance, Abraham accepted a most difficult word from God that he should sacrifice his only son, Isaac.
The concluding evidence of the truth of His teaching that He would give His Body and Blood as food is found in the passage in John where Jesus asks His Apostles, “… do you want to leave me also?” He would not have asked this question if he was talking in symbolic terms. If the Eucharist was only a symbol and Jesus told this to His Apostles it would make no sense for Him to ask this question. In fact, Peter likely still disturbed and perhaps bewildered by the teaching nevertheless answered, “Lord to whom shall we go? You have the words of everlasting life.” Like Abraham, the father of faith, Peter spoke on behalf of the Apostles and said, “We believe…”
Unfortunately, the disbelief in the real presence of the Body and Blood of Jesus in the Eucharist has been denied throughout the history of the Church. St. Ignatius a convert of St. John the Apostle and the second bishop of Antioch in his writings stated to be a true member of the universal or Catholic Church one must accept the truth about the Body and Blood of Christ in the Eucharist. This first century martyr also emphasized the necessity of believing in the virgin birth of Jesus and that Christians must assume the belief in the Holy Trinity. Those who turn away from the Eucharistic Jesus have increased dramatically since the Reformation even though the teaching is clear in the Bible.
In the Synoptic Gospels we find the institution of the Eucharist at the Last Supper of the Lord (Mt 26: 26-28, Mk 14: 22- 24, Lk 22: 19- 20.) In 1 Corinthians (10: 16-17& 21, 11: 23-29) St. Paul points out that the Eucharistic celebration is ongoing in the early Christian Church. He also warns that in celebrating the Eucharist the people should participate in it reverently less they be guilty of the Body and Blood of Christ. A person could not be guilty of the Body and Blood if it was only a symbol. This clearly points out that Jesus is truly present in the Eucharist, Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity.
St. Paul also refers to the Eucharist as the “one loaf” (1Cor 10: 17). Since there were many places and times where the Eucharist was celebrated and obviously many different loaves of bread were used what does Paul mean by one loaf? The simple truth is when the bread and cup are blessed they become the one Body and Blood of Jesus. So from then to now we continue to share in the one loaf, the Bread of life, the Eucharistic Jesus.
In His own words at the Last Supper Jesus said, “This IS My Body.” He did not say this is a symbol of my body or this is just a symbolic ritual of my death. He said “This IS My Body.” For those who have ears to hear and a heart to believe, those who are true children of Abraham, let them believe.
Despite clear teaching in the New Testament and the long history of the Christian Faith, Jesus’ presence in the Eucharist continues to be attacked today and unfortunately even within the Catholic Church. I have read a recent report that suggests that as little as 30% of Catholics actually believe in the true presence of the Body and Blood of Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament. What a terrible tragedy! But fear not! God will bring all believers back to the truth of the Eucharist; the great gift of Himself. If necessary He will do it by signs and wonders.
The practice of worship of Jesus’ Presence in the Eucharist, as reserved in the tabernacle for such devotions, which had been smugly discouraged, is now fortunately experiencing a revival. The heresy of recognizing the Body and Blood of Jesus as being present in the breaking and sharing at Mass and no longer present after is also disappearing. This Presence of Jesus at the Eucharistic celebration is, of course, essential but so is adoration of the Body and Blood of Christ in times apart from Mass. This is because a decline in devotion is followed by a decline in faith, understanding and practice. The odd thing is that some non-Catholics are beginning to long for and recognise Jesus in the Eucharist while many Catholics ignore Him.
Mary is also intimately connected to Jesus in the Eucharist. She has given Jesus His Body and Blood for His mission of redemption and He gave it back to her and to all of us in the Eucharist, the Bread of Life; Bread come down from Heaven. It seems so obvious that if all Christians were to embrace Mary as their spiritual mother and believe in the substantial presence of Jesus in the Eucharist Christians would be essentially one.
Let me return to Mary and her battle with Satan. Apart from the many virtues and graces Mary has at her disposal to defeat Satan, he is against her because she undoes his plan to destroy the human race, she defeats his pride with her humility and she is a key factor in the unity of the Church of Jesus Christ.
Now that we have seen how Mary figures in the spiritual warfare with Satan, let us look at an example to illustrate how Satan can attack even in subtle and seemingly insignificant ways. This particular instance occurred in a charismatic prayer meeting I attended. A man who was a very strong prayer group leader was giving a spiritual talk at this particular meeting. He was required by the leadership to say something about Mary. He was in the process of delivering a powerful talk and was full of self-confidence when a most unexpected thing happened as he began to talk about Mary. He began to shake, physically, and get out of breath and stumble over his words. He really seemed to lose his composure. I though to myself, this man is under attack, he is being assailed by a spirit of fear just because he is saying something about Our Lady and to a Catholic audience.
I believe this is the kind of attack we can expect from Satan when we teach on Mary or the Eucharist. However, by taking the authority given us by Jesus we will overcome Satan’s assaults and boldly speak the truth. Of course, we must first recognise that we are being attacked. Only then will we realize that we need to call on the power of the Spirit of God and thereby take the authority to proclaim the Truth and thus maintain and safeguard our openness to the fullness of Truth.
This seems a good time to explore a little more on Mary’s role against Satan in her defence against error. Mary’s ‘fiat’, let it be done, and her faith, by bringing Christ into the world, destroyed the Devil’s plan of deception begun with Eve and opened mankind to receive the fullness of Truth in Jesus. Mary represents our greatest defence against error as shown in her titles, such as, Mother of God (see above).
Secondly, through a mystery of God’s grace that I don’t fully understand, in embracing Mary we invariably embrace the whole Truth about God. I’ve seen many friends and acquaintances fall away from the teachings of the Church over the last few decades a few have even left Christianity altogether but not one who had a true devotion to Mary has fallen away.
On the other hand, I’ve seen people come back to the practice of their faith through their love of Mary. For instance, I knew a man who lived a life of dissipation and drunkenness on skid row for 6 years. Nevertheless, no matter how drunk he was, he always said a Hail Mary before going to sleep. He was eventually afflicted with cancer of the spine. The Lord, in His mercy, not only healed the man from cancer but healed him spiritually. The man returned to his wife and the practice of the Faith.
This spiritual warfare between Mary and Satan can be easily ignored. If we ignore the existence of Satan, we give the advantage to the Devil. Mary’s power as an advocate against Satan can be ignored as well but in so doing we risk being deceived by him and working against him without the general of God’s army, Mary. This is more true for those who have had the opportunity to know Mary’s role through their education in the Faith (Lk 12:48).
Finally, if Mary is not given her proper place in our spiritual life, both private and public, Satan will limit the freedom of the people of God and stifle the Spirit. On the other hand, if we embrace these truths about Mary’s power over Satan and call upon her, especially when we are under his attacks, we are joining her, our most powerful advocate under God, against the Devil.