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Thoughtful Tess wrote:

Hi, guys —

I am an 18-year-old from a non-Catholic, non-religious, Jewish, New Yorker family. I've been interested in the Catholic faith for about two years now but I keep coming up with new questions.

Recently I've been having all these philosophical ideas about faith and belief and they are affecting my ability to fully believe in Catholicism. I feel like this may be the last hurdle I need to jump before I can whole-heartedly decide to be baptized so hopefully you can help me with these questions. It is a bit confusing, so I will try and keep it as clear as possible.

I've just learned about the Eucharist and Eucharist Adoration. From what I can tell, you sit in a room with this Eucharist statue that is now filled with the presence of God and you can pray and enjoy your time spent with it.

  • That is well and good, but my question is, if nobody told you what object the Eucharist was, would it even make a difference?

For example, I'll make up a little story to try and make this clear. Sally has never been to church before. She has never even heard of the Eucharist, but she is very faithful and strong in her beliefs. She goes to the church for Eucharist adoration but she gets there a few minutes late and it has already started. She stands at the back of the room and a teenage boy, Jake, shows up. She asks him what she is supposed to do. He is feeling playful at that moment, so decides to mess around with this young girl. He says, You're supposed to sit in here and adore God. His presence is right over there. (He points to a candle at the front of the room.) Sally has never been to church so she doesn't know any better than to believe Jake. She thanks him and goes to sit down, and spends the next hour praying and focusing on that candle. She believes that that candle holds the Real Presence of God and, as she focuses on it, she starts loving that candle as she would love God if He were really there with her. At the end of the hour, Sally feels fulfilled and stronger in her faith and she enjoyed her time spent with God (the one in the candle).

Clearly Sally did not focus on the actual Eucharist. She thought God was in a random candle, and truly believed it. Because she believed that He was really there, she felt that He was there and could feel His Love in her.

  • So, how is this different from if Sally had actually been focusing on the real Eucharist?
  • Is there a difference?
  • If there is no difference, then why even have a Eucharist if people can just whole-heartedly believe that God is in any object if they are told that He is?

I know this question is long and maybe a little confusing, but it keeps coming up in my mind.

Hopefully you can help.

Thank you!

Tess

  { Can you help me with these philosophical ideas about faith and belief related to the Eucharist? }

Paul replied:

Dear Tess,

Jesus became man to save us, and then became bread so that we may be filled with His divine life. For this we were created.

The primary reason for the Eucharistic is to consume Him. Notice I said Him instead of it. Once the priest consecrates the unleavened bread at Mass it is no longer bread. It really becomes the Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity of Jesus Christ, although all the visible attributes of flat bread remain.

To answer your question directly, when we adore Jesus in the Eucharist we seek closer union with Him. I can pray privately in my bedroom and possibly obtain the same result, but Jesus in the Sacred Host enables many people to focus better, realizing He is really and substantially present in concrete form in front of them.

That said, if someone, like the girl in your example, honestly mistakes something else as Jesus' Real Presence, as long as it is an honest error it would not be surprising if God blessed her abundantly. An open and sincere heart is what God seeks. On the other hand, once she is corrected as to how Jesus truly does become sacramentally present to us in the Eucharist, then worshiping a candle would be akin to the sin of idolatry. We must always consciously worship the Creator, never a creature.

I hope this helps.

Paul

Bob replied:

Tess,

Read John’s Gospel, Chapter 6. Jesus says some things which are akin to a lunatic unless he really is the Son of God and has the power to do something miraculous and incomprehensible. At that time, many left him, because they didn't want to be associated with a lunatic. (John 6:66) Without the Eucharist, which comes a bit later at the Last Supper, none of what He said would make any sense. Only the Twelve Apostles, headed by Peter, stayed with Him because they trusted that even if they couldn't understand it all, Jesus was not a lunatic.

Adoration comes into play when we grasp the fact that Jesus really instituted this Mystery for us, which our eyes can't see, but our faith grasps. It is not even a statue that we fix our eyes on, but what appears to be ordinary bread. What we know, however, is that it is not bread, but the veiled presence of the Risen Christ — almost a doorway to another dimension, Heaven coming to Earth. If we truly could see reality for what it is, we would see angels all around worshipping the incomprehensible God who took on flesh and then became food to unite us metaphysically to Himself.

If you don’t get it, don’t worry, you have eternity to gaze on Him and wonder.

Peace,

Bob Kirby

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