Jesus in the Eucharist, Chapter V – The Belief of the Church in the Real Presence in the Third Century

The principal writers in the third century who testified to the faith of the Church in the Real Presence of Jesus Christ in the Holy Eucharist are: the martyr, Saint Hippolytus of Rome; Saint Cyprian, Bishop of Carthage and martyr; and Origen of Alexandria, the most celebrated of the three.

I. Saint Hippolytus, who suffered a most painful martyrdom in the year 235, was one of the ablest writers of his century. He refers in one of his books to the Holy Eucharist in the following words: “The Word (that is, the Son of God) prepared His precious and immaculate body and His blood, which are daily prepared (that is, offered) as a sacrifice on the mysterious divine table (altar) in commemoration of that first table of the mystic divine Supper (the Lord’s Supper), saying: Come, eat My bread and drink the wine which I have mingled for you.’ He hath given us His own divine flesh and His own precious blood to eat and drink.”

These words of Saint Hippolytus clearly denote not merely that our divine Savior actually gave to His apostles at the Last Supper His true body and His true blood to eat and drink, but also that the very same was then done in the Church in the holy Sacrifice of the Mass as a renewal and commemoration of that which our Lord Jesus Christ had done at the Last Supper. This is a proof that the doctrine and practice of the Church in the third century was essentially the same as it is in our own time.

OrigenII. Origen, one of the greatest geniuses the world has ever seen, was born in the year 185 at Alexandria in Egypt. His father, the martyr Saint Leonidas, caused him from his very boyhood to study daily a chapter of the Bible, and to learn how to explain it. He was not quite seventeen years old when a violent persecution broke out and his father was arrested as a Christian and put to the torture to compel him to give up his faith. Origen was so eager for martyrdom that he intended to go to the pagan magistrate and publicly proclaim himself a Christian, and thus have himself arrested and put to death for the faith, and so share his father’s martyrdom. But he was prevented from doing so by his mother, who hid his clothes so well that Origen could not leave the house. But Origen wrote a beautiful and eloquent letter to his father to encourage him to suffer and die for the faith of Jesus Christ. So great was Origen’s learning and ability that when he was only eighteen years old, the Bishop of Alexandria placed him in charge of the Catechetical School of Alexandria, which had acquired great celebrity under the famous Clement of Alexandria. Origen not only kept up the renown of the school, but even greatly increased it by his able lectures on philosophy and religion. Not only Christians, but also pagans flocked to it in great numbers, even from distant countries, and very many were the conversions of pagans; and there came forth from Origen’s school many saints, martyrs, prominent bishops and priests and learned teachers. He was over sixty-five years old in 251 when the persecution broke out; he was imprisoned and courageously underwent fearful tortures for the faith, and finally at the end of the persecution he was set free, indeed, but his health was shattered and he died in consequence two or three years later. The authority of Origen in testifying to the faith and practice of the Church in his time, is so weighty that no sane man can gainsay his testimony. In his Homily on the cure of the centurion’s servant by our divine Savior he says:

1. “When thou enjoy the bread and beverage of life (that is, Holy Communion), thou eat and drink the body and blood of the Lord; then does the Lord enter under thy roof; and thou, therefore, humbling thyself, imitate the centurion and say: ‘Lord, I am not worthy that Thou should enter under my roof.’ When the Lord enters an unworthy recipient (communicant), He enters to pass judgment” (that is, condemnation). These words of Origen prove that the Christians of his days held the doctrine of the Real Presence, and firmly believed that the words of Jesus Christ, ‘This is My body, This is My blood,’ were to be taken in their plain, literal sense; and that those who received Holy Communion unworthily profaned the very body and blood of Jesus Christ and, as Saint Paul declares, ate and drank their own condemnation.'”

2. In the early days of the Church the custom in receiving the body of our Lord in holy Communion was to receive it in one’s hand; then men received it from the celebrant in their bare hand, the women in their hand covered with a veil or a fine piece of linen; and in times of persecution they were allowed to bring the Sacred Host to their homes and to communicate themselves. This was, of course, not allowed to the catechumens, but only to the baptized. In fact, in the first four centuries none but the baptized were even instructed in the holy Eucharist and permitted to assist at holy Mass after the Offertory. In the following passage from Origen, taken from one of his sermons, he addresses only the baptized, saying: “You who are wont to assist at the divine mysteries know how, when receiving the body of Christ, you preserve it with all care and veneration, lest any particle of it should fall down, lest any part of the consecrated gift should slip away, for you charge yourself as guilty of sin, if any of it falls down through your carelessness.”

This wonderful reverence of the early Christians is an unquestionable proof of their firm belief in the Real Presence. Similar passages may be found in the works of other Christian writers.

3. In another work Origen speaks of the manna, the daily food which God gave the Israelites journeying for forty years in the desert on their way to the Promised Land, as a figure of the Holy Eucharist, the food which Jesus Christ gives our soul on her way to heaven, her Promised Land. Among other things Origen says: “Therefore the manna is a food figuratively; but now the flesh of the Word of God (Jesus Christ) is in the species (of bread) a true food, as He Himself says: My flesh is meat indeed. The contrast which Origen makes between the manna and the Blessed Eucharist is an evident proof of his belief that the flesh of Jesus Christ is really present as food in the Holy Eucharist.

stained glass window of Saint Cyprian of Carthage, Sir Ninian Comper, Saint Cyprian's church, London, England; swiped with permission from the flickr account of Brother Lawrence Lew, OPIII. Saint Cyprian was converted from paganism to Christianity by Cecilius, a priest of Carthage. In the course of time he was ordained a priest, and after a few years he became Bishop of Carthage, and governed his diocese with great zeal and wisdom. When the persecution broke out in the year 251, after the Church had been left in peace for thirty-eight years and the number of Christians had greatly increased in the meantime, then the saying of the prophet was verified: “Thou hast multiplied the nation, and hast not increased the joy” (Isaiah 9:3), for the faith, virtue and constancy of the Christians did not increase in the same proportion as their number. Far from it, for in that persecution many apostatized, especially in Northern Africa. Some openly apostatized, gave up the faith and actually took part in the idolatrous pagan rites, rather than suffer the torments of martyrdom. Others even forestalled their arrest as Christians and went and declared themselves as pagans and offered incense to the idols. Others again betook themselves to the magistrates, and bribed them to give them a certificate of having offered incense to the idols, although they had not done so. When the persecution began to relax, the majority of these apostates, without doing any of the penances required for such crimes, insisted on assisting at the Holy Sacrifice and partaking of Holy Communion. Some priests were weak enough to yield to their demands. Moreover, a number of the apostates had obtained from one of the martyrs, after he had already undergone torments, and before his execution, a writing recommending the indulgence of the Church towards said apostates, and these persons insisted that, by virtue of said recommendation, they should be dispensed from all penance and be admitted at once to receiving Holy Communion. Saint Cyprian, as his duty required, did all he could by preaching and by writing to put an end to such abuses and profanations. He relates a number of examples of divine punishment of the guilty. A man was struck dumb immediately after his apostasy. Another apostate, having tasted a piece of one of the victims of the pagan sacrifices, at once went mad and gnawed off his own tongue. In Saint Cyprian’s own presence an infant, that his nurse had brought to a pagan altar to taste of the idolatrous sacrifice, was brought to receive Holy Communion, as was often done in the early ages of the Church in the case of infants; but at once, as if in great torture, it threw up the Sacred Species. An old woman, who had apostatized, fell down in convulsions in venturing to receive Holy Communion. In his writings against the apostates, Saint Cyprian declares that “these people assail the body of the Lord; they do violence to His body and blood; and now with their hands (in which the Holy Eucharist is placed) and mouth they sin far more against the Lord than when they denied Him” (that is, apostatized).

The belief in the Real Presence can hardly be more strongly or more clearly expressed. By receiving Holy Communion unworthily, says Saint Cyprian, those apostates attack and do violence to the Lord Himself; but this they could not do unless the Lord’s body and blood are really and substantially present in the Holy Eucharist. More over, how could an unworthy Communion be a greater crime than the denial of Jesus Christ through fear of torment, if the Savior’s true body and true blood are not really present in the Holy Eucharist?

In another work Saint Cyprian gives an explanation of the Lord’s Prayer. In explaining the petition: “Give us this day our daily bread,” Saint Cyprian says: “We beg our bread, that is, Christ Himself, that He may be given to us every day, in order that we, who remain and live in Christ, may not recede from His sanctification and His body.” By these words Saint Cyprian asserts his belief in the Real Presence, and that he considers the Holy Eucharist as the daily nourishment of our soul, and as a necessary means to keep our soul in sanctification, that is, in the state of grace, and preserve it as a living member of the body of Christ, that is, of the Church, of which Jesus Himself is the head and we are the members. Do not these words of Saint Cyprian remind us of our late Holy Father Pius X who so strenuously recommends to us all daily Holy Communion?

Saint Cyprian in the next persecution could have concealed himself, but he would not and was there fore apprehended and in the year 258 suffered martyrdom by being beheaded for the faith he had so zealously upheld and defended.

Jesus in the Eucharist, Chapter IV – The Early Fathers of the Church on the Real Presence

Every fair-minded person who reads the writings of the most ancient Fathers of the Church, will be convinced that the Christians of the first two centuries had a clear and firm faith in the Real Presence of the true body and blood of Jesus Christ in the Holy Eucharist.

Testimony of Saint Ignatius, Bishop of Antioch

Saint Ignatius of AntiochThe earliest Father of the Church who mentions the Holy Eucharist in his writings is Saint Ignatius, a disciple of the apostles. A very ancient tradition informs us that Ignatius was a little child in the life-time of our divine Savior. Now we know that when, on a certain occasion the apostles were driving away the children crowding around our Lord, Jesus took up one of them in his arms, saying: “Suffer little children to come to Me, for of such is the kingdom of God. Amen I say unto you: Whosoever shall not receive the kingdom of God as a little child, shall not enter into it” (Mark 10:13-16); that is, if any one wished to enter heaven, he should become in humility, simplicity and innocence, like the little child He was holding in His arms. This little child, tradition tells us, afterwards became Saint Ignatius, Bishop of Antioch, whom the Emperor Trajan sent under guard to Rome to be there exposed to and devoured by wild beasts, out of hatred to the Christian religion and for the amusement of the Romans. On his long journey to Rome, Saint Ignatius wrote several letters to exhort and encourage the Christians of various cities, and also one to the Christians in Rome, expressing his great desire of dying for Christ and beseeching them not to take any steps to prevent his martyrdom, which he declares to be his glory and happiness. In his letter to the Christians of Smyrna, where Saint Polycarp, another disciple of the apostles, was bishop, Saint Ignatius warns them against certain heretics of those days who would not believe in the Holy Eucharist, and says: “These heretics do not admit the Eucharist, because they do not acknowledge that the Eucharist is the very flesh of our Savior Jesus Christ, which suffered for our sins.” No words can express more clearly the Real Presence, for in these few words Saint Ignatius tells us that in the Eucharist there is really and truly the very flesh or body of Jesus Christ which suffered and died for our sins.

Testimony of Saint Justin, Martyr

detail of a stained glass window of Saint Justin Martyr; created by either Clayton and Bell, or Hardman and Co., or both (records vary), date unknown; Great Saint Mary's Church, Cambridge, England; photographed on 30 December 2006 by Father Paul Lew; swiped from Wikimedia CommonsLet us now turn our attention to the writings of Saint Justin, who also sealed his faith with his blood. He lived in the first half of the second century. He was a philosopher of the school of Plato. After due investigation and instruction he became a Christian. After his conversion he continued to profess philosophy and wear the usual philosopher’s mantle. He had many controversies with pagan philosophers, and became an acknowledged champion of the Christian religion. When accused of being a Christian, he defended his faith even before the Roman Senate. He addressed two apologies of the Christian religion to the Emperor Antoninus Pius, and wrote several other works in defense of the Christian religion. His bold profession and defense of the faith were the cause of his martyrdom in the reign of the Emperor Marcus Aurelius in the year 165. In Chapter 66 of his First Apology he speaks of the Holy Eucharist as follows: “This food, which we call the Eucharist, no one is permitted to partake of, unless he believes that our teaching is true and has submitted to the ablution for the forgiveness of sins (that is, has been baptized) and regeneration, and lives as Christ has commanded (that is, faithfully keeps the commandments), for we take this food, not as common bread, nor as common drink, but as Jesus Christ, our Savior, made flesh by the Logos (Word) had flesh and blood to effect our salvation, so have we been taught that also the food consecrated by the word of prayer ordained by Him, by which our blood and flesh are nourished, is the flesh and blood of that Jesus who was made flesh. This the apostles have handed down in their memoirs, called Gospels (declaring), that they were commanded to do this by these words: “Do this in commemoration of Me, for this is My Body; and in the same manner He took the chalice, and gave thanks and said: This is My blood, and then gave them all to drink thereof.”

This extract from Saint Justin’s First Apology testifies to the belief of the early Christians, one hundred years after our divine Savior’s death, in the Real Presence. Every word of his unmistakably indicates this, for he plainly declares that in Holy Communion not mere bread and wine are received, but the very flesh and blood of Jesus Christ, the Son of God, “the Divine Word made flesh” for our salvation, and that our own flesh and blood are nourished in Holy Communion with the very flesh and blood of the God-Man, Jesus Christ. In fact, if Saint Justin were now living among us as one of us, he could not speak more clearly and more forcibly to express the faith of the Catholic Church in the Real Presence.

Testimony of Saint Irenaeus, Bishop of Lyons and Martyr

detail of a stained glass window of Saint Irenaeus; 1901 by Lucien Bégule; Church of Saint Irenaeus, Lyon, France; photographed on 6 June 2010 by Gérald Gambier; swiped from Wikimedia CommonsThis saint was born in Asia Minor about the year 130. He was a disciple of Saint Polycarp, Bishop of Smyrna, who had been one of the favorite disciples of Saint John the Evangelist, and for this reason was looked upon with great veneration by the whole Church in the second century. Irenaeus was among the first missionaries sent into Gaul in the second half of the second century to convert its inhabitants to the Christian religion. When Saint Pothinus, the first Bishop of Lyons, with a number of Christians, had suffered martyrdom for the faith, Saint Irenaeus was chosen to succeed him. In the year 204, he, with thousands of Christians, suffered martyrdom in the persecution of the Emperor Septimius Severus. Among his writings is a very important book entitled, “Against Heresies,” in which he enumerates and refutes the heresies of his time and takes the stand that “no one can be orthodox in the faith, unless he be in communion with the Bishop of Rome.” In this work there are two passages relating to the Real Presence, in which he says: “How do those heretics say that that flesh which is nourished with the Lord’s blood and body, becomes corrupt and does not receive life? How do they deny that our flesh, which is nourished with the Lord’s blood and body, is capable of receiving the gift of God, namely, eternal life?” To understand the saint’s meaning, we should bear in mind that among the heretics Saint Irenaeus was refuting, there were some who denied the resurrection of the body and the capability of the body to enjoy the happiness of heaven. To refute them the saint recalled the fact, taught by Jesus Himself, that man’s flesh (that is, body), which in Holy Communion is nourished with the body and blood of Christ, is thereby rendered capable of resurrection and of enjoying heavenly bliss, for, he says, “Did not the Savior Himself tell us that the reception of His body and blood would be the pledge of a glorious resurrection and of the consequent enjoyment of life everlasting? This is the will of my Father, who sent Me, that every one who sees the Son and believes in Him, may have everlasting life, and I will raise him up at the last day. I am the Bread of life…. If any man eat of this Bread, he shall live forever, and the Bread which I will give is My flesh for the life of the world…. He that eats My flesh and drinks My blood hath everlasting life, and I will raise him up at the last day.” (John 6) All this shows us clearly that the early Christians not only believed in the Real Presence, but also considered Holy Communion as the pledge of a glorious resurrection and of the heavenly reward, just as our Catechism now teaches us.

Testimony of Tertullian

Tertullian lived in the second half of the second century and in the first quarter of the third. Before becoming a priest he had been married and had practiced law. He was a man of great talent and learning. His great work is entitled, “On Prescription,” against heresies, refuting them by the argument known in judiciary proceedings by the name of Prescription, or as we popularly express it: “Possession is nine points of the law, and a person in possession of a thing cannot be lawfully dispossessed of it without clear and adequate proof that he has no right to it.” In this work Tertullian proves that heresy can not claim to be the doctrine of Christ, because the Church from the beginning has possessed the true doctrine of Christ. But Tertullian, in spite of his learning and masterly ability, had failed to master himself, and therefore being disappointed in his ambitious aspiration and spurred on by his excessive rigorism, he fell into heresy, teaching among other errors that there should be no forgiveness to those who had fallen into great crimes, such as apostasy, murder, etc. He had previously refuted in his great work “On Prescription” his own errors. Nevertheless, in his former orthodox works, he is a genuine witness of the faith of the early Church in the Real Presence. “Christ,” he writes, “taking bread and distributing it to His disciples, made it His own body by saying: ‘This is My body.’ Our flesh feeds on the body and blood of Christ, in order that our soul may thrive on God/ By these words he clearly declares that the Holy Eucharist is really the body and blood of Jesus Christ and the spiritual nourishment of our souls. This is the very teaching of the Church on the Real Presence.

Jesus in the Eucharist, Chapter III – The Teaching of Saint Paul on the Real Presence Tradition

detail of a stained glass window of Saint Paul the Apostle, date and artist unknown; parish church of Saint-Pierre et Saint-Paul, Pfaffenhoffen, Bas-Rhin, France; photographed on 20 March 2016 by GFreihalter; swiped from Wikimedia CommonsSaint Paul expressly declares that Jesus Christ Himself had revealed to him the Institution of the Holy Eucharist. “I have received of the Lord,” he writes, “that which also I delivered unto you, that the Lord Jesus, the same night in which He was betrayed, took bread and giving thanks, broke and said: Take ye and eat; this is My body, which shall be delivered for you; this do for a commemoration of Me. In like manner, also the chalice, after He had supped, saying: This chalice is the New Testament in My blood; this do ye, as often as ye shall drink, for the commemoration of Me. For, as often as you shall eat this bread, you shall show the death of the Lord until He come” (1 Corinthians 11:23-26). These words, which are Saint Paul’s testimony of the revelation he received from our divine Savior Himself, prove beyond all doubt that Jesus Christ in instituting the Eucharist gave His apostles to eat not bread, but His very living body which He was going to deliver to death for mankind on the following day; and that He gave them to drink, not wine, but His very living blood, which Jesus Himself declared to be the blood of the New Testament. The Old Testament, that is, the Covenant of God with the Israelites, was dedicated by sprinkling the people with the blood of the victim, a lamb, the figure of the Savior of mankind. The New Testament was dedicated on Good Friday by the shedding of the blood of Jesus, the Immaculate Lamb, and applying it to mankind; the partaking of the body and blood of Jesus in the Holy Eucharist would enable all recipients to participate in the merits of the death of the Savior. Moreover, the text of Saint Paul also proves that Jesus Christ empowered His apostles, His Church, to change bread and wine, as He had done, into His living body and blood for the benefit of those who were to believe in Him, until Jesus would again come upon earth at the last day to judge all mankind.

But this is not all, for Saint Paul further on uses such clear, forcible and awe-inspiring language as to impress deeply on all the doctrine of the Real Presence, the necessity of a due preparation for receiving the Holy Eucharist, and the horrid crime and terrible effects of its unworthy reception. “Wherefore,” he says, “whosoever shall eat this bread, or drink the chalice of the Lord unworthily, shall be guilty of the body and blood of the Lord. But let a man prove himself; and so let him eat of that bread and drink of the chalice. For he that eats and drinks unworthily, eats and drinks judgment to himself, not discerning the body of the Lord” (1 Corinthians 11:27-29). For those who deny the Real Presence, these words of Saint Paul are an insolvable enigma. If the Blessed Eucharist is not the real body and the real blood of Jesus Christ, how could Saint Paul declare that he who ventures to receive the Holy Eucharist, without the requisite condition of being free from the least grievous sin, would be guilty of a crime against the body and the blood of the Lord? And this crime, according to Saint Paul, is most heinous, for, he says, “he that eats and drinks unworthily, eats and drinks judgment to himself, not discerning the body of the Lord.” And why is this crime so grievous, as to cause the sinner to “eat and drink his own condemnation”? Because he uses that food and drink as if it were ordinary and merely material food and drink, and does not discern it, that is does not regard it and treat it as the very body and blood of the Lord. If the Eucharist were mere bread and wine, it would not be so heinous a crime, so horrid a sacrilege to partake of it without “having proved oneself,” that is, without having rendered oneself worthy by the removal or forgiveness of one’s sins. But Saint Paul expressly enjoins this “proving of oneself” as an indispensable obligation for the worthy reception of the Eucharist, for he says: “Let a man prove himself, and so let him eat of that bread and drink of the chalice.” If the unworthy reception of the Eucharist is so horrid a crime as to draw down on the offender the very eating and drinking of his own condemnation, it must be be cause it is actually the horrible profanation of the very body and the very blood of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. This proves beyond all doubt the Real Presence of Jesus Christ in the Holy Eucharist. The great Apostle of the Gentiles does not speak in such strong and terrible terms of any other sin, nor does he require so careful a preparation for the performance of any other act, however holy it may be. This should suffice to convince any fair-minded person that the Blessed Eucharist is really and indeed the body and blood of Jesus Christ.

Saint Paul refers to the Real Presence in another passage of the same epistle in which he says: “The chalice of benediction which we bless, is it not the communion of the blood of Christ? And the bread which we break, is it not the partaking of the body of the Lord? For we, being many, are one bread, one body, all who partake of one bread.” (1 Corinthians 10:16,17). In this passage Saint Paul states in the plainest words that the chalice really and substantially contains the blood of Christ, and that the real body of the Lord is received under the appearances of bread. But this is not all. Saint Paul even goes so far as to declare that those who partake of the Eucharist become one body with Christ and with one another. In his epistles he maintains that the Christians with Jesus Christ form but one (mystical) body, of which Jesus is the Head and the individual Christians are the members. And here he tells us that the Eucharist, that is, the body of Christ received by the faithful, is the vital principle of the Christian body, the bond of union between all who partake of it and makes of them but one (mystical) body; and therefore the reception of the Eucharist is rightly called Communion, the efficient bond of the common union of the faithful with one another in Christ. Those who deny the Real Presence, deny not only the clear teaching of Saint Paul, but also these effects attributed to Holy Communion by Saint Paul who wrote under the inspiration of the Holy Ghost, “the Spirit of Truth.” Only a divine food is able to produce such admirable supernatural results of the mystical union of the faithful in one body among themselves and with Jesus Christ.

Next to the Scriptural proofs of the Real Presence, omitting for the present the dogmatical definitions of the Church, comes the testimony of all the various ancient liturgies. All of them, even the most ancient that can be traced back to the apostolic age, all testify to the faith in the Real Presence. The very offering of the Sacrifice of the Mass prescribed in them proves beyond all doubt the belief in the Real Presence. Moreover, the ancient liturgies and writings of Fathers of the Church testify to the faith of the primitive Christians in the Real Presence. What we now believe about the Real Presence and the other doctrines of the Catholic Church, is identically the very same that has been believed in all ages of the Church from the time of the apostles, for, like truth itself which is ever one and unchangeable, the doctrines of the Catholic Church have always been the same and have ever remained unchanged. This is easily proved by the testimony, the writings of the Fathers of the Church. But some one may say: “What do I care about what those ancient writers, the Fathers of the Church, wrote on any subject? Their views can have no bearing on what we are to believe.” To such a one we give this answer: The writings of the Fathers of the Church are of the greatest importance in religious matters, for they testify as to what was the faith of the Church at the time in which they were written; they are the competent witnesses of what the Christians believed in their time. He who reads these writings, finds out exactly what the Christians then believed, how they understood the various texts of Scripture, the words of our divine Savior and the writings of the apostles. The writings of the Fathers of the Church are unquestionable witnesses that, like Jesus Christ, her Founder, the Catholic Church is “the same yesterday, today and for ever.” (Hebrews 13:8) Why should we not be allowed to adduce the testimony of the Fathers of the Church in favor of our holy faith? Why should we be permitted to believe historians narrating events they themselves have not witnessed, and be forbidden to believe and adduce the testimony of those learned, holy and conscientious writers who testify to what they themselves have seen and personally known and believed. If lawyers and judges prove their views and their decisions by adducing the testimony of those who framed the laws and of those who preceded them on the bench, why should not we be allowed to prove the oneness and sameness, in one word, the perfect identity of the Catholic faith in all centuries by the testimony and decisions of the Fathers and Doctors of the Church? If we find in their writings the identical doctrines which the Catholic Church now holds and teaches, it is a most conclusive proof that the faith of the Catholic Church has never varied, that it is unchangeable, and, therefore, true. This is in accordance with the teaching of even human reason and common sense.

The testimonies of the Fathers of the Church on the Real Presence would be far more numerous than they are, had it not been for the “discipline of the secret.” In what did this discipline consist? The ancient pagans, like our modern atheists, were in their views so gross, coarse and material, that the Church, enlightened by God and by a wise experience, did not consider it prudent to publish to the pagan world some of the deepest mysteries of divine revelation, for fear of their being entirely misunderstood and shockingly misrepresented. The ineffable mystery of the Real Presence was one of these; its very meaning was entirely beyond the grasp, the comprehension of the base minds of the pagans, just as it is now perfectly incomprehensible to our modern infidels. When writing on or referring to the Blessed Eucharist the early Christians of the first three centuries were usually so guarded in their words, that the pagans could not understand what they were referring to. Even converts were not instructed in this mystery until they had been baptized and had given proofs of fidelity to their faith. And yet history tells us that something of this grand mystery leaked out among the pagans, for they accused the Christians of feasting, at their religious meetings, on the flesh of an infant. Such was the explanation the pagans gave of the faith of the Christians in the Real Presence and of Holy Communion. This very calumny is a capital and conclusive proof of the faith of the early Christians in the Real Presence.

In some of the most ancient liturgies, containing the prayers, ceremonies, etc., of the Mass, we find, after the prayer to be delivered from evil, this invocation: “Christ Jesus, we eat Thy body crucified for us, we drink Thy blood shed for us.” The meaning conveyed by these words clearly denotes faith in the Real Presence. The Fathers of the Church in their writings warn their readers and hearers not to credit the testimony of their corporal senses, but to believe unhesitatingly and firmly the words of Christ declaring that what seems to be only bread and wine, is really His body and His blood; they admonish the faithful that Jesus wished to give Himself to us under the appearances of bread in order to enable us to submit our reason to faith in His words, and not to yield to the testimony of our senses, for were He to give Himself to us in His human nature as our food, it would be too repulsive to us. The Holy Fathers all declare the Blessed Eucharist a great miracle, an awe-inspiring mystery, an adorable, living inconsumable food, a most holy and incorruptible Bread, and that the Lord Himself enters into all who eat it. They unanimously require all Christians to adore, that is, to pay divine honor to the Blessed Eucharist. They expressly teach that they who receive it, are incorporated in Christ, that Christ, at the Last Supper, after consecrating the bread and wine, actually held Himself in His hands; that they who hold the Eucharist in their hands, really handle Jesus Christ Himself, and that the body and blood of Christ in Holy Communion impress immortality in the recipients and, as it were, ferment in them into a glorious resurrection at the last day. The teaching of the Holy Fathers on the Blessed Eucharist is therefore identical with the faith and teaching of the Catholic Church in our own day.

We can draw another proof of the truth and unchangeableness of the Catholic doctrine of the Blessed Eucharist from the very enemies of the Catholic Church. All the ancient Christian sects, separated from the Catholic Church, that believe in the Divinity of Jesus Christ, also believe most firmly in the doctrine of the Real Presence; this proves that when they, each in its own time, left the Church, the universal belief of the Church in the Real Presence was the same as it is now; hence the faith of the Church in the Blessed Eucharist has never changed, and, consequently, it is the same as Jesus Himself taught His Apostles, and is true beyond all reasonable doubt.

Jesus in the Eucharist, Chapter II – The Institution of the Blessed Eucharist in the Gospel

Saint John, who so minutely and clearly relates the Divine Savior’s promise of the Blessed Eucharist as the spiritual food of man’s soul, makes no mention of its institution. The other three Evangelists re late it clearly in almost identical terms. He who conscientiously examines their testimony, will be convinced, that they all testify to the truth of the doctrine of the Real Presence of Jesus Christ in the Blessed Eucharist.

Matthew 26:26-28 – “Whilst they were at supper Jesus took bread and blessed and broke and gave to His disciples and said: Take ye and eat, this is My body; and taking the chalice, He gave thanks, and gave to them, saying: Drink ye all of this, for this is My blood of the New Testament, which shall be shed for many for the remission of sins.”

Mark 14:22-24 – “Whilst they were eating, Jesus took bread, and blessing broke and gave to them and said: Take ye, this is My body. And having taken the chalice, giving thanks, He gave it to them, and they all drank of it. And He said to them: This is My blood of the New Testament, which shall be shed for many.”

Luke 22:19-20 – “Taking bread, He gave thanks and broke and gave to them, saying: This is My body, which is given for you. Do this for a commemoration of Me. In like manner the chalice also after He had supped, saying: This is the chalice, the New Testament in My blood, which shall be shed for you.”

And now what was it that Jesus actually gave His apostles to eat? Was it bread? No, it could not be bread, for Jesus did not call it “bread,” but called it “His body,” for He said, “Take ye and eat, THIS is MY BODY.” Had it been bread, as it appeared to be, Jesus Christ could not and would not have said, “THIS is MY BODY.” Jesus Christ is God; He knows all things; He is Truth itself; He could not be mistaken; He could not utter a falsehood. Therefore, we must conclude that what He said was perfectly true. Hence, He, truly gave them His body to eat; mark, it was His true living body that He gave them to eat, for He said so; it was His very body, for He expressly declared that He gave them to eat “MY BODY WHICH is GIVEN FOR YOU,” that is, which shall be sacrificed and shall die on the cross on the following day for the salvation of mankind.

The words Jesus Christ spoke over the chalice make this still more clear: “Drink ye all of this for this is My blood of the New Testament, which shall be shed for many for the remission of sins.” He expressly and clearly declared that He wished all His apostles to drink out of the chalice He held in His hands, not wine, but His real living blood which would be shed on the following day for the forgiveness of men’s sins, for He said it: “THIS is MY BLOOD.” Moreover, He calls it the “blood of the New Testament.” The Old Testament, or Covenant of God with the Israelites, was dedicated by the shedding of the blood of a victim, a lamb, and sprinkling it over the people; but the New Testament was to be dedicated also by the shedding of the blood of a victim, the blood of Jesus, the “Lamb of God (John 1:29), and His blood was to wash away the sins of mankind. And it was this very same blood which Jesus expressly declares was contained in the chalice over which He pronounced these words: “Drink ye all of this, for THIS is MY BLOOD of the New Testament, which shall be shed for many for the remission of sins.”

Here we have the fulfillment of the promise our Divine Savior had made a year previous: “THE BREAD WHICH I WILL GIVE IS MY FLESH for the life of the world. If any man eat of this bread, he shall live forever. Amen, amen, I say unto you: EXCEPT YOU EAT THE FLESH OF THE SON OF MAN AND DRINK His BLOOD, you shall not have life in you. My flesh is meat indeed, and My blood is drink indeed. He that eats My flesh and drinks My blood abides in Me and I in Him. He that eats this bread shall live forever” (John 6:52-59). Therefore nothing can be more evident than the Real Presence of Jesus Christ in the Blessed Eucharist.

He who would give any other meaning to the words of our Divine Saviour, either in the promise He made of the Blessed Eucharist, or in the words He used in its Institution, would, therefore, distort the natural sense of His words and make Him contradict Himself. In order to justify their denial of the Real Presence, the translators of the version of the Bible, known as King James Bible, did not shrink from corrupting the text of the Evangelists on the Institution of the Blessed Eucharist, for they added thereto words which were calculated to show that Jesus Christ did not give to His apostles His body to eat or His blood to drink, but only a little bread to eat and a little wine to drink. How did they do this? By purposely interpolating the word it, where the Evangelists had not written it. They did it in this way: “Jesus took bread and blessed it and broke it and gave it to His disciples.” Those who would read this version would conclude therefrom that Jesus took bread and blessed the bread and gave the bread to His disciples and nothing more than bread, whilst telling them to eat, for “this is My body.” They thus deceived all their followers, and represented Jesus to them as contradicting Himself, or telling a falsehood. What a terrible responsibility rests on those translators and their abettors for so grossly deceiving their readers and leading them into a most pernicious and damnable error!

But how could our Divine Savior cause a piece of bread to become His very body and a little wine to become His very blood? Let us recall to mind that our Savior, being God, is almighty. His words are not like our words. Our words go no further than to express our meaning, our thoughts, our intentions. But the words of God not only express His meaning, but, as Saint Ambrose declares, they are also operative, that is, His words actually do, effect and perform what they mean. For instance, when God, in the beginning of creation, said: “Let there be light,” these His words actually brought light into existence without any further act or effort on His part. Hence Saint Paul says: “The word of God is living and effectual” (Hebrews 4:12). This is evident also from the manner in which Jesus Christ performed miracles, saying, for instance, to the paralytic: “Arise, and walk;” to a blind man: “Be thou seeing;” to the dead Lazarus in the tomb: “Lazarus, come forth.” These words produced their effect instantaneously. In like manner, when Jesus said over the bread He held: “This is My body,” the bread at once became His true body, and there was no longer any bread in His hands, but only its external appearance. And when He pronounced over the wine in the chalice He held these words: “This is My blood of the New Testament,” the wine had immediately become His true blood, and there was no longer wine in the chalice, but only its appearance. The words our Savior then used were the instrument which effected these most wonderful changes. This can present no difficulty to the Christian who really believes in our Savior’s divinity, who believes in the creation, in the miracles of Jesus Christ, and that the word of God is almighty. (Wisdom 18:15)

Let us bear in mind that our Divine Savior instituted the Blessed Eucharist on the eve of His death for the salvation of mankind, after He had eaten His last Pasch with His apostles. He began by saying to His apostles: “With desire I have desired to eat this Pasch with you before I suffer.” (Luke 22:15) How could Jesus so ardently desire to eat that Pasch with His apostles if He did not in tend before dying, to give them an extraordinary token of His love? And could that extraordinary token consist only of a little bread and wine, according to the explanation of those who reject the doctrine of the Real Presence? Had He not daily for three years eaten bread with His apostles? Why should eating it once more before dying create such an ardent desire on His part? Moreover, had He not promised a year previous to feed them with His own flesh and blood as the principle of imparting to them life everlasting, that is, eternal salvation? Deny the Real Presence, and you can show no proof that Jesus ever kept His promise of furnishing His disciples with the means of securing life everlasting. And yet He had declared: “Except you eat the flesh of the Son of man and drink His blood, you shall not have life in you.” (John 6:54) Jesus could not have said so ardently: “with desire have I desired to eat this Pasch with you before I die,” unless He was about to give His apostles, His Church, such a token, such a testimony of His boundless love towards them, as would, beyond all conception, surpass all the marks of love and affection He had hitherto bestowed on them. Let us also recall to mind that Jesus, as the Savior of men, had come on earth to abrogate the Law of Moses, a law of fear, and replace it by the law of love, the law of the children of God, which should last for ever and most intimately unite us with our heavenly Father. To effect this, He wished to make us His brethren and to incorporate us as the adopted children of His Father and render us “partakers of the Divine Nature” (2 Peter 1:4), and for this purpose He wished to feed us with His own flesh and blood in the Eucharist which He was about to institute as the greatest proof of His love for us.

It was, therefore, at the Last Supper that Jesus Christ, to fulfill the prophecies of the Old Testament, made the New Testament, or Covenant, the New Law for His Church which was to endure till the end of time. Wherefore, He was then about to bequeath to His Church the means of saving man kind, of applying to them the merits and fruits of His passion and death. In short, it was at the Last Supper, which He had so ardently desired, that He made His last will. For the last time before His death He was speaking familiarly with His intimate friends, ” to whom it was given to know the mysteries of the kingdom of God” (Mark 4:11). To them He spoke plainly, “without parables,” for He was then instructing “His successors and representatives, who were to teach all nations ” (Matthew 28:19-20). Wherefore, He must have spoken to them clearly, simply, plainly, intelligibly, literally, without obscurity, without figures. What, then did He, could He mean when He said: “THIS IS MY BODY, WHICH IS GIVEN FOR YOU” (Luke 22:19)? If it was NOT His BODY, how could He say “THIS is MY BODY?” And to leave no doubt about His meaning, Jesus says expressly, “WHICH is GIVEN FOR YOU.” Was it only a “piece of bread” which Jesus then gave His apostles and which He gave up for them on the cross the next day? No, by no means, for on the following day He really and indeed sacrificed His own true, living body on the cross for the salvation of mankind. Therefore the plain, clear meaning of Jesus when He said: “Take ye and eat, this is My body which is given for you” is this: “This is no longer bread, but My very body, which is to be sacrificed on the cross for you.” And the plain meaning of Jesus when He said: “Drink ye all of this, for this is My blood of the New Testament, which shall be shed for many” is: “Drink ye all of this, for this is no longer wine, but My true living blood, which shall be shed for the salvation of mankind.” The Real Presence cannot be expressed more clearly, more plainly, more appropriately, or more correctly. And surely our Divine Savior would not have taken all that trouble and used all these clear, simple and plain expressions, in order to give His apostles merely a piece of bread to eat and a little wine to drink, unless He intended to deceive them; and the Evangelists would not have so carefully and so minutely related the actions and words of Jesus, had there been question of only a little bread and wine! Moreover, if Jesus Christ then really intended to give and actually gave His apostles, as He had promised them a year previous, His own flesh to eat and His own blood to drink, could He have done so in words more appropriate or more effective than those He used at the Last Supper, saying: “THIS is MY BODY, THIS is MY BLOOD?”

Jesus in the Eucharist, Chapter I – The Promise of Our Divine Savior to Give to Men His Very Flesh to Eat and His Very Blood to Drink

The Sixth Chapter of the Gospel of Saint John begins with the narrative of an astounding miracle of our Savior, a miracle which was to prepare His disciples for the doctrine of the Real Presence. That miracle was the feeding and satiating of five thousand men with five ordinary loaves of bread and two fishes, and the gathering of twelve baskets full of their remnants after the multitude had satisfied their hunger. This great miracle made so deep an impression on the people that they were about to “take Him by force and make Him their king.” But Jesus frustrated their design by escaping alone into a mountain. When the evening came, His disciples entered their boat to go over the lake to Capharnaum.

“It was now dark,” says the evangelist, “and Jesus had not come to them. And the sea arose, by reason of a great wind that blew. So when they had rowed about five and twenty or thirty furlongs, they see Jesus walking on the sea, and drawing near to the ship; and they were afraid. But He said to them: It is I, be not afraid. They were willing, therefore, to take Him into the ship; and presently the ship was at the land to which they were going. The next day the multitude that stood on the other side of the sea, saw that there was no other ship there but one, and that Jesus had not entered the ship with His disciples, but that His disciples had gone away. But other ships came in from Tiberias near to the place where they had eaten the bread, the Lord giving thanks. When the people, therefore, saw that Jesus was not there, nor His disciples, they took shipping, and came to Capharnaum, seeking for Jesus. And when they had found Him on the other side, they said to Him: Rabbi, when came Thou hither?” (John 6:16-25)

By the miracle of the multiplication of the loaves our Divine Savior wished to prepare his followers for the far more wonderful multiplication, if we may call it, of Himself in the Blessed Eucharist. By the miracle of His walking on the sea during a violent storm, which prevented the apostles from using their sail or making any headway by rowing, and then by causing the boat, as soon as He entered it, to land miles away at its very destination, Jesus wished to manifest His boundless power over nature and thus prepare their minds to admit the ineffable mystery of the Real Presence.

Let us now examine how Jesus answered the question of the Jews. “Jesus answered them and said: Amen, amen I say to you, you seek Me, not because you have seen miracles, but because you ate of the loaves and were filled. Labor not for the meat which perishes, but for that which endures to ever lasting life, which the Son of man will give you. For Him hath God the Father sealed. They said therefore to Him: What shall we do, that we may work the works of God? Jesus answered and said to them: This is the work of God, that you believe in Him, whom He hath sent. They said therefore to Him: What sign dost Thou show that we may see, and may believe Thee? What dost Thou work? Our fathers ate manna in the desert, as it is written: He gave them bread from heaven to eat.” (John 6: 14-31)

We see from this passage of the Gospel, first, that our Divine Savior reminded His questioners that they followed Him out of selfish and material motives, for it was not truth or even miracles that they sought, for they now expected that He would, as on the day previous, feed them and provide for all their wants. Hence Jesus called their attention to the necessity they were under of seeking food rather for their souls, a food that would secure them, not a few years of mortal life, but life ever lasting; a food which He the Son of God, would give them. They could depend on His word, for His heavenly Father had, like a notary with his seal, authenticated His divine mission by the testimony given at His baptism and by the power He had of working miracles. He then replied to their inquiry as to what they should do to perform God’s will, by telling them of their obligation of believing in Him as the promised Messias, or Redeemer. But they were not satisfied with His answer, for they asked for a sign by which He should prove His mission, and, at the same time, they indicated the sign they wished to have, for they alluded to the manna, the food with which God had miraculously fed their forefathers for forty years during the journey to the Promised Land. Moses, their leader and law giver, had foretold that his law was to last and be obligatory until another prophet and lawgiver like himself would come. Now, as Moses fed their forefathers in the desert with manna from heaven, they expected that the Great Prophet, the Messias, would also feed the people with bread from heaven. Wherefore, they now summoned Jesus to prove His claim of being the promised Messias, by providing them also with food from heaven, as Moses had done for their forefathers. Hence they said to Him:

“Our fathers ate manna in the desert, as it is written: He gave them bread from heaven to eat. Then Jesus said to them: Amen, amen I say to you: Moses gave you not bread from heaven; but My Father gives you the true bread from heaven, for the bread of God is that which comes down from heaven, and gives life to the world.” (John 6:31-33)

There is an apparent contradiction between our Divine Savior’s words and the quotation of the psalm calling the manna “bread from heaven.” But the contradiction is merely apparent, and not real, for the psalm calls the manna “bread from heaven” because it fell from the clouds, or what, in common parlance, is denoted as “the heaven” or “the heavens.” Jesus wished to call the attention of His hearers to the Bread which He was to give them, as coming down in all reality from “heaven,” the very home of God and His angels and saints. The Bread which He would give was so much the more excellent than the bread, or manna, of Moses, as the heaven where God reigns in His glory is infinitely more excellent, precious and noble than the clouds, or the heavens, whence fell the manna to feed the Israelites. The latter preserved the life of the body, and the former is destined to preserve and increase the life of the soul. Moreover, the manna was, in some manner, a pledge to the Israelites that God would lead them into the Promised Land; whilst the Bread from heaven promised by our Divine Savior, is for all His followers a pledge of life everlasting, a pledge that, after our death, He will lead us to heaven, our true country, our home.

“Then they said to Him: Lord, give us always this bread. And Jesus said to them: I am the Bread of life; he that comes to Me, shall not hunger; and he that believes in Me, shall never thirst. But I said to you, that you also have seen Me, and you believe not. All that the Father gives Me, shall come to Me, and him that comes to Me, I will not cast out; because I am come down from heaven not to do My own will, but the will of Him that sent Me. Now this is the will of Him that sent Me, the Father, that all that He hath given Me, I lose not thereof, but raise it up again at the last day. And this is the will of My Father who sent Me, that every one who sees the Son and believes in Him, may have everlasting life: and I will raise him up at the last day.” (John 6:34-40)

What Jesus said about the true Bread from heaven excited the desires of His hearers; therefore they asked Him to give them always this bread; but they meant only material food; wherefore Jesus, after telling them He was the Bread of life which satiated the hunger and quenched the thirst, He insists so much on the necessity of believing in Him as the Son of God. The fact was that, although the people honored Him greatly, they, nevertheless, lacked faith in Him and, in spite of His unquestionable miracles, they would not admit that He was the Son of God.

“Then the Jews murmured against Him, because He had said: I am the living Bread which came down from heaven. And they said: Is not this Jesus, the son of Joseph, whose father and mother we know? How then saith He, I came down from heaven?” (John 6: 41,42)

They who call themselves Christians and, nevertheless, deny the Real Presence of Jesus Christ in the Blessed Eucharist, resemble the Jews who claimed to believe in the prophecies of Holy Scripture concerning the Messias, and yet would not acknowledge Jesus Christ as the Messias, but looked upon Him merely as the son of Joseph. In like manner, such Christians practically do not believe in the Divinity of the Savior, but believe only what they please of His words. Hence Jesus insists again and again on the obligation of believing in Him as the Son of God, and calls attention to the fact that the true faith in Him is a gift of God granted only to the humble, and not to the proud and conceited.

“Jesus therefore answered and said to them: Murmur not among yourselves. No man can come to Me, except the Father, who hath sent Me, draw him, and I will raise him up at the last day. It is written in the prophets: And they shall all be taught of God. Every one that hath heard of the Father, and hath learned, comes to Me. Not that any man hath seen the Father, but He who is of God, He hath seen the Father. Amen, amen I say to you: he that believes in Me, hath everlasting life.” (John 6:43-47)

Our Divine Savior further on tells the Jews why it is that those who truly believe in Him have ever lasting life, and how He will raise them gloriously at the last day.

“I am the Bread of life,” He continues: “your fathers ate manna in the desert and they died,” for they ate only material food, which could not impart immortality. But “this is the Bread descending down from heaven, that, if any one eat of it, he may not die.” That is, the Bread which I will give is a spiritual food which imparts spiritual life, which confers immortality and perfect happiness to the soul, and fits the body for a glorious resurrection, by incorporating it in the mystical body of Jesus Christ. “I am the living Bread which came down from heaven. If any man eat of this bread, he shall live forever; and the Bread which I will give is My flesh for the life of the world.” (5:48-52)

Here our Divine Savior speaks in the clearest terms. He tells us that He Himself is the Bread from heaven which it behooves us to eat, that we may possess everlasting life; that the Bread which He will give us to eat, will not be mere material bread, but will be the very flesh which He would later on sacrifice for the salvation of the world. And yet there are men who pretend to believe in Christ’s infallible word, and yet flatly contradict His very words, for Jesus promises to give a Bread which is His very flesh, and they maintain that He promised to give merely material bread.

“The Jews, therefore, debated among themselves, saying: How can this man give us His flesh to eat?” (John 6:53)

The language of the Jews proves that they had understood that Jesus intended to give His very flesh as food. Had they mistaken His meaning, Jesus would, most assuredly, have corrected their mistake, as He did later in another point. But, far from now correcting them and telling them that He did not intend to give His very flesh as food, He confirms them in the meaning they attach to His words, and insists more strongly even than before, that He actually intends His very flesh and blood to be real food and drink.

“Then Jesus said to them: Amen, amen I say to you: Unless you eat the flesh of the Son of man and drink His blood, you shall not have life in you. He that eats My flesh and drinks My blood, hath everlasting life, and I will raise him at the last day. For My flesh is meat indeed, and My blood is drink indeed. He that eats My flesh and drinks My blood, abides in Me, and I in him. As the living Father hath sent Me, and I live by the Father, so he that eats Me, the same also shall live by Me. This is the Bread that came down from heaven. Not as your fathers ate manna and died. He that eats this Bread shall live for ever.” (John 6: 54-59)

By these words Jesus Christ clearly affirms that His flesh is real food and His blood real drink; that they who eat His flesh and drink His blood, shall have life everlasting. Words cannot be plainer than these. Deny the Real Presence, and you necessarily deny the very words of Jesus Christ, and are no longer a Christian, a believer in Christ, but an unbeliever, for, practically, you deny the veracity and, consequently, the divine mission of Jesus Christ.

“These things Jesus said in the synagogue in Capharnaum. Many, therefore, of His disciples, hearing it, said: This saying is hard, and who can hear it? But Jesus, knowing in Himself that His disciples murmured at this, said to them: Doth this scandalize you? If then you shall see the Son of man ascend where He was before? It is the spirit that quickens; the flesh profits nothing; the words that I have spoken to you are the spirit and life. But there are some of you that believe not. For Jesus knew from the beginning who they were that did not believe, and who he was that would be tray Him. And He said: Therefore did I say to you that no man can come to Me, unless it be given by My Father.” (John 6:60-66)

The words of Jesus Christ: “It is the spirit that quickens, the flesh profits nothing” are alleged by Protestants as an unanswerable argument against the Real Presence. But they are woefully mistaken, for our Divine Savior, being infinite Wisdom and Truth, cannot contradict Himself. He had just said: “My flesh is meat indeed, and My blood is drink indeed”; and “the Bread which I will give is My flesh for the life of the world.” Nothing can be more clear than these words. Deny the Real Presence, and you give the lie to these words of the Son of God. There is no alternative: either admit the Real Presence, or charge the Savior with either telling a lie or with not knowing what He was saying. What He afterwards said about the spirit and the flesh does not and cannot in the least contradict what He had previously expressed so clearly, but only shows that He was not to be understood in the material sense given to His words by the carnal Jews. They said: “This saying is hard, and who can hear it?” Their words indicate that they understood Jesus in a carnal sense, for hearing Him say that His flesh was meat indeed, and His blood drink indeed, they imagined that Jesus intended that they should eat His flesh as they ate the flesh of cattle! Of course, this was not the meaning of our Lord, when He said that “the flesh”, not His own body, but the carnal meaning they attached to it, “profits nothing”; hence His words must be understood in a more spiritual sense; in other words, He would give them His very flesh to eat, but not in the material manner they attached to His words. Moreover, He called their attention to the fact that the Real Presence would be still harder to believe after He would have returned to heaven. His words are a clear anticipated refutation of the Protestant doctrines on the Blessed Eucharist. Hence our Divine Savior did not at all contradict or take back what He had previously said about the Real Presence. He only insinuated to the Jews that they understood His words in too material a sense. Even after this explanation many would no longer believe in Him, for they remained obstinately attached to their preconceived views and prejudices, and were not, therefore, disposed, like others more humble, to believe firmly all He said.

“After this many of His disciples went back and walked no more with Him. Then Jesus said to the twelve: Will you also go away? And Simon Peter answered Him: Lord, to whom shall we go? Thou hast the words of eternal life; and we have believed and have known that Thou art Christ the Son of God.” (John 6:67-70)

The doctrine of our Divine Savior concerning the Real Presence so shocked the Jews, even after His explanation, that many of His followers forsook Him. If Jesus did not intend to give to men His very body as their spiritual food, and His very blood as their spiritual beverage, He would, in all truth, have most clearly said so, and thus prevented so many of His followers from abandoning Him and going astray. Their doing so must, certainly, have greatly pained Him, for He turned to His apostles and asked them if they also intended to leave Him. But they remained faithful to their divine Master. Here we have another proof of the Primacy of Saint Peter in matters of faith. Whenever there is question of faith, it is always Saint Peter who speaks for all, just as it has always occurred in the Church of Jesus Christ, the Pope, who is Saint Peter’s successor, speaks for the whole Church and the whole Church accepts his decision in all matters pertaining to man’s salvation.

Jesus in the Eucharist, by Father Ferreol Girardey, C.Ss.R.

Father Luke Elleniz

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A successful labourer in preparing for their last end sorcerers condemned to die. He assisted at least two hundred of them, to the great benefit of their souls, passing days and nights with them in their prison, praying and exhorting them to attend to their salvation, in spite of the opposition of the demons, and although his life was demanded in the sorcerers assembly.

Died

MLA Citation

  • “Father Luke Elleniz”. Menology of the Society of Jesus. CatholicSaints.Info. 13 December 2019. Web. 14 December 2019. <>

Father Gabriel Sanchez

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An Apostolic man, so addicted to prayer, that amid the greatest labours he used to spend seven hours daily in it; so attached to the Vows of Religion and observant of them, that he daily renewed the formula sixty times; so careful of his angelic purity, that once when shipwrecked he would not allow his clothes to be removed that he might swim more easily ashore.

Died

MLA Citation

  • “Father Gabriel Sanchez”. Menology of the Society of Jesus. CatholicSaints.Info. 13 December 2019. Web. 14 December 2019. <>

Catholic Encyclopedia – Alonzo de Barcena

main article for Venerable Alonso de BárcenaArticle

(also Barzana) A native of Bacza in Andalusia, Spain, born 1528; died at Cuzco, Peru, 15 January, 1598. He became a Jesuit in 1565, and went to Paris in 1569. He was first destined for the missions of Heartier, whence he was ordered (1577) to Juli, on the shores of Lake Titicaca in Southern Peru. He became one of the founders of this important mission. Barcena remained in Central Bolivia for eleven years, when the Provincial Atienza sent him to Tucuman in Argentina. His work among the various tribes of that region and of Paraguay continued until 1693, when he was made Commissary of the Inquisition in those provinces. Exhausted physically by his long and arduous labors, Barcena died at Cuzco in Peru. He is credited with having had a practical knowledge of eleven Indian languages and with having written grammars, vocabularies, catechisms in most of them. These manuscripts are possibly still in the archives of Lima. Only one of his writings is known to have been published: a letter full of important ethnographic and linguistic detail, on the Indians of Tucuman, on the Calchaquis, and others. The letter (see below) published in 1885, is dated 8 September, 1594, at Asunción in Paraguay, and is addressed to the Provincial John Sebastian.

MLA Citation

  • Adolph Francis Bandelier. “Alonzo de Barcena”. Catholic Encyclopedia, 1912. CatholicSaints.Info. 13 December 2019. Web. 14 December 2019. <>

Father John Pelletier

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The first Rector of the Roman College; surnamed by Saint Ignatius the “Saintly Rector”, and by the people of Pamiers and elsewhere the “Doctor of Mary”, on account of his constant exhortations, both public and private, in honour of the Mother of God. When an image of Our Lady had been thrown down, he caused it to be replaced with solemn prayers, in spite of the Iconoclast Calvinists. They put him in chains, which he bore with the same constancy with which he refused to accept the Bishopric of Cahors.

Died

MLA Citation

  • “Father John Pelletier”. Menology of the Society of Jesus. CatholicSaints.Info. 13 December 2019. Web. 14 December 2019. <>