Ask Mary: How Do We Know the Eucharist is True?

Question:

I guess I’m kind of looking for a little advice.  While it’s always great to spend some time in prayer with God, I guess I’m just having a hard time really having faith (I guess that’s really what it comes down to) that God is present in the Eucharist. Sometimes I just feel silly kneeling before a piece of bread. I have been praying for God to help me to grow in understanding (although I do realize the Eucharist will always be a mystery) and faith to really believe that the Eucharist truly is the body of Christ.

I guess I am looking for a little bit of encouragement or to see if you had any words of wisdom. It’s not really a topic I would discuss with my friends and I don’t really know of anyone else to ask/seek advice from. Praying has really been helpful, which has been a cool thing to see working so far!

Answer:

“Faith will tell us Christ is present, when our human senses fail”

-Saint Thomas Aquinas

Thank you so much for this question!  The fact is, I can sit here and write you a 20-page paper defending the real presence of the Eucharist, citing Scripture and tradition of the Early Church Fathers to show that Jesus Christ is, in fact, truly present in His Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity in the Eucharist—but when it comes down to it, faith is a grace bestowed upon us by God Himself.  And this should encourage you greatly.  The very fact that you even felt compelled to ask someone this question shows that God is already giving you a desire to be close to Him in the Eucharist, so don’t be discouraged :)

I will recommend a few practical things to you:

In this book, the author interviews 9 different people who have had profound experiences as a result of spending regular time in Eucharistic adoration.  This is first on the list because I’m serious when I say that no amount of reasonable or logical answers will change your mind if Christ Himself does not do it first.  It’s sort of like getting to know a friend.  You won’t truly know if he or she is a friend until you spend time with them in conversation and develop a relationship.

  • Secondly, there are a ton of documented Eucharistic miracles, but I think the miracle that took place at Lanciano, Italy in the year 750 is my favorite. 

As he was celebrating mass, a priest doubted whether Jesus was truly present in the Eucharist.  When he said the words of consecration, the host was physically transformed into Flesh and the wine was likewise transformed into Blood.  Today, over a thousand years later, the Flesh is still intact and the blood is divided into 5 parts (which, though each one is unequal in size to the other, miraculously they all have the exact same weight).

I don’t have time to go into all of the details here, but you can read all about it at this website.

  • Finally, there are a lot of really good online resources that defend the Catholic Church’s teaching that Jesus is truly present in the Eucharist.  One of the best and most straightforward to understand can be found here, at Catholic.com. 

 

In the end though, if we have faith that Jesus truly rose from the dead (and if we do not, as St. Paul says, our entire faith as Christians is in vain), then we have no reason to doubt when He tells us, again and again in Scripture, that His flesh is true food and His blood is true drink.  However, I know that sometimes that is easier said than put into practice.  So I’ll end with Mark 9:17-27.  A man brings his son so that Jesus might cast the demon out of him.  Jesus replies that, if the man has faith, his son will be healed.  Desiring more than anything that his son be set free, the man cries out and, putting this dilemma beautifully, says, “I believe; help my unbelief!”

Next time you go into adoration, maybe take this scripture with you and pray it with Jesus there in the monstrance.