Saturday, 3 February 2018

The Promise Of Our Divine Saviour to give to men His very Flesh to eat and His very Blood to drink. part 18.


The history of the Church most clearly proves that no novel doctrine opposed to, or different from, that of Jesus could be broached either in the early ages of the Church or in later times without causing great opposition and horror among the faithful and without being at once condemned. Faith was held dearer than anything else, and worthy of the sacrifice of all goods and life itself for its preservation, as is attested by millions of martyrs who died in its defence. The horror of heresy, of false and novel doctrines, can be seen from numberless examples, a few of which are given here. "If any man come to you and bring this (novel) doctrine, receive him not into the house, nor say to him, God speed you" (2 John 10). It is St. John, the apostle of charity, who says this; and what he said he also practised; for when he was told that the heretic Cerinthus had entered the house he was in, St. John at once left it, for he did not wish to remain under the same roof as a heretic. The heretic Arius was explaining his heresy in an assembly; but the hearers showed their horror by closing their ears and would not listen to the blasphemies. One day the heretic Nestorius, bishop of Constantinople, whilst preaching to his own diocesans, said that Mary was not the Mother of God, but only the mother of the man called " Christ," the people were so horrified that they all at once left the church. On another occasion a member of his clergy, by his order, was preaching the same heretical doctrine, to the horror of the people, when a certain Eusebius, a prominent lay man, could no longer stand such heretical preaching, arose and proceeded to protest and to refute him, to the delight and applause of the people.

The charge that the Church of Jesus Christ fell into errors and corrupted His doctrine, is an insult to our Lord Jesus Christ Himself, for He repeatedly asserted that His Church would never in the least swerve from the truth, and would always triumph over error. In the first place, the angel Gabriel, the messenger of God to the virgin Mary, expressly declared to her that the kingdom of the Son, who was to be born of her, would have no end: "And of His kingdom there shall be no end" (Luke 1:33). The kingdom of Jesus Christ is His Church, and had His Church fallen into error, it would no longer be His kingdom and the divine prophecy of its lasting forever would have failed of fulfilment; but what God Himself foretells must be fulfilled, for He is Truth itself, and not a liar or a deceiver, as such a charge would make Him!

In the next place Jesus Christ said to Peter: "Thou art Peter (that is, the rock), and on this rock I will build My Church and the gates of hell shall not prevail against her" (Mat. 16:18). History shows how "the gates of hell,'* that is, errors and earthly power, have fought against her, to subdue her, to enslave her, to crush her, but all in vain. Hence St. Jerome says: " As long as the world shall last, the strength of the Church shall be tested and shall abide the test. This shall be so, because the Lord God almighty, who is the Lord God of the Church, has promised that so it shall be, and His promise is an unchanging law." Had the Church ever fallen into error or into idolatrous practises, as Protestants charge, our divine Savior would have proved a false prophet! To say this is clearly a blasphemy! Moreover, did not our divine Savior also promise to be with His Church until the end of the world, saying: "Behold, I am with you all days until the consummation of ages "? (Mat. 28: 20). Did He not also make this promise to His Church (apostles) on the eve of His death, saying: " I will ask the Father, and He will give you another Paraclete, that He may abide with you forever, The Spirit of truth. . . . The Paraclete the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in My name; He will teach you all things and bring all things to your minds, whatsoever I shall have said to you" (John 14:16, 17, 26). Had the Church of Christ, the Catholic Church, which is the only Church He founded, ever fallen into error and idolatrous practises, or taught any thing different from the doctrine of Christ, He would not have kept all these promises. To assert this is nothing short of blasphemy. Christ made and destined His Church to be " the pillar and ground of truth" (i Tim. 3: 15), and surely kept His promise.

Moreover, let us remember that God does not change, cannot change, for He is infinitely perfect; only that changes and can change, which is imperfect and is liable to grow better, to improve, or to grow worse, to deteriorate. God does not change and " the gifts and the calling of God are without repentance " (that is, unchangeable) (Rom.11: 29). Therefore, the Catholic Church, once founded and established by Jesus Christ as His Church, as assisted by Him, as taught and directed by the Holy Ghost, the Spirit of truth, is always to remain so, and is therefore and shall ever be the true and infallible Church of Christ, and her teaching and doctrines shall ever be the teaching and doctrines of Jesus Christ, in which there neither is nor can be any error. To assert the contrary is to charge God with error! No other church can have the least claim to being the Church of Jesus Christ. Listen to the words of St. Paul: " But though we, or an angel from heaven, preach a gospel to you besides that which we have preached to you, let him be anathema. As we said before, so now I say again: If any one preach to you a gospel, besides that which you have received, let him be anathema. . . . For I give you to understand, brethren, that the Gospel which was preached by me is not according to man. For neither did I receive it of man, nor did I learn it, but by the revelation of Jesus Christ" (Gal. i: 8, 9, 11, 12). Here St. Paul anathematises all those who preach a gospel different from that which he had preached to them and which Jesus Christ Himself had specially revealed to him. And his anathema would extend to himself and even to an angel, were he or the angel to preach a gospel differing from that which he had preached to them. This is a terrible condemnation of those pretended
reformers of the sixteenth and other centuries who dared to preach a gospel, that is, doctrines differing from that preached by St. Paul and the other apostles on the Real Presence and other doctrines which the Catholic Church received from Jesus Christ Himself!

Wednesday, 17 January 2018

The Promise Of Our Divine Saviour to give to men His very Flesh to eat and His very Blood to drink. part 17.


With the exception of a small number of obscure heretics, no one had denied the Catholic doctrines of the Real Presence until the appearance of Luther and other heretics in the sixteenth century. Not only the whole Catholic Church, but also all the ancient sects which, centuries previous to the pretended Reformation, had been cut off from the Church of Christ, such as the Greeks, the Nestorians, the Copts and the Armenians, had always believed and still believe in the Real Presence. But in the sixteenth century a novel and upstart religion, headed by the apostate monk Luther, with out either divine authority, mission, or sanction, came forward repudiating the ancient and universal belief in the Real Presence and other genuine Christian truths, charging them with being anti-Christian and idolatrous, striving in a hundred different and contradictory ways to explain and interpret the express and most plain words of Jesus Christ, constantly wrangling among themselves and splitting into numberless sects. On the other hand, the Catholic Church (and even all the aforesaid ancient sects likewise) has continued to believe and cling faithfully to the original doctrine of the Real Presence as preached to her by the apostles of Jesus Christ, maintaining that she has always been in lawful possession of this sacred doctrine taught by the apostles, who heard it from the very lips of the Savior.

That the Catholic Church received her doctrine of the Real Presence from Jesus Christ and His apostles, can be proved by arguments other than texts of Scripture and quotations from the writings of the Holy Fathers and Doctors of the Church. One of these arguments is called the argument of "Prescription." This form of proof is used both in law and in theology. In law it is equivalent to the old adage: "Possession is nine points of the law." For instance, a man who has long been in undisputed possession of some property or privilege, is deemed its lawful possessor, and can not be dispossessed, unless legally conclusive proof is given, that he never had a lawful right to the same. The burden of  impugning his right thereto; that is, he who is in possession needs not directly to prove his right.

Now let us see how in theology " Prescription " is an unanswerable and conclusive proof. That the Catholic Church alone has existed from the time of Jesus Christ and His apostles and was founded by them is admitted by all who are acquainted with history. Hence it was the Catholic Church which Jesus Christ commissioned to teach all nations, and of which all nations were bound to believe and to become members under the pain of eternal condemnation : " Go ye into the whole world and preach the Gospel to every creature. He that believeth and is baptized, shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be condemned" (Mark 16:15, 16). It is, therefore, clear that the Catholic Church was founded by Christ, and that all men were obliged to believe her teaching under the pain of forfeiting their salvation. Even Protestants admit that the Catholic Church was the Church of Christ, the true Church, during the first three centuries; " but," say they, " after the first three centuries, the Catholic Church began to corrupt the doctrines of Christ and His apostles, adding a number of doctrines and practices both false and idolatrous, which Jesus and His apostles had not taught, such as Confession, the Real Presence, prayers to the Virgin and to the saints." Here we have only to refute them by using the argument of " Prescription," saying to them: " You say that the doctrine of the Real Presence was never taught by Jesus Christ and His apostles. If so, it must have been introduced into the Church at a later date; please tell us, then, when, where and by whom such a wonderful doctrine was introduced, for it must have drawn the attention of the Christians of the time; we know the place, time, and authors of the various novel doctrines, differing from and opposed to the doctrines transmitted to His Church by Jesus Christ and His apostles; we can give the time, place, and authors of the heresies broached in all ages. If the Real Presence is not a doctrine of Christ and His apostles, as you assert so boldly, you must be able to give us the particulars of its first appearance in the Church. But this you cannot do, for there is no record of a later introduction into the Creed of the Catholic Church, as there is for the first appearance of Arianism, Nestorianism, Eutychianism, Donatism, Pelagianism and Protestantism with its various sects. Hence the conclusion is clear that the doctrine of the Real Presence was contained in the doctrines, which Christ and His apostles commissioned the Church to teach to mankind, and to be believed by all men under pain of eternal condemnation''

Thursday, 11 January 2018

The Promise Of Our Divine Saviour to give to men His very Flesh to eat and His very Blood to drink. part 16.



This great saint and Doctor of the Church received the surname of Chrysostom, a Greek word which signifies " golden mouth," on account of his wonderful eloquence. He attained celebrity as the greatest orator of his day when a simple priest at Antioch, where for twelve years he preached regularly homilies, or sermons, explaining the Holy Scriptures and doctrines of the Church, to immense crowds that flocked to hear him. His piety and learning and zeal were equal to his eloquence. It was for this reason that he was raised to the dignity of bishop of the very important See of Constantinople. As bishop he continued to preach, as before, with apostolic freedom and courage, without human respect, against error and vice. This drew upon him the envy and hatred of the great and powerful and of the Empress Eudoxia, a very vain and worldly-minded and unscrupulous woman, who prevailed upon a faction of courtier-bishops to condemn him under frivolous pretexts. In consequence of this the imperial government banished him to a wild and unhealthy region. St. John Chrysostom appealed to the Pope against his unlawful condemnation by the aforesaid bishops; the Pope took up his case and after due examination annulled the action of those unworthy bishops. But in the meantime St. John Chrysostom succumbed in exile to ill-treatment and sickness after much suffering borne with saintly patience, in 407. His appeal to the Pope against the injustice of his enemies is an unquestionable proof, that in the early ages of the Church, the Papal Supremacy in the Church was universally acknowledged, as well as in our own times.

Let us now see what St. John Chrysostom teaches about the Real Presence. In the sixtieth Homily to the people of Antioch he speaks as follows: " Since Jesus Christ, the Divine Word, says: ' This is My body' let us believe His words and give our assent to them; let us behold His body with the eyes of our mind, for Christ does not show Him self to us in a sensible way, but under sensible things He gives us all that is intelligible (in other words, that we can perceive with our mind only).

He has acted in like manner in baptism, for therein He bestows a gift through a sensible thing, that is, water; by means of the water there is effected some thing intelligible, the spiritual regeneration and renovation. For, if thou wert incorporeal (that is, hadst not a body), He would have given thee purely incorporeal gifts; but, since in thee thy soul dwells in thy body, He gives thee intelligible things in a sensible (or material) envelope. How many among you now say: Oh, if I could only behold His form, His features, His clothing, His shoes!' Behold now thou seest Him, thou touchest Him, thou eatest Him! And thou desirest indeed to see His garments; and He grants thee not only to see Him, but also to eat Him, to touch Him, to receive Him within thee."

In the above quoted passage St. John Chrysostom, after telling us to believe the words of Christ saying that the Blessed Eucharist is really His body, re minds us that God bestows His spiritual gifts, which are invisible and do not fall under our senses, on us men under a visible or material envelope, and there by adapts Himself to our nature, for our soul which is immaterial and does not fall under the senses, dwells in our material body and is acted upon through our body. In these words of St. John Chrysostom is contained the doctrine of the Church on the Sacraments. They are visible signs instituted by Christ to impart invisible grace to the soul by their application to the body, in order to sanctify the soul.

"Therefore," continues the holy Doctor, " let no one approach (the Holy Eucharist) with disgust or with indifference, but let all do so inflamed with love, fervour and eagerness. For, if the Jews ate the paschal lamb in haste, already shod and holding staves in their hands, how much more does it behoove thee to be diligent. They, indeed, were about to depart for Palestine, and were, therefore, attired as travellers; but thou must journey to heaven. Wherefore, thou shouldst in all things be watchful, for not a small punishment is inflicted on those who receive unworthily. Consider how indignant thou art against the traitor Judas and those who crucified Jesus. Beware, therefore, lest thou be guilty of the body and blood of Christ. They killed His most holy body, but thou receivest Him in a sinful soul after He has loaded thee with so many benefits. For He did not consider it enough for Him to be come man, to be scourged and crucified, but He deigns to unite Himself intimately to us, and to make us His body, not only in faith, but in reality.

How pure, then, should not he be who partakes of so great a sacrifice? And should not the hand which touches His flesh (as was the custom in receiving Communion in the early Church), be more pure and splendid than the sun's rays? And the mouth which is filled with the spiritual fire (of Christ's love) and the tongue which is moistened with that most precious blood ? Reflect on the great honor conferred on thee, on the magnificent feast thou enjoyest. What the angels behold with awe, and venture not to gaze upon on account of its dazzling brilliancy, is what we feed upon, what we are united to; thus do we become one body, one flesh with Christ. Who will narrate the powers of God and proclaim all His praises? What shepherd feeds his sheep with his own blood ? And what do I say, a shepherd? Many mothers, after the pains of childbirth, entrust their children to others to be nursed. But Christ did not suffer this, for He feeds us with His own blood and most intimately unites us to Himself."

He who reads the foregoing passage of St. John Chrysostom would imagine he is reading the in comparable book of Visits of St. Alphonsus, instead of the writings of one who lived fourteen hundred years earlier. What a powerful argument of the unity of faith in the Catholic Church throughout all ages, especially in the doctrine of the Real Presence! This will be still more evident in reading the remainder of the saints homily: "Through the mysteries (the Blessed Eucharist), Christ mingles Himself," continues St. John Chrysostom, " with each one of the faithful, and does not entrust to others, but Himself feeds those He has begotten (spiritually) ; by this He again convinces thee that He has assumed thy flesh (that is, become man). Let us not grow indifferent towards Him, since He has considered us worthy of so great a love and so exalted an honour. Do you not see how eagerly infants take and apply their lips to the breasts of their nurses? Let us also approach this holy table with a like eagerness and take hold of the breasts of our spiritual beverage; let us, even with greater avidity than suckling infants, suck in the spiritual graces, and let our only sorrow be to be deprived of this (divine) food. It is not the works of human virtue that are here placed before us; He who performed them at the Last Supper, now also performs them. We hold the place of His ministers (or servants) ; and it is He Himself who blesses and changes these (the bread and wine). Therefore, let no Judas be here present, nor any miser; for this table does not receive such guests. Let him who is truly a disciple be present, for Christ said: I celebrate the pasch with My disciples'. This is the same table; it contains nothing less. It is Christ who set up the feast at the Last Supper, and not (a mere) man who has set up this one; no; it is the same Christ who has set up this one also. Let no one who is devoid of humanity, who is cruel and unmerciful, who is impure, venture to approach this feast. This I say to those who receive Holy Communion and also to those who minister at the altar. For I must address you also, that you may most diligently distribute these gifts. For no small punishment awaits you, if you allow any one you know to be guilty of a grievous fault (that is, a known public sinner), to be a partaker of this feast, for Christ's blood will then be demanded at your hands. Whether he who unworthily approaches be a general, or a magistrate, or even a crowned prince, you must re fuse him (Holy Communion), for your power is greater than his. It is for this reason that God has bestowed so great an honour on you, that you may discern these holy things! This is your dignity, this is your own security, this is all your crown, and not that you may go about in a white and resplendent vestment. And thou, O layman, when thou seest the priest offering (the holy Sacrifice), do not imagine that it is the priest who does this, but that thou seest Christ invisibly extending His hand. Let us, then, both priests and laymen, hear of what food we have been made worthy; let us hear it and be dumbfounded. Jesus gave us His own flesh as our food, and set Himself immolated before us. What excuse shall we bring, after being so generously nourished with such meats, if we sin, if, like wolves, we devour the meek Lamb, or after having, like peaceful sheep, been fed, we become devouring lions? This mystery requires us to be entirely free not only from robbery, but even from the slightest uncharitable feeling, for it is a mystery of peace. God bound the Jews to Himself by instituting solemn feasts in memory and as monuments of His benefits towards them; He has bound Himself to thee every day by these mysteries (the Sacrifice of the Mass). Let no Judas, no Simon (Magus) approach this table; both of them perished through avarice; let us flee this abyss of perdition." In the above passage, St. Chrysostom, after exhorting his hearers to imitate the eagerness and avidity of suckling infants, whenever they go to Holy Communion, tells them that the priests are the representatives of Jesus Christ, and only personating Jesus Christ when they say Mass and give Holy Communion to the faithful. He then insists on the necessity of being in the state of grace in order to receive worthily the body and blood of Christ.

In his sixty-first homily to the people of Antioch, the holy Doctor speaks as follows: " It behooves us, most beloved brethren, to learn the miracle of the mysteries, its character, why it was given, and its advantages. By it we are made one body, members, Jesus says, of His flesh and of His bones. Let us, who are initiated (that is, already members of the Church by baptism), follow what is said, that we may become one body, not so much through charity, but in very deed; let us mingle together in that flesh (that is, the flesh of Jesus Christ received in Holy Communion). This is done through the food which He gave us, for He wished to show His desire (good will) towards us. Wherefore He mingled Himself with us and intimately penetrated us with His body, that we might become one body, as it were, attached to Him, our Head; for such is the tendency of ardent lovers."

What does St. Chrysostom mean by the foregoing words? He recalls, and, in some manner, ex plains the saying of St. Paul that we, Christians, are one body with Jesus Christ, He being the Head and we the members of that mystical body. He calls our attention to this, that we all should be, indeed, one body, not merely by observing the commandment of the love of our neighbour, but especially through Holy Communion, in which we receive the flesh of Jesus Christ, are incorporated in His body and become, as it were, one body with Him and with one another; and being by Holy Communion one with Jesus Christ, we should be one with one another, for it is in Him, in the reception of His body, that we are incorporated together in Him. Hence the reception of the body of Jesus Christ is very properly called Communion, for by it Jesus Christ becomes for all the faithful the " common bond of union'' as the head is the common bond of union for all the members of the body.

Let us now consider the conclusions the saint draws from what he has just said: " When we leave the holy table (of Communion), we should be like lions breathing forth fire, terrible to the devil, meditating on our Head (Jesus Christ) and on the love He manifests to us. Mothers often give their infants to be nursed by others; but I, He says to us, do not act thus; I feed you with My own flesh; I give Myself to you as your nourishment, wishing you all to be generous, and to give you good hopes for the next life, for since I give Myself to you here below, I will do it still more perfectly in the future life. I wished to become your brother, and for your sakes I assumed human flesh and blood; and now again I deliver to you the very flesh and blood, by which I became your relative.''

Nothing can be more positive and explicit than these words of the holy Doctor, to show that Jesus Christ in Holy Communion bestows on us His real flesh and His real blood, in order to unite us with Him in this life and still more perfectly in the next. This is another conclusive proof that, according to Christ's very words, he who, in Holy Communion, eats the flesh of the Son of man and drinks His blood, shall have life everlasting.

Let us now see how St. Chrysostom concludes this important subject: "Let us attend to our selves, most beloved brethren, when we enjoy these wonderful benefits; and when we are tempted to speak unbecomingly, to get irritated or to do any thing sinful, let us call to mind the wonderful things of which we have partaken. Such a thought will serve to correct (and restrain) our evil inclinations. Let us all who have the happiness of being made partakers of this body and of tasting this
blood, earnestly reflect that we are tasting Him who is seated above, whom the angels adore, whose might never fails. Oh, how many ways (helps) have we to salvation! Jesus Christ has made us (members of) His body; He has communicated to us His own body."

By these words St. John Chrysostom shows us how to draw fruit from the reception of the body and blood of our Lord in Holy Communion. The very thought, when the temptation comes, that we have received in Holy Communion the very body and blood of our divine Savior, should so strengthen us as to enable us to overcome the temptation and keep in check all our evil propensities and desires, for one of the reasons for which Jesus feeds us with His body and blood is to impart to us all the graces necessary to our salvation. Hence he who receives Holy Communion as often as the Church desires, should be able not only to avoid deadly sins, but also to become holy by faithfully practising the virtues of a true Christian, of a faithful follower of Christ. In Holy Communion we become, as it were, one with Christ, and should, then, so live, as if Jesus Christ acted through us, so that we may henceforth be able to say with St. Paul: " I live, now not I, but Christ liveth in me" (Gal. 2: 20).

Friday, 5 January 2018

The Promise Of Our Divine Saviour to give to men His very Flesh to eat and His very Blood to drink. part 15.


II. Let us now consider the testimony of St. Cyril, bishop of Jerusalem and Doctor of the
Church, on the Real Presence. Cyril was born in the year 310. After his ordination to the priest hood he was entrusted with the office of instructing converts and explaining the doctrines of our holy faith to the people. In the performance of this noble and holy task he wrote his admirable catechetical instructions, in which he clearly explains and victoriously defends the mysteries of the Christian religion against all the infidels and heretics of his time. Although he lived nearly sixteen hundred years ago, when we read his works, we would feel inclined to imagine that we are reading the works of St. Alphonsus, or of some eminent theologian of our own epoch. Shortly after he was made bishop of Jerusalem, a wonderful event took place, which lasted a whole day. A luminous cross, brighter than the sun, appeared in the heavens in the day-time from one end of Jerusalem to the other, and was seen by both Christians and pagans. The Arians had raised a furious persecution against the Church, and with the help of the Arian emperor succeeded in causing the banishment of the most holy and prominent Catholic bishops from their sees; among these was St. Cyril. He suffered much in his banishment. After the death of Constantius, Cyril returned to Jerusalem. Soon after the new emperor, Julian the Apostate, who out of hatred to the religion of Christ, which he intended to destroy, undertook to disprove the prophecy of Jesus Christ, in which He foretold the destruction of the temple of Jerusalem, saying: "They shall not leave in thee a stone upon a stone " (Luke 19: 44). Julian therefore invited the Jews all over the world to go to Jerusalem to rebuild the temple. The Jews hastened eagerly to comply with Julian's invitation. They joyfully set to work clearing the ground with silver and golden pickaxes and other tools; even the rich Jewish ladies carried away the earth in their silk aprons, and all the Jews contributed either labour or money to carry out the emperor's intentions. At last the labourers reached the lowest stones of the foundation, which had never yet been removed, and which they now re moved, fulfilling thereby Christ's prophecy to the very letter, that " not a stone would remain on a stone." When all the remains of the old foundation had been taken away, the Jews aided by the emperor's skilled workmen began to lay the proposed new foundations, but were soon unable to make any headway, for earthquakes overthrew their work, globes of fire darted forth from the ground, scattered the workmen and consumed all that was combustible on the grounds. These wonderful occurrences were repeated every time the Jews at tempted to resume the work, so that they had at last to give it up in despair, to their great distress, and to the confusion of Julian the Apostate and the other enemies of the Christian religion. St. Cyril continued to defend the Christian religion against all its enemies until his death in the year 381. Let us now consider his admirable testimony in favour of the Real Presence.

"The very doctrine of St. Paul,'' he declares, " abundantly suffices to make us believe the divine mysteries, which render us worthy to become, so to speak, relatives of Jesus Christ both in body and blood. For this apostle clearly proclaims that our Lord Jesus Christ on the night, in which He was betrayed, took bread and, giving thanks, gave to His disciples saying: Take ye and eat, this is My body. And taking the chalice and giving thanks, He said: Take ye and drink, this is My blood. Now, since He Himself declared and said: This is My body, who will henceforth dare to deny it? And since He Himself so positively said: This is My blood, who will ever doubt it and say that it is not His blood? Jesus had previously at Cana of Galilee changed water into wine, which has some relationship (or similarity) to blood; and shall we esteem Him unworthy of being believed when He changed wine into blood? Having been invited to those nuptials where bodies are united, He per formed the aforesaid miracle which no one expected; and shall not we be most firmly convinced, that He gave us His body and blood for our nourishment, and perfectly certain that we are receiving His very body and blood? For He gives us His very body in the species of bread, and His very blood in the species of wine, so that when thou tastest the body and blood of Christ, thou becomest a partaker of His very body and blood. Thus we become ' Christiferi,' that is, we are bearers of Christ in our bodies, when we receive His body and blood into our members; hence, according to St. Peter, ' we are made partakers of the divine nature ' (2 Peter 1:4). Formerly Christ, disputing with the Jews, said: Unless you eat My flesh and drink My blood, you shall not have life in you. But the Jews, not taking these things in a spiritual sense, were shocked and forsook Him, for they imagined He invited them to feast on His flesh as if it were (the) flesh (of animals). In the Old Testament there were the loaves of proposition; but these have been abolished together with it.

In the New Testament the bread is heavenly, and the chalice is salutary, for they sanctify our body and soul. Therefore I do not wish thee to consider them as merely simple bread and merely simple wine, because they are the body and blood of Christ. For although thy senses tell thee that they are mere bread and wine, nevertheless let faith confirm thee (in the belief that they are really the body and blood of Christ). Do not judge of the thing by its taste; but let faith make thee certain beyond even the shadow of a doubt, that thou art made worthy to become a partaker of the body and blood of Christ."
These clear, beautiful and strong words of St. Cyril, the great catechist of the fourth century, are an unanswerable proof that the faith of the Church of his time in the Real Presence is identical with that of the Church of the twentieth century.

Friday, 15 December 2017

The Promise Of Our Divine Saviour to give to men His very Flesh to eat and His very Blood to drink. part 14.


I. St. Hilary was born in the beginning -of the fourth century and owing to his great merits was made bishop of Poitiers. He was one of the most prominent bishops of his time in Gaul on account of his holiness, learning and zeal for the defense of the Catholic faith against Arianism, a heresy which denied the divinity of Jesus Christ. On ac count of his masterly defense of the divinity of our Savior, the Arian emperor Constantius banished him to Asia and left nothing undone to induce him to embrace Arianism. But St. Hilary so well championed the cause of the true faith, that the Arians, seeing themselves overcome by Hilary in their councils, and fearing his continued success in bringing so many Arians back to the Church, prevailed on the emperor to send him back to Gaul. His return was hailed with demonstrations of joy all over Gaul, and he soon turned his attention to restoring religious peace in that country by refuting and converting the Arians. He died in 368. His able writings and his defense of the faith won for him the title of Doctor of the Church. He is a powerful witness of the faith of the Church in the Real Presence, as we shall see by two passages of his writings. The first passage, though short, is very conclusive.

1. "The word was truly made flesh, and we truly receive the Word made flesh in the Lord's food " (that is, in Holy Communion).

These words clearly denote that St. Hilary holds the Real Presence to be just as true as the Incarnation of the Son of God. Of course, those who do not believe in the mystery of the Incarnation, that is, that Jesus Christ is truly and really the Son of God made man, will not admit the Real Presence, such persons can have no genuine claim to be or to be called Christians. We will now proceed to the second extract from the writings of St. Hilary.

2. "We should not speak of things divine in a merely human or worldly manner. Let us read the things that are written and endeavour to grasp their real meaning, and then we shall discharge the office of a perfect faith. In speaking of the natural truth of Christ in us, we speak foolishly or without reverence, unless we learn the truth from Him (that is, unless we understand His words in the sense He Himself attached to them). For He said: 'My flesh is meat indeed, and My blood is drink indeed; he that eateth My flesh and drinketh My blood, dwelleth in Me and I in him.' There is no room left to doubt of the reality of His flesh and blood (in the Eucharist). For now by the Lord's own declaration and by our own faith, it (the Eucharist) is His true flesh and His true blood, and the receiving of these has the effect that we are in Christ and Christ is in us, and is not this really true? Those, indeed, who deny the divinity of Jesus Christ, do not hold this as true. Therefore, He Himself is in us through His flesh, and we are in Him, whilst that which we are with Him is in God. That we are really in Him through the communion of His flesh and blood, He Himself testifies in these words: And this world does not see Me, but you shall see Me, because I live and you shall live, since I am in My Father, and you are in Me and I in you. That this natural union exists in us, He Himself thus testified: He that eateth My flesh and drinketh My blood dwelleth in Me and I in him. No one can be in Jesus, unless Jesus be in him; Jesus will take up the flesh of him
only who shall have received His. He had already previously taught the sacrament (or mystery) of this union in these words: As the living Father hath sent Me, and I live by the Father; and he that eateth My flesh, the same shall live by Me. Jesus, therefore, lives by the Father, and in the same manner in which He lives by the Father, in like manner also do we live by His flesh."

The words of St. Hilary are very remarkable. In the first place, he calls our attention to the fact that, in order to understand the meaning of the words of our divine Savior, we must not consider our own views, or notions, or theories, but we must seek to understand them in the sense which Jesus Christ attached to them. He that insists on under standing them in his own way without regard to Christ's real meaning, is both foolish and impious. This is conclusive against those who pretend to interpret Holy Scripture in accordance with their private judgment. What we should especially consider in the words of St. Hilary is the assertion that we cannot live by Christ, as Christ declares we should, in order to be saved (John 6: 58), unless we receive this life by partaking of His real flesh and blood. St. Hilary, moreover, shows that our divine Savior compares the union between those who receive His true flesh and blood, to the union existing between Jesus and His heavenly Father. How beautiful, how grand must such a union be! Without the Real Presence such an intimate union could not be effected by Holy Communion. In the next place, St. Hilary calls our attention to the fact that only those deny the Real Presence, who deny the Divinity of Jesus Christ. This is perfectly true, although some who deny the Real Presence, declare that they believe in Christ's Divinity; but notwithstanding their claim, they have a false conception of the mystery of the Incarnation, and consequently do not believe it in its full meaning. By the Incarnation the Son of God united Himself to our human nature; by Holy Communion He unites Himself to each individual recipient, and makes him an individual partaker of the benefits, which the Incarnation and Redemption bestowed on human nature, and gives a pledge to each individual recipent of a glorious resurrection and of eternal life in heaven, as He Himself declares: " He that eateth My flesh and drinketh My blood, hath ever lasting life, and I will raise him up on the last day " (John 6:55).

Tuesday, 24 October 2017

The Promise Of Our Divine Saviour to give to men His very Flesh to eat and His very Blood to drink. part 13.



III. St. 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 " (Is. 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 per sons insisted that, by virtue of said recommendation, they should be dispensed from all penance and be admitted at once to receiving Holy Communion.

St. 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 St. 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, St. 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 St. 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. Moreover, 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 St. Cyprian gives an explanation of the Lord's Prayer. In explaining the petition: " Give us this day our daily bread," St. 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 St. 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 St. Cyprian remind us of our late Holy Father Pius X who so strenuously recommends to us all daily Holy Communion ?

St. 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.

Tuesday, 12 September 2017

The Promise Of Our Divine Saviour to give to men His very Flesh to eat and His very Blood to drink. part 12.



II. 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 St. 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 enjoyest the bread and beverage of life (that is, Holy Communion), thou eatest and drinkest 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 shouldst 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 St. Paul de clares, ' 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.