Bread of Life

 this is the bread that comes down from heaven so that one may eat it and not die. (john 6: 50)
The miracle of God’s physical presence to us at every Mass is the truest testament to Christ’s love for us and His desire for each of us to have a personal relationship with Him. Jesus Christ celebrated the first Mass with His disciples at the Last Supper, the night before He died. He commanded His disciples, “Do this in remembrance of me” (Luke 22:19). The celebration of the Mass then became the main form of worship in the early Church, as a reenactment of the Last Supper, as Christ had commanded. Each and every Mass since commemorates Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross through the Holy Eucharist. Because the Mass “re-presents” (makes present) the sacrifice on Calvary, Catholics all around the world join together to be made present in Christ’s timeless sacrifice for our sins. There is something fascinating about continuing to celebrate the same Mass—instituted by Christ and practiced by the early Church—with the whole community of Catholics around the world…and in heaven.


Why does the Catholic Church believe Christ is really present in the Eucharist?
The Catholic doctrine of the Real Presence is the belief that Jesus Christ is literally, not symbolically, present in the Holy Eucharist—body, blood, soul and divinity. Catholics believe in the Real Presence of Christ in the Eucharist because Jesus tells us this is true in the Bible:

“I am the bread of life. Your fathers ate the manna in the wilderness, and they died. This is the bread which comes down from heaven, that a man may eat of it and not die. I am the living bread which came down from heaven; if any one eats of this bread, he will live for ever; and the bread which I shall give for the life of the world is my flesh." The Jews then disputed among themselves, saying, ‘How can this man give us his flesh to eat?’ So Jesus said to them,

"Truly, truly, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of man and drink his blood, you have no life in you; he who eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day. For my flesh is food indeed, and my blood is drink indeed. He who eats my flesh and drinks my blood abides in me, and I in him” - John 6:48-56
Furthermore, the early Church Fathers either imply or directly state that the bread and wine offered in the celebration of the Lord’s Supper is really the body and blood of Jesus Christ. In other words, the doctrine of the Real Presence that Catholics believe today was believed by the earliest Christians 2,000 years ago!

This miracle of God’s physical presence to us at every Mass is the truest testament to Christ’s love for us and His desire for each of us to have a personal relationship with Him.

Wednesday, July 5, 2017


“Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.” (1 Thes. 5:18

Saint Ignatius of Loyola makes the following powerful and evocative statements about the harm lack of gratitude causes in the spiritual life. He says:

“It seems to me, in light of the divine Goodness, …that ingratitude is one of the things most worthy of detestation before our Creator and Lord, and before all creatures capable of divine and everlasting glory, out of all the evil and sins which can be imagined.

For it is the failure to recognize the good things, the graces, and the gifts received. As such, it is the cause, beginning, and origin of all evil and sins” (cited and referenced in Consoling the Heart of Jesus, page 421).

Another Saint and Doctor of the Church, Therese of Lisieux, has this to say about gratitude:

“What most attracts God’s grace is gratitude, because if we thank him for a gift, he is touched and hastens to give us ten more, and if we thank him again with the same enthusiasm, what an incalculable multiplication of graces! I have experienced this; try it yourself and you will see! My gratitude for everything he gives me is limitless, and I prove it to him in a thousand ways” (The Way of Trust And Love, p.111)
As Father Timothy Gallagher explains, Saint Ignatius of Loyola’s basic attitude toward God was one of deep gratitude. “For Ignatius then, the consciously chosen remembrance of God’s gifts is not just a moment in a spiritual day or simply a devout practice…. It is the heart itself of the way he understands God and relates to God.

The only God he ever knew from the first moment of his conversion was the God who constantly bestows gifts of grace upon us, revealing through these gifts the infinite love with which we are loved” (The Examen Prayer, p.58).

Here is a beautiful quote from one of Saint Ignatius’ early disciples (Father Diego Lainez, S.J.) which touches upon Saint Ignatius’ profound gratitude for God and His creation:

“At night Ignatius would go up on the roof of the house, with the sky there up above him. He would sit quietly, absolutely quietly. He would take his hat off and look up for a long time at the sky.

Then he would fall to his knees, bowing profoundly to God….And the tears would begin to flow down his cheeks like a stream….” (The Jesuit Guide to (Almost) Everything, page 17).

Saint Ignatius (pictured below), truly one of the great masters of the spiritual life, recommends that we end each day with a prayer of thanksgiving to God in gratitude for the gifts and graces we have received from God throughout the day. This can be done in a very simple, two-step process (perhaps as you are lying in bed to go to sleep):

1. Close your eyes and become aware of the love with which God is looking upon you. Do this for a minute or two to place yourself in the presence of God (Gallagher, p.25).

2. In your mind review your day and note the gifts and graces God has given you, and give profound thanks to God for them (Gallagher, p. 25).

Here then, with this “Examen” prayer, you are ending your day on a very profound note of gratitude to God. Father Jacques Philippe says this about gratitude: “Here we touch on… one of the secrets of the spiritual life that also is one of the laws of happiness.

The more we cultivate gratitude and thanksgiving, the more open our hearts are to God’s action, so that we can receive life from God and be transformed and enlarged. By contrast, if we bury ourselves in discontent, permanent dissatisfaction, then our hearts close themselves insidiously against life, against

Tom Mulcahy, M.A.

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