June 14, 2009


Fr. Rene Butler

Catholics are sometimes disturbed by the claim that in receiving the Body of Christ they can be called cannibals. The reasoning goes: Catholics (and Orthodox, by the way) take literally the words of Jesus, “This is my body,” and “Unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you do not have life within you,” so they must be cannibals when they take Communion.

Such reasoning is based on the failure to understand the sacraments. Jesus is present in all the sacraments. This sacramental presence is real, and not merely symbolic; but it is likewise not merely materialistic.

For example, when the minister of Baptism pours water and says the words, Jesus is really – not symbolically, not materialistically, but sacramentally – present, cleansing the soul of all sin. The Eucharist is different in that Jesus is present in the bread and wine, whereas we do not say that He is present in the baptismal water. How can this be? Over 900 years ago theologians came up with the best explanation to date: that which makes bread bread or wine wine, its substance, becomes, really, that which is Jesus Christ. This is the Church doctrine of Transubstantiation. It is theological and academic in form, but it speaks to the heart as well.

Cannibals materially eat human flesh. We do not. We receive the Body and Blood of Christ really and truly – sacramentally.

1 comment :

Carol said...

I liked this one, cannibals ha! I had not heard that but what is new about being misunderstood. You explained it perfect. God Bless