QUESTIONS & ANSWERS
Is the Eucharist symbolic of Jesus' Body and Blood?
No! The Catholic Church teaches that the Eucharist IS the Body and Blood of Jesus and not merely a symbol. In John's Gospel Chapter 6, Jesus says: "I am the Bread of Life... If anyone eat of this bread he shall live forever; and the bread that I will give is my flesh for the life of the world."
When the disciples protested over this, Jesus didn't say: "You dunderheads...I was speaking symbolically!". Instead, Jesus said: "Unless you eat the flesh of the Son of man, and drink his blood, you shall not have life in you...For my flesh is food indeed, and my blood drink indeed..."
Then at the last supper, Jesus proclaimed of the bread and wine: "This is my body" and "This is my blood".
The rest of the New Testament (including Paul's letters) testify that this was a belief of the early Church. Early pagan critics of the Church believed that the Christians believed this, too. Historical non-Christian writings from the first and second century accuse Christians of cannabilism.
The belief that the bread and wine became the body and blood of Jesus was later described by Thomas Aquinas as a process where the appearance of the bread of wine stay the same, but their true substance is changed.
Protestant critics of Catholicism invented a mocking term for this belief and called it "Hocus Pocus", which is a play on the words of the consecration of the bread and wine said during the Latin Mass.
But we affirm with all our heart (as the apostles and early Church Fathers did) that this truly is the body and blood of Jesus!
- Deacon George Kozak (6/01)