What is Transubstantiation?

March 8, 2016

Transubstantiation is a doctrine of the Roman Catholic Church. The Catechism of the Catholic Church (CCC) defines this doctrine in Section 1376:

The Council of Trent (AD 1545-1563) summarizes the Catholic faith by declaring: “Because Christ our Redeemer said that it was truly his body that he was offering under the species of bread, it has always been the conviction of the Church of God, and this holy Council now declares again, that by the consecration of the bread and wine there takes place a change of the whole substance of the bread into the substance of the body of Christ our Lord and other whole substance of the wine into the substance of his blood. This change the holy Catholic Church has fittingly and properly called transubstantiation.”

St. John Chrysostom declares, “It is not man that causes the things offered to become the body and blood of Christ, but he who was crucified for us. The priest, in the role of the Christ, pronounces these words of consecration, but their power and grace are God’s. This is my body, he says. This word transforms the things offered.”

St. Ambrose says about this conversion: “Be convinced that this is not what nature has formed, but what the blessing has consecrated. The power of the blessing prevails of that of nature, because by the blessing, nature itself is changed.”

The Roman Catholic Church teaches that once an ordained priest blesses the bread of the Lord’s Supper, it is transformed into the actual flesh of Christ (though it retains the appearance, odour and taste of bread), and when he blesses the wine, it is transformed into the actual blood of Christ (though it retains the appearance, odour and taste of wine).

Biblical roots

There are some Scriptures that, if interpreted strictly literally, would lead to the “real presence” of Christ in the bread and wine. Examples are John 6:32-58, Matthew 26:26, Luke 22:17-23 and 1 Corinthians 11:24-25.

The passage pointed to most frequently is John 6:32-58, and especially verses 53 to 57: “Jesus said to them, ‘I tell you the truth, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink His blood, you have no life in you. Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life … For my flesh is real food and my blood is real drink. Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood remains in me, and I in him … So the one who feeds on me will live because of me.’”

Teaching spiritual truth

Roman Catholics interpret this passage literally and apply its message to the Lord’s Supper, which they title “Eucharist” or “Mass.” Those who reject the idea of transubstantiation interpret Jesus’ words in John 6:53-57 figuratively or symbolically. How can we know which interpretation is correct? Thankfully, Jesus made it exceedingly obvious what he meant. In John 6:63 he declares, “The Spirit gives life; the flesh counts for nothing. The words I have spoken to you are spirit and they are life.” Jesus specifically stated that his words are “spirit.”

Jesus was using physical concepts, eating and drinking, to teach spiritual truth. Just as consuming physical food and drink sustains our physical bodies, so are our spiritual lives saved and built up by spiritually receiving him, by grace and through faith. Eating Jesus’ flesh and drinking his blood are symbols of fully and completely receiving him in our lives.

The Eucharistic presence of Christ begins at the moment of the consecration and endures as long as the Eucharistic species subsist. Christ is present whole and entire in each of the species, and whole and entire in each of their parts, in such a way that the breaking of the bread does not divide Christ.

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Jesus is born!

December 24, 2015

My Dear Friends,

MERRY CHRISTMAS to you all! To all our visitors for this Christmas season, thank you so much for joining our community in prayer to celebrate the birthday of Our Lord. For our parishioners: thank you for making Little Flower your family, not just a Church to go to, but a family to pray with. Happy and Holy Christmas to you all.

Jesus is born!!!

Have you read the news today – the “good news” of Jesus Christ, the Son of God and son of Mary who was born for us and for our salvation? The word gospel literally means good news! Why was it necessary for the Word of God to become flesh? We needed a saviour who could reconcile us with God. The eternal Word became flesh for us so he could offer his life as an atoning sacrifice for the sins of the world through the shedding of his blood on the cross. The Word became flesh to show us the infinite love and tender mercy of God for us sinners.

God wants to fill our hearts anew with joy and gratitude for the greatest gift he could possibly give us – his beloved Son, Jesus. What can we give thanks for in this great feast of the Incarnation? We can praise and thank God our Father for the fact that the Son of God freely and joyfully assumed a human nature in order to accomplish our salvation in it. The joy of Christmas is not for a day or a season. It is an eternal joy, a joy that no one can take from us because it is the joy of Jesus Christ himself made present in our hearts through the Holy Spirit who dwells within us (see Romans 5:2-5). The Lord gives us a supernatural joy which no pain nor sorrow can diminish, and which neither life nor death can take away.

Christmas is the celebration of the presence of God among us in a way that we can experience his presence, as one of us. His name is Emmanuel, a name that means God is with his people. He is with us, right here, right now, and forever. He is not a spiritual entity hidden in the great unknown of infinity. He has become the human being with whom we can establish a divine relationship. Mankind needed the physical presence of his love to return to his life. We each need the presence of his love to celebrate his life within us. Christmas is the celebration of the presence of God as one of us. The miracle of Christmas is the infinite depth of God’s love for each of us.

He loves us with an unconditional love.

He forgives us.

He is with us.

“And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us.” And we have seen His glory, the glory of the only Son of the Father. And we still experience his glory, his presence and his love. And God speaks to us today not with words, but with the Word. He speaks with the gift of his Son and says to each of us, “I love you.”

MERRY CHRISTMAS and a grace filled NEW YEAR to all.

The Meaning of Advent Candles

December 4, 2015

What do the candles in our Advent wreath mean?

The Advent wreath, four candles on a wreath of evergreen, is shaped in a perfect circle to symbolize the eternity of God. In some churches, four purple candles, one for each week in Advent, are used with one larger white candle in the middle as the Christ candle. Other churches prefer three purple or blue candles with one candle being rose or pink, to represent joy.

While the Advent wreath with its four candles did bring light to churches, it was not to illuminate the interior as much as to symbolize the coming of Christ. The Advent wreath began in the time of the Protestant reformer Martin Luther.

During each Sunday of the Advent season, we focus on one of the four virtues Jesus brings us: Hope, Love, Joy and Peace. Others consider the lighting of the first candle to symbolize expectation, while the second symbolizes hope, the third joy and the fourth purity. The Christ candle is lit on Christmas Eve or Christmas Day, reminding Christians that Jesus is the light of the world. The order and exact wording vary among churches, but the wreath continually reminds us of whom we are called to be as followers of Jesus.

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