Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Why it is significant that the Eucharist could not have been given before the Incarnation


Solemnity of Corpus Christi
As we prepare to celebrate the Solemnity of the Body and Blood of Christ, we do well to consider (in a number of shorter posts, and perhaps one longer) various points relative to the Blessed Sacrament.
We direct our reader to a number of previous posts on the Most Holy Eucharist and the Mass:
Why the bread of life discourse cannot be a metaphor [here]
Christ’s body in heaven and in the Eucharist [here]
The whole Christ is present under both species, but one is called the Body and the other the Blood [here]
Is the Host the flesh of the Sacred Heart? [here]
Does the real presence remain after a Eucharistic miracle? [here]
What makes the Mass to be a sacrifice? [here]
And now we turn to our current question – Could the Eucharist have been given before the Incarnation? And why is this question significant?

Could the Eucharist have come before the Incarnation?
It is obvious that the Eucharist could not have been given before the Incarnation.
Firstly, because the Eucharist is a sacrament of the New Law, but the New Law was not instituted until the Incarnation of Christ.
However, there is a second reason which sheds great light upon the mystery of the Eucharistic Presence of Christ. The Blessed Sacrament could not have been given before the Incarnation, because this Sacrament is of the Body and the Blood of Christ. But, before the Incarnation, Jesus’ body and blood were not in existence. Thus, there could be no sacrament of that which did not yet exist in its proper species.
How the Sacramental Species relies on the Proper Species
The Body of Christ which is present in the Sacrament is the same body which was born of the Blessed Virgin and which now is in heaven. There is no other body which may be present in this sacrament than that which is the very true body of Christ Jesus our Savior.
This Sacred Body, present in the Sacrament, must be the Lord’s body which is truly in existence now. Hence, the Body present in the Sacrament is the very sacred flesh which was torn apart in the scourging, but it is not currently suffering the scourging (just as the body of Christ in heaven is not now undergoing the scourging).
The Real Presence of Christ in the Sacrament is determined by the presence of Christ as he exists at the moment in his proper species or natural body. Hence, because Christ’s body is now glorified in heaven, the Sacred Body present in the Mass is likewise glorified.
And, because, before the Incarnation there was no proper species or natural body of Christ, neither could there have yet been a Sacramental Presence in the Holy Eucharist.
Heaven and the Eucharist
Among many other conclusions which we could draw (some of which are found in the above mentioned articles, on How the whole Christ is present under both species [here]), we will focus our attention on one only: The Sacred Body present on the altar and in the tabernacle is the very body which now receives glory and worship and honor in heaven by angels and saints.
Christ present in the Host is not now dying, nor suffering, nor preaching, nor growing, etc. Rather, this Sacred Body is the one body in heaven which is now glorified. As there is only one Christ and he has only one body, then we must assert that the Presence in the Eucharist must be accomplishing that self-same work which he performs in heavenly glory: To intercede for us.
This is what the Living Jesus is doing as he is present in all the tabernacles through the world: praying for us.
The Body we worship at Mass is the very same body which is now worshiped by the angels and saints. Therefore, we must not draw too strong a distinction between heaven and earth – for this Sacred Body sacramentally present upon the altar is yet wholly that glorified body present in heaven.

11 comments:

Anonymous said...

Was the Eucharist at the Last Supper Christ's glorified body? Is not God more powerful than time?

Jordan

Marko Ivančičević said...

Simple yet very edifying.
Thank you Father. :)

Father Ryan Erlenbush said...

Jordan,
Indeed, God is outside of time, yet the Sacraments are very much within time. Further, we men are bound by time.
Thus, the Sacraments are very connected with what is really occurring now in time ... and it is quite significant that Jesus is now glorified.

To answer your question - No, it is quite certain that the Eucharist at the Last Supper was not Christ's glorified body, but rather was his body as it was at the moment (non-glorified, living, united with his blood).

Hope that helps! Peace! +

Clinton R. said...

Yes, Father, I second Marko's sentiment: This is clearly stated, which is the beauty of Thomism. Your blog is so very much needed in our days of sketchy and obtuse theology.

Anonymous said...

Father, from what I've always understood, Christ 'entered' into His sacrifice on Calvary at the Last Supper to make the bread and wine His true Body and Blood, Soul and Divinity. Why would He offer a lesser form of Himself to His Apostles?

-Nick

DK said...

Thank you, Father, for your answer to Jordan about the Last Supper. I had thought that to be the case, but had never actually seen it stated before.

Father Ryan Erlenbush said...

Nick,
I guess I don't quite get the question ... what do you mean by "a lesser form of himself"? ... it is the same Jesus offered the apostles at the Last Supper as is offered us today ... under the same sacramental form ...

Anonymous said...

Father: I understand, so what you're saying is that although Christ had yet to be glorified with the Father, His presence in the Eucharist is still fully complete; same then at the Last Supper as it is now? Side question: Was I correct in my description of HOW Christ consecrated the bread and wine at the Last Supper while still being present in His flesh and in temporal time and space? (by supernaturally entering into His sacrifice of the following day). Thank you for your patience Father! : )

_Nick

Father Ryan Erlenbush said...

Nick,
I think I would be more inclined to say that he entered "sacramentally" into his Passion at the Last Supper...

Does that seem agreeable?

Father Ryan Erlenbush said...

Marko,
I guess that, by annihilation, I mean that something becomes nothing.
Whereas by, transubstantiation, I mean that something becomes something else (without first becoming nothing)...

Hope that makes sense! :-)

Anonymous said...

Father: Yes that would make sense I guess..is that also how you would say that we re-enter the same sacrifice at Calvary at every Mass; Sacramentally?

_Nick

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