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.