Seeing With The Eyes Of Our Heart

One of my favorite contemporary Christian songs is called “Open the Eyes of My Heart”. The refrain of the song goes like this:

“Open the eyes of my heart, Lord, open the eyes of my heart. I want to see you. I want to see you.”

Last weekend Father Steven gave a very powerful homily on the consecration. He used two words throughout his homily: epiclesis, which is the calling down of the Holy Spirit upon the gifts of bread and wine, and consecration, when the priest speaks the words of Christ over the bread and wine.

Following Mass, both Father and I had a number of people come up and ask why he didn’t talk about transubstantiation. Father responded that there is only so much one can cover in a homily, and that perhaps Deacon Tim would write an article on this subject. And here it is!

Before talking about transubstantiation, a term that refers to a change in the very substance of the bread and wine, I would like to affirm a truth of our Catholic faith that is not universally understood by every Catholic. That truth is that after the priest calls down the Holy Spirit on the gifts of bread and wine, and after the words of the consecration prayer are spoken, the elements of bread and wine change in their substance and have become the Body and Blood of Christ. As Catholics, we are called to believe what the Church teaches, that the consecrated bread and wine is not merely a symbol of the Body and Blood of Christ, but in fact, is the Body and Blood of Christ. The Church goes even further, to say that it is not just Jesus in His very Body and Blood, but in His Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity. It is the “Total Christ” that we receive at every Eucharist.

There is an act of faith that each of us must make as we observe the actions of the priest at the altar and hear the words of the consecration prayer. Our eyes tell us that we are seeing a wafer of bread and a cup of wine. Our mind will tell us that nothing has changed in these elements, because we observed nothing different from the point they were brought to the altar to the point when the consecration prayer is completed. It is correct that there is no physical change in the appearance of the bread and wine. There is, however, a change in the substance (the what it IS) that has occurred. This is where we must suspend our mental faculties and ask the Lord to open the eyes of our hearts. It is an act of faith that we make in believing that despite what our senses tell us, this is not just a wafer of bread or a cup of wine. It is Jesus!

When we speak of the transubstantiation, we are speaking about the effect of the calling down of the Holy Spirit and the priest praying the prayer of consecration over the bread and wine. There is a change (trans) in the substance by which it is no longer bread and wine. The Catholic belief in transubstantiation is one of the major points of doctrinal departure from our Protestant brothers and sisters, who believe that the bread and wine is only a symbol of the Body and Blood of Christ.

So, why do we believe in the miracle of transubstantiation?

In order to answer this question, we need to go back to the upper room on the night of the Last Supper, as Jesus gathered around the table with his disciples. We read that he took the bread, blessed it, broke it, and then gave it to his disciples. Jesus said, “Take and eat. This is my Body.” As he passed the cup, he said, “Take and drink. This is my blood.” The language Jesus used is very important. Jesus could have said, “Take and eat. This is a symbol of my Body and Blood.” In fact, Jesus said, “This is my Body; this is my Blood.”

There is a chasm that we must cross each time we come to Mass. We cross from the world of things we can see, taste, and touch into a realm of the mystical and spiritual realities of our faith. Let us pray at every Mass that Jesus will open the eyes of our hearts, so that we may see Him in the Eucharist that we receive.

God bless you!
Deacon Tim



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