Wednesday, December 19, 2007

On the Eucharist

Here is yet another post about my sojourns into Catholic Answers Forum land. A rather long thread has erupted wherein the initial poster makes the claim that The Eucharist is NOT the body of Christ.

Here is my explanation, a few pages in. The thread is now over 40 pages, and likely to get longer--the arguments have mostly been small blow for blow things, rather than lengthy discourses, so it's moving quickly.

Perhaps an analogy would be helpful. Let us say that we have put a lamp in a house with many windows. As we pass by the windows, we see the light. As we pass by the walls, we do not see the light, but it is continually burning. Therefore, we do not relight the lamp each time we pass by a window; the lamp is burning independently of our passing by.

To translate: the Sacrifice of Calvary is the lamp, it is an eternal, timeless reality. When we attend the Holy Mass, we are passing by a window to Calvary--that is, the light of Christ's sacrifice shines down through the ages and is made present every time the Mass is said. No matter how many windows we pass by, there is still one light continually shining, just as every Mass is truly one sharing in that continually merit-bearing sacrifice.

Admittedly, this analogy is imperfect, as Christ's sacrifice on the Cross does not just bear us merit when we attend Mass--indeed, it touches every part of our lives. But it is when we are at Mass that we are placed at the foot of the Cross. As Archbishop Fulton Sheen of blessed memory said in the introduction to the book "This Is the Mass:"

If the Blessed Mother and St. John at the foot of the Cross had closed their eyes when Our Lord was offering himself for the sins of the world, the spiritual effects on them would have been no different from those which we may receive as we assist at the Sacrifice of the Mass. But if their eyes were open, there would have been this difference: they would have seen the sacrifice offered in bloodshed with blood pouring from gaping holes in hands and feet and side. In the Mass, we see it performed without bloodshed.
So to sum up, the Mass is not a re-sacrificing of Christ anymore than walking past our analogy house's windows is a re-lighting of the lamp therein. We cannot re-sacrifice Christ, as he offered his sacrifice once and for all. But we can still share in the salvific merit of that sacrifice every time we go to Mass.


Anonymous said...

I'm writing an article for Catholic World Report magazine on the three Benedictine colleges profiled in the recently released Newman Guide to Choosing a Catholic College. While I have already been in contact with administrators and faculty members, I also wanted to seek student perspectives for the article, and thus seek your comments on the following questions:

1. In your judgment, how does the academic atmosphere and student life at Belmont Abbey Collegge differ from that of other colleges and universities -- and particularly Catholic colleges and universities -- with which you may be familiar?

2. Has your time at the college made you more appreciative of the teachings of the Church, and if so, how?

3. How has your time at the college affected your spiritual life?

You (and any other Belmont Abbey College students) are welcome to offer comments for the article and send them to ziegleriti at

I regret deeply that I am under a tight deadline and request that any comments be sent by Sunday, December 23.

With much gratitude for any assistance you may be able to offer.

Respectfully yours,

Jeff Ziegler

P.S. For your reference, some previous articles:


ACEGC said...

Sure, I'd love to help. If you could give me an email address to send the answers to, I'd be more than happy to.

Mark in Ohio said...

I more or less "stumbled" on to your blog, and I wanted to take a moment to encourage you to keep up the good, thoughtful, work. I know you must be busy with your studies, but I hope you will find more time to post in the future. I am sure that your reverent and well-informed reflections will benefit many of us.
In the meantime, have a Merry and most Blessed Christmas.