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What Is The Eucharist?

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 Contents - Aug 2006AD2000 August 2006 - Buy a copy now
Editorial: Falling Mass attendances and liturgical reform - Michael Gilchrist
Liturgy: The new Missal translation: Archbishop Hart's progress report - Michael Gilchrist
News: The Church Around the World
Music: Benedict XVI seeks a greater sense of the sacred in church music
Canberra-Goulburn: Archbishop Coleridge: Benedict's first Australian appointment - Anh Nguyen
Priesthood: Promoting vocations in the Melbourne Archdiocese - Fr Anthony Denton
Victoria-Tasmania: Continued growth in vocations at Melbourne's Corpus Christi seminary - Joan Clements
Teen STAR: Sex education for young adults: a pro-life approach - Jacinta Cummins
Does Wollongong's Catholic Education Office endorse dissent? - AD2000 Report
What makes a Catholic university 'Catholic' - Father John Coughlin
Scripture and Tradition: sources of divine revelation - Fr G.H. Duggan SM
DIY Mass: Redemptionis Sacramentum revisited - Fr Martin Durham
Letters: Tasmania - Justin Kearney
Letters: East Timor contraception pressure - Imelda Aslett
Letters: Pregnancy Support - Robert Bom
Letters: What Is The Eucharist? - Rosanna Sherman
Letters: Intelligent design? - Peter Barnes
Letters: Funeral eulogies - Greg O'Regan
Letters: Receive EWTN around Sydney by satellite for $495 - Ernesta Sculli
Melbourne: Caroline Chisholm Catholic library - Barbara Shea
Books: In This Vale of Tears (Winterbine Trilogy), by Gerard Charles Wilson - Michael Gilchrist (reviewer)
Books: Land of Carmel, by Elizabeth Ruth Obbard - Jacinta Cummins (reviewer)
Books: SEEDS OF LIFE: Early Christian Martyrs - Julia Bakowski (reviewer)
Books: SNOW ON THE HEDGES: A Life of Cuthbert Mayne, by Helen Whelan - Michael E. Daniel (reviewer)
Books: Stimulating reading from Freedom Publishing
Reflection: The importance of early baptism - John Young

The Compendium of the Catechism of the Catholic Church begins its chapter on the Sacrament of the Eucharist with the question, "What is the Eucharist?", and answers, "The Eucharist is the very sacrifice of the Body and Blood of the Lord Jesus which he instituted to perpetuate the sacrifice of the cross throughout the ages until his return in glory ..." (271).

When questioned on the doctrine of the Eucharist taught at school, we were given this explanation by our children's teacher: "I believe that Christ is present under the form of the consecrated bread and wine. I believe that Christ is also present in the Word, in the priest and in the gathered community." All the same "presence" presumably.

However, it was a paper given to us on the Eucharist used in an adult education program in 1997 that really spelt out the "new" theology for us. It said, "We were taught about this before we could really understand it and we were taught by pious teachers who themselves had developed some strange beliefs about the bread and Christ's presence and how all this worked. It's understandable that strange things would emerge, this belief is so central to our faith. We got this all mixed up. The Mass, we were made to understand, was the unbloody re-enactment of Christ's bloody sacrifice on the cross and this came from a too literal interpretation of what Jesus meant when he said, 'This is my body'." There was more in a similar vein.

We received numerous answers to our inquiries on this paper, including this one: "I have carefully read the pages you sent, and because there is so much of real value in what the author is saying, I am surprised that you seem to overlook all that and notice instead only the point that seems to alarm you." Alarmed indeed.

And another, briefly: "I must instead put before you the possibility that the intentions of the writers are positive rather than negative."

It seems, the problem was with us: we had "developed some strange beliefs" so we needed to "reflect on the fact that those who came to Jesus only to find fault never became his disciples." In the final analysis we will not be judged on what "they" taught, but whether we have faithfully transmitted to our children what the Church has always taught.

So we gathered all the papers together and sent them to John Paul II for his information because, "To those who believe, no explanation is necessary, to those who don't, none is possible."

Taranaki, New Zealand

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Reprinted from AD2000 Vol 19 No 7 (August 2006), p. 15

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