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PRAY | Sacramental veil

Theology of the Real Presence lays the foundation for our understanding, appreciation for eucharistic devotion

In understanding the Real Presence of Jesus in the Eucharist, Lawrence Feingold poses the question:

“Why would Jesus want to be with me, in this kind of way?”

This is how Feingold approaches teaching about the Eucharist at Kenrick-Glennon Seminary, where he is an associate professor of philosophy and theology.

The answer lies in the Incarnation. “I think that helps us to understand what (we) have to believe,” Feingold said. “God wants to bring us to Himself. So what does He do? He comes down to us (on Earth).” That’s the logic of the Incarnation — to bring us to share in His life, He first shares in ours through the humanity of Jesus.

So why is He present in the Eucharist?

• Jesus left the world with His Ascension into heaven. He told His apostles that it’s best for them if He leaves this Earth as a part of God’s plan of salvation, but they didn’t understand that reasoning.

• Jesus offers His presence in a better way than if He had stayed so that they could see Him, Feingold noted. The way He solves it is to be present in the Eucharist, which continues the Incarnation until the end of time. “Jesus has a better way to be with us now, and that is to be with us wherever there are Catholics with a tabernacle,” Feingold said.

• The whole of Jesus — Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity — is present in the Eucharist. Nothing is missing, but all of it is totally veiled by the appearances of bread and wine, Feingold said. This is the definition of transubstantiation — there has been a change in the substance, meaning bread and wine become Jesus’ Body and Blood. But the visual appearance and properties of bread and wine don’t change.

• Although we cannot see Him in human form, His presence in the Eucharist is described as being under a sacramental veil — through the appearance of bread and wine. “It means He’s approachable,” Feingold said. “We can receive Him in our bodies.”

• The ultimate goal of the Eucharist is to build Jesus’ Church, Feingold said. From many grains, one loaf of bread is made, and from many grapes, one wine is made. Similarly, many members of the Church make one Body of Christ, united through the Eucharist.

Reading resources

“The Eucharist: Mystery of Presence, Sacrifice and Communion,” by Lawrence Feingold

“The History of Eucharistic Adoration,” By Father John A. Hardon, SJ

Lawrence Feingold’s series of talks on the Eucharist for the Association of Hebrew Catholics: www.hebrewcatholic.net/studies/mystery-of-israel-church/

USCCB on the Eucharist: bit.ly/2Ol9XtZ

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