Thursday, June 05, 2008
Digesting the Truth
Whatever I said about my garden last year and what a disaster it was has been eclipsed by this year's gardening holocaust. We no longer have a garden. We have a very small vacant lot. Plants that I've managed to keep going for years? Thanks for asking. Dead sticks. Nothing but morning glory and three foot tall weeds. The morning glory pulled down the back trellis, which is our only privacy on the back wall. Cracked it in half and pulled it down. Hello, world! St. Francis fell over and broke his bird feeding bowl.
...buried under the morning glory, having not been watered at all, receiving no light of any kind, two little double begonias have leaves, two dwarf citrus trees have leaves. After spending 12 hours pulling weeds over a three day period, the calla lilies are poking through. Even after all of this neglect, I have been forgiven.
Ring a bell?
My mother asked me the other day what happens to the Real Presence once we consume the Host. Once we receive God, doesn't He abide in us permanently? Why, then, do we need frequent reception of Communion? I told her that it's for our sakes that we are encouraged to receive frequently because we are constantly turning away from Him with sin. She kept pressing me about what exactly happens to the Presence. I didn't have a satisfactory answer for her, but I'm guessing you would! Thanks, Sister!
Honestly, no one has ever asked me that before. It's surprising to me, now that I think about it, as it is a really logical question, unlike the grass whistle question.
I never thought about it. We are taught from the cradle to be just so tickled pick that we are actually receiving Jesus and not some sad little symbolic remembrance of a private party Jesus had two thousand years ago. Isn't that enough? Why worry about anything after that?
It turns out your mother has reason to ponder this. As I never thought about it, I had no answer. Usually when I don't know an answer, I love to make an educated guess. Then I go find out the answer and see if I was right. On EWTN there are two priests who answer questions over the internet and I like to play along, as though it's a game show. My own private Jeopardy. I like to test my educated guesses that way.
Whew! was I off on this one!
I would have said that after you take the Real Presence into your stomach, you keep the Real Presence in your heart. (Not your literal heart, the organ, even though the Real Presence has gone into your literal stomach, the organ.) Anyhow, it sounds nice, doesn't it?
Of course then I'm stuck on part two of your mother's question: why go back?
And I would have said: Because you can.
Or: Booster shot.
At any rate, I decided not to take a chance on this one and flummox you or your mother any further with flowery Jesus talk, so I went to ask a priest. I figured the priest, who brings us the Real Presence each Mass as surely as Walter Cronkite delivered the news, would have the definitive answer.
Father said that the Jesus only stays as long as it takes for your stomach acid to digest the bread and wine (which isn't really bread anymore, but it is as far as your stomach is concerned) and then He leaves.
I wasn't pleased with that answer, I can tell you, because I did not like the idea of stomach acid being involved with how long the Lord stays with me. I wanted to ask Father if that was his own opinion, something he had surmised on his own, or what, but I didn't have the nerve. He didn't seem to have any doubt about this, though, so I figured it must be in the Catechism of the Catholic Church some place.
And sure enough, here it is: 1377 The Eucharistic presence of Christ begins at the moment of the consecration and endures as long as the Eucharistic species subsist. Christ is present whole and entire in each of the species and whole and entire in each of their parts, in such a way that the breaking of the bread does not divide Christ.
Which means that when the species (the bread and wine) cease to exist (on account of your stomach acid), Jesus leaves.
Who knew? The Catholic Church, Sister, you old fool. The Church has an answer for everything. Unless it's a Sacred Mystery. If it's a Sacred Mystery you can just let it go. Sacred Mystery=Catholic for "just let it go".
I think I'll go make a grass whistle.