How to explain the Eucharist to a sceptical teenager


#1

In my Studies of Religion class today, a girl aged about 16 asked me this question as we were discussing the rituals and ceremonies of different religions (the Eucharist, in this case):

"So, the bread and wine becomes the body and blood of Jesus, right?"
I said, "Yes, that's the teaching of the Church."
She said, "So, Jesus is sitting there in every church in the world, in the form of bread and wine?"
I said, "Yes. At the Mass, certainly. If there is consecrated bread in the Tabernacle, then Jesus is still there, even if the Mass is over. Some people worship the Eucharist if they know it's there."
She said, "But isn't Jesus everywhere? Why would He be turning himself into bread and wine all the time?"
Struggling now, I said, "It's Christ's way of uniting the Church. You can't get closer to Christ than eating his flesh, can you? It's a way of remembering his sacrifice and also a real, physical way of uniting with him. And you can't think of it like real flesh--we're not taking a chunk out of Jesus's leg. It's not flesh like a piece of chicken. This is a special, almost mystical flesh and blood, unlike anything in the real world. It's miraculous flesh and blood. He could have done it any other way, but this is the way He chose to be with us. Yes, he's spiritually everywhere, and you can pray to him and call on him, but this is his physical presence. You can't touch His spirit, because it's, you know, a spirit, but you can be in physical contact with Jesus. It's a special meal which he invites his followers to, just like those apostles all those years ago. We can't be at the last supper, obviously, but in the Eucharist, we kind of are. We have just the same experience that the apostles had."

(That's the gist of it. Perhaps not verbatim. I've omitted "um", "ah" and "let's see now" which should be interspersed randomly throughout the explanation!)

The bell went soon after, and I've yet to find out if my explanation was good enough.

Anyway, how would you explain the Eucharist, in terms that a teenager could relate to? Also what, major holes are there in my explanation (considering my audience)?


#2

[quote="hansard, post:1, topic:315805"]
She said, "But isn't Jesus everywhere?

Anyway, how would you explain the Eucharist, in terms that a teenager could relate to? Also what, major holes are there in my explanation (considering my audience)?

[/quote]

I think you did a good job of it!

I would add:

  • the reason for Christ being present in the eucharist is to spiritually nourish us, when we consume it and so unite with him. This is why it is so necessary, despite God already being "everywhere".

  • when people query or mock the idea that God, our Father, is nourishing us with flesh and blood, I like to raise the legend of Pelicans, which pre-dates Christianity.

The legend stated that when food is scarce and they are raising young chicks, adult Pelicans peck at their own chests, in order to cause small wounds. They let the blood which flows from these wounds drop off their chests, and into the mouths of their chicks. They feed / nourish their children with their own blood

This is why you often see pictures of pelicans in catholic churches.

See here for more info: catholiceducation.org/articles/religion/re0682.html

I think when people first encounter the idea of transubstantiation, they can immediately write it off as creepy or nonsensical but without really thinking about it.

However, I think when they realise that the idea of a parent feeding the young with their own blood, to nourish them - just as God does with us - is a long standing and accepted concept, it puts things more in perspective. Nobody says pelicans are creepy!


#3

I would make the distinction between Jesus as God and Jesus as man. In the Eucharist he is present in his body, blood, soul, and divinity, but only his divine nature is omnipresent. As for why he would make himself completely present in the form of bread and wine? It is in order that we may have life within us. The ancient church in Carthage called the sacrament of Baptism simply salvation and the sacrament of the Eucharist simply Life. (I apologize if this post made no sense. I have been up all night, and I am only just going to bed.)


#4

[quote="GWright, post:2, topic:315805"]

The legend stated that when food is scarce and they are raising young chicks, adult Pelicans peck at their own chests, in order to cause small wounds. They let the blood which flows from these wounds drop off their chests, and into the mouths of their chicks. They feed / nourish their children with their own blood

This is why you often see pictures of pelicans in catholic churches.

However, I think when they realise that the idea of a parent feeding the young with their own blood, to nourish them - just as God does with us - is a long standing and accepted concept, it puts things more in perspective. Nobody says pelicans are creepy!

[/quote]

Wow, i have never heard this about pelicans before, thats a great analogy.


#5

See my reply below. Important. Linus


#6

Hansard.
This topic is discussed below on another thread. What I have written is what the Church teaches. Read it and the posts I have indicated. The main point to stress is that the whole Sacrament is a Miracle and a Mystery beyond our human understanding. Stress that what is received is the Whole living Christ as we will see Him in Heaven. And we receive Him in His glorified body not in His material, earthly matter. The difference is that His glorified body is " spiritual. " That is His physical body is not restricted by the material laws of the physical universe, He can pass right through walls, doors, etc and go where He wants simply by the thought.

His Presence wherever the consecrated species exists is a Miracle. It is a Necessary Miracle since we are dealing with the whole world where Mass is celebrated and where people are receiving simultaneously. This would not be possible without a Miracle of Christ's. If this Miracle did not take place, the consecration could only take place in one Mass at a time. This would mean that most people in the world whould never be abe to receive the Sacrament.

" Re: Problem with Transubstantiation


Attention all: This Sacrament is the Center of Our Lives as Catholics
Let's get it right!

As faithful Catholics we are to believe with a Catholic faith all that is contained in the Catechism of the Catholic Church. This is our sure and principle guide to the Truth of Christ as guaranteed by the Holy Spirit who guides the Magisterium to all Truth in matters of Faith and Morals. The Scriptures are our guide only as interpreted by the Magisterium of the Church. In seeking to understand the Mysteries of the Faith we depend on the Magisterium of the Church over all else.

The teaching on Transubstantiation is quite clear in the Catechism.

At the consecration. the substances of the bread and wine ( and their forms as St. Thomas teaches) ares changed into the Whole Christ, body, blood, human nature ( his human body and soul) and Divine nature in the one Person of Christ, the Second Person of the Trinity.

The accidents of bread and wine are present but inhering in no substance - not in the substance of Christ nor in the substance of the bread and wine which have been changed into the body and blood of Christ.That the accidents can be present without a subject is another Miracle, because accidents, except this instance, require a subject in which to inhere. But more Miracles are coming!!

Christ is not present in the accidents but behind the accidents. Or you may think of the accidents as a " veil " covering the Holy of Holies as in the Temple of Jerusalem before Christ's Crucifixion.

By defined teaching we also know that the Whole Christ is fully present in each particle of the bread or each drop of the wine which may be distributed and received bit by bit or drop by drop. We also know He is present in every consecrated host and cup at the same instant at any consecration occurring any where in the world at that moment and in each communicant throughout the world receiving at the same moment, or as He is reserved in every tabernacle throughout the world. These are obvious miracles. It is a Sacrament underscored by many miracles.

St. Thomas teaches what we mean by the Whole Christ and how He is present in even a single crumb or drop of the species. By the Whole Christ we mean His entire glorified body - limbs, parts and all bodily features and quantity as well. And these he explains are present " after the manner of the Sacrament. " This means His body is present in whatever manner is demanded by the type, dimensions and quantity of the species. But another factor may be at work as well and that is the Impassibility of Christs' glorified body.

Christ is Present in the Sacrament in the same Glorified body He has at the Right Hand of the Father. It is a body impassible, that is it is not subject to the limitations of a body in our physical, limited, material world. As proven by Christ's Resurrection and His presence among the Apostles the forty days before his Ascension, His body was not subject to the restrictions of physical matter existing in our material, limited world, as he could pass through walls and doors, eat or not eat, drink or not drink as he pleased. This Impassibility my account for some or all of the miracles of Christ's Real Presence after the consecration.

It is important to keep all these things in mind when discussing the Eucharist. "

Also read posts 36, 51, 112, 113 in the same thread.

Linus


#7

This is a very deceptive statement. Yes, the Divine Nature of the Second Person is omnipresent. But in the Eucharist the two natures are present in the Divinity of the Second person. So His Whole Body is Present wherever the consecrated species is present, by reason of the assumption of Christ’s human nature by His Divine Person. So by reason ot the union of the Divine with the human the Whole Christ can be wherever His Person wishes at the same moment.

As for why he would make himself completely present in the form of bread and wine? It is in order that we may have life within us. The ancient church in Carthage called the sacrament of Baptism simply salvation and the sacrament of the Eucharist simply Life. (I apologize if this post made no sense. I have been up all night, and I am only just going to bed.)

Linus


#8

See my post # 7 of this thread as well.

Linus


#9

Moreover one can refer to famous Eucharistic Miracles like that of Lanciano, Italy in the 8th century where a monastic priest doubted the Real Presence whereafter during Holy Mass the consecrated species transformed visibly into Flesh and Blood. Reportedly the Blood divided into five unequal parts which together had the exact same weight as each one had separately. The Flesh and Blood have been investigated in 1971 to belong to the human species and have the blood type AB.


#10

[quote="Linusthe2nd, post:7, topic:315805"]
This is a very deceptive statement. Yes, the Divine Nature of the Second Person is omnipresent. But in the Eucharist the two natures are present in the Divinity of the Second person. So His Whole Body is Present wherever the consecrated species is present, by reason of the assumption of Christ's human nature by His Divine Person. So by reason ot the union of the Divine with the human the Whole Christ can be wherever His Person wishes at the same moment.

Linus

[/quote]

I think I must have phrased it poorly, as I was saying that he IS fully present in his body, blood, soul, and divinity anywhere and everywhere that we find the Eucharist. I was pointing out that he is, therefore, more present in the Eucharist than he is by his omnipresence.


#11

[quote="hansard, post:1, topic:315805"]
In my Studies of Religion class today, a girl aged about 16 asked me this question as we were discussing the rituals and ceremonies of different religions (the Eucharist, in this case):

"So, the bread and wine becomes the body and blood of Jesus, right?"
I said, "Yes, that's the teaching of the Church."
She said, "So, Jesus is sitting there in every church in the world, in the form of bread and wine?"
I said, "Yes. At the Mass, certainly. If there is consecrated bread in the Tabernacle, then Jesus is still there, even if the Mass is over. Some people worship the Eucharist if they know it's there."
She said, "But isn't Jesus everywhere? Why would He be turning himself into bread and wine all the time?"
Struggling now, I said, "It's Christ's way of uniting the Church. You can't get closer to Christ than eating his flesh, can you? It's a way of remembering his sacrifice and also a real, physical way of uniting with him. And you can't think of it like real flesh--we're not taking a chunk out of Jesus's leg. It's not flesh like a piece of chicken. This is a special, almost mystical flesh and blood, unlike anything in the real world. It's miraculous flesh and blood. He could have done it any other way, but this is the way He chose to be with us. Yes, he's spiritually everywhere, and you can pray to him and call on him, but this is his physical presence. You can't touch His spirit, because it's, you know, a spirit, but you can be in physical contact with Jesus. It's a special meal which he invites his followers to, just like those apostles all those years ago. We can't be at the last supper, obviously, but in the Eucharist, we kind of are. We have just the same experience that the apostles had."

(That's the gist of it. Perhaps not verbatim. I've omitted "um", "ah" and "let's see now" which should be interspersed randomly throughout the explanation!)

The bell went soon after, and I've yet to find out if my explanation was good enough.

Anyway, how would you explain the Eucharist, in terms that a teenager could relate to? Also what, major holes are there in my explanation (considering my audience)?

[/quote]

I think it sounded great, especially to be given to a teenager because it just seems so easy to understand the way you worded it.


#12

This is why I am a bad parent. I would of said “because I said so” … GOD BLESS TEACHERS!!


#13

Thanks for the advice and affirmation, everyone.


#14

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