I am a Catholic convert (two years at Easter) and was raised loosely Protestant when younger. Anyhoo, I am having real problems accepting that the wafer and the wine actually become Christ’s body and blood.
Is there anyone that can help me accept or understand this further? I have heard it explained that since Christ said “This IS my body and this IS my blood” that that is proof but that’s not doing it for me. I still only think of this as a representation of the body and the blood.
Specifically if there are any converts around who have had the same issue and what changed their mind would be helpful. I think this is a leftover from the days I drank grape juice and little squares of bread in the Protestant services. I just want to experience the Eucharist in a fuller way instead of just a ritual.
In one of the first Christian texts, St. Justin the Martyr narrates how the Eucharist was celebrated during the ancient times.
And on the day called Sunday, all who live in cities or in the country gather together to one place,
And the memoirs of the apostles or the writings of the prophets are read, as long as time permits; then,
when the reader has ceased, the president verbally instructs, and exhorts to the imitation of these good things.
Then we all rise together and pray, and, as we before said, when our prayer is ended, bread and wine and water are brought, and the president in like manner offers prayers and thanksgivings, according to his ability, and the people assent, saying “Amen”; and there is a distribution to each, and a participation of that over which thanks have been given, and to those who are absent a portion is sent by the deacons.
And this food is called among us ???a??st?a [the Eucharist], of which no one is allowed to partake but the man who believes that the things which we teach are true, and who has been washed with the washing that is for the remission of sins, and unto regeneration, and who is so living as Christ has enjoined.
For not as common bread and common drink do we receive these; but in like manner as Jesus Christ our Saviour, having been made flesh by the Word of God, had both flesh and blood for our salvation, so likewise have we been taught that the food which is blessed by the prayer of His word, and from which our blood and flesh by transmutation are nourished, is the flesh and blood of that Jesus who was made flesh.
For the apostles, in the memoirs composed by them, which are called Gospels, have thus delivered unto us what was enjoined upon them; that Jesus took bread, and when He had given thanks, said, “This do in remembrance of Me, (Lk 22:19) this is My body;” and that, after the same manner, having taken the cup and given thanks, He said, “This is My blood;” and gave it to them alone.
And we afterwards continually remind each other of these things. And the wealthy among us help the needy; and we always keep together; and for all things wherewith we are supplied, we bless the Maker of all through His Son Jesus Christ, and through the Holy Spirit. (St. Justin the Martyr, Letter to Antoninus Pius, Emperor, 155 AD)
Take a good look at Fred Conty’s post #4, it is very good. But most of all pray for the gift of Faith. It might help you to make some visits to the Blessed Sacrament and just sit there praying to Christ and meditating on His life. You might also think about the Apostles who heard Christ tell them about this Sacrament. They were neither Theologians nor Philosophers, yet they believed. Why? Peter said it all. He said, " Where shall we go Lord, you have the Words of Life? " What he was saying was, " You are the Word of God, you spoke and the world was made. Now you have spoken again and you are present in the bread and the wine as a commeration of the sacrafice by which you saved us and by which you wish to share your physical presence with us, communicating you secret life with us, helping us to become other christs, other Priests, Kings, and Prophets. "
There are numerous intellectual, historical and tradition-based arguments in favor of the real presence. As you have noted, they just do not seem convincing to someone coming from the world of private scripture interpretation and grape juice.
There is another realm in which you may be convinced: the spiritual. I did not grasp His presence until I began to spend holy hours with Him. Call you parish and find out when they offer adoration of the Blessed Sacrament. Then, make the time and go into His presence. Kneel before Him and tell Him that you have doubts. Pray from your spirit. Ask Him to reveal His presence to you.
Then, be as patient with the Lord as He has been with you. As Fr. Benedict Groeschel says, “When you are aware that He is there, you will be changed.” My doubts have all been completely erased in the spiritual realm.
I have found that some parishes do not have Adoration or Holy Hour. If that is so in your case, go to your diocese website and look there. I did that and found a 24/7 Adoration Chapel. Call that Rectory and get the information as to where exactly the Chapel is located. If needed, the person will give you the code to open the Adoration Chapel door.
Another “thing” to note is that there are people who have given their lives up for the Blessed Sacrament. Do you think someone, specially a young person with his or her whole life ahead, would give up his or her life for a mere piece of bread or bit of wine? Gives me goose bumps.
Ask Him to give you Faith. I will join you in pray for that.
I’m not technically a convert, but I’d like to share what helped me, maybe it can help you too. Even though I sort of understood intellectually the apologetic arguments, from John 6 and the Last Supper and 1 Corinthians 11, and all the Early Christian testimony, even then, it didn’t really make sense. What eventually did it for me was reading this hymn. Sometimes, you just have to let God get at you through the heart, and that’s what He did for me.
The words were so profound and exactly what I needed to hear at the moment:
Oh Godhead hid, devoutly I adore Thee,
Who truly art within the forms before me;
To Thee my heart I bow with bended knee,
As failing quite in contemplating Thee.
Sight, touch, and taste in Thee are each deceived;
The ear alone most safely is believed.
I believe all the Son of God has spoken :
Than Truth’s own word there is no truer token.
*On the Cross divinity only lay hid from view,
But here lies hid at once the manhood too : *
And I, in both professing my belief,
Make the same prayer as the repentant thief.
(It’s a lot more powerful when sung. The melody still gives me goosebumps and makes me cry. In a good way :))
Reading this, especially the last stanza, hit me so hard. It was then I realized, if I had been there at the crucifixion, I probably would have doubted that that was really God himself hanging there, bruised, bleeding, beaten, naked, humiliated. But it was Him. And that’s when it finally hit me. The same thing is happening now! That isn’t what it looks like, it’s really Him, hidden under the appearance of bread, but there nonetheless.
And then I remembered Mark 16:12, where Mark describes the encounter of Jesus on the road to Emmaus, and he uses the phrase, “Jesus appeared to them In another form.” and again, it all finally clicked. I realized, why couldn’t Jesus be doing that very thing on the altar right now! He would have looked completely different to these disciples, but hidden beneath the appearance of a different man was the same Lord who lived with them and taught them and walked with them for three years. That really affected me. Because if God could disguise himself as another man, why couldn’t he hide himself under the appearance of bread and wine? Especially since He told us it was Him.
Sitting in front of the Blessed Sacrament, singing this song, meditating on this passage, right there He blew all doubt out of my heart. I just knew. There He was, that really is Him! Humbly waiting there for me, the God of the entire universe! Whom I can give nothing to, whom I owe everything to, yet here He is, hidden as a piece of bread, all for me, so I can be physically united to Him! It blew my mind.
And I can believe that it really is Him because I believe in Him, who can not deceive and wouldn’t lead people astray.
I don’t know if any of what I said helped you. Maybe it won’t. But I encourage you though, take your struggles to Him. Sit in Adoration. Pray this prayer. “I believe Lord, help my unbelief!” I promise you, He will answer you.
I am a convert, and have never found myself questioning that the bread and wine become the body and blood of Christ. As a matter of fact, when I had a short opportunity to attend a Baptist Church around the age of 8 I kept “feeling” that something was missing, but could not figure out why I had this feeling.
Then when I was 9 I got to attend a wedding of a distant cousin. She and her husband were Catholic and I got to attend my first Mass. Though not Catholic, or raised by a practicing Christian family, it was during the consecration that I realized what was missing at the Baptist Church. As soon as the priest said: This is the body of Christ…This is the blood of Christ…I knew in a way I can’t explain that this was absolute truth. I understood I was being called to the Catholic Faith and that what was missing else where was the Body and Blood of Christ.
I attribute this receptivity to my near death experience at the age of 4. Prior to that experience I did not know that God existed. After that experience I seemed to understand things no one had taught me, believed in God and viewed all matters from that perspective.
That is very true. Our Lord is in the Tabernacle. However, I do not know where the OP lives. Sadly, most church buildings in the U.S.A. are closed after Mass these days. The Adoration Chapel where I go is locked after dark and only those with the code may come in. It is very sad, but the reality.
One time I attended an Adoration Service at my Cathedral. I didn’t go expecting anything in particular or with any preconceived notions of what occur.
I simply had some prayers I wanted to offer and then to spend time in silence while there. It was a freezing winter night and the Cathedral was pretty cold. Suddenly I felt this wave of extreme heat hit my face. At first I thought a heat blower must have come on, but I noticed that there was no air current.
I started looking around for the heat source, at the side doors, behind me, at the ceiling…nothing. But the heat continued to bathe my face and seemed particularly focused on my forehead. Suddenly it “occurred” to me to look at the altar.
As I faced the altar I realized that the heat was “beaming” in the direction of my face and forehead only. No other part of my body felt this heat. It was coming from the Monstrance. It was to me, the fire, the heat of the Holy Spirit. I was simply silenced.
Ah, yes. With patience, genuine, unexplainable events in the supernatural realm will occur. Such incidents have confirmed our Lord’s presence to me. Yet, until the Holy Spirit speaks in such a manner, it just seems like wasted time. In truth, there is no such thing as time wasted in our Lord’s presence.