Thursday, October 4, 2007

Accidents and Substance

Just returned form a wonderful XLT. XLT, for those who don't know, is an adoration centered praise and worship event. Like all adorations it typically includes the divine praises and the Tantum ergo, in either Latin or English (or sometimes in both.)
It also includes the kind of modern worship music some people find is not their preference. Good enough. We also have silent adoration for the entire day before XLT. Of course it isn't an either or kind of thing and many people spend time at both.
Now some modern Catholics believe that adoration is something of the middle ages, even that the Real Presence is either not a holy truth or an unimportant one.
At a recent liturgy conference the speaker asked: Where is Christ in the Mass? In the people someone said. In the priest, who acts In persona Christi, especially during the Eucharistic prayer, said another. He is in the Word of the Gospel, said a third. He is at Calvary, said another, realizing that in the Holy Mystery the sacrifice on the alter and that on the cross are the same. He is in the Body and Blood, said someone finally.
Now all of those are true. Christ promised us that where ever three or more are gathered in his name He would be. Certainly as the Word come down from Heaven he is in the Gospel. The hands of the priest are the hands of God. All good answers.
But in the Eucharist Christ is present in a way that transcends his presence in those other ways. He is not just present in spirit, as the omnipresent God who is present everywhere. He is present in the flesh, as he was with the Apostles. That is why we use the term Real Presence. No long is the substance of the bread and wine the 'fruit of the Earth and the work of human hands" but rather the "body which will be given up for you" and the "the blood of the new and everlasting covenant." The substance no longer matches the accidents we see as bread and wine.
In the Eucharist Christ's presence is different than it is in our neighbor, or even in Scripture.
I have attended many Ecumenical Christian praise and worship services. I am a Charismatic Catholic Christian by temperament and often listen to the same songs which one might hear at Christian concert. But, no matter how joyful and spiritual the music, no merely Christian praise and worship service will ever compare to a Eucharistic Adoration, because no matter how much Christ might be present in spirit, He is not present in the way that He is in the Real Presence of the Host.
So no matter how wonderful and important it is that Christ is present in the people attending Mass, in the priest, through whom God invokes the sacred mystery, or in the Word, proclaimed to all those present, none of these ways are equivalent to Christ's presence in the Eucharist.

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