Skip to comments.Mary and the Eucharist
Posted on 11/17/2010 11:38:55 AM PST by Alex Murphy
EDITOR'S NOTE: The following address was given Aug. 8 at the second Knights of Columbus Eucharistic Congress, which was dedicated to Pope John Paul II's encyclical on the Eucharist, Ecclesia de Eucharistia. It is on "At the School of Mary, Woman of the Eucharist," the sixth chapter of the encyclical. Ecclesia de Eucharistia can be read in its entirety at the Vatican Web site: www.vatican.va.
In an episode of the old TV show "All in the Family," Archie Bunker, a great contemporary theologian, was having an argument with his son-in-law, Meathead. Archie made one of his anti-Semitic remarks and Meathead immediately reacted by saying, "Archie, remember that Jesus was Jewish." To which Archie retorted: "Yes, but only on his mothers side."
Indeed, Jesus' humanity comes from Mary's humanity. One of the popes wrote the beautiful prayer, Ave Verum Corpus natum de Maria Virgine. "Hail true body (of Christ) born of the Virgin Mary." It was originally to be prayed at the elevation at Mass as people contemplated the host, recalling that the body of Christ we receive in Communion is the same body of Christ that Mary gave to us at Bethlehem.
Often at Christmastime I point out the eucharistic meaning of the occasion. Jesus is born at Bethlehem, which means, "House of Bread." And Jesus is laid in a manger that is the feed box where the flock comes to be fed.
Pope John Paul II has given us the magnificent encyclical Ecclesia de Eucharistia in which a whole chapter is dedicated to the profound relationship that Mary has with the mystery of the Eucharist.
The Eucharist is the mysterium fidei, the mystery of faith that "so greatly transcends our understanding as to call for a sheer abandonment to the word of God," he writes (54.1). At the Visitation, Elizabeth, moved by the Spirit, gives us the first beatitude in the Gospel directed at Mary: "Blessed are you because you believed" (Luke 1:45). Just as Abraham, our father in faith, stands at the opening of the Old Testament, Mary, great woman of faith, stands at the opening of the New Testament.
Saying Yes to Jesus
At the Annunciation, Mary's consent was one of the most important moments in the history of salvation and in the unfolding of the eucharistic mystery. We call that moment her fiat, the first word in a Latin phrase that means "Be it done unto me according to your word." When we say yes to God, we allow his grace to be fruitful, to break into our history. When we say no, his plan is thwarted, the world is deprived of grace and creation is impoverished. What would have happened had Mary said no to Gods invitation? Would we still be awaiting a Messiah?
Pope John Paul has a beautiful paragraph in which he relates Marys fiat to the Amen every believer says when receiving Communion. Mary was asked to believe that the one whom she conceived "through the Holy Spirit" was "the Son of God." In the eucharistic mystery we are asked to believe that the one whom she conceived is Son of God and son of Mary. We are asked to believe that Jesus is present in his full humanity and divinity under the signs of bread and wine.
John Paul says that Mary anticipated in the mystery of the Incarnation the Churchs eucharistic faith. He writes, "When, at the Visitation, she bore in her womb the Word made flesh, she became in some way a tabernacle in which the Son of God, still invisible to our human gaze, allowed himself to be adored by Elizabeth, radiating his light as it were through the eyes and voice of Mary" (55.3).
The pope gives us a "re-reading" of the Magnificat in a eucharistic key. The Eucharist like the Canticle of Mary is first and foremost praise and thanksgiving. When Mary exclaims: "My soul magnifies the Lord and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior," she already bears Jesus in her womb (like a living tabernacle). She praises God through Jesus, but she also praises him in Jesus and with Jesus. This is itself the true eucharistic attitude. At the same time, Mary recalls the wonders worked by God in salvation history in fulfillment of the promise once made to Abraham and our spiritual ancestors.
She proclaims the wonder that surpasses them all, the redemptive Incarnation. Lastly, the Magnificat reflects the eschatological tension of the Eucharist. Every time the Son of God comes to us in the poverty of the sacramental signs of bread and wine, the seeds of that new history wherein the "mighty are put down from their thrones and those of low degree are exalted," take root in the world. The Magnificat expresses Mary's spirituality, and there is nothing greater than this spirituality for helping us to experience the mystery of the Eucharist.
The Joyful Mysteries
Allow me to share with you some of my personal meditations on the Joyful Mysteries of the rosary. These are the mysteries I like to use when I am praying the rosary during a holy hour before the Blessed Sacrament.
The Annunciation to me is the little Christmas, the moment when the Word becomes flesh, takes on a body and becomes Jesus Christ. I associate Mary's fiat with the words of consecration at Mass. As soon as Mary says "Be it done unto me according to thy word," Jesus becomes present. In like manner, when the priest takes the bread and says, "This is my body," Jesus becomes present at the altar.
For the mystery of the Visitation I always associate Mary with the Ark of the Covenant. In the Old Testament God is present to his people whenever the ark is with them. In the ark were the spiritual treasures of Israel, the tablets of the law, Aaron's staff and some of the manna that fed Israel in the desert. In the Book of Chronicles the Israelites take the ark to the house of Obededom, where it remained for three months (1 Chr 13:14). In Luke's Gospel Mary arrives like the Ark of the Covenant carrying Jesus, the new manna, and stayed with Elizabeth for three months (1:56).
As I alluded to earlier, the Third Mystery, the Nativity of Jesus, also has strong eucharistic symbolism beginning with the name Bethle-hem, "House of Bread."
In the Fourth Mystery, the Presentation, Mary and Joseph offer the Son to God the Father. Mary gives the body of Christ to the priestly figure of Simeon who receives Christ, as if in Communion, in his arms.
The Fifth Mystery is the finding of Jesus in the temple. We can always find the true presence of Christ in the tabernacles of our Catholic churches. He is waiting to be discovered and reunited to those who have sought him sorrowing.
'Do Whatever He Tells You'
Pope John Paul opens the chapter on Mary by saying, "In my Apostolic Letter, Rosarium Virginis Mariae, I pointed to the Blessed Virgin Mary as our teacher in contemplating Christ's face, and among the Mysteries of Light I included the institution of the Eucharist. Mary can guide us toward this most holy sacrament, because she herself has a profound relationship with the Eucharist (53.1).
In repeating what Christ did at the Last Supper we also accept Marys invitation to obey Christ without hesitation: "Do whatever He tells you!" In the Acts of the Apostles we find Mary at the heart of the Christian community helping those disciples to persevere in prayer. The pope affirms that Mary must have been present at the eucharistic celebrations of the first generation of Christians, who were devoted to the Mass which they called : "the breaking of the Bread."
The pope elaborates on the Calvary experience of John, who accepts Mary as his Mother. Accepting Mary as our Mother is a commitment to be conformed to Christ, "putting ourselves at the school of his Mother and allowing her to accompany us" (57.2).
I will close by tying together three things we love as Catholics: the Blessed Mother, the pope and the Eucharist. These aspects of our Church distinguish us from other Christians.
The pope's many journeys have made him present to so many Catholics. Despite personal challenges he keeps exerting himself so that the ministry of Peter can continue in the Church uniting us in our following of Jesus and encouraging us to be faithful to the Gospel entrusted to us.
The Blessed Mother is beloved of our Catholic people. Since the Second Vatican Council the Church has stressed the fact that Mary is not only an intercessor and protectress, she is above all a model of faith and fidelity. In the center of her life is Jesus. She leads us to him and says, "Do whatever he tells you."
It is impossible to conceive of the Church without the Eucharist. The Church springs up around the Eucharist. We gather at the altar and are no longer strangers and rivals; we are brothers. It is to house our eucharistic altars and tabernacles that we build churches and chapels where we can come and be united to the Lord and to our brothers and sisters. The sacrament is the body and blood of the Lord that has come to us through Marys body and through her saying yes to God.
In this encyclical the great features of our Catholic faith intersect: Mary, the Eucharist and the Holy Father. Each is a treasure we cherish. Each is connected to the other and are signs of God's enduring love for his Church and for us who are proud to call ourselves Catholics.
If you cannot reach the article on the KofC homepage, you can reach Google's 11/09/2010 snapshot of it here.
>>>In an episode of the old TV show “All in the Family,” Archie Bunker, a great contemporary theologian, was having an argument with his son-in-law, Meathead. Archie made one of his anti-Semitic remarks and Meathead immediately reacted by saying, “Archie, remember that Jesus was Jewish.” To which Archie retorted: “Yes, but only on his mothers side.”<<<
Now that there is funny.
Bump for later
When that wafer is turned into the true and real body of Christ, does Mary have a true and real presence in that wafer?
None, at least none outright stated in the article.
Alex, great detective work there. The Knights of Columbus believe in the Real Presence—who woulda thunk it.
Yes, in fact, the body that was formed in Mary’s womb is the same body that is on the altar. This is not news to Christianity, except those who have forgotten it.
Very well thought out.
Very well thought out.
It’s Christ’s body, not Mary’s body in the Eucharist, although it would take an extraordinary ignorance of biology not to see an obvious connection there. Particularly since the Holy Spirit has no body to give him, so Christ’s body was physically derived from the body of Mary alone.
And it may be a fine point, but we do not say Christ is present IN the “wafer” after the consecration. Rather, there is no more “wafer”. What is on the altar is 100% Christ and nothing else—the substance of the “wafer” is annihilated entirely and only its accidental characteristics remain.
Ugh..”wafer”. I hate even using that word in this context, it’s so disrespectful. At least call it “bread” if you can’t stoop to saying “Communion”.
This is what I'm curious about. He was part of her body, just as our bodies are part of our parents bodies. If His body is real and true in that wafer, then her presence is in that Eucharist. And when that wafer is changed into His body, her presence is in that wafer too. One-half of the substance of His body; half from the Holy Spirit and half from Mary.
My question is, does the Catholic Church teach its members this, or is this just something that isn't considered by Catholics who believe that Christ is real and present in the Eucharist?
And it may be a fine point, but we do not say Christ is present IN the wafer after the consecration. Rather, there is no more wafer. What is on the altar is 100% Christ and nothing elsethe substance of the wafer is annihilated entirely and only its accidental characteristics remain.
THis does not seem to be an answer. This just explains what is done during the Eucharist. 100% Christ is 50% Mary.
I am no theologian, and perhaps some other FReeper could answer it better.
But we believe the Eucharist is body, blood, soul, and divinity of Christ. Mary had her own soul, so unless we are willing to postulate two souls in it, then no, the Eucharist is not Mary the same way that it is Christ. Also, we adore the Eucharist as God, and Mary is a creature without any divinity whatsoever. If she were in it, we would be guilty of idolatry.
However, I have heard expounded, and the article above touches on it as well, the connection between Mary's body and the body of Christ. He owes His body to her Fiat in a crucial way--there is certainly some mystical connection there, though what it is I can't even begin to say.
If she were in it, we would be guilty of idolatry.
This being one thought.
Well, actually, maybe not, because where would His other 50% come from? There was no human male involved.
But at any rate, we are not just bodies but body-soul combinations, so whatever Mary contributed to the body of Christ, His human soul and divinity certainly did not come from her.
This being one thought.
Eh, what's that? I don't quite follow.
Yes he was quite a theologian:
It ain’t supposed to make sense; it’s faith. Faith is something that you believe that nobody in his right mind would believe. - Archie Bunker
Congratulations - the thread just degenerated. Did you have any (other) ideas that you wanted to offer besides the insulting language?
But at any rate, we are not just bodies but body-soul combinations, so whatever Mary contributed to the body of Christ, His human soul and divinity certainly did not come from her."
The Nicene Fathers explained this nearly 1700 years ago, Claud (I'm not showing off; the Greek is important to an understanding of what happened):
καὶ εἰς ἕνα Κύριον Ἰησοῦν Χριστὸν τὸν υἱὸν τοῦ Θεοῦ τὸν Μονογενῆ, τὸν ἐκ τοῦ Πατρὸς γεννηθέντα πρὸ πάντων τῶν αἰώνων, Φῶς ἐκ Φωτός, Θεὸν ἀληθινὸν ἐκ Θεοῦ ἀληθινοῦ, γεννηθέντα οὐ ποιηθέντα, ὁμοούσιον τῷ Πατρί, δι' οὗ τὰ πάντα ἐγένετο· τὸν δι' ἡμᾶς τοὺς ἀνθρώπους καὶ διὰ τὴν ἡμετέραν σωτηρίαν κατελθόντα ἐκ τῶν οὐρανῶν, καὶ σαρκωθέντα ἐκ Πνεύματος Ἁγίου καὶ Μαρίας τῆς παρθένου, καὶ ἐνανθρωπήσαντα,
The specific answer to what the Theotokos "added" is this, but only also from the Holy Spirit:
καὶ σαρκωθέντα ἐκ Πνεύματος Ἁγίου καὶ Μαρίας τῆς παρθένου, καὶ ἐνανθρωπήσαντα
It's all Greek to me. How about a translation?
Precisely. Yet there remains this inexplicable desire to elevate Mary, the mortal, biological mother of Jesus, into equivalency with Him as participating in the godhead with all the divine powers implied therein.
What’s the problem? Is not God’s Messiah sufficient unto the Father’s purpose in begetting Him? Was not the sacrifice of the Christ sufficient to atone for the sins of the world? The Holy Scriptures teach that it is. Are we to doubt and contradict the clear words of holy writ, and invent an alternative or parallel path to salvation?
The word “blasphemy” comes readily to mind in contemplating Mariolatry.
Kolo, my apologies, but my Greek is not nearly good enough to parse that paragraph...could I trouble you for a translation at least of the key sentence?
Something about the body coming from the Holy Spirit *and* the Virgin Mary?
Enanthroposanta is also throwing me for a loop. :)
Hint: it’s the Nicene Creed, starting with “And in one Lord Jesus Christ . . .” You can probably figure out the rest! ;-)
Well, any such desire is rank heresy obviously, and elevating Mary to the Godhead has no place whatsoever in the Christian faith. But we must be careful, we must be *very very careful* about ascribing heresy/idolatry/blasphemy to practices that we do not really understand.
Our bodies aren't "part of our parents bodies," though. They have their origin from and in our parents' bodies, but they aren't part of them. My son's body is not part of my body; it's a whole body similar to my own (but younger and better-looking).
Christ's human soul did not originate in Mary, because it is Catholic dogma that human souls are directly created by God. (Some Protestants hold to a doctrine called "traducianism," which says that souls are derived from one's parents in somewhat the same way our bodies are. That belief is heretical for Catholics.)
Christ's divinity certainly did not originate in Mary, because it pre-existed her, and also, of course, "you can't give what you don't have," and Mary has no divinity to give.
By analogy, if you sent me a lock of your hair in an envelope, is your mother present in the envelope? (The analogy is imperfect, because every particle of the Eucharist is the whole Christ, while the lock of hair is only a part of you, but still ...)
And in one Lord, Jesus Christ,
“the only begotten Son of God,
begotten from the Father before all ages,
light from light,
true God from true God,
begotten not made,
of one essence with the Father,
through Whom all things came into existence,
Who on account of us men and on account of our salvation came down from the heavens,
and was enfleshed from the Holy Spirit and the Virgin Mary
and became man”
This is true, but His body did. That's what the question is about. His body. Does His body contain DNA from Mary, to put it in today's terms. And in the Eucharist, the wafer becomes the REAL and TRUE BODY OF CHRIST. Are you saying that Jesus Christ's body was part of Mary's DNA, but the Eucharist, even though it claims to be the REAL body of Christ, does not contain the "Mary" part of His DNA? I don't know how to ask this right. ;)
Aw shucks. But lil ole me can’t take all the credit; I certainly (and luckily) don’t own the rights to calling the Body of Christ a “cracker”
Something about the body coming from the Holy Spirit *and* the Virgin Mary?
"and was enfleshed from the Holy Spirit and the Virgin Mary and became man
Enanthroposanta is also throwing me for a loop. :)"
The word "σαρκωθέντα" really means "enfleshed" while the word "ἐνανθρωπήσαντα" means "became man". They are two of my absolute favorite words. Note also the word "ὁμοούσιον", one in essence. Add a single ι, thusly "ὁμοιούσιος", and we have "of similar essence", a Trinitarian heresy; indeed an iota's worth of difference! Greek is REAL important when it comes to understanding Christianity.
Sure, exactly the same way my body contains DNA from my mother. (To be really accurate, it's DNA that's copied from my mother's.)
Eucharist, even though it claims to be the REAL body of Christ, does not contain the "Mary" part of His DNA?
This gets into the metaphysics of transubstantiation. If you were to analyze a consecrated Host, the only DNA you would find would be wheat DNA. That's the -- to use a metaphysical term -- "accident". But the "substance" (to speak metaphysically) is Christ's Body and Blood. Whether it makes sense to speak of DNA in connection with a metaphysical substance (not a chemical substance!) ... is debatable.
Really, the most orthodox way to understand this, IMO, is that God works two miracles. He turns bread and wine into the Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity of Christ -- that's miracle #1. He then prevents us from being "grossed out" by working a second miracle to keep it looking and tasting like bread and wine to all of our senses.
What Catholics call a "Eucharistic miracle" is really one where the second miracle was not worked at all, or was reversed, in order to sustain or strengthen our faith. (google "Eucharistic Miracle of Lanciano")
This is directly analogous to the Incarnation, BTW, where God comes into our world looking exactly like a little Galilean baby in a stable. But he's not merely that; our senses deceive us. He's God.
Would a good way to understand this be: Mary was RESPONSIBLE for the Eucharist, but she is not PRESENT in the Eucharist?
"The Holy Eucharist is the Bread that comes from our Heavenly Mother. It is Bread produced by Mary from the flour of Her immaculate flesh, kneaded into dough with her virginal milk. St. Augustine wrote, Jesus took His Flesh from the flesh of Mary. We know, too, that united to the Divinity in the Eucharist there is Jesus' Body and Blood taken from the body and blood of the Blessed Virgin. Therefore at every Holy Communion we receive, it would be quite correct, and a very beautiful thing, to TAKE NOTICE OF OUR HOLY MOTHERS SWEET AND MYSTERIOUS PRESENCE, INSEPARABLY UNITED WITH JESUS IN THIS HOST.
There are thousands of examples like this all over the internet; all from Roman Catholic sources, Roman Catholic apologists, Roman Catholic theology.
This is what they believe.
The more you layers one peels back from Roman Catholicism, the more pagan it becomes.
You da man. I will have to read this again when I’m a little less ... ahem, well ... more capable of assimilating the content and passing it on to the First Grade, who are so terribly concrete in their understanding, sometimes.
At the very least, such elevating is un-Christian.
There is absolutely nowhere in scripture where Christ would have, and did not, give this type of statement concerning Mary..and God certainly would have something to say to Manelli for even suggesting this! This is nut case talk as far as I'm concerned. What a sicko slam against Mary and the Christ!
Look how things change, suddenly. It seems she IS true and real in the Eucharist. My, my... imagine that...one says one thing, another comes along and disputes that while mocking the notion, and eventually the TRUTH comes out. Do all Catholics know this and claim ignorance when asked, or are they truly ignorant of this teaching? Perhaps the smartest thing to do is ask a ‘first grader’. They would..ahem..get it.
I think I'll take the Cardinal Archbishop of Boston's opinion on matters of theology as somewhat more authoritative than the opinion of a priest in some book Dr. E came up with, thanks very much.
But I'm amused at how one priest's opinion suddenly becomes über-authoritative Catholic dogma, as long as y'all can use it to make the Church look bad.
But a Cardinal's opinion which happens to be theologically accurate, well, that's just swept under the carpet. After all, it doesn't do what we want, so let's ditch it.
What was that Dan Rather line about the infamous National Guard bogus evaluations? "It's not the accuracy of the evidence, but the seriousness of the charge"?
I don't really understand the point of your cross-examination.
Would it be fair to say that your mother is responsible for you, but she is not present in you?
The more you layers one peels back [sic] from Protestantism, the more atheist it becomes.
What did the Cardinal Archbishop of Boston say? And when do all the sayings of all the different leaders of all the different churches come together and come up with a single saying? This happens time after time, with each question regarding Catholic doctrine. One says one thing, another claims something else, some just laugh at the questions, and eventually someone comes forward with official Catholic doctrine. So I’m asking you, is Cardinal Archbishop of Boston’s opinion the doctrine of the Catholic Church? Or has this particular question not be officially settled yet?
I’m sorry, let me make it a little clearer. Mary is responsible for carrying in her womb the body of Christ who is the Eucharist, but she herself is not present in the Eucharist?
“It’s not the accuracy of the evidence, but the seriousness of the charge” :-)
I wish this analogy had been brought to light a gazillion threads ago.
It's at the top of the thread.
What he didn't say was that we receive Mary in the Eucharist. He did said that Mary was present at the Eucharistic liturgy in the early church (well obviously: she was alive). He did say that Mary gave the body of Christ (not her own body) to Simeon. (I believe that's in your Bible.)
So Im asking you, is Cardinal Archbishop of Bostons opinion the doctrine of the Catholic Church?
One bishop does not determine doctrine any more than one layman does. But, as I said, I would trust his opinion more than that of a supposed priest I have never heard of supposedly recorded in a book I have never heard of.
Or has this particular question not be officially settled yet?
The church generally teaches something definitively only when there is a disagreement about it. I don't see much disagreement about this, therefore, no need for any infallible teaching.
If you look at perhaps the greatest Marian theologian the Catholic church has produced, St. Louis Marie de Montfort, he says nothing about us receiving Mary in the Eucharist, and lots about us receiving the Eucharist with Mary -- that is, Mary is not the One being received, Mary is the one doing the receiving with us. His point is that communion is our participation in the Annunciation; just as "Mary received the Word of God in her heart and her body" we are to do the same.
In case you think that doesn't do much to advance the (false) notion that Mary is a goddess or her son's equal, you're right. I expect it will be ignored.
It's in my Bible, is it in yours?
but she herself is not present in the Eucharist?
I don't think that's a particularly helpful way of understanding things, no. See my preceding post for something that makes more sense, IMO.
There is very much to learn about Catholicsm, obviously. And depending on the person you ask, the answers probably will differ. Why I don't understand. And I mean from one Catholic to another. Not a rude statement, just an observation, from the outside looking in.
Yes, I did a search on this and Catholics now believe that Mary is part of the Eucharist. I find in reading the early church fathers that you have to have a perspective of where they were coming from. Many of the Greek fathers like Augustine came from pagan cultures with multiple gods. It wasn't surprising that many of them held an unnatural high regards for Mary. However, the sacred scriptures does not attribute any special level to Mary except that she was looked upon by God and blessed.
As Gamecock said, this infatuation and devotion to Mary is simply pagan-nothing else can describe it.
Let’s compare and contrast:
Catholics pray to dead people.
Prods pray to God.
Catholics pray to Mary.
Prods pray to God.
Yup, Catholicism is sounds more and more pagan.