Sunday, June 22, 2014

Corpus Christi: "Whoever Eats My Flesh," Two Millennia Later

Carl Emil Doepler the Elder's Fronleichnamsprozession.Earlier this year, someone asked me if I realized that Catholics are cannibals. I responded with something like 'yes, but it wasn't our idea.'

I'm pretty sure that the person wasn't trying to be offensive. I run into odd notions about Catholic beliefs fairly often. I suspect they're often rooted in America's endemic anti-catholicism. (January 6, 2013; February 29, 2012)

Besides: the person was quite right in this case.

Here's part of today's Gospel reading:
"Whoever eats 19 my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him on the last day.

"For my flesh is true food, and my blood is true drink."
(John 6:54-55)
After two millennia, that part of the Gospel may not seem as shocking as it did when my Lord told folks in Capernaum's synagogue. Not, at least, until we start thinking about it.

"Take and Eat"

Some of the more fastidious versions of Christianity sidestep my Lord's indelicate comments, like the ones in John 6:55 and Matthew 26:26-28.

Folks who heard Jesus that day in Capernaum's synagogue understood what my Lord meant. Quite a few went back to their old way of life after their leader said 'eat me.' (John 6:60-66)

I can see why, since the what Jesus said was more like "...whoever gnaws my flesh...."

Translations from one language to another can be tricky, since words with nearly the same 'dictionary' meaning can be associated with very different feelings. More about this bit from John:
"Eats: the verb used in these verses is not the classical Greek verb used of human eating, but that of animal eating: 'munch,' 'gnaw.' This may be part of John's emphasis on the reality of the flesh and blood of Jesus (cf ⇒ John 6:55), but the same verb eventually became the ordinary verb in Greek meaning 'eat.' "
(footnote 19)

"The Words of Eternal Life"

Jesus said, 'I am God,' and made the claim stick. (John 8:58; John 14:9-11; Luke 24) Since I believe that, it's like Peter said: my options are limited.
"Jesus then said to the Twelve, 'Do you also want to leave?'

"Simon Peter answered him, 'Master, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life.

"We have come to believe and are convinced that you are the Holy One of God.' "
(John 6:67-69)
I didn't become a Catholic just because I read those verses, and that's another topic.

Discussing who Jesus is and why this is a big day for Catholics doesn't demand words like hypostatic union and transubstantiation, but I'm a recovering English teacher and an adult convert to Catholicism. Feel free to skip to the next heading (Baldachins, Halos, and Diversity in Unity): or check out World Cup trivia.

Hypostatic Union, Transubstantiation, and All That

Since I'm a Catholic, I acknowledge that Jesus is human and divine. The Son of God is one person: "eternally begotten of the Father, God from God, Light from Light, true God from true God, begotten, not made, one in Being with the Father...," as it says in the Nicene Creed.

I don't understand how that works, not in detail. But we've got a word for it: hypostatic union.
"HYPOSTATIC UNION: The union of the divine and human natures in the one divine Person (Greek: hypostasis) of the Son of God, Jesus Christ (252, 468).

"The Chalcedonian Definition agreed with Theodore that there were two natures in the Incarnation. However, the Council of Chalcedon also insisted that hypostasis be used as it was in the Trinitarian definition: to indicate the person and not the nature as with Apollinarius."
(Catechism of the Catholic Church, Glossary)
Some folks who accept the idea that Jesus is divine have had trouble believing that Jesus is really human. Occasionally someone decides that my Lord couldn't, or shouldn't, have been both human and divine. Their names for the workarounds vary, but these alternatives to reality fall into one of three groups: or four, depending on how you split them up. (May 4, 2014)

What we're celebrating today involves transubstantiation. It's why that person asked me if I knew that Catholics are cannibals.
"TRANSUBSTANTIATION: The scholastic term used to designate the unique change of the Eucharistic bread and wine into the Body and Blood of Christ. 'Transubstantiation' indicates that through the consecration of the bread and the wine there occurs the change of the entire substance of the bread into the substance of the Body of Christ, and of the entire substance of the wine into the Blood of Christ—even though the appearances or 'species' of bread and wine remain (1376)."
(Catechism, Glossary)
"Substance," and "appearances" or "species," in this case are philosophical terms. What they mean is that the unleavened bread doesn't look or taste any different; and the wine is still wine, as far as my physical senses can tell. But under, or behind, or beyond, what my senses tell me: my Lord is there: actually present; not a symbol; really, unequivocally, there.

Eucharistic miracles happen, when we're able to perceive the change with our senses: but these events are very few and far between. The highest-profile one I can remember offhand is the Miracle of Lanciano, about 1,300 years back.

What happened in Lanciano, Italy, isn't the sort of 'I saw the face of [whoever] in a jar of peanut butter' thing. The Church methodically checks out claims of miraculous happenings, and that's yet another topic. (December 8, 2010)

Baldachins, Halos, and Diversity in Unity

Where was I? Who Jesus is, The Body and Blood of Christ, and why today is special. Right.

Weather permitting,we'll do a Corpus Christi procession from Our Lady of Angels to St. Paul's. I'm hoping that we can have the procession: maybe between thunderstorms. This will be the last one we'll have with Father Statz. He revived the tradition here, this is his last month in Sauk Centre, and that's yet again another topic.

Although Corpus Christi is a city on the Texas Coast, that's not what we're celebrating today. "Corpus Christi" is Latin for Body of Christ. In a sense, every Mass is a celebration of Corpus Christi, but we set aside one each year as a special event. (Catechism, 1322-1405)

The current (2003) English translation of the Roman Missal calls today "the solemnity of the Most Holy Body and Blood of Christ." That'll probably upset some folks, and that's — what else? — another topic.

Pope Francis celebrated Corpus Christi Thursday, Rome time. He celebrated Mass in front of the main entrance to the Basilica of St John Lateran in Rome.

Folks in Rome did the traditional Corpus Christi procession to the Basilica of St Mary Major, but the Pope wasn't with them.

I think he had good reasons:
"While thousands of people lined the streets holding candles and praying as the Holy Eucharist was carried by the Vicar General for the diocese of Rome and the procession was led by the bishops of Rome, Pope Francis made his way in a closed-in car to Mary Major for Benediction of the Blessed Sacrament and his solemn blessing.

"Pope Francis decided not to take part in the procession on foot between the two basilicas partly due to his upcoming commitments over the next few days but more importantly he preferred to avoid the attention he would receive in an open car which he thought could distract the faithful's attention from the Blessed Sacrament, exposed and taken in procession."
("Pope Celebrates Corpus Christi," Catholic Communications, Sydney Archdiocese (June 20, 2014))
Keeping the focus on the Blessed Sacrament, my Lord under the appearance of unleavened bread, is why folks from Poland to Minnesota and beyond have the Consecrated Host under a sort of traveling tent. It's called a baldachin, and has been a symbol of authority in Europe and cultures with European roots for a thousand years, more or less.

(From Silar, Magdalena Bryll Cefeida, Joyce Chan, Eigenes Werk, via Wikipedia, used w/o permission.)

A thousand years from now, we may have another widely-recognized symbol of authority: but we'll still have the same reason for using it.

A sort of bonus to being Catholic is that we're accumulating a growing collection of symbolic expressions of faith. For example, the pelican became a symbol for the Eucharist about eight centuries back; ichthys (fish) and two letters of the Greek alphabet go much further back, and of course there's the Cross.

Most if not all Christian symbols have been used by folks who weren't Christians: like the halo, which has roots in ancient Greece and Egypt, and probably Buddhist iconography.

Then there are Christmas trees, which showed up in 15th or 16th century Germany.

Many Nigerian Christians have celebrated Christmas with Jollof rice/Benachin and Tuwon Shinkafa.

The point is that for two millennia and counting, we've been practicing diversity in unity. And that's still more topics. (December 9, 2012; April 18, 2012)

Related posts:

No comments:

Like it? Pin it, Plus it, - - -

Pinterest: My Stuff, and More


Unique, innovative candles

Visit us online:
Spiral Light CandleFind a Retailer
Spiral Light Candle Store

Popular Posts

Label Cloud

1277 abortion ADD ADHD-Inattentive Adoration Chapel Advent Afghanistan Africa America Amoris Laetitia angels animals annulment Annunciation anti-catholicism Antichrist apocalyptic ideas apparitions archaeology architecture Arianism art Asperger syndrome assumptions asteroid astronomy Australia authority balance and moderation baptism being Catholic beliefs bias Bible Bible and Catechism bioethics biology blogs brain Brazil business Canada capital punishment Caritas in Veritate Catechism Catholic Church Catholic counter-culture Catholicism change happens charisms charity Chile China Christianity Christmas citizenship climate change climatology cloning comets common good common sense Communion community compassion confirmation conscience conversion Corpus Christi cosmology creation credibility crime crucifix Crucifixion Cuba culture dance dark night of the soul death depression designer babies despair detachment devotion discipline disease diversity divination Divine Mercy divorce Docetism domestic church dualism duty Easter economics education elections emotions England entertainment environmental issues Epiphany Establishment Clause ethics ethnicity Eucharist eugenics Europe evangelizing evolution exobiology exoplanets exorcism extremophiles faith faith and works family Father's Day Faust Faustus fear of the Lord fiction Final Judgment First Amendment forgiveness Fortnight For Freedom free will freedom fun genetics genocide geoengineering geology getting a grip global Gnosticism God God's will good judgment government gratitude great commission guest post guilt Haiti Halloween happiness hate health Heaven Hell HHS hierarchy history holidays Holy Family Holy See Holy Spirit holy water home schooling hope humility humor hypocrisy idolatry image of God images Immaculate Conception immigrants in the news Incarnation Independence Day India information technology Internet Iraq Ireland Israel Italy Japan Jesus John Paul II joy just war justice Kansas Kenya Knights of Columbus knowledge Korea language Last Judgment last things law learning Lent Lenten Chaplet life issues love magi magic Magisterium Manichaeism marriage martyrs Mary Mass materialism media medicine meditation Memorial Day mercy meteor meteorology Mexico Minnesota miracles Missouri moderation modesty Monophysitism Mother Teresa of Calcutta Mother's Day movies music Muslims myth natural law neighbor Nestorianism New Year's Eve New Zealand news Nietzsche obedience Oceania organization original sin paleontology parish Parousia penance penitence Pentecost Philippines physical disability physics pilgrimage politics Pope Pope in Germany 2011 population growth positive law poverty prayer predestination presumption pride priests prophets prostitution Providence Purgatory purpose quantum entanglement quotes reason redemption reflections relics religion religious freedom repentance Resurrection robots Roman Missal Third Edition rosaries rules sacramentals Sacraments Saints salvation schools science secondary causes SETI sex shrines sin slavery social justice solar planets soul South Sudan space aliens space exploration Spain spirituality stem cell research stereotypes stewardship stories storm Sudan suicide Sunday obligation superstition symbols technology temptation terraforming the establishment the human condition tolerance Tradition traffic Transfiguration Transubstantiation travel Trinity trust truth uncertainty United Kingdom universal destination of goods vacation Vatican Vatican II veneration vengeance Veterans Day videos virtue vlog vocations voting war warp drive theory wealth weather wisdom within reason work worship writing

Marian Apparition: Champion, Wisconsin

Background:Posts in this blog: In the news:

What's That Doing in a Nice Catholic Blog?

From time to time, a service that I use will display links to - odd - services and retailers.

I block a few of the more obvious dubious advertisers.

For example: psychic anything, numerology, mediums, and related practices are on the no-no list for Catholics. It has to do with the Church's stand on divination. I try to block those ads.

Sometime regrettable advertisements get through, anyway.

Bottom line? What that service displays reflects the local culture's norms, - not Catholic teaching.