The Catechetical Review - Communicating Christ for a New Evangelization

The Spiritual Life: Toward a Eucharistic Revival – The Real Presence of Jesus

Authored by Quanah Jeffries in Issue #9.1 of Catechetical Review

Status message

This is a free online article available for non-subscribers. Start your subscription today!

Baby at Baptism, Adobe stockThe water is poured and the words are said: “I baptize you in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.” As I approach the newly baptized baby held in the arms of his mother or father, I bow, make the sign of the cross, and venerate (kiss) the child as I would an icon. Doing so, I venerate Jesus Christ present in this child. The child, having been washed of sin, filled with the Holy Spirit, and clothed in Christ, is now a holy image of him who is the perfect image of the Father.

As the child grows, the image may become tarnished, but it will remain. Just as a work of art is restored, so too the Sacrament of Reconciliation restores the image of Christ in us—washing away the grime and mending brokenness so that the light of Jesus Christ, truly present in us, may shine forth in the world.

“The Father and I are one. . . . Remain in me, as I remain in you” (Jn 10:30; 15:4). In the reception of the Holy Eucharist, our Lord, one with the Father in the unity of the Holy Spirit, comes into us in a wholly unique manner and draws us unfathomably within himself. The presence of Jesus Christ in the Holy Eucharist is of a completely different type than his presence elsewhere. It is substantial; it is of his essence. When we say that Jesus Christ is truly present in the Blessed Sacrament, what we mean is that the Blessed Sacrament is Jesus Christ. While the visible form of bread and wine remain, it is him—not a sign pointing to him, not an object that mediates grace (e.g., a miraculous medal, the brown scapular)—it is Jesus himself.

There is nothing more awe-inspiring, more solicitous of wonder than the mystery of the Holy Eucharist. Jesus is substantially present, as present as the person sitting next to you. Real presence, however, is not limited to substantial presence. Christ’s presence in the baptized, through sanctifying grace, is a real presence, though not substantial. Christ’s presence in our holy icons is representative and real, though not substantial. Christ’s presence in the created order via divine power is real, though not substantial.  There is no place where Christ Jesus is absent. “Behind and before you encircle me and rest your hand upon me. . . . From your presence, where can I flee? If I ascend to the heavens you are there; if I lie down in Sheol, there you are” (Ps 139:5, 7–8). The mystery of his presence in the whole created order—sacred and profane—is incomprehensible, demanding reverent silence and awe.

There is no faith that affirms the sacramentality of the whole of creation more than the Christian faith.

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things came to be through him, and without him nothing came to be (Jn 1:1–3). All things, coming into being through the Word, bear the imprint of the Word—not the imprint of a stamp but of a watermark, an imprint woven into the very fabric of their existence. As such, all creation declares the glory of God (cf. Ps 19:2) and “Ever since the creation of the world, his invisible attributes of eternal power and divinity have been able to be understood and perceived in what he has made” (Rm 1:20).

Creation itself is sacramental in that God is present in it, reveals himself in it, and through it draws men and women to himself. The sacramentality of creation, however, was incomplete; it was a question left unanswered, a yearning without satisfaction. “And the Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us” (Jn 1:14). By becoming flesh and taking humanity upon himself, Jesus Christ took creation upon himself. The Word of God united in himself the uncreated and the created. By this act, creation becomes not simply a sign pointing to God or a means of encountering God. It is instead elevated to an instrument of union with God in which he, having become man, now makes man divine. This is the sacrament in which man partakes of God. The fullness of this reality on earth is the Sacrament of Sacraments, the Holy Eucharist, Jesus Christ.

Quanah Jeffries holds an M.A. in Theology and is Director of Faith Formation and Evangelization at Christ the King parish in Indianapolis, IN.

This article originally appeared on page 31 of the printed edition.

Art Credit: Baby Baptism image from AdobeStock.

This article is from The Catechetical Review (Online Edition ISSN 2379-6324) and may be copied for catechetical purposes only. It may not be reprinted in another published work without the permission of The Catechetical Review by contacting [email protected]

Articles from the Most Recent Issue

Editor's Reflections— The Eucharistic Congress and the Missionary Year
By Dr. James Pauley
Catholics in the United States have a long history of hosting both national and international Eucharistic congresses. The first of these was in Washington, DC, in 1895, and the last was in Philadelphia in 1976. If your ancestors were Catholic and lived in North America, they may have participated in one of these congresses—in St. Louis (1901), or... Read more
Missionary Worship
By Sr. Jude Andrew Link, OP
There is an interesting phenomenon that occurs in nearly every culture across history: man ritualizes worship. All over the world the similarities are astounding—animal sacrifices, burnt offerings, gifts of grain, the joy of ecstatic praise. It points to a universal sense within man that not only recognizes that there is a God but also knows that... Read more
Ask, Seek, Knock: The Pitfalls and Potential of Catholic Door-to-Door Evangelization
By Joshua Kenny
“He’s just too small,” sobbed a woman we had just met. It was a sunny summer day, and the pastor, transitional deacon, and I were out knocking on doors within our parish boundaries. This woman’s door was within eyesight of the rectory, and it happened to be the first one we had visited. The conversation had started off just as awkwardly as one... Read more


Watch Tutorial Videos

We've put together several quick and easy tutorial videos to show you how to use this website.

Watch Now