Friday, May 06, 2005

One advantage of the doctrine of Real Presence

I went to St. Matthias (or “Smokey Matt’s” as I affectionately call this very Anglo-Catholic parish) for their Ascension Day service. It was an excellent service. And I found myself personally worshipping at a deeper level than usual.

One reason among several is they take the doctrine of the Real Presence of Christ in the Eucharist very seriously, and it’s reflected in their worship. And that helped me to worship and pray as if He was really there . . . which He was.

I hold to the doctrine of the Real Presence although probably in not as “Catholic” a way as St. Matthias Church. But a couple years ago I didn’t hold to it as all. At the time, I thought Real Presence was the same as the Catholic doctrine that the sacrament becomes the actual physical body and blood of Christ. So I rejected it out of hand.

(Note: I now respect the view that the sacrament becomes the physical body and blood. And it’s definitely not a communion breaker for me. But it’s still not my view.)

I do think something special happens so that the sacrament becomes to the believer the body and the blood. Although it’s a mystery (especially to me) just how it happens, I believe Christ is really present in the Eucharist. I think it’s hard to explain a number of New Testament passages otherwise, especially John 6:53-57.

As this doctrine sinks in, it has become more and more meaningful to me. And I find it helps me to worship in a big way. For Christ is really there in Holy Communion. And now I know that as I didn’t before.

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