“To gather in community, to learn and to discern the deeper riches of our faith, is always a gift,” said Susann Engel, a participant in the Boston Area’s online discussion, The Real Presence of Christ in the Eucharist. Monsignor William P. Fay, Professor of Philosophy and Theology at Pope St. John XXIII National Seminary in Weston, Massachusetts, led the discussion.
Msgr. Fay opened with a comment on a 2019 Pew Research Center study. He said the study showed: “Sixty-nine percent of Catholics, seven in 10 almost, do not really believe that the consecrated bread and the consecrated wine are the true body and blood of Christ.” The results of that study inspired the Archdiocese of Boston to launch a new spiritual initiative on Holy Thursday 2020, around the Year of the Eucharist.
Msgr. Fay went on to provide an overview of the qualities God has given us as human beings, the gifts of reason, faith, revelation, theology, and mystery. Following that, he reviewed some of the points delineated by the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops designed to help us understand the mystery of the Real Presence. Highlights included:
- “We’re dealing with an inexhaustible mystery,” Msgr. Fay said. “It’s a mystery that is wrapped in a gift from God to us. And its only purpose is to make us like God.”
- The Eucharist re-presents Christ’s death on the Cross. It doesn’t represent, it re-presents. It makes actual again the one sacrifice of Christ.
- Jesus gives us himself. He is really present in the Eucharist, but he’s not present as the Christ, the God-man who lived with us on earth. He’s present to us in sacramental form.
As the source and summit of our faith, the Real Presence is a critical and complex subject for Catholics to understand. Participants said Msgr. Fay did that well:
- “Monsignor is of profound faith with a very deep reasoning but still made himself accessible, especially while answering our questions.” Arthur de Garidel, Candidate for 2022, Boston
- “He did a marvelous job explaining the Real Presence, and it was a very good review of why we all believe.” Jack MacKinnon, KM, Boston
- “You can clearly see his love for our Eucharistic Lord. His devotion and expression of faith on the Eucharist is a beacon of light that shines brightly.” Susann Engel, DM, NE Florida