The Real Presence
( Originally Published 1922 )
Our Lord is present in the Holy Eucharist both as God and as man. There His Godhead, His soul, and His body are present. He lives in the Blessed Sacrament out of love for us. Hence God the Son, the second person of the Blessed Trinity, really and truly dwells upon our altars under the form of bread. From the tabernacle He listens to our prayers and blesses us when we come to visit Him. We adore the Holy Eucharist because God the Son is truly present there.
Tell me, children, about God's love for us. How does God show His love for us? Why does God love us so much? When did we become God's children? When did we receive a new life for our soul? What is this new life which God gave us in Baptism? Why are we said to be born again in Baptism? What Sacrament makes us strong in the life of grace? Who gives us Confirmation? How many Sacraments give us God's grace? Which Sacrament nourishes the life of grace in our soul? What is the food of our soul in the Holy Eucharist? Under what form does our Lord give us His body and blood in the Holy Eucharist?
Who changes bread and wine into our Lord's body and blood? By whose power does the priest change bread and wine into our Lord's body and blood? When does the priest change bread and wine into our Lord's body and blood? At what part of the Mass does this change take place? What does the priest say at the Consecration? Whose words are these? Why does he use the words of Christ? Who is really and truly present in the Holy Eucharist? Which person of the Blessed Trinity is present there? Which person of the Blessed Trinity was present in the manger at Bethlehem? Which person of the Blessed Trinity was nailed to the cross on Mount Calvary?
Why do we say that our Lord is both God and man? How long has our Lord been God? When did our Lord become man ? Why can we say that the Blessed Infant of Bethlehem was truly God? What showed that our Lord was man, too? Why did He have a body like ours ?
Why do we say that our Lord is present in the Holy Eucharist both as God and as man? What can our Lord in the Holy Eucharist do? What can our Lord in the Holy Eucharist know? To which other two divine persons is our Lord in the Holy Eucharist equal? How do we know that our Lord is present in the Holy Eucharist as man, too? How do we know that our Lord has a living body in the Holy Eucharist? What did our Lord say at the Last Supper when He took the bread into His hands ?
How do we know that our Lord's soul is in the Holy Eucharist? When is our Lord alive in the Holy Eucharist? When was our Lord's soul separated from His body? Why is our Lord able to take the form of bread and wine? What can God the Son do?
How do you know, when you enter the church, whether our Lord is present on the altar? What does the red light burning near the altar show? This light which is generally red is called the sanctuary lamp. In it is burned olive oil. The sanctuary is that part of the Church around the main altar, enclosed by the altar rail. It is called the sanctuary (holy portion) because there the Sacrifice of the Mass is offered and there the Blessed Sacrament is kept. Now, tell me about the sanctuary lamp. What does it show ? What kind of oil is generally burned in it? We honor our Lord by keeping this light always burning. The light of the sanctuary lamp is a sign of faith. It shows that we believe that our Lord is really present in the Holy Eucharist. In whose honor do we keep the sanctuary lamp burning? Of what is this light a sign? In what does it show that we believe?
Why do you genuflect when you enter a church in which the sanctuary lamp is burning? Whom do you adore when you genuflect? Why do you adore Jesus Christ in the Holy Eucharist? Who is the only one that we adore? How long has our Lord been God? Of what do you try to think when you genuflect? Why do you always try to think of God's power and love when you genuflect to the Blessed Sacrament? Why do you always try to genuflect properly? What do you show to our Lord when you genuflect in the proper manner? How does it show that you wish to honor Him?
When do you genuflect on both knees in the church? How do you genuflect when the Blessed Sacrament is exposed on the altar? When is the Blessed Sacrament exposed? What takes place all day on Holy Thursday? Why is the Blessed Sacrament exposed on Holy Thursday? When is Holy Thursday? Thursday of Holy Week is also called Maundy Thursday, which means the day on which Christ gave us the Commandment of Love. Maundy is an old word which means commandment.
Why do you like especially to visit the church on Holy Thursday ? There are indeed beautiful ceremonies on Holy Thursday. On this day the altar is decked in white. The crucifix and the statues are covered with white. There is a place called the repository prepared for the Blessed Sacrament on a side altar. In cathedrals the bishop blesses the holy oils on Holy Thursday. In the churches there is a procession with the Blessed Sacrament after Mass. Why do you think the priest carries the Blessed Sacrament among the people in procession ? Why do you bow down piously when the priest bears the Blessed Sacra-ment by ? Whom do you adore then?
What takes place at Forty Hours Devotion? How long is the Blessed Sacrament exposed? Why do good people like to visit the church so often during Forty Hours Devotion? There is a procession with the Blessed Sacrament at the beginning and at the closing of the Forty Hours Devotion. The people all try to go to Holy Communion during these devotions. There is also a procession with the Blessed Sacrament on Corpus Christi or the following Sunday. Tell me now about the processions with the Blessed Sacrament that take place during the year. Why do we honor the Blessed Sacrament so much? Who is present there ?
Tell me about Benediction with the Blessed Sacrament. What is the case made like the rays of the sun called? (The ostensorium or monstrance.) Why does the priest put the Blessed Sacrament into the monstrance and set it upon the altar? Why do the people bow down when the priest does this? Why does the priest burn incense before the Blessed Sacrament? Whom does he honor when he burns incense there? Toward the end of Benediction why does the priest put a veil about his shoulders, take the Blessed Sacrament into his hands, turn to the people and make the sign of the cross over them ? Who is really blessing the people when he does this? Why do you like to be present at Benediction? Whom do you adore during Bene-diction? How do you genuflect if you pass before the altar during Benediction? How do you genuflect if you pass before the altar after the Consecration of the Mass ?
Why do people kneel on both knees as the priest enters the house to give the last Sacraments to a sick person? What does the priest carry on his breast when he comes to give the last Sacraments? Whom do you adore when you kneel as he enters the house ? Why do you kneel while the priest is giving Holy Communion to the sick person? When going to the sick, the priest carries the Blessed Sacrament in a little gold-lined case about the size of a watch. It is called the pyx. In the tabernacle the Blessed Sacrament is kept in a covered vessel that looks like a chalice. It is called the ciborium. Ciborium means a place in which food is kept. What does the Holy Eucharist feed? What is the food of our soul in the Holy Eucharist ? What is the Holy Eucharist called when given to the dying? Why is it called Holy Viaticum? For what journey does it prepare the dying person?
Why does our Lord dwell upon our altars? Why does He wish to live among us? Why does He love us so much? Why is the Holy Eucharist called the Sacrament of God's love? How do we show our love for our Lord on the altar? What does it show when we visit Him often in the church? What do you do when you go to visit our Lord in the Blessed Sacrament ? How do you talk with Him? When does our Lord in the Blessed Sacrament listen to you? What does our Lord in the Blessed Sacrament know about your thoughts when you kneel before Him? How much does our Lord in the Blessed Sacrament know? Why does our Lord in the Blessed Sacra-ment know all things? Which person of the Blessed Trinity is He? What will our Lord in the Blessed Sacrament do for you every time you visit Him? Why will He bless you? What does it show when you go often to pray before Him?
Who is present in the Blessed Sacrament? How do you know that our Lord is present there? When did our Lord tell us that? How do you know our Lord's body is there, too? Why do you love our Lord in the Blessed Sacrament so much? Why do you always behave so well in the church? Who is present there? Where is our Lord present? On what part of the altar is the tabernacle? Why do people keep so quiet and pray so much in the church? Why do you keep from talking and looking around in church ? With whom do you wish to talk all the time while you are in church? Whom do you respect when you behave well in church?
Why can no other than the priest touch the Blessed Sacrament? I will tell you. When the priest is ordained, his hands are consecrated. So no other than consecrated hands should touch the Blessed Sacrament. Of course, in case of necessity, as in a fire, any one could carry the Blessed Sacrament to safety if there were no priest there. None other than the priest is allowed to touch the vessels in which the Blessed Sacrament is kept. Such are the chalice, the ciborium, the monstrance, the pyx. When lay persons wish to handle them they generally hold them with a white cloth. Sacristans, however, are sometimes given permission to handle the sacred vessels. Why, then, can none other than the priest handle the Blessed Sacrament? Who alone is permitted to handle the sacred vessels? Why do we wish to show such respect for the sacred vessels ?
Which Sacrament best shows God's love for us ? Why does the Holy Eucharist best show God's love for us? How do you show love, honor, and respect for our Lord in the Blessed Sacrament? Why does our Lord dwell in no other than Catholic churches? Whose Church is the Catholic Church?