Article – Christ really present

Basic Elements of the Catholic Faith
Its identity: Christ really present
The Luke E. Hart Series
By Peter Kreeft

As a sacrament, the Eucharist has a double aspect: it is both a sign and the reality signified by it, both a remembering of the past
and a making-really-present: “When the
Church celebrates the Eucharist, she commemorates Christ’s Passover, and it is made present: the sacrifice Christ offered once for all on
the Cross remains ever present”185 (CCC 1364).
Here the three meanings of “present”
come together: Christ in the Eucharist is 1)
present, not absent, but really here; 2) present,
not past, but happening now; and 3) presented
as a gift (a “present”), really given; offered,
not withheld. Christ is “present in many ways
to his Church” (CCC 1373) but “[t]he mode of
Christ’s presence under the Eucharistic
species [forms, appearances] is unique. It raises the Eucharist above all the sacraments as
‘the perfection of the spiritual life and the end
to which all the sacraments tend’201 [Saint
Thomas Aquinas]. In the most blessed sacrament of the Eucharist ‘the body and blood,
together with the soul and divinity, of our Lord
Jesus Christ and, therefore, the whole Christ is
truly, really, and substantially contained.’202
‘…[I]t is presence in the fullest sense… Christ,
God and man, makes himself wholly and entirely present’”203 (CCC 1374).
*CCC=Catechism of the Catholic Church