Basic Elements of the Catholic Faith
The Eucharist: Its hiddenness
The Luke E. Hart Series
By Peter Kreeft
In the Eucharist God is both truly present and hidden. Not only in the Eucharist, but
in all of life, God both reveals himself and at
the same time conceals himself.
Why? To elicit our free response of faith
and trust. Even human lovers do not prove
themselves to each other, or demand guarantees. He gives just enough light for lovers, who
can find him when they seek him, but not so
much as to compel non-lovers and non-seekers
to find him against their will. The lover respects the beloved’s freedom.
The greatness of the Eucharist is known
only to faith, not to the feelings or the senses
or the sciences. Its being (reality) is far greater
than its seeming (appearances). “The presence
of Christ’s true body and blood in this sacrament cannot be detected by sense, nor understanding, but by faith alone, which rests upon
divine authority” (Saint Thomas Aquinas,
Summa Theologiae III, 75, 1), not on human
The Eucharist doesn’t look like Christ;
thus, it tests not only our sight but also our
faith: do we believe God’s word or our human
“Sight, taste, and touch in Thee are each
deceived; The ear alone most safely is
believed: I believe all the Son of God has
spoken: Than Truth’s own word there is no
(Adoro Te Devote, Saint Thomas Aquinas).
Just as the Eucharist doesn’t look like
Christ to our outer senses, it doesn’t feel like
Christ to our emotions. Here again it tests our
faith. A faith that does not go beyond human
feelings is not faith at all, just as a faith that
does not go beyond seeing – a faith that says,
“seeing is believing” – is no faith at all.
Sometimes God sends us special graces
that can be felt when we receive the Eucharist.
But he usually does not – not because he is
stingy and unloving but because he knows exactly what each of us needs, and most of us
need to exercise more faith, not to “hanker after sensible consolations,” as the saints put it.
We must learn to continually turn our faith
around and focus not on ourselves and our
own feelings but on Christ, who is faith’s