stresses more and more the importance of achieving of a true understanding of the Real Presence of Our Lord to the cause of Christian unity.
Not only in the West is transubstantiation understood to be the most correct term to describe the 'change' which occurs at the words of consecration in the Mass: Eastern liturgies from early times show that in those particular Churches, as well as in the Church as a whole, a real change was believed to .have taken place — that bread and wine existed no more but only the body and blood of Jesus Christ.
When the Western Church began to use the word transubstantiation to define this change the Orientals also began to use the Greek equivalent, so well did it fit what was everywhere believed.
A visit to the Coptic Church in London or to any of the Greek and Russian Orthodox churches in this country wilt convince any Christian that our Eastern brethren, with whom we long to be fully one, believe that the consecrated elements are truly Christ himself: like us, and even more profoundly perhaps, they bow before the blessed sacrament of the body and blood of our Lord. Among Catholics, Eastern and Western and among the Orthodox proof that the belief is that a real change in substances has taken place can be had by observing how the faithful bow before the host and the cup to worship what they contain; not in any symbolic way but really and truly.
Transubstantiation is, sir, a truth which makes itself evident in the Worship and life of the Church and of all her children. But whence comes this conviction that it is a truth?
We believe it: The Church believes it: Jesus himself testifies, that it is true, for when he gave us this sacrament the very words of institution were plain and unambiguous.
"This is my body, this is the cup of my blood". Later the apostles knew and fully understood this to be what he had promised just as plainly by Galilee: "My flesh is food indeed; My blood is drink indeed".
John Detain Northolt, Middlesex
I HAVE read with interest the recent corrspondence about the
Real Presence of our Lord in the Eucharist, since it was through this Presence that I was led into the Catholic Church many years ago.
I was brought up in the Church of England and during my teens that Church came to dominate my life; I assumed when I was at University that after graduating I would go on to a Theological College and eventually be ordained in the Anglican ministry. I thought I believed in the Real Presence: at the Eucharist under the forms of bread and wine we received Christ spiritually, even sacramentally (as I understood it).
But somehow Anglican writings on 'this seemed to be vaguely "mystical" and something did not seem quite right.
In a spirit of ecumenism I would from time to time attend the services of other denominations. But one "denomination" I never visited — the Roman Church. I had been brought up on the falsehoods and half-truths common at that time and, alas, still far from dead in some nonconformist and, so-called, "evangelical" circles. I saw the. Roman Church as essentially corrupt and riddled with superstition.
However, I did one day with considerable misgivings attend a Roman Mass to see what it was like. It was a shock to the system to find that I felt nearer to our Lord than ever before.
I started attending Mass. One day, as the priest held up the host after consecration I said involuntarily in the words of Thomas "My Lord and my God" and I knew at that instant that there was our divine Lord in all his divinity. I heard Christ speak and knew that he was inviting me to join His Church.
Despite serious intellectual and, indeed, emotional misgivings and contrary to the wishes of my parents and many of my friends, I determined to seek reception into the Catholic Church. Since being received twenty three years ago I have never regretted the step.
My experience certainly agrees with Fr. Sanders' statement. It is only in the Catholic Church that J have found a simpie and absolute faith in our Lord's words: "This is my body — this is the cup of my blood".
Ray Brown Newport, Gwent