The Eucharist and Other Enemies of the State
Among the many lessons learned in recent years is the necessity of fact-checking every narrative. USA Today removed 23 stories from its web site following an audit that revealed a reporter’s fabrications. The reporter was a liar, and she dishonored her profession. In her small way, her misrepresentations distorted history. She is not alone. But in a rare victory for journalistic integrity, she was caught. A comment appended to the story read: “What else is new? Religions do the same.”
Our perception of reality depends upon real-life encounters, honesty, and our ability to use the correct terms to describe or define our experiences. When in doubt, we consider the history of the words we use by checking the definitions in the old Oxford dictionary (avoiding most modern dictionaries). When we fail, with goodwill, we recalibrate our thinking to conform to reality, using the correct word. Distortions of reality almost always begin with a deliberate redefinition of a word. Did God create us in His image and likeness? Or do we invent reality according to our image and likeness?
On its face, the Creed (Apostles’ or Nicene) is a comprehensive statement of truth, with assertions rooted in the history of revelation. God creates, and He sends His Word Jesus into the world. His Word becomes flesh and dwells among us. Jesus suffers and dies on the Cross, and He rises from the dead. He ascends into heaven and sends the Holy Spirit upon us. The Church sustains and directs us to the Day of Judgment, and with God’s grace, we enter heavenly glory.
As Catholics, deriving from God’s revelation chronicled in the narrative of the Creed, we believe that Jesus Christ is present under the appearance of bread and wine after the Consecration at Mass. We call the consecrated species “the Real Presence”—Jesus is truly present, Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity. Theologians invented the term “transubstantiation” to help explain how the substance of the bread and wine change, but the “accidents”—taste and appearance—remain the same. Jesus is present whether or not we believe. Our faith revealed in history affirms these truths, and we are God’s witnesses.
Are these presumed truths pious inventions? Is the Real Presence a cleverly concocted myth? Did we invent the Creed as a false narrative to disguise the harsh realities of life? (But there’s nothing more brutal than “He suffered under Pontius Pilate”!) Who is the master of reality? Before we dismiss the Creed as a pious figment of the Church’s imagination, consider a few competing narratives.
The Devil’s perennial temptation degrades human dignity. “Ye shall be as gods.” (Gen. 3:5) He aims to persuade all of us—including high-ranking bishops and priests—that we are the masters of reality. When the philosopher Descartes declared, “I think therefore I am,” he concluded that our awareness of our existence—perhaps existence itself—depends upon our capacity to think. He had it backward. Here is the truth: All of God’s creation prompts my knowledge. In my understanding, with self-reflection, I perceive that I exist now. I have a past and a future. Philosophical narratives have consequences. The dyslexic Cartesian maxim reverses this order of reality and spawns errors that have devastating consequences.
Karl Marx wasn’t happy with history, so he envisioned a future according to the image and likeness of his dreams. In the Communist Manifesto, he advocated the overthrow of all institutions. Religion is the opium of the people, he said. His ideological successor, Lenin, endorsed every means possible to destroy the existing order—lies, violence, and mass murder. Over 60 years, Communists murdered 200,000 priests and destroyed 40,000 churches. Clergymen were crucified, shot, scalped, and strangled. Priests froze to death in winter and turned into columns of ice. Communism murdered 100 million people over 100 years. Marx’s vision of history created unspeakable horrors. His nightmare continues, seeping like sewage into most of our institutions.
In recent years, directionless restlessness, discouragement, and confusion have led to widespread disillusionment. So many are eager to reinvent themselves according to the image and likeness of their dreams. Most of our institutions have become complicit in enforcing the pathological delusions of gender ideology. Recently, three students at a Wisconsin middle school faced allegations of harassment after they refused to use “they/them” pronouns when addressing a fellow student.
In several counties in Virginia, schools mandate you must believe them rather than your lying eyes. You must call a boy a girl and a girl a boy if that is the identity the parents or child chooses. Our government schools have become Communist re-education camps. Even the recently approved Supreme Court justice admitted the meaning of “woman” is so unclear and controversial that she could not venture a definition. When ruling authorities celebrate ideologies more than historical realities, reality becomes an enemy of the state.
Thoughtful Catholics suffering a crisis of faith must ask: Am I willing to deny God’s supremacy and the history of His Word? Am I prepared to deny God’s creation and the Creed’s historical assertions? What are the consequences if we deny these truths of history? Make no mistake. Replacement narratives will fill the void. Fact-check them. Will they satisfy a heart that hungers for eternal truths?
I am because God created me and the world. Therefore I think about God in all His splendor: His revelation and His providence. The crown jewel of Christian revelation is the Blessed Eucharist, the Real Presence: “This is My Body,” and “This is My Blood.” At every Mass, the Word is made flesh and dwells among us, and with His grace, we lovingly conform to His reality.
Considering the multiplication of dangerous and dishonest alternative historical narratives, the Creed—with its lifeline to Apostolic tradition and history—is looking more reasonable and reliable with every passing day. “For we did not follow cleverly devised myths when we made known to you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but we were eyewitnesses of his majesty.” (2 Peter 1:16)
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