It’s incredible, and honestly it’s disrespectful of the Lord: God’s true and real Presence in that wafer and in that sip of “the fruit of the vine”? Who can believe this?
Yet, excluding debates in the 11th-12th centuries about the “how” of the Eucharist, the Real Presence was never denied until the 16th century (and NOT by Martin Luther, just to let you know). It was taught in a modified form in the 39 “Articles of Religion” of the Church of England (Article XXVIII); it was clearly denied only by Huldrich Zwingli, the father of the “Free Church” or more evangelical churches of the Reformation.
C S Lewis, in the course of his study of literature and his debates with his good friend Owen Barfield, came to the conclusion that what he called “chronological snobbery” had to be rejected: the “old” is not defective simply because it is not “new” or “current,” and what is “new/current” will, after all, one day be “old.” The same is true of beliefs of the Church—simply because we might have difficulties with a teaching, it doesn’t mean the “old” teaching is wrong: the difficulty might just lie in ourselves.
Is belief in the Real Presence of our Lord in the Eucharist a difficult thing? My hero, John Henry Newman, didn’t think so:
People say that the doctrine of Transubstantiation is difficult to believe… It is difficult, impossible, to imagine, I grant,–but how is it difficult to believe?… Why should it not be? What’s to hinder it? What do I know of substance or matter?… Many persons are sensitive to the difficulties of Religion; I am as sensitive of them as any one; but I have never been able to see a connexion between apprehending those difficulties, however keenly… and on the other hand doubting the doctrines to which they are attached. Ten thousand difficulties do not make one doubt…
Do we (can we) accept the reality of the Incarnation? There is nothing more incredible than the idea of the Divine God becoming part of creation! Did He?
Who could conceive of the Resurrection? Yet, if the tomb was found empty, and if the personalities of the disciples were radically changed, what caused that change if not the appearance of the risen Lord?
So if Incarnation and Resurrection are embraced in faith as true, how could the Real Presence in the Eucharist be dismissed out of hand as impossible or incredible? He gives Himself to us as an act of love, to perpetuate the self-offering of the Cross—will we snub this gift, call it meaningless or ridiculous or impossible? Nothing is impossible for Love, after all!
Come–taste and see how good the Lord is!