The following is an adapted excerpt from an article entitled, “Concerning the Presence of Jesus Christ in the Entire Sacred Host and Each of Its Particles,” published by Fr. Manuel Guerra in his blog on infovaticana.com.
A Possible Dialogue?
The dialogue between faith and reason, between science and religion, is possible, and provides man with a fuller knowledge of reality, offering him the possibility of rejoicing in the truth, which is the object of our understanding.
This dialogue must take place in a wide variety of mysteries of our faith. They are called “mysteries” not because they are dark or hidden, but because they are so resplendent and full of being that they appear unfathomable to us. Despite this difficulty, reason must strive to penetrate them with greater depth using the revealed Word and scientific truths. This dialogue between faith and reason has recently taken place regarding the mystery of the Eucharist. Our faith tells us that Jesus is truly present in the Sacred Host and in each of its parts as well. In accord with our faith, modern science helps us to understand the mystery of the whole being present in each one of its parts.
Quantum science, with its limitations, allows us to understand that our faith in this truth, which seems incomprehensible, is not opposed to human reason. Quantum science is not incompatible with the Catholic faith, because both agree on this concrete point: “The whole is in the whole and each one of its parts.”
A Few Examples: Mag- nets, Dragonflies and the Embryo
A magnet is an object endowed with magnetic properties or attraction to iron and other metals. In every magnet there are two poles or points with special magnetic or attractive force. As children, almost all of us were amazed to see that when we sprinkled iron filings on paper with a magnet beneath it, the filings preferentially came together around one of the two poles situated near the two ends of the magnet. We know that the Earth is a giant magnet with two poles (north and south) and that a compass will indicate one of the two poles according to the place where its carrier is, in either the Northern or Southern Hemisphere.
If you cut a magnet in two pieces, there are no longer two halves of the same magnet with just one pole in each half, but rather two magnets with two magnetic poles, even though logically it is of a much smaller size: each one half the size of the original magnet. The same happens if we cut the magnet in three or more parts. Consequently, the entire magnet is in the whole—in the entire magnet, and in each one of its parts.
This seems to be a property that is found in the nature of certain things and beings. For example, if you cut the egg of a dragonfly in half right after it being laid, when the cells are not yet differentiated, the dragonfly does not die; instead, two complete dragonflies form, even though they are smaller. The same would happen if the cell mass of an embryo were to be split in two at the beginning of its development. It would not die, nor would two incomplete living beings form; rather, monozygotic identical twins would form from a single fertilized egg with two identical DNA sequences (genetic code).
Magnets, dragonflies, and embryos are not aware of their evolution and properties. Nevertheless, they choose the best to survive with normality. Perhaps they were programmed that way by someone who thinks for them... This allows us to suppose that it is not metaphysically impossible for Jesus Christ to be in the entire Sacred Host and each of its crumbs or particles.
The Einstein-Podolsky- Rosen Phenomenon and the Miracle of Lanciano
In the summer of 2007, Benedict XVI convoked an interdisciplinary encounter (natural science, philosophy, theology) concerning an undeniably important topic: Creation and Evolution. A qualified scientist, Peter Schuster, specialist in molecular evolution and biochemistry and alma mater of the Max Planck Institute in the department of Chemical Biology, responded to a question posed by Benedict XVI. Schuster stated that “quantum or modern physics brings forth some problems such as the Einstein-Podolsky-Rosen (EPR) Phenomenon, which states that elementary particles having a common origin always know about each other, even if they are far removed. Einstein posited this as a paradox, and nevertheless quantum physics accepts it as a theory. It was not until seventy years later, in the 1990s, that someone was able to demonstrate through an experiment that this does in fact happen, even though it seems counterintuitive.” The essence of the EPR Phenomenon is that particles from a common origin, even though they are not in contact, transmit information to each other and do not act independently. Undoubtedly, all of the particles that come from the same Sacred Host have a common origin.
In this respect, the Eucharistic Miracle of Lanciano could be a confirmation of what has been said.
One morning, in the year 700, a monk from the Order of St. Basil had doubts while he celebrated the Mass and asked the Lord to increase his faith. After pronouncing the words of consecration, he saw how the consecrated bread turned into a piece of flesh and the wine into visible blood. The flesh remained intact; the blood was divided into five solid globules in the chalice (coagulated blood), irregular and differing in shape and size, and was placed in an ivory reliquary. Over the course of the centuries, it has not disintegrated as some had predicted and has remained unchanged since.
Scientific investigations of the miracle took place in 1574, 1970- 1971, and 1981. In 1574 scientists discovered that each of the five globules of coagulated blood differing in shape and size weighed the same as two, three, or even the five together. This strange reality seemed to confirm the presence of Jesus Christ in all of the “sanguis” (wine transubstantiated into the “blood” of Christ) and each of its parts (drops).
The investigations also showed that the Flesh is true flesh and the Blood, true blood belonging to a human being. The blood type to which the Flesh and Blood belong is the same (AB) blood type. This blood type also coincides with that of the blood found on the Holy Shroud of Turin and the Sudarium of Oviedo. Moreover, the Flesh is human cardiac tissue. The preservation of the Flesh and Blood left in a natural state and exposed to the action of atmospheric and biological elements during thirteen centuries is in itself an extraordinary phenomenon.
Details of Love
Knowing that Jesus Christ is found really present in each particle, all of us, faithful and priests, must assume a behavior that is coherent with our faith when it comes to how we treat the Holy Eucharist.
The Church has always given norms oriented towards a greater care and respect in order to avoid having particles of the Sacred Host or drops of the Blood of Christ fall or be lost. “Receive the Body of Christ…giving heed lest thou lose any portion thereof; for whatever thou losest, is evidently a loss to thee as it were from one of thine own members. For tell me, if any one gave thee grains of gold, wouldest thou not hold them with all carefulness, being on thy guard against losing any of them, and suffering loss? Wilt thou not then much more carefully keep watch, that not a crumb fall from thee of what is more precious than gold and precious stones?” (Catechetical Lectures of St. Cyril of Jerusalem to the Neophytes).
“The particle of the holy Body that falls to the ground should be looked for carefully […] In the same way, if some part of the Blood falls, if the floor is of stone, place lit coals on it.” (From Bishop Rabbula of Edessa, fifth century; Solano, o. c., II, n. 506).
Currently, some vehemently defend Communion on the hand affirming that in the first centuries it was so. They forget that during that time, ordinary consecrated bread was consecrated during the Mass, but from the fourth century on, when the wafer was invented with unleavened bread and without yeast, Communion on the tongue was introduced as the only way to receive Holy Communion for centuries, approximately a millennium.
Afterwards, in imitation of a protestant practice, Communion on the hand was brought back after the celebration of the Second Vatican Council in some central European countries. Once again, novelty, although illegally introduced and later an exception, ended up being generalized. The pragmatic and convenient reasons can and tend to prevail over those of religious piety and even theology.
The Memoriale Domini Instruction affirmed the validity of the practice of communion on the tongue, but where communion on the hand had been introduced, the Bishop’s Conference could request its authorization from the Holy See. Moreover, it authorized for Communion on the hand to be introduced as long as the request made to the Holy See had the guarantee of two thirds of the votes of the Bishops cast in a secret ballot and all possible means would be used to avoid potential irreverence (cf. José Antonio Abad-Manuel Garrido, Initiation to the Liturgy of the Church).
Now a person can receive on the tongue, on the hand, kneeling, standing and genuflecting immediately before receiving Communion. However, given these different ways, which is the best? The theoretical response says that the best way for Communion to be received is with the greatest faith, hope, charity, adoration, etc., that is, with the highest degree of holiness and identification with Jesus Christ. At least in theory, this is possible in any one of the ways mentioned.
However, looking at the symbolic value of the gestures of each one of the five ways and its synchrony with the adequate interior dispositions, which is the best way? Cardinal Robert Sarah, current Prefect for the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments, points out in the Prologue of Federico Bortoli’s book, “The Distribution of Communion on the Hand: Historical, Juridical, and Pastoral Survey,” that “faith in the Real Presence can influence the way we receive Communion and vice versa. Receiving Communion on the hand undoubtedly involves a great scattering of fragments. On the contrary, attention to the smallest crumbs, care in purifying the sacred vessels, not touching the Host with sweaty hands, all become professions of faith in the real presence of Jesus, even in the smallest parts of the consecrated species: if Jesus is the substance of the Eucharistic Bread, and if the dimensions of the fragments are accidents only of the bread, it is of little importance how big or small a piece of the Host is! The substance is the same! It is Him!”
HM Magazine; nº202 May-June 2018