Because Jesus is present in every consecrated Host
This article is a preview of Dr. Kreeft’s Forty Reasons I Am a Catholic.
Jesus is available to me in His body and in His soul in every Mass, in my body and in my soul. And I need Him.
There is a little red light burning perpetually in the sanctuary of every Catholic church in the world except from Good Friday until the Easter Vigil, between the time Jesus died on the Cross and the time He rose from the dead on Easter morning. That light means that Jesus is really there, fully alive, and fully present; that there is a consecrated Host in the tabernacle. It is like the light that the father of the prodigal son probably kept burning in the front window of his home every single night while his beloved son was gone, so that when his son came back, he could see that light and know that that was still his home and that he was welcome back and that his father was still waiting for him.
I am God’s prodigal son, and I need to come home, and home is wherever Jesus is, and He is there. That is why I have to go there: because I need to fall at His feet in repentance and adoration and unutterable joy.
Do you doubt that He is there? If so, I have an experiment for you to do, not just think about doing. This applies to you whether you are a non-Catholic or a Catholic who doubts the Real Presence. (There are doubters in both camps.) Just go into a Catholic church sometime when nobody else is around to see you, and kneel in the front pew or at the Communion rail, and pray, with all honesty: “God, is that You? Are You really there? If not, please don’t let me believe that lie. Don’t let me be a Catholic. Because I want to know and live the truth, whatever it is. And if You are there, please draw me there. Send Your Holy Spirit to inspire me to believe, so that I can be where You are. Make me a Catholic. For the very same reason: because I want to know and live the truth, whatever it is.”
It’s parallel to the prayer of the skeptical agnostic: “God, I honestly don’t know whether You exist, but I want to know the truth and live the truth, so if You do exist, please convince me that You do, in Your time and in Your way.”
Only three things could possibly be reasons for not praying either of those prayers.
One of them is absolute certainty that that religious idea is false and that those billions of saints, sages, mystics, and ordinary people like you were all really, really stupid for believing it. That’s arrogance.
The second reason is not caring whether this tremendous, life-changing claim is true. That’s indifference, not giving a damn about truth.
The third reason is the fear that it is true. That’s one step from conversion.
Because the Catholic Church is Christ’s organism, His body
I am a Catholic because the Church Christ founded and gave us is our literal, historical, temporal connector to Him. Without the connector, the wire that plugs into the infinite divine electricity, our souls die. We receive His life, His literal blood, through the umbilical cord of the Church’s Eucharist. It literally incorporates us into His corpus, His body.
We also receive His mind through the Church’s teachings. Infallible dogmas can come only from the only infallible mind in existence, the divine mind. But they do not save us; they are only the road map. Unlike Plato and Buddha, Jesus saved us by saying not “This is my mind” but “This is my body.” And not just by saying it but by doing it, by giving us His body, on the Cross and in the Eucharist and in the Church. (It’s the same body in three places; Christ is not a monster who has three bodies, any more than He is a monster who has three heads.)
How do we make bodily connection with Him? It has to be bodily because we are bodily; that’s why He became bodily, incarnate in time and space. He does not connect with us by taking us out of our bodies by mystical experiences. Christianity is not Hinduism or Buddhism. Christ connects with us where and when we are, here and now, and therefore in our bodies.
But time and space divide one body from another. There He is, two thousand years away in time on earth and infinitely far away in eternity in Heaven. How do we connect with Him? There He is, five thousand miles away in space on earth and infinitely far ontologically in Heaven. How do we connect with Him? You can’t get to Heaven in a rocketship. “You can’t get there from here.”
He has to come to us. But how?
The connection can’t be merely spiritual, by an out-of-body experience.
The Protestant answer is that it is by faith. Of course, we need faith, but not faith alone; we need faith’s object, which is Christ. We don’t have faith in faith (that’s a hall of mirrors) but faith in Him. So, faith and an open heart are not enough, as hunger and an open mouth are not enough to be the solution to starvation; food is. Christ is our food; our faith is only our hunger and our open mouth.
So how do we get to Him? Rather, how does He come to us? Remember, it can’t be merely spiritually, unless you are a Hindu rather than a Christian.
There is only one answer: He comes to us in His body today just as He came to us in His body two thousand years ago. And the Church is His body; it is “the extension of the Incarnation.”
The body we receive in Holy Communion is the very same body that He saved us with by offering it on the Cross. He has only one body, but it is in three places: on the Cross, in the Eucharist, and in the Church. And He is in the Church in two ways, or two dimensions, because we exist in two dimensions and so does He in His humanity: He is in the public, external, objective, visible institution that teaches and sanctifies His people, and He is also in the private, internal, subjective, invisible souls and bodies of His people who are baptized into His body and who receive His body into their bodies in the Eucharist and who thus become the cells in His Mystical Body, the Church.
When He said, “Unless you eat the flesh of the Son of man and drink his blood, you have no life [no zoe, no eternal, divine life] in you” (John 6:53), did He mean by His “flesh” His mortal body on the Cross, His sacramental body in the Eucharist, or His Mystical Body in the Church? Wrong question. It’s not an either-or. Remember, He has only one body, not three.
To break with His body the Church is to break with Christ, just as to kiss or hit or heal or kill your body is to kiss or hit or heal or kill you. That’s why St. Thomas More gave up his life over his king’s break with Rome. (See the movie A Man for All Seasons; it’s the most perfect movie ever made.)