Posted by Monsignor Charles M. Mangan + J.M.J.
Spiritual writer and retreat master Father Benedict Groeschel, C.F.R., is fond of telling the story of a young seminarian’s encounter with Albert Einstein.
The future Levite had an affinity for science and longed to meet the renowned scholar. Summoning up as much courage as he could muster, he entered the professor’s office and asked the secretary whether he may have just a few moments with Dr. Einstein.
When he heard about his unexpected visitor, the professor grinned and exclaimed excitedly: “A Catholic seminarian. Send him in immediately.”
The seminarian, having been ushered into the genius’ office, thought that his chance had finally come to probe the mind of the world-famous scientist.
But what a surprise for the cleric-to-be! It was he who was on the receiving end. Professor Einstein demonstrated an insatiable desire to discover as much as he could about the mysterious Catholic doctrine which had intrigued him for so long—the teaching of how bread and wine are altered—transubstantiated—into an entirely new substance: the Body and Blood of Christ.
Respectfully, Dr. Einstein asked one question after another of the seminarian, eager to learn how the accidents of bread and wine could remain while the substance was changed. To what did the accidents adhere? The scientist grappled with what theologians for centuries had declared.
The Most Holy Eucharist continues to fascinate persons of all persuasions. Some, like Albert Einstein, are riveted by this dogma on an intellectual level; they seek to learn all they can about this “almost-too-much-to-believe” tenet of the Catholic Faith. Others are captivated by what the Most Blessed Sacrament does in one’s own life, struggles and temptations notwithstanding, when one is receptive to It.
Whatever the attraction, the Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity of Christ remain the focus of young and old, rich and poor. To experience this mystery, it is not enough to know the technical intricacies of the Church’s doctrine, as illustrated by Professor Einstein’s questions (though, of course, one should always strive for a better understanding of the theoretical dimensions of the Teaching of the Church).
Rather, if we hope to grasp the reality of the Flesh and Blood of the Savior, then we must be willing to allow the Most Holy Eucharist to grasp us. In other words, it is Christ Himself Who makes sense of this mystery and endows the believer with the wherewithal to accept what has happened.
To receive the Body and Blood of Christ with faith is to surrender to the bald truth: one must change! As the bread and wine are transformed into the Body and Blood of Christ, the sincere recipient is altered into a disciple who more closely conforms to the Master. No one who is open to the Holy Spirit can swallow the Sacred Contents of the Ciborium and Chalice without being positively impacted. The Most Blessed Sacrament infallibly changes the lives of the Faithful who are disposed to the power of Blessed Mary’s only Son.
One who allows the Most Holy Eucharist to have full effect in his life is well on the way to Paradise. The Body and Blood of the God-Man glorify the Eternal Father through the Holy Spirit and prepare the recipient for Everlasting Life.
(Adapted from an article that appeared on page four in the June 21, 1992 issue of the National Catholic Register. Used with permission.)