Accepting the unknowable

A number of years ago a poll revealed that nearly two-thirds of American Catholics believed that the consecrated bread and wine were “symbolic reminders” rather than the true body and blood of our Lord Jesus Christ. That the overwhelming majority of Catholics have dismissed such a basic tenet of our faith is clearly something we must seriously consider and reflect upon.

During Eucharist, when the priest, through his ordination, consecrates the bread and wine, the very substance of the bread and wine changes into the Body and Blood of Jesus while to all our senses the appearance remains the same. This change is called transubstantiation and is a mystery of faith.

The Council of Trent (1551) defined transubstantiation as “that wonderful and singular conversion of the whole substance of the bread into the Body, and of the whole substance of the wine into the Blood – the species only of the bread and wine remaining – which conversion indeed the Catholic Church most aptly call Transubstantiation.”

Our increasingly secular culture promotes a materialistic attitude that denigrates and dismisses the idea of miracles and mysteries. Like the apostle Thomas unless we can see it, touch it, taste it, prove it, then it cannot possibly exist or be real. Mystery and miracle are suspect, only real, when scientifically or rationally explained. This materialistic attitude directs us toward the denial of the unknowable, to admitting that creation, redemption, resurrection, sin, grace, the real presence, and transubstantiation are improbabilities not reality.

The sense of wonder that should fill us has been replaced by pragmatism and materialism. We see the light but hold onto the darkness, afraid to believe what we cannot prove, hungry for that which we cannot grasp within our physical senses. Without mystery or miracle, without the unknowable, we submit ourselves to the darkness that surrounds us and close our eyes to the beauty of the light that is God.

About the author: Deacon Chuck

Deacon Chuck was ordained into the permanent diaconate on September 17, 2011, in the ministry of service to the Diocese of Reno and assigned to St. Albert the Great Catholic Community. He currently serves as the parish bulletin editor and website administrator. Deacon Chuck continues to serve the parish of Saint Albert the Great Catholic Community of the Diocese of Reno, Nevada. He is the Director of Adult Faith Formation and Homebound Ministries for the parish, conducts frequent adult faith formation workshops, and is a regular homilist. He currently serves as the bulletin editor for the parish bulletin. He writes a weekly column intended to encompass a broad landscape of thoughts and ideas on matters of theology, faith, morals, teachings of the magisterium and the Catholic Church; they are meant to illuminate, illustrate, and catechize the readers and now number more than 230 articles. His latest endeavor is "Colloqui: A journal for restless minds", a weekly journal of about 8 pages similar in content to bulletin reflections. All his reflections, homilies, commentaries, and Colloqui are posted and can be found on his website: Comments are always welcome and appreciated. He is the author of two books: "The Voices of God: hearing God in the silence" which offers the reader insights into how to hear God’s voice through all of the noise that surrounds us; and "Echoes of Love: Effervescent Memories" which through a combination of prose and verse provides the reader with a wonderful journey on the way to discovering forever love. He regularly speaks to groups of all ages and size and would welcome the opportunity to speak to your group.

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