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The Sacrament of Truth

Our founder, Fr. Kenneth Baker, was for forty years editor of the Homiletic and Pastoral Review and wrote an editorial for each issue.  This publication is now available online and is still worth reading.  With the National Eucharistic Pilgrimage now in progress (see: https://www.eucharisticpilgrimage.org/) it seemed apropos to reprint this editorial on the Eucharist from the issue of October, 1994.


The Sacrament of Truth

By Father Kenneth Baker, S.J.


Our faith teaches us that our Lord is truly and substantially present in the Blessed Sacrament under the humble appearances of bread and wine; there he is God with us. Jesus is also the truth of God --- he is the Image, Word and Wisdom of the Father. Since the Eucharist contains him who is infinite truth --- the One who said, “I am the truth” (John 14:6), it is legitimate to say, therefore, that the Blessed Eucharist is “The Sacrament of Truth.”


This is so in the ontological sense, because we know with the certainty of faith that Jesus is really present under the physical signs of bread and wine. But I think it is also the case in the area of epistemology or concrete human knowledge.


What am I saying here? What I am saying is that one’s knowledge of reality, both earthly and heavenly, grows in proportion as one increases in love and devotion to our Lord mysteriously present in the Eucharist. Truth is in the mind and is defined as the conformity of the mind to reality. What I am saying is that, as one grows in love of the Eucharist, one also grows in the knowledge of truth or reality.


Unbelievers and tepid Catholics will not understand this statement and will probably consider it nonsense. But those who love our Lord in the tabernacle and are accustomed to spend some time when they can in adoration of Jesus, like Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen, know from experience what I am talking about.


Knowledge of the truth is acquired not just by daily experience and reading books. Since God by his grace works directly on man’s mind and will, he can enlighten the human person when and as he wishes. Thus, the Church has no doubt that the Blessed Virgin Mary, who was “full of grace,” was also full of truth and had a profound understanding of the nature and mission of her Divine Son.


It is well known that many saints achieved a high level of knowledge, not only of the faith, but also of human nature and the world, through prayer and contemplation. Here I think of the prophets, St. John the Baptist, St. Bernadette and the three children at Fatima.


The truth of the Real Presence of Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament is essential and central to the Catholic faith and worship. The whole truth of the Catholic faith stands or falls on the truth of Jesus’ words, “This is my body,” and “This is the cup of my blood.” He did not say, “This is a symbol of my body and blood.” According to St. Thomas Aquinas, the institution of the Eucharist “was the greatest of miracles he worked.” (Breviary for Corpus Christi)


We must be very clear about this: If Jesus is not present --- body, blood, soul and divinity --- in the Eucharist, then he did not speak the truth; then he is not God, and did not rise from the dead; then the Mass is an act of idolatry; then the Catholic faith is not true and we are lost.


But we know with the certitude of faith that he did speak the truth, that he is really present in the Eucharist. He is food for our souls, the true manna, the living bread. The truth of this is known not by science and not by the testimony of the senses; we know it by faith and the witness of the Holy Spirit in the Church. St. Thomas said it best in his Adoro Te Devote: “Sight, touch and taste in thee are each deceived; The ear alone most safely is believed; I believe all the Son of God has spoken; Than Truth’s own word there is no truer token.” So we are justified in calling this greatest of Jesus’ miracles “The Sacrament of Truth.”

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