Yes indeed! FAITH ANSWERS is moving to every other Wednesday. Same format, same place, but different day. The next question-and-answer related to your Catholic faith will be posted on Wednesday, July 11. Look for it then!
Since the Eucharist is the Body of Christ, when we eat it, are its elements still existing as our Savior, or are they digested and become part of our own body? Do we become part of Jesus’ body? Do we become part of each other's bodies in Christ?
In John 6, the Lord Jesus teaches a kind of mutual indwelling, for He says, "Whoever eats my Flesh and drinks my Blood remains in me, and I in him” (John 6:56). Thus, while this process is mysterious and not easily reduced to mere human language, the mutual indwelling is very real, such that we are in Christ, and He is in us.
At one level, the Eucharist, the Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity of Christ, is food. As Jesus says, “For my flesh is true food, and my blood is true drink” (John 6:55). As human beings, the food we receive, in this case the Holy Eucharist, is wonderfully assimilated into us, and becomes the very stuff of which we are made. That is, our food becomes the very building blocks of the cells in our body. And thus the very food of Jesus’ own Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity, becomes part of our very substance. In this sense, St. Augustine says, “Christian, become what you are” (cf Sermon 272).
But, as all the Fathers of the Church note, unlike every other food we receive, the fruit of Christ is both living, and greater than we are. All other foods we receive, are dead. But since Christ is alive, it is not merely that we take Him into ourselves, but even more, that he takes us into Him, making us a member of His own Body. And this assimilation of us into him is far greater than our assimilation of him into us. Thus, we most properly speak of becoming a member of his body, for that is the greater effect of Holy Communion. But it is not untrue that he also becomes one with us, as the quote from John 6:58, above, teaches.
Ultimately, our oneness with each other is in Christ. And thus, while avoiding overly physicalist notions, we can say that we have communion in and with one another, in Christ, for we are all members of the one Body, and when we receive Christ, we receive the whole Christ, which includes all his members. This is why faith and orthodoxy is also essential for Communion. For one to be truly a member of the Body of Christ, requires that one live in union with all the members, and with its head. Ultimately the Church is Unus Christus, amans seipsum (On Christ, loving himself – St Augustine, Homilies on 1 John, 10, 3)
Thus, properly understood, and with necessary distinctions, the insights noted above are correct.
Saying the Rosary and repeating the Hail Mary 50 times seems strange and irrational to me. Are we supposed to concentrate on the prayer we are saying and the mystery all at one time?
The Catechism speaks of the rosary as an epitome of the whole Gospel (CCC # 971). In other words it is a summary or an embodiment of the whole Gospel, because it encourages the faithful to meditate upon the fundamental events of salvation history, and the life of Christ. Someone has called the rosary, the “gospel on the string.”
These images help to emphasize that the central work of the Rosary is to meditate on the Scriptures and that Mary’s work, above all, is to lead us to a deeper faith in Jesus.
There are some who find the Rosary a helpful way to pray. Others find it difficult and distracting. Thus the Church, while encouraging the Rosary, does not require it. It is a fact that people are suited to different prayer forms. Saying repeated Hail Marys, is appreciated by many as a kind of rhythmic background for the meditation on the gospel passages, which is the key point of the Rosary, and this aspect of it should be central in your thoughts.
Why do we not consider Nathaniel (John 1:49) as the first disciple to recognize Jesus as Messiah and Son of God but instead consider Peter to be based on his statement (Matthew 16:16)?
When you ask why “we” do this, it is important to note it is actually Jesus who does this. At some level we will have to wait and ask Jesus why he responded with great solemnity to St. Peter, and yet seems little more than amused with what St. Bartholomew (Nathaniel) says. That said, permit the following provisional answer to your question.
At one level, the two responses do seem similar. But in analyzing the texts we must first notice some linguistic differences. Nathaniel refers to Jesus as the “King of Israel,” whereas Peter calls him “the Christ.” And though some scripture scholars think that first century Jews would have used these terms interchangeably, they are nevertheless not identical. The term “Christ” (Greek for Messiah) is more theologically precise.
Secondly, we must remember that context is important. Nathaniel makes his comment as an early and almost ecstatic claim. Peter however makes his declaration after Jesus has spent time teaching and leading the apostles. And though the Father inspires his utterance, it is also rooted in the formation he has received from Jesus.
Further, there may be many other factors that are unknown to us simply in reading a written text. For example, there may be significance in the tone of voice, or the look on the face of Peter or Nathaniel that adds shades of meaning. There may also have been discussions or events prior to the utterances that influence the moments.
We can only trust that the Lord Jesus not only experienced all of these contextual things, but also knew the mind and heart of those who spoke. And thus he reacts one way to Nathaniel, and in a more solemn way to Peter.
At times, this is the best that we can do. Biblical texts supply us with what we need to know, not necessarily everything we want to know.
"Building our Catholic faith one question at a time."