Wednesday, 11 April 2012

The Real Presence – Really

I have been reading the amazing book, written by Michael Hesemann, on the story told to him by Georg Ratzinger about his brother Joseph Ratzinger, Pope Benedict XVI. The book is titled “My Brother The Pope” and makes for fascinating reading. I could not put it down, though it started a little slow.

 One of the stories in the book that struck a chord with me was one about the Blessed Sacrament. It highlighted to me the extent to which Catholics in those days when Pope Benedict XVI was a child, truly believed in the Real Presence in the Blessed Sacrament.

How many Catholics today are truly convinced, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that the Blessed Sacrament IS truly the body, blood, soul and divinity of our Lord Jesus. It is our Lord Jesus Christ!

Here is an extract of a story from the book "My Brother The Pope": “Her name was Wally Kifinger, and she lived on the other side of the Aschau stream that ran through the whole place. You arrived at her house by way of a narrow footbridge. She had an invalid sister by the name of Fanny, who lived in her house and for decades had been confined to bed. As an altar server, I went every day with the pastor over the narrow footbridge to Wally’s house to bring Communion to her sister. The pastor made these sick calls in a cassock with a stole and ciborium, and I walked ahead with a bell in my hand and rang it. The people whom we met along the way knelt down and made the sign of the cross, for they knew we were carrying the Blessed Sacrament with us. Every day we went to see her, whether it was summer or winter.[i]

What do we do when we are approached or pass a deacon, priest, bishop or extraordinary minister of Holy Communion, who is carrying the Blessed Sacrament? Do we acknowledge our Lord by genuflecting? Do we simply engage in an ordinary greeting, an everyday conversation, as we would when meeting a friend or colleague, as though the Blessed Sacrament was not there? In short, does our behaviour express our sincere belief in the Real Presence, or does it show only a symbolic belief?

As for those who are taking the Blessed Sacrament to the sick, or any others in need: Do you do so in the same way as you would engage in any other trip? Have you ever considered getting someone to accompany you? Someone who can drive you and the Blessed Sacrament, so that you don’t have to drive yourself. Someone who can also walk ahead of you and the Blessed Sacrament into the home or hospital to prepare. There is always time for conversation with the family, the loved ones and the person receiving Holy Communion, afterwards!

Parishioners, it may be worthwhile, if you have time available, to consider offering your services to drive the priest and the Blessed Sacrament - our Lord Jesus - to those who are in need of these visits? On arrival you could even go in slightly ahead and make the initial little preparations for Holy Communion, helping those present to understand the dignity of the occasion. Jesus has come to heal; to give life.

[i] My Brother The Pope; Hesemann M; 2011; pg. 79

(If you would like to buy the book, My Brother The Pope, either in South Africa or elsewhere, look for it here on my page on Books and DVD's. There is a link to the relevant online bookstores that I always use.)


  1. Very good and instructive! A great majority of catholics need more knowlodge of our catholic faith.

  2. Hand Communion whilst standing has to take some responsibility for the lack of reverence to Our Blessed Lord. Please make it compulsory to Kneel and receive Our Blessed Lord with great reverence.

  3. And heaven forbid you should try to gently suggest that receiving Holy Communion kneeling and in the mouth is more reverent. I find the positively rabid reactions that this elicits quite frightening! And I mean RABID. People practically foam at the mouth. The Afrikaans expression 'haak uit' is probably the most appropriate. And then there is the very depressing reaction, a few weeks ago, by someone who was visiting the parish to promote an Archdiocesan initiative. He very patronisingly remarked that he found our parish very conservative and that he hadn't seen people receiving Communion in the tongue and kneeling since he was at school. Very sad, both for him and the Archdiocese. Suffice it to say that I will no longer be joining the initiative that he was promoting. Tolerance is obviously not one of the programme's strong points.

  4. Genuflect or bow deeply if you are infirm before receiving Communion