If I am a true, faithful believing Catholic then I must have the same faith that the very first Christian believers had.
They believed that the Eucharist (it means Thanksgiving in the original Greek) was truly the body and blood of Christ.
Even though it was presented to them as wine and unleavened bread, they knew Jesus was present. Jesus told them that on the night of Passover when he lifted the bread and also the cup of wine - "This is my Body" and "This is my Blood" of the new and everlasting convenant.
He said that as he lifted them up to say the Blessing over them. It has been always and in every place those who believe this exact thing - and that the blood and flesh of Christ taken in makes us truly ONE with Him as His Bride - The Church is. It is also like a transfusion when we are about to die spiritually. It brings life back to us. It is like true food when we are starving and craving the things of this world, either good or bad for us. Because like the earliest Christians believed, at the root of every hunger, craving, desire and need is at it's core the seeking after the truth and the Divine that gives us true immortality. It was even more than the Heavenly Manna that God fed the Israelites from his own hand.
That's exactly what happens at every Mass before we take the Eucharist. Read this in your Bible when you can or here where I have copied and pasted it. Mine is the Revised Standard Version:
"I am the bread of life. Your fathers ate the manna in the wilderness, and they died.
This is the bread which comes down from heaven, that a man may eat of it and not die.
I am the living bread which came down from heaven; if any one eats of this bread, he will live for ever; and the bread which I shall give for the life of the world is my flesh."
The Jews then disputed among themselves, saying, "How can this man give us his flesh to eat?"
So Jesus said to them, "Truly, truly, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of man and drink his blood, you have no life in you; he who eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day.
For my flesh is food indeed, and my blood is drink indeed. He who eats my flesh and drinks my blood abides in me, and I in him.
As the living Father sent me, and I live because of the Father, so he who eats me will live because of me. This is the bread which came down from heaven, not such as the fathers ate and died; he who eats this bread will live for ever."
This he said in the synagogue, as he taught at Caperna-um.
Many of his disciples, when they heard it, said, "This is a hard saying; who can listen to it?"
But Jesus, knowing in himself that his disciples murmured at it, said to them, "Do you take offense at this? Then what if you were to see the Son of man ascending where he was before? It is the spirit that gives life, the flesh is of no avail; the words that I have spoken to you are spirit and life. But there are some of you that do not believe."
For Jesus knew from the first who those were that did not believe, and who it was that would betray him. And he said, "This is why I told you that no one can come to me unless it is granted him by the Father." After this many of his disciples drew back and no longer went about with him.
Jesus said to the twelve, "Do you also wish to go away?"
Simon Peter answered him, "Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life; ""
Many people today explain the words of Jesus to mean that he was only speaking symbolically about "eating his flesh and drinking his blood". No Jewish man would dare have anything to do with blood, much less talk about drinking it and eating flesh which was like the pagan cannibals.
We know his disciples and followers said basically in our modern phrase, "This is not only hard to understand but just hard to hear! We can't bear to even hear you talking of "gnawing" human flesh! Who could?!"
Most of the New Testament, which was written in Greek, uses another word for "eat". The Greek word "phago" means eat...just like eating food or a meal, etc.
When Jesus told his disciples and followers they were going to eat his flesh and drink his blood, the Greek word for eat - "phago" is changed.
The word for eat becomes the Greek word "trogo". It is only used in John 6 by Jesus when speaking of his flesh being eaten.
The reason it seemed so awful to hear or even bear was because "trogo" doesn't just mean to simply eat. The definition in the Greek is: "to gnaw, crunch, chew as in raw vegetables or fruits (as nuts, almonds).
Jesus doesn't just say "eat" my flesh he says "gnaw on it" almost like an animal gnawing on a bone to get the marrow. Devouring the flesh down to the last morsel wasting nothing.
When his disciples and followers couldn't understand why or even bare it spoken, the scripture says, "many left him and did not continue to follow him". Peter, who Jesus called "Rock" (Petros in Greek means rock and that's where the name Peter..our form of it comes in). In Greek, there is a difference between "Rock...big rocks or little rocks and many of the protestant theologians say Jesus called him little Rock. Jesus spoke Aramaic which was what the Jews all spoke at the time even though many knew Greek and if they could write at that time they would have written in either Greek or maybe a little Latin. But Jesus didn't speak Greek. He said "Rock" which is all there is in the Aramaic language. He called the first head of the disciples and the new Church, Peter or Rock.
Even the 12 looked at Jesus a bit strangely for saying this and it made Jesus even ask them, "Do you wish to leave me also?"
Just like C.S. Lewis said...about Jesus..."He's not just a good man because he never said that...what He said was that He was the true Messiah and the Son of God. So He is either a Liar, or a Lunatic, or Lord and we can only bow down to worship and obey or go the way of Satan and say, "I will not serve".
The same is true of the Eucharist and there is so much more that I haven't explained yet.
But, Jesus is either the Son of God and truth or He is a liar or a lunatic or a very bad man.
He had many followers who believed in Him and saw His miracles and they followed after him from place to place with the 12. If Jesus meant that what he said was only about the Spirit because the flesh didn't mean anything....why didn't he stop these men who loved and followed him and say, "Oh you, slow of heart and understanding, do you think I would have you eat real flesh and drink real blood?"
He did nothing and he even asked if Peter and the rest were going to leave too since they probably looked a bit green around the gills too. Peter just said where else would we go...you have the words of eternal life, Lord."
That chapter of John 6 that this is taken from also spoke about Judas in a way that lets you know that he didn't leave, but he clearly didn't think Jesus was in his right mind any longer. Basically, he hung around because he kept the purse strings of money that they used and embezzled often of it, but he no longer believed at all that Jesus was the Jewish Messiah.
Even Judas knew that the least devout Jew wouldn't dream of eating human flesh or blood...not even pagan Greek culture did that! Peter and the other 10 weren't thrilled about it either, and they clearly didn't understand then, but they didn't leave Him because though it was hard to believe or understand at that moment...they loved Jesus and had enough faith that at some point it would be made clear.