By the Power of Faith
Meditations on the Eucharist 5
Contents
  • The Miracle of the First Act of Faith
  • Following the Example of Abraham
  • The One Who Reveals and Hides Himself
  • Defeated After a Trial
  • The Force of Faith and the Force of Refusal
  • Rich with Oneself
  • A Difficult Threshold
  • The Table of the Word
  • The Silence Towards the Eucharist
  • Christ and the Church
  • God's Constructing
  • Springing Source of Unity
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Foreword by Bishop Thomas Depo
Member of the Commission for the Doctrine of Faith of the Polish Conference of Bishops

Bending with faith over the book by the Reverend Professor - Father Tadeusz Dajczer bearing the title “With the Force of Faith. Meditations on the Eucharist” we ask a very fundamental question: “What is Eucharist?” A countless number of works and dissertations have been written about it. And dispite the most tremendous efforts there is no way to render the unusualness and religious richness of the Eucharist. As indeed for a believer it is the everlasting and priceless mystery. We shall therefore care for the true and complete theology of the Eucharist and “living by the force of faith”. This care will protect us against the descent into the empty verbalism deprived of sacrum and the arbitrariness of the exercised cult. ”How can we not return ever anew to this mystery, which contains the entire life of the Church?” - asked God's servant John Paul II in the Letter to Priests for Holy Thursday of 2000. “Let us remain faithful to what the Upper Room “hands on” to us, to the great gift of Holy Thursday. May we sit at the “school” of the Eucharist.” This task set by John Paul II wins particular meaning in the Year for Priests 2009-2010 proclaimed by Benedict XVI which with certainty will be a deeply Eucharistic time.

Going into the content of the Reverend Professor's meditations based on the Revelation, the Magisterium of the Church and statements of the saints, we confirm that the Eucharistic presence is not a usual remembrance, but “making present” of the living, real presence of the Lord amongst us. The Holy Spirit, being constantly active in the Eucharistic liturgy, will always remain its guarantor so that the bread and wine become the Body and Blood of Christ. It is the same Holy Spirit that came down upon Mary and the Apostles (Acts 2,14) and told them to go into all the world to preach God's word, make disciples and gather God's people for “breaking of bread” (cf. Acts 2,42). “Do this in remembrance of me” (Lk 22,19). This Eucharistic act of transformation of bread into His Body and wine into His Blood done by priests will make present the work of Christ in each generation of Christians and each part of the earth until His Second Coming. Wherever the Eucharist will be celebrated, the sacrifice of blood on Calvary will be made present there in the bloodless manner and Christ Himself, the Redeemer of the world, will be present there.

I express my gratitude towards the work of Reverend Professor that in the following volume of the Eucharistic meditations he focuses on the questions of faith: from faith being a grace and accepting the truths of revelations - which not always are easily received by reason - to faith experienced as reception of Jesus for one's God and Lord so that He directs our live. We receive this book with joy. By issuing it, FIDEI Publishing in Warsaw contributes to reminding and fulfilling the so-called “testament of John Paul II” expressed on June 10, 1979 in Cracow: “You must be strong with the strength of faith, hope and charity, a charity that is aware, mature and responsible and helps us to set up the great dialogue with man and the world rooted in the dialogue with God himself, with the Father through the Son in the Holy Spirit, the dialogue of salvation.”

Expressing thanks to the Reverend Professor for this new testimony of faith, I hope that this book allows wide range of readers to deepen their faith in Eucharist and live the Eucharist in everyday life.

Vaclav Thomas Depo

The Miracle of the First Act of Faith

I discover God in the Eucharist insofar as I believe. “And without faith it is impossible to please Him. For whoever would draw near to God must believe” (Heb 11,6). But for how long and with what difficulty I will force my way towards the understanding of what faith is.

Faith appeared in the history of mankind together with the person of Abraham as a completely new phenomenon. Therefore perhaps it would be easier to understand faith trying to empathize with the situation of his, who is the father of our faith. Abraham is an unusual figure. He is as if he were faith himself. The Lord God shaped him for this one who believes first and who grows in faith through his whole life. And all this in such a manner that without faith one cannot understand Abraham.

The beginnings of the second millennium before Christ. In this context the Holy Scripture tells about Abram's [as a result of the covenant God changed his name to Abraham] migration. He came from Ur of the Chaldeans (Gen 11,28) or Haran (Gen 29,4) in Mesopotamia from a nomadic, polytheistic tribe. Terah, Abraham's father, was the chieftain of this tribe. Abraham was migrating together with his wife Sarai, his father Terah and Lot - Terah's grandson. They reached Haran where they put up their tents. Abraham, who after his father's death became the leader of the tribe, thought that he would remain there permanently. And then it comes to encounter with God. Upon a special call from God, Abraham leaves Haran and goes to Canaan.

The Old Testament shows not only the history of Abraham, but also himself as the man especially called and then tried by God to become the unusually privileged forefather of the chosen people. God's promises concerning him passed onto his offspring, both in bodily and spiritual dimension. The New Testament depicts him first of all as G o d' s f r i e n d; as the one who walked in the presence of the Almighty, who called His name; as the father of believers and, consequently, the father of all nations. Jesus Christ was his descendant in biological and spiritual sense.

With our eyes fixed on Abraham, we can understand what is faith in the biblical sense. Through faith Abraham left for the land which he was supposed to receive in legacy. He did not know where he was going. Following the Voice, he was able to break the bonds connecting him with the culture and civilisation in which he grew up. He came out of his father's house, abandoning the community of kindred Semitic tribes. The direction was to be shown only during the migration. In this sense Abraham left for some uncertainty, emptiness, darkness. The only support was this Voice that bequeathed him unimaginable promises.

Faith in Abraham's life is, first of all, the abandonment of the world for the One who called him. One may guess that it demanded sacrifice from him; the sacrifice of former culture, civilisation, house of his ancestors, the land. People of those times - according to anthropology of culture - did not possess the land, it was the land that possessed them. Thanks to it, one may easier understand that Abraham, following the Voice, had to be “eradicated” both from the secular and religious reality.

In religions of those cultures deities did not have personal character, they did not turn to human, but revealed themselves only in the rhythms of nature: in sunrises and sunsets, in sequences of seasons, in high and low tides, in phases of the Moon. Sacrum was bound with nature re-enacting the mythology in its rhythms. Also in culture everything was the re-enactment in a cyclical manner of the events that took place in sacred pre-time and the deeds performed by mythological heroes.

So was the world of that time. The whole world. In that world everything was close. Also the ancestors, however long gone, still remained together - since death in mythical traditions had never been definitive. The characters from mythology also belonged to that world as well as various deities. They all made up the cosmos, the sacred unity that embraced the entirety of the natural and preternatural world.

Roadside trees, and also - as in urban civilisation - buildings belonged to the cosmos; also the birds of the sky and animals of game. Everywhere human made the environment into the cosmos, that is to say, the close, sacred world with which he produced kinship, where the law of continuity ruled. He went outside his house and everything - both nature and culture - in the sense of human works and as the system of meanings - “told” him of sacrum. We may only guess that, just like in other cultures and so in that of Abraham's, this immersion in sacrum was almost complete.

Sacrum was not transcendent. The deity constituted a part of the cosmos, like human did. Beyond that cosmos, regardless of its length and width, a different area stretched: the non-cosmos, the chaos, the alien place, remote, hostile. Often, to broaden this cosmos, this place had to be conquered, wiping out people and animals inhabiting it. Many a time even completely.

Human was feeling well in the cosmos. Everything here was determined in advance, foreseeable. And even what was an exception, what was not in the character of law and order, also had its own meaning, determined in the mythical tradition. When, for instance, the earth trembled, for human it was clear that gods who sustain the world did not receive adequate amount of food from a blood sacrifice.

One may say that from psychological point of view human had then his support in everything. And therefore he felt safe. When God commands Abraham: Go from your country it means not just a simple departure, but here with these words God shakes Abraham and - as a consequence - the world he lived in. Because the words: Go from your country meant: Go from this world of the cosmos in which everything is clear for you, intelligible; the world in which you feel good, in which everything is close and sacred - and you shall receive something unimaginably greater.

The very form itself of turning to Abraham must have been a huge shock as Gods never turned to humans personally. Gods “spoke” exclusively with the voice of cyclical phenomena of nature and this “speech” of theirs was completely intelligible for human.

Meanwhile Abraham hears words that do not fit to any phenomena known by him - they exceed his mentality completely. They are strong as a rock and simultaneously warm and tender. Words that only the Highest Force and Love can utter. Thanks to them in Abraham's mind the image of personal God is being born who wants something that for now is completely unknown. These are words that introduce Abraham into entirely new world. The words he can rely on: “Go from your country and your kindred and your father's house to the land that I will show you. And I will make of you a great nation, and I will bless you, and make your name great, so that you will be a blessing. I will bless those who bless you, and him who curses you I will curse; and by you all the families of the earth shall bless themselves” (Gen 12,1-3).

God shows Himself to Abraham as entirely different. This is God who knows him and changes his name. God who reveals His will. He reveals Himself in an unexpected, surprising way. He amazes. Through His words Abraham is brought into the greatest adventure of his life and simultaneously he becomes a stone that drawing other ones with him shall cause an avalanche. Simply, a new world is going to be created.

In contact with God there are always two persons of the drama: God and human. The call of Abraham by God is the first element of the drama, Abraham's response - is the second. He responded with obedience of faith. And in this way, in the place of all-reigning power of the myth, the phenomenon of faith appears for the first time in history of the world. Abraham, following obediently God's command, seems to say with his sole attitude: I believe You, God, and that is why I believe in what You are going to give me.

In the context of Abraham's faith, the biblical faith, I can see what my own response of faith to God's action, to God's contribution to my life, looks like.

God gives Himself to me in the Church, in His sacraments. Through sacraments the Holy Spirit sanctifies souls. As fire transforms into itself everything it touches, so the Holy Spirit transforms into the divine life whatever is subjected to his power [cf. The Catechism of the Catholic Church, 1127]. Through signs perceptible by us and in a way which corresponds with each of these signs, the sanctification of the man is expressed and effected [cf. The Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy, 7].

All sacraments of the Church need faith as predisposition, although - as the Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy says - “They not only presuppose faith, but by words and objects they also nourish, strengthen, and express it; that is why they are called "sacraments of faith.”[Ibid. 59].

The sacrament of the Eucharist is par excellence the sacrament of faith. The mystery of the Eucharist is, so to speak, a criterion of our faith and faithfulness towards God, because no other mystery puts out such a big challenge for our life, often pervaded by a compromise. The Lord Christ demands from us relentlessly living faith in the transfiguration of wine into His Blood and bread into His Body. It can already be seen in His Eucharistic speech in Capernaum, where He does not spare even the Apostles, demanding from them either profession of faith in the Eucharist or leaving.

Faith, however, is not something I possess; it is not static. It is like drops of quicksilver that, when I want to scoop them up, still disperse anew. Faith is a process and, above all, is the relation between two persons: God, who gives the grace of faith and human, who may receive this grace, but who can also reject it, lock himself to it. The grace of faith and human predisposition always touch each other. Therefore, discerning lacks of my faith, I should persistently ask the Lord, like the Apostles did, to increase this faith to me.

If I truly believed what accomplishes on the altar from the moment of Consecration, then - no doubt - such a great amazement, such a great joy would seize me that it would be difficult for me to live any longer the way I have lived so far.

Saint Gregory the Great advises us that during the Eucharist the earth and the heaven constitute one thing: “The heavens stand open and choirs of angels are present at the mystery of Jesus Christ. There at the altar the lowliest is united with the most sublime, earth is joined to heaven, the visible and invisible somehow merge into one”[Dialogues, IV, 60]. “Participating in the liturgy, not only are we the participants of an encounter in a smaller or bigger ring: the radius of the ring sets the universe and the particular feature of the liturgy is namely that (...) the earth and the heaven meet. The greatness of God's cult lies in this.” [Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger, The Spirit of the Liturgy, 2000 Ignatius Press, San Francisco, p. 6].