Our true country is Heaven, and as long as we are living on earth, we are captives and exiles. We are far from Jesus Christ, our King; far from Mary, our good Mother; far from the Angels and Saints of Heaven; and far from our dear departed friends. But very many Christians are also, in another respect, like the captive of whom I have spoken. They do not know Jesus Christ, their true King, who not only visits them, but dwells very near them. “But,” you will ask, “how can Jesus Christ dwell near them without their knowing Him?” It is because He has put on a strange garment and appears in disguise. Our Lord Jesus Christ abides in two places: in Heaven, where He shows Himself undisguised, as He is in reality; and on earth in the Blessed Sacrament, in which He conceals Himself under the appearance of bread.
One day a certain nun said to St. Teresa: “I wish that I had lived at the time of Jesus Christ, my dear Saviour, for then I could have seen how amiable and lovely He is.” St. Teresa, on hearing this, laughed outright. “What!” said she, “do you not know then, dear sister, that the same Jesus Christ is still with us on earth, that He lives quite near us, in our churches, on our altars, in the Blessed Sacrament?” Yes, the Blessed Sacrament, or Holy Eucharist, is the true Body and Blood of Jesus Christ, Our Lord, who is truly, really and substantially present under the outward appearances of bread and wine.
This is indeed a great mystery, and the more to confirm your faith in it, I will give you some proofs for it from Scripture and tradition. The first proof is taken from the sixth chapter of the gospel of St. John. Our divine Saviour knew that if He were to teach the Jews and His disciples such a new and wonderful doctrine without having first prepared them for it, there would be scarcely one who would believe Him. When God intends to do something very extraordinary, He generally prepares men for it by revealing to them beforehand what He is about to do. Thus we know that when He intended to destroy the world by the deluge, He made it known through Noah a hundred years before this dreadful event took place. Again, when the Son of God had become man and was about to make Himself known as the Redeemer of the world, He sent St. John the Baptist to prepare the people for His coming.
Finally, when He intended to destroy Jerusalem, He foretold it by the prophets; and, Jesus Christ has also described the signs by which men may know when the End of the World is at hand. God acts thus with men because He does not wish to overwhelm them by His strange and wonderful dealings. Hence, when our divine Saviour was about to tell the people that He intended to give them His Flesh and Blood as food for their souls, He prepared them for this mysterious doctrine by working a very astounding miracle. This great miracle was the feeding of five thousand men with five loaves and two fishes. The people, having witnessed this miracle, were all so full of reverence for Jesus Christ that they wished to take Him by force and make Him king; but Jesus, perceiving this, fled from them. They found Him again, however, on the following day, and then Jesus took occasion from the impression the miracle had made on them to introduce the subject of the heavenly food which He was about to give to the world. “Amen, I say to you,” said Jesus, “ye seek Me, not because ye have seen signs, but because ye have eaten of the loaves and have been filled. Labor not for the food which perisheth, but for that which endureth to life ever- lasting which the Son of man will give you” (John 6:26-27). Here He declares that the food He was to give them would confer eternal life.