I received Holy Communion at age 7 and I was confirmed in the faith at age 12. In those days, the good old Carmelite Monks meant everything to us. I literally ate and drank at their table and was even given a room to myself (usually a month before every exam), so that I could focus on my studies. I still remember sitting on those hard wooden benches, gathered around Fr. Silva/Fr. John/Fr. Simon Stock, who would tell us stories from the Bible and quiz us on the Catechism. We were too young then to understand how the host and wine could change into the real body and wine into the real blood. I served at mass till the age of 22 and I struggled with what was explained to me as a 'mystery'. Even today, at age 47, I have still not comprehended how this can happen although there are many 'Eucharistic Miracles' talked about on the Internet and church bulletins.
As you can see, I am still trying to make sense out of 'this whole thing'! (Readers, do let me know if you understand this differently)
John 6: 48 to 55: I am the bread of life. 49 Your fathers ate the manna in the wilderness, and are dead. 50 This is the bread which comes down from heaven, that one may eat of it and not die. 51 I am the living bread which came down from heaven. If anyone eats of this bread, he will live forever; and the bread that I shall give is My flesh, which I shall give for the life of the world.”
52 The Jews therefore quarreled among themselves, saying, “How can this Man give us His flesh to eat?”
53 Then Jesus said to them, “Most assuredly, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink His blood, you have no life in you. 54 Whoever eats My flesh and drinks My blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day. 55 For My flesh is food indeed,[a] and My blood is drink indeed.
I agree that when many disciples left Jesus that day due to the above 'shocking' words of Jesus. Many say that the fact that Jesus did not stop them and explain that it was only a parable, is reason enough to believe that the consecrated host does indeed change into the body of Christ (and wine into blood).
In Jn.6:33, He says that the bread of heaven is not His earthly flesh but He Who (personally and now incarnately) came down to give life to the world. When in 6:34, the believers said to Him `Lord, give us this bread evermore!'- Jesus did not pick up a piece of earthly bread and turn it into Himself.
Instead, in 6:35, He said to them `I am the bread of life' (and not `I will become the bread of life'); he who comes to Me (and not `he who comes to a piece of earthly bread that I will turn into Myself) shall never be hungry."
In John 6:48f, Jesus added: "I am that bread of life." He did not say: `Earthly bread will become Me.' Of Himself He then said: "This is the bread that comes down from heaven (not `that earthly bread will become Me). If any man eat of this bread, he shall live for ever (not `even if any man eats the consecrated host on earth, he might still end up in hell' ????). And the bread that I will give [not `the consecrated host ????], is My flesh which I will give for the life of the world."
In John 6:52-58, "the [(nbelieving) Jews therefore strove among themselves, saying, `How can this man give us his flesh to eat?"' This shows that they had a carnal, cannibalistic and materialistic misunderstanding of what Jesus was saying.
In 6:53, "Jesus said to them, 'Very truly I tell you, unless you keep on eating the flesh of the Son of man and keep on drinking His blood (Is He talking about coming to mass everyday here?), you have no life in yourselves. Whoever keeps on eating My flesh and keeps on drinking My blood, has everlasting life. "'
"For My flesh is food indeed, and My blood is drink indeed. He who keeps on eating My flesh and keeps on drinking My blood, keeps on dwelling in Me (not physically but spiritually), And I in him (not physically but spiritually).
He who keeps on feeding on Me (does not appear to be talking of the consecrated host ...), even he shall keep on living by Me. This is that bread which came down from heaven (and not `you must physically eat my flesh which came forth from Mary') .... He who keeps on eating of this bread (namely the Christ from heaven), shall continue living for ever (and not `might end up in heaven after a reasonable term in purgatory, yet could possibly still end up in hell for ever')!"
Jesus said: "The hour is coming, and is now, when the true worshippers shall worship the Father in spirit.... .... God is Spirit; and they that worship Him, must worship Him in spirit .... It is the Spirit Who enlivens. The flesh profits nothing. The words which I spoke to you, they are Spirit!" John 4:23f & 6:63.
In John 6:61, when even His disciples kept on murmuring about this, Jesus said to them : "It is the Spirit Who keeps on enlivening! The flesh profits not at all! The words which I have spoken (or keep speaking) to you, they are Spirit and they are life!
Later, in Acts we know how there were only 120 gathered together on the day of Pentecost (What happened to all the other disciples who walked with Jesus?) . On that day after receiving the power from the Holy Spirit, thousands were added to their fold. Could it be that the very same disciples who walked away from Jesus FINALLY GOT THE MESSAGE?