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Bread Come Down from Heaven


About these words I observe, first, that they evidently declare on the face of them some very great mystery.  

EucharistHow can they be otherwise taken?  If they do not, they must be a figurative way of declaring something which is not mysterious, but plain and intelligible.  But is it conceivable that he who is the truth and love itself, should have used difficult words when plain words would do?

Why should he have used words, the sole effect of which, in that case, would be to perplex, to startle us needlessly?  Does his mercy delight in creating difficulties?  Does he put stumbling blocks in our way without cause?  Does he excite hopes, and then disappoint them?  It is possible; he may have some deep purpose in so doing: but which is more likely, that his meaning is beyond us, or his words beyond his meaning?

All who read such awful words as those in question will be led by the first impression of them, either with the disciples to go back, as at a hard saying, or with Saint Peter to welcome what is promised:  they will be excited in one way or the other, with incredulous surprise or with believing hope.

And are the feelings of these opposite witnesses, discordant indeed, yet all of them deep, after all unfounded?  Are they to go for nothing?  Are they no token of our Savior's real meaning?  This desire, and again this aversion, so naturally raised, are they without a real object, and the mere consequence of a general mistake on all hands, of what Christ meant as imagery, for literal truth?  Surely this is very improbable.  



newmanJohn Henry Cardinal Newman. "Bread Come Down from Heaven." excerpt from Parochial and Plain Sermons (San Francisco: Ignatius Press, 1997).

This excerpt appeared in Magnificat in May 2014.

The Author

newman72newman71Blessed John Henry Newman was born on 21 February 1801, and died on 11 August 1890. Through his published writings and private correspondence he created a greater understanding of the Catholic Church and its teachings, helping many persons with their religious difficulties. At his death he was praised for his unworldliness, humility, and prayerful contact with the invisible world. Blessed John Henry Cardinal Newman is the author of many books including, Parochial and Plain Sermons, Essay on the Development of Christian Doctrine, An Essay in Aid of a Grammar of Assent, Difficulties of Anglicans, The Idea of a University, Fifteen Sermons Preached Before the University of Oxford Between A.D. 1826 and 1843, and Apologia Pro Vita Sua.

Copyright © 1997 Ignatius Press
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