In a world that is immersed with stories of supernatural beings, reverence for the supernatural food offered during a Catholic Mass is lost. Why is this so? I don’t have one concrete answer to this question. I believe the fascination with zombies and vampires has a lot to do with it.
In the Bible, John 6:52-59 Jesus says, “…unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink His blood, you have no life within you. He who eats My flesh and drinks My blood has eternal life, … My flesh is true food, and My blood is true drink. He who eats My flesh and drinks My blood abides in Me, and I in him … so he who eats Me, he also will live because of Me.”
Jesus offers us his own body and blood as food. He gives up his own physical body, to give eternal life to our souls. This eternal life includes remaining in his presence where we will be filled with joy, peace and love. Through his sacrifice he gives dignity to all life. He exemplifies the ultimate true friend by laying down his life for us. The Eucharist is a pledge of eternal life not just for our soul, but also for our body. Christ’s immortal body plants a seed within us, the seed of immortality. The Eucharist is a gift that we choose to receive and it is the sacrament of hope.
The zombie and the vampire take the bodies of their victims as food, against their free will. These creatures lack self-control, and are seeking to fulfil a carnal desire. They are reduced to animalistic, perverted, undignified and dirty task of feeding on human flesh and blood. Zombies and vampires are led by a spirit of lust. Their lust causes their victims physical death. Once transformed into a zombie or vampire the human soul is damned. Immortality is perverted as they are stuck in this temporal world with no hope for an eternity of peace, joy and love. Their whole existence is dependent upon instilling fear. Victims are forced to respond by flight or fight.
If the apostles had bitten into Jesus arm, when he said, “eat my flesh,” it wouldn’t have done them any good. Jesus wasn’t calling them to cannibalism. Jesus had to die and be resurrected, to institute the sacrament of the Eucharist. He remains with us in the form of bread and wine, yet through the eyes of faith we accept that the substance has changed to His body and blood. When Jesus resurrected and when the Bible references the resurrection of others, it is a complete resurrection of body and soul.
A quick ‘google search’ on the history of the zombie and the vampire reveals a link to the supernatural. Zombies are known in Haitian religion as animated corpses that are resurrected by mystical means, such as witchcraft and are controlled by the person who revived them. They are soulless and mindless creatures. Whereas, vampires were thought to be supernatural, demonic entities, born out of sorcery, demons summoned from another world. Most vampire enthusiasts will relate the story of a Romanian man, Vlad Tepes as the earliest vampire. However, he was not actually considered a demonic, blood sucking being, this was adapted in Western literature.
If we can shrug off the invisible evil, then we can just as easily shrug off the invisible good. We easily dismiss the zombie and vampire as fictional and entertaining, failing to acknowledge the danger that lies behind every zombie and vampire story. We forget that we are not only physical beings, we are also spiritual beings. Our physical body is connected to our spirit therefore what we do with our body affects our spirit, and vice versa. Current zombie and vampire story lines tend to remove supernatural elements. For example, they use scientific means to explain the spread of the zombification or vampirism as a virus. This doesn’t in itself remove the danger, the origin or the intent of the spirit behind the story.
If a non believer attends a Catholic Mass and doesn’t accept that Jesus is truly present in the Eucharist, it doesn’t change anything about the sacrament. Their lack of faith or indifference doesn’t affect the miracle that occurs on the altar at Mass. Even if the priest says the words of consecration but doubts the Real Presence, Christ will still be truly present. You can read of the numerous, scientifically documented testimonies on the Miracles of the Eucharist that prove the Real Presence of Jesus in the bread and wine we receive at Holy Mass.
The world is so much more than what we can physically perceive. Since vampirism and zombification mock the sacredness of the Eucharist, by watching or reading these stories we are in danger of becoming indifferent. Not only indifferent to the Sacrament of the Eucharist, but to sin in general. We can get so caught up in the tangible physical part of our being we forget our spirit, and lose sight of the supernatural. When we don’t nurture our spirit, through prayer and the sacraments it becomes easier for us to give way to sin. The more evil, grotesque images we allow into our subconscious the more deadened we will be to its negative effects on our spirit.
God is good. When we physically and spiritually dwell on what is good, noble, right and beautiful it is easier to draw our hearts and minds to God. Our souls will not be weighed down. Our spirits will be uplifted, joyful and hopeful. The more we see beauty, the more sensitive we will be to the ugliness of evil and sin.
St. Paul said it best in Philippians 4:8 : “Finally, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, dwell on these things.”