Mailbag: An Interesting Gastrointestinal Physiology Meditation

Dearest Ann, 

As a result of reading your piece wherein you recommend adoring Our Lord to console Him regarding His sorrow at the state of His Church, and quote from “The Little Prince”, I have begun spending an hour daily (3-4pm) in a local Novus Ordo parish chapel. Thank you, sister in Christ! (I believe that it is actually I that need the ‘taming’, as described in the quote). 

Also, with regards to your piece June 13, ARSH 2018 regarding the eucharistic fast, I have lengthened the time of my pre-Mass fast (now 3 hours for liquids and 7 hours for solids).  So, again, thank you! 

I was meditating on the Gospel of St. Matthew 27:34, where we read “And they gave Him wine to drink mixed with gall; but when He had tasted it, He would not drink.” Gall is actually bile, a digestive enzyme that is secreted into the digestive tract when we eat. When we have food in our stomachs and receive Our Lord in the Holy Eucharist, we, too, are offering Him bile to drink…

God bless you, dear Ann!!

This is an interesting point. Technically, bile empties into the duodenum, which is the valve between the stomach and the small intestine. Certainly people have bile reflux into the stomach, but this is not normal. The Church estimates that the Real Presence persists in our bodies for approximately fifteen minutes, which should normally preclude Our Lord from coming into contact with bile even when the stomach is not empty.

But, as we all know, the stomach absolutely does secrete acid – hydrochloric acid, potassium chloride and sodium chloride in fact – and if you have food in your stomach, then yes, when you receive Our Eucharistic Lord into your body, He is “drinking” your “bile”, if we use the word “bile” as a very general term for all acidic gastric juices. And as we all know from experiences of food poisoning, there is nothing much worse than the contents of the human stomach after a couple of hours of breakdown, after which the stomach contents become an extremely acidic slurry of proto-sewage. I would urge one and all to think long and hard about the charity of essentially throwing Our Lord into your internal acid sewage tank. Seriously. If that makes me “scrupulous”, then I’ll own that happily. Put it on my tombstone.

So, yes, I’ll not be receiving Our Lord unless my stomach is empty. I believe in the Real Presence, and EVERYTHING that goes along with that, including the realities of gastrointestinal physiology.

Remember folks, the Eucharistic fast was FROM MIDNIGHT under pain of MORTAL SIN until ARSH 1957, when Pope Pius XII was ill and nearing death. Look at the timing, look at the broad historical context, look at common sense about how our bodies work, look at how any belief in the Real Presence and Eucharistic piety has been under completely unrelenting attack, and just factor that into your calculus on the question.

I sure hope this helps. Happy Feast of St. Rock!

Bruce Jenner is a man. And furthermore I consider that islam must be destroyed.