Infinity Stones and the Eucharist: My Catholic Dad Dinner Win

At a recent family dinner, I used Infinity Stones, the coveted treasures that are the plot drivers of several Marvel movies, to teach my children the importance of understanding the Eucharist, and it was perhaps the greatest dinner moment of my Catholic dad life.

I have been bragging about it incessantly since, with unabashed pride.

It all started when my son saw the powerful movie Beyond the Gates.

My son is blessed with a great group of friends who have movie nights. Yes, they have watched the Marvel movies. But they have also enjoyed movies about faith and sacrifice, such as Life Is Beautiful, Gran Torino — and Beyond the Gates.

That’s a 2005 movie about the 1994 Rwandan genocide starring John Hurt as Father Christopher, a priest who stays with his Rwandan flock and dies with them.

“I thought that was a great movie,” I said. “But I always hesitate to recommend it because of what it says about the Eucharist.”

“Wait, what does it say about the Eucharist?” my son asked.

“There’s that scene,” I said, “where the teacher is struggling to explain the Eucharist to his class, and he clearly doesn’t understand the Real Presence.”

“But the priest explains it!” said my son.

“No he doesn’t,” I told him. “He says ‘Jesus is in everything. He is in every human heart, everything we see and touch, everything we feel.’”

“So?”

“So, that’s not how Jesus is in the Blessed Sacrament.”

“Oh, dad,” said my son, exasperated. “What’s the big deal? Why does everyone have to say things perfectly?”

“Because it’s the Eucharist,” I said. “It’s Jesus Christ himself.”

“Dad, you make too big of a deal out of things like that,” he informed me, and I could tell he wasn’t willing to discuss the matter further. So I let it sit. For five minutes.

I wanted to tell him, yes, it is a big deal. We are always only one generation from losing faith in the Eucharist, and if we don’t talk about it the right way, no one will know what it is.

St. Paul, writing around AD 54, imputed terrible guilt to whoever eats and drinks without “discerning the body” of Christ properly. Justin Martyr, around the 150s, wrote of “this food we call the Eucharist” and said it is “the flesh and blood of that incarnate Jesus.” The Council of Trent in 1551 reacted against Christians who rejected the Real Presence, defining: “by the consecration of the bread and wine a change is brought about of the whole substance of the bread into the substance of the body of Christ our Lord.”

And the current Catechism of the Catholic Church stresses that in the Eucharist “the body and blood, together with the soul and divinity, of our Lord Jesus Christ and, therefore, the whole Christ is truly, really, and substantially contained.”

I wanted to tell him that what we believe about the Eucharist matters so much people have died for it.

Paul Comtois would never have died saving the Eucharist from a fire in 1966 if Christ was only present there as he was in “everything we see and feel.” And Calvinists who rejected the Eucharist would never have killed Nicholas Pick in 1572 if he had only preached what the movie priest had said. And St. Hermengild in 585 would never have died rather than receive communion from an Arian bishop if that was all he believed.

But I didn’t say any of that.

Instead, I let the whole matter drop, and once it was forgotten, five minutes later, I casually said, “I was explaining Marvel movies at work, and I told them how Infinity Stones don’t have any power at all unless all five of them are together.”

My son exploded with passion. “Dad, that’s wrong!” he said. “Infinity Stones do have power when they’re separate! How could you say that?”

I smiled.

“You’re right,” I said. “What we say about Infinity Stones matters. And so does what we say about the Eucharist.”

This appeared at Aleteia.
Image: wiki media creative commons.

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Tom Hoopes

Tom Hoopes, author of The Rosary of Saint John Paul II, The Fatima Family Handbook and What Pope Francis Really Said, is writer in residence at Benedictine College in Kansas. A former reporter in the Washington, D.C., area, he served as press secretary of the U.S. House Ways & Means Committee Chairman and spent 10 years as executive editor of the National Catholic Register newspaper and Faith & Family magazine. His work frequently appears in Catholic publications such as Aleteia.org and the Register. He lives in Atchison, Kansas, with his wife, April, and their nine children.