Stupe de Jure

A single word in a Time Magazine article irked me. The word “conjure” can mean “to summon by invocation or incantation.” I think the more common usages are “to use a conjurer’s tricks” and “to make (something) appear unexpectedly or seemingly from nowhere as if by magic.”

In her article “Nine Things You Probably Didn’t Know About Swear Words,” Katy Steinmetz writes:

In the Middle Ages, Mohr says, certain vain oaths were believed to actually tear apart the ascended body of Christ, as he sat next to his Father in heaven. Phrases that incorporated body parts, like swearing “by God’s bones” or “by God’s nails,” were looked upon as a kind of opposite to the Catholic eucharist—the ceremony in which a priest is said to conjure Christ’s physical body in a wafer and his blood in wine.

When Steinmetz writes that the priest “is said to conjure,” she is referring to a 2,000-year-old belief of billions of Catholics. We believe that Jesus gave explicit instructions to reenact the Last Supper, which we do at every Mass. We also believe that the Eucharist (which should be capitalized) is a miracle performed by God, not a trick conjured by the priest.

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