29 October, 2012

The Protestant Struggle to Accept the Miracle of the Eucharist

(Yorkshire Lass) “I have looked very carefully at the RC belief in transubstantiation -what Jesus said -John 6:63 is the key to the whole issue -"The Spirit gives life, the flesh counts for nothing." Surely here he refered to his OWN flesh !”

(Cristoiglesia) I really do not see how such an understanding is plausible. Let us examine His previous statements in His colloquy at Capernaum.

Jesus is speaking of the New Covenant requiring a new sustenance which is His Body and Blood. In making this comparison He says that real bread comes from the father just as He and then says that He is the bread of life. If one eats this bread they will live forever. The disciples listening to Him began to realize that Jesus was not speaking metaphorically but literally and then we come to the following verse:

(Joh 6:52 DRB) (6:53) The Jews therefore strove among themselves, saying: How can this man give us his flesh to eat

Then Jesus said in unambiguous literal language:

(Joh 6:53 DRB) (6:54) Then Jesus said to them: Amen, amen, I say unto you: except you eat the flesh of the Son of man and drink his blood, you shall not have life in you.

The following verse indicates the purpose of eating His body and drinking His blood. It is so that we can “abidete” or in other words remains in Him by the Grace bestowed by the act of receiving His Body and His Blood. But the Eucharist benefits us even more in that it augments our union with Christ as the principal fruit of receiving the Eucharist is an intimate union with Christ.

(Joh 6:56 DRB) (6:57) He that eateth my flesh and drinketh my blood abideth in me: and I in him.

An additional benefit of the Eucharist is that it is impossible to unite to Christ without the cleansing of past sins and preserving us from future sins through His grace. This is part of the sanctification process where we grow in our faith in him which separates us further from the risk of mortal sin. Additionally, the Eucharist participation renews, strengthens and deepens ones incorporation into the Church which is achieved through Baptism. It joins us to the entire Church Militant, Suffering and Triumphant.

This being the context of the teaching at Capernaum how can one reasonably come to the conclusion that Jesus’ flesh counts for nothing. Christ previously said that we must eat His Body and drink His Blood to have life eternal. It is through this very act that His divinity is united to us and we abide in Him and Him in us.  The Bible compares this eating of His Body and Blood to the Israelites eating the manna in the desert. Had they not eaten the manna they would not have been saved. In John 6 we see that Jesus is teaching that we must receive His Body and Blood to be saved from death as well. We can also look to God’s commandment to the Israelites in saving their first born sons to eat the Lamb to save their sons. Had they not done as commanded they would have died. So too is the fate of those who refuse to eat His Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity as  they risk being dead to Christ. To the carnal mind the mysterious cannot be contemplated but to a person of faith all things are possible with God and can be understood because we trust the one who teaches us which is Christ who is truly the Word made flesh.

(Yorkshire Lass) “The R C gets its very literal meaning (re the bread & wine) from earlier verses.”

(Cristoiglesia) That is correct because Jesus is truly teaching in the least ambiguous of language that He is truly commanding us to eat His Body and to drink His Blood. He even goes so far as to tell us that we must “gnaw” (Gr. Trogo) His flesh. He said this is (Gr. touto esti) my Body which has the literal meaning. He could have said if He had meant that it was symbolic instead (touto esti) had He wanted to convey that it was symbolic. The Greek clearly points out that Jesus was speaking literally as well as the context.

It is totally implausible for Jesus to be referring to His own Body as counting for nothing since He had already taught that it was necessary for eternal life and for us to abide in Him. It sounds as if it counts for everything and is essential for our eternity.   

(Yorkshire Lass)“Surely you cannot believe in transubstantiation for that's quite frankly cannibolism!”

It would appear that you are coming to this conclusion either by ignorance as to what constitutes cannibalism or out of prejudiced against the Church and its teaching. Surely it is not a studied conclusion.

However I am quite encouraged that you would even inadvertently relate the modern Church to the New Testament Church where that same criticism was given to the Church by the Romans and the Jews in the same pejorative way as you. We Christians have been called cannibals throughout the whole history of the Church by our detractors. At Capernaum many of Jesus’ disciples left Him for that same reason. They recognized that He was asking them to separate themselves from the familial relationship with God by breaking the Old Covenant law that forbids them to drink blood. Even the 12 disciples who had been with Jesus from the beginning of His ministry recognized that this was hard teaching but stayed instead because they had come to believe that Jesus indeed had the words of eternal life. They would later come to believe that Jesus is the Messiah prophesied after his resurrection.

The Eucharist is really and truly the Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity of our Lord but the eating of it and drinking of it is not cannibalism. In cannibalism they eat dead bodies but Catholics eat the glorified resurrected Body, Blood Soul and Divinity of our Lord that is not dead but living in eternity. Ever the smallest of the elements even down to the molecular substance and beyond it contains the fullness of its spiritual and corporeal reality. In cannibalism the victim is divided and eaten but there is no such occurrence in the Eucharist. When we eat of the Eucharist we truly and really abide in Him and more importantly He abides in us and through this we are incorporated into the mystical Body of Christ.

(Yorkshire Lass) “Or is there now a choice of conscience in this matter?”

No, if one does not believe in the Eucharist they cannot truly believe in Christ and become a part of the mystical Body of Christ. His commandment to eat His Body and to drink His Blood was not an optional commandment but an essential commandment of the New Covenant with mankind.

(Yorkshire Lass) “Also re-enacting the sacrifice of Jesus is unscriptural "He sacrificed for their sins once for all...”

(Cristoiglesia) The ongoing celebration of the Mass is very different from the Passover celebration in that it is not a recalling of a one time event but a continuing sacrifice with Jesus as the priest and the victim. We are not celebrating this to recall what we have read or been told but are really and actually at the foot of the Cross with the blessed mother and St. John. In the Bible it says that we are to do this in “remembrance” as it is often translated into English but that same word in Koine Greek is actually “anamnesis” which has no English equivalent. “Remembrance” is a rather crude and awkward approximation of the true meaning of “anamnesis” which denotes a miracle. Recalling something to memory is hardly a divine miracle. So, there is clearly a difference between the ongoing practice of recalling the bondage of Egypt and the command of our Lord to “do this in “anamnesis” of me which we do in the one miracle of the Eucharist. Jesus provides the great feast of His actual Body and Blood in exactly the form, time and place at the foot of the cross as He said. It is completely recognizing the fact that we discern His Body and Blood in the Spirit of faith as He said and not by our human carnal reason as Protestants struggle to do.

In John 6:51 Jesus says that He is the bread from heaven. He is not talking of a huge loaf of bread which all believers must partake but makes it clear that it is His actual flesh that brings life eternal and not a recalling or remembrance of His flesh. Obviously this is a miracle not unlike the miracle of His feeding the multitudes before. The disciples would have believed because they had just witnessed a similar miracle. Also His relating this feast to manna (John 6:49-50) illustrates its temporary sustenance and contrasts it to the enduring nature bestowed by eating His flesh.

“51 I am the living bread which came down from heaven: if any man eat of this bread, he shall live for ever: and the bread that I will give is my flesh, which I will give for the life of the world.”

Surely if this was a remembrance or recalling only it would necessitate a killing of another lamb which would not be the self same sacrifice but another symbolic of the first whose blood spread on the entrance to their homes with the hyssop branch saved their first born sons. It was this Old Covenant celebration that necessitated the ongoing sacrifice of the temple which was the only place that the lambs could be slaughtered because only the priests could kill the Passover lamb in remembrance of the real and original sacrifice. It is significant that St. John records, since He was the only one of the Gospel writers present that, Jesus was killed at the exact same time of the representative Paschal lambs at the Temple. This indicated a new ongoing sacrifice once for all times of the New Covenant.

The Eucharist is not a recalling of Calvary. It is not a remembrance of Calvary. Instead, it is the one, same sacrifice with the real Christ as the victim and priest that transcends time and place as the heavenly feast of His real flesh which is the food to endure to final salvation for all mankind. At every Mass we eat the same flesh of our Lord that He served at the last supper and we who abide in Him will continue for all times.


53 Then Jesus said unto them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Except ye eat the flesh of the Son of man, and drink his blood, ye have no life in you.
54 Whoso eateth my flesh, and drinketh my blood, hath eternal life; and I will raise him up at the last day.
55 For my flesh is meat indeed, and my blood is drink indeed.
56 He that eateth my flesh, and drinketh my blood, dwelleth in me, and I in him.
57 As the living Father hath sent me, and I live by the Father: so he that eateth me, even he shall live by me.
58 This is that bread which came down from heaven: not as your fathers did eat manna, and are dead: he that eateth of this bread shall live for ever.
" The protestant revelation was that we ingest the WORD of God by faith! Just as Jesus said to his disciples -John 15:3 "You are ALREADY clean because of the word I have spoken to you" -later, John 17:17 he prayed the Father "Sanctify them by the Truth, your word is Truth."

(Yorkshire Lass) “Jesus was soaked in symbolic thinking for our benefit, but, the spiritual meanings behind them were SO REAL to him that he failed I think, to grasp our inate blindness or short-sightedness re Pure Abstract Realities. He couldn't understand the lack of faith in his disciples because faith was as natural & essential as breathing for Him”

I do not see this as being plausible. We can tell by the discourse that Jesus knew exactly what they were thinking and emphasized the literalness of His statements with even more literal language. When they left Him he did not run after them and reveal that He had been misunderstood but instead let them leave and never follow Him again. You must remember that they had just seen His miracle of feeding the multitude so they were prepared to accept His teaching of miraculous events. Truly had Jesus meant to be understood metaphorically or symbolically he would have directly spoken in symbolic language and any metaphors would have been clearly stated. He would not have let His disciples be deceived by His language to the point of abandoning Him. Instead what Jesus said after they had left was to turn to the 12 and ask if they wanted to leave also. The words of St. Peter were prophetic when He said “to whom shall we go as you have the words of eternal life”. Clearly they believed in the teacher even if the teaching was hard to understand. They would not fully understand these words until after Jesus had risen from the dead and ascended to the Father in heaven. His words recorded in John 6 were literal and that is a undeniable fact.

(Yorkshire Lass) “If every other thing about the RC was true to the early church principles I would still be repulsed by the forced celibacy rule.”

(Cristoiglesia) There is no forced celibacy rule. The Church has never forbid anyone to marry. Those who choose to be celibate are following the teaching of Jesus and St. Paul that recommended to those called to celibacy to not marry but instead dedicate their lives and their efforts to Christ’s Church. Those called to celibacy voluntarily choose to remain celibate and make a vow to God to remain celibate their entire life.

(Yorkshire Lass) “Many R C's now see this as grossly unwise, wrong & anti-scripture.’

(Cristoiglesia) No they do not as it is taught by Jesus and St. Paul and is entirely scriptural.

 (Yorkshire Lass) ‘Re women bishops I recall Deborah the Judge -in the strict Jewish setting!-that's really remarkable. amen! No perfect church- ask St Paul!”

Deborah is a good example of one being obedient to Christ. Those that are not obedient are those who reject His Church for the tens of thousands of man-made counterfeits. The Bible says of the Church that it is the “bulwark and foundation of the truth”. The invisible Church represents the perfection of the Church even if those of the visible Church sometimes fail in their testimony of word and deed. St. Paul was in obedience to the Church and thus to Christ. Those outside of the Church do not have the protection of the ark of the Church in which like Noah’s ark which saved mankind from the flood the Church saves all mankind from the influence of sin by providing the grace for eternal life. God bless!

In Christ
Fr. Joseph

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