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Eucharist ?'s QUESTION from sean June 20, 2000
I just returned from taking my church's youth group to a youth conference at the Franciscan Univ. of Stuebenville. While there we took part in a very powerfull Eucharistic Adoration hour in which the Holy Spirit moved dramatically as the youth kneeled before the real presence of Christ. I am not used to this type of worship, though, and I must say that I was a bit reserved in my worship because I could not shake the feeling that it was to close to idol worship. I do believe in the transubstantiation of the Eucharist but I must admit it is only because that is what my parents and my church has taught me - not because I knew why the Church beleives in this miracle. I also had little knowledge of what the purpose of the Eucharist is in my spiritual life and its role in salvation.
Before communion I pray I don't know what this is supposed to do but whatever it is let it be I do know how dangerous it is to take communion with a guilty concience because I have read that in my own Bible study. I'm happy to say,though, that while ssearching the web I came accross an awesome explanation of the significance of the Eucharist by Scott Haughn (a Stuebenville proffesor) - how in the O.T. the Isrealites had to not only slaughter the lamb but had to eat the lamb at the Passover (not a lamb cookie or a lamb wafer) in order for the angel of death to pass over. This was very helpful but after that I read some Protestant arguments that Mr.Haughn did not answer and I was wondering if you could help.
I honestly wish to be able to fall prostrate before the Body of Christ next time I am part of an adoration and fully worship the true presence of Christ with no reservation. Here are some of the aruments I hope you can answer
1. Communion is cannibalism and the Bible strictly forbids eating of human flesh and drinking blood of any kind.
2. The Catholic Church holds that communion is the real Body and Blood of Christ due to a literal translation of Jesus' words but literal translation doesn't always mean right translation as many cults base thier beliefs on a very narrow and literal translation of a certian verse.
3. if looked at in context Jesus says to do this in rememberence of me
4. If the Eucharist were such an important part of one's salvation why didn't Jesus send out his desciples to preach this doctrine rather than to preach the Good news of believe and be saved also the N.T. letters all hold that bielief is necessary for salvation not the consumption of Jesus' body, after all when Jesus said this is my body, take it and it he didn't want the desciples to lean over and take a bite out of his arm did he?
--these people contend that this makes Catholics worshipers of graven images (in the adoration) and a idol (the communion wafer) your answers would be greatly beneficial not only for my own peice of mind but also for the knowlege to answer my Protestant brothers.
God bless you for the work that you do!
ANSWER by John-Paul Ignatius, O.L.S.M. on July 22, 2000 Dear Mr. Sean:
If you have heard the tapes from Scott Hahn, then you have a good foundation to the rich and beautiful doctrine of the Eucharist.
As Kimberly Hahn said about her own conversion experience, Either this wafers was God and we are to kneel in worship, or it is just a wafer and we are idolaters. She describes this in a humorous way where she was half kneeling and then standing and half kneeling again as the Eucharist past her by in procession as she was unsure about whether this was God or not.
This issue is the critical issue. If the Eucharist is not God, that is, the Real Presence of Christ, then Catholicism is a false and idolatrous religion.
As Catholics we DO NOT worship statues or pictures. Anti-Catholics who assert that, even after we explain what we are doing, are just plain bigots. But the anti-Catholics are right about the Eucharist. We DO WORSHIP the Eucharist.
So is the Eucharist the Real Presence of Christ, or is it just a wafer, a symbol?
I spent 15 years as a Baptist preacher and evangelist. There were Three things that convinced me to convert to the Catholic Church:
1) the facts of history, unencumbered by bias, which proved without ANY question that the Catholic Church was the Church of the First Century (as a Baptist I was told the Catholic Church did not exist for hundreds of years later);
2) the fact that the BIBLE and the BIBLE ALONE proves that Peter was made the first Pope. In fact the word Pope in reference to the leader of the Church IS IN THE BIBLE FOLKS; and
3) John 6 and Jesus Teaching on the Eucharist.
1. Communion is cannibalism and the Bible strictly forbids eating of human flesh and drinking blood of any kind.
The issue of cannibalism is actually an issue that provides PROOF of the Real Presence of Christ in the Eucharist.
In the first century, Christians were sometimes called cannibals, some ancient non-Christian historians called Christians cannibals. Why? Why would Christians be called cannibals if Communion were only a ritualistic symbol and nothing more?
It is because Christians of the first century TAUGHT and BELIEVED in the Real Presence that non-Christians mistook them for cannibals.
But one could argue that the non-Christians merely misunderstood the nature of Communion. One could say they confused the symbol for something real.
Okay, let us go to Jesus then and see what He says:
John 6:51-69 I am the living bread that came down from heaven; whoever eats this bread will live forever; and the bread that I will give is my flesh for the life of the world.
The Jews quarreled among themselves, saying, How can this man give us (his) flesh to eat?
Jesus said to them, Amen, amen, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you do not have life within you.
Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him on the last day. For my flesh is true food, and my blood is true drink. Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood remains in me and I in him. Just as the living Father sent me and I have life because of the Father, so also the one who feeds on me will have life because of me.
This is the bread that came down from heaven. Unlike your ancestors who ate and still died, whoever eats this bread will live forever. These things he said while teaching in the synagogue in Capernaum.
Then many of his disciples who were listening said, This saying is hard; who can accept it?
Since Jesus knew that his disciples were murmuring about this, he said to them, Does this shock you?...
And he said, For this reason I have told you that no one can come to me unless it is granted him by my Father.
As a result of this, many (of) his disciples returned to their former way of life and no longer accompanied him.
Jesus then said to the Twelve, Do you also want to leave?
Simon Peter answered him, Master, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life. We have come to believe and are convinced that you are the Holy One of God.
Notice here that when the disciples of Jesus heard that they must eat the flesh of Jesus and drink his blood, they were shocked and could not accept it. Still at this time, eating of blood was prohibited. (this prohibition was lifted by God later on).
The teaching of Jesus was so hard that although these disciples had followed him for so long, they left.
Look what Jesus did then? Did Jesus say, Hey guys, come back, I was only kidding. I was just talking symbolically? NO!
Instead, Jesus took a great risk. He turn to his beloved Twelve, His inner circle, and said, Are you going to leave me too?
Jesus did not back down on his literal teaching even in the face of possibly losing his Inner Circle.
Peter, then gave the affirmation, the acceptance of the doctrine of the Real Presence. In a sense this was his first Papal declaration: Master, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life. We have come to believe and are convinced that you are the Holy One of God.
Upon these words I was a convert to the Real Presence.
As to cannibalism itself, yes cannibalism is forbidden, but Jesus was not just a human. His flesh was not just human flesh. Jesus was the LAMB. The sacrificial Lamb must be consumed. This is actually further evidence of Jesus as the Messiah. In Him the sacrificial economy of the Jews was fulfilled. Jesus was THE Sacrifice, THEE Lamb who was sacrificed for the forgiveness of sins. As it was with the sacrificial lambs of the Temple, this final and ultimate sacrificial lamb must be consumed. It is through the offering of the sacrifice and the consumption of that sacrifice that life is given.
Jesus is the LIFE, He is the Lamb that was offered in sacrifice for us. Now we must believe in the sacrifice and consume the Lamb and we shall have life.
The problem with many Protestants, expecially evangelicals and fundamentalist is that they have no understanding of the Old Testament. They sometimes actively disparage the Old Testament as unnecessary and worthy of only good Bible stories.
But one cannot understand what Jesus did without understanding the Old Testament. It is not possible to understand much of anything in the New Testament without understanding the Old Testament. God did not give us two books, but one book. It must be read and understood as a whole to understand anything. Many Protestants fail to understand this or to do it.
To some degree the reason many Protestants ignore the Old Testament is that if they were to understand the Old Testament's influence on the New Testament, they would end up Catholic.
The Catholic Church is the way it is because she understands the fullness of the message of the Old Testament in its relationship with the New Testament.
This should not be rocket science. After all the Apostles were all men who live in the worldview of the Old Testament. Their understanding of why Jesus taught was in DIRECT relationship to what they had already known from Judaism of the past.
Any honest Bible reader will study the New Testament in relation to the Old.....and when they do, if Truth means anything to them, they will do what I did....... convert to the true Church of Christ, the Catholic Church.
2. The Catholic Church holds that communion is the real Body and Blood of Christ due to a literal translation of Jesus' words but literal translation doesn't always mean right translation as many cults base thier beliefs on a very narrow and literal translation of a certian verse.
The interpretation of John 6 is clear as I already described. Based upon the Literal/historical/critical/spiritual method of interpretation, which is the only legitimate method of interpretation, John 6 can only be interpreted in the way Catholics interpreted it. Any other conclusions is a violation of proper hermeneutics and the plain sense of Scripture.
3. if looked at in context Jesus says to do this in rememberence of me
Why does,.do this in remembrance of me imply a symbolism? No where does this say that the communion is a mere symbol. We can also continue the sacrifice as the Real Presence in remembrance of Him, too.
4. If the Eucharist were such an important part of one's salvation why didn't Jesus send out his desciples to preach this doctrine rather than to preach the Good news of believe and be saved also the N.T. letters all hold that bielief is necessary for salvation not the consumption of Jesus' body, after all when Jesus said this is my body, take it and it he didn't want the desciples to lean over and take a bite out of his arm did he?
He did send them out to preach this doctrine. The belief is to BELIEF IN ALL CHRIST TAUGHT. Mere belief is not enough. Even Satan believes in Jesus (James 2:19). What does it mean to believe? It means to love Him. What does it mean to Love Him? John 14:23 says it means: Anyone who loves me will be true to my word...>/I>
To believe in Jesus is to believe in all that He Taught. Jesus commission us to go out into the world to preach the Gospel and to teach the people everything that He taught. It does not end with mere belief, or even baptism. It is believing is ALL THAT HE TAUGHT and obeying that teachings.
Jesus TAUGHT the Real Presence.
These are just some thoughts off the top of my head..... This subject could actually be a theme for a whole book.
I hope this helps a little.
God Bless.
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