“Far better it is for you to say: "I am a sinner," than to say: "I have no need of religion." The empty can be filled, but the self-intoxicated have no room for God.” - Blessed Fulton J. Sheen

Friday, September 14, 2012

The Real Presence: Some Final Thoughts

What famous people have to say about it: 

Flannery O' Connor 

“I was once, five or six years ago, taken by some friends to have dinner with Mary McCarthy  and her husband, Mr. Broadwater.  (She just wrote that book, A Charmed Life).  She departed the Church at the age of 15 and is a Big Intellectual.  We went at eight and at one, I hadn't opened my mouth once, there being nothing for me in such company to say.  The people who took me were Robert Lowell  and his now wife, Elizabeth Hardwick.  Having me there was like having a dog present who had been trained to say a few words but overcome with inadequacy had forgotten them.  
Well, toward morning the conversation turned on the Eucharist, which I, being the Catholic, was obviously supposed to defend. Mrs. Broadwater said when she was a child and received the Host, she thought of it as the Holy Ghost, He being the ‘most portable’ person of the Trinity; now she thought of it as a symbol and implied that it was a pretty good one. I then said, in a very shaky voice, ‘Well, if it's a symbol, to hell with it.’ That was all the defense I was capable of but I realize now that this is all I will ever be able to say about it, outside of a story, except that it is the center of existence for me; all the rest of life is expendable.”

I think this is an excellent way of presenting the Eucharist. If it's a symbol, what's the point? Why repeat an action that Jesus did without any meaning? As I understand it (from a number of my protestant friends) some non-Catholic churches don't even celebrate communion on a regular basis. It's once, maybe twice, a month. And I completely get it. If there is nothing more to communion than a reenactment, if it's just a play of sorts, why not limit the number of times you celebrate it? Leave more time in the service for the Bible, the sole source of our faith (I do not agree with the previous statement. See posts on Sola Scriptura). 

But Jesus himself told us again and again to eat his flesh and drink his blood, which is why Catholics do it every week (and some every single day!) That's why we spend time kneeling in front of it. That is why we risk life and limb for it. It is our Lord, Jesus Christ. You may have been  to a Catholic wedding, funeral, or other event, and weren't able to take communion. This is why. Because of what it is, if you take it without understanding that (and being free of sins, which I'll talk about more later) you're putting yourself in danger. 1 Cor 11:29-30 "For he who eats and drinks, eats and drinks judgment to himself if he does not judge the body rightly. 30 For this reason many among you are weak and sick, and a number sleep."

In response to the comment that Catholics re-sacrifice (or re-crucify) Christ, let's think for a moment about Christ's sacrifice. It is once and for all. It is always and forever. When Catholics celebrate the Eucharist, we don't re-sacrifice Him, we participate in the same once and forever sacrifice. That's part of the glory and the mystery of our Lord. Even though we weren't alive when Jesus walked the earth, we are still allowed to receive His Body from him as the apostles did. 

And it is the Body of Christ, it is the Blood, it does not contain it. He is not in the bread, it is not like His Body. "This is My Body," he said, and we take him literally. There's a wonderful answer to consubstantiation that you can find here that explains why it just can't work. I'll only post two paragraphs here. 

Superficially, consubstantiation might seem more "incarnational" than transubstantiation, but there’s a catch. For the Eucharist to be both Jesus Christ and bread and wine, as Jesus is both God and man, Jesus would have to unite the nature of bread to himself as he united human nature to himself. It would amount to a new incarnation, a new hypostatic union. We would confess a Lord who is truly God, truly man, and truly pastry. This would demean and trivialize the significance of our Lord’s assuming our human nature. 
Furthermore, such a reprise of the Incarnation would not accomplish what the Eucharist is all about: It would not make present the human body and blood of Christ. If the Second Person of the Trinity were to acquire a new, confectionery nature, this new nature would have no direct relationship to Jesus’ human nature. He would be present in the Eucharist in his divinity and his breadness, but not his humanity. His human body, born of Mary, crucified on the cross, raised from the dead, and ascended into glory, would be uninvolved.
But it's a hard saying. After all, it still looks like a host. It still tastes like wine (if you can't take the Eucharist, you'll have to take my word for it). We describe the way it looks and the way it is as two different things, sometimes called substance and accidents. The accidents of the bread and wine, the outward appearance, remains, and the substance, what it actually is, changes. When you see the unconsecrated host, you perceive its breadness. But your mind can only perceive that it has breadness because it draws from what it can see, hear, touch, taste. What you see and what it is are two different things. If that breadness were to change to Fleshness, but that which our mind perceives does not, only through divine authority could we say that it is Flesh. Luckily, as I hope I've shown in the last few posts, we have just that. 

But there are occasions where the Body and Blood become just that: Body and Blood. So if you're a fan of miracles (and the Church has many) here are some great Eucharistic miracles for you. 

Floating Host in France
Similar video of floating Host during Consecration
Page with a list of of Eucharistic miracles

It is the reason to be Catholic and to stay Catholic. It is the source and summit of our faith. And there's so much more that could be said. It's infinite (because It is God and God is infinite, get it? Well, at least I think I'm funny). 

I'm going to leave you with a scene from the movie "Romero". The first time I saw the film, I didn't completely grasp the power of his action, but now, fully appreciating what the Eucharist is, it makes me proud to be a Catholic (and I can only hope that in a similar situation, I would do the same.) 

Still have questions? Good. Me too. It's a never-solved mystery. But if you're curious, even a little, find a local Catholic church and figure out when they offer Adoration (some even offer it 24/7!). Spend an hour, a half hour, ten minutes, in prayer, in the presence of God, and let him speak to you. Warning: It may change your life. 

Not sure what I'll post next, but I'll probably be back in a couple of days (granted, I don't have any readers, so I suppose the point is moot). 

God Bless! 


The Real Presence: Fathers of Christianity

What did the Church father's have to say about it? 

St. Ignatius of Antioch
I have no taste for corruptible food nor for the pleasures of this life. I desire the bread of God, which is the flesh of Jesus Christ, who was of the seed of David; and for drink I desire his blood,which is love incorruptible (Letters to the Romans 7 (C. A.D. 110))

We call this food Eucharist, and no one else is permitted to partake of it, except one who believes our teaching to be true and who has been washed in the washing that is for the remission of sins and regeneration [i.e., has received baptism] and is thereby living as Christ enjoined. For not as common bread nor common drink do we receive these; but since Jesus Christ our Savior was made incarnate by the word of God and had both flesh and blood for our salvation, so too, as we have been taught, the food that has been made into the Eucharist by the Eucharistic prayer set down by him, and by the change of which our blood and flesh is nurtured, is both the flesh and the blood of that incarnated Jesus. First Apology 66 (c. A.D. 151)

St. Irenaeus of Lyons
If the Lord were from other than the Father, how could he rightly take bread, which is of the same creation as our own, and confess it to be his body and affirm that the mixture in the cup is his blood? Against Heresies 4:33:2 (C. A.D.189)

St. Clement of Alexandria
"Eat my flesh," [Jesus] says, "and drink my blood." The Lord supplies us with these intimate nutrients, he delivers over his flesh and pours out his blood, and nothing is lacking for the growth of his children [Instructor of Children 1:6 (C. A.D. 197)]

Origen of Alexandria 
Formerly there was a baptism in an obscure way.... Now, however, in full view, there is regeneration in water and in the Holy Spirit. Formerly, in an obscure way, there was manna for food; now, however, in full view, there is the true food, the flesh of the Word of God, as he himself says: "My flesh is true food, and my blood is true drink" [Jn 6:56] [Homilies on Numbers 7:2 (C. A.D. 249)]. 

St. Aphrahat the Persian Sage
After having spoken thus [at the Last Supper],  the Lord rose up from the place where he had made the Passover and had given his body as food and his blood as drink, and he went with his disciples to the place where he was to be arrested. But he ate of his own body and drank of his own blood, while he was pondering on the dead. With his own hands the Lord presented his own body to be eaten, and before he was crucified he gave his blood as drink. [Demonstrations 12:6 (C. A.D. 340)]

St. Cyril of Jerusalem 
As the bread and wine of the Eucharist before the invocation of the Trinity, which is holy and worthy of adoration, were simple bread and wine, after the invocation the bread becomes the body of Christ, and the wine the blood of Christ [Catechetical Lectures 19:7 (C. A.D. 350)]

St. Augustine of Hippo 
What you see is the bread and the chalice; that is what your own eyes report to you. But your faith obliges you to accept that the bread is the body of Christ and the chalice is the blood of Christ. This has been said very briefly, which may perhaps be sufficient for faith; yet faith does not desire instruction [Sermons 272 (C. A.D. 411)]

There are a TON more examples of what the early Church father's had to say. Want more? Leave a comment and I'll add some. Want all the quotes? Purchase a copy of Jimmy Akin's awesome book The Father's Know Best!

The Real Presence: What does the Bible say about it?

What the Bible has to say about it:
(Taken today from the New American Standard Version. All emphasis mine.) 

(It's long, I know. But totally worth it.) 

John 6:26-69 Jesus answered them and said, “Truly, truly, I say to you, you seek Me, not because you saw signs, but because you ate of the loaves and were filled. 27 Do not work for the food which perishes, but for the food which endures to eternal life, which the Son of Man will give to you, for on Him the Father, God, has set His seal.” 28 Therefore they said to Him, “What shall we do, so that we may work the works of God?” 29 Jesus answered and said to them,“This is the work of God, that you believe in Him whom He has sent.” 30 So they said to Him, “What then do You do for a sign, so that we may see, and believe You? What work do You perform? 31 Our fathers ate the manna in the wilderness; as it is written, ‘He gave them bread out of heaven to eat.’” 32 Jesus then said to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, it is not Moses who has given you the bread out of heaven, but it is My Father who gives you the true bread out of heaven. 33 For the bread of God is [i]that which comes down out of heaven, and gives life to the world.” 34 Then they said to Him, “Lord, always give us this bread.”

35 Jesus said to them, I am the bread of life; he who comes to Me will not hunger, and he who believes in Me will never thirst. 36 But I said to you that you have seen Me, and yet do not believe. 37 All that the Father gives Me will come to Me, and the one who comes to Me I will certainly not cast out. 38 For I have come down from heaven, not to do My own will, but the will of Him who sent Me. 39 This is the will of Him who sent Me, that of all that He has given Me I lose nothing, but raise it up on the last day. 40 For this is the will of My Father, that everyone who beholds the Son and believes in Him will have eternal life, and I Myself will raise him up on the last day.”

41 Therefore the Jews were grumbling about Him, because He said, “I am the bread that came down out of heaven.” 42 They were saying, “Is not this Jesus, the son of Joseph, whose father and mother we know? How does He now say, I have come down out of heaven’?” 43 Jesus answered and said to them, “Do not grumble among yourselves. 44 No one can come to Me unless the Father who sent Me draws him; and I will raise him up on the last day. 45 It is written in the prophets, ‘And they shall all be taught of God.’ Everyone who has heard and learned from the Father, comes to Me. 46 Not that anyone has seen the Father, except the One who is from God; He has seen the Father. 47 Truly, truly, I say to you, he who believes has eternal life. 48 I am the bread of life. 49 Your fathers ate the manna in the wilderness, and they died. 50 This is the bread which comes down out of heaven, so that one may eat of it and not die. 51 I am the living bread that came down out of heaven; if anyone eats of this bread, he will live forever; and the bread also which I will give for the life of the world is My flesh.

52 Then the Jews began to argue with one another, saying, “How can this man give us Hisflesh to eat?” 53 So Jesus said to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink His blood, you have no life in yourselves. 54 He who eats My flesh and drinks My blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day. 55 For My flesh is true food, and My blood is true drink. 56 He who eats My flesh and drinks My blood abides in Me, and I in him. 57 As the living Father sent Me, and I live because of the Father, so he who eats Me, he also will live because of Me. 58 This is the bread which came down out of heaven; not as the fathers ate and died; he who eats this bread will live forever.”

59 These things He said in the synagogue as He taught in Capernaum.
60 Therefore many of His disciples, when they heard this said, “This is a difficult statement; who can listen to it?” 61 But Jesus, conscious that His disciples grumbled at this, said to them, “Does this cause you to stumble? 62 What then if you see the Son of Man ascending to where He was before? 63 It is the Spirit who gives life; the flesh profits nothing; the words that I have spoken to you are spirit and are life. 64 But there are some of you who do not believe.” For Jesus knew from the beginning who they were who did not believe, and who it was that would [j]betray Him. 65 And He was saying, “For this reason I have said to you, that no one can come to Me unless it has been granted him from the Father.”

66 As a result of this many of His disciples withdrew and were not walking with Him anymore. 67 So Jesus said to the twelve, “You do not want to go away also, do you?”68 Simon Peter answered Him, “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have words of eternal life.69 We have believed and have come to know that You are the Holy One of God.” 

1 Cor 11:28-30 
But a man must examine himself, and in so doing he is to eat of the bread and drink of the cup. 29 For he who eats and drinks, eats and drinks judgment to himself if he does not judge the body rightly. 30 For this reason many among you are weak and sick, and a number[a]sleep.

(A note on this. This is more about examination of sins, but the point here is that, why would it matter whether or not we eat the bread if it is just a symbol?) 

1 Cor 10:16-17 Is not the cup of blessing which we bless a sharing in the blood of Christ? Is not the[a]bread which we break a sharing in the body of Christ? 17 Since there is one [b]bread, wewho are many are one body; for we all partake of the one [c]bread.

Luke 22:19-20 And when He had taken some bread and given thanks, He broke it and gave it to them, saying, “This is My body which is given for you; do this in remembrance of Me.”> 20 And in the same way He took the cup after they had eaten, saying, “This cup which is poured out for you is the new covenant in My blood.

a.  1 Corinthians 11:30 I.e. are dead
a, b, c, lit. loaf

The Real Presence of Christ in the Eucharist

I had some trouble picking this next topic (as you may recall I was looking at Sola Fide) but I've decided to jump right in with the most important Catholic dogma of all, the real presence of Christ in the Eucharist. Hopefully, by the end of these posts I'll be able to show you why we believe what we believe and how important this really is. 

So let's dive right in: 

Arguments against the Real Presence
(and again, if I miss something, please let me know. I'm just taking these from the internet)

The Death Cookie (Honestly, I almost didn't include this. But it's got some legitimate objects under the insanity. For more on Jack Chick, check out this article

Jesus was asking us to recognize that his body was sinless, not that we should participate in eating it. 

It's cannibalism to eat Christ's body. 

"This is my blood of the Covenant, which is poured out for you." (Mat 26:28)
Indicates that the blood has to be poured out, so not his blood. 

Why is it His Body? Couldn't it just be His Presence, the same as it is all around us? That is to say, not His Flesh and Blood, but His Spirit. (I'm going to borrow from another source to explain this one. (Impanation, Consubstantiation)). 

Luke 22:19 Then he took the bread, said the blessing, broke it, and gave it to them, saying, “This is my body, which will be given for you; do this in memory of me.”

How can Jesus be present in the Eucharist if he hadn't yet died on the cross yet?

Next, Biblical responses! 

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Prodigal Nuns

Well, I was going to take the time today and start a massive couple of posts on Sola Fida, but I've been sidetracked. And is there a better way to get more readers (or a reader) than to post something controversial?  

The LCWR. If you're Catholic, you've probably heard about them, and have an opinion one way or another. If you're not a Catholic, you've probably also heard about them, as they've been supporting the popular myth that the Catholic Church hates women, especially nice old ladies. The Vatican criticism (which is probably one of the nicest criticisms ever) is 10 years in the making, after they warned them the first time. All the Holy See is saying is that if you proclaim to be a part of the Catholic Church, there are certain things you have to agree to, otherwise you're not being Catholic (that includes you, politicians). Those 'things' are called dogma, and they include, among other things, being pro-life (yes, pro all life, Sister Pat, especially the unborn), against gay marriage, and acknowledging that women will never be priests. 

Which brings me to the Prodigal Son. In summation, the son tells his father he wants his inheritance now, which in that culture effectively means he wants his father dead. He spends the fortune, and then, because he is more miserable than words can describe, he goes crawling back to his father, hoping to be a servant. But his father greets him with joy, and throws him a party. 

Let's pause there, for the sake of my metaphor. As you may have guessed, the prodigal son is the LCWR (I suppose that in this case it's daughters). They have asked for their inheritance early, and it comes in the form of worldly acceptance and 'modernity'. They have the approval of men. But God's inheritance for us is His heavenly kingdom, and it is far better than anything we could earn here. 

I'm not saying that the LCWR has left completely, but they seem to be headed in that direction. I imagine that before the prodigal son left, there was a lot of unrest between him and the father. Maybe he didn't like the way his father ran things, maybe he didn't agree with his father's teachings. But it's not as if he, all of a sudden, told his father to go die. That's where I think we are now, and I'm hoping and praying that they'll come back before things get any worse.

The LCWR is the prodigal son. God and is the Father. So who are we? Well, the obvious answer is the other brother. We're good brother, the one who follows his father's rule. We're faithful and orthodox and stick with the Bishops. But doesn't the 'good' brother also deserve chastisement for his resentful attitude after the brother comes back? Isn't he in the wrong, too? And again, this resentment didn't come out of nowhere. The 'good' brother works hard, and watches his brother grow angrier. As his father tries to bring the prodigal brother, the 'good' brother wishes he would just give up. After all, he's got the 'good' brother--he follows his father's teachings. Why does he need the prodigal son anyway? When the prodigal brother leaves, a part of him is glad. 

But who should we be? We are the Body of Christ. We are His hands and feet. We are the branches, he is the Vine. And if we are the Body of Christ, we must reflect the attitude of the Father. He feels great sorrow for his son, as does the Lord when any of his children strays. What sorrow He must feel for the LCWR! And I bet the father never stopped praying for his prodigal son. So should we. 

Our attitude should never be one of 'good riddance'. Yes, it's right for the Holy See to correct the LCWR. They did it with charity and hope. And as the Body of Christ, we should do the same. So please, let's you and me and all of us, pray, pray, pray. 


Friday, September 7, 2012

Sola Scriptura: Insights from Jimmy Akin

One of my favorite bloggers, Jimmy Akin, has posted an excellent commentary on Sola Scritpura. It refers to the passage in Acts where the Jews in the city of Berea search the scriptures to see if what Paul is preaching is true. It's an argument for Sola Scriptura which I was sadly ignorant of. I encourage everyone to pop over to his website and check it out! 

Sola Scriptura and the Bereans

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Helpful Sources

Today is just a blogging day, I suppose. I think it's probably like when I kid gets a new toy, all they want to do is play with it. Except that this new toy I have is all about writing and research and no kid would ever want to play with it except for me, because instead of being the one eating the sand, I'm the one running off of the benches flapping my hands in the air trying to fly.

What I'm saying is I didn't have a lot of friends as a child.

Where was I? Oh right. The reason I'm writing this blog post is to give you some of my very helpful sources. If you're serious about apologetics (which means 'a defense of') I encourage you to read these books, check out these blogs, and listen to these radio programs. 

 Right off the bat, I have to give a shout out to the website Catholic.com. They really helped me get started. Their radio program "Catholic Answers" is fantastic. You can find any answer you need there, and they have a great magazine. Their book, The Catholic Survival Guide, comes to my rescue every day. It's also a good one to give to people who want to know more about the Church. 

 Jimmy Akin's The Father Knows Best I've already mentioned, but I can't recommend it enough. Also, his website is full of wonderful and sometimes obscure knowledge. It can be found at jimmyakin.com 

EWTN has a host of wonderful sites with everything from New Age to Saints! I also recommend their newspaper, the National Catholic Register

Those are just some of my basic sources of information. I owe a lot to the people involved in these organizations. Thank you all so much!