Presto Chango!

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Homer
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Re: Presto Chango!

Post by Homer » Mon May 13, 2019 4:55 pm

BrotherAlan,

I find your (Catholic) belief about the eucharist very puzzling. The very word eucharist has its roots in the Greek word for "thanksgiving". When I read the scriptures it seems simple enough that the ritual is a thankful remembrance of what Christ has done for us. But you take a literal position regarding the eating and drinking His body and blood, which raises some interesting questions:

1. Do you believe as Jesus stood before the apostles at the last supper he changed the elements into his physical body as it was at that point in time?

2. If they were of his physical body, how would it have benefited them to consume a portion of it? Would it be digested as normal food?

3. If the elements at the last supper were his resurrected body, how would that happen prior to His resurrection?

4. If the elements at your mass now are of His resurrected body, are they digested as normal food or what happens? Can a spiritual body be consumed?

5. If a small home group of believers should be established in a remote, isolated place, could they properly observe communion? Could they cause through prayer or some other invocation the transubstantiation to occur?

6. Is the transubstantiation an act of God apart from action of man, and if a man must be involved is the person required to be of a special class of persons?

7. If a special person is required for transubstantiation to happen, where do we find this in the scriptures?

8. Jesus said that "where two or three are gathered together in my name" he would be present. Is this any different in kind than His presence that is supposed in the communion elements?

Thanks, Homer

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steve
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Re: Presto Chango!

Post by steve » Mon May 13, 2019 11:34 pm

Excellent questions, Homer.

BrotherAlan
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Joined: Fri Oct 22, 2010 10:42 am

Re: Presto Chango!

Post by BrotherAlan » Fri May 17, 2019 12:43 pm

Dear Homer, Steve, et al.,
Thank you, Homer, for your good questions/comments. I will give my responses to each of them below.

Homer wrote:
BrotherAlan,

I find your (Catholic) belief about the eucharist very puzzling. The very word eucharist has its roots in the Greek word for "thanksgiving". When I read the scriptures it seems simple enough that the ritual is a thankful remembrance of what Christ has done for us. But you take a literal position regarding the eating and drinking His body and blood, which raises some interesting questions:
Indeed, you are correct in noting the word “Eucharist” has its roots in the Greek word for “Thanksgiving” (thus, for us Catholics, the Eucharist is a Sacrament of Thanksgiving). We Catholics (and other traditional Christians, eg., Orthodox, Coptics, Armenians, etc.) agree with you 100% that the Eucharist is a thankful remembrance of Christ’s Life, Death, and Resurrection (with a special focus on remembering His Passion and Death). But, in addition to the Eucharist being a memorial, we believe that Christ is TRULY Present (Really, Truly, and, as we say, Substantially Present, in His Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity, in the Most Holy Eucharist); indeed, because of Christ’s REAL (and Substantial) Presence in the Eucharist, the Eucharist becomes, for us, a LIVING Memorial…a Memorial in which Christ is TRULY Present, with us, in the most perfect, excellent way, as I’ll explain more below in response to your questions.


Home wrote:
1. Do you believe as Jesus stood before the apostles at the last supper he changed the elements into his physical body as it was at that point in time?
We believe that Christ changed the SUBSTANCE of the bread (and wine) into the SUBSTANCE of His Body and Blood, while allowing the “accidents” (the outward appearances, quality, and quantity) of bread and wine to remain. This is what we mean by “transubstantiation”: transubstantiation literally means a “change in substance” (thus, we believe that, here, with the Eucharist, there is a change in SUBSTANCE, but not a change in the “accidents” of the bread and wine, for those “accidents” remain).


Homer wrote:
2. If they were of his physical body, how would it have benefited them to consume a portion of it? Would it be digested as normal food?
I think there is a misunderstanding as to what we, as Catholics (along with our Orthodox, Coptix, Armenian friends) believe with regard to the Eucharist (and what happens when “transubstantiation” occurs). When Christ—and, by extension, any validly ordained ministerial priest—pronounced the words, “This is my Body…This is my Blood”, over the bread and wine, the substance of the bread and wine changed into the substance of His Body and Blood, as stated above. So, this means that, when one is receiving the Sacrament of the Eucharist—when one consumes the Body of Christ (under the appearance of bread) one is consuming, in a Sacramental and spiritual manner (not a natural, carnal/cannibalistic manner), the Body of Christ (and, since His Blood is now physically united to His Body, and His human soul is united to His Body and Blood, and His Divinity is united to His Soul and Body, one actually consumes, in a Sacramental and spiritual manner, the WHOLE Christ—Body, Bloody, Soul, and Divinity). AND, one is consuming the WHOLE Body of Christ, not a “portion” of it, for the WHOLE Body of Christ—along with His Blood, human Soul, and Divinity—is contained in each and every part of the Holy Eucharist (for, again, the entire substance of bread was changed into the substance of Christ).

The benefit of this consumption of Christ’s Body and Blood is exactly what He told us: “I am the bread of life. Your fathers did eat the manna in the wilderness, and are dead. This is the bread which comes down from heaven, that a man may eat it, and not die. I am the living bread which came down from heaven: if any man eat of this bread, he shall life for ever: and the bread that I will give for the life of the world IS my flesh…Except you eat the flesh of the Son of Man, and drink His Blood, you have no life in you. Whoever eats my flesh, and drinks my blood, has eternal ife, and I will raise him up on the last day. For my flesh is meat indeed, and my blood is drink indeed. He that eats my flesh and drinks my blood, dwells in me, and I in him. As the living Father has sent me, and I live by the Father, so he who eats me will live by me…He that eats this bread will live forever.” (John 6: 48-58)

This explanation of the SACRAMENTAL (NOT natural) manner in which Christ is contained in the Holy Eucharist, and, the consequent SACRAMENTAL manner (not natural) manner in which Christ is consumed in the Holy Eucharist also serves to answer your question about whether or not Christ’s Body is digested as normal food. If you are following me here, you will see that the obvious answer is, “No”. For, when one consumes the SACRAMENT of the Holy Eucharist, one receives Christ’s Body (and Blood) in a Sacramental manner, that Body and Blood which are contained under the APPEARANCES/Accidents of bread and wine. And, so, what is digested by the body after receiving the Holy Eucharist is not Christ’s Body (and Blood) but, rather, those accidents of bread and wine which remained in the Sacrament even after the SUBSTANCE of the bread and wine was changed into Christ’s Body and Blood (and, this also explains why someone could get drunk on drinking the Holy Eucharist or why, in a lab, if one were to investigate the Holy Eucharist, one would find appearances of bread and wine—that’s perfectly understandable and to be expected, since, in those cases, it is the QUALITIES of wine and bread, qualities which remain in the Eucharist even after transubstantiation occurs, which cause drunkenness, and which would be investigated in a lab. Although, on that note, there are some miraculous exceptions to this rule, as in the case of many well-documented Eucharistic miracles, miracles which confirm for us the teaching that Christ is really, truly, and substantially present in the Holy Eucharist). See: http://www.therealpresence.org/eucharst/mir/a3.html)


Homer wrote:
3. If the elements at the last supper were his resurrected body, how would that happen prior to His resurrection?
If by the “elements” of the Eucharist, you mean the “accidents” of the Eucharist—i.e., the size, shape, smell, etc…the outward/sensible qualities—then it is important to note, again, that it is NOT those ACCIDENTS which are changed into Christ’s Body (and Blood), but, rather, again, the SUBSTANCE of the bread and wine which are changed into the SUBSTANCE of Christ’s Body and Blood.

For, it is important to note here that every material thing has what we call outward “accidents”/qualities, but, along with those “accidental qualities” there is an underlying “SUBSTANCE”, the very word “substance” meaning “that which stands under”. Eg., Before Mass, I might have a round piece of unleavened bread—like that which is used at Mass. That bread has certain accidental qualities: it is white, it is round-shaped, it is thin, it has a certain taste and smell, it makes a certain noise when I break it, etc. However, even if these qualities, ordinarily, manifest to me that this object is bread, these do not make the bread to BE bread; else, if I were to change these qualities—say, if I cut the bread in half and made it smaller—it would no longer be bread, but that is not true; it is still bread, even if it is smaller, or bigger. This shows us that there is something UNDERNEATH this bread which makes the bread to BE bread: we call this the SUBSTANCE of bread. Even the way we TALK shows that we acknowledge, even implicitly, this notion of “substance”. For, we say stuff like, “The bread HAS the color of white; the bread HAS this sort of taste; the bread HAS this size; etc.” All that showing that there is SOMETHING—namely the BREAD itself, the SUBSTANCE of the bread—that HAS these qualities but which is, in itself, truly DISTINCT from the qualities it has. And this is true for all other material things, including human beings: I might have some accidental qualities which make me to be a 6’1” man, 190 lbs., dark brown hair, Caucasian skin, etc.; but, these are mere qualities I have; they do not DEFINE who I am; I would still be the same person, even if my skin color or hair color changed, or if my size and weight changed, etc.; rather, there is an underlying SUBSTANCE which HAS these qualities and makes me to be a man, makes me to be THIS man.

So, all this is to say, again, that the ACCIDENTS, the outward qualities of the Eucharist, are NOT the Body of Christ (but, rather, these CONTAIN the Body of Christ, the Body of Christ is CONTAINED, in a Sacramental manner, in the Holy Eucharist, under the appearances of Bread and Wine). Hopefully, that makes sense (but, if it does not make sense at first, think about it, ponder it, as these are concepts that take time to properly conceptualize and understand).

Now, at the Last Supper, the SUBSTANCE of the bread (and wine) would have changed into the SUBSTANCE of Christ’s Body and Blood as His Body was PRIOR to the Resurrection; for, the Last Supper was prior to the Resurrection, and that is when Jesus changed the substance of the bread and wine into the substance of His Body and Blood.


Homer wrote:
4. If the elements at your mass now are of His resurrected body, are they digested as normal food or what happens? Can a spiritual body be consumed?
Again, see above (#2) for my response to this question about digestion.

At our Mass now, since it is taking place after Christ’s Resurrection, Christ’s glorified Body (which is spiritual, but it is still a real BODY), is consumed by those who receive Communion, but, again, it is consumed as it is contained in the Sacrament and, thus, consumed in a SACRMAENTAL (not natural/cannibalistic) manner, with the effect, as Christ promised, of having Christ dwell in the one who consumes Him in this manner, and assuring Him of rising with Him on the Last Day (provided, of course, such a one perseveres in fidelity to Christ, according to Our Lord’s words, “He who perseveres to the end will be saved.”)


Homer wrote:
5. If a small home group of believers should be established in a remote, isolated place, could they properly observe communion? Could they cause through prayer or some other invocation the transubstantiation to occur?
Such a small group would need a validly ordained priest in order to change the substance of the bread and wine into the substance of Christ’s Body and Blood.

6. Is the transubstantiation an act of God apart from action of man, and if a man must be involved is the person required to be of a special class of persons?
It is an act of God acting through a man, namely, a validly ordained priest (and, so, yes, one would need a priest to effect transubstantiation).


Homer wrote:
7. If a special person is required for transubstantiation to happen, where do we find this in the scriptures?
The power to effect transubstantiation comes, ultimately, and primarily, from Jesus Christ Himself, the One True High Priest. He gave this power to the Apostles at the Last Supper when He commanded them to repeat the Last Supper ceremony (the Eucharistic Sacrifice), telling them to “Do this in memory of me.” (Thus showing that the Last Supper Ceremony is both a memorial and sacrifice, as even the Mass today is, in both the Eastern and Western Churches). The Apostles passes this power onto others through the conferral of the priesthood onto others, and so on throughout the ages (for a brief answer on this, see: https://www.catholic.com/qa/did-the-apo ... in-priests)


Homer wrote:
8. Jesus said that "where two or three are gathered together in my name" he would be present. Is this any different in kind than His presence that is supposed in the communion elements?
Excellent question, Homer! The simple answer is this: while Christ is present in MANY different ways among us—He is present in the Scriptures, He is present where two or three are gathered in His name, He is present in the poor, He is present EVERYWHERE as God—He is present in His Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity ONLY in the Most Holy Eucharist, and in Heaven. Thus, while we can refer to these other modes of His Presence as being “real and true”, it is only in the Holy Eucharist, and in Heaven, in which we can say that Christ is present in a manner that is real, true, and SUBSTANTIAL (that is the KEY word here—a “substantial” presence).

I will quote Pope Paul VI on this point, as he gives a very good explanation/answer to this question (from his 1965 encyclical on the Eucharist, appropriately entitled "Mysterium Fidei", or "THE Mystery of the Faith", for the Eucharist, containing the Incarnate Lord Who is the Second Person of the Trinity, truly is aptly called THE Mystery of the Christian Faith):
Various Ways in Which Christ is Present
35. All of us realize that there is more than one way in which Christ is present in His Church. We want to go into this very joyful subject, which the Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy presented briefly, (30) at somewhat greater length.

Christ is present in His Church when she prays, since He is the one who "prays for us and prays in us and to whom we pray: He prays for us as our priest, He prays in us as our head, He is prayed to by us as our God" (31); and He is the one who has promised, "Where two or three are gathered together in my name, I am there in the midst of them." (32)

He is present in the Church as she performs her works of mercy, not just because whatever good we do to one of His least brethren we do to Christ Himself, (33)but also because Christ is the one who performs these works through the Church and who continually helps men with His divine love.

He is present in the Church as she moves along on her pilgrimage with a longing to reach the portals of eternal life, for He is the one who dwells in our hearts through faith, (34) and who instills charity in them through the Holy Spirit whom He gives to us. (35)


36. In still another very genuine way, He is present in the Church as she preaches, since the Gospel which she proclaims is the word of God, and it is only in the name of Christ, the Incarnate Word of God, and by His authority and with His help that it is preached, so that there might be "one flock resting secure in one shepherd." (36)

37. He is present in His Church as she rules and governs the People of God, since her sacred power comes from Christ and since Christ, the "Shepherd of Shepherds," (37) is present in the bishops who exercise that power, in keeping with the promise He made to the Apostles.

38. Moreover, Christ is present in His Church in a still more sublime manner as she offers the Sacrifice of the Mass in His name; He is present in her as she administers the sacraments. On the matter of Christ's presence in the offering of the Sacrifice of the Mass, We would like very much to call what St. John Chrysostom, overcome with awe, had to say in such accurate and eloquent words: "I wish to add something that is clearly awe-inspiring, but do not be surprised or upset. What is this? It is the same offering, no matter who offers it, be it Peter or Paul. It is the same one that Christ gave to His disciples and the same one that priests now perform: the latter is in no way inferior to the former, for it is not men who sanctify the latter, but He who sanctified the former. For just as the words which God spoke are the same as those that the priest now pronounces, so too the offering is the same." (38) No one is unaware that the sacraments are the actions of Christ who administers them through men. And so the sacraments are holy in themselves and they pour grace into the soul by the power of Christ, when they touch the body. The Highest Kind of Presence.

These various ways in which Christ is present fill the mind with astonishment and offer the Church a mystery for her contemplation.

But there is another way in which Christ is present in His Church, a way that surpasses all the others. It is His presence in the Sacrament of the Eucharist, which is, for this reason, "a more consoling source of devotion, a lovelier object of contemplation and holier in what it contains" (39) than all the other sacraments; for it contains Christ Himself and it is "a kind of consummation of the spiritual life, and in a sense the goal of all the sacraments." (40)

39. This presence is called "real" not to exclude the idea that the others are "real" too, but rather to indicate presence par excellence, because it is substantial and through it Christ becomes present whole and entire, God and man. (41) And so it would be wrong for anyone to try to explain this manner of presence by dreaming up a so-called "pneumatic" nature of the glorious body of Christ that would be present everywhere; or for anyone to limit it to symbolism, as if this most sacred Sacrament were to consist in nothing more than an efficacious sign "of the spiritual presence of Christ and of His intimate union with the faithful, the members of His Mystical Body." (42)
So it is that only in the Holy Eucharist, and in Heaven, is Our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, present in a manner that is REAL, TRUE, and *SUBSTANTIAL* in His Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity! It is the SAME Christ, with the same BODY, in the Eucharist who was conceived in Mary, born of Mary, suffered, died, and Rose again…and ascended into heaven…if anyone ever says, “I wish I could be with Jesus just like the Apostles were, or the Virgin Mary was, or Mary Magdalene was, or someone else…well, we, today, CAN still be with HIM just as they were by going to Him AS He is PRESENT in the Holy Eucharist!” And, that, my friends, is THE Glory of the Catholic Church! That is the MAIN reason why I am Catholic!

On this point, I will make a personal note here. When I was younger, in high school, I was on a retreat, and I encountered our Triune God in some very special ways. First, I made a good Confession of my sins to a priest, which unloaded a whole load of guilt of my shoulders, and, the instant I finished that Confession, I KNEW—I KNEW—Jesus Christ was WITH me! All I remember thinking, as I made the mile-long walk to my retreat house was, “Jesus is with me! Jesus is with me! Jesus is with me!” I was SO aware of His Presence with me at that point that I literally FELT His Presence, His Sweet, Loving, Friendly Presence, and was aware that, by making a good Confession, my soul had just been washed perfectly clean by His Blood (I also had an awareness of the sweet presence of Jesus’ loving Mother, Mary, whom I convinced led me to Jesus, to confess my sins to Jesus through one of Jesus’ Priests, and to then feel the loving Friendship of her Son, Jesus; like so many other countless Christians throughout the ages, I am quite convinced Mary prayed for me to experience this renewed love and friendship with her Son, the Lord Christ). THEN, at the end of the 3-day retreat, I did not want to go home, so consoled had I been by an awareness of the LOVING Presence of the Holy Trinity (Their Presence was manifest to me both in the beautiful nature They, as the one God, had created in the surrounding fields at the monastery I was at, and, also, in the beautiful Masses and chantings of the Scriptures done by the heroic monks at this monastery I was at on this retreat; the Holy Trinity was more real to me than this computer I am currently using). I stayed up the whole night before the end of the retreat, so much I did not want the return back home. But, as I stayed up all night in the chapel, a funny thing happened. While I knew, intellectually, that God is everywhere, and that Jesus, being God, is everywhere, I had a PROFOUND sense of Jesus being present in a VERY special way in the chapel in which I was praying. I could not explain it then; but I knew it. There was this “box” in the chapel—later, I learned it is called a tabernacle—it which I just KNEW that Jesus was Present in that “box” in a SPECIAL Way. The Presence of Christ I experience/felt in that ‘box’ was so sweet and loving in drew me to MANY deep tears of love and gratitude and joy. Like I said, I couldn’t explain it to myself then: if Jesus is EVERYWHERE (because He is God), why do I feel like He is ESPECIALLY *here*, close to me, in this “box”!?!? I couldn’t explain it…

It was only later that explanations were given to me. For, after that retreat, I learned that that “box” is called a “tabernacle” and in that tabernacle is contained the Sacrament of the Holy Eucharist! I did NOT know that at the time of my retreat, and, yet, even without knowing it, I was given a special grace from God to KNOW that Christ was present in a VERY SPECIAL WAY—a presence “par excellence” (as I now know the theologians say), a MOST EXCELLENT PRESENCE—in that box, and that knowledge/awareness was SO strong it redounded into my emotions to the point at which I FELT, I TRULY *FELT* Christ’s Eucharistic Presence—and His LOVE—for me in that tabernacle, in that Eucharist…and my one desire, out of love for all of you, is that you, too, one day, might experience that same loving Presence of Our Eucharistic Lord. For, I am telling you, He is there FOR YOU, too….it is the MAIN Reason why He became Man: To Give US—not just ME, but ALL of US—Himself as a GIFT to us in the Eucharist, so that we, in thanksgiving for this "Thank-offering" of the Eucharist", might, beginning in this life, and then on into the next, simply say, for all eternity, “THANK YOU!”

In Christ, the Eucharistic Lord, the Bread of Life,
BrotherAlan
"Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit,
as it was in the beginning, is now, and always, and unto the ages of ages. Amen."

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