Subject: Antagonism in the Church Regarding....
The Eucharist and the Word of God
"That which was from the beginning, which we have heard,
which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked
upon and touched with our hands, concerning the word
of life-- the life was made manifest, and we saw it, and
testify to it, and proclaim to you the eternal life which
was with the Father and was made manifest to us."
In promoting erroneous beliefs concerning the Eucharist and/or the Word of God (Sacred Scripture), members of the faithful, Protestants and Catholics alike, are unknowingly engaging in mutual heresy. These persons proclaim heresy by promoting incorrect theological progressions inherent in the Eucharistic Sacrifice and the Word of God.
Some Protestant denomenations refer to the Roman Catholic Mass as “repetitive ritual”; thus declaring that no grace is given therein. Roman Catholics, generally, are rightly taught that the Eucharistic Sacrifice (the Mass) is the “source and summit of the Christian life” (CCC: 1324; Cf.Lk22:19).
As to Sacred Scripture, Catholics sometimes believe that the Gospels are only “instrumental” or “instructional” in nature; humanizing the sacred texts in the process. They thus believe, usually by inference, that the Words of Christ suffer from a paucity of grace and are therefore inferior to Eucharistic orientation. This is not the official position of the Catholic Church and this depreciation of the Word of God is contradicted in its official Magisterium (CCC: 86, 103); as will be presented below. The Catholic teaching that Jesus Christ is present in body, blood, soul and divinity in the Eucharist is, of course, correct. From the Catechism of the Catholic Church (CCC):
CCC:1374 “The mode of Christ's presence under the Eucharistic species is unique. It raises the Eucharist above all the sacraments as "the perfection of the spiritual life and the end to which all the sacraments tend. In the most blessed sacrament of the Eucharist "the body and blood, together with the soul and divinity, of our Lord Jesus Christ and, therefore, the whole Christ is truly, really, and substantially contained."
Both Protestant and Catholic stances on the Mass and the Word of God are promoted, rightly or wrongly, in their respective congregations so that the faithful concerned might adhere more closely to what is being preached to them. The following article is a rebuttal of both the Protestant view of the Mass as “repetitive ritual” and the unofficial Catholic view that the Word of God is chiefly “instrumental” or “instructional” in nature. Firstly, we will set straight the assertion, promoted by some Protestant evangelicals, that the Roman Catholic Mass is mere “repetitive ritual”.
There is no better way to speak of the Eucharistic Sacrifice of the Mass than by quoting the Catechism of the Catholic Church and Sacred Scripture:
THE EUCHARIST IN THE ECONOMY OF SALVATION
The Signs of the Bread and Wine
CCC:1333 “At the heart of the Eucharistic celebration are the bread and wine that, by the words of Christ and the invocation of the Holy Spirit, become Christ's Body and Blood. Faithful to the Lord's command the Church continues to do, in his memory and until his glorious return, what he did on the eve of his Passion:
"He took bread. . . ." "He took the cup filled with wine. . . ." The signs of bread and wine become, in a way surpassing understanding, the Body and Blood of Christ; they continue also to signify the goodness of creation. Thus in the Offertory we give thanks to the Creator for bread and wine, (Ps104:13-15) fruit of the "work of human hands," but above all as "fruit of the earth" and "of the vine" - gifts of the Creator. The Church sees in the gesture of the king-priest Melchizedek, who "brought out bread and wine," a prefiguring of her own offering. (Gen14:18)
CCC:1334 “In the Old Covenant bread and wine were offered in sacrifice among the first fruits of the earth as a sign of grateful acknowledgment to the Creator. But they also received a new significance in the context of the Exodus: the unleavened bread that Israel eats every year at Passover commemorates the haste of the departure that liberated them from Egypt; the remembrance of the manna in the desert will always recall to Israel that it lives by the bread of the Word of God; (Deut8:3) their daily bread is the fruit of the promised land, the pledge of God's faithfulness to his promises. The "cup of blessing" (1Cor10:16) at the end of the Jewish Passover meal adds to the festive joy of wine an eschatological dimension: the messianic expectation of the rebuilding of Jerusalem. When Jesus instituted the Eucharist, he gave a new and definitive meaning to the blessing of the bread and the cup.
“The cup of blessing which we bless, is it not a participation in the blood of Christ?
The bread which we break, is it not a participation in the body of Christ?” (1Cor10:16 RSV)
the night when he was betrayed took bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke
it, and said, "This is my body which is for you. Do this in remembrance of me." In
the same way also the cup, after supper, saying, "This cup is the new covenant in my
blood. Do this, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of me." For as often as you
eat this bread and drink the cup, you proclaim the Lord's death until he comes. Whoever,
therefore, eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner will be
guilty of profaning the body and blood of the Lord. Let a man examine himself, and so
eat of the bread and drink of the cup. For any one who eats and drinks without discerning
the body eats and drinks judgment upon himself.” (1Cor11:23-29 RSV)
CCC:1335 “The miracles of the multiplication of the loaves, when the Lord says the blessing, breaks and distributes the loaves through his disciples to feed the multitude, prefigure the superabundance of this unique bread of his Eucharist. (Mt14:13-21; 15:32-39) The sign of water turned into wine at Cana already announces the Hour of Jesus' glorification. It makes manifest the fulfillment of the wedding feast in the Father's kingdom, where the faithful will drink the new wine that has become the Blood of Christ. (Jn2:11; Mk14:25)
CCC:1336 “The first announcement of the Eucharist divided the disciples, just as the announcement of the Passion scandalized them: "This is a hard saying; who can listen to it?" (Jn6:60) The Eucharist and the Cross are stumbling blocks. It is the same mystery and it never ceases to be an occasion of division. "Will you also go away?": (Jn6:67) the Lord's question echoes through the ages, as a loving invitation to discover that only he has "the words of eternal life" (Jn6:68) and that to receive in faith the gift of his Eucharist is to receive the Lord himself.”
“He who eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise
him up at the last day. For my flesh is food indeed, and my blood is drink
indeed. He who eats my flesh and drinks my blood abides in me, and I in him.
As the living Father sent me, and I live because of the Father, so he who eats
me will live because of me. This is the bread which came down from heaven,
not such as the fathers ate and died; he who eats this bread will live for ever." (Jn6:54-58 RSV)
CCC:1337 “The Lord, having loved those who were his own, loved them to the end. Knowing that the hour had come to leave this world and return to the Father, in the course of a meal he washed their feet and gave them the commandment of love. (Jn13:1-17; 34-35) In order to leave them a pledge of this love, in order never to depart from his own and to make them sharers in his Passover, he instituted the Eucharist as the memorial of his death and Resurrection, and commanded his apostles to celebrate it until his return; "thereby he constituted them priests of the New Testament." (Council of Trent, DS 1740)
CCC:1338 “The three synoptic Gospels and St. Paul have handed on to us the account of the institution of the Eucharist; St. John, for his part, reports the words of Jesus in the synagogue of Capernaum that prepare for the institution of the Eucharist: Christ calls himself the bread of life, come down from heaven. (Cf. Jn 6)
CCC:1339 “Jesus chose the time of Passover to fulfill what he had announced at Capernaum: giving his disciples his Body and his Blood:
“Then came the day of Unleavened Bread, on which the passover
lamb had to be sacrificed. So Jesus sent Peter and John, saying, "Go
and prepare the passover meal for us, that we may eat it. . . ." They
went . . . and prepared the passover. And when the hour came, he
sat at table, and the apostles with him. And he said to them, "I have
earnestly desired to eat this passover with you before I suffer; for I
tell you I shall not eat it again until it is fulfilled in the kingdom of God."
. ….And he took bread, and when he had 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.
And likewise the cup after supper, saying, "This cup which is poured
out for you is the New Covenant in my blood.’"
(Cf. Lk22:7-20; Mt26:17-29; Mk14:12-25; 1Cor11:23-26)
CCC:1340 “By celebrating the Last Supper with his apostles in the course of the Passover meal, Jesus gave the Jewish Passover its definitive meaning. Jesus' passing over to his father by his death and Resurrection---the new Passover---is anticipated in the Supper and celebrated in the Eucharist which fulfills the Jewish Passover and anticipates the final Passover of the Church in the glory of the kingdom.
The Command: "Do this in memory of me" (Lk:22:19; Cor11:24)
CCC:1341 “The command of Jesus to repeat his actions and words "until he comes" does not only ask us to remember Jesus and what he did. It is directed at the liturgical celebration, by the apostles and their successors, of the memorial of Christ, of his life, of his death, of his Resurrection, and of his intercession in the presence of the Father. (2Cor11:26)
CCC:1342 “From the beginning the Church has been faithful to the Lord's
command. Of the
‘They devoted themselves to the apostles' teaching and fellowship,
to the breaking of bread and the prayers. . . . Day by day,
attending the temple together and breaking bread in their
homes, they partook of food with glad and generous hearts.’” (Acts2:42,46)
CCC:1343 “It was above all on "the first day of the week," Sunday, the day of Jesus' resurrection that the Christians met "to break bread." (Acts20:7) From that time on down to our own day the celebration of the Eucharist has been continued so that today we encounter it everywhere in the Church with the same fundamental structure. It remains the center of the Church's life.
CCC:1344 “Thus from celebration to celebration, as they proclaim the Paschal mystery of Jesus "until he comes," the pilgrim People of God advances, "following the narrow way of the cross," (Cf. 1Cor:11:26) toward the heavenly banquet, when all the elect will be seated at the table of the kingdom.”
With the priest acting as celebrant and the Catholic faithful participating, the Mass is offered in obedience to
Christ’s command: “Do this in memory of Me.” (Lk:22:19; 1Cor11:24)
The origin of the Mass, of course, was at the Last Supper. In all probability, the second time there was a Eucharistic celebration was at the ‘end of the road’ on the way to Emmaus, with Jesus again as celebrant:
“When he was at table with them, he took the bread and blessed, and broke it,
and gave it to them. And their eyes were opened and they recognized him; and
he vanished out of their sight.” (Lk24:30-31RSV)
At Emmaus, the eyes of the apostles “were opened” and they “recognized him”. They had just received the True Presence of Christ, consecrated by Jesus Himself, in the bread that had been given to them by the Eternal High Priest. From the earliest days, as attested by St. Paul in 1Corinthians, the Eucharistic “…remembrance of Me” was celebrated in the new “breaking of the bread".
Mary, Our Loving Mother, told Nancy Fowler:
"Behold I point you to the Eucharistic Jesus. Come, go before My Son. He is in the Blessed Sacrament. Come to the memorial of My Son's passion. Come, little ones, come all to the Holy Mass." (May 13, 1994)
Jesus told Nancy Fowler:
"My children do not believe in Me in the Eucharist. They tarnish My Eucharist. The Eucharist will rise up through the Holy Spirit and the cross and will prevail." (March 27, 1993)
"When you reject life of the unborn, Satan is attacking and influencing you. When you reject the Life of Me in the Eucharist, Satan is attacking you and influencing you. When you reject Life in My Word, Satan is attacking you and influencing you." (November 1, 1992)
THE WORD OF GOD IN THE HOLY SPIRIT
The Catechism of the Catholic Church is very clear in its regard of Sacred Scripture:
CCC:82 "Sacred Scripture is the speech of God as it is put down in writing under the breath of the Holy Spirit.
CCC:85 "The task of giving an authentic interpretation of the Word of God, whether in its written form or in the form of Tradition, has been entrusted to the living, teaching office of the Church alone. Its authority in this matter is exercised in the name of Jesus Christ."
Sacred Scripture agrees:
“You may know how one ought to behave in the household of God, which is the
church of the living God, the pillar and bulwark of the truth.” (1Tim3:15)
CCC:86 "Yet this Magisterium is not superior to the Word of God, but is its servant. It teaches only what has been handed on to it. At the divine command and with the help of the Holy Spirit, it listens to this devotedly, guards it with dedication, and expounds it faithfully. All that it proposes for belief as being divinely revealed is drawn from this single deposit of faith."
Jesus Christ: The Eternal Word of Sacred Scripture
CCC:101 “In order to reveal himself to men, in the condescension of his goodness God speaks to them in human words: "Indeed the words of God, expressed in the words of men, are in every way like human language, just as the Word of the eternal Father, when he took on himself the flesh of human weakness, became like men.
CCC:102 “Through all the words of Sacred Scripture, God speaks only one single Word, his one Utterance in whom he expresses himself completely: You recall that one and the same Word of God extends throughout Scripture, that it is one and the same Utterance that resounds in the mouths of all the sacred writers, since he who was in the beginning God with God has no need of separate syllables; for he is not subject to time.”
St. Thomas Aquinas, the theologian most prominantly accepted by the Roman Catholic Church said:
"Word is the only term related to knowledge that names a person, since it alone
names something as issuing from another. The person who issues as word in God's
knowing is called the Son. Because the Son is begotten God, he is also unbegotten
Creator. The Son who shares his species is God's image in the first way."
(Summa Theologiae, St. Thomas Aquinas, A Concise Translation, p.72, Timothy
McDermott, Christian Classics,
CCC:103 “For this reason, the Church has always venerated the Scriptures as she venerates the Lord's Body. She never ceases to present to the faithful the bread of life, taken from the one table of God's Word and Christ's Body.
CCC:104 “In Sacred Scripture, the Church constantly finds her nourishment and her strength, for she welcomes it not as a human word, ‘but as what it really is; the word of God.’ In the sacred books, the Father who is in heaven comes lovingly to meet his children, and talks with them."
Can there be any doubt that when The Eternal Word Jesus Christ speaks through His Holy Spirit---there is not the life of grace contained in His every Word? It is for certain that when we take His Word from the pages of Sacred Scripture into our open hearts, the Life of Sanctifying Grace flows into our souls. This is because it is Jesus Christ, Who is God---Who speaks to us through His Holy Spirit. Jesus is the Eternal Word of the Most Holy Trinity. When the Holy Spirit speaks His Word in Sacred Scripture, He speaks from eternity---for He is “Unbegotten Creator” and “He is not subject to time.” (Cf. Summa; CCC: 102)
Jesus, through His Holy Spirit, spoke to Nancy Fowler on His Word of Life:
“Bring My Living Word to My people.” (February 27, 1993)
"In the Bible, My word is alive. Let it be alive in every man, woman and child's heart. Live in Me and I will live in you. If you abide in Me then you abide in Peace.” (February 27, 1993)
"My Living Presence and My Living Word are one." (August 13, 1994)