In this discussion of Roman Catholic doctrine, as taught in the Official Catechism of the Vatican, we have begun understanding the sacraments. This comes in three types of sacraments, sacraments of Initiation, sacraments of Healing, and sacraments of Service. We have begun with two of the three sacraments of Initiation: Baptism and Confirmation. Those two begin the process of justification in the sinner. Baptism washes you of your original sin making you righteous and able to do good deeds. Confirmation is the second stage where you confirm the work being done and are given the Holy Spirit.
(The two sacraments mentioned above are discussed in the previous post)
Now we enter into discussion of the most important sacrament of the Roman church, the Eucharist. This is said to be the “source and summit” of the Church’s activity. Everything revolves around this and so it is important to understand.
The Sacrament of the Eucharist
The holy Eucharist completes Christian initiation. Those who have been raised to the dignity of the royal priesthood by Baptism and configured more deeply to Christ by Confirmation participate with the whole community in the Lord’s own sacrifice by means of the Eucharist.
“At the Last Supper, on the night he was betrayed, our Savior instituted the Eucharistic sacrifice of his Body and Blood. This he did in order to perpetuate the sacrifice of the cross throughout the ages until he should come again, and so to entrust to his beloved Spouse, the Church, a memorial of his death and resurrection: a sacrament of love, a sign of unity, a bond of charity, a Paschal banquet ‘in which Christ is consumed, the mind is filled with grace, and a pledge of future glory is given to us.'”
Paragraph 1324 says this:
“The Eucharist is “the source and summit of the Christian life.” “The other sacraments, and indeed all ecclesiastical ministries and works of the apostolate, are bound up with the Eucharist and are oriented toward it.”
This clearly shows it’s importance to the whole of Catholic life. If the liturgy of the church, the sacraments, proclamation of the word, and unity of believers in worship of God are all bound up with the Eucharist, that places it in a central position for the work of the church.
“The Eucharist is the efficacious sign and sublime cause of that communion in the divine life and that unity of the People of God by which the Church is kept in being. It is the culmination both of God’s action sanctifying the world in Christ and of the worship men offer to Christ and the worship men offer to Christ and through him to the Father in the Holy Spirit.”
Here the word “efficacious” is given. Here is the Oxford Dictionary definition of this word: “(of something inanimate or abstract) successful in producing a desired or intended result; effective.” For something to be “efficacious” it must mean that it has the ability (within itself) to produce the desired effect. The desired effect is to sanctify the world in Christ and produce within man the worship required by God. The Eucharist is the culmination of this. Like Protestants, Roman Catholics believe that it is grace that saves us (Ephesians 2:5). However, they believe this saving grace is given to us through the liturgy of the Roman Church beginning in Baptism and confirmation with it’s “culmination” being found in the Eucharist. Paragraph’s 1348-1355 describe the elaborate ceremony necessary for celebrating the Eucharist. This ritual is extremely important and every part must be observed correctly in order for the bread an wine to truly become the body and blood. The close of this ceremony is the institution narrative, the summation of the eucharist ritual.
last half of paragraph 1353
“In the institution narrative, the power of the words (spoken by the priest who is calling Jesus down from heaven) and the action of Christ, and the power of the Holy Spirit, make sacramentally present under the species of bread and wine Christ’s body and blood, his sacrifice offered on the cross once for all.”
In the anamnesis that follows, the Church calls to mind the passion, resurrection, and glorious return of Christ Jesus; she presents to the Father the offering of his Son which reconciles us with him.
In the intercessions, the Church indicates that the Eucharist is celebrated in communion with the whole Church in heaven and on earth, the living and the dead, and in communion with the pastors of the Church, the Pope, the diocesan bishop, his presbyterium and his deacons, and all the bishops of the whole world together with their Churches.
This is a real sacrifice that is being offered to God for thanksgiving and praise. But it is a real sacrifice because it really is the blood of Christ being put on the altar. This makes sense of why they think this sacrament is the culmination of everything that happens in the church. The saving grace necessary for salvation rests within Christ, which we consume because He is really present. Though they believe this is the same sacrifice offered on calvary, they believe it has to be continually re-presented to God physically.
Because it is the memorial of Christ’s Passover, the Eucharist is also a sacrifice. The sacrificial character of the Eucharist is manifested in the very words of institution: “This is my body which is given for you” and “This cup which is poured out for you is the New Covenant in my blood.” In the Eucharist Christ gives us the very body which he gave up for us on the cross, the very blood which he “poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins.”
The Eucharist is thus a sacrifice because it re-presents (makes present) the sacrifice of the cross, because it is memorial and because it applies its fruit: [Christ], our Lord and God, was once and for all to offer himself to God the Father by his death on the altar of the cross, to accomplish there an everlasting redemption. But because his priesthood was not to end with his death, at the Last Supper “on the night when he was betrayed,” [he wanted] to leave to his beloved spouse the Church a visible sacrifice (as the nature of man demands) by which the bloody sacrifice which he was to accomplish once for all on the cross would be re-presented, its memory perpetuated until the end of the world, and its salutary power be applied to the forgiveness of the sins we daily commit.
The word “salutary” is given to the power of the Eucharist. Oxford dictionary defines salutary: “(especially with reference to something unwelcome or unpleasant) producing good effects; beneficial.” Again, the idea is that the Eucharist is what administers grace to us and has the power of salvation within it because it is the actual sacrifice of Christ.
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. “This presence is called ‘real’–by which is not intended to exclude the other types of presence as if they could not be ‘real’ too, but because it is presence in the fullest sense: that is to say, it is a substantial presence by which Christ, God and man, makes himself wholly and entirely present.”
The last sentence of 1376 says, “This change (bread and wine into body and blood) the holy Catholic Church has fittingly and properly called transubstantiation.” This is an important word that is used often for this process. However, a true problem presents itself when you realize that Christ is physically on earth before you. What do you do when the God of the universe appears?
Worship of the Eucharist. In the liturgy of the Mass we express our faith in the real presence of Christ under the species of bread and wine by, among other ways, genuflecting or bowing deeply as a sign of adoration of the Lord. “The Catholic Church has always offered and still offers to the sacrament of the Eucharist the cult of adoration, not only during Mass, but also outside of it, reserving the consecrated hosts with the utmost care, exposing them to the solemn veneration of the faithful, and carrying them in procession.
Thats right, you must worship the bread and wine. This is only logical because if you really believe it is God before you, what else must you do but bow in adoration? However, since we as protestants do not believe that transubstantiation has happened (even Lutherans don’t believe this) this is nothing more than idolatry which is explicitly prohibited by God. In paragraph 1380 there is a biblical contradiction regarding the reason for this presence.
It is highly fitting that Christ should have wanted to remain present to his Church in this unique way. Since Christ was about to take his departure from his own in his visible form, he wanted to give us his sacramental presence; since he was about to offer himself on the cross to save us, he wanted us to have the memorial of the love with which he loved us “to the end,” even to the giving of his life. In his Eucharistic presence he remains mysteriously in our midst as the one who loved us and gave himself up for us, and he remains under signs that express and communicate his love:
The Church and the world have a great need for Eucharistic worship. Jesus awaits us in this sacrament of love. Let us not refuse the time to go to meet him in adoration, in contemplation full of faith, and open to making amends for the serious offenses and crimes of the world. Let our adoration never cease.
The problem biblically comes in John 16:4-11:
“I did not say these things to you from the beginning, because I was with you. But now I am going to him who sent me, and none of you asks me, ‘Where are you going?’ But because I have said these things to you, sorrow has filled your heart. Nevertheless, I tell you the truth: it is to your advantage that I go away, for if I do not go away, the Helper will not come to you. But if I go, I will send him to you. And when he comes, he will convict the world concerning sin and righteousness and judgment: concerning sin, because they do not believe in me; concerning righteousness, because I go to the Father, and you will see me no longer; concerning judgment, because the ruler of this world is judged.
Jesus left so that the Holy Spirit could come and dwell within us. Jesus is no longer physically present on this earth because He is seated at the right hand of God interceding for us (Romans 8:34). Hebrews 10:12 says, “But when Christ had offered for all time a single sacrifice for sins, he sat down at the right hand of God.” Jesus is the new high priest (according to Hebrews) and His office is superior to the old high priests. In the Holy of Holies (inner room in the tabernacle and temple) where the priests would offer their sacrifices there was no where to sit down. This was because their work was never finished. However, Christ offered the once for all sacrifice and His work truly was finished. That is why He sits down next to the father, His sacrifice was perfect and His work was done. However, Roman Catholicism says that Christ’s work must be continually represented and His body truly does come down every time the bread is consecrated. This goes against the testimony of Scripture. Sadly this focus on the sacrament takes the Christian away from the true source and summit of Christian life, the word. Everything they say the Eucharist gives, is actually said in scripture to come from the scripture.
What material food produces in our bodily life, Holy Communion wonderfully achieves in our spiritual life. Communion with the flesh of the risen Christ, a flesh “given life and giving life through the Holy Spirit,” preserves, increases, and renews the life of grace received at Baptism. This growth in Christian life needs the nourishment of Eucharistic Communion, the bread for our pilgrimage until the moment of death, when it will be given to us as viaticum.
After being challenged by the devil during His temptation, Jesus says this, “But he answered, “It is written, “‘Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.’”(Matthew 4:4) It is not the Eucharist that is to be the spiritual food we live on, but the word. Also, this is what the disciples say to Jesus when asked if they too will desert Him, ” Simon Peter answered Him, “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have words of eternal life.” (John 6:68)
Holy communion separates us from sin. The body of Christ we receive in Holy Communion is “given up for us,” and the blood we drink “shed for the many for the forgiveness of sins.” For this reason the Eucharist cannot unite us to Christ without at the same time cleansing us from past sins and preserving us from future sins: For as often as we eat this bread and drink the cup, we proclaim the death of the Lord. If we proclaim the Lord’s death, we proclaim the forgive-ness of sins. If, as often as his blood is poured out, it is poured for the forgiveness of sins, I should always receive it, so that it may always forgive my sins. Because I always sin, I should always have a remedy.
However, Jesus says what sanctifies us is the word: “Sanctify them in the truth; Your word is truth.” (John 17:17) Again, the power of spiritual life comes from the word. The greatest contradiction comes now.
By the same charity that it enkindles in us, the Eucharist preserves us from future mortal sins. The more we share the life of Christ and progress in his friendship, the more difficult it is to break away from him by mortal sin. The Eucharist is not ordered to the forgiveness of mortal sins–that is proper to the sacrament of Reconciliation. The Eucharist is properly the sacrament of those who are in full communion with the Church.
According to Rome, this once and for all sacrifice cannot take away mortal sin. Mortal sin is defined in 1855 as, “Mortal sin destroys charity in the heart of man by a grave violation of God’s law; it turns man away from God, who is his ultimate end and his beatitude, by preferring an inferior good to him. In 1861 it says, “Mortal sin is a radical possibility of human freedom, as is love itself. It results in the loss of charity and the privation of sanctifying grace, that is, of the state of grace. If it is not redeemed by repentance and God’s forgiveness, it causes exclusion from Christ’s kingdom and the eternal death of hell, for our freedom has the power to make choices for ever, with no turning back.” This means that it is possible for someone to lose their salvation. Furthermore, it means that the Eucharist is not able to save someone from this “mortal sin” and keep them from losing their salvation. This is contradicts the clear teaching of Hebrews 9 which says:
But when Christ appeared as a high priest of the good things that have come, then through the greater and more perfect tent (not made with hands, that is, not of this creation) he entered once for all into the holy places, not by means of the blood of goats and calves but by means of his own blood, thus securing an eternal redemption. For if the blood of goats and bulls, and the sprinkling of defiled persons with the ashes of a heifer, sanctify for the purification of the flesh, how much more will the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself without blemish to God, purify our conscience from dead works to serve the living God. (Hebrews 9:11-14)
The former priests were many in number, because they were prevented by death from continuing in office, but he holds his priesthood permanently, because he continues forever. Consequently, he is able to save to the uttermost those who draw near to God through him, since he always lives to make intercession for them. (Hebrews 7:23-25)
The true sacrifice of Jesus is able to “save to the uttermost those who draw near to God through him.” Yet, in Roman Catholicism the one true sacrifice does not have this power. Day after day, month after month, year after year you can receive the Eucharist and it is still possible to fall away due to mortal sin. This is not the sacrifice spoken of in scripture, it is a terrible twisting of the truth. The true sacrifice is able to perfect and save those who receive it, and it is not through consuming bread and wine, but through true regeneration and placing your faith in the true sacrifice of Christ.