Another Eucharist objection I could use some help answering

So background: I have been dialoguing with a protestant for about two months now, mostly about the Eucharist. He doesn’t seem to have much of his own arguments, but he keeps sending me these links to anti-Catholic sites and asks me to answer it. I don’t mind, as most of their objections are easily answered, and I think it’s good to show him how wrong these sites are. I keep hoping my answers might at least let him see that the Catholic Church isn’t as intellectually and spiritually bankrupt as these sites say.

But anyways, he sent me this argument against the Eucharist that I wasn’t sure exactly how to approach. It’s arrogant and condescending like most anti-Catholic stuff, but I still want to give a good reply.

Catholics say “Christ remains present under the appearance of bread and wine NO LONGER than the material appearances remain; once they cease because of digestion, or from any other cause, the presence of Christ CEASES also.”

Now here we have the height of absurdity! The Catholic priest goes through this big ritual to transform ordinary bread into a “whole and entire Christ”, yet once we swallow Jesus, our bodily function of digestion and natural heat turn it back into bread. The only nourishment the Catholic receives according to their own doctrine is bread, because the minute the eucharistic species ceased, or was assimilated or annihilated by our digestive system, it is no longer Jesus! If you ate a “whole and entire” steak dinner, and 15 minutes later your dinner left you “whole and entire”, unconsumed and unassimilated, how then would you have been nourished? Let me put it in plain English…If Christ enters a man “whole and entire” and then as soon as the bread is assimilated by digestive acids, he is no longer present, then what happened to him? Did we destroy (to consume, eat) Jesus, or did he leave “whole and entire”? If you say that we destroyed Jesus, then you would contradict your own church doctrine which says that Christ is incorruptible, so the only answer is that Christ would have left “whole and entire. What a confusing and ridiculous dilemma tradition has put men in!

How should I respond? I mean, technically, it is right. We do believe that the Real Presence ceases after the appearance of bread ceases. I’m just not sure how to explain why this isn’t a ridiculous dilemma like this guy says it is.

Seems like it’s more a logical problem for him than a theological one. There is a reason why it’s called a Sacred Mystery after all (but I suspect he wouldn’t find that a very satisfying answer!).

Have to say I’ve never thought about (nor I suspect have very many people!?) what happens to the presence of Christ after digestion, before.

I suppose I would say something along the lines of just as the consecration of the bread/wine doesn’t MAKE Christ - it “merely” brings Him into the reality of what was previously bread and wine - our digestion of it doesn’t and can’t destroy Him. We can be nourished of and by Him without destroying Him - in the same way that at the consecration the fullness of God isn’t damaged or hurt or anything, unlike when you prepare ‘regular’ food which necessarily has an impact on the fullness of the animal or plant. This is why He is God…and not a steak dinner.

On a side note (and an entirely irreverent one, I apologise) - had Christ used a t-bone instead of bread when He instituted this sacrament, would more people go to Mass more often now??

Well, when we eat food, our body absorbs the nutrients, maybe Jesus fully enters our souls. Since the Eucharist cleanses our soul of all venial sins, He can be completely with us until we sin again. Which for me is probably before I leave the Church parking lot.

This is just an uneducated stab at it, hopefully someone who has more knowledge on the subject answers this. It would be good to have an answer for this.

For one thing the article is taunting and cruel to the beliefs of Fellow Christians. Many Protestants as well as Catholics subscribe to this belief.

For another, the nourishment from the Eucharist is spiritual. Unlike common food which we assimilate, In the Eucharist, we ourselves are assimilated into the food (The Body of Christ) That is why Catholics call it the Sacrament of Unity. This effect lasts beyond the duration of the bread itself. We take Jesus with us when we leave the Mass, even though the bread may have dissolved away by then. We are one with Jesus, and His Body the Church.

It helps to consider the prefigurement of the Eucharist, which was the Manna in the desert for the Hebrews. This was a REAL nourishment, but one which needed refreshing while they sojourned in the desert. So too here on earth. We require this spiritual nourishment for eternal life, while we sojourn here on earth.

So although the Real Presence does not continue beyond the point where the bread or wine are no longer bread and wine, it doesn’t mean that the vital nourishment is gone too. That does continue with us. So too does our oneness with Jesus and His Church, making us one of His Elect, as he forcefully says Himself. John 6:53 "Then Jesus said to them: Amen, amen I say unto you: Except you eat the flesh of the Son of man, and drink his blood, you shall not have life in you. "

The nourishment we receive us sanctifying grace. Our souls receive this grace.

That takes neither 15 seconds nor 15 minutes, but rather is instantaneous. It is not our body receiving nourishment, it is our soul.

Nor is it we who turn the Eucharist “back” into bread, but The Lord as he departs physically having already given us the spiritual grace.

Indeed, to the unbeliever it is foolishness, just as Christ Crucified is" a stumbling block to Jews and foolishness to Gentiles" (1 Cor 1:23)

There is a great book by Catholic Answers that has really sound answers to all of the Protestant objections. It is “The Essential Catholic Survival Guide”
shop.catholic.com/the-essential-catholic-survival-guide-set.html
I would recommend this to anyone who has Protestants that challenge them with issues such as this.

It is kind of a strawman argument. Jesus fully nourishes us spiritually. Just like the steak dinner he brings up nourishes the body, Jesus is not destroyed but nourishes us spiritually.:wink:

Jesus turned bread and wine in to His Body and Blood. after it is digested, what remains is no longer bread or wine. I fail to see the conundrum.

Thanks everybody. I think I have a good idea how to answer him now.

Something I’ve been seeing in this tract and other anti-Catholic attacks on the Eucharist that he has sent me is an almost visceral disgust of the body and anything physical. It’s weird that a Christian can profess that God became physical in the Incarnation and yet the idea that he is physically present in the Eucharist repulses them.

It’s a strange disconnect to me.

Personally I would not bother trying to “dialogue” with your “friend” on the matter of the Eucharist. It is a high teaching best for discussing with one’s own family.

Why throw pearls before swine.

This Lutheran concurs.

Jon

I used the term friend lightly. I guess acquaintance is the more accurate term.

At first we were discussing the scriptural and historical basis for it, so I thought it would be a fruitful discussion for both of us, but it has started to devolve into Catholic bashing sadly, as you can see from that article he sent. I’m pretty much done with it, especially after what he just did today.

I sent a detailed reply explaining how the Eucharist gives us spiritual benefits and how it is not a “ridiculous dilemma” like this author said, and all he replied back to me was “Are you truly satisfied with that answer?” :banghead:

No reply to my points, just a condescending question. I feel like an idiot for spending so much time talking to him honestly. I have a hard time discerning when to quit.

Sorry to hear that.
Yes, similar has happened to me before too, so I now take the approach that people have to gradually “earn” my trust and I share/respond things only to the degree they have reached.
Thanks for sharing the denouement.

It is always dangerous to engage in those types of discussions. You must remember that many non-Catholics are indoctrinated in how to argue with Catholics and when all else fails they may stoop to ridicule in hope of making you doubt your position and perhaps give it up. Not too surprisingly, this works pretty will with weak personalities. So now he will deprive you of his friendship hoping to weaken you.

Linus2nd

I’m sorry to hear that. But, perhaps we should explore the question a little further then, to see if it really is a satisfying answer.

I suppose the first question to ask is, does Christ wish to nourish us with Himself? I think it’s pretty clear from John 6, whatever you believe about it, that He does. So the next question we should ask is, is that nourishment physical or spiritual in nature, or perhaps both?

The Protestant answer is most assuredly that He desires to nourish us spiritually. The Catholic answer, on the face of it (if you didn’t know Catholic theology) is that it is both. After all, we believe He comes to us in the Eucharist body, blood, soul and divinity.

One thing we should make clear, however, is that it is not Christ’s humanity which nourishes us, but His divinity. So the Protestant position, at first glance, seems more sensical. If Christ nourishes us through His divinity, then why all the fuss about the Real Presence? Why can’t He just give Himself to us spiritually, and thus we receive His nourishment?

And this is the real heart of the answer: because you cannot divide Christ’s being. Christ comes to us in the Eucharist, body, blood, soul and divinity, because that is what makes up His being. It’s a little bit like suggesting that I don’t need my body to communicate with you, that somehow you and I could come together in a purely spiritual way. Well, we can’t. And we can’t precisely because our being is such that we cannot separate our bodies from our souls. If we did, we would be dead. Likewise, you cannot divide Christ’s humanity, His body and soul, from His divinity. It is the hypostatic union.

Thus, the Catholic Church’s teaching on the Eucharist as being His whole, undivided, Real Presence.

But the Church had to wrestle with another question that arose with this revelation. That question regarded what it would mean to digest our Lord. Indeed, when considering the matter of normal digestion, it appears that the process of digestion breaks down a substance into its constitutive parts. The suggestion, then, seemed to be that in the process of digestion, we would be destroying our Lord and assimilating Him into our being.

Well, this cannot be true for two very good reasons. First, Christ cannot be digested for the same reason that we affirm the Real Presence. That is, His substance cannot be broken down; He cannot be divided. The second reason is that Christ is not assimilated into us; we do not make Him part of ourselves. Rather, we are assimilated into Him, into His body, and we are made into Him. Thus, while it appears that we are consuming our Lord, as that is the apparent act that we perform in Communion, the deeper reality is that He is consuming us.

Thus, we must affirm that He is no longer present under the species of bread and wine once the digestive processes begin, as to hold such a view would be theologically and metaphysically incorrect. We must affirm that it is the act of receiving the Eucharist into our bodies that completes the communion with Him, and that from that moment forward, His presence leaves the bread and enters into our very being. That is the communication.

The Eucharist is the vehicle of communion, but it is not, itself, the communion. The unity of Christ with us is the communion. That is the mystery, that in communicating to us through the species of food and drink, He actually enters a Real Presence within our very being. We become Him, and that is how He transforms us.

You might quote your previous post with the points you made and tell him something like the following:
"It’s OK that you are unable to answer these point-by-point right now. If you want to take some time and do a little scholarship and research, you can just get back to me whenever you can.

If you would like to learn more about the teachings of Jesus Christ and His Church, please contact the folks at chnetwork.org/. I promise, if you unite yourself to Jesus Christ through His Church, you will experience the great gift the He has promised to those who follow Him. As Jesus said, “He who eats My body and drinks My blood lives in Me and I in him and I will raise him up on the last day.” And He is faithful and sure to keep His promises. Repent, turn to the Gospel and be saved and you will have everlasting life.

Grace and peace be with you.

Your friend in Christ. "

Isnt the person the OP is speaking to right in that after digestion, the Eucharist ceases to be the body of Jesus?

This is interesting. In my 60+ years as a Lutheran, I have never been subject to these kinds of indoctrination. If anything, I grew up hearing how bad the Calvinists were. :smiley:
I noted, however, the term “many” as a qualifier for non-Catholics, but was wondering which communions would you say are actively involved in this indoctrination?

Jon

It is found in Seventh Day Adventists, Mormons, Evangelicals, Assembly of God, and many daily religious talk shows and T.V. shows. It is not so prevelant in main line Protestant groups here in the U.S…

Linus2nd

That is the whole crux of the problem he has, namely that as the person sees it, Jesus is actually destroyed by the whole process. That destruction of Jesus is the whole absurdity he points out. So for the sake of others who might stumble on this thread, let’s clear this up.

The Christian IS the body of Christ. Christ lives within the Christian. Christ becomes part of the Christian through the Eucharist. This is the whole reason why Jesus set the Eucharist up,for HIS benefit. And yes, this is extremely satisfying. To be the body of Christ is the Christian’s purpose in life.

The Eucharist is not destroyed, it is assimilated. Jesus is NOT destroyed as the wafer is broken down by digestion. Instead, Jesus grows his Body as he fills the Christian and the Christian becomes more like Jesus.

I would note that it is the part where we know that Jesus wants to join with the Christian and that the Christian becomes Jesus’ body that is they thing that the Protestant rejects. Martin Luther could not accept this. He saw himself as a ‘dung heap’ - something that the Lord would never want to join with and merge with. This is actually the whole crux of the problem that the person has.

Because they have automatically rejected the notion that the Christian can become holy, can become the body of Christ, can be intimately joined with Christ in physical body and spirit, because this has been rejected, the Eucharist looks absurd as the Protestant has Jesus destroyed at the end of the process.

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