Concerning the Eucharist


#1

Hello again. I’ll try to be a bit more cordial on this topic than I was on my last.

A bit of a recap: I’m a very confused christian, I’m not sure whether to stay catholic or leave the faith. I have many issues with a couple of Church teachings including -the one present on this thread- the Eucharist. Honestly, I pray multiple times daily and drive myself crazy with this never ending debate in my head I just want to believe in something fully and wholly, that’s why I’m here. I’m still Catholic, I still go to confession often, and I still take communion ( after incessant begging before that I might truly believe what it is). I want to believe, but find it hard to.
Now for the Eucharist.

Luke 22:18-20
I understand the argument. This IS my body, this IS my blood.
Couple things. Jesus does say “do this in memory of me.” This to me signifies that it is purely symbolic. Also, I’d like to add this CARM defense of the symbolic nature I found convincing. “It’s like saying “this is my son” when pointing to a photograph of your son. Nobody thinks the photograph is literally your son.”

John 6:50-60
Generally the most convincing of the pro-true presence arguments.
BUT “It is the Spirit who gives life; the flesh is no help at all. The words that I have spoken to you are spirit and life.” Seems to again scream for the symbolic nature. (I.E the entire 50-60 is symbolic purely of spirit and life.)
Also, the common tag on to this argument is the people who left after Jesus said these things,
" But there are some of you who do not believe.”(For Jesus knew from the beginning who those were who did not believe, and who it was who would betray him.) "
This again seems to scream symbolic and talking purely about belief in belief in Christ, not in the true presence.

I’ll be honest, I sometimes believe the Eucharist is pure Idolatry, that’s why I’m so very concerned.


#2

The problem with the “spirit and life” thing is that nowhere in Greek does spirit=symbolic or spirit=metaphor.

Spirit is here contrasted with the flesh, but not Jesus’ own flesh (otherwise he would be contradicting himself), but fallen human flesh. We need spiritual eyes to see the reality of what he’s saying. Add this to the fact that in v. 54, Jesus changes his verb from “phago” to “trogo”, which is a stronger, more graphic word referring to animalistic chewing, which allows no room for a “symbolic” interpretation.

The picture analogy is also not sound. One can easily use “is” when referring to one’s image in picture because one can make out a likeness, while our senses tell us that it is merely an image, but the image is clear. How in the world, though, can bread be used to represent a body? And further, if that “symbol” is received unworthily, then why does St. Paul impose a serious warning about condemnation, if it’s merely a symbol?

Further, to “eat flesh” is not metaphor for “believe.” If taken in a metaphorical sense, it means “to inflict grave physical harm”. Metaphor here does not make sense in this context.

And as for those who left him, note that Jesus did not correct them or explain himself to them. He let them leave.

And yes, as for the idolatry concern. If the Catholic teaching is wrong, then we are guilty of pure, diabolical idolatry. There is no way around it. However, if we are right and we simply take Jesus at his own word, then if we refuse to worship the Eucharist, then we are denying God his due.

And finally, if you’re confused, then what are you doing reading sites like CARM? Do you not know it’s sinful to expose yourself to anti-Catholic material when there is a danger to your faith?


#3

Why does translating as “trogo” inherently must mean it is literal? In my experience to chew or gnaw something can be taken symbolically. (I.E bite off more than you can chew)


#4

Because this is Greek we’re talking about, and “trogo” is not used in that sense. The example you cited is an English idiom. Trogo literally means, the chewing of an animal; it’s more forceful than our own English “chew”.

But again, I must warn you: visiting CARM or similar sites as a confused Catholic is a danger to your faith. You are in danger of committing sin.


#5

“The words that I have spoken to you are spirit and life.”

I’m still unsure. What does this even mean if not referencing a pure symbolism?

“the flesh is no help at all”
Also, what does this mean in any context?


#6

Let’s not forget Paul’s comments in 1 Corinthians.
*
10: 16 The cup of blessing which we bless, is it not a participation[e] in the blood of Christ? The bread which we break, is it not a participation[f] in the body of Christ? 17 Because there is one bread, we who are many are one body, for we all partake of the one bread.

11: 27 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. 28 Let a man examine himself, and so eat of the bread and drink of the cup. 29 For any one who eats and drinks without discerning the body eats and drinks judgment upon himself. *

Brand Pitre’s The Jewish Roots of the Eucharist is also a very good book in showing that the Eucharist is the proper fulfillment and inheritance of what is in Jewish scriptures and tradition.

Anyway, do you doubt that the early Church believed in the Eucharist? Do you think the Church Jesus built went astray on such a crucial point in less than a century?


#7

“Here, as Jesus is clarifying his previous point, his language shifts, and for the remainder of the discourse, trogo replaces phagein when Jesus is talking about eating his flesh. This shift accomplishes two things. First, the use of a present stem changes the aspect of the statement, which means that instead of talking about a one-time act, he’s now talking about an on-going process—”the one who keeps eating my flesh…”. Secondly, as we’ve seen, trogo refers to eating as herbivores do, and so the use of that stem suggests that although we’re to eat his flesh, we’re to do so in a vegetarian manner. Everything about this usage is complicated, probably because Jesus was trying to express something the Greek language was not equipped to express elegantly—the miracle of the Eucharist.”

This is a good snippet I got after googling trogo. I think it’s very interesting that it generally refers to eating of fruit as Jesus commonly references “the fruit of the vine.”

This clarified a lot.


#8

What’s happening to you right now. You are using your flesh to try to understand John 6, and as such, are falling into the same trap as those who walked away.

You need to use the spirit to come to the right belief, which means accepting spiritual truths, the first of which, of course, is that Jesus is God.

That Jesus is talking “spirit and life” is that that: his words are spirit and life. By listening to his words as speaking spiritual truths and life-giving and accepting them, we gain life. That’s what the Eucharist is: the Bread of Life. His words are confirmed by Peter himself: “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words or eternal life.”

The others walked away not because they misunderstood. They did so because they understood, and understood correctly. They just could not take it. This is why Jesus, unlike in other cases where he was misunderstood, did nothing to correct them or explain himself.

You are now in the same boat, and you will have to decide. Will you stand with St. Peter, or with the others who “no longer walked with him”?


#9

10: 16 The cup of blessing which we bless, is it not a participation[e] in the blood of Christ? The bread which we break, is it not a participation[f] in the body of Christ? 17 Because there is one bread, we who are many are one body, for we all partake of the one bread.

11: 27 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. 28 Let a man examine himself, and** so eat of the bread and drink of the cup**. 29 For any one who eats and drinks** without discerning the body** eats and drinks judgment upon himself.

This passage, while commonly used in defense of the true presence, seems to be more supportive of a symbolic view.
Why does Paul refer to it as bread and wine if he is attempting to drill home the point that it is the body and blood?


#10

Because the language of how to speak about this new mystery was still undeveloped and less precise. It sounds like you’rd having trouble discerning the body.

Again, do you think the Church Jesus built went wrong on this so quickly?

Also, just an example of the conflict between flesh and spirit elsewhere in scriptures:

The desires of the flesh are against the Spirit, and the desires of the Spirit are against the flesh (Gal 5:17)


#11

Have you read through the Catholic Answers tracts on the Eucharist? They address these questions.


#12

This he said because his disciples supposed that he was expecting them to eat his flesh only, but when he comes to us in the Eucharist, we are able to receive him body, blood, soul and divinity. That is why it’s not a symbol. How can he offer us spiritual food without the presence of his spirit?

Jesus used a lot of figurative language, it’s true; he talked about faith as a seed, and he talked about the kingdom of God as a pearl, so it makes sense that some people would question if this was merely symbolic…but if we believe that all of his words were symbolic, what about his promise of eternal life, is that symbolic too? Where do you draw the line between what is symbolic and what is literal?

I think it matters that during his parables, he explained them to the apostles, but here, all he says is

56 *For my flesh, is meat indeed: and my blood, is drink indeed:

Doesn’t that make you think he’s being literal?


#13

Nothing in the New Testament happens in isolation, everything is pre-figured in the Old Testament, so you have to take things in their proper context. The meaning of the Eucharist is found in the Passover. At the first Passover the Jews had to kill and eat the lamb in order to be saved. Jesus is the true Lamb of God for the new covenant and he must be sacrificed and eaten for us to be saved.

Scott Hahn has an excellent talk explaining the Eucharist here. Give it a listen, it might make some things click for you.

Steve Ray also has a great talk on the Eucharist here


#14

Thank you for linking these.

And to be Catholic is to not just be only a Bible Christian. We carry on the sacred Traditions/teachings passed down by the Apostles, and is attested to by the Church fathers who insisted on fidelity to the traditions handed down to them. Do you think the likes of Polycarp, Ignatius, and Iraneus were the types of people to just make up their own theological doctrines?


#15

And I say they support the literal sense. Why? How else are we communing in the Blood of Christ if it is not the Blood of Christ? How else are we communing in the Body of Christ if not in the One Loaf? Paul is in fact making it clear: we are one Body who are many, PRECISELY because of the One Loaf. That is not possible if the One Loaf is itself divided. The only way the one bread can make many people one body is if they are united by one Person. Only Christ can do that.

Also, don’t forget the text that follows: eats and drinks judgment upon himself. He further elaborates what has happened to some who did so: they had fallen ill, and others had even died.

How would such serious consequences arise if this were merely a symbol? Who dies as a result of unworthily eating a symbol?

As for the words “bread” and “wine” there is no issue there. At the time there was no nitpicking about words. Paul is using the language of appearances, and even today, in Catholic and Orthodox churches everywhere, the term “holy bread” is still used to refer to the Eucharist even after consecration.


#16

I apologize. I feel like I’ve been uncharitably defensive in how I’ve written.

There is a lot written attesting to the Real Presence, not just modern day but back to the oldest documents of the Church. Please, please read some Catholic writings on this, not just Protestant.


#17

I would also remind the OP that in case of doubt, you have the obligation to bring this up with your pastor or another trusted person to help you through the doubts, and again, to stay away from anti-Catholic material. The latter is a violation of the First Commandment.


#18

When our Lord Jesus Christ said “Do this in memory of me”, it is a living memorial!

When we read about the Eucharist in John 6 many listeners walked away and our Lord asked if his disciples would also. Peter answered “Lord, to whom shall we go, thou hast the words of everlasting life.”

Our beloved Eucharist was foreshadowed by the manna from heaven in the Old Testament, and by the feeding of the 5,000 and the feeding of the 4,000 in the New Testament. In one gathering there were seven baskets left over, and in the other there was twelve baskets left over. (both perfect numbers).

There is enough for everyone to be able to receive the Risen Lord so we can be sanctified.

A preparation before Holy Communion made in faith aids in the grace we receive.

It would help much to ask our Blessed Mother for an increase in faith.

Also, CARM is misinformed on many aspects of Catholicism.


#19

Excellent answer.
Stay in the boat.


#20

Spirit was translated from the hebrew word Ruah. In hebrew Ruah could mean breath, air, and wind. When Jesus refered to Spirit he meant the coming of the Holy Spirit.


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