How do I explain to a Baptist that the priest has the "power" to consecrate the Eucharistic elements?

I’m just wondering what the best way would be to tell a Southern Baptist who believes Christ is symbolized in the Eucharist that the priest can consecrate the elements…

You probably can’t. IT will be a foreign concept, and one that will be hard to accept. I would also couch it as: Catholics believe the priest has the power…

Honestly, I would explain it like this:

The priest is a holy man, ordained by the Pope who is, himself, ordained by God. When the host is held up to receive Jesus’ body and blood into it, only someone that is holy themselves are even worth to touch it. In my head that’s sort of how I reasoned out that before Vatican II people weren’t allowed to take the host in their hands, and instead had to take it straight onto their tongue.

(Please note - this is an explanation based upon my own understanding. It could be 100% completely wrong. If it is, and you know the real reason I would love to be enlightened! As a new Catholic myself, I crave knowledge like a fat kid craves twinkies!)

You could say, "I trust what God’s own Son has said. Jesus instituted the Eucharist to give us grace when he said, “Do THIS in memory of me.” So Priest’s do this because Jesus gave the Apostles the power, and we believe in Apostalic succession, and Jesus specifically said to do it. He said, “This IS my body. This IS my blood.”

The Eucharist is simply and it’s very deep. Saint Thomas touches on the deep part in his prayer “Devoutly I Adore You hidden Deity.” It’s hard to find a better explaination of the Eucharsit. Here it is:

Devoutly I Adore You hidden Deity,
Under these appearances concealed.
To You my heart surrenders self
For, seeing You, all else must yield.

Sight and touch and taste here fail;
Hearing only can be believed.
I trust what God’s own Son has said.
Truth from Truth is best received.

Divinity, on the Cross, was hid;
Humanity here comes not to thought.
Believing and confessing both,
I seek out what the Good Thief sought.

I see no wounds as Thomas did,
But I profess you God above.
Draw me deeply into faith,
into Your hope, into Your love.

O memorial to the Lord’s sad death,
Show life to man O living bread.
Grant that my soul may live through You,
By Your sweet savor every fed.

Jesus Lord, my Pelican devout,
With Your Blood my sins dismiss.
One single drop could surely save
From sin this world’s dark edifice.

Jesus, Whom now I see enveiled,
What I desire, when will it be?
Beholding your fair face revealed,
Your glory shall I be blessed to see.

Knowing all these things, why anyone would want to attend church without sacraments is beyond me.

Huh? Priests are normally ordained by their local bishop. The Pope is chosen by Cardinals.

I’m going to take you at your word that you want to know the real reason.

Priests in general are ordained by their bishop. Each bishop can trace his ordination back to one of the apostles. Think of it like a family tree. The Apostle Matthew ordained Priest Bob. Priest Bob became a bishop in the early church and ordained Priest Harry. Priest Harry in his turn became a bishop and ordained Priest John. And the bishop ordaining priest who becomes bishop to ordain another priest has worked since the beginning. Each bishop can trace back the bishops in his line to one of the 12.

When Jesus instituted the sacraments he conferred the “power” to manifest throughout time each of the sacraments on each of the 12. The 12 in turn gave to power to each priest they ordained. And following the apostolic line of bishop conferring “power” to priest to the present day.

That is why we say the Catholic church is apostolic. So to explain to a Baptist person how a priest can consecrate the Eucharist, you would really have to explain apostolic succession.

(Power is in quotes because it isn’t something like a super power. It is one of the mysteries of the church though.)

No quite

maybe - maybe not. Priests are human and sin like everyone else. With the sex scandal, I’d be real hesitant to say that!! The consecration is not dependent on the holiness of the priest - it derives from the holiness of God acting through the priest who may be sinful - yet God is still Holy.

ordained by the Pope

typically not - typically by their local bishop - and each Bishop is a successor of the Apostles who transmit the grace of ordination received from Christ Himself…

who is, himself, ordained by God.

no - elected by the Cardinals - inspired by the Holy Spirit - BUT all catholic Bishops are united with the Pope as the Supreme Shepherd in union with the entire Church.

When the host is held up to receive Jesus’ body and blood into it,

the Host and Chalice are “held up” after the words of institution - and this infusion theology you mention is more along the lines of Consubstantiation than Transubstantiation where the elements are changed into the Body Blood Soul and Divinity of Christ - not that they receive His BBS&D into the bread and wine - beyond knowing that the bread and wine are changed by the power of God through the priest - “transubstantiated” changed from one substance to another - we really don’t know exactly how that works other than saying it is through the power of God

only someone that is holy themselves are even worth to touch it.

No! Indeed a sinful priests can both touch and confect the sacrament. Again, God is Holy and He acts through the priest at the Altar - God can and does use sin ans sinners to His purposes - Donatism is the heresy that says a sinful priests cannot confect the sacrament. As to others, I suspect few of us are ever sinless when we receive - we should be free from mortal sin, however.

In my head that’s sort of how I reasoned out that before Vatican II people weren’t allowed to take the host in their hands, and instead had to take it straight onto their tongue.

It was simply the rule before VII on reception on the tongue - for good reason - inducing respect and adoration among the faithful thereby reinforcing belief in the True Presence, but in the early church people almost certainly received in the hand, but for prudential reasons it was restricted later - and then changed back after VII.

(Please note - this is an explanation based upon my own understanding. It could be 100% completely wrong. If it is, and you know the real reason I would love to be enlightened! As a new Catholic myself, I crave knowledge like a fat kid craves twinkies!)

It’s comforting to me that God can and does use sinners - maybe He’ll use me?! and you!

Haha, wow - I feel very educated now! :smiley: No, really - I appreciate the corrections and clarifications - I absorb knowledge like a sponge. <3

Anyway, I’ll stop hijacking this thread now. Sorry for the semi-derail! >_>

Yes, apostolic succession is a key element. …also, the general concept that sacraments are not mere symbols or human works. Sacraments are works of Christ that are manifested in our space and time according to the authority Christ entrusted to the Church. Christ gave these sacraments to the Church for our benefit. He entrusted the apostles and their successors with the responsibility to both protect the sacraments and to see that they are made available to the people.

Baptists do not have the same concepts of sacraments and apostolic succession that Catholics do so this may seem very strange (and even unchristian) to a Baptist.

Because Jesus said so. He didn’t say “do this symbolically of Me”

“And whilst they were at supper, Jesus took bread, and blessed,and broke: and gave to his disciples, and said, “Take ye, and eat. THIS IS MY BODY.”” Matthew 26:26

remember that the grace from sacraments comes from Jesus, not the priest

i suggest going over the CCC, as it is a teaching tool for Catholic beliefs and would contain good explanations

here’s a link to the Holy Orders part:

to be more accurate…

the Pope starts out as a priest that is ordained by a Bishop
when he becomes a Bishop, he is ordained by other Bishops (emphasis on “s” as it should be a number of Bishops welcoming him into the brotherhood)
then as a Bishop, he gets elected as Pope by other Bishops who are ranked as Cardinals who place him as the successor of the seat of Peter

well, technically its correct to say they are Ordained by God because the grace of the Sacraments come from Jesus

Simply and briefly.

Jesus gave this “power” / authority to the Apostles at the last supper. Jesus had no intention of it ending after the Apostles died so the authority is passed to their direct successors - our bishops. Bishops in turn can not personally serve all the faithful so their authority is delegated to priests.

When Jesus said “Do this in memory of me” he conferred the power on the apostles (the first priests) to consecrate the Eucharist.

Also, show your friend John 6, the Bread of Life discourse. When some walked away after Jesus told them he was the Bread of Life, and that in order for them to have life in them they must eat His Body and drink His Blood, he did not say…“I didn’t mean what you thought I meant.”

I would tell your friend that it’s actually the Holy Spirit acting through the priest who is there in persona Christi, in the person of Christ. The priest himself decreases so that Christ may increase, thus making the him an Alter Christus who is in our midst as one who serves.

Trust me, as a former Baptist, all these posts aren’t going to give them any type of explanation that will be satisfactory. Please understand that in the Baptist faith, unfortunately, all of this is simply heresy.

All you can do is explain that it’s a very involved doctrine but that we believe (through the bible and God’s revelation) that a priest has been given the gift of consecration. How the bread and wine become body and blood is a mystery that God hasn’t fully revealed to even the best Catholic. It’s a doctrine we accept in faith; no different than how we jointly accept, in faith (along with Baptist), the doctrine of the Trinity.

Don’t get sucked into drawn out conversations about these types of issues. It only makes for our differences to widen. Try to direct the conversation to things we do agree on. It’s so much easier to have an open mind about the differences when you have established a better solid ground based on our agreements. It’s what lead me and my family to the truth of the Catholic faith.

Heck, I just wrote a paper on this subject.

Step one is to step back. First you need to explain that the Eucharist is more than merely a symbol (because if it’s just a symbol then the argument is that there’s no need for priests or anyone special). There’s a ton of Biblical evidence for this and there’s even some parallels between the Old and New Covenant.

Start at John 6, notice that Jesus is very specifically saying “eat my flesh” and notice how the crowd is freaking out (now you point to say Deuteronomy 12:23 which explains why the Jews are freaking out). Look at 1 Corinthians 11:27-30 and how Paul warns the people to not receive unworthily (at the same time he also interchangeably uses the words “bread and wine” with “body and blood”) because they eat and drink judgement on themselves, which doesn’t make any sense unless there’s more to it than mere bread and wine.

My favourite though is the Old/New parallel. In the first Passover in Exodus 12, God tells the people to slaughter the lamb, put the blood over the door, and then to eat it flesh. Jesus is called the Lamb of God. Revelations 5:12 says “Worthy is the Lamb who was slain”. Because the Last Supper was a celebration of the Passover, if we are to follow Jesus’ words to “Do this in memory of Him”, and if we connect that to the first Passover and now say that Jesus is the Lamb then it logically falls that we should be eating the flesh of the Lord.

Now, in Luke’s telling of the Last Supper Jesus tells the Apostles "that they also may be consecrated in truth”. So why are they being consecrated? Look at the Old Testament and compare that idea to the Levitical Priesthood where they also had to be consecrated.

If he hasn’t put his fingers in his ears and isn’t going “Lah lah lah I can’t hear you!” by this point then look at the early Church fathers. Both St. Ignatius of Antioch and St. Justin Martyr wrote about the Eucharist (in St. Ignatius’ case it’s literally at the tail end of the Apostolic Age). In the Catechism #1345 gives also has a letter from St. Justin Martyr explaining the Mass to the pagan emperor which describes the people receiving “eucharisted bread” after the presider “offers praise and glory to the Father of the universe, through the name of the Son and of the Holy Spirit and for a considerable time he gives thanks that we have been judged worthy of these gifts.”

Get them a copy of Know Your Mass:
An illustrated catechetical guide describing the ceremonies, symbolism, and theology of the Mass.

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