Lutheran Communion

I have a question. What is the Catholic view of the Lutheran sacraments? Is Christ present in the Lutheran Eucharist?

I am 17, and have been raised LCMS. I find myself seriously considering joining the Roman Catholic church, but am not absolutely sure about that. Meanwhile, the opportunity has opened up for me to be confirmed in the Lutheran church. I am still unsure whether or not I should do so.
In a way, I would rather not, because I don’t really want to join a church when I am not sure I agree with their theology and think I may switch soon. However, it seems to me that the Lutheran sacraments probably are the actual flesh and blood of Christ. I mean, God sees all these people counting on receiving grace from the Lutheran sacraments, surely He is there. Also, if Christ is powerful enough to rise from the dead, isn’t He powerful enough to be present in the Eucharist without being called and invited by a priest?
Also, I am very eager to receive the body and blood of our Lord. My parents haven’t gotten me my driver’s license yet, I have been waiting for about 18 months now, and “Yeah, we need to do that…” “We should probably get you more driving hours…” “You need to practice parallel parking…” “We’ll try to do that next month…” The main reason I have been wanting to drive is that then, I can choose where I am going on Sunday mornings. For now, until I get my wings, I am stuck home when my family doesn’t feel like church and at the Lutheran church when they do.

I enjoy the Lutheran worship. The Liturgy, readings, and hymns all mean a lot to me. But I’m very frustrated about being having joined no church and not receiving communion at all. I’ve heard many Catholics say that one shouldn’t receive the Eucharist in another church, but why? And how would that apply to me? Would the Lutheran sacraments still be beneficial? And to any Lutherans reading this, how much of a problem would it be if I joined the church with intentions to switch in a few months or a year? Is that something the pastor would need to know?

God bless you,
Grace

I converted from the Anglican church (in America, this would usually be called the Episcopal church), so I was in a similar situation. I think that both the Anglican and Lutheran churches are the most complicated communions on earth.

Both communions are not recognized as having valid Orders by Rome. Without valid sacerdotal (priestly) Orders, there is no authority to consecrate Eucharist. And there is no question that the majority of Lutherans and Anglican ministers do not have valid sacerdotal Orders, and their ministers do not validly consecrate Eucharist.

But there is a possibility that certain “pockets” of each faith have retained (or somehow recovered) the validity of their Orders. The Lutheran faith was founded by a Catholic Augustinian priest, and the Anglican Faith was founded by a Catholic king who had been named (by a Pope) as “Defender of the Faith.” Both became rebels (Luther did so for better motives than Henry), but maybe not to the point of loosing their Catholicity altogether.

It all comes down to the validity of Orders. The Latin and Orthodox Catholics are not in union with each other, but we mutually recognize the validity of our Orders, and mutually regard our Sacraments as valid. The Catholic Church has similarly recognized the Orders of other communions (such as the Old Catholics and the Polish National Catholic Church).

But, I came to realize that the REAL problem with Anglican Orders is not the Orders themselves, but the Anglican church. There’s really no such thing. What is the Anglican church? Is it the Church of England? Are there female Anglican priests? Female Anglican bishops? It depends on what Anglican you ask. There’s no authority in the Anglican church (the Archbishop of Canterbury is head in historic title only, and has no actual authority to impose doctrine even upon his own Church of England, which is ultimately governed (according to English law) by Queen Elizabeth-2, or whomever is recognized as the current British monarch).

A Church is defined by Her doctrine. The Latin Catholics have doctrine. The Orthodox Catholic have doctrine. The Polish National Catholic Church has doctrine. There is no such thing as Anglican doctrine (the “Constitution” of the Anglican Church - the founding statement of doctrine - are the “Articles of Faith” (and are a really nice summary of everything that John Calvin taught). In the most recent (1979) edition of the Book of Common Prayer, these Articles are still published (as they have been continuiously published in every edition of the Book of Common Prayer) but they have now been relegated to the status of “historical documents” not considered binding upon “modern” Anglicans (find me anything in the 2000 year history of the Catholic Church that shares this status). So there is really no such thing as the Anglican "Church - the very Articles of Faith upon which it was established are optional. Thus, there cannot be Anglican Orders.

I am not as familiar with the origins of the Lutheran Church. The Anglican (English) Church essentially succeeded (by royal fiat) from the Catholic Church, and took a boatload of Bishops with it. These were ALL valid Bishops with valid Orders, and, for a while, the Catholic Church recognized the validity of Anglican Orders. But the Anglican Church endured a period lasting more than a century of Calvinist influence which compelled the Catholic Church to reascend Her recognition of Anglican Orders, and to declare them void (by the time the Oxford Movement gained ground to restore orthodoxy, all Anglican Bishops of assured Orders were dead).

I don’t know how many Bishops of assured Orders followed the priest Luther, or what efforts were made to preserve the validity of Lutheran Orders (which can ONLY come from valid Bishops). Or if the Lutheran Church completely lost its concept of “doctrine,” as the Anglican Church did, and ceased to be what could rightly be called a “Church.”

But one of the really cool things about the Catholic Church was that I didn’t need to figure out the answer to any of these questions.

The Catholic Church is the worldwide communion of the Church Christ founded two thousand years ago. LCMS is a tiny fragment of the Lutheran movement which teaches the Pope is the Antichrist. You should not rationalize that one is the same as the other. (I recognize that many LCMS do hold very commendable views on issues like Human Life, unlike mainstream Lutheranism.)

From the Catholic point of view, Protestants have only two valid sacraments, Baptism and Holy Matrimony, as these are the only two that do not require clergy in apostolic succession. (Most Protestants reject Holy Matrimony as a sacrament.) Lutherans do have a communion but under a different theology.

I am sure that God appreciates your struggle with the sectarianism unfortunately typical in the US. Don’t worry if it takes a few years to sort things out.

The Lutherans have valid baptism and marriage.

Without valid holy orders and a valid consecration there is no mass and there is no Eucharist. The Lutheran church does not have valid holy orders.

Continue your study and discernment.

Lutheran confirmation is not a sacrament as far as the Catholic Churchis concerned. Lutherans do not consider it a sacrament either. Lutherans only recognize two sacraments.

It is seen as a commitment to Christ, but not an action of the priest or the Holy Spirit.

Confirmation is not a sacrament even to Lutherans. Perhaps you are more Catholic than you think.

Christ is powerful enough to do anything, but when Satan tempted him he did not use his power against his Father’s will. Christ commanded unity, he did not command schism and heresy. Therefore, he does not bless it. He is present through the sacrament of baptism and with actual grace. Sacramental grace in the Eucharist is found in those Churches which preserve apostolic succession.

Yes, people of good will receive grace from Christ, particularly those who are baptized and who have an indwelling of the Holy Spirit, and it may be that actual grace moving you towards the Catholic Church.

That which is truly worthwhile is also truly worth waiting for.

Because Catholics are not Lutherans. Catholics do not believe what Lutherans believe. Lutherans do not have valid Eucharist. When one approaches for communion, one says “Amen”. This means “I believe”-- a confirmation of belief in what they are receiving. A Catholic cannot approach Lutheran communion and say “Amen”.

Grace, it would be dishonest to join the Lutheran church knowing you do not believe what they believe and are going to leave it. Now, it does not sound like you’ve made up your mind.

I think you really need to think about this. If you are asking a Catholic if Lutheran sacraments are “beneficial” the answer is “no” because they aren’t sacraments. If you are asking if sincere belief and worship of God is beneficial, the answer is of course “yes”.

This is a very interesting statement to me. It resonates with me but seems to contradict Catholic teaching.

I don’t see how sacraments can be valid unless the priest take the same vow as Jesus’ New Covenant made by sacrificing His body and blood. I don’t see how a priest can be a priest, a branch of the True Vine, if that priest does not take the vow to save sinners through Jesus’ New covenant.

All the apostles and successor bishops and priests for who know how many generations, risked their lives, were martyred, and followed Jesus Christ.

In my opinion, “no taking of the same vow of Jesus Christ’s New Covenant, then no priesthood”.

If I’m wrong, then how can your statement be right? How can your statement be correct when the Church teaches that the sacrament doesn’t depend on the priest?

Actually, the priest does take such a vow, upon his ordination.

The church doesn’t say that the sacrament doesn’t depend on the priest. What the church says is that the sacrament doesn’t depend upon the personal holiness of the priest.

peace
steve

OK. Thanks for this answer. I suppose this is why it is so very important to pray for priests and religious. This helps explain I think that persona Christi depends on Christ’s grace and mercy rather than the priest himself.

And the priest is constantly reminded of his call to the priesthood of Jesus when offering the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass.

Grace

You seem very discerning and questioning for someone as young as yourself.:thumbsup: I too converted without any prompting from family or friends when I was your age.

On the position of the eucharist, Lutheran doctrine of Sacramental Union teaches that Christ is “in, with, and under” the elements of bread and wine. This differs from the Catholic position that the bread and wine becomes body and blood of Christ. You used the word “actual” - please note that in Catholic teachings, “actual” does not mean “physical” - the bread and wine do not become the physical body and blood.

Due to this (slight?) difference and a long bad history, Catholics and Lutherans (and LCMS in particular) have not come to any agreement on the eucharist. It probably isn’t as far apart as it is made out to be. Both Catholics and LCMS practice what is known as closed communion, where we only accept those members of our own church to our communion. ELCA practices open communion, which allows those who believe in the Trinity, etc can take their communion (they have a statement/card/printed sheet in their church before you decide whether you want thier communion).

I think 1ke has dealt with most of your questions. But you have not stated what is it in LCMS doctrines that you do not accept. If you are interested in Catholicism, you should get in touch with a Catholic priest/chaplain (there are many available online) where you can see if our beliefs are closer to yours. Or you can raise your question in this thread and we can try to explain Catholic faith to you.

There is a long process of Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults (‘RCIA’) where the Catholic doctrines and way of life are explained to you before you are accepted into the church (you will not be baptised again as the Lutheran baptism is deemed valid). The RCIA can be anything 9 months to 2 years and the local Catholic parish can point you in the right direction (no, there is no online RCIA).

Althernatively, you can try ELCA which is closer to Catholic practices than LCMS (their bishops are more similar to ours for instance) and yet still Lutheran.

God bless you in your search.:slight_smile:

Thanks to everyone for your answers.

This is going to sound crazy, but my biggest problem with the LCMS church is that it is dying out in most areas, and the LCMS churches that have survived are getting more liberal. One of the reasons the RCC appeals to me is that it has one universal belief, and that is not reliant on the culture. Another problem I have with the Lutheran church is that I’ve grown up around some Lutherans who were predestined to be forever saved by grace alone, If they are actually Christians, they have worked hard at hiding it. I’m not sure I can point out the exact loophole of Lutheran theology that they were standing in, but it made quite a negative impact on me. Other problems I have had with the LCMS have to do with never getting along with any pastors and the fact that I’ve never had a Lutheran friend within 30 years of my age. I try to ignore the “people” factor, but I’m afraid it does influence my decisions.

I dislike the ELCA church because of their social views. The ELCA church allows openly homosexual ministers/priests, female pastors, and is OK with abortion part of the time. I don’t stand for that! I see the LCMS changing a small amount, following the secular culture, but the ELCA is following the culture in everything they can! I would never be comfortable in a church like that.

God bless you all,
Grace

Hi Grace, Hope you had a wonderful Christmas and New Year.

No, it is not crazy. The truth is that mainstream Protestant churches have been declining in US and Europe faster than Catholicism (although we do have the advantage in immigration in these areas). Some of the birthplaces of Protestanism like England, Holland and Switzerland now have more Catholics than Protestants in church in Sundays. Some people say that this is due to the liberal policies on homosexuality and women clergy in mainstream Protestant churches. It could be partly so but likely to have more complex reasons than that.

You should also know that the Catholic Church is undergoing some changes at present. No, we are not changing our doctrines (and I don’t see that happening anytime soon if ever) but in the way we live those doctrines. For instance, Pope Francis’ tone is likely to lead us to minister to homosexuals and their children in a more compassionate and non-judgemental way, not because we think homosexuality is right but we recognise that homosexuals also have a right to God’s healing like the rest of us - and to provide faith education & sacraments to their children irrespective of the sexual orientation of the parent.

So if you are looking for a church that does not change or adapt, the Catholic Church is probably not the place to look at while we are still updating our pastoral ministries to cater to a changing world. But if you are willing to look past the changes in these externalities, you are welcomed to adopt our doctrines, unchanged from the Apostles.

Another problem I have with the Lutheran church is that I’ve grown up around some Lutherans who were predestined to be forever saved by grace alone, If they are actually Christians, they have worked hard at hiding it. I’m not sure I can point out the exact loophole of Lutheran theology that they were standing in, but it made quite a negative impact on me. Other problems I have had with the LCMS have to do with never getting along with any pastors and the fact that I’ve never had a Lutheran friend within 30 years of my age. I try to ignore the “people” factor, but I’m afraid it does influence my decisions.

You may want to take a time out on the people issue. We do have similar people in the Catholic church too. But we still love them all the same. In an interview, Pope Francis was asked who was he, to which he anwered that he was a sinner. The Catholic Church is a church of sinners and for sinners but built by saints.

I noticed that whenever God put some unsavory people in my life, it has been to teach me what I shouldn’t do and give me the warning signs to look out for in myself to avoid it. Later on, I found out that most of these people are actually not that bad, notwithstanding the part of them I still found unsavory. I probably seem the same to them.

Have you been in touch with a Catholic parish or chaplain to check out the RCIA? It is crucial for acceptance into the Catholic church. I think the key difference that an LCMS Lutheran have to come to accept is the teaching magisterium in the person of the Pope, shared with the bishops - that the dogmas that they teach are free from error, whatever your personal opinions are. Other than that, most other differences today are in rather arcane theology, which passes most people by - but I could be wrong.

=graciesings;11536770]I have a question. What is the Catholic view of the Lutheran sacraments? Is Christ present in the Lutheran Eucharist?

Yes, Christ’s true and substantial body and blood are present in a Lutheran Eucharist.

I am 17, and have been raised LCMS. I find myself seriously considering joining the Roman Catholic church, but am not absolutely sure about that. Meanwhile, the opportunity has opened up for me to be confirmed in the Lutheran church. I am still unsure whether or not I should do so.

I would encourage you to do two things. 1) Since you are still a minor, and presumably still live with a parent/guardian, do as they ask you to do, and 2) continue to consider and discern the direction the Spirit wants you to go. If that direction is the Catholic Church, then Amen, for the word and sacraments are present there.

In a way, I would rather not, because I don’t really want to join a church when I am not sure I agree with their theology and think I may switch soon. However, it seems to me that the Lutheran sacraments probably are the actual flesh and blood of Christ. I mean, God sees all these people counting on receiving grace from the Lutheran sacraments, surely He is there. Also, if Christ is powerful enough to rise from the dead, isn’t He powerful enough to be present in the Eucharist without being called and invited by a priest?

In the first part, you are very wise. Do not go through with a confirmation you do not agree with. Talk to your pastor and parents about this
Christ fulfills His promise to us, made at the Last Supper: take and eat this is my body, etc.

Also, I am very eager to receive the body and blood of our Lord. My parents haven’t gotten me my driver’s license yet, I have been waiting for about 18 months now, and “Yeah, we need to do that…” “We should probably get you more driving hours…” “You need to practice parallel parking…” “We’ll try to do that next month…” The main reason I have been wanting to drive is that then, I can choose where I am going on Sunday mornings. For now, until I get my wings, I am stuck home when my family doesn’t feel like church and at the Lutheran church when they do.

I am rather surprised that, at 17, you have not been confirmed, and even more surprised that you have not received the Eucharist. Can you explain those circumstances, either here or in a PM to me?

I enjoy the Lutheran worship. The Liturgy, readings, and hymns all mean a lot to me. But I’m very frustrated about being having joined no church and not receiving communion at all. I’ve heard many Catholics say that one shouldn’t receive the Eucharist in another church, but why? And how would that apply to me? Would the Lutheran sacraments still be beneficial? And to any Lutherans reading this, how much of a problem would it be if I joined the church with intentions to switch in a few months or a year? Is that something the pastor would need to know?

As you can see, Catholics give a different answer than I have, and that’s to be expected and respected. It is what they believe and have been taught. I encourage you to take your concerns to your pastor.

Jon

Hey graciesings,

I just thought I should post something quickly. I am currently a protestant (since both my parents are) and have been deeply considering the views of the Catholic church for approximately two years now. I, too, am 17 and find it difficult to talk to my parents about certain issues I have with my current church. I just read your post about Lutheran Communion and saw you, too, were a teenager that seemed frustrated with your church, and I thought I should introduce myself too :slight_smile: .

It has been a while since I have been to a LCMS congregation near me as my family currently attends a non-denominational church in my area, so I am unable to answer your questions about Lutheran communion. However, if you are considering the views of the Catholic church, I would highly recommend reading the following books if you have not already:

Rome Sweet Home by Scott Hahn
Born Fundamentalist, Born Again Catholic by David B. Currie
Surprised by Truth by Patrick Madrid
The Mass of the Early Christians by Mike Aquilina

If you ever want to talk, feel free to message me or reply.

There We Stood, Here We Stand by Timothy Drake is a book specifically targeted to Lutherans.

Jon

Very charitable of you, Jon. It is her journey that counts.:thumbsup:

Jon,

That is an excellent book that records the faith journeys of, I believe, eleven Lutherans who made the move to Catholicism.

This is something I really approve of, actually. I don’t think a church should change its doctrines. I do think it should adapt it’s ministry to what is needed in the world. The modern world needs Christians who have strong, unbending doctrine; but are gentle and understanding enough to tailor their approach to what unbelievers need. Unfortunately, most churches tend to have one or the other, but not both.

I try very hard to ignore the people issue, it is a constant struggle for me. I know that there are hypocrites in every denomination; I know that every denomination includes people who have no faith. Still, I struggle to respect a church when I don’t respect it’s members.

I have not gotten in tough with a Catholic parish, and am not attending RCIA classes. The logistics have rendered it impossible. (I want that driver’s license so badly!)

I don’t believe the Church has always been free from error, but it isn’t a big problem to me. I guess the way I see it is that the RCC is close enough, or at least closer than some other churches. In truth, canon law has contradicted itself over the centuries and popes have disagreed with each other. There’s no way the Catholic church has always been exactly, perfectly correct. However, I don’t believe Luther was free from error, either. (Lutherans don’t confess to believe in the inerrancy of the Book of Concord, but I know Lutherans who see it that way!)

I am afraid this is a major factor. They probably wouldn’t get too upset over the change, but I get the feeling they won’t help with the process. I try to be very respectful of their faith, but it is sometimes hard because my convictions run deeper. Also, even if I switch churches, there will probably be times when I attend the Lutheran church (sitting out or receiving a blessing during communion,) just so that my family will be together on Christmas, for a sibling’s confirmation, or so that the family choir can sing in the offering.

Talking to my parents and pastor is the hard part. I can say anything to someone I don’t know, but with people I do know I freeze up. My parents are mostly OK with the idea that I will have my own beliefs. However, my Dad does have a habit of taunting me about any subject where we disagree, and loves to try to convince me that I’m completely wrong. In a way that’s nice, but it actually frustrates me more than being forbidden to do something.

As for why I’m not confirmed yet, I’ll send you a PM. I don’t what to burden other readers with a million details. I already feel like I’m talking too much on this thread.

That’s why I post things on internet. I like the different views. Keep it up!
God bless you,
Grace

HI Grace

Every convert’s story is different. In my case, my family was not Christian but they sent me to a Catholic school. But, because I wasn’t Catholic, I did not attend catechism until I was 16 and strangely, I seem to know the doctrines better the others in the catechism class. Still I started praying when about 8 or 9 every night without my parents knowing. I started RCIA at 17 (I had my license and my own wheels :D) and got baptised at 19 (it was the first RCIA and we were guniea pigs!) without my parents knowing. I never told them but my parents came to discern my pattern on Sundays/Easter/Christmas and accepted it. The key thing was that I followed up on all family obligations.

I know how the Holy Spirit moves among the young and I can see how he has guided you to keep your family obligations too. It is wise. If your situation is anything like mine, your parents should have no problems accepting your conversion.

It would seem to me that you have thought through the doctrines well and without meeting you face-to-face, I am quite satisfied that this is not a youthful diversion. The Fatima prayer in your signature tells a tale.

So, even if you don’t have a license, you can use this period to check out and learn more about the Catholic faith. Continue to do what you are doing now but if you haven’t started it, you may want to take a structured approach - try ewtn.com, where you can also follow live video of masses, Alternatively, there is the Catholic Answers site itself (comprehensive but not very structured) or the more simplified about.com
.
Balance it off with discussion forums like this and be exposed to different strands of opinion in the Catholic Church, which makes her all the more richer because most (except for a very small minority) accepts the differences in opinion and still break bread together at mass.

If like me, you have known the doctrines well, the RCIA will be like a revision course and your confirmation (baptism in my case) will feel like a real homecoming.

Sometimes having your own license and wheels helps moderate the people issue - who knows, maybe it is about having the freedom to move away when people annoy you. If you haven’t already thought about it, you may want to choose a parish further away for your RCIA class. This could reduce the distractions of being concerned about your Lutheran pastor or your church’s quesions.

Concerning communion, I took communion soon after starting mass at 16 even though I wasn’t baptised. I only stopped when the priest threatened not to baptise me if I continued. Honestly, holding off communion until baptism makes the first communion all the more emotional.

Finally, I find your faith refreshing as it puts me in touch with my own conversion when my love affair with the Church was still young - thank you very much!! God bless your journey.

Hi Jon,

Yes, Christ’s true and substantial body and blood are present in a Lutheran Eucharist.

Grace was asking for the Catholic view. And the Catholic view is that Lutherans do not have valid orders and therefore do not have a valid eucharist. Should you not have written that you are a Lutheran and that you are expressing the Lutheran point of view?

Verbum

I am self-identified as a member of the Lutheran Church Missouri Synod in my profile. Since she is Lutheran, and the discussion was, in part, about Lutheran Eucharist, I felt my reply was appropriate.

EDIT: please note that I also commented, As you can see, Catholics give a different answer than I have, and that’s to be expected and respected.
Jon

Don’t worry, I was not annoyed to see you posting on this thread. One of the things I enjoy about the internet is getting different opinions, and part of the reason I like this forum is that there are always a couple of protestant replies. It adds an extra perspective that I am usually glad to see. (If I wanted only Catholic ideas, I would say “What does the church say…” instead of “Do you think…”

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