Hi everyone. I’m an RCIA student coming from a Protestant background, and I’m really struggling with Eucharistic adoration. Some of my Protestant brothers and sisters in Christ are saying that Eucharistic adoration is pure unadulterated idolatry, because they say that Catholics are just worshiping a piece of bread. I think that I may understand the doctrine of Real Presence, but I’m still struggling with this. Any help from any Catholics on this would be greatly appreciated. Thanks!
If you understand the doctrine of the real presence, then you should not have a problem with adoring Jesus Christ in the Blessed Sacrament. What we are adoring is Christ himself, body, blood, soul and divinity under the “appearance” of bread–but no longer bread.
I have an unconscious remnant of discomfort with it sometimes for the same reasons. For those of us raised in Protestant tradition, it’s a hard mindset to abolish. I suggest you read chapter 6 of John again and reflect on the meaning of the Real Presence.
Here are some words on this topic from a presentation of mine at a church event last year.
As Protestants we used to insist on literal interpretation of Scripture, but we sure didn’t feel that way about the sixth chapter of the Gospel of John or 1 Corinthians 11:27-29, which reads as follows.
Therefore whoever eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord unworthily will have to answer for the body and blood of the Lord. A person should examine himself, and so eat the bread and drink the cup. For anyone who eats and drinks without discerning the body, eats and drinks judgement on himself.
After all, one doesn’t talk about a mere symbol this way, but that’s all we understood as Protestants.
As we learned more and more about the Catholic Church, however, we began to realize how profoundly mistaken we had been.
When Christ commanded that we eat His flesh and drink His blood, they were indeed troubling and mysterious words.
The words were deeply troubling to everyone who heard them.
It would have been unlike Christ not to correct any misconception regarding a matter of such grave importance to the life of the Church.
No where in the Bible or in the writings of the Church fathers is the Eucharist explained away as a mere symbol.
As Saint Augustine wrote of the Eucharist in Confessions, “I am the food of full-grown men. Grow and you shall feed on me. But you shall not change me into your own substance, as you do with the food of your body. Instead you shall be changed into me."
When we are privileged to receive the body, blood, soul, and divinity of our savior in the sacrament of the Eucharist at Mass, we are becoming more and more like the men and women God intended us to truly be, created in the image of God.
I pray that you can find a fuller understanding of Eucharistic adoration, and be able to share this with others.
I have been going to Adoration for many years in the middle of the night alone. A tremendous amount of grace and knowledge has come to me there. It is as if Jesus is teaching me. A nunmber of amazing things have happended there and I can not even explain some of them.
Here is a story that happened one night, kind of amusing. I was there from 1 AM to 3 and about 1:30 a young woman came in and knelt down on the kneeler in front of Jesus. She began to cry. She was sobbing.
I figured she did not come there to see me so it was none of my business whatever was going on with her. It was pretty difficult to pray however, with this woman sobbing away. After about a half hour of non-stop bawling I figured maybe I should say something. It turns out that she was really a nice woman who was having some boy friend issue. There was not much I could say, but said something like she chose the best Catholic thing to do and place to come with her troubles.
She said, “Oh, I am not Catholic.” I was really astonished and asked her if she were not Catholic, why would she come to an Adoration Chapel. She looked at me like I just said the dumbest thing that ever came out of a human mouth. She said, “Where else would I go? This is the best place in town to pray. I ocme here all the time.”
Right, of course. Why would I even think it was strange that a Protestant would come to the Chapel in the middle of the night, kneel down and cry her eyes out non stop in front of the Blessed Sacrament? No problem. Perfectly normal thing to do.
He is there. Her soul knew it.
Thank you for sharing this. Sometimes our intellect gets in the way.
Those 2 sentences say it all grandfather. Thank you for sharing.
We are finite creatures with finite understanding. Our intellects can only hold so much and God is infinite. This does not mean our intelects are not useful. This does not mean we can no nothing about God. It means we can not know everytihng about God. Our minds can not contain the infinite.
We can come to certain understanding, but the capacity to experience of God in our souls and hearts is greater than that of our minds.
Jesus said, My flesh is REAL food. My blood is REAL drink. I am the bread come down from heaven. Unless a man eat my body and drink my blood he has no life within him.
Catholics for 2,000 years say this is the Eucharist. Protestants for a few hundred say it is ia piece of bread. One must be wrong and the consequences are serious.
If Protestants are right Catholics for 2000 years have been idolators. If Catholics are right then Jesus words, Unless a man eat my body and drink my blood he has no life within him, apply to Protestants.
To be honest with you, some Catholics do not believe it is the Body and Blood of Christ. You have to have strong faith and trust in God.
The next time you see your friend, ask him or her to look in their Bible and I can assure you it mentions about the Last Supper and see how they respond to that.
It is the same way with the Trinity. We just have to believe it because it is too difficult trying to explain three persons in one. When I was in the seminary taking a class on the Trinity, the professor told us we were all stupid because we did not understand it. Take for instance you as an individual, you have a HEART, MIND, and SOUL as one person.
My younger daughter, who is not Catholic, believes that Jesus is Truly Present in the Blessed Sacrament. (She’s 22). She isn’t a Bible scholar by any means. Perhaps to someone who is a Bible scholar, her logic will be pathetic. But she believes.
Here’s her logic:
Whenever the Bible speaks in the present tense, it’s important. E.g., the Bible doesn’t say, “He arose from the dead.” It says, “He IS risen.” In other words, the resurrection wasn’t a one-time miracle. The resurrection continues forever.
Same for the Last Supper. Jesus said, “This IS my Body. This IS my Blood.” It wasn’t a one-time miracle for the apostles. The miracle continues forever.
My husband and I were evangelical Protestants for over 40 years.
The teachings that helped us to understand and totally accept the Doctrine of True Presence are those in the OLD Testament…
I have read those first five books of the Old Testament dozens of times since I was a child. Remember starting those “Read It Through in A Year” programs?! Usually you make it through the first five books and then give up? Well, that was me!
But I’ve also read the rest of the Old Testament several times and done studies of the various prophets (Protestant Bible studies). I would strongly suggest that you read through the first five books again.
To me, the comparison of the Holy Communion with Passover was absolutely a clincher. It was so obvious to me that Passover was meant as a foretaste of Holy Communion, and that Holy Communion was meant to be a REAL act, a Sacrament, not just a symbolic once-a-month tradition.
It’s nice to have something REAL in the Church. So much of Protestantism is all done in the mind. It’s not tangible and so it’s often hard to hang onto. “Have faith!” the Protestant pastors admonish. But faith dissipates so quickly in the presence of temptation, a tragedy, or just everyday hum-drum life.
The Holy Communion is the REAL act that keeps us close to Jesus, just as sex is the REAL act that makes a husband and wife more than just roommates.
I could see that the Passover was given to the Children of Israel to save them. The command was clearly to EAT the Lamb, not just look at it or “accept it.”
All through the Old Testament the foreshadowing of Eucharist is seen. The story of Melchizedek had never made sense to me, and I had never noticed that Abram served him BREAD and WINE, not meat.
There is something very other-worldly about “bread and wine.”
If, at His Last Supper, Jesus intended for the meal to be “symbolic,” then why didn’t He use the Passover LAMB as the symbol of His Body? Why didn’t He offer each disciple a piece of the lamb and say, “This represents my Body?”
He didn’t, because He knew that in the future, LAMB meat is not exactly easy to come by all year long, especially in sections of the world that don’t have lambs around! But BREAD is available everywhere. He KNEW and He had it all planned from the beginning of time.
Besides, once Jesus died on the Cross, the “symbolic” Passover, in which the lamb symbolized Jesus, was OVER and DONE WITH. JESUS was the True Lamb of God, and now He was with us, not just symbolically in the Passover meal, but for REAL in the Sacrifice of the Mass.
These are just a few of the thoughts about True Presence that my husband and I had as we were studying the Catholic Church before converting.
And it’s a REAL easy practice to label idolotry, if one does not believe in the real presence.
It’s maybe one of those things that you just have to get used to. I still have a bit of a struggle about people who are adamant about having eucharistic adoration with the consecrated hosts exposed in a monstrance instead of worshiping Christ in the closed tabernacle. To me, it seems to have to see the actual hosts seems a bit more like idolatry than worshiping Christ that we cannot see.
That is, it used to bug me more than it does now. While I’m comfortable not actually seeing the consecrated hosts, some were raised in the tradition that they did, and if that works for them, as long as they “get it right”, that’s OK with me.
Hi, Cat. Thanks for bringing up the Old Testament. I’m totally blind, and have been that way since birth, so I can’t tell you exactly what book, verse, or chapter this is in, but didn’t the Old Testament Israelites have a similar practice to Eucharistic adoration with the arc of the covenant? I seem to remember someone in the Old Testament asking questions to the arc, because God was truely present in the arc. That’s one of the arguments for Eucharistic adoration in my mind. An argument against it that keeps coming into my thoughts, is that Jesus meant for the Body and Blood to be eaten, and not adored, and that nowhere in the Bible does it say anything about adoring it.
To make matters even worse for me,I was diagnosed with Obsessive Compulsive Disorder in 1998. The part of the OCD that causes me the most problems is almost constant worries about whether I’m doing the right thing in the eyes of God. That’s why I sometimes even have trouble at mass between the time that the host and wine are consecrated, and the time that everyone receives Communion. My mind just needs reassurance. Sometimes I’m alright with adoration, but other times I’m not so sure. How can I be in the presence of the Blessed Sacrament with these doubts swirling in my mind? It seems that I’ve received numerous signs from God that the Catholic Church is the right place for me to worship, but these doubts about Eucharistic adoration keep tormenting me.
Maybe you have set up an either or situation when what we have is a both. Jesus says take and eat, take and drink. Jesus is God the second person of the Holy Trinity. We adore God.
God became incarnate, took on flesh and could be seen and touched. His divinity was hidden behind His humanity. We worship Him as one person with two natures. We do not only worship His God nature, but the person who took on flesh and rose from the dead and took His body with Him to heaven and remains embodied. That Person condescends and becomes present for us on the altar at Mass and we worship Him in matter. We continue to do that at Adoration, because He continues to be present there. This is what happens in heaven, but there the saints worship God seeing and we here in faith.
God forbids you from worrying. He commands you not to worry, but to trust Him. He is the author of your salvation not you. If you want to do the right thing in the eyes of God, stop worrying and trust Him. Your fear prevents you from experiencing and knowing God’s love, because worry and fear can not be in a person simultaneously with God. He says He stands at the door of your heart and knocks. He can not come into you while you worry. Worry prevents you from opening the door. Faith comes first. You have to believe God loves you even if you are in some sin. He says He came for sinners. He forbids us to fear. He commands us to fear not.
The fear and worry of the OCD is from the enemy who lies to us and says we are offending God when we are not. Don’t believe the lies. God loves you. You are His beloved creature. he made you to love you. That is why you exist, to love God and be loved by Him. You are made to know and participate in Divine Love, the person of God. This is His message to us. We have to believe it. He forgives you even your imaginary offenses.
The scrupulous soul is like a person who is bathed and dressed and combed and picks at imaginary lint on his pants, worrying there is something wrong when nothing is wrong. But even though there is nothing wrong the picking puts holes in his pants and then there is sometihng wrong. Be at peace. Look at God with the eyes of your soul and He looks at you. He loves what He sees. If there is something wrong with you He will see it and fix it. That is His work not yours.
God bless you.
I strongly encourage you to read my lengthy post about the Real Presence of the Eucharist, as it was believed by the Early Church, on this other thread. I use direct citations from the early church and historical evidence. Please read posts 8-16.:
Thanks for the encouraging words, Grandfather and Rolltide! I’ll look at that thread later on, when my mind is more clear. Please understand that since I came from a Protestant background, this is harder for me to accept, but I’m beginning to grasp it.
I am much more concerned for your OCD than questioning Adoration.
I think OCD, or scrupulosity is one of the last tricks of the enemy to ensnare souls. Remember, by definition the scrupulous are worried about imaginary sins. They are fretful. God wants you to know you are loved by Him and forgiven all your sins. He wants you to be at peace. Knowing this with confidence is essential. We know it by faith. In confession Christ acting through the priest acting in persona Christi speaks to you the words of absolution. Go in peace. Your sins are forgiven. Scrupulosity is common among holy souls. Many religious are victims. If there is nothing wrong with them the devil whispers in their ears that there is and the believe the lie.
We can not judge ourselves. We can not absolve or condemn ourselves. The scrupulous condemn themselves, but God is the judge of our souls not us. We trust in His love for us.
When souls truly come into God’s presence they become aware of several things. They know they have sinned, but their guilt is overwhelmed by divine mercy. They become aware of their personal helplessness and at the same time the power of Divine love, or charity that God pours into the soul.
This is how Paul can say, God is my strength, or I can do all things through God who strengthens me. Or, why Jesus says, you can do nothing without me.
I’d like to ask, at least half seriously, who would be stupid enough, and hard up enough, to worship bread?! I mean, a golden 7-armed goddess, sure, but a tiny little wafer of bread?!
Are there major religions out there that worship peanuts? Grapefruits? Raviolis? String beans? Nachos? Sno-Cones? Twinkies?
Really, inventing a religion that worships tiny little bits of bread is just a non-starter. Surely those pagans could do better.
You know, that’s an excellent point. Do those who accuse Catholics of idolotry really think we’re worshiping, as Jack Chick so mockingly puts it, “The Death Cookie”? Never mind all the other ways we worship the Lord in our Liturgy, Doctrine and Practice, seriously, is this what they think or is this just a way to diss Catholic Christian practices?
I don’t know who Jack Chick thinks he is, saying that vile thing about the holy Eucarist. Even back in my fundamentalist Protestant days, I would have been offended by many of the things he says. I pray for his soul.
Back on topic, I’m seriously considering just taking a leap of blind faith about this. There are multiple scripture passages that support the doctrine of real presence, especially in John 6, and I think also in 1 Corenthians 17, please correct me if I’m wrong on the second one. Please pray for me, that my struggle with this will end.