The Eucharist and what the RC Church teaches about other Christians' understanding


#1

My cousin presented several questions to me that I don’t know how to answer. I’m hoping that someone can help me with this. His questions are:

I wanted to ask you about trans-substantiation. If this requires a mass to occur, then how is it that your brother and sister protestants have been taking communion in vain all these years? Do you feel that this is the case? Do you feel that when we take communion at Centre Street Church it is not actually trans-substantiated and therefore we have been “going without” communion all these years while we’ve been deceived that we’re actually partaking?

Does the RC Church believe that whenever the Eucharist is offered and a RC Mass is not present, that transsubstantiation does not take place?

Thank you for any help you can give on how to answer these questions.

Merry Christmas & God bless!


#2

I think this thread would be better moved to Apologetics. But I will attempt to answer. When the Protestant churches broke away from Holy Mother Church by definition they lost any kind of valid sacraments. Without valid sacraments, your “communion” is not the Body and Blood of Our Lord Jesus Christ. It is a memorial act but you have to have a priest standing “in persona Christi” (in the place of Christ) to have transubstantiation. You cannot have transubstantiation without a priest. We Catholics believe that we recieve Our Lord in the Eucharist, body, blood, soul and divinity. If a church does not have valid “holy orders” transubstantiation cannot occurr.

This is just from me, my own opinion…I hold the Holy Eucharist in such high opinion that for years I worried (needlessly) about unworthily recieving (i.e. not in a state of grace) what I thought was the Holy Eucharist at a Greek Orthodox Easter Liturgy because they have a valid Eucharist. I am truly sorry to say but no protestant church has a valid Eucharist. Thus, any communion service can only be a memorial.


#3

All right, Mods! Gosh, y’all are on the ball!


#4

[quote=pworsley]My cousin presented several questions to me that I don’t know how to answer. I’m hoping that someone can help me with this. His questions are:

I wanted to ask you about trans-substantiation. If this requires a mass to occur, then how is it that your brother and sister protestants have been taking communion in vain all these years? Do you feel that this is the case? Do you feel that when we take communion at Centre Street Church it is not actually trans-substantiated and therefore we have been “going without” communion all these years while we’ve been deceived that we’re actually partaking?

Does the RC Church believe that whenever the Eucharist is offered and a RC Mass is not present, that transsubstantiation does not take place?

Thank you for any help you can give on how to answer these questions.

Merry Christmas & God bless!
[/quote]

Christ entrusted the Sacraments to His Church, The Catholic Church. Among them was the Sacrament of Holy Orders (Deacon, Priest, Bishop) Only a validly Ordained Bishop in Apostolic Succession can validly celebrate the Sacrament of Holy Orders. However once Ordained either a Deacon, Priest, or Bishop one remains Ordained forever. Transubstantiation can only take place when the Sacrament is celebrated by at least validly Ordained as a Priest. In the Reformation most of those who broke away from the Catholic Church were validly Ordained priests. So for a while yes they did have valid Holy Communion. But had no way to validly Ordain additional priests to take the place of those who originally broke away from the Catholic Church. After the original generation of priests the ability to receive a valid Eucharist in the separated churches went away.

It is known that in one instance valid Bishops also broke away. So in theory valid Succession and Holy Orders could have been continued. However that break-away church tinkered with the wording of the Sacrament of Holy Orders. After some years of actual valid Ordinations they invalidated their ability to convey the Sacrament of Holy Orders.

Unlike the Orthodox who also had Deacons, Priests, and Bishops who broke away. They insured that their Ordinations were always valid by paying close attention to the validity of Holy Orders. Therefore always insuring that they have today a valid Eucharist.

To answer:

Do you feel that when we take communion at Centre Street Church it is not actually trans-substantiated and therefore we have been “going without” communion all these years while we’ve been deceived that we’re actually partaking?

You are going without Sacramental Holy Communion. You do not receive the actual Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity of Christ. Individual Christians in the community could if properly disposed could possibly receive a “Spiritual Communion”.

Does the RC Church believe that whenever the Eucharist is offered and a RC Mass is not present, that transsubstantiation does not take place?

No, even if it is not a RC Mass, Transubstantiation could take place if the Sacrament is offered with the proper Form, Matter and Intent by a priest who is validly Ordained in apostolic succession.


#5

I ask the original poster–do YOU believe in transubstantiation? Do you believe that what you receive is the actual Body and Blood, Soul and Divinity of Christ?

I believe most prostestants do NOT believe such. Therefore, I wonder why you ask if you think our “brother and sister” protestants have received communion “in vain” in their churches? If protestants do NOT believe in transubstantiation, then their communion is what they believe it to be–a symbolic action–and thus it perfectly satisfies them.

Catholics DO believe in transubstantiation (at least most of us do), and therefore OUR communion satisfies US. But we would not expect it to satisfy Protestants any more than we would expect a protestant communion to satisfy a Catholic, because quite frankly the communions are NOT THE SAME.

Do I wish Protestants and Catholics were in union? Certainly I do. Do I believe transubstantiation is correct? Certainly I do. Do I think the Protestant communion lacks the fullness of Catholic communion? Certainly I do–but do I think then that Protestants are being “cheated” of communion? Certainly I do NOT. They are receiving the communion they have chosen–a symbolic gesture of unity with the God we BOTH worship. Catholics receive the communion THEY have chosen–Body and Blood, Soul and Divinity of Christ. We cannot BOTH be correct, either a thing IS or it is NOT. For 1500 years Christians ALL believed in the Real Presence; for 500 years there has been disunity, but not a Protestant alive today is part of that ORIGINAL disunity, and all sincerely believe their doctrines.

Therefore, I cannot say that a Protestant “receives in vain” according to his or her beliefs, but I CAN say it according to my Catholic belief, JUST AS that Protestant can say that my CATHOLIC reception is not in accordance with his PROTESTANT belief. IOW, we can agree to disagree, so to speak, in that we can both respect each others’ beliefs, while sincerely holding to the superiority of our own belief. Thus, this Catholic does not presume to judge any individual Protestant’s faith relationship, but only to make a statement relating from a CATHOLIC perspective. From a Catholic perspective, the unfortunate reality is that of many fine Christian protestants not believing in the Real Presence and through little if any fault of their own being denied, by the nature of their identity as protestants, the fullness of communion as understood by Catholics. I cannot speak as a Protestant, but I would imagine that from the Protestant perspective, Catholics are somehow “deluded” into believing that communion is something other than symbolic, and that their stubborn refusal to have become protestants has caused them to appear haughty, arrogant, and to “deny” the eucharist to other Christians. If, of course, communion were ONLY a symbol, “denying” this symbol to any Christian would be wrong. But IF communion is INDEED the Body and Blood, Soul and Divinity of Christ, and if people try to TAKE that Body and Blood but don’t acknowledge what He IS, or RESPECT His own words and instructions, THAT would be wrong.

Finally, is it not incumbent on us to respect others? Surely if you were going to the house of another person, you “respect” his rules, do you not? And if you have a particular need, don’t you expect others to respect that need?

If your child has a peanut allergy, do you allow others to give your child peanuts? After all, those peanuts ordinarily are harmless to people.

The Eucharist is, if you will, not only harmless but beneficial to those who are prepared and disposed for it. . .just as those peanuts are to those without a peanut allergy. But it is NOT harmless to those who do not understand or do not prepare for it. Taking the Body and Blood of the Lord unworthily (and that means without proper understanding, even if done with the best of intentions of “unity” and "love), is wrong, just as giving a child with a peanut allergy a peanut butter sandwich is wrong, even though normally a peanut butter sandwich is a GOOD THING.

And yes, unless there is a Mass with a priest (not necessarily just RC, there are plenty of authentic Eastern Catholics in communion with Rome, as well as our Orthodox brethren), then transubstantiation does NOT occur. Again, I wish the OP would tell me just what he thinks transubstantiation IS, so I’d know we were both talking about communion and understanding the differences. God bless.


#6

In response to Tantum Ergo - I’m Roman Catholic & believe that Christ taught that the bread and wine are his body and blood - and therefore believe it.


#7

To be valid, the Eucharist must be offered by a priest who has validly received the sacrament of Holy Orders through apostolic succession from the apostles.

Most protestant ministers do not have apostolic succession or even claim to have. Orthodox churches do.

Without apostolic succession, when it comes to a “communion service,” nothing happens. It’s just bread and wine. With apostolic succession, Christ is made present.


#8

Hi pworsley,

One of the best things that has happened to me in my life (aside from coming home to the church!) was when I took a week and actually studied John Paul II’s encyclical Ecclesia de Eucharistia. I mean I had the thing copied out and went over it with highlighters and a ruler and a pen. It is BRILLIANT and deeply inspiring, as well as informative. To this day (and for all the rest of my life I suspect) it will influence me at the Mass and especially at the consecration.

Let me share some of what His Holiness says:

"43. In considering the Eucharist as the sacrament of ecclesial communion, there is one subject which, due to its importance, must not be overlooked: I am referring to the relationship of the Eucharist to ecumenical activity. We should all give thanks to the Blessed Trinity for the many members of the faithful throughout the world who in recent decades have felt an ardent desire for unity among all Christians. The Second Vatican Council, at the beginning of its Decree on Ecumenism, sees this as a special gift of God.89 It was an efficacious grace which inspired us, the sons and daughters of the Catholic Church and our brothers and sisters from other Churches and Ecclesial Communities, to set forth on the path of ecumenism.

Our longing for the goal of unity prompts us to turn to the Eucharist, which is the supreme sacrament of the unity of the People of God, in as much as it is the apt expression and the unsurpassable source of that unity.90 In the celebration of the Eucharistic Sacrifice the Church prays that God, the Father of mercies, will grant his children the fullness of the Holy Spirit so that they may become one body and one spirit in Christ.91 In raising this prayer to the Father of lights, from whom comes every good endowment and every perfect gift (cf. Jas 1:17), the Church believes that she will be heard, for she prays in union with Christ her Head and Spouse, who takes up this plea of his Bride and joins it to that of his own redemptive sacrifice.

  1. Precisely because the Church’s unity, which the Eucharist brings about through the Lord’s sacrifice and by communion in his body and blood, absolutely requires full communion in the bonds of the profession of faith, the sacraments and ecclesiastical governance, it is not possible to celebrate together the same Eucharistic liturgy until those bonds are fully re-established. Any such concelebration would not be a valid means, and might well prove instead to be an obstacle, to the attainment of full communion, by weakening the sense of how far we remain from this goal and by introducing or exacerbating ambiguities with regard to one or another truth of the faith. The path towards full unity can only be undertaken in truth. In this area, the prohibitions of Church law leave no room for uncertainty,92 in fidelity to the moral norm laid down by the Second Vatican Council.93

I would like nonetheless to reaffirm what I said in my Encyclical Letter Ut Unum Sint after having acknowledged the impossibility of Eucharistic sharing: “And yet we do have a burning desire to join in celebrating the one Eucharist of the Lord, and this desire itself is already a common prayer of praise, a single supplication. Together we speak to the Father and increasingly we do so ‘with one heart’”.94

  1. While it is never legitimate to concelebrate in the absence of full communion, the same is not true with respect to the administration of the Eucharist under special circumstances, to individual persons belonging to Churches or Ecclesial Communities not in full communion with the Catholic Church. In this case, in fact, the intention is to meet a grave spiritual need for the eternal salvation of an individual believer, not to bring about an intercommunion which remains impossible until the visible bonds of ecclesial communion are fully re-established.

This was the approach taken by the Second Vatican Council when it gave guidelines for responding to Eastern Christians separated in good faith from the Catholic Church, who spontaneously ask to receive the Eucharist from a Catholic minister and are properly disposed.95 This approach was then ratified by both Codes, which also consider – with necessary modifications – the case of other non-Eastern Christians who are not in full communion with the Catholic Church.96"

cont’d


#9
  1. In my Encyclical Ut Unum Sint I expressed my own appreciation of these norms, which make it possible to provide for the salvation of souls with proper discernment: “It is a source of joy to note that Catholic ministers are able, in certain particular cases, to administer the sacraments of the Eucharist, Penance and Anointing of the Sick to Christians who are not in full communion with the Catholic Church but who greatly desire to receive these sacraments, freely request them and manifest the faith which the Catholic Church professes with regard to these sacraments. Conversely, in specific cases and in particular circumstances, Catholics too can request these same sacraments from ministers of Churches in which these sacraments are valid”.97

These conditions, from which no dispensation can be given, must be carefully respected, even though they deal with specific individual cases, because the denial of one or more truths of the faith regarding these sacraments and, among these, the truth regarding the need of the ministerial priesthood for their validity, renders the person asking improperly disposed to legitimately receiving them. And the opposite is also true: Catholics may not receive communion in those communities which lack a valid sacrament of Orders.98

The faithful observance of the body of norms established in this area 99 is a manifestation and, at the same time, a guarantee of our love for Jesus Christ in the Blessed Sacrament, for our brothers and sisters of different Christian confessions – who have a right to our witness to the truth – and for the cause itself of the promotion of unity.

Footnotes:
89Cf. Decree on Ecumenism Unitatis Redintegratio, 1.

90Cf. Dogmatic Constitution on the Church Lumen Gentium, 11.

91“Join all of us, who share the one bread and the one cup, to one another in the communion of the one Holy Spirit”: Anaphora of the Liturgy of Saint Basil.

92Cf. Code of Canon Law, Canon 908; Code of Canons of the Eastern Churches, Canon 702; Pontifical Council for the Promotion of Christian Unity, Ecumenical Directory, 25 March 1993, 122-125, 129-131: AAS 85 (1993), 1086-1089; Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, Letter Ad Exsequendam, 18 May 2001: AAS 93 (2001), 786.

93“Divine law forbids any common worship which would damage the unity of the Church, or involve formal acceptance of falsehood or the danger of deviation in the faith, of scandal, or of indifferentism”: Decree on the Eastern Catholic Churches Orientalium Ecclesiarum, 26.

94No. 45: AAS 87 (1995), 948.

95Decree on the Eastern Catholic Churches Orientalium Ecclesiarum, 27.

96Cf. Code of Canon Law, Canon 844 §§ 3-4; Code of Canons of the Eastern Churches, Canon 671 §§ 3-4.

97No. 46: AAS 87 (1995), 948.

98Cf. Second Vatican Ecumenical Council, Decree on Ecumenism Unitatis Redintegratio, 22.

99Code of Canon Law, Canon 844; Code of Canons of the Eastern Churches, Canon 671.

That’s pretty clear.


#10

Its simple. They don’t believe it does anything special. They simply do it as a requirement, not that it accomplishes anything eternal for them. It is purely symbolic, and no more spiritual than saying a prayer.

Irrelevent.

Of course. And I’ll let you in on a secret: they don’t believe in transubstantiation either, so they are not expecting it to transubstantiate.

The eucharist is effected at Mass. Your question makes no sense: the Eucharist only exists after consecration at Mass, although it can be distributed at a different time.


#11

In order for the bread and wine to change into the actual Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity of Jesus Christ you need a validly ordained Catholic priest. Protestants do not have validly ordained priests therefore no change takes place. The bread-cracker remains a cracker and the grape juice remains grape juice.

Protestants also do not believe that the bread and wine become Jesus, they believe that they symbolize his body and blood.

Protestants are indeed being deceived but not at their communion services, they are being deceived as to what the true Christian teaching on the Eucharist is. In the protestant communion services what they receive is simply a bread cracker and grape juice. It is not a communion with the body and blood of the Lord because at their services it is only bread and grape juice.

Ken


#12

[quote=JimG]Most protestant ministers do not have apostolic succession or even claim to have. Orthodox churches do.
[/quote]

Correction: NO PROTESTANT MINISTERS have apostolic succession, absolutely none. not one.

Ken


#13

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