I am struggling. I am a born-again, but I still practice my Catholic Faith and attend Mass regularly. I am an Eucharistic Minister, but I am very confused. I am afraid of making a wrong decision and going against God’s will. In John chapter 6 it clearly states that we must eat His flesh and drink His blood. Non-Catholic Christians say that transubstantiation is not real and that Jesus meant this metaphorically or symbolically. But He strongly stresses this in Scripture. Yet, in the next breath He says, the Spirit gives life and the flesh means nothing. I am SO confused. I do not want to go against God’s will. Can you explain?
Christ doesn’t say his flesh means nothing! If that were true then the crucifixion would have been in vain and none of us could be saved!
When he says it is the spirit that gives life, the flesh is of no avail, he is simply telling us what all Christians believe, that we cannot come to the truth on our own (by our own flesh), but the truth must be revealed to us by God. Then he says his words are spirit and life - that is, his words are the words of God.
Compare this with Mt 16:17: “Blessed are you, Simon Bar-Jona! For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my Father who is in heaven.” Same concept - Peter could not have known who Jesus was on his own, but only by a revelation from God.
Also, ask yourself the following question. Is it really likely that the entire Christian world misunderstood and idolized the Eucharist for 1500 years? That is the claim of Protestantism. Does it pass the smell test for you?
Welcome to the forums!
Jesus is using the term “the flesh” as a general term for “physical things.” Notice that elsewhere in the discourse, He uses the words “My flesh” or “the flesh of the Son of Man” to describe what His followers must eat. Now He just uses “the flesh” with no other qualifiers, suggesting that He means something different.
The point is that the disciples are not to think of this mystery in purely physical terms. The benefits of the Eucharist are not physical sustenance, but spiritual sustenance and growth. This is the final part of the contrast between the manna from heaven and the Eucharist. The manna was meant to physically sustain the Israelites, but it didn’t give them spiritual growth, which they needed for eternal life (v. 49); the Eucharist doesn’t give us fleshly growth, but it does let us grow spiritually, which gives us life (v. 63).
The flesh of Christ is certainly profitable for something, since He had to give it up in order to redeem us. It just isn’t profitable for physical sustenance. The disciples are to trust Jesus’ teaching and believe in Him without worrying about the physical aspect of the Eucharist.
Others will probably have more to add, but I hope this helps you out!
Hi, thetags. Well, there are many, long threads on transubstantiation on this forum. This is a deep matter, which cannot be arrived at outside of authoritative teaching, but…
Yes, it can be explained–insofar as any mystery and miracle can be explained. I will just outline two points.
Jesus does say, the Spirit gives life. Please note that spiritual is not the same thing as symbolic. Also note that what is spiritual is just as real as what is material–in fact, WAY more real. Please note that nowhere in the bible does spiritual mean unreal.
What we understand by Jesus saying “My words are spirit and life” is that we are to hear and accept His words; believe them. And what were His words: to gnaw,chew, munch His flesh which is true food indeed, drink His blood which is true drink; and we will have eternal life.
So we are to totally accept those words in full belief; though it is mysterious; and believing, do what is commanded; and believing/obeying, we will gain eternal life.
the flesh means nothing.
Please note that Jesus says THE flesh, not MY flesh.
THE flesh refers to the carnal man who will not believe anything beyond his senses and reason.
1 Cor 2:14-3:4 14 But the sensual man perceiveth not these things that are of the Spirit of God. For it is foolishness to him: and he cannot understand, because it is spiritually examined. 15 But the spiritual man judgeth all things: and he himself is judged of no man. 16 For who hath known the mind of the Lord, that he may instruct him? But we have the mind of Christ. 1 And I, brethren, could not speak to you as unto spiritual, but as unto carnal. As unto little ones in Christ. 2 I gave you milk to drink, not meat: for you were not able as yet. But neither indeed are you now able: for you are yet carnal. 3 For, whereas there is among you envying and contention, are you not carnal and walk you not according to man? 4 For while one saith: I indeed am of Paul: and another: I am of Apollo: are you not men? What then is Apollo and what is Paul?
MY flesh refers to Jesus’ flesh, which AVAILS EVERYTHING, for His flesh was the means of our redemption.
The disciples who left Jesus in Jn 6:66–they left Him because they rejected His talk of eating Him, thus rejecting Him. They heard him with fleshly carnal ears. They did not believe. So they did not receive the reward of belief–when Jesus showed the mystified but believing apostles at the Last Supper that the manner of eating His flesh was an unbloody manner.
I invite you to commit yourself fully to the fullness of the faith, the Catholic Church, thetags. The answers are available. We baptized Catholics have all been born again at our baptism, we are reborn each day as we respond to the graces God showers upon us, and our new life is complete and confirmed when we pass from this life still in His friendship.
There is no “but” – there is no conflict between Catholid faith and being born again!
I am an Eucharistic Minister, but I am very confused. I am afraid of making a wrong decision and going against God’s will.
What is the decision you are contemplating?
In John chapter 6 it clearly states that we must eat His flesh and drink His blood. Non-Catholic Christians say that transubstantiation is not real and that Jesus meant this metaphorically or symbolically. But He strongly stresses this in Scripture. Yet, in the next breath He says, the Spirit gives life and the flesh means nothing. I am SO confused. I do not want to go against God’s will. Can you explain?
VociMike did a great job giving the short answer to this, distinguishing between “**My flesh” **and “the” flesh.
The Eucharistic Presence is something we apprehend only in the Spirit, through the eyes of faith. To discern the Body of Christ in the Eucharist is a supernatural gift of grace. NOT to discern the Body of Christ in the Eucharist is to see with the eyes of the flesh.
I’m contemplating going to a non-denominational Christian Church. Lately I feel like an empty shell at Mass. When I visit my friend’s Church I feel so close to God in praise and worship and I get so much more out of the sermons. They do bible study and they really quench my soul and spirit and my need to have that personal relationship with God. But I’m afraid that I’d be doing something wrong. I have not slept in weeks! Any words of wisdom?:shrug:
Yeah… there are some great Catholic Bible studies… try The Great Adventure Series…by Jeff Cavins. You should enjoy them!
:console: Sometimes a challenge like this comes our way to “kick us up a notch” in our faith – both in the depth of our faith and in our understanding.
The recommendation of the Great Adventure Bible Study is EXCELLENT.
Please carefully discern – perhaps with your confessor – what you “need” in your personal relationship with God. I’ll whomp you upside the knot :banghead: if you tell me you don’t have a personal relationship with Christ as a Catholic!
We can’t say what’s going on with you from one or two posts here, but I find in working with women (you’re a woman? Right?) that we sometimes “need” more of the emotional underpinnings in our faith walk that men do. (They need it to; we’re just more up-front about it.)
If Scripture is attracting you now, try the EWTN web site and see if Rosalind Moss’ study on the Gospel of St. Luke is up for computer-access listening (RealAudio). It’s a great series she does with two women sitting at the kitchen table.
Would it be fair to say that you feel torn between an intellectual acceptance of the Catholic Church and the subjective experience you get out of the non-denominational church? That’s the message I’m getting here, but please correct me if it’s wrong.
At my parish in central Illinois, we have a priest who’s on exchange from Vietnam. He went through an intensive course in English before being assigned to our parish. While his effort is tremendous and he’s improved greatly over the past three years, his English speaking can still be a little ponderous, which sometimes makes it hard to get much out of his homilies. We all know how it feels to go to Mass and feel like the homily was a dud; I’ve had some very good homilies and some very bad homilies at Mass, just like I’ve had some very good sermons and some very bad sermons when visiting my girlfriend’s Baptist church.
The thing that really helped me get through this rut and get something out of Mass on a regular basis again was to focus on the Eucharist. Study and meditation helped me to understand the sacrament better (“Why does it taste like bread and wine?”) and to comprehend just how amazing the sacrament is. Jesus came right out and said that whoever eats His flesh and drinks His blood will have eternal life. I’ve come to realize that the Eucharist is a tremendous source of God’s grace and that I have access to it in the Catholic Church. It’s wonderful that you posted this thread, because it means you’re thinking about some of the same things I had to think about. If you keep studying and praying, you’re bound to come to the same understanding of what Christ gave to us, and that will do more for you than a good homily ever could.
I’ll keep you in my prayers; here’s hoping you’ll end up with a better understanding of the beauty of the Mass from your journey
If you have a comfortable place to sit/pray/read, grab your New Testament, make yourself a cup of tea, and meditatively ponder John 6.
Get Scott Hahn’s book, The Lamb’s Supper: The Mass as Heaven on Earth. This book is a wonderful window on the Eucharist.
Also: stop thinking about “transubstantiation” – that difficult, complex, esoteric concept, and focus on the Person of Jesus Christ, in His humlity, hidden behind the veil of bread and wine. It is the Person of Christ that matters, not the “how” of transubstantiation.
ohhhh excellent suggestions mercygate!!! I loved “The Lamb’s Supper” and I agree about thinking about the CONCEPT of transubstantiation too!
It looks like you may be falling into the “feeling” trap. This is ironic because the “born agains” will tell you that feeling has nothing to do with faith and you are saved by faith. Therefore, when you are feeling like an empty shell at Mass, you need to cling to what God has said. He said “This is my body” and “This is my blood”, whether you feel like you are in His presence or not, He has said you are.
I haven’t read Scott Hahn’s book and so can’t comment, but I thoroughly agree with the other two suggestions.
I have quite a bit of sympathy with the Orthodox Church when it comes to the real presence; they treat it as a marvellous mystery and don’t try to explain it further. I think Christ told us all we need to know right there in John 6.
You have a point there. But the Catholic Church has a history of engaging the culture. It sure would be easier to throw up our hands and piously proclaim: It’s a MYSTERY! ('cause it IS)
Keep in mind also, that it has nothing to do with how you feel.
If you really want some information on transubstantiation here is a good one.
There are more here:
Maybe you’re confused because you are listening to what people are saying about it instead of what the Church and Jesus Himself say. I will keep you in my prayers, you’ve been given some good advice on here too.
thetags, to add to all the great points made here so far, let’s remember that the homily is not essential to the Mass–a sign of this is that Mass can be said without the priest saying one word not printed in the book, and it would not diminish the validity of the Mass. A homily does not make a Mass more or less a Mass. So, nor does a poor homily matter, for validity anyway; it’s just icing on the cake. If it’s poor, pray instead. Poor singing, ditto.
Non-Catholics have only the homily, the singing, the testimony–all man talking. And a non-Catholic homily, good or bad, is at best one man’s unauthoritative opinion, while a good Catholic homily has nothing to do with opinion: it is the Apostolic Church teaching with Christ’s authority today, as She has for 2000 years.
Only Catholics have The Sacrifice. At Mass we fall out of time into the one eternal perfect Offering. In that Offering we are caught up to the Father as inseparable from the perfect oblation of Our Blood Brother and Saving Lord. So we participate in our own salvation. So we are actually made holy.
This is an understanding and a reality available only to Catholics!
Mother Teresa suffered the absence of her Beloved Bridegroom throughout most of her famous ministry of love. She showed us what it means to believe–with or without the emotional float of feelings; to adhere regardless. We believe and obey regardless of how we feel emotionally. So we get the consolation of a clean conscience and a sense of self-respect that we stuck to our sometimes lonely high ground even though it seemed more comfortable elsewhere.
Another great Catholic bible study–the Hahn series being published by Ignatius Press.
For fellowship, would anybody from the parish be willing to do one of these Catholic bible studies with you, if you initiated it?
Non-Catholic bible studies will, sooner or later, be revealed to rest fundamentally upon anti-Catholic (and untrue) assumptions. They will tend to separate a waverer from his Catholic heritage, because the human mind does not tolerate contradiction for long–one can’t be really Catholic while simultaneously accepting views opposed to the Catholic faith and be a serious person.
Some anti-Catholic and untrue assumptions in non-C bible studies:
*Catholics added books to the bible, tampering with God’s inspiration.
*The bible alone has authority to teach man how to be saved.
*Man is saved by faith without any reference to works. *(what “faith” means in this sentence can’t satisfy a Catholic, because faith means both the Content of Faith, and the Act of Faith. The act of will which is an **Act of Faith **whereby we embrace Jesus as the first and greatest good of our heart–that act is possible only by the prior act of intellect which apprehends Him as true–and that intellectual understanding of Jesus, Who He Is, what He did on earth–that understanding is different for non-Catholics.) *
*Man in intrinsically corrupt.
*The bible interprets itself, due to the Holy Spirit.
*The Catholic Church is a false system designed to empower false priests by enslaving ignorant men.
*The bible contradicts the Catholic Church.
*There are no sacraments, in the Catholic sense of “sacrament,” especially there is no Catholic Eucharist.
Oh well, it is too long a list to go on, but you see the point!
I can well understand that. You have exposed yourself to the doctrinal errors of the so-called Reformation and you really need to get away from that asap. Have a look at these two articles from my blog, okay?
Who REALLY Preaches “A Different Gospel”?
My Reformation Theory
I am an Eucharistic Minister, but I am very confused. I am afraid of making a wrong decision and going against God’s will. In John chapter 6 it clearly states that we must eat His flesh and drink His blood. Non-Catholic Christians say that transubstantiation is not real and that Jesus meant this metaphorically or symbolically. But He strongly stresses this in Scripture. Yet, in the next breath He says, the Spirit gives life and the flesh means nothing. I am SO confused. I do not want to go against God’s will. Can you explain?
I certainly can, because this is something that I looked into for myself and again, the results are posted in this article from my blog (though originally it was posted here at CAF)
The Eucharist IS Scriptural
This is a common problem and especially among many people who are n-C evangelical types. There is a great deal of what I think of as “cheer leading”, where the music is pretty much like the front band for a rock concert. A lot hands in the air and clapping and emotional feeding that tends to make people “feel” the Holy Spirit, yet this is wrong. Biblically I suggest that you read the Psalms and just about any of the OT prophets and then read the presentation of Jesus in the New Testament and then begin at the agony in the garden and see if all those feelings are scripturally based or carnal. The fact is that they are carnal…part of what Our Lord was talking about when He said, "It is the spirit that gives life, the flesh is of no avail; the words that I have spoken to you are spirit and life. "
An important reminder…[LEFT] **Do Not Depend on Feelings
The promise of God’s Word, the Bible - not our feelings - is our authority. The Christian lives by faith (trust) in the trustworthiness of God Himself and His Word. This train diagram illustrates the relationship among fact (God and His Word), faith (our trust in God and His Word), and feeling (the result of our faith and obedience) (John 14:21). [/LEFT]
http://www.campuscrusade.com/images/train.gif [LEFT] The train will run with or without a caboose. However, it would be useless to attempt to pull the train by the caboose. In the same way, as Christians we do not depend on feelings or emotions, but we place our faith (trust) in the trustworthiness of God and the promises of His Word.[/LEFT]
[LEFT]You really need to thank your friend and all and then stop attending those services because it is messing with your head. You also need to get into the study of real Christianity and not the “Christianity Lite” (my term…) that they are practicing. Read what happened to me.
I’m not saying that they aren’t nice people. On the contrary, they are probably very nice folks, but that doesn’t mean that they aren’t doctrinally in grave error and misleading you with the best of intentions.
They do bible study and they really quench my soul and spirit and my need to have that personal relationship with God. But I’m afraid that I’d be doing something wrong. I have not slept in weeks! Any words of wisdom?:shrug:
If you aren’t getting this at Mass then you probably are not paying enough attention what what is going on on that altar, because we have something that they can’t even begin to touch. About 500 years ago they abandoned and rejected the Eucharist, which is something that Christianity has had from the New Testament times (again…see my article for the details) and in fact the earliest of the verifiable church fathers tells us that if they reject that then they are heretics to be avoided and not even spoken about. The Catholic Church is the original New Testament “full gospel” Christianity, regardless of what any of the modern post reformation step children claim. Their doctrinal errors are modern…having no roots farther back than the 1500’s.
You owe it to yourself to learn the truth and follow it my friend.
You want Bible studies? No problem.
Bible Christian Society
Catholic Home Study Service
Compendium of the Catechism of the Catholic Church
Catechism of the Catholic Church
The Catholic Church doesn’t attempt to explain the Eucharist. We can’t. The term transubstantiation only reveals a mystery. This is what we call a paradox.
I don’t understand why people have a problem with the term. :shrug: