I have been told by my cousin, who seems to be the only Catholic I know that knows about her religion, that durring Communion the wafers and wine literally becomes the blood and body of Christ. If that is so what is the reason? What is the need for partaking in the Communion. When I take the sacrement in my church we do it to remember Christ’s sacrifice for us. What is the Catholic purpose?
Yes, we believe that it turns into the body and blood of Christ. There is so much scripture and tradition in this it is tough to know where to start.
In the Jewish tradition, they sacrificed the lamb to attone for there sins and to restore the covenant with God. This was done every year on passover. After the lamb was sacrificed to God, they would eat they lamb. They had to eat it, to complete the covenant.
The last supper was held on the passover. This is when Jesus said “this is my body…this is my blood…” . This connects Jesus to the lamb of the passover in the old testament.
Also in Revelation it refers to him as the lamb who was slain. I heard Scott Hahn mention that in revelations it says “the lamb of God” 28 times, so it is a pretty common theme in revelation.
When we eat the Eucharist(communion) we are participating in the sacrifice that Christ made on the cross on Calvary hill. Therefore, it is like the pascal supper for us.
Although it is a rememberance of Christ, it is a participation in the sacrifice of Christ.
Explicite proofs of the true presence come from 1cor11.
Where to start? There is so much to cover with a question like that. I’ll be brief and just hit few details and let someone who’s a faster typer go into more detail. First, go read John 6 again and see what it says. Second, because he told us to. Eat my body and blood or you have no life in you. Third it is one of the seven sacraments he set up for us. We recieve grace from it. We believe he is spirtually present in your church, which is great, but he is actually present in the Catholic church
I listened to a Catholic preist speaking of the Liturgy and its base in scripture and in the Jewish tradition up till Christ and in even Heaven. It was so interesting and so eye opening. I think that Scott Hahn goes over what this preist said in his book “The Lambs Supper”. I have not read it but I hear its good.
[quote=jimmy]I listened to a Catholic preist speaking of the Liturgy and its base in scripture and in the Jewish tradition up till Christ and in even Heaven. It was so interesting and so eye opening. I think that Scott Hahn goes over what this preist said in his book “The Lambs Supper”. I have not read it but I hear its good.
The Lamb’s Supper is an excellent book. If you don’t have the time to read it, though, Hahn has an excellent 1-tape summary called “The Fourth Cup” available from St. Joseph Communications (saintjoe.com/p/product_search.pl?keywords=the+fourth+cup&topic=99999&sbmt2=Search) that is just packed with information. Even if you don’t come to agree with the Catholic view, you will certainly understand it from this tape. (I haven’t seen the video version so I don’t know if it is the same recording.)
[quote=theMutant]The Lamb’s Supper is an excellent book. If you don’t have the time to read it, though, Hahn has an excellent 1-tape summary called “The Fourth Cup” available from St. Joseph Communications (saintjoe.com/p/product_search.pl?keywords=the+fourth+cup&topic=99999&sbmt2=Search) that is just packed with information. Even if you don’t come to agree with the Catholic view, you will certainly understand it from this tape. (I haven’t seen the video version so I don’t know if it is the same recording.)
Thanks for the info.I have been interested in learning about the mass and I have been planning on getting the book.
[quote=leschornmom]I have been told by my cousin, who seems to be the only Catholic I know that knows about her religion, that durring Communion the wafers and wine literally becomes the blood and body of Christ. If that is so what is the reason? What is the need for partaking in the Communion. When I take the sacrement in my church we do it to remember Christ’s sacrifice for us. What is the Catholic purpose?
The following link explains the Doctrine of the Real Presence of Christ in the Eucharist very clearly and succinctly.
Yours in Christ
A simple short answer to your question is that Jesus commands us to eat His flesh and drink His blood, which is why we do so. For scrpiture reference, almost the whole chapter of John 6 covers this topic as does any of the Gospels’ accounts of the Last Supper.
[quote=leschornmom]… what is the reason? What is the need for partaking in the Communion.
To use our protestant brethrens’ terminology, it is "to accept and receive Jesus as our personal Lord and Saviour, " granted in much more intimate, close and of course literal way.
I haven’t yet read the book, but I saw the first 30 minutes of the Scott Hahn Video on it. It is absolutely fabulous. He takes us through step by step why Catholic Christians believe that it is the body and blood of Christ.
You have to understand the Jewish Liturgy to truly get the whole picture. Basically, there are 4 cups of wine that must be drunk. If you read Scripture, the last supper (a Jewish passover celebration), Christ leaves and goes to the garden before the last cup is drunk. In the garden he asks for “this cup” to be taken from Him. He drinks absolutely nothing until on the cross when he says “I thirst”. (Scott Hahn points out that do you really think he wasn’t thirsty until just now?)
At that point, Jesus was given sour wine. And said, “It is finished”. “It” is refering to the fourth cup in the liturgy of the Jewish Passover. By drinking the wine, it was the fourth cup that was missing in the Last Supper. And as others have pointed out, one had to eat the passover lamb for the convenant to be fulfilled.
(Actually this was another point, convenant. During the last supper, this is the only time Chritst used that word.)
This is just a short explanation. I completely recommend getting the book or tape. It is full of information that helped me to see the symetry(sp?) of history of it all.
As someone pointed out, even if you do not believe it, it will help you see why Catholic Christians do.
Communion is food for the soul. It is a source of grace – which is the Divine Life of God. "So Jesus said to them, 'Truly, truly, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you have no life in you…He who eats my flesh and drinks my blood abides in me and I in him (John 6:53-56).
Holy Communion is the “new covenant in Christ’s blood” (Luke 22:20) By receiving it, we accept and renew Christ’s covenant with us. It is our Passover meal – the Bread of Life, the Bread of Angels, the most extraordinary gift on this earth. We may participate in the sacrifice and receive Christ’s body and blood sacramentally each and every day.
Protestants and Mormons view communion as remembering a past event. But the Mass is a re-presentation of Christ’s sacrifice. When we kneel at Mass, we are literally kneeling at the foot of Calvary. The Holy Sacrifice, just as it was on that day 2,000 years ago, is made present again and applied to our souls. And Christ gives us Himself in Holy Communion, and we become one with Him. That’s the meaning of “communion.”
co- or com- : jointly; union: the act of uniting or the state of being united.
We are united with Christ when we receive Holy Communion. His Body and Blood are assimilated and become our body and blood.
Ex-Southern Baptist, ex-agnostic, ex-atheist, ecstatic to be Catholic!
I think another book that would maybe go even more specifically into the Eucharist than “The Lamb’s Supper” is Scott Hahn’s book “Swear To God”. This book specifically covers the seven sacraments of the Catholic Church, whereas his other book is speaking specifically about the Mass. leschornmom, both of these books would be excellent places to get information regarding Catholic beliefs about Mass and sacraments. All of Scott Hahn’s books are very well done I think, and since he is a Bible scholar, he relates everything to its Biblical roots.
Here’s a link to the transcript of the 4th Cup by Scott Hahn - a marvelous explanation of the Eucharist (Communion). Fascinating reading.
Learning about Catholic Communion is one of the great turning points in my conversion from being a Baptist. It is interesting to note that you ask just as the Year of the Eucharist is getting underway! Coincidence? No such thing!
A couple of important points: this belief led to many an early Christian being martyred. The Roman Empire was naturally against cannibalism and its understanding of our literal interpretation was that it is cannibalism. It took St. Stephen Martyr to explain that the body and blood we eat is in fact that of God and not some unfortunate beggar. Important point: when asked to recant this belief, for hundreds of years Christians chose to die.
Also, we are crazy. Not only do we believe that the very same Mind that holds every electron and every supernova in its place loves each of us as individuals, but we also believe that He continually offers us his very blood and body as sustenance. This is not just abstraction and sentiment, nor is it pure intellectual feeding through Sacred Scriptures (though we have as much of that as any non-eucharistic church) the eucharist gives us a tangible physical connection to God Himself (recall that Catholic teaching holds the Trinity as three-in-one; three in persons but one in substance) and He literally sustains us from within.
When I explained this belief to my non-Catholic friend once, he replied, “Now I know you cannot possibly mean that because it is obvious that the bread is not God.” Very astute! For an answer, we look to the life of Christ.
Think about how secretly relieved the Pharisees were when they started to flog Jesus and they saw that beneath his skin was just everday blood and flesh. I am sure that this was the defining moment of certainty for them. If He was really God like he said (Jn 8:58-59 and others), then His true identity would be somehow revealed – His divinity would manifest itself in a gush of flowers pouring through his wounds. Or whirling stars. Or lightning. But underneath was just more man. He was all man through and through. Just flesh, blood and bone with no trace of God within. A sigh of relief. Not God. Pure mortal. The bad thief on the cross was right – if He were God, SOMETHING would have happened. It was all just a lie.
But the Church teaches us that Jesus was not either God or man, but both. Not 50% man and 50% God, but 100% man and 100% God. The math comes to 200% and that is what we mean when we claim we have the FULLNESS of the Truth. These are the only numbers that make sense when we look at the situation – the Creator has inhabited His creation. The numbers should be at least double. This is not conjecture or fantasy. It happened.
An important concept that helps to make this possible is AristotleÕs idea of Òaccidents.Ó These are not the modern ideas as in a Òbus accident.Ó In the hands of the Creator, you see that the substance of something is very deliberately being manipulated. These teachings were later developed and Christianized by Sts Augustine and especially Thomas Aquinas. They are not hard to understand, but take more time to explain than I could possibly muster. Besides, as a Catholic, I understand I do not need to reinvent the wheel. I am currently reading Anthony RizziÕs Science Before Science, which, though not explicitly a history of the beginnings of the natural sciences, shows quite clearly how they come from Catholic culture. This is getting way off topic (though I strongly suggest that anyone who can read words purchase this book). The important thing is that though we are regarded as illogical and suspicious, there is Divine irony in the fact that Catholic culture gave us the science later generations would use to try to disprove the Real Presence.
To get back to the topic, we have to point out that the reaction of non-believers to the Real Presence in the Eucharist is exactly the same as that of the Pharisees and other hard-line Jews when Christ proclaimed His divinity. To explain the concept of Real Presence, briefly, it is different from Divine Omnipresence. When God resided in the Old Testament Tabernacle, He was really there. At the same time, He did not relinquish His Omnipresence – His total reign of the created universe. But in the Real Presence, just as in the Tabernacle, we have the type of presence that is the same as meeting Christ in person.
This is whole idea of our worship. It is the focus of Catholic life – God fueling us with His Pure Love (God is Love, not abstractly but actually). All of our sacraments focus around this one sacrament. It is offered at every Catholic worship service everyday of the week. It is part of every Catholic wedding and funeral (and because of this, both ceremonies are typically open to all members of the parish – you do not need an ID card.)
It is also important to remember that this belief was never challenged for over fifteen centuries. For clear proof, look at all the offshoots. The further back you go in history, the more the break away churches reflect Catholic teaching. Lutherans practice a type of eucharistic-like ceremony (though the Church teaches that it is invalid). So do the Anglicans (aka Episcopalians). And so do the orthodox churches. It is part of our constant and unbroken Sacred Tradition that goes back not just to Christ, but to the beginnings of creation itself.
If you can wrap your mind around the Eucharist, then you have the number one key for understanding everything else Catholics do: kneeling, praying to saints, confession, laying on of hands (priestly apostolic succession in an ubroken line to the original twelve apostles), the very structure of the Church.
There are those who would say Christ was only speaking in symbolic terms and there are many ways to refute this (Christ always clears up misunderstandings among His dim disciples, but lets many of them go because they were disgusted at the thought of eating His flesh.) I like to look at GodÕs symbolism: Bethlehem means Òhouse of bread.Ó When He was born, where did they put the baby Jesus? In a manger! It could not have been more clear if they had put Him on a plate! The word ÒmangerÓ means ÒeatÓ! Like when you go to an Italian restuarant, they say Òmanger manger!Ó (Okay, they donÕt, but I donÕt know how to spell the Italian … is it mange? That looks strange…)
In a more direct response, I would like to return your question: What about communion? Did you think maybe that a belief that ancient could still be practiced as ferevently as we practice it today? Looking at your question kind of makes me think you meant for us to sort of fall all over ourselves half-apologetically refuting the “old stuff” as no longer relevant.
Instead, you got a jewel. No matter how you look at it, it is always a beautiful jewel, but depending on who you ask, they seem to fixate on a different facet of its beauty. The responses have been both varied and yet unified. These are two seemingly contradictory and essential elements of universality and “catholic” means “universal.”
Were you expecting that?
On only a slightly related note, I was wondering if Mormons were allowed to read works by Augustine and Aquinas. Both are Catholic and have been credited with winning hearts to the Church, which, according to your scriptures is the “false” “Church of the Devil.” Yet both were very instrumental in laying the foundations not just for our Church but for all aspects of Western civilization. I do not know anyone who could resist their logic and influence.