Why can only the priest change the bread and wine?

I’m having a dialogue with a friend. I believe she grew up in a different faith and converted to Catholicism when she married her husband. While she sends her kids to our local Catholic school, she seems to spend a lot of time at the local non-denominational church. She’s reached out to me recently about the Eucharist and “where’s that in the Bible?” I talked briefly about Catholicism’s approach to doctrine (Scripture, Tradition, Magisterium), gave her paragraph numbers to look at in the CCC and also mentioned, if she was interested, there was plenty that early Church Fathers had to say. Then the majority of my reply was Scripture based because that’s what she asked for.

I believe she appreciate my reply and followed it up with “Does it say in the bible that only priest can say certain words to change the bread to His body and wine to His blood?”

This one isn’t as ‘easy’ as the Eucharist. It seems like a few things have to be stitched together. Any suggestions?

I’m thinking about starting with the idea of “In Persona Christi” and the authority handed on to the Apostles.

That is correct, it does have to do with the authority explicitly given by Jesus to Peter and the apostles as in John 20, Matthew 16, and Matthew 28.

This is confirmed by tradition as well, as with the letters of Ignatius of Antioch written in the first century.

No other Christian faith can legitimately claim this authority, as they didn’t exist until 16th century Germany by way of Martin Luther.

Priests have the backing of the Church and the authority given to her by Christ.

Precisely why the Christian faith is not based on the Bible alone: The Bible does not tell us everything about how the sacraments are to be done. Is baptism by immersion only? Is pouring acceptable? Sprinkling? What about infant baptism? You must first confront her about this assumption that everything must be contained in the Bible.

The Bible forms part of the overall Christian Tradition passed down from the Apostles.

**Cyprian of Carthage from the AD 250s **says:

[INDENT] “If Christ Jesus, our Lord and God, is himself the high priest of God the Father; and if he offered himself as a sacrifice to the Father; and if he commanded that this be done in commemoration of himself, then certainly the priest, who imitates that which Christ did, truly * functions in place of Christ*” (*Letters *63:14)
Before him, Ignatius of Antioch says in AD 110:

[INDENT] “Let no one do anything of concern to the Church without the bishop. **Let that be considered a *valid Eucharist ***which is celebrated by the bishop or by one whom he ordains. Wherever the bishop appears, let the people be there; just as wherever Jesus Christ is, there is the Catholic Church” (*Letter to the Smyrneans *8:2)
From the Bible itself, we can see that Christ made the Apostles the ones who were to repeat what happened at the Last Supper “in memory of” him. The presybters/elders (where we get the term “priest”) of the church, who were appointed by the Apostles, were the ones who carried out the sacraments. James says “Is any among you sick? Let him call for the elders of the church, and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord…” (James 5:14-15).

Right, he makes a good point.

Since the other Christian faiths do not have the authority of Christ behind their churches, they claim that all authority is from scripture alone. Sola scriptura was invented by Martin Luther.

Yet, while we agree that scripture is the Word of God, there are a multitude of faith related things not in the bible yet are passed down by way of tradition. Examples in addition to those already listed include the use of wedding rings to join two people before God, the age of reason for non-infant baptism, or, for that matter, the five solas or altar calls.

So, as you can imagine, a vastly tangled web is woven.

That said, the bible does have a lot to say about the priesthood.

Jesus gave the power to consecrate the bread and wine in to His body and blood directly and exclusively to the Twelve Apostles, eleven if it occurred after judas departed.

because Jesus also gave the apostles the power to bind and loosen on earth, the apostles, and subsequently their successors, were able to delegate this power to whomever they chose; and, they chose to establish subordinate orders to assist them in their apostolic office, some of those subordinate orders were ordained priests, to this level of orders they also gave the power to consecrate the bread and wine.

Jesus established the episcopacy and the episcopacy established the lower orders.

that is how i see it.

From Luke 22:19
*]Who was at the table with Jesus at the last supper? The 12. ONLY

*]When Jesus said “do this” in memory of me" He is talking to the 12. What does “do this” refer to and what does it do?

τε*** DO*** (link is functional)


1) to make
a) with the names of things made, to produce, construct, form, fashion, etc.
**b)**to be the authors of, the cause
c) to make ready, to prepare
d) to produce, bear, shoot forth
e) to acquire, to provide a thing for one’s self
**f)**to make a thing out of something
g) to (make i.e.) render one anything
1) to (make i.e.) constitute or appoint one anything, to appoint or ordain one that
2) to (make i.e.) declare one anything
h) to put one forth, to lead him out
**i)**to make one do something
1) cause one to
**j)**to be the authors of a thing (to cause, bring about)
2) to do
a) to act rightly, do well
**1)**to carry out, to execute
b) to do a thing unto one
**1)**to do to one
c) with designation of time: to pass, spend
**d)**to celebrate, keep
1) to make ready, and so at the same time to institute, the celebration of the passover
**e)**to perform: to a promise

Priests offer sacrifice. Jesus ordained the apostles priests to do what Jesus did here at the last supper when He instituted the Eucharist changing bread and wine into His body and blood

We can also look to the Church of the East & Oriental Orthodox Churches which both separated from the Catholic Church around the 400s.

It’s always been an ancient practice historically. You can also look to the writings of the Church fathers, mentioned above.

Not everything is written down in Scripture.

We also have parts of the original mass liturgy from the 1st century that can be read, which clearly shows it was the priests.

Finally, We have to look to ancient Jewish law. Only the priests were permitted to perform the Sacrifice of the Lamb at Passover. No Rabbis, the priests. The Mass is the Sacrifice of the Lamb of God. So based on Jewish Law, it would only be fitting for priesthood to be a requirement.

I will post some Lighthouse Catholic Media CDs/MP3s for your review later tonight.

God Bless

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