Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Catholic Q&A: Part 33

This post continues my series of short answers to common questions about Catholicism. For the previous parts in the series, see the "Catholic Q-A Series" blog label.

Did Jesus eat His own Flesh and Blood at the Last Supper?

Since Scripture is not explicit on the matter, and the Church has not defined as doctrine whether Jesus consumed His own Body and Blood, Catholics are free to mull it over and come to their own conclusion. However, that being said, it appears to me from various indications in the Bible that Jesus did consume His own Body and Blood.

He desired to "keep" (cf. Mt 26:18) or "eat" (cf. Mt 26:17, 20; Mk 14:12-14, 17-18; Lk 22:7-11) the Passover meal with his apostles, and this would have included the bread and wine transformed into His Body and Blood. Also, note that St. Thomas Aquinas answered in the affirmative in the Summa (Third Part, Question 81, Article 1), and his arguments, as always, are quite convincing.

Let me step back and say that I can see how this would all seem rather odd at first. But, if you think about it, Jesus consuming Himself is no more abhorrent than us consuming Him. Augustine once said, "Jesus held Himself in His hands", and Jerome, "The Lord Jesus Christ, Himself the guest and banquet, is both the partaker and what is eaten." If Jesus participated fully in the Passover meal, and this included the institution of the Eucharist, then it appears to me to be a logical deduction that Jesus consumed His own Flesh and Blood in a sacramental manner.

I am Catholic, but no matter how much reading I do, I can never seem to end this cycle of doubt that I feel over the truth of the Catholic faith. What do you suggest?

The "endless cycle of doubt" was closed for me once I was convinced that the Catholic Church was the Church founded by Christ, and that He gave Her the authority to distinguish truth from error. Once you believe that, then everything else falls into place.

All you have to do to find the Church of Christ is look at what Christians believed in the 1st, 2nd, 3rd, 4th, 5th, 6th centuries and see which Church present today still holds to those beliefs. The Church's teachings cannot change. If they do, then the Church has contradicted Herself and She loses any claim to be guided by the Holy Spirit. The Church with the unchanging faith is the one you want. That Church is the Catholic Church and no other.

Only the Catholic Church has maintained a continuity of faith with the Christians of every age. The Reformers broke away from this continuity. They changed the faith. They are revolutionaries. They contradicted what came before. This is obvious proof that Reformation teaching (and the denominations that sprang from this teaching) is not of the Spirit, for the Spirit does not contradict Himself. There are elements of grace and truth in these denominations, but they have not maintained the fullness of truth that is found in the Catholic Church.

Look at the early Church and you'll see how very Catholic it is. They talk about praying to the saints, the authority of the pope and the bishops, the Marian dogmas, the Real Presence in the Eucharist, statues and icons, going to Confession, mortal and venial sin -- everything that separates Catholics from Protestants.

Speaking of the Real Presence, do you believe that the Eucharist is truly Christ? If you do, how could you possibly leave that for something else? That is a gift and a grace that you can't find anywhere else. The Eucharist means unparalleled intimacy with the Savior of the world. Unparalleled. There is nothing like it. Personally, there is no way I could turn my back on that.

My friend told me that Pope Callistus was a "oneness" and not a Catholic and he based this on the statements made by Hippolytus. How can I answer him?

First of all, we have to keep in mind that Hippolytus is a hostile source for the allegations that Callistus was a modalist. The two are practically arch-enemies. When Callistus became the pope, Hippolytus was so outraged he made himself pope of his own church! In light of this, it is difficult to trust Hippolytus as a reliable source. At any rate, even if Callistus was a modalist, it appears he maintained the orthodox faith once becoming pope. He even excommunicated Sabellius, the intellectual leader of the modalists.

Random "oneness" theologians can be found throughout the history of the Church. It doesn't really prove anything. Modalism was always considered a heresy by the vast majority of Christians, and by every pope and ecumenical council that addressed it. Of course, since Protestants have no connection with this tradition of hammering out the Apostolic faith, it's no surprise that a denomination would spring up in the 20th century and begin spouting the heresies of old. There is nothing new under the sun.

Pax Christi,

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