On the Validity of Sacraments
The Truth of the Eucharist
St. John 6:47-59: "Amen, amen I say unto you: He that believeth in me, hath everlasting life. I am the bread of life. Your fathers did eat manna in the desert, and are dead. This is the bread which cometh down from heaven; that if any man eat of it, he may not die.
The Eucharist Today
A big question that seems to be on many people's minds now is this: Is the Novus Ordo a valid Eucharist? But this question is a red herring, and solid Catholic theology will show why.
First we need to understand that certain sects possess a valid priesthood and valid sacraments, but this does not give them the RIGHT to use them. They have in fact lost the right by being outside the one true Church of Christ. This truth is implicitly contained even as far back as the Old Testament:.
Exodus 12:3-5: "On the tenth day of this month let every man take a lamb by their families and houses. But if the number be less than may suffice to eat the lamb, he shall take unto him his neighbour that joineth to his house, according to the number of souls which may be enough to eat the lamb. And it shall be a lamb without blemish, a male, of one year: according to which rite also you shall take a kid."
This is a figure of the sacrament of the Eucharist, and if we read all of Exodus Chapter 12, we find clear exhortations from God to the Israelites that they must not depart from the houses wherein the blood of the lamb has been sprinkled, or they should be destroyed along with the firstborn of Egypt.
Likewise, the Catholic Church teaches that anybody who partakes of the Body of Christ outside the Church will be destroyed:
Pope Pius VIII, Traditi Humilitati (# 4), May 24, 1829: “Jerome used to say it this way: he who eats the Lamb outside this house will perish as did those during the flood who were not with Noah in the ark.”
Thus it is clear the whether or not this or that sect has a valid Eucharist, we must still rather suffer any and every physical pain, even death, rather than receive Communion at their hands. The example of the holy martyr St. Hermenegild contains a valuable be a lesson for us, as does the constant teaching of the Church.
But does Christ not say that without the Eucharist a person cannot be saved?
This question arises from a reading of the passage above in St. John where Our Lord says: "Amen, amen I say unto you: Except you eat the flesh of the Son of man, and drink his blood, you shall not have life in you. He that eateth my flesh, and drinketh my blood, hath everlasting life: and I will raise him up in the last day."
But here it must be understood that not everything Christ said was directed at the generality of believers as an absolute statement. In the above quotation, it is well to note that He says "except YOU", thereby expressly limiting his declaration to those whom He was addressing. This makes sense, since those who were in His presence at that time would also be around to receive the Eucharist from the Apostles as they spread the Faith throughout the world.
Furthermore, the sense in which He makes the declaration clearly hinges on the audiences willingness to believe in Him and His doctrine. Having revealed His holiness and His power by many signs, He spoke obscurely in order to test His disciples. Many left Him, and thus their faith in Him was never truly motivated by charity, but when He asks the Twelve Apostles: "Will you also go away?", St. Peter replied: "Lord, to whom shall we go? thou hast the words of eternal life. And we have believed and have known, that thou art the Christ, the Son of God."
So the precept laid down by Christ is one of discipline, that is to say, that unless a person who believes in Him honours and reveres Blessed Sacrament by receiving it rightly, if he is not prevented from doing so, he will not have life in him. Thus from this we see that it is sin to avoid receiving the Eucharist from true Catholic clergy if we are able to do so.
This is much different than the absolute statement that Christ made concerning Baptism, when he said, in St. John 3:5: "Amen, amen I say to thee, unless a man be born again of water and the Holy Ghost, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God."
Note the difference here: Christ says unless a man (in Latin: quis, which means "anyone") be born again... He is not limiting His declaration to a specific audience as He did when He laid down the precept of receiving His Body and Blood, and hence without Baptism, even if it seems one is hindered by no fault of his own, he cannot enter heaven.
What Must You Do To Get to Heaven?