Monday, October 11, 2010

The Most Holy Eucharist in today's world

Please read also:
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.

"I am the living bread which came down from heaven.  If any man eat of this bread, he shall live for ever; and the bread that I will give, is my flesh, for the life of the world.  The Jews therefore strove among themselves, saying: How can this man give us his flesh to eat?  Then Jesus said to them: 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.

"For my flesh is meat indeed: and my blood is drink indeed.  He that eateth my flesh, and drinketh my blood, abideth in me, and I in him.  As the living Father hath sent me, and I live by the Father; so he that eateth me, the same also shall live by me. This is the bread that came down from heaven. Not as your fathers did eat manna, and are dead. He that eateth this bread, shall live for ever."

The plain and obvious sense of this text is clear and it is this sense which Holy Church held and holds.  The Church Fathers likewise held to this sense, that is, that the Faithful are here bound to the precept of physically consuming the Flesh and Blood of Jesus Christin the Most Blessed Sacrament of the Holy Eucharist.

St. Justin Martyr, First Apology, Chapter 66: "And this food is called among us Εὐχαριστία [the Eucharist], of which no one is allowed to partake but the man who believes that the things which we teach are true, and who has been washed with the washing that is for the remission of sins, and unto regeneration, and who is so living as Christ has enjoined. For not as common bread and common drink do we receive these; but in like manner as Jesus Christ our Saviour, having been made flesh by the Word of God, had both flesh and blood for our salvation, so likewise have we been taught that the food which is blessed by the prayer of His word, and from which our blood and flesh by transmutation are nourished, is the flesh and blood of that Jesus who was made flesh. For the apostles, in the memoirs composed by them, which are called Gospels, have thus delivered unto us what was enjoined upon them; that Jesus took bread, and when He had given thanks, said, This do in remembrance of Me, Luke 22:19  this is My body; and that, after the same manner, having taken the cup and given thanks, He said, This is My blood; and gave it to them alone."

Hence the clear and obvious words of the Apostle:

1 Corinthians 11:24-29: "And giving thanks, broke, and said: Take ye, and eat: this is my body, which shall be delivered for you: this do for the commemoration of me. In like manner also the chalice, after he had supped, saying: This chalice is the new testament in my blood: this do ye, as often as you shall drink, for the commemoration of me.  For as often as you shall eat this bread, and drink the chalice, you shall shew the death of the Lord, until he come.  Therefore whosoever shall eat this bread, or drink the chalice of the Lord unworthily, shall be guilty of the body and of the blood of the Lord. But let a man prove himself: and so let him eat of that bread, and drink of the chalice. For he that eateth and drinketh unworthily, eateth and drinketh judgment to himself, not discerning the body of the Lord."

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?

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