A Response to Mike Gendron’s terming the Eucharist a wafer
Peace be with you.
Let us remember we’re in the holy presence of God. Scripture states, “Where two or more are gathered in my name, I am in their midst.” Mt 18:20. This online dialogue is about humility, charity and love for a fellow Christian. As Christians we are family of God sharing many beliefs and differing in some.
Thank you for sharing your view on the Eucharist. As you said, the Eucharist is a mere “wafer.” I respect your position.
No offense to you Mr. Gendron, but most Christians sincerely believe the Eucharist is “symbolic or metaphoric” that the bread and grape juice remain the same, meaning, no change at all. They think they truly receive Christ (maybe once a month) but what they actually receive is a useless worthless piece of bread and grape juice with no sacrilegious consequence, an exercise in futility. In fact, inside their church in the full view of the congregation, a Pastor may trample on the bread and sweep it off, spill the grape juice on the floor and mop it off, and no one will be offended.
When non-Catholics interpret John 6:35-69, Mt 26:26-28, Mk 14:22-24, and 1 Cor 10:16-29 intellectually and subjectively (5 senses, opposed to matter) at a human level, is kind of limiting God to what he can and cannot do. But “Nothing will be impossible with God.” Luke 1:37 Here are some examples:
Rebecca Sexton – Roman pagan ritual
Jimmy Swaggart – opposed to Scripture, contradicted
by the evidence of the senses
Jack Chick – wafer host
Bart Brewer – wicked and satanic
Timothy Kauffman – graven image
Loraine Boettner – cannibalism
Dr. Norman Geisler - It is not possible since Jesus would be himself in his own hand (when He said, “This my body.”)
Richard Bennett – the bread and wine remain as bread and wine. When Jesus used these words (This is my body/blood) He was sitting in front of them.
Paul Pavao - idolatry
I would like to share with you my insight on the Catholic doctrine of the Eucharist, the Bread of Life. The Trinity is a mystery, incomprehensible, and beyond human understanding. So is the Eucharist. St Chrysostom wrote, “The priest in the role of Christ (alter Christus) pronounces these words, but their power and grace are God’s. This is my Body, he says, this word transforms the things offered.” In the act of consecration, by the grace of God the bread is changed into that of Christ’s body and the wine into his blood but the outward appearance remains unchanged. This is what is later termed as Transubstantiation.
The Eucharist is the source and summit of the Catholic spiritual life, that is being celebrated at Mass in every Catholic church throughout the world 24/7.
There are various meanings attributed to the Eucharist --- thanksgiving, food for the soul, a sacrament and a sacrifice, the Lord’s Supper, the new Covenant, Real Presence.
Catholic theology is one whole tapestry woven in the Old and New Testaments. Of all the Catholic doctrines, the Eucharist is the most quoted in Scripture. There are many instances it is prefigured, foreshadowed, implicitly and explicitly. The Old Testament points to Christ. The New Testament reveals and is the fulfillment of Christ. According to St Augustine, Christ is concealed in the Old Testament, and is revealed in the New Testament.
The Old Testament citations as the living sacrifice offering as well as Covenant. In Gn 9:4, “For the life of the flesh is in the blood.” In Gn 14:18 “Melchizedek, king of Salem, brought out bread and wine.” Ex 16:4 refers to the manna, bread from heaven. Ex 19:3-6 “If you will indeed obey my voice and keep my covenant, then you shall be a special treasure to me above all people; for all this is mine.” Ex 24:6-8 “This is the blood of the covenant which the Lord has made with you.” Ex 25-30 “…and you shall set the bread.” Lv 17:11 …”for the life of the flesh is in the blood.” Lv 23:12-13, the bread and wine. Lv 24:7 bread as a memorial. 1 Sam 21:6 “…the priest gave him holy bread.” Ps 78:24 “…he rained down upon the manna to eat.” Ps 116:13 “He will lift up the cup of salvation and shall call on the name of the Lord.” In Jer 31 The Lord revealed he will establish a new covenant.
In the New Testament we find in Mt 2:1 the word Bethlehem (where Jesus Christ was born) in Hebrew means the “house of bread.” In Mt 14:19 “Taking the five loaves and the two fish he looked up to heaven, and blessed, and broke and gave the loaves to the disciples.” Mt 26:18 “For this my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for forgiveness of sins.” Lk 24:30-35 At Emmaus, “At table he took bread, said the blessing, broke it and gave it to them.” Jn 2:1-12 Cana wedding where Jesus turned water into wine. Jn 6:11 Miracle of the loaves of bread. Acts 20:7 “…when we were gathered to break bread and eaten.” Acts 27:35 “He took bread and giving thanks to God in the presence of all (276) people he broke it and began to eat.” Heb 2:14 “The children share in blood and flesh.” Heb 9:12 “He entered once for all into the sanctuary, not with the blood of goats and calves but with his own blood, thus obtaining eternal redemption.” Heb 9:20 This is the blood of the covenant which God commanded you. Heb 12:24 “Jesus the mediator of the new covenant.” Rev 19:9 “…marriage supper of the lamb.”
Scripture is one big story of the Trinity, and Jesus Christ in particular. The following are the sequence of events leading to the Eucharistic Lord’s Supper and beyond. Always keep in mind John 1:37 “Nothing will be impossible with God.” Here goes ….
The scene opens in Jn 6:27,
“Do not work for the food that perishes, but for the food that endures to eternal life, which the Son of man can give you. For on him (Jesus) has God the Father set his seal.” This “seal” is God the Father’s stamp of approval in all of the teachings of Jesus Christ. In other words, God the Father in unity with Jesus Christ (who is also God) is one in the literal discourse on the Eucharist, the Bread of Life. In 1 Cor 1:3-9 “God is faithful, and by him you were called to fellowship (at Mass and Eucharist} with his Son, Jesus Christ our Lord.”
“I am” --- note these words “I am” as found in Exodus 3:14 when God said to Moses, “I am who I am” or “I am God.” Same thing in John 6 when Jesus Christ said, “I am” emphatically 4 times.
Repetition/Emphasis It is only in the Bread of Life discourse (Jn 6:35-69, Mt 26:26-28 and 1 Cor 10:16 and 1 Cor 11:23-29) that Jesus’ use of repetition/emphasis truly intensifies and clarifies his literal pronouncements which Protestants as well as Protestant apologists overlook.
Jesus Christ (who is God) in unity with the Father said, “I am” 4 times for emphasis:
“I am the bread of life.” Jn 6:35
“I am the bread of which came down from heaven.” Jn 6:41
“I am the bread of life.” Jn 6:48
“I am the living bread…if anyone eats this bread, he will live forever, and the bread which I shall give for the world my flesh.” Jn 6:51
“For the bread of God is that which comes down from heaven, and gives life to the world.” Jn 6:33
“I myself am the living bread come down from heaven. If anyone eats this bread he shall live forever, the bread I will give is my flesh, for the life of the world. Let me solemnly assure you (warning) if you do not eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you have no life in you. He who feeds on my flesh and drinks my blood has life eternal and I will raise him up on the last day. For my flesh is real food and my blood real drink. The man who feeds on my flesh and drinks my blood remains in me, and I in him. Just as the Father who has life in me and I have life because of the Father, so the man who feeds on me will have life because of me. Unlike your ancestors who ate (manna) and died nonetheless, the man who feeds on this bread shall live forever.” Jn 6:51-58
Mr. Gendron, how can Jesus’ (who is God) flesh and blood give eternal life, and raise man up on the last day if it is only a wafer?
This hard saying prompted many disciples to leave because they now realize Jesus spoke literally. Jesus could have easily told those disciples he only meant symbolic, a sign or a metaphor. But he adamantly stood his ground and restated, “Truly, truly (emphasis again) 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. “ He asked the twelve (apostles), “Will you also go away?” Peter answered him, “You have the words of eternal life…you are the holy one of God.” Jn 6:68-69. St Peter’s faith in Jesus made him believe Jesus spoke literally, and is the holy one of God. This event will take place only in God’s time.
At the Transfiguration scene, God the Father, who knew the timing and the importance of the impending events leading to the Lord’s Supper and beyond, said, “This is my beloved Son whom I am well pleased, LISTEN TO HIM.” Lk 9:35
Catholics, by faith and belief, “LISTEN TO HIM” and it all came to fruition at the Lord’s Supper. Saints John, Matthew, Mark (and the other disciples who were closest to the actual event taking place) “LISTENed TO HIM” and wrote Jesus Christ’s (who is God) literal pronouncement. “Now as they were eating, Jesus (who is God) took bread, and blessed, and broke it, and gave it to the disciples and said, ‘Take, eat, this is my body. And he took a cup, and when he had given thanks he gave it to them, saying drink of it, all of you, for this is my blood of the new covenant which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins.” Mt 26:26-28. Mk 14:22-24 He gave his apostles to “Do this in remembrance of me.”
Also, Mr. Gendron, how can a wafer cause the “forgiveness of sins?”
How Jesus Christ (who is God) is present in this Eucharistic meal is a mystery known only to the Trinity. Besides, “Nothing will be impossible with God.” Lk 1:37
When Catholics receive the Eucharist they receive not only Jesus but also the God the Father and the Holy Spirit (Trinity) as in Jn 14:23 “Whoever loves me will keep my word, and my Father will love him, and we will come to him (the communicant) and make our dwelling with him.”
Saint Paul also “LISTENed TO HIM” as he was personally taught by Jesus Christ (who is God) the literal meaning of the Eucharist because his mission was to be the Apostle to the Gentiles. In 1 Cor 10: 16 he wrote, “The cup of blessing which we bless, is it not a PARTICIPATION in the blood of Christ? The bread which we break, is it not a PARTICIPATION in the body of Christ?” Participation means a real sharing, a communion. He further wrote, “For I received from the Lord (Jesus who is God) what I also delivered to you, that the Lord Jesus (who is God) in the night when he was betrayed took bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it, and said, ‘This is my body which is for you. Do this in remembrance of me.’ In the same way also the cup, after supper saying, ‘This cup is the new covenant in my blood. Do this as often as you drink it in remembrance of me, for as often as you eat this bread and drink the cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until he comes.”
NOW THE WARNING --- “Whoever, therefore, eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord (who is God) in a unworthy manner will be guilty of profaning the body and blood of the Lord (who is God). Let a man examine himself, and so eats and drinks damnation upon himself.” 1 Cor 11:23-29
Again, how can a wafer inflict “damnation upon himself?” 1 Cor 11:23;29
Mr. Gendron. the burden of proof is on you. Prove Jesus Christ (who is God) and St Paul wrong in 1Cor 11:23-29. To find out if this “damnation” is for real, as an ex-Catholic you will have to attend Mass at a Catholic church. You had been there before, done that, when time for Communion, stand in line (no one will notice you) and follow along to the front of a priest who will hand you the Host. I posed this challenge to ex-Catholics Joe Mizzi, Dan Corner, Richard Bennett, etc. NO ONE ACCEPTED which meant this “damnation” is some kind of a “curse” that must be avoided.
Repetition/Emphasis Again in John 6;35-39, Mt 26:26-28, Mk 14:22-24 as well as in 1 Cor 11;23-29 for repetition/emphasis the following words were repeated/emphasized: I am 6 times, bread 18, flesh 5, blood 7, feed 4, eat 17, drink 11, body 3, covenant 4, 12 times Jesus said he was the bread that came down from heaven. 4 times he said they would have to “eat my flesh and drink my blood.” John 6 is all emphasis/repetition literally. It’s only through the eyes of faith and belief Catholics can distinguish Jesus at his word. The 4 evangelists acknowledged the literal statements of Jesus.
Mr. Gendron, you have a great responsibility to your congregation. With due respect to you, if your take on the Eucharist is correct, you have nothing to lose. However, if you are wrong, you and those you may have led astray will be accountable on Judgment Day.
For the first 1500 years of Christianity, no one ever doubted or contradicted the literal meaning of the Eucharist until the Protestant Reformation. Of course Protestants got this symbolic/metaphoric notion from Luther or Calvin or Zwingli who had their disagreements which filtered down to the generations, which led to the mathematical theory of Multiplication by Division to the tune of 30,000 (and counting) denominations.
But when all is said and done, only the Orthodox and the Catholic Church have the valid and legitimate claim on the literal meaning of the Eucharist through the sacred priesthood Tradition/Apostolic Succession/teaching.
Protestants say that it is the Eucharist that made them convert to Catholicism. This is one of the main reasons sincere but sincerely misled Protestants cross the Tiber. The You Tube (Journey Home and EWTN) is full of conversion stories of theologians, clergy and laity. Catholicism was never on their radar screen. They set out on an intense study to prove Catholicism a false religion only to end up Catholic. Did they know something you don’t? Previously, they had accepted Jesus as their personal Lord and Savior. Now they have accepted Jesus their Savior by personally receiving him in the Eucharist. The most prominent of all, John Henry Newman. who wrote, “To be deep in history is to cease to be a Protestant.”
The testimonies of the early Catholic Church Fathers also LISTENED, and some of them personally knew and were taught by the apostles, wrote/preached the literal teaching of the Bread of Life, viz, St Athanasius, Tertullian, St Cyprian, St Clement, Origen, St Iraneaus, St Ephraim, St Basil, St Gregory, St. Epiphanius, St Ambrose, the Didache, etc.
The apostle St John taught St Ignatius (c. 35, 50 – 107 AD) who wrote, – “They abstain from the Eucharist and from prayer, because they do not confess that the Eucharist is the Flesh of our Savior Jesus Christ.” Ignatius of Antioch Letter to the Smyrnaeans", paragraph 6.
St Justin Martyr (c. 185-254)– “We call this food Eucharist, and no one else is permitted to partake of it, except one who believes our teaching to be true and who has been washed in the washing which is for the remission of sins and for regeneration as Christ has enjoined.”Ignatius of Antioch, First Apology 66.
ST. Irenaeus of Lyons (c. 140-202 AD) - When, therefore, the mixed cup and the baked bread receives the Word of God and becomes the Eucharist, the Body of Christ, and from these the substance of our flesh is increased and supported, how can they say that the flesh is not capable of receiving the gift of God, which is eternal life – flesh which is nourished by the Body and Blood of the Lord…receiving the Word of God, becomes the Eucharist, which is the Body and Blood of Christ…(Against Heresies 5:2:2-3).
St. Cyprian of Carthage (c. 200-258 AD) - He Himself warns us, saying, “Unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you shall not have life in you.” Therefore do we ask that our Bread, which is Christ, be given to us daily, so that we who abide and live in Christ may not withdraw from His sanctification and from His Body (The Lord’s Prayer 18).
Like God’s presence in the Holy of Holies, Jesus’ presence in the Eucharist in every Tabernacle of every Catholic church worldwide 24/7 fulfills his promise, “I am with you always, yes, to the end of time.” Mt 28:20
Mr. Gendron, how can one overlook the overwhelming scriptural evidence? Calvin, Luther, Zwingli, etc., who were 15 centuries removed, or today’s Baptists, Evangelicals, Fundamentalists, non-denominational mega church ministers, TV televangelists, and the local storefront church elders/pastors and all those 30,000 (and counting) sects would have you believe otherwise!
This is what I believe, and if I have to die like those martyrs of the past defending the Eucharist, so be it.
In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit,
2016, The Eucharist – Bread of Life...by Fernando Matro
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