Sacraments & Sacramentals

A friend and fellow pilgrim got in a row with a friend on Facebook and asked for my help. You might enjoy the question and the answer.

St. Ignatius of Antioch eaten by lions in 106 AD

My friend wrote: “I have a quick apologetic question.  A Protestant Facebook page was denying the Eucharist and I pasted St Ignatius’ quote about the Eucharist, “Let us stand aloof from such heretics. They abstain from the Eucharist and from prayer, because they confess not the Eucharist to be the flesh of our Savior Jesus Christ, which suffered for our sins, and which the Father, of His goodness, raised up again.” (Ignatius of Antioch, The Epistle of Ignatius to the Smyrnæans).   (Picture to right: Ignatius of Antioch eaten my lions in 106 AD).

The antagonist guy responded with this:

“Mike, I have a homework assignment for you.  I want you to find out who “those who hold heterodox opinions” are.  I want you to find out what they believe.  I want you to read this letter from beginning to end and look for the context of what you posted.  Can you confirm in the affirmative that Ignatius had Aristotelian concepts in mind when writing his letter?”

“Any idea what he is referring to and how to respond? If you don’t have time to respond, I understand.”

Mike is a friend so of course I had time to respond:

5283570-3x2-700x467“I am not sure what he is referring to other than that in the 1200’s Aquinas defined Transubstantiation in terms of Aristotelian philosophy of substance and accidents. It is a trick question to get you to admit that St. Ignatius did not know about transubstantiation in Aristotelian terms and therefore did not believe in transubstantiation. 

The truth is — doctrine develops over time. For example Ignatius would not have described the two natures of Christ in terms of the hypostatic union nor the Trinity in the sophisticated words of “generation,” “proceeds” and “spiration” that were later used to more carefully and philosophically define what orthodox Christians had always believed but were later developed further to combat the heretics. 

nt2Even the canon of the New Testament took 400 years to develop and close; neither St. Paul nor Ignatius could have rattle off the 27 books of the NT since that also took time to develop into the canon used by your Protestant interlocutor, though he doesn’t realize that. By trying to trick you he steps in his own trap.

Ignatius believed in the real presence of Christ in the Eucharist, the two natures of Christ, the Trinity, etc. though he would not have used the sophisticated words later developed to define these things more precisely and deeply.

The little sapling doesn’t look like the big oak tree but they are organically the same thing.  The baby pictures of your challenger may not look like him as a full-grown man but he’s developed over time and is still the same organic person. Theology also develops and takes on new words and explanations but is only a further development of what was already believed by the early Christians. 

Hope that helps. I feel sorry for the deluded Protestants who are so “wise” in their disputations. I used to be one of them and thank God those days are in the past.”

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Leonard Alt debates an anti-Catholic named Phil. He writes:

I have a choice: I can listen to the Evangelicals who confuse the blood of animals, with the blood of Christ and choose not to eat the Flesh and drink the Blood of Christ, or, I can listen to Jesus who said; “Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him on the last day” (Jn 6:54). Who will you listen too?

Phil Wipperman in the Facebook group “The Catholic Church is NOT a Christian Church” says, “Leonard Alt claims that Jesus Christ endorsed sin by COMMANDING people to drink blood even though he has given CLEAR COMMANDMENTS in the Old Testament FORBIDDING the wicked behavior of the heathens. Why is this not shocking?”

Phil Wipperman cites the Old Testament, out of context, not mentioning that the blood they didn’t drink was the blood of animals.  However, the drinking of blood of animals is a moot point because no one is recommending drinking the blood of animals in the New Testament.

Jesus commands us in the New Testament to drink of His blood and there is no prohibition against this.  In fact, it was Jesus who said, “For my flesh is true food, and my blood is true drink” (Jn 6:55).  At the same time Phil Wipperman says; “Why is this not shocking?”  

Phil is actually correct; it was shocking.  In fact, Jesus asked the same of those who were having difficulty believing Him; “Does this shock you?” (Jn 6:51).   It was shocking because this is the only place in all of the Gospels where many of Jesus very own disciples “returned to their former way of life” (Jn 6:66).   Of course, as shocking as it was, His twelve Apostles did not leave Him.  Peter said, “Master, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life” (Jn 6:68). 

When Jesus said “For my flesh is true food, and my blood is true drink” (Jn 6:55), it was very difficult for some of His disciples to believe; and it is difficult for some of us to believe today.

When Phil and other Evangelicals oppose drinking blood, they are confusing the prohibition against drinking the blood of animals in the Deuteronomy 12:27, with drinking the blood of Christ, which was commanded by Jesus.  It was Jesus who said, “I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you do not have life within you” (Jn 6:53).

Many claim that the drinking of the Blood of Christ is not Biblical, even Pagan; however, that is not the way Jesus saw it.

  • IT WAS JESUS WHO SAID,Drink from it all of you, for this is my Blood, of the covenant, which will be shed on behalf of many for the forgiveness of sins” (Mt 26:28)
  • IT WAS JESUS WHO SAID, after drinking from it, “this is my blood, of the covenant, which will be shed for many (Mk 14:24).
  • IT WAS JESUS WHO SAID, “I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you do not have life within you” (Jn 6:53). 
  • IT WAS JESUS WHO SAID,“Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him on the last day” (Jn 6:54).
  • IT WAS JESUS WHO SAID, “For my flesh is true food, and my blood is true drink” (Jn 6:55). 

The Catholic Church follows Biblical tradition by echoing the words of Jesus “For my flesh is true food, and my blood is true drink.”  However, this begs the question; is it possible for Phil and other Evangelicals to be following a Biblical tradition and at the same time not accept these words of Jesus?   Yes, they have a Biblical tradition as well; they are following the tradition of the disciples who could not accept the words of Jesus.

These disciples were quoted as saying; “This saying is hard; who can accept it” (Jn 6:60).   These same disciples left Jesus and “returned to their former way of life” (Jn 6:66).   There is one difference between the disciples who left Jesus and todays Evangelicals.  The Evangelicals of today still claim to be followers of Jesus; however, they are not following Jesus when He says, “For my flesh is true food, and my blood is true drink” (Jn 6:55).  

In fairness, it should be also said that there are many non-Catholics today, who while not having exactly the same understanding of Communion as Catholics, still believe in a real presence of Jesus in or around the elements of bread and wine during their liturgies.   Martin Luther and John Calvin believed in a real presence; Ulrich Zwingli did not.  Most Evangelicals today are coming from the Zwinglian tradition.

I can listen to the Evangelicals who confuse the blood of animals, with the blood of Christ and choose not to eat the Flesh and drink the Blood of Christ.  Or, I can listen to Jesus who said; “Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him on the last day” (Jn 6:54).   Who will you listen too?

FRANCIS CHOUDHURY COMMENTARY:  Any Christian who believes that God’s OT prohibition on eating blood still stands (after Christ), needs to explain why he/she eats normal meat (with blood in it), instead of eating only Kosher/Halal meat (drained of blood), as Jews and Muslims, who are stuck in the OT and do not accept Christ’s teachings, do.

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Cross vs. Crucifix

by Steve Ray on January 6, 2017

(From a letter Steve wrote to a Evangelical Protestant who asked about the Catholic Crucifix)

Dear Evangelical Friend:

Simple_crossYou display a bare cross in your home; we display the cross and the crucifix with the corpus of Christ on it. What is the difference and why? The cross is an upright post with a crossbeam in the shape of a “T”. A crucifix is the same, but it has Christ’s body (corpus) attached to the cross.

As an Evangelical Protestant I rejected the crucifix, as you do—Christ was no longer on the cross; he had ascended into heaven. So why do I now tremble in love and awe at the site of a crucifix? I remember someone telling me that “We worship the RISEN Christ; you worship a Christ still on the cross. Jesus is NO LONGER on the cross.” It happened to be Christmas and the antagonist had a nativity scene set up on their dining room table. As I looked at their little baby Jesus Let’s examine the history and issues surrounding the two.

crucifixion-top-viewI will provide a brief overview of the Cross and the Crucifix, the origin, the history, and the differing perspectives of Catholic and Protestant. It will try to catch the historical flow and include the pertinent points. The outline is as follows:

1. The Three Main Protestant Objections to the Crucifix
2. Images and Gods in the Old Testament
3. Images and Images of Christ in the New Testament
4. The Cross in the First Centuries
5. The Crucifix Enters the Picture
6. The “Reformation” and Iconoclasm
7. Modern Anti-Catholics and the Crucifix
8. Ecumenical Considerations

To read the whole article, click here.

To read Steve’s other articles, click here.

For Steve’s talk “The Pain of the Crucifixion,“ click here.

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The Eucharist and the Fathers of the Church: Article by Steve Ray

January 2, 2017

The Eucharist and the Fathers of the Church, by Steve Ray The word “Eucharist” was used early in the Church to describe the Body and Blood of Christ under the forms of bread and wine. Eucharist comes from the Greek word for “thanks” (eucharistia), describing Christ’s actions: “And when he had given thanks, he broke […]

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Rome in the Eye of a Storm

December 13, 2016

Catholic Journalist and writer for National Catholic Register summarized the situation in Rome as the Pope refuses to respond to a growing number of voices requesting an explanation of his document Amoris Laetitia. I found it worth reading, along with the two below. Msgr. Charles Pope has written  the clearest and simplest explanation I’ve read to […]

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Petition to the Holy Father for Clarification. I Signed Today with over 800,000 other Catholics

December 4, 2016

I received and signed this petition today… On the eve of the Ordinary Synod on the Family held in Rome in October 2015, we delivered to the Holy See a “Filial Petition to His Holiness on the Future of the Family” signed by 879,451 persons, including eight cardinals and 203 archbishops and bishops, asking for […]

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1st Baptismal Font and Pulpit in Americas, Eating Ant Eggs in a Cave, Climbing Pyramids to Moon & Sun and more

December 3, 2016

An amazing day in Mexico. We renewed our baptisms in the first baptismal font ever in the Americas. We also saw the first pulpit where the gospel was first preached in the Western Hemisphere. We ate in the belly of a cave and part of our dinner was ant eggs and larva. Then we climbed […]

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Confrontation: Cardinal Burke on Amoris Laetitia Dubia: ‘Tremendous Division’ Warrants Action

November 16, 2016

Posted by Edward Pentin on Tuesday Nov 15th, 2016 at 11:25 AM In an exclusive Register interview, he elaborates about why four cardinals were impelled to seek clarity about the papal exhortation’s controversial elements. Article main image Four cardinals asked Pope Francis five dubia questions, or “doubts,” about the apostolic exhortation Amoris Laetitia (The Joy […]

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What Does “Water and Spirit” Mean?

September 26, 2016

Since we are at the VERY place where Jesus was baptized in water and the Spirit came down, I thought I would share this post again. A while ago a Protestant friend tried to prove that Born Again by “water and Spirit” did not mean baptism. Here is one paragraph that he sent me: In John, chapter […]

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Do the Fathers Claim the Eucharist is a Symbol and Not the Real Presence?

September 8, 2016

A man sent a challenge that the Fathers of the Church claim the Eucharist is a symbol and therefore NOT the Real Presence of Christ. Is that true? My friend Gary Michuta answers the question. Thanks for including me in on this conversation. Brian, there are three issues that commonly trip up non-Catholics when they read […]

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What’s the Deal with Infant Baptism?

August 16, 2016

What’s the Deal with Infant Baptism? by Steve Ray My past tradition — Fundamentalist Baptist — rejected Infant Baptism. In fact, the Baptist tradition originated during the “Reformation” when they broke from Rome (and Luther) and promoted “ana-baptism” which means — baptized again. The infant baptism taught by the Catholic Church was utterly rejected and they “re-baptized” […]

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Eucharistic Miracles Website

August 15, 2016

Interesting site with articles on the Eucharist and the Real Presence, a catalog of Eucharistic miracles and more. It is a wealth of information — especially as we approach Corpus Christi Sunday. I knew nothing of this as a Protestant and find it absolutely intriguing now. I am so glad to be a Catholic and […]

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Can Relics and Sacramentals Relay the Power of God?

June 28, 2016

Some might claim that Catholic teaching on relics and Sacramentals is unbiblical. Really? Check out these biblical passages: “So extraordinary were the mighty deeds God accomplished at the hands of Paul that when face CLOTHS or aprons that touched his skin were applied to the sick, their diseases left them and the evil spirits came […]

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Canon Law and the Pope’s Unfortunate Words on Cohabitation and Non-sacramental Marriages

June 19, 2016

There are so many issues to write about; I would have wished that this would not be one of them, but… Canon Lawyer Dr. Ed Peters brings clarity to the confusion caused by the Pope’s recent words.  If you’re concerned about marriage, the problems in the Church in that regard, the Pope’s recent words about […]

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UPDATED 6/18/16: Pope: “the great majority of our sacramental marriages are null” -Ed Peters Responds

June 17, 2016

Updates: Dr. Peters’ follow-up to article below: The Missing Middle Term on the Pope’s Off the Cuff Comments on Marriage John Allen of Crux responds to Dr. Peters and defends the Pope: Lets Not Get Bent Out of Shape by Changes to Papal Transcripts Canon Lawyer Ed Peters fires back to John Allen’s comments and criticism: A […]

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The Kiss of Mercy

June 14, 2016

My daughter-in-law Anna is very insightful about spiritual things, and in raising our grandkids. Couldn’t ask for a better daughter (in-law, though we consider her our daughter by now :-) She put this up on her FaceBook page and I was compelled to share it. Janet and I read this with tears in our eyes […]

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