Ecclesiasticus 4:28

"Fight to the death for truth, and the Lord God will war on your side."

Ora pro nobis,

Most Blessed Virgin Mary, St. Francis de Sales, St. Thomas Aquinas, and St. Dominic. Amen.

Thursday, July 27, 2006

A Defense of the Eucharist

The Eucharist and Baptism are couched in the Word, and not a means of grace if separated from the Word. Christ Himself (the Word) instituted the Holy Supper on the eve of the Passover (cf. Luke 22:1, 7). The significance of the Passover cannot be dismissed here: by instituting the Holy Supper on the eve of the Passover, Christ tied the Old Testament in with the New. Hence the words Christ spoke, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood” (Luke 22:20). What Christ spoke then lives on to eternity, and any hermeneutic that separates Christ’s words from his intended declaration are ipso facto heretical. To wit, the Eucharist is not simply a nice memory, but a hypostatic union with the very real presence of Christ in both Word, and substance. It is thereby a means of grace, because in the taking of the Eucharist, one takes in the very Word of God Himself: “This is my body… This is my blood” (cf. Matt. 26:26, 28; Luke 22:19, 20).

The Calvinist and Zwinglian interpretation of the Eucharist fly in the face of the above description of the Holy Supper. They hold the view that Communion is only a memorial for Christ. Several problems present themselves here. First, Christians don’t function only on a reflective level. They live in the reality of Christ’s salvation who overcame the flesh, the world, death, and the devil, and in doing so was nailed to a cross only to rise again three days later. What memorial needs to be held here? Christ is alive! We are not at a graveside recounting the wonderful things He did. We are living just as surely as Christ is living, and as such are participating in His life. Hence the memorial aspect of Communion forsakes the living reality of Christ. “Let the dead bury their own dead” (Matt. 8:22).

Second, Christ first said, “This is my body,” then he said, “do this in remembrance of me.” Is there any rational reason why one would accept only half of what Christ says, if they are truly Christian?

Third, we believe in the physical incarnation of Christ, the physical means by which He died, and the literal, physical resurrection; yet, by some strange twist of logic, we are willing not to believe that Christ really meant that the Holy Supper is what He declared it to be ~ His body, and His blood. One is either willing to take all of what Christ said as the truth, or one may as well disbelieve all of it. For to accept His words as only half-true is to reject the whole truth. And if it still seems a fiction that Christ literally meant His body, and His blood, then perhaps a remark from G.K. Chesterton would be appropriate here: “Truth, of course, must of necessity be stranger than fiction, for we have made fiction to suit ourselves.”[1]

Christopher J. Freeman
[1] Chesterton, G.K. “Heretics” Nashville: Thomas Nelson Publishers, U.S.A., 2000, p. 28.

(Category: Catholic Distinctives: Sacraments--The Eucharist)

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