Blog Migration

I have begun the process of migrating this blog to my more established one.  That blog is theologystillmatters.com, and was a blog I started as a Protestant.  All the old posts remain, and obviously more Catholic content will be added.  Please follow me at theologystillmatters.com as no new posts will be made here.  God bless!

The “Flesh” and the “Blood” – Transubstantiation

The Eucharist is the source and summit of our faith.

Da Pacem Domine

the-eucharist

They abstain from the Eucharist and from prayer, because they confess not the Eucharist to be the flesh of our Saviour Jesus Christ, which suffered for our sins, and which the Father, of His goodness, raised up again.

– St. Ignatius of Antioch, The Epistle to the Smyrnaeans 7

A central doctrine the Catholic Church, and of central disagreement with many Protestants, is the doctrine of the Eucharist. Protestants tend to believe that the bread and wine are merely a symbolic representation of the body and blood of Jesus, while those of in Catholicism and Eastern Orthodoxy view it as actually being his body and blood, though some Protestants accept that Jesus is “present.”

A major basis for our doctrine of transubstantiation is taken from the words of Jesus in John 6 when he speaks of himself being “the bread of life.” Especially when we read verse 55 when he says “For my flesh…

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Which Popes Were Martyred?

I recently came across a question that asked if any Popes were martyred. This is a great list.

Catholic

Originally posted 12/8/2009.

Reliable evidence indicates that the following popes were martyred.


1. Pope St. Peter the Apostle of Rome (33-64)
Pope St. Peter, the Prince of the Apostles, was crucified upside-down in Rome (Kirsch).
2. Pope St. Anacletus of Rome (76-4/26/88)
“We know he died a martyr” (Campbell).
3. Pope St. Clement I of Rome (88-11/23/97)
Rufinus in 400 is the first to mention the martyrdom of Pope St. Clement I (Chapman). In 417 Pope St. Zosimus [Letter 2] said St. Clement gave his life to testify to the faith he learned from St. Peter (ibid.). Predestinatus called him a martyr in 430, as did the 442 Synod of Vaison (ibid.). That he died in exile is supported by the absence of a tradition that he was interred in Rome (ibid.). St. Constantine-Cyril, Apostle to the…

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I’m Home

The Catholic Liturgy entails many things.  We gather together to ask the Lord’s blessing, and to remember what He has done for us.  We listen to sacred scripture and see how the Old and New Testaments are connected.  We gather as one family united in our faith in the Lord, but most importantly we gather to celebrate the death, burial, and resurrection of Christ and His presence in the Eucharist.
I have not always been Catholic.  In fact I was raised as a Protestant.  In my religious past I was raised as a Wesleyan, trained as a Baptist, and ordained as a Lutheran.  I am ashamed to say that when I first came into the church I came for the wrong reasons and did not believe everything the church taught, especially regarding the Eucharist.  I came back to the Church earlier this year after researching the church fathers, councils, and catechism.    So the liturgy has a special place for me since I took it for granted for so long.
It used to be when the Gloria and penitential rites were recited I would say them just to say them.  I would often look at the ground because I could not wait for, what I thought was a mindless prayer, to be over.  Since I have come back I see some people tearing up when these things happen.  I find myself doing that as well because it is deeply personal.  I am sorry and I am truly asking my fellow believers for their forgiveness in not believing.  Most that I sit next to know my story and always encourage me.  They say that Christ has forgiven me.  It truly feels like I am home.
Since I have been back I see Christ leading the mass thru the priest.  This is especially evident to me during the consecration of the bread and wine.  The priest says the very words of Christ up on the altar.  I had a priest tell me that when he was ordained he gave his body and life to Christ so Christ can work and speak thru him.  I also see this in sacred scripture, especially in regards to John chapter 6.  Marcus Grodi states “In fact, all of chapter six directly addresses why so many have concluded they must be Catholic, for one of the primary themes of this powerful chapter is winnowing:  thinning down the crowd to those who truly believe (Grodi, page 87).”  Everything came real a couple weeks after I came back to the church.  I was about to receive the body of Christ and I uttered the words “My Lord and my God” involuntarily.  It was as if my soul burst out in worship.  I was one of the ones in John six that left, but now I was home and had no doubts.
In the Liturgy of the Word I see Christ being systematically revealed through all of salvation history.  The church has put in a lot of hard work to show us this.  The church, in the liturgy, shows us the passages that help explain each other.  A reading in the Old Testament may seem obscure, but when paired with its New Testament counterpart it makes sense.  We see Christ at work here, not only through the magisterium of the church, but through history.  Though I read the Bible very often when I was involved in other traditions there was something different about doing it in the Catholic Church.  As a global family we are reading the same thing no matter where we are in the world.  A parish member in Ethiopia will be hearing the same thing as I am in Tucson, Arizona.  In addition to this the scriptures elaborate on each other.  In the Protestant traditions I was a part of we may read three or for verses from a particular book, and the Pastor would tell us what it means.  This is not all bad, but things could easily be taken out of context.  The Church has a New Testament passage fulfilling and elaborating on an Old Testament passage.  Not only is it explained more thoroughly, but the proper context is maintained.
Lastly the offering of peace has had a lasting impression on me since my return to the Church.  In a Fundamentalist environment if we disagree I am obligated to cut off all communication with you.  I witnessed this first hand where I was basically ordered to cut ties with a childhood friend because of a doctrinal difference.
We have it a little better in the Church.  There is little doubt in my mind that I have disagreements with my brothers and sisters sitting next to me.  They may think I am the most moronic person in the world, but we offer each other the greeting of peace regardless.  No matter our faults or differences we shake each other’s hands.  In symbolism this says that we accept each other just as we are.  We support each other and challenge each other to get better.
As previously stated I am a revert to the Church.  I had to leave to see just how good I had it.  The mass is a glimpse of what it is going to be like in Heaven.  We will constantly be praising God and will be with our church family.  Mass is something my family looks forward to every week whereas before it was something I dreaded.  I partook of the Eucharist is an unworthy manner, and now I can hardly contain myself when it is my turn to partake.  When I am at Mass I am at home.  There is really no other way for me to describe it.  I am fed by sacred scripture, a homily, and the Eucharist.  I am not proud of the path I took to get to the church, but it is one I do not regret either.  My Protestant brothers and sisters taught me how to love Christ and have a relationship with Him, but it is fulfilled here in the church and the Mass.
Works Cited
Grodi, Marcus.  Thoughts On The Journey Home.  2010, CH Resources

The Church, from the very Beginning…was Catholic!

The Pint, The Pipe and The Cross

They devoted themselves to the teaching of the apostles and to the communal life, to the breaking of the bread and to the prayers. ~ Acts 2:42

Many “Bible Alone” Christians will say that the Church of the Bible looks nothing like the Catholic Church. If that were true, then we would expect to find evidence of the first few hundred years of Christianity to support this claim. However, what we do find is evidence to show that the Early Church was indeed Catholic in every way! Many Protestants claim that the Church of the first three centuries was a “pure” Church and base that on a modern reading of Acts 2:42, ignoring that writings of the earliest Christians. They will also claim that it was only after the legalization of Christianity by Roman Emperor Constantine (313 AD) did the Church become “Catholic” and corrupt. However, the doctrines of Post-Constantine Catholicism are…

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Why 27 Books of the New Testament?

There are many things that may come to an individual’s mind when it comes to sacred scripture.  Some may ask why there are so many translations.  Some may wonder if the Bible as we know it fell from the sky at Pentecost.  However many have questions on how we have the books we have.  For sure it was long and arduous process, but it was one guided by the Holy Spirit and the church.
One rule that was used to determine inclusion of the twenty seven books was linkage to an Apostle, or apostolic origin.  In the first three centuries after the church started there were many books bearing the name of various Apostles.  As an example there was the Gospel of Thomas, Luke, Peter, and the proto gospel of James.  In addition to these there were several hundred Acts and Apocalypses.  Some of these writings were spurious and contradicted the Gospel being preached by the church.
Apostolic origin does not mean that it has to be written by an apostle, but that an Apostle “stands behind writing in such a way that the essential teaching is preserved within it (Nichols, page 104).”  This would explain why the Gospel of Luke was included in the canon.  Great care was made to ensure that writings had apostolic backing, and if they did not they were denied canonical status.
Another rule that was used in determining if a book was worthy of the canon was its conformity to the faith of the church.  Would a collection of Holy writings from any religion be deemed authoritative if they contradicted each other?  The answer to the question is obvious.  The church used great care in determining that the twenty seven books in the canon were in compliance with what the church taught.
The church was able to do this by utilizing the oral tradition that was handed down from the Apostles.  As a Nichols documents “around 190 a bishop in Antioch stopped people from using the Gospel of Peter on the grounds that its author did not regard the human body of Jesus as real (Nichols, page 104).”  The church teaches that Christ was a real person, divine, and bled on the cross.  This writing taught that Christ was a spirit that entered into a man that was being crucified.  There were many writings like this floating around, and since they did not pass the test of orthodoxy they were not included in the canon.
Thirdly the writing had to be valued by the church that was respected for its own Apostolic origin (Nichols, page 104).  Perfect examples of this are the Epistles of Saint Paul.  There is little doubt that these writings are his for he states at the end of letters that he wrote them with his own hand.  Also he wrote them to churches that he started and they knew him very well.  These churches preserved these letters and read them in their liturgies.
Using these three criteria, the fathers of the church started to develop the New Testament.  The letters of Paul were among the first to be recognized in 90 ad and were being assembled in small collections.  The four Gospels were decided on around the year 200.  There were various canons proposed, but the Pauline letters and the four gospels seemed to have staying power.  Other books such as Revelation and Hebrews were battled over.  Some areas of the church accepted them and others did not.  There were also books with no apostolic link that were considered such as the Shepherd of Hermas and Clements letter to the Corinthians.  However they did not meet the criteria previously discussed and were denied canonical status. Through many debates and hefty quarrels we know that the canon was final by the end of the fourth century (Nichols, Page 105).
References
Nichols, Aiden. The Shape of Catholic Theology: An Introduction to Its Sources, Principles, and History. Collegeville, MN: Liturgical Press.

St. Paul and the Eucharist

One of the central themes in all of Christendom is that of unity. Though there are many denominations, Christians everywhere consider themselves to be in the family of God. However, within the Catholic Church we have something that the other ecclesial bodies do not. We have the Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity of Christ present with us in the Eucharist. In the Catholic Church, we are a family, and in that family there are disagreements. However, when we receive the Eucharist, we are submitting to our Lord and we become one with Him and with each other. This unity is important in St. Paul’s first letter to the Corinthians.

During the course of St. Paul’s missionary journeys, he founded the Church in Corinth. The community seemed to have a problem with individuality, but it is not what we think individuality to be. This was not someone expressing their personality, but individuals who were selfish and put themselves before the welfare of the community. Laurance states “Many of the Corinthian Christians believe that all that is important is to know the fact of their salvation, and that this fact liberates them from duties of love to their fellow Christians or even to Christ (Laurence, Page 71). There was an individual who was fornicating with his stepmother (1 Corinthians 5:1). This is bad enough, but the Church did nothing to correct the issue. This vital issue had the potential of ending the young Church. They were taking each other to court instead of working things out internally (1 Corinthians 6:1-6). How does this look to the unbelievers around them? They were not setting themselves about and living the example of Christ and their beloved Apostle Paul. There were many other things wrong with the Church, but when it came to the Eucharis, many within the Church strayed from what they believed, and received in an unworthy manner.

Paul begins his lesson by reminding the Corinthians of Christ. Laurance states “Contrary to all worldly wisdom and all expectations, God’s power is manifested in Christ’s humbling of himself and finally acceptance of death (Laurance, page 71).” As previously stated, the Corinthians were worrying about their own desires and seemed to forget about the fundamentals of the Gospel. We are to act like Christ, and they were doing everything but that.

Christ loved us so much that He humbled Himself and died for our sin. Paul was reminding the Corinthians of this and the duty to love others more than yourself. This is important in preparation to receive the Eucharist. In Mass we offer each other a sign of peace and we pray for each other. It is in these prayers and offerings of peace that we humble ourselves and place ourselves at the service of others. Paul was trying to emphasize the importance of this in proper Christian living.

To go along with this, the Corinthians were not coming together properly to celebrate the Eucharist. 1 Corinthians 11:20, 21 says “When you meet in one place, then it is not to eat the Lord’s supper, and one goes hungry while another gets drunk.” Those that were well off in the world were flaunting it in the faces of those that had nothing. This had the effect of making those less fortunate feel ashamed and it brought disgrace on the Church (1 Corinthians 11:22). Paul, as a disappointed father, tells them he is ashamed. Laurence states in plainly “To celebrate it (Eucharist) in a context of selfishness and division is to violate its very nature, to reject Christ who at the Last Supper and in his death shared himself completely. Such a violation results in condemnation rather than blessing (Laurance, page 72).”

One could get the feeling from reading Paul’s letter that the community was in peril. Someone was concerned enough to leak this information to Paul, and he swiftly wrote this epistle condemning their behavior. Paul does this is a way that a father corrects a child. He does it with love and he is trying to teach them by example.

Paul is telling the Corinthians, and us, that the Eucharistic meal is one which is firmly rooted in family. In 1 Corinthians 11:26 Paul writes “For as often as you eat this bread and drink the cup, you proclaim the death of the Lord until He comes.” After performing the first Mass at the Last Supper, our Lord was betrayed. He was whipped, beaten, and had nails driven through His hands and feet. To take this lightly one may as well be at the scene of the crucifixion with a hammer in hand. We gather to remember that the Lord gave Himself for us and we are to follow His example by giving ourselves to each other. If a member of the Church lost a loved one, then we all did. If a member of the Church is sick, we are to all pray. We are to help each other get to heaven, not step all over each other so we can get there first.

Paul reiterates the point of the Eucharist as a means of bringing the community together in 1 Corinthians 11:33, 34. These verses read “Therefore, my brothers, when you come together to eat, wait for one another. If anyone is hungry, he should eat at home, so your meetings may not result in judgment. The other matters I shall set in order when I come.” Remember that there were certain members of the congregation that were using the Church meeting as their own personal buffet. This passage is not saying that one should not feed someone who is hungry, but is saying that everyone should get a portion of the Body and Blood of Christ in the Eucharist.

The Eucharist is the high point of the Church meeting. We recall how unworthy we are to receive the Blessed Sacrament, and ask God to forgive us of our shortcoming and fill us with His grace. We ask for the prayers of our brothers and sisters in Christ, and they ask the same of us. Paul is trying to tell the Corinthians that we are in this race together, and is beneficial and necessary that we help each other as a family.

Reference

1 Corinthians 11:20, 21 New American Bible

1 Corinthians 11:26 New American Bible

1 Corinthians 11:33, 34 New American Bible

Laurance, John D., S.J., ED. Introduction to Theology. (Revised Second Edition) Boston: Pearson Custom Publishing, 2008.