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Eucharist: miracle or mystery?

March 6, 2010

Recently I have read a series of posts on the Eucharist. Most of them have been concerned with the change of the bread and wine into the body and blood of Christ. In response one commenter wrote,

Sure on some level the creator of the Universe can of course do this or that – but than again why literally create miracles out of something utterly invisible – please oh Lord have mercy with us poor souls and have the Holy Spirit inspire somebody to cry that the emporer is utterly naked. Sure we can spin all kinds of air castles as trappings for our thoughts – in the end for me these are all vehicles to give some formal expression to some deep human desire to be godlike.

In light of such sentiments I think it is important to point out the historical issues involved in the development of the theology of the Eucharist. In his extraordinarily thorough historical account of the of usage of “mystical body of Christ” in his book Corpus Mysticum De Lubac shows that the early Christians never doubted the real presence of Christ in the Eucharist. When Jesus said “My flesh is true food and my blood is true drink” and “This is my body,” he meant it. Thus they took his “real presence” for granted, and in discussions on the Eucharist generally skipped right over the change that occurs in the bread and moved to the Church. As De Lubac shows, “the Eucharist makes the Church.” For the early Fathers, in each local catholic church the whole Christ was present when the community gathered around their bishops for the Eucharist. In a homily Augustine tells his flock of the Eucharist, “be what you see; receive what you are.” It never occurred to him to affirm that what they receive is really Jesus.

However, all this changed when Berengar and others began to doubt the present of Christ in the sacrament. Consequently the Church and theologians, especially in the west, moved the emphasis from the church-forming powers of the Eucharist to the association of the Eucharist with the Body of Christ. Over time this emphasis required explanation and further defense and eventually developed into the concept of transubstantiation. And, according to De Lubac the Eucharist changed from “the mystery to be understood” to “the miracle to be believed.”

Therefore, if we want to take Augustine and other fathers as our lead, in theory, transubstantiation, or its equivalent, need not be discussed in relation to the Eucharist. However, because we have inherited Berengar’s doubt and the Church’s response, a response which cannot be ignored, our catechesis must take this response seriously. However, catechesis on the Eucharist ought not to focus on this response. Our Eucharistic understanding should not be centered around the this miracle, but should address the miracle only in light of the entire mystery. We must recover the Eucharist’s Church-shaping end and incorporate into our Eucharistic theology the cosmic/ecclesiological and missionary aspects of this most central sacrament. The only way to do this properly is to remind ourselves of the liturgical nature of the Eucharist. The Eucharist is not an isolated miracle, but as the “source of summit of the Church’s life,” it encompasses the entire liturgy, forms the Church, makes us present to the eschatalogical Wedding Feast of the Lamb, and calls us to bring this communion and life to the world. Any robust catechetical or ecumenical treatment of the Eucharist should not forget this.

7 Comments
  1. brettsalkeld permalink
    March 6, 2010 10:46 pm

    Amen Josh. One of the difficulties of working in this area is that, as soon as you try to say anything other than “He’s really, really, really there” someone is bound to accuse you of heresy and all of one’s time gets spent pointing out to people what Thomas actually said instead of looking a the broader picture.
    We are very keen to emphasize that Christ is present. We don’t have the time to bother asking “Why?”

  2. March 6, 2010 11:49 pm

    Brett,

    Thanks for reading and commenting. I thoroughly enjoyed your posts and the ensuing discussions. I’m glad you didn’t see my post as a critique of your work, because that is not what I was going for.

    You are of course correct….we don’t have time to ask “why?” And that is very unfortunate. As important as the doctrinal propositions are, we need to take VCII’s lead and let propositional truth statements fall away so that our discussion can get to the heart of the matters.

    Pax

  3. brettsalkeld permalink
    March 7, 2010 12:08 am

    Thanks Josh. I saw it as more of a critique of the kinds of discussions that inevitably happen on this topic. And yes, the obsession with truth in the form of discrete propositions is a big part of the problem. We insist that everyone verbally affirm orthodoxy, but care quite little if they understand how the issue in question relates to the faith as a whole.

  4. March 9, 2010 8:12 pm

    Very interesting. As a Pentecostal who’s sympathetic to the Catholic tradition (an unusual thing to be it seems), I’m very much drawn to the writings of the Fathers on the Eucharist. Unfortunately I feel most Pentecostals are totally unaware of this earlier, holistic view of the Eucharist which upholds its mystery and celebrates Christ’s presence. Instead, they focus on the response of the doctrine of transubstantiation, which, though it follows from the earlier view, forms for them a seemingly impenetrable barrier to understanding.

  5. March 9, 2010 9:56 pm

    Steve,

    Thanks for the thoughtful response. I agree it quite unfortunate so that so few Christians, Catholics included, are aware of the richness and depth of early Church which we can perceive from the writings of the Fathers. Frankly, I think a humble and open-minded return to the sources is vital for fruitful ecumenical progress.

    Thanks again for reading.

  6. March 9, 2010 10:33 pm

    Joshua,

    Yes, absolutely. I’m doing a theology undergrad right now, and one of my classes has about an equal split of Pentecostal/evangelical, Reformed and Catholic students. Reading the Fathers together, we find ourselves in remarkable common admiration. A return to the sources is what spurred so much of the theological revivals of the 20th century, and it’s definitely what we need still today–especially for Pentecostals I must admit, who too often think church history began in 1906. Peace,

    Steve

  7. Truth 1 of 2 permalink
    April 7, 2010 6:50 pm

    Mat 13:34 All these things spake Jesus unto the multitude in parables; and without a

    parable spake he not unto them:

    Mar 4:34 But without a parable spake he not unto them.

    Jesus eXplained to his apostles….. ( IN PRIVATE)…. that the Showing of HIS DEATH &

    memorial / to

    him & was to be REMEMBERED ……at BIBLICAL comunion……

    end of story….

    …All other THROWING IN of catholic type ideas & traditions & teachings are

    NOWHERE at all

    whatsoecer founded in a single passage of a single scripture
    ~~~~~~

    God is a symbolic parable Manifesting, SYMBOLIC God.

    Catholics have perverted Gods word in the most Evil & corruptible maner

    imaginable….SIMPLY

    bec…..they really TRULLY hate the bible….

    This is true….and we will soon see this displayed….as these catholics WILL continue

    on to lie….

    U SEE . Catholics only TAKE Jesus & the bible / SYMBOLICALLY, when it suits their flip

    of the coin….

    …Catholics TODAY take this fact, Concerning, Gods SYMBOLIC NATURE and project their

    perversion

    & their very own deeds upon protestants….

    The things ~ that, they themselves ( CATHOLICS ) are doing themselves…….

    They project & accuse PROTESTANTS of doing / as IF, IT’S ~ somehow THE PROTESTANTS

    DOING

    IT’S somehow The protestants fault that the bible Shows Catholicsim to be a TOTAL &

    COMPLETE

    FRAUD & a complete lie…

    Catholics / …They take A half a verse here….

    SKIP 5 CHAPTERS…Take a line there…SKIP A COUPLE BOOKS….slicing & dicing, Making

    up lies…..

    Catholics , THROW IN A HALF sentence here & ADD NEW unbiblical….lies there,

    COMBINED with pagan man made traditional words….& ../….INVENTIONS

    *SUDDENLY, they have a new FRAUD DOCTRINE, THAT THE ENTIRE BIBLE REJECTS &

    CONDEMNS….

    .WHILE THEY REFUSE TO ADDRESS.,,the ,,,,TOPIC …OR EVEN ACKLOWLEDGE THE REST OF GODS

    WHOLE complete GOSPEL & WORD subjects

    BUT NO Protestants ….. did ……aT anY Time,,, write the biblical….. SYMBOLOGY

    in Eze 39:17

    whERE ……it is there, THAT ……. God is describing the symbolic prophecy of a great

    sacrifice upon the mountains of Israel.

    …A HUGE sacrifice to THOSE who shall be filled at Gods table

    They will literally EAT ! GNAW ,,cHOMP & CHEW & SWALLOW …… literally ,HORSES

    and

    CHARIOTS !

    They will EAT ! …GNAW ..mighty men, and with all men of war of flesh, and to literally

    drink blood.

    They will BE ! …GNAWING……cHOMP CHOMP & CHEW & SWALLOWING …… literally ..

    Eating the

    flesh of the mighty, and drink the blood of the princes of the earth.

    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
    Catholics only TAKE Jesus & the bible / SYMBOLICALLY, when it suits their flip of the

    coin….
    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

    NO Protestants … WROTE the biblical….. SYMBOLOGY in 1st Ch 11:19

    David said,……. SHALL I … DRINK & LITERALLY SWALLOW ..gurgling …. THE BLOOD

    of these men

    that have put their lives in jeopardy……

    ,,,,,…………..Therefore he would not drink it. LITERALLY SWALLOWING THEIR VERY BLOOD

    ! * ! !

    I literally…….DRINK THE BLOOD of these …… men ?

    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
    Catholics only TAKE Jesus & the bible / SYMBOLICALLY, when it suits their flip of the

    coin….
    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

    Protestants … did ……aT anY Time,,,,,,,,,,, write the biblical….. SYMBOLOGY

    in Psa 119:103

    How sweet are thy words unto my taste! yea, sweeter than honey to my mouth!

    LITERAL words will be GNAWED & CHEWED tasting like…… LITERAL

    ;;;;REAL………..HONEY….. ! ! *

    Ooh mY ! ^*)

    NO Protestants …… WROTE the biblical….. SYMBOLOGY

    in………………………..

    Mat 16:28 Verily I say unto you, There be some standing here, which SHALL NOT TASTE OF

    DEATH, till

    they see the Son of man coming in his kingdom.

    tHE LITERAL ! * “}{” TAST of DeaTh

    Protestants . ….. did NOT ….. write the biblical….. SYMBOLOGY in Heb 5:14 –

    Heb 5:14 – DECLARES Strong MEAT belongs to them that are of full age WITH senses exercised

    to

    discern both Good & evil.

    Strong LITERAL gnawed , powerfull hardend & tough chewy difficult

    MEAT….. belongs to

    them that are of full age

    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

    Catholics only TAKE Jesus & the bible / SYMBOLICALLY, when it suits their flip of the

    coin….

    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

    Protestants .. … did ……aT anY Time,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,…. write the

    biblical….. SYMBOLOGY in Revelation 12:14

    ” Revelation 12:14

    the WOMAN ….. lITERALLY …GREW…….. REAL FEATHERS & WINGS UPON her back

    …… The WOMAN

    FLEW To the wilderness .. with litalAL WINGS/// like a BIRD……. squawk

    squawk ! shrieK

    chirP … ! literal wings…. !

    Catholics are TAKING Jesus & the bible / SYMBOLICALLY, when it suits their flip of

    the coin….

    Protestants … …. did ……aT anY Time,,,,,,,,,, ….. write the biblical…..

    SYMBOLOGY in Revelation 12:14

    Heb 13:15 Let us offer the sacrifice of praise to God continually, that is, the fruit of

    our lips giving

    thanks to his name.

    the fruit of our lips grapes & ORANGES & WATERMELONS & LIP LIKE TOMATOES….

    LITERAL……. fruit of our lips GNAWED & REAL fruit ~~~~ DRIPPING WITH JUICE

    ?

    fruit ?
    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
    Protestants … ….. did NOT ….. write the biblical….. SYMBOLOGY in Heb 5:12

    Heb 5:12…… The oracles ,,,,,,,,,,, of God; ARE of milk, and of strong

    meat. ….

    LITERAL MILK FROM REAL live…..tittiCAL BREAST MILK/////……………..

    ARE of LITERAL……..milk REAL… LIVE warm,,,,,, MILK ?\\

    ……….YOUR CATHOLIC…APROACH……TO GODS WORD.. is a pure fraud….

    Jesus uses symbolism & PARABLES in many, many passages..

    The bible says that

    SUCH AS…….saying take up your cross & follow me…..//

    WHY DONT CATHOLICS TAKE A LITERAL CROSS & FOLLOW JESUS…IN HIS PATH…?

    Why ?

    because they refuse to take Jesus LITERALLY & deny Jesus commandment to take up a cross

    cross & follow HIM

    they dont FEEL LIKE IT .

    THIS IS THEIR FOUNDATION

    …They take A half a verse here….SKIP 5 CHAPTERS…Take a line there…SKIP A

    COUPLE

    BOOKS….slicing & dicing

    THROW IN A HALF sentence & ADD NEW unbiblical….lies /..& pagan man made traditional

    words……/….INVENTIONS

    *SUDDENLY, they have a new FRAUD DOCTRINE, THAT THE ENTIRE BIBLE REJECTS &

    CONDEMNS….

    .WHILE THEY REFUSE TO ADDRESS.,,the ,,,,TOPIC …OR EVEN ACKLOWLEDGE THE REST OF GODS

    WHOLE complete GOSPEL & WORD subjects
    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
    Catholics only TAKE Jesus & the bible / SYMBOLICALLY, when it suits their flip of the

    coin….
    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

    Catholics refuse take Jesus LITERALLY when they dont FEEL LIKE IT to suit their

    PAGAN, Roman~Tic

    Traditions { of Mockery}

    ~~~~~~~~~~~~
    the BIBLE CLEARLY TELLS US..in …Heb 10:18 Now where remission of these is, there is no

    more

    offering for sin. …

    there is~~~ NO MORE~~ offering, for sin

    NOTICE ~~~IN the BIBLE JESUS is not continuing on & on~~~ a PERPETUAL, CONTINUAL

    ENDLESS, ETERNAL OFFERING. ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

    ~~~~~~~~~~~~
    Now where remission ~is . / Forgivness

    Remission means Greek 859 a?´fes?? aphesis / freedom; (figuratively) pardon: –

    deliverance,

    forgiveness, liberty, remission.
    ~~~~~~~~~~~~
    ~~~~~~~~~~~~

    there is NO MORE offering

    OFFERING means Greek 4376 p??sf??a´ prosphora / Presentation; concretely an

    oblation

    (bloodless) or sacrifice: – offering up.

    ( for sin. …)

    Where one has been forgiven, there is no more offering up a VICTIM or a HOST / FOR

    SIN / ever

    ever again …… PERIOD …

    The bible is very clear…

    IT IS NOT A CONTINUAL, ENDLESS OFFERING in the bible

    ..This catholic has lied against Gods word..

    CATHOLICS DENY THIS clear biblical fact /………..

    Christ Did IN FACT & indeed SAY that ” THIS ” LITERAL FLESH */BLOOD / MEAT

    profited

    nothing :-

    BUT the words that HE speaks unto MAN. ~~~ IS THE spirit, & life. …..

    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
    In Joh 6:63 … THE WORD of God HAS made IT ABUNDENTLY clear THAT Jesus CLEARLY rebuked

    the

    Assumptions of the Current Pagan, Catholic type mob.

    ~~~ The very crowd.. Who JESUS demanded,, ! “” They did not BELEIVE…~ .

    .. for they TOO. ( Just eXactly like today’s Catholics ~

    Tried to claim…HE had ment HIS physical…Meat./ Flesh & Blood…

    JESUS REBUKED this garbage theology

    in Joh 6:63 SAYING ” It is the spirit that quickened; — THIS flesh profited nothing:

    the words that I

    speak unto you, they are spirit, and they are life. ”

    the BIBLE CLEARLY TELLS US,….also . Jesus sat down after his sacrifice

    & does not EVER, EVER CONTINUE on to offer or Re – present His offering……

    IT IS NOT A CONTINUAL ENDLESS OFFERING.~~.This catholic has lied against Gods word..

    Which says clearly

    ONCE../ ~~ .ONE TIME../ ~~~ ONE ..OFFERING ……} in the end of the world

    He [Jesus] appeared TO PUT AWAY SIN by the sacrifice of himself.” –

    Heb. 9:26
    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
    Catholics only TAKE Jesus & the bible / SYMBOLICALLY, when it suits their flip of the

    coin….
    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

    Heb 7:27 JESUS .~~…Who needeth not DAILY, as those high priests, to offer up

    sacrifice,…………….Day

    after DAY AFTER DAY

    …….for this he did ONCE when he offered up himself…

    as those high priests, offered up sacrifice,…………….Day after DAY AFTER DAY

    we do not do this….In Gods word.

    We are sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ / ONCE FOR ALL.

    ////”

    -Heb. 9:26

    JESUS sacrifice is NOT TO BE REPEATED DAILY for this JESUS did ONCE, when he offered up

    himself.”

    -Heb. 7:27

    Christ offered / ONE SACRIFICE FOR SINS FOR EVER, sat down on the right hand of God;” –

    Heb. 10:12…

    ~~~~~~~NOTICE ~~~~he is not continuing on & on a PERPETUAL, CONTINUAL ENDLESS,

    ETERNAL OFFERING. ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

    Christ has finished his Sacrifice, AND IS SEATED at the POWER of GOD

    THE ONLY OFFERING .OR SACRIFICE……………………………….MADE BY

    CHRISTIANS……..IN THE NEW

    TESTAMENT IS

    1….. THE OFFERING OF PRAISE WITH OUR LIPS…

    Lets ….NOTICE & eXamine……….. Why & How that these Catholics are lying about Gods

    word
    CONCERNING ~{ Communion of the saints /

    Which is, ITSELF,…………….. WE ARE …..the very blood & Body of Christ.

    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

    Why to Catholics DENY that The Communion of saints { THE CHURCH } All Believers are the

    COMUNIION – of the Literal blood & Body of Christ.

    THE fact is ./…………………No~ where IN THE ENTIRE BIBLE at any single time

    can a catholic produce

    a scripture of any Disciple, Apostle or Prophetic WRITER saying or DISCRIBING ANY

    Wine or BREAD

    as { THE the transformed BODY….of JESUS, or the miracle / CHANGING INTO THE

    LITERAL

    Body & blood of Jesus…..

    NOT ONE SINGLE PLACE …. AT ANY TIME……… Not ….Paul, Peter, James, John…..

    NOT any of the

    Apostles…..declare Bread & wine …….AS THE BODY OF JESUS. { in a physical maner

    } ~~~~~ as Jesus personal literal BODY….sacrificed, offered, transformed, { nor

    present in the

    SUPPER durring the Churches MEMORAL breaking of bread.

    This is a Roman Catholic INVENTION & a man made pagan HOAX….
    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

    THE bible says clearly

    When Jesus Declared He would Spew, Vomit Them out of His mouth..

    Greek 1692 emeo¯ ‘ to vomit: –

    Are people to Believe that People will be eaten By Jesus too ?

    & they will be vomited by Jesus ?
    ……………………………..

    This is what it says…….Literally

    Jesus says I will literally / Vomit them out of my mouth…

    Catholics REFUSE to take that literally

    Catholics IGNORE the fact that NEVER once did a single APOSTLE discribe or claim

    Bread & Wine

    was the Blood & body of Christ..

    Catholics ignore this fact

    THEY slice & cut out the fact that THE Fact thaT – The CHURCH- / SAINTS / Beleivers,

    BRIDE~~~~

    WE……~~~~… Are the BODY & the BLOOD / of CHRIST…….

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