Sunday, June 26, 2011

Corpus Christi

Seeing as today is the solemnity of Corpus Christi, I thought I'd share a brief reflection about the Eucharist.

I went to a wedding in Washington D.C. last month.  On the car ride there, I tried to grill Dan (the brother of the groom) for details about the wedding itself.  I specifically recall that Dan said they weren't going to "waste any time with the stations of the cross or the Eucharist or anything symbolic like that".

I was offended by the insinuation that the Eucharist is a waste of time, seeing as it is the source, summit and center of the life of the Catholic Church.  But I couldn't help but be struck by the idea that a merely symbolic Eucharist is a waste of time.

For Catholics, the Eucharist is not symbolic.  It is not a symbol of the Body and Blood of Christ; it is the Body and Blood of Christ, through the power of transubstantiation.  Jesus Christ is really and truly present on the altar in the form of bread and wine.

But other Christian denominations deny this entirely, and in a sense, they "demote" the Eucharist to the level of symbolism.  I still don't understand the reasoning behind this.  Why would people prefer a symbolic presence over the True Presence?  Why would you want to attend a mass where you simply remember Jesus, in favor of a mass where you actually encounter Jesus?  How could replacing the Body and Blood of Christ with a mere symbol be anything other than a horrible loss?

Although I don't agree with what Dan said about the Eucharist, perhaps he is correct in believing that if Christ is not truly present at a mass, then attending that mass is just a waste of time.

19 comments:

Anonymous said...

I love Corpus Christi, Because I love Selena Q.

Sparksbet said...

Since God is omnipresent, doesn't that mean he'd already technically be at the mass anyway? And also, I seem to recall Jesus saying something to the effect of "wherever two or three are gathered in my name, there I am." So if the Catholic masses are truly in Christ's name (I'm sure even a Catholic wouldn't say that ALL are) then Christ will be present there, whether the Euchrist is or not.

Cat said...

This has always been my favorite teaching for all the wrong reasons. In seventh grade, a teacher was explaining transubstantiation when someone said "We actually drink Jesus' blood? But you can get AIDS the way!" That may have something to do with why Protestants believe in consubstantiation. It's about a symbol reminding them of Christ's presence, sort of like how a crucifix isn't actually Jesus' body, but a reminder to us.

Film Geek said...

I think that it shouldn't be considered a waste of time because it does directly have to do with Jesus. But, for me personally when I take communion, I'd rather believe it's a symbolic thing than think I'm eating Christ's body and drinking his blood. (I guess I'm a protestant, but I don't only agree with what they teach)

Lynniepoo87 said...

I think this says it all...

"THIS is my body, which is given up for you for the forgiveness of sins."

"THIS is my blood, which is poured out for you for the forgiveness of sins."

God doesn't lie. If he says THIS is his body and blood, then it IS His body and blood.

I'm Lutheran, but this is a central and vital part of Christianity. I challenge anyone to show us where in the Bible it says that Communion is only symbolism.

Anonymous said...

So, if Christ is not physically present at mass, it is a waste of time? I don't believe Christ is physically present when you are at home, at school, at work, saying your prayers at night, amusing yourself with friends, making blog posts, or playing Nancy Drew games. Does that mean everything you do in life without the Body and Blood is a waste of time? No, because as long as there are believers, there will be Christ present, no matter where they are.

I personally don't believe in transubstantiation, and I don't believe I'd want to. Why would I want to break his Body and spill his Blood again? He did it for us once, and it was that time only that he forgave all past, present, and future sins of man.

Furthermore, my personal belief on Him saying "this is my Body", etc - how could it have been his Body and Blood, broken and spilled while he was still whole? Because, to me, it is symbolism. Maybe it really was, maybe it really is; I don't know, and no one does.

And finally, re:"Why would you want to attend a mass where you simply remember Jesus, in favor of a mass where you actually encounter Jesus?", I believe that is uncalled for. You cannot encounter Jesus unless it is physical? How does that make any sense in the context of the Christian faith?

Anonymous said...

I don't think that the Eucharist is actually Jesus' body, but I think it's like Jesus' spirit giving Christians the power to do good. I mean, if it was actually JESUS, wouldn't that be like cannibalism?

sarah said...

I'm christian and we don't have communion at our weddings but it is a very important thing to do and I love that part of church! More people come to accept Christ on days when we have communion. It's wonderful thing to see!

FurFurKanga said...

I don't think all the other denominations are trying to 'demote' the Eucharist.

For Catholics, we have a hierarchy system: with the Pope, Cardinals, Priest.etc and I'm sure you know that it is the priest who converts the bread and wine into the body and blood of Christ through the transubstantiation. Due to this, Jesus is present in the mass as the body and blood of Christ.

On the other hand, Protestants deny such hierarchy system and believe that everybody(laity) should be equal. Therefore, as they are more concerned with the equality within their denomination, hence, they don't have the power bestowed on them, like the priests, to carry out the transubstantiation. Hence, the bread and wine can only be symbols of Jesus.

sarah said...

Your comment on how Christians have demoted this to symbolism is something I have to argue. I don't know if it is this way to most Christians but to me when we do communion it is, in a way, remembering Jesus. It is also, to me, much more than that. I feel closer to Jesus. (This is hard to explain!) It's like on days when I talk with God instead of just reading my Bible and moving on with my day. I just feel closer to him! (I think it's cool that Forgiven by Skillet is playing as I'm tying this!) I hope you know that Christians view it communion as more than a time time to remember Jesus but a time to get closer to him.

Sammy said...

Can someone explain why the catholic church and other churches use the cross as a symbol of their organisation? If, say, my mother, who I practically worship, was murdered with a dagger, should I wear a dagger around my neck in remembrance of her? Would she appreciate that? Would she give me guidance if i tied the dagger to a string of beads and used it to pray to her? If not, then why use a cross in worship?

Someone please respond, I'd really like to know.

Msspiritdancer said...

I am a Catholic woman who also has a problem with doctrine of transubstantiation. At the Last Supper, Jesus used the bread and wine and commented "this is my body and this is my blood"; breaking the bread and drinking the wine and saying "Do this is remembrance of me". That sounds pretty symbolic when Jesus said that.

Thoughts?

Anonymous said...

I think the idea of communion is sort of taken out of context. I think Jesus was using those acts as a way to say goodbye to his friends. He knew he was going to be arrested and killed. I think, through is actions, he was simply saying "hey, when you're sitting down to a good meal with people you love, and you're comfortable and happy, remember that I love you, and even though I'm going to die I will always be here with you."
After all, we know Jesus was scared to be arrested. He goes out into the garden and prays to his father and essentially says "Ok, I'll do this. But, really, is there any other possible way we could get this done? Because getting crucified sounds pretty unpleasant."
I don't think this makes Jesus any less magnificent. It just reminds us that Jesus was a man, and was sent here so God would truly understand what it meant to be mortal.
Claiming that if you repeat these actions the bread and wine in your mouth will literally turn into the body of Jesus is just, well, creepy. I don't really see where eating him would bring you closer to Jesus. If you want a relationship with him, or you want to be forgiven for your sins, pray. Any time of day, no matter where you are, what you're doing, or what's on your mind you can pray. And without this you cannot be saved, symbolic cannibalize or not.
~Emily

Katie said...

as a Catholic, I know the Eucharist is really Jesus. I can feel his presence. I know some of you may think its crazy, but as soon as I consume it, I feel so different. I love your Catholic blog posts Micheal!

Lynniepoo87 said...

God IS present in the body and blood of Communion. Jesus doesn't lie:

"THIS is my body and blood, shed for you."

Its not cannibalism, but it is certainly beyond our understanding.

Also, priests do not "convert" the bread and wine into anything, JESUS does.

Remember, Christ is all God and all human at the same time. He took on flesh (but without sin) so that his death would be an acceptable sacrifice to God. Brutal? Yes. Awful? Yes. Unfair? Definitely. But the only way to save his children mankind. When we take communion, we are taking his body and blood into ourselves, taking Christ into ourselves, claiming the gift of the sacrifice as ours.

Look through your Bibles and see if you can find any passages that refute this. Scripture is clear and Scripture is the ultimate source of truth! =)

Justice said...

Sammy:

This can be a tricky concept to explain, but I’ll try.

Your example isn’t quite parallel to the reasoning Catholics/Christians have for using the cross as a symbol. In Christianity, the cross signifies the foundation of our faith: the crucifying of Jesus Christ, the Son of God, as penalty for our sin, and how, through that sacrifice, we have forgiveness and eternal life. It serves to remind us of God’s love.

“This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him. This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins.”
(1 John 4:9-10)

Also: “Christ Jesus, who died—more than that, who was raised to life—is at the right hand of God and is also interceding for us.” (Romans 8:34)

That’s the concise explanation. If you want a detailed answer to this and almost any other Bible-type question you can think of, I really recommend this website: http://www.gotquestions.org

(P.S. Using symbolic objects or rosary beads to aid in prayer is a Catholic practice without Biblical basis; as is praying to someone other than God, such as Mary.)

As for the main subject at hand:

Transubstantiation is unsubstantiated by Scripture, if we take the words as they were meant, without reading additional meaning into them.

Msspiritdancer pretty well hit the nail on the head when she noted the words in Luke 22:19:

“And he took bread, gave thanks and broke it, and gave it to them, saying, “This is my body given for you; do this in remembrance of me.”

In REMEMBERANCE. Communion is an observance for the purpose of recalling and reflecting upon Christ’s sacrifice for us, with symbolic elements (somewhat like the concept of the cross that I explained to Sammy).

--J.F.

Anonymous said...

Jesus is really present in the Eucharist. He said himself, "Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life." He said it, its true.

Kira said...

Truthfully, I have never thought of receiving the Eucharist as "cannibalism." It's such a big part of my faith that I don't think I could go without receiving Jesus in the flesh. I know people of other religions find it hard to comprehend, but it is my FAITH, and it is what I firmly believe in.

MerryCalvinist said...

It looks like people have weighed in fairy well on this post already, but I thought I'd say a couple things. I'm a Protestant, specifically a Calvinist, and I think it's worth mentioning that among Protestant churches there is quite a spectrum of beliefs about the Eucharist (one commentor referred to the Consubstantiation view. That is mainly held by Lutherans, not so much by other Protestant groups). Also, as someone already said, Jesus died once and for all on Calvary, and his sacrifice is the propitiation for all who have faith in Him. Finally, in a sense, some of us actually do affirm the Real Presence, only in a spiritual, not physical, sense. Communion for us is still a sacrament. Wow, I came to this website looking for some ND trivia and found a conversation about church doctrine. Fascinating. Y'all may be interested in James White's ministry at aomin.org.