How to Explain & Defend the Real Presence of Christ in the Eucharist by Fr. Frank Chacon & Jim Burnham

Beginning Apologetics 3 : How to Explain & Defend the Real Presence of Christ in the Eucharist by Fr. Frank Chacon & Jim Burnham is the absolute best resource on the Real Presence of Christ in the Eucharist that you can buy for a friend today. [ Purchase from Amazon.com ]

Why Do I Need this Book?

There is a crisis in Catholic education today–most Catholics aren’t aware that the Eucharist is the Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity of Jesus Christ. Surveys repeatedly show that 70+% of Catholics don’t understand our own Church’s teaching. It’s time to take action.

What’s In This Book?

This is the resource for understanding the Real Presence. This tract has it all:

  • Old Testament Typology
  • A complete break down of John 6
  • Church Fathers, and Protestant “Reformers” (even Martin Luther believed in the Real Presence)
  • The argument from 1 Corinthians
  • Logic proofs, common objections and refutations

You won’t find a more cogent, concise presentation of the Real Presence than this little work.  At just 40 pages, it’s short enough to read in one sitting.

What Do I Do With It?

Read it, learn it,.. live it.  Buy five copies, and keep two in the trunk of your car and two extra at home to give away.  Spread the knowledge.  Learn the faith.

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Once Saved Always Saved?

Once Saved Always Saved?

Many Protestants believe that one can have certainty of salvation. Perhaps you’ve been given a pamphlet asking, “Are you saved?” The pamphlet has some select scripture verses, asking you to accept Jesus into your heart, inviting you to believe that He died for your sins. They believe that is all that is needed to be saved, and once you have done so that your salvation is guaranteed and cannot be lost. Scripture makes clear that salvation can be lost, and that salvation is to be worked out with fear and trembling. (Philippians 2:12) Let’s look at a some of the verses these pamphlets frequently make use of in their proper context.

Romans 10

“For if thou confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and believe in thy heart that God hath raised him up from the dead, thou shalt be saved. For, with the heart, we believe unto justice; but, with the mouth, confession is made unto salvation.” (Romans 10:9-10)

“For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord, shall be saved.” (Romans 10:13)

Out of context, these verses make it look like Paul is telling the Romans that all they need to do to be saved is to believe in Jesus, and that their salvation is guaranteed. If one reads through the very next chapter of Romans, it becomes clear that Paul is not assuring the Romans of a guaranteed salvation. He warns them:

“Thou wilt say then: The branches were broken off, that I might be grafted in. Well: because of unbelief they were broken off. But thou standest by faith: be not highminded, but fear. For if God hath not spared the natural branches, fear lest perhaps he also spare not thee. See then the goodness and the severity of God: towards them indeed that are fallen, the severity; but towards thee, the goodness of God, if thou abide in goodness, otherwise thou also shalt be cut off.” (Romans 11:19-23)

We see here that he who stands by faith can fall from it. Paul does not endorse presumption of salvation. If we are not faithful to Christ, we can be cut off from His mystical body, like dead branches cut off from the tree of life. Paul is borrowing this analogy of branches from Christ Himself. (John 15:1-10) In these verses Christ makes clear what is necessary to abide in Him, to keep His commandments.

“If you keep my commandments, you shall abide in my love; as I also have kept my Father’s commandments, and do abide in his love.” (John 15:10)

When we are baptized we receive the divine life into our souls and are grafted into Christ and His mystical body, but we must continue to abide in Christ and His divine life by obeying His commandments. We can be cut off from Christ through disobedience and sin. That is why Christ gave us the sacrament of Confession, to restore the fallen to grace.

Those who read Paul to mean that a confession of faith is all that is required for salvation ought to remember the words of Our Lord,

“Not every one that saith to me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven: but he that doth the will of my Father who is in heaven, he shall enter into the kingdom of heaven.” Matthe 7:21

 

John 3:16

“That whosoever believeth in him, may not perish; but may have life everlasting. For God so loved the world, as to give his only begotten Son; that whosoever believeth in him, may not perish, but may have life everlasting.” (John 3:15-16)

This is perhaps the most famous verse in scripture. It is a beautiful summary of the gospel, but does it mean that mere belief is all that is required for salvation?

The Greek word translated as “believe”, is “pisteuvw,” which transliterated into English is “pisteuo.” It can imply more than merely assent to a belief, but rather a deep and abiding trust in a person. This deeper meaning must be present for salvation, for scripture says that even the devils believe.

Thou believest that there is one God. Thou dost well: the devils also believe and tremble.” (James 2:19).

 

Perseverance and Salvation

The scriptures tell us that only he who perseveres to the end will be saved. Scripture warns us to be vigilant in the practice of our faith, so that we do not fall away.

And you shall be hated by all men for my name’s sake: but he that shall persevere unto the end, he shall be saved.” Matthew 10:22

“And because iniquity hath abounded, the charity of many shall grow cold. But he that shall persevere to the end, he shall be saved.”Matthew 24:12-13

These verses from Matthew show that those who do not preserve their faith, or who do not preserve the virtue of charity will not be saved.

But I chastise my body, and bring it into subjection: lest perhaps, when I have preached to others, I myself should become a castaway.” (I Corinthians 9:27)

Here Paul shows that he does not even hold his own salvation as secure.

“Wherefore, my dearly beloved, (as you have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but much more now in my absence,) with fear and trembling work out your salvation.” (Philippians 2:12)

These words of Paul cannot be squared with the idea of “once saved always saved.” Our salvation is not secure, and we must take pains to preserve it, by God’s grace.

And account the longsuffering of our Lord, salvation; as also our most dear brother Paul, according to the wisdom given him, hath written to you: As also in all his epistles, speaking in them of these things; in which are certain things hard to be understood, which the unlearned and unstable wrest, as they do also the other scriptures, to their own destruction. You therefore, brethren, knowing these things before, take heed, lest being led aside by the error of the unwise, you fall from your own steadfastness.” (2 Peter 3:15-17)

Here Peter explains that Paul’s writings are difficult to understand, and that many people misinterpret Paul,  “as they do the other scriptures, to their own destruction.” Peter like Paul warns us to take heed, lest we fall. He urges us to perseverance and steadfastness.

 

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The Mass is a Sacrifice

Luke 22:19

“And taking bread, he gave thanks, and brake; and gave to them, saying: This is my body, which is given for you. Do this for a commemoration of me. In like manner the chalice also, after he had supped, saying: This is the chalice, the new testament in my blood, which shall be shed for you.” –Luke 22:19-20

The Greek word translated as “commemoration,” or sometimes “remembrance,” is actually “anamnesis,” which is an ancient Greek word, rich with meaning in both Greek philosophy and the Septuagint translation of the Old Testament. History and tradition tell us that Luke’s intended audiences were Greek speaking gentiles, so we should attempt to have at least an appreciation of what the word anamnesis meant to them, as well as to the Jewish people.

Plato first used the word “anamnesis” in his theory of epistemology to suggest that when we learn eternal truths, we are actually recalling something which was part of the soul from all eternity, but has been forgotten. Plato saw himself as a mid-wife, helping souls to draw forth knowledge they already possessed, hidden in the recesses of their soul. Amamnesis was linked to Plato’s theory of the forms. For Plato, the type of remembering known as “anamnesis” was to actually grasp the eternal forms. It meant in some sense to make the eternal present in your mind.

Now let’s turn to the word anamnesis in the Septuagint.

The Septuagint was a Greek translation of the Jewish scriptures which was translated in about 70 BC by Jewish scholars in Alexandria. It was an important and carefully executed project because most of the Jewish world spoke Greek at that time. This translation of the scriptures was the one used by Our Lord and His disciples.

In the Septuagint, the word anamnesis appears in conjunction with memorial sacrifices.(See  Leviticus 24:7, and Numbers 10:10.) For the Jews these sacrifices were a renewal of their covenant with God. For Christians the anamnesis of the Eucharistic banquet is a making present of the one eternal sacrifice of Christ. (I Corinthians 10:16) Christian liturgy is based off of this idea of a mystical anamnesis, in which the eternal is made present so that the faithful might more perfectly enter into the mysteries of God.

The Trinity is a communion of Divine Persons. From all eternity the Father exists. From all eternity He has one Divine thought, one Eternal Word into which He pours Himself entirely. This Eternal Word having all the perfections of the Father exists eternally as a second Divine Person with the same nature and glory of the Father. (John 1:1-3) This Divine Son, the Eternal Word, eternally loves and offers Himself to the Father. Their Love being Divine, eternal and perfect is itself a third and Divine person, the Holy Spirit. The Trinity is a communion of persons, eternally offering themselves to one another with the total self gift, the offering of agape love.

Agape, or Divine Love, is a gift of self. A gift of self is an offering. From all eternity the Eternal Word offered Himself to God the Father. When Christ became incarnate, He brought His humanity into that eternal offering. On the cross His human nature was offered par excellence, on behalf of the faithful. The faithful participate and share in that offering of Christ because they are united to His mystical body through baptism.  They have been grafted into Christ. (Romans 6:3, Romans 11:16, Galatians 3:27, Ephesians 5:20, etc.)

The incarnate Christ offered a bloody sacrifice of immolation on Calvary once and for all, as a satisfaction for men’s sins, but He still offers Himself eternally to His Father in Heaven, as an offering of pure oblation. (Hebrews 7:26-8:2)

When Christ said “this is my body, do this for an anamnesis of me,” He was establishing a true sacrifice, a memorial sacrifice. Christ was giving Christians the gift of Himself, literally and substantially in the Eucharist. He was giving them a way to truly and substantially make present the eternal sacrifice, the offering of pure oblation He forever makes to His Father. In giving us this sacrifice of pure oblation, Christ has fulfilled the prophecy of Malachai.

“For from the rising of the sun even to the going down, my name is great among the Gentiles, and in every place there is sacrifice, and there is offered to my name a clean oblation: for my name is great among the Gentiles, saith the Lord of hosts” –Malachai 1:11

This is a great mystery, not easily understood. It is the principal mystery of the Christian faith, at which we will spend a lifetime and an eternity marveling over.  (Revelation 7:9-10)

Testimony of Early Christians

“Assemble on the Lord’s day, and break bread and offer the Eucharist; but first make confession of your faults, so that your sacrifice may be a pure one. Anyone who has a difference with his fellow is not to take part with you until he has been reconciled, so as to avoid any profanation of your sacrifice [Matt. 5:23–24]. For this is the offering of which the Lord has said, ‘Everywhere and always bring me a sacrifice that is undefiled, for I am a great king, says the Lord, and my name is the wonder of nations.’ [Mal. 1:11, 14]”

-The Didache, 70 AD

“Our sin will not be small if we eject from the episcopate those who blamelessly and holily have offered its sacrifices. Blessed are those presbyters who have already finished their course, and who have obtained a fruitful and perfect release.”

-Pope St. Clement I, Letter to the Corinthians, 80 AD

“Make certain, therefore, that you all observe one common Eucharist; for there is but one Body of our Lord Jesus Christ, and but one cup of union with his Blood, and one single altar of sacrifice—even as there is also but one bishop, with his clergy and my own fellow servitors, the deacons. This will ensure that all your doings are in full accord with the will of God.”

-Saint Ignatius of Antioch, Letter to the Philadelphians, 110 AD

“God speaks by the mouth of Malachi, one of the twelve [minor prophets], as I said before, about the sacrifices at that time presented by you: ‘I have no pleasure in you, says the Lord, and I will not accept your sacrifices at your hands; for from the rising of the sun to the going down of the same, my name has been glorified among the Gentiles, and in every place incense is offered to my name, and a pure offering, for my name is great among the Gentiles . . . [Mal. 1:10–11]. He then speaks of those Gentiles, namely us [Christians] who in every place offer sacrifices to him, that is, the bread of the Eucharist and also the cup of the Eucharist.”

-Saint Justin Martyr, Dialogue with Trypho the Jew, 155 AD

“He took from among creation that which is bread, and gave thanks, saying, ‘This is my body.’ The cup likewise, which is from among the creation to which we belong, he confessed to be his blood. He taught the new sacrifice of the new covenant, of which Malachi, one of the twelve [minor] prophets, had signified beforehand: ‘You do not do my will, says the Lord Almighty, and I will not accept a sacrifice at your hands. For from the rising of the sun to its setting my name is glorified among the Gentiles, and in every place incense is offered to my name, and a pure sacrifice; for great is my name among the Gentiles, says the Lord Almighty’ [Mal. 1:10–11]. By these words he makes it plain that the former people will cease to make offerings to God; but that in every place sacrifice will be offered to him, and indeed, a pure one, for his name is glorified among the Gentiles.”

-Saint Irenaeus, Against Heresies, 189 AD

“When you see the Lord immolated and lying upon the altar, and the priest bent over that sacrifice praying, and all the people empurpled by that precious blood, can you think that you are still among men and on earth? Or are you not lifted up to heaven?”

-Saint John Chrysostom, The Priesthood, 387 AD

“What then? Do we not offer daily? Yes, we offer, but making remembrance of his death; and this remembrance is one and not many. How is it one and not many? Because this sacrifice is offered once, like that in the Holy of Holies. This sacrifice is a type of that, and this remembrance a type of that. We offer always the same, not one sheep now and another tomorrow, but the same thing always. Thus there is one sacrifice. By this reasoning, since the sacrifice is offered everywhere, are there, then, a multiplicity of Christs? By no means! Christ is one everywhere. He is complete here, complete there, one body. And just as he is one body and not many though offered everywhere, so too is there one sacrifice.”

-Saint John Chrysostom, Homilies on Hebrews, 403 AD

 

“Proclaiming the death, according to the flesh, of the Only-begotten Son of God, that is Jesus Christ, confessing his resurrection from the dead, and his ascension into heaven, we offer the Unbloody Sacrifice in the churches, and so go on to the mystical thanksgivings, and are sanctified, having received his Holy Flesh and the Precious Blood of Christ the Saviour of us all. Andnot as common flesh do we receive it; God forbid: nor as of a man sanctified and as sociated with the Word according to the unity of worth, or as having a divine indwelling, but as truly the Life-giving and very flesh of the Word himself. For he is the Life according to his nature as God, and when he became united to his Flesh, he made it also to be Life-giving, as also he said to us: Verily, verily, I say unto you, Except ye eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his Blood.”

-Saint Cyril, Third Epistle to Nestorius, 431 AD

“Hold most firmly and never doubt in the least that the only-begotten God the Word himself became flesh [and] offered himself in an odor of sweetness as a sacrifice and victim to God on our behalf; to whom . . . in the time of the Old Testament animals were sacrificed by the patriarchs and prophets and priests; and to whom now, I mean in the time of the New Testament . . . the holy Catholic Church does not cease in faith and love to offer throughout all the lands of the world a sacrifice of bread and wine. In those former sacrifices what would be given us in the future was signified figuratively, but in this sacrifice which has now been given us is shown plainly. In those former sacrifices it was fore-announced that the Son of God would be killed for the impious, but in the present sacrifice it is announced that he has been killed for the impious.”

-Saint Fulgentius of Ruspe, The Rule of Faith, 524 AD

 

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Church Authority

Christ’s Church Has Authority

The Catholic Church was founded by Jesus Christ. He appointed its first leaders, the apostles. He gave them power and authority to teach in His name. That power and authority has been handed down for 2,000 years through apostolic succession. Every Catholic priest and bishop can trace his ordination back to the apostles through the laying on of hands.

Matthew 16:18-19

“And I say to thee: That thou art Peter; and upon this rock I will build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it. And I will give to thee the keys of the kingdom of heaven. And whatsoever thou shalt bind upon earth, it shall be bound also in heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt loose upon earth, it shall be loosed also in heaven.” –Matthew 16:18-19

Christ said, “And I say to thee: That thou art Peter; and upon this rock I will build my Church,” From this we see that Christ had every intention of founding a Church. We also see that this Church was built on Peter. No Church but the Catholic Church can claim to be built on Peter. No other Church can claim the authority to bind and loose.

Christ went on to say of His Church, “and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.” From this we see that the Church Christ founded cannot be destroyed, or overcome by Satan. The Church Christ founded will always exist, and will always be Christ’s Church. It cannot be replaced or become obsolete. Christ promised this.

Matthew 18:15-18

“But if thy brother shall offend against thee, go, and rebuke him between thee and him alone. If he shall hear thee, thou shalt gain thy brother. And if he will not hear thee, take with thee one or two more: that in the mouth of two or three witnesses every word may stand. And if he will not hear them: tell the church. And if he will not hear the church, let him be to thee as the heathen and publican. Amen I say to you, whatsoever you shall bind upon earth, shall be bound also in heaven; and whatsoever you shall loose upon earth, shall be loosed also in heaven.” –Matthew 18:15-18

“And if he will not hear them: tell the church. And if he will not hear the church, let him be to thee as the heathen and publican.”

Here we see that the Church cannot be an undefined conglomerate of believers. One can come before the Church in order to receive an authoritative and definitive judgment. This does not allow for an egalitarian church where each person’s opinion or judgment is more or less equal. The Church has the authority to cut people off from herself, in other words, excommunication.

It is in this context that in verse 18 Christ gives to the rest of the apostles what he had given first and in a principally to Peter, the authority of binding and loosing.

Luke 10:16

In Luke 10 Christ appointed “seventy-two others” in addition to the Apostles. He sent them out two by two to preach to the kingdom of Israel. These men had the power to cast out demons in His name. These were the leaders of the early Church, and from them came the first bishops and priests. To them Christ said:

“He that heareth you, heareth me; and he that despiseth you, despiseth me; and he that despiseth me, despiseth him that sent me.” –Luke 10:16

Christ did not speak these words to all of his disciples, but the leaders He had appointed. He gave these men authority to speak in His name.  Christ still appoints men to speak in His name through the Church.  He who will not hear the Church will not hear Christ.

John 20:21-23

We know from the sacrament of Confession established in John 20:22-23, the Apostles had power and authority to forgive sins.

“He said therefore to them again: Peace be to you. As the Father hath sent me, I also send you. When he had said this, he breathed on them; and he said to them: Receive ye the Holy Ghost. Whose sins you shall forgive, they are forgiven them; and whose sins you shall retain, they are retained.” –John 20:21-23

I Timothy 3:15

“But if I tarry long, that thou mayest know how thou oughtest to behave thyself in the house of God, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and ground of the truth.” I Timothy 3:15

Here we see that the Church is “the pillar and ground of the truth.” What does that mean? A pillar holds something up. It prevents an edifice from falling, or it holds something up on display. So the Church prevents the truth from crumbling or being lost. It holds the truth up for all to see. What does  it mean that the Church is the ground of truth? The Church is the ground, or the foundation of truth.  Without a strong foundation an edifice cannot stand, it would be eroded and washed away. So the Church as the pillar and ground of truth preserves it, and prevents it from being lost… and what is truth? Christ gave us the answer:

“Jesus saith to him: I am the way, and the truth, and the life.” -John 14:6

The Church preserves and upholds the truth of Christ in this world. It possesses Him in the scriptures and in the Holy Eucharist. It possesses His teaching, and it keeps it undefiled. The Church was founded by Christ in order to uphold the truth. It cannot teach false doctrine, it will never allow the scriptures to be corrupted, and it will never lose the sacraments instituted by Christ in which He imparts His Divine Life to the faithful.

Early Christians

“You must all follow the lead of the bishop, as Jesus Christ followed that of the Father; follow the presbytery as you would the Apostles; reverence the deacons as you would God’s commandment. Let no one do anything touching the Church, apart from the bishop. Let that celebration of the Eucharist be considered valid which is held under the bishop or anyone to whom he has committed it. Where the bishop appears, there let the people be, just as where Jesus Christ is, there is the Catholic Church. It is not permitted without authorization from the bishop either to baptize or to hold an agape; but whatever he approves is also pleasing to God. Thus everything you do will be proof against danger and valid. It is consonant with reason, therefore, that we should come to our senses, while we still have time to change our ways and turn to God. It is well to revere God and bishop. He who honors a bishop is honored by God. He who does anything without the knowledge of the bishop worships the devil.”

-St. Ignatius of Antioch, Letter to the Smyrneans, 110 AD

 

“From that time the ordination of bishops and the plan of the Church flows on through the changes of times and successions; for the Church is founded upon the bishops, and every act of the Church is controlled by these same rulers. Since this has indeed been established by divine law, I marvel at the rash boldness of certain persons who have desired to write to me as if they were writing their letters in the name of the Church, ‘since the Church is established upon the bishop and upon the clergy and upon all who stand firm in the faith.'”

-St. Cyprian of Carthage, Letter to the Lapsed, 250 AD

 

“With a false bishop appointed for themselves by heretics, they dare even to set sail and carry letters from schismatics and blasphemers to the chair of Peter and to the principal Church [at Rome], in which sacerdotal unity has its source; nor did they take thought that these are Romans, whose faith was praised by the preaching Apostle, and among whom it is not possible for perfidy to have entrance.”

-Saint Cyprian of Carthage, Letter to Cornelius, 252 AD

 

“Let us not listen to those who deny that the Church of GOD is able to forgive all sins. They are wretched indeed, because they do not recognize in Peter the rock and they refuse to believe that the keys of the kingdom of heaven, lost from their own hands, have been given to the Church.”

-St. Augustine, Christian Combat, 396 AD

 

“Just as in the Old Testament the priest makes the leper clean or unclean, so in the New Testament the bishop and presbyter binds or looses not those who are innocent or guilty, but by reason of their office, when they have heard the various kinds of sins, they know who is to be bound and who loosed.”
-Saint Jerome, Commentaries on the Gospel of Matthew, 398 AD

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The Fathers Know Best by Jimmy Akin

The Fathers Know Best by Jimmy Akin is one of the best guides to the Early Church Fathers.  [ Purchase from Amazon.com ]

Who Were the Early Church Fathers?

One of the most interesting features of this book is the explanation of who the Early Church Fathers were, where they lived, and what they did.  Akin presents the reader with a short synopsis of each Father which really helps make the material come alive.

What’s In It?

This is perhaps the best reference guide for the Early Church Fathers.  It is a compilation of quotes from the Fathers, organized by topic.  This makes it extremely handy as an apologetics reference.  Want to know what the first Christians thought about the Eucharist?  Turn to the Eucharist chapter (Ch. 42, p.292), and there you have a quick collection of quotes from all the pertinent Church Fathers on the Eucharist.

 

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The Authority of Peter

The Church teaches that Peter was appointed by Christ as the head of the Church. This is clear from scripture and the testimony of the first Christians. Christ made certain promises to Peter necessary for the good of the Church. This office held by Peter was passed on after Peter’s martyrdom in Rome to the Bishop Linus. An unbroken line of Bishops of Rome can be traced through history from Pope Benedict XVI back to Peter.

Matthew 16:18-19

“And I say to thee: That thou art Peter; and upon this rock I will build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it. And I will give to thee the keys of the kingdom of heaven. And whatsoever thou shalt bind upon earth, it shall be bound also in heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt loose upon earth, it shall be loosed also in heaven.” – Matthew 16:18-19

“That thou art Peter; and upon this rock I will build my church,”

Here Christ explicitly makes known His intention to give authority over His Church to Peter. He associates Peter with himself by calling him the “rock” on which the Church is to be built. (1 Corinthians 10:4)

“…and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it,”

Christ promised that the gates of hell will not prevail against His Church.

“And I will give to thee the keys of the kingdom of heaven.”

The keys are an ancient symbol of authority, which the Jews would have recognized. In the Davidic Kingdom there were different ministers who oversaw the affairs of the state, but there was one prime minister who was the chief overseer, and he spoke with the King’s authority. The keys were the symbol of this perpetual office.  Notice how Christ uses the same phrasing and structure of the perpetual kingship described in Isaiah in Matthew, a point that would be readily apparent to early Jewish understanding:

“And it shall come to pass in that day, that I will call my servant Eliacim the son of Helcias, And I will clothe him with thy robe, and will strengthen him with thy girdle, and will give thy power into his hand: and he shall be as a father to the inhabitants of Jerusalem, and to the house of Juda. And I will lay the key of the house of David upon his shoulder: and he shall open, and none shall shut: and he shall shut, and none shall open.”Isaiah 22:20-22

“And whatsoever thou shalt bind upon earth, it shall be bound also in heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt loose upon earth, it shall be loosed also in heaven.”

Here Christ gave an incredible amount of authority to Peter. What he says authoritatively is binding in Heaven and on earth. Once again this imagery can be seen in Isaiah 22:20-22. Christ gave Peter the role of Prime Minister, to speak authoritatively in His name, thus laying the foundation for papal infallibility. The Church teaches that when the Pope (as successor of Peter) officially declares a doctrine to be binding on Catholics it is infallible. It is infallible because Christ could never allow falsehood to be bound in His name, be it in Heaven or on earth.

Objection to Peter as Rock

Some may argue that when you go to ancient Greek of Matthew’s Gospel it would be clear that Christ was the rock on which the Church is founded, not Peter. They argue that this is clear because two different forms of the Greek word ‘rock’ are used. It would read like this:

“ Thou are PETROS and upon this PETRA I will build my church.”

In other words they think Christ meant to say, “Peter thou art Rock, but on this rock (myself,) I will build my church.”

The reason two different forms of the word rock are used is that in Greek the word “rock” is normally feminine, and it would be inappropriate to give Peter a feminine name. This problem would not arise in the original Aramaic that Christ would have actually spoken, and which Matthew’s Gospel was first written in, because there is only one word for “rock” in Aramaic.  Even if this faulty argument were valid, it does not take away from the fact that Christ gave Peter the keys to the kingdom of Heaven, and the authority to bind and loose on earth and in Heaven!  The context of the verse as a whole makes it clear that Christ is giving authority and headship to Peter.

Luke 22:31-32

When Christ was speaking to the Apostles after the Last Supper he spoke to the apostles about how they were to exercise power or authority.

“And there was also a strife amongst them, which of them should seem to be the greater. And he said to them: The kings of the Gentiles lord it over them; and they that have power over them, are called beneficent. But you not so: but he that is the greater among you, let him become as the younger; and he that is the leader, as he that serveth. For which is greater, he that sitteth at table, or he that serveth? Is it not he that sitteth at table? But I am in the midst of you, as he that serveth: And you are they who have continued with me in my temptations: And I dispose to you, as my Father hath disposed to me, a kingdom; That you may eat and drink at my table, in my kingdom: and may sit upon thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel.”Luke 22:24-30

After explaining how they were not to lord it over others but rather to serve, and that they would “sit upon thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel.” Christ speaks to Peter:

“31. And the Lord said: Simon, Simon, behold Satan hath desired to have you, that he may sift you as wheat: 32. But I have prayed for thee, that thy faith fail not: and thou, being once converted, confirm thy brethren.” – Luke 22:31-32

In this verse the original Greek makes clear something not expressed in the English. In verse 31 the “you” is plural. In verse 32 the “you” is singular.

It as if Christ said, “Satan has desired to sift all of you disciples like wheat, but I have prayed for you specifically Peter, that thy faith fail not: and thou, being once converted, confirm they brethren.”

Obviously Christ knew that Peter would deny Him in the coming hours, but this prayer was for after Peter’s deeper conversion to Him. Peter’s vocation was to confirm the faith of His brethren and after the descent of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost Peter would fulfill this role.

To this day the faith of Peter as proclaimed by His successors in Rome, has not failed, and it strengthens the brethren throughout the world. The authority of the Pope, the authority of Peter, is given as a safeguard and guarantee of orthodoxy.

Early Christian History

“Matthew also issued among the Hebrews a written Gospel in their own language, while Peter and Paul were evangelizing in Rome and laying the foundation of the Church.

-Saint Irenaeus, Against Heresies, 189 AD

 

“Since, however, it would be very tedious, in such a volume as this, to reckon up the successions of all the Churches, we do put to confusion all those who, in whatever manner, whether by an evil self-pleasing, by vainglory, or by blindness and perverse opinion, assemble in unauthorized meetings; [we do this, I say,] by indicating that tradition derived from the apostles, of the very great, the very ancient, and universally known Church founded and organized at Rome by the two most glorious apostles, Peter and Paul; as also [by pointing out] the faith preached to men, which comes down to our time by means of the successions of the bishops. For it is a matter of necessity that every Church should agree with this Church, on account of its preeminent authority, that is, the faithful everywhere,  inasmuch as the Apostolic Tradition has been preserved continuously by those who are everywhere.”

-Saint Irenaeus, Against Heresies, 189 AD

 

“Was anything withheld from the knowledge of Peter, who is called ‘the rock on which the Church would be built’ [Matt. 16:18] with the power of ‘loosing and binding in heaven and on earth’ [Matt. 16:19]?”

-Tertullian, Demurrer Against the Heretics, 200 AD

 

“[T]he Lord said to Peter, ‘On this rock I will build my Church, I have given you the keys of the kingdom of heaven [and] whatever you shall have bound or loosed on earth will be bound or loosed in heaven’ [Matt. 16:18–19]. . . . What kind of man are you, subverting and changing what was the manifest intent of the Lord when he conferred this personally upon Peter? Upon you, he says, I will build my Church; and I will give to you the keys.”

-Tertullian, Modesty, 220 AD

 

“[I]f we were to attend carefully to the Gospels, we should also find, in relation to those things which seem to be common to Peter . . . a great difference and a preeminence in the things [Jesus] said to Peter, compared with the second class [of apostles]. For it is no small difference that Peter received the keys not of one heaven but of more, and in order that whatsoever things he binds on earth may be bound not in one heaven but in them all, as compared with the many who bind on earth and loose on earth, so that these things are bound and loosed not in [all] the heavens, as in the case of Peter, but in one only; for they do not reach so high a stage with power as Peter to bind and loose in all the heavens.”

-Origen, Commentary on Matthew, 248 AD

 

“The Lord says to Peter: ‘I say to you,’ he says, ‘that you are Peter, and upon this rock I will build my Church.’ . . . On him [Peter] he builds the Church, and to him he gives the command to feed the sheep [John 21:17], and although he assigns a like power to all the apostles, yet he founded a single chair [cathedra], and he established by his own authority a source and an intrinsic reason for that unity. Indeed, the others were that also which Peter was [i.e., apostles], but a primacy is given to Peter, whereby it is made clear that there is but one Church and one chair. So too, all [the apostles] are shepherds, and the flock is shown to be one, fed by all the apostles in single-minded accord. If someone does not hold fast to this unity of Peter, can he imagine that he still holds the faith? If he [should] desert the chair of Peter upon whom the Church was built, can he still be confident that he is in the Church?”

-Saint Cyprian of Carthage, The Unity of the Catholic Church, 251 AD

“With a false bishop appointed for themselves by heretics, they dare even to set sail and carry letters from schismatics and blasphemers to the chair of Peter and to the principal Church [at Rome], in which sacerdotal unity has its source; nor did they take thought that these are Romans, whose faith was praised by the preaching Apostle, and among whom it is not possible for perfidy to have entrance.”

-Saint Cyprian of Carthage, Letter to Cornelius, 252 AD

 

“There is one God and one Christ, and one Church, and one chair founded on Peter by the word of the Lord. It is not possible to set up another altar or for there to be another priesthood besides that one altar and that one priesthood. Whoever has gathered elsewhere is scattering.”

-Saint Cyprian of Carthage, Letters, 253 AD

 

“[Simon Magus] so deceived the city of Rome that Claudius erected a statue of him. . . . While the error was extending itself, Peter and Paul arrived, a noble pair and the rulers of the Church, and they set the error aright. . . . [T]hey launched the weapon of their like-mindedness in prayer against the Magus, and struck him down to earth. It was marvelous enough, and yet no marvel at all, for Peter was there—he that carries about the keys of heaven. [Matt. 16:19]”

-Saint Cyril of Jerusalem, Catechetical Lectures, 350 AD

 

“[Jesus said:] Simon, my follower, I have made you the foundation of the holy Church. I betimes called you Peter, because you will support all its buildings. You are the inspector of those who will build on Earth a Church for me. If they should wish to build what is false, you, the foundation, will condemn them. You are the head of the fountain from which my teaching flows; you are the chief of my disciples. Through you I will give drink to all peoples. Yours is that life-giving sweetness which I dispense. I have chosen you to be, as it were, the firstborn in my institution so that, as the heir, you may be executor of my treasures. I have given you the keys of my kingdom. Behold, I have given you authority over all my treasures.”

-Saint Ephraim the Syrian, Homilies, 351 AD

 

“You cannot deny that you are aware that in the city of Rome the episcopal chair was given first to Peter; the chair in which Peter sat, the same who was head—that is why he is also called Cephas [‘Rock’]—of all the apostles; the one chair in which unity is maintained by all.”

-Saint Opatus, The Schism of the Donatists, 367 AD

 

“As I follow no leader save Christ, so I communicate with none but your blessedness, that is, with the chair of Peter. For this, I know, is the rock on which the Church is built! [Matt. 16:18]. This is the house where alone the Paschal Lamb can be rightly eaten [Ex. 12:22]. This is the Ark of Noah, and he who is not found in it shall perish when the flood prevails.”

-Saint Jerome, Letters, 376 AD

 

“[Christ] made answer: ‘You are Peter, and upon this rock will I build my Church. . . .’ Could he not, then, strengthen the faith of the man to whom, acting on his own authority, he gave the kingdom, whom he called the rock, thereby declaring him to be the foundation of the Church [Matt. 16:18]?”

-Saint Ambrose of Milan, The Faith, 379 AD

 

“Likewise it is decreed . . . that it ought to be announced that . . . the holy Roman Church has been placed at the forefront not by the conciliar decisions of other churches, but has received the primacy by the evangelic voice of our Lord and Savior, who says: ‘You are Peter, and upon this rock I will build my Church, and the gates of hell will not prevail against it; and I will give to you the keys of the kingdom of heaven . . . ’ [Matt. 16:18–19]. The first see, therefore, is that of Peter the apostle, that of the Roman Church, which has neither stain nor blemish nor anything like it.”

-Saint Pope Damasus I, Decree of Damasus, 382 AD

 

“But you say, the Church was founded upon Peter, although elsewhere in the same is attributed to all the Apostles, and they all receive the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and the strength of the Church depends upon them all alike, yet one among the twelve is chosen so that as a head has been appointed, there may be no occasion for schism.”

–St. Jerome, Against Jovinian, 393 AD

 

“Simon Peter, the son of John, from the village of Bethsaida in the province of Galilee, brother of Andrew the apostle, and himself chief of the apostles, after having been bishop of the church of Antioch and having preached to the Dispersion . . . pushed on to Rome in the second year of Claudius to overthrow Simon Magus, and held the sacerdotal chair there for twenty-five years until the last, that is the fourteenth, year of Nero. At his hands he received the crown of martyrdom being nailed to the cross with his head towards the ground and his feet raised on high, asserting that he was unworthy to be crucified in the same manner as his Lord.”

-Saint Jerome, Lives of Illustrious Men, 396 AD

 

“In seeking the things of God . . . you have acknowledged that judgment is to be referred to us [the pope], and have shown that you know that is owed to the Apostolic See [Rome], if all of us placed in this position are to desire to follow the apostle himself [Peter] from whom the episcopate itself and the total authority of this name have emerged.” (Letters 29:1 [A.D. 408]).

-Pope Saint Innocent I, Letters, 408 AD

 

“If the very order of episcopal succession is to be considered, how much more surely, truly, and safely do we number them [the bishops of Rome] from Peter himself, to whom, as to one representing the whole Church, the Lord said, ‘Upon this rock I will build my Church, and the gates of hell shall not conquer it.’ Peter was succeeded by Linus, Linus by Clement. … In this order of succession a Donatist bishop is not to be found.”

-Saint Augustine, Letters, 412 AD

 

“Philip, presbyter and legate of [Pope Celestine I] said: ‘We offer our thanks to the holy and venerable synod, that when the writings of our holy and blessed pope had been read to you . . . you joined yourselves to the holy head also by your holy acclamations. For your blessednesses is not ignorant that the head of the whole faith, the head of the apostles, is blessed Peter the apostle.’”

-Council of Ephesus, Acts of the Council, session 2, 431 AD

 

“Philip, the presbyter and legate of the Apostolic See [Rome] said: ‘There is no doubt, and in fact it has been known in all ages, that the holy and most blessed Peter, prince and head of the apostles, pillar of the faith, and foundation of the Catholic Church, received the keys of the kingdom from our Lord Jesus Christ, the Savior and Redeemer of the human race, and that to him was given the power of loosing and binding sins: who down even to today and forever both lives and judges in his successors.’”

-Council of Ephesus, Acts of the Council, session 3, 431 AD

 

“Our Lord Jesus Christ . . . has placed the principal charge on the blessed Peter, chief of all the apostles, and from him as from the head wishes his gifts to flow to all the body, so that anyone who dares to secede from Peter’s solid rock may understand that he has no part or lot in the divine mystery. He wished him who had been received into partnership in his undivided unity to be named what he himself was, when he said: ‘You are Peter, and upon this rock I will build my Church’ [Matt. 16:18], that the building of the eternal temple might rest on Peter’s solid rock, strengthening his Church so surely that neither could human rashness assail it nor the gates of hell prevail against it”

-Pope St. Leo I, Letters , 445 AD

 

“Our Lord Jesus Christ . . . established the worship belonging to the divine [Christian] religion. . . . But the Lord desired that the sacrament of this gift should pertain to all the apostles in such a way that it might be found principally in the most blessed Peter, the highest of all the apostles. And he wanted his gifts to flow into the entire body from Peter himself, as if from the head, in such a way that anyone who had dared to separate himself from the solidarity of Peter would realize that he was himself no longer a sharer in the divine mystery.”

-Pope St. Leo I, Letters , 445 AD

 

“Although bishops have a common dignity, they are not all of the same rank. Even among the most blessed apostles, though they were alike in honor, there was a certain distinction of power. All were equal in being chosen, but it was given to one to be preeminent over the others. . . . [So today through the bishops] the care of the universal Church would converge in the one See of Peter, and nothing should ever be at odds with this head.”

-Pope St. Leo I, Letters , 445 AD

 

“Wherefore the most holy and blessed Leo, archbishop of the great and elder Rome, through us, and through this present most holy synod, together with the thrice blessed and all-glorious Peter the apostle, who is the rock and foundation of the Catholic Church, and the foundation of the orthodox faith, has stripped him [Dioscorus] of the episcopate”

-Council of Chalcedon, Acts of the Council, session 3, 451 AD

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The Real Presence of Christ in the Eucharist

The Catholic Church holds that the bread and wine consecrated by the priest at Mass are no longer bread and wine, but the literal body, blood, soul and divinity of Jesus Christ. This doctrine is shocking, but it was the teaching of Christ Himself, as is attested to by scripture and the first Christians.

John 6

In chapter six of John’s Gospel, Christ laid the foundation for understanding the sacrament of the Eucharist. “The Eucharistic Discourse” as it is known, was delivered on the Jewish feast of the Passover. In it, Christ makes clear that we must really eat His flesh and blood, as true food. Christ would institute the sacrament of the Eucharist on the Passover of the next year.

In John 6:30 the Jews ask Christ what work He would perform so that they might believe. In His response He first calls Himself the “Bread of Life”, and at this the Jews murmured (John 6:41). Later Christ explains exactly what He meant:

“I am the living bread which came down from heaven. If any man eat of this bread, he shall live for ever; and the bread that I will give, is my flesh, for the life of the world. The Jews therefore strove among themselves, saying: How can this man give us his flesh to eat? Then Jesus said to them: Amen, amen I say unto you: Except you eat the flesh of the Son of man, and drink his blood, you shall not have life in you. He that eateth my flesh, and drinketh my blood, hath everlasting life: and I will raise him up in the last day. For my flesh is meat indeed: and my blood is drink indeed. He that eateth my flesh, and drinketh my blood, abideth in me, and I in him. As the living Father hath sent me, and I live by the Father; so he that eateth me, the same also shall live by me. This is the bread that came down from heaven. Not as your fathers did eat manna, and are dead. He that eateth this bread, shall live for ever. These things he said, teaching in the synagogue, in Capharnaum. ” John 6:51-60

“How can this man give us his flesh to eat?” they asked, showing that they understood Him literally. Christ then emphasizes a literal understanding of His words, “For my flesh is meat indeed: and my blood is drink indeed.” In fact Christ not only emphasized the point, but He raised the stakes by then saying we must also drink His blood.

Frequently in scripture, when people wrongly take Christ literally, He corrects them. This can be seen in John 3:3-5, John 8:21-23, John 11:11-14, and Matthew 19:24-26 to name a few examples.

On the contrary when people rightly take Christ literally on some shocking point, like His divinity, He confirms their understanding. This can be seen in Matthew 9:2-6 or John 8:56-59. Christ does the same thing in John chapter six. He confirms that He was speaking literally, so much so that many of His disciples could not bear this teaching, and because they understood rightly and Had not faith, Christ let them walk away.

“And he said: Therefore did I say to you, that no man can come to me, unless it be given him by my Father. After this many of his disciples went back; and walked no more with him. Then Jesus said to the twelve: Will you also go away? And Simon Peter answered him: Lord, to whom shall we go? thou hast the words of eternal life. And we have believed and have known, that thou art the Christ, the Son of God.” John 6:66-70

 

An Objection

Some would object and claim that in John 6:61-65 Christ explains that He was only speaking symbolically, but this is incorrect.

“Many therefore of his disciples, hearing it, said: This saying is hard, and who can hear it? But Jesus, knowing in himself, that his disciples murmured at this, said to them: Doth this scandalize you? If then you shall see the Son of man ascend up where he was before? It is the spirit that quickeneth: the flesh profiteth nothing. The words that I have spoken to you, are spirit and life. But there are some of you that believe not. For Jesus knew from the beginning, who they were that did not believe, and who he was, that would betray him.” – John 6:61-65

At this point the discourse had already ended, as we know from the words, “These things he said, teaching in the synagogue, in Capharnaum. In verses 61-65 Christ is speaking to His hearers of faith, That is why He challenges them with the question, “If then you shall see the Son of man ascend up where he was before?”

When Christ says, “It is the spirit that quickeneth: the flesh profiteth nothing.” he is not using “spirit” to any way mean symbolic, for spiritual things are just as real as physical things.  Also, Christ very clearly states “the flesh”, not “my flesh.”  The flesh of Christ alone profited our salvation on the cross.  In biblical language, “the flesh” refers to the understanding of carnal men vs spiritual men. This language is used throughout scripture, for instance Romans 8:5-10.

“For they that are according to the flesh, mind the things that are of the flesh; but they that are according to the spirit, mind the things that are of the spirit. For the wisdom of the flesh is death; but the wisdom of the spirit is life and peace. Because the wisdom of the flesh is an enemy to God; for it is not subject to the law of God, neither can it be. And they who are in the flesh, cannot please God. But you are not in the flesh, but in the spirit, if so be that the Spirit of God dwell in you. Now if any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of his. And if Christ be in you, the body indeed is dead, because of sin; but the spirit liveth, because of justification.” – Romans 8:5-10

When all was said and done, the people still understood Christ to be speaking literally, and He let them walk away. Six times Christ repeated His claim that we must literally eat His flesh and drink His blood. His meaning was perfectly clear, His hearers understood it, and that is why they left.  Christ could have called them back and said “It was a misunderstanding.  I was referring to a symbol, not to real flesh”, but Christ lets them leave.  Why?  Christ could have kept them there by correcting their misunderstanding, however, there was no misunderstanding.  The disciples understood Christ perfectly well, were unable to accept His teaching, and He let them leave.

1 Corinthians 10, 11

St. Paul asks;

“The cup of blessing which we bless, is it not a participation in the blood of Christ? The bread which we break, is it not a participation in the body of Christ?” – 1 Corinthians 10:16

How can the reception of a symbol in any way be a true participation in the body and blood of Christ? The only way to truly participate in His body and blood is if Christ is truly present in the Eucharist.

This reality becomes even clearer in context:

“For I would not have you ignorant, brethren, that our fathers were all under the cloud, and all passed through the sea. And all in Moses were baptized, in the cloud, and in the sea: And did all eat the same spiritual food, And all drank the same spiritual drink; (and they drank of the spiritual rock that followed them, and the rock was Christ.) But with most of them God was not well pleased: for they were overthrown in the desert. Now these things were done in a figure of us, that we should not covet evil things as they also coveted.” I Corinthians 10:1-6

Paul warned the Corinthians that the Jews all ate and drank the same spiritual food and drink, but with most of them God was not pleased. Note that Paul says, “and the rock was Christ,” but not literally as, “these things were done in a figure of us, that we should not covet evil things as they also coveted.”

Then Paul goes on to list sins to avoid, so as not to fall like the Jews of old. Further he writes;

“Now all these things happened to them in figure: and they are written for our correction, upon whom the ends of the world are come. Wherefore he that thinketh himself to stand, let him take heed lest he fall. Let no temptation take hold on you, but such as is human. And God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that which you are able: but will make also with temptation issue, that you may be able to bear it. Wherefore, my dearly beloved, fly from the service of idols. I speak as to wise men: judge ye yourselves what I say.” I Corinthians 10:11-15

Paul is stressing that the miraculous events witnessed by the Jews were prefigurements, and that their falls were a warning to us. They were prefiguring the realities that we now posses in Christ. It is in this context that Paul  goes onto say;

“The cup of blessing which we bless, is it not a participation in the blood of Christ? The bread which we break, is it not a participation in the blood of Christ?” – 1 Corinthians 10:16

Paul is stressing that we Christians have to walk uprightly, because we are not dealing with shadows of things to come, but of the Heavenly realities themselves. Christ did not replace Old Testament miracles with New Testament symbols! He replaced them with a greater miracle!

St. Paul again warned the Corinthians not to receive the Eucharist unworthily:

“Whoever, therefore, eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner will be guilty of profaning the body and blood of the Lord.”1 Corinthians 11:27

In St. Paul’s time to be guilty of someone’s body and blood meant to be guilty of murder. St. Paul is saying that to receive the Eucharist unworthily is a sacrilege, or profanation equivalent to the shedding of Christ’s blood. How can this be if it is only a symbol?

Saint Paul later on exhorts:

“Let a man examine himself, and so eat of the bread and drink of the cup. For any one who eats without discerning the body eats and drinks judgment upon himself.”1 Corinthians 11:28-29

St. Paul clearly says we must recognize the real presence of Christ in the Eucharist. If it is only a symbol how could eating and drinking be a judgment on oneself?

Early Christian History

“I have no taste for corruptible food nor for the pleasures of this life. I desire the bread of God, which is the flesh of Jesus Christ, who was of the seed of David; and for drink I desire his blood, which is love incorruptible.”

-Saint Ignatius of Antioch, Letter to the Romans, 110 AD

 

“Take note of those who hold heterodox opinions on the grace of Jesus Christ which has come to us, and see how contrary their opinions are to the mind of God. . . . They abstain from the Eucharist and from prayer because they do not confess that the Eucharist is the flesh of our Savior Jesus Christ, flesh which suffered for our sins and which that Father, in his goodness, raised up again. They who deny the gift of God are perishing in their disputes.”

-Saint Ignatius of Antioch, Letter to the Smyrnaeans, 110 AD

 

“We call this food Eucharist, and no one else is permitted to partake of it, except one who believes our teaching to be true and who has been washed in the washing which is for the remission of sins and for regeneration [i.e., has received baptism] and is thereby living as Christ enjoined. For not as common bread nor common drink do we receive these; but since Jesus Christ our Savior was made incarnate by the word of God and had both flesh and blood for our salvation, so too, as we have been taught, the food which has been made into the Eucharist by the Eucharistic prayer set down by him, and by the change of which our blood and flesh is nurtured, is both the flesh and the blood of that incarnated Jesus.”

-St. Justin Martyr, First Apology, 151 AD

 

“If the Lord were from other than the Father, how could he rightly take bread, which is of the same creation as our own, and confess it to be his body and affirm that the mixture in the cup is his blood?”

-Saint Irenaeus, Against Heresies, 189 AD

 

“He has declared the cup, a part of creation, to be his own blood, from which he causes our blood to flow; and the bread, a part of creation, he has established as his own body, from which he gives increase unto our bodies. When, therefore, the mixed cup [wine and water] and the baked bread receives the Word of God and becomes the Eucharist, the body of Christ, and from these the substance of our flesh is increased and supported, how can they say that the flesh is not capable of receiving the gift of God, which is eternal life—flesh which is nourished by the body and blood of the Lord, and is in fact a member of him?”

-Saint Irenaeus, Against Heresies, 189 AD

 

“There is not a soul that can at all procure salvation, except it believe whilst it is in the flesh, so true is it that the flesh is the very condition on which salvation hinges. And since the soul is, in consequence of its salvation, chosen to the service of God, it is the flesh which actually renders it capable of such service. The flesh, indeed, is washed [in baptism], in order that the soul may be cleansed . . . the flesh is shadowed with the imposition of hands [in confirmation], that the soul also may be illuminated by the Spirit; the flesh feeds [in the Eucharist] on the body and blood of Christ, that the soul likewise may be filled with God.”

-Tertullian, The Resurrection of the Dead, 210 AD

 

“And she [Wisdom] has furnished her table’ [Prov. 9:2] . . . refers to his [Christ’s] honored and undefiled body and blood, which day by day are administered and offered sacrificially at the spiritual divine table, as a memorial of that first and ever-memorable table of the spiritual divine supper [i.e., the Last Supper.]”

-Saint Hyppolytus, Fragment from Commentary on Proverbs, 217 AD

 

“Formerly there was baptism in an obscure way . . . now, however, in full view, there is regeneration in water and in the Holy Spirit. Formerly, in an obscure way, there was manna for food; now, however, in full view, there is the true food, the flesh of the Word of God, as he himself says: ‘My flesh is true food, and my blood is true drink.’ [John 6:55]”

-Origen, Homilies on Numbers, 248 AD

 

“He [Paul] threatens, moreover, the stubborn and forward, and denounces them, saying, ‘Whosoever eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord unworthily, is guilty of the body and blood of the Lord’ [1 Cor. 11:27]. All these warnings being scorned and contemned—[lapsed Christians will often take Communion] before their sin is expiated, before confession has been made of their crime, before their conscience has been purged by sacrifice and by the hand of the priest, before the offense of an angry and threatening Lord has been appeased, [and so] violence is done to his body and blood; and they sin now against their Lord more with their hand and mouth than when they denied their Lord.”

-Saint Cyprian of Carthage, The Lapsed, 251 AD

 

“It has come to the knowledge of the holy and great synod that, in some districts and cities, the deacons administer the Eucharist to the presbyters [i.e., priests], whereas neither canon nor custom permits that they who have no right to offer [the Eucharistic sacrifice] should give the Body of Christ to them that do offer [it.]”

-Council of Nicea, Canon 18, 325 AD

 

“After having spoken thus [at the Last Supper], the Lord rose up from the place where he had made the Passover and had given his body as food and his blood as drink, and he went with his disciples to the place where he was to be arrested. But he ate of his own body and drank of his own blood, while he was pondering on the dead. With his own hands the Lord presented his own body to be eaten, and before he was crucified he gave his blood as drink.”

-Saint Aphraahat the Persian Sage, Treatises, 340 AD

 

“The bread and the wine of the Eucharist before the holy invocation of the adorable Trinity were simple bread and wine, but the invocation having been made, the bread becomes the body of Christ and the wine the blood of Christ.”

-Saint Cyril of Jerusalem, Catechetical Lectures, 350 AD

 

“Do not, therefore, regard the bread and wine as simply that; for they are, according to the Master’s declaration, the body and blood of Christ. Even though the senses suggest to you the other, let faith make you firm. Do not judge in this matter by taste, but be fully assured by the faith, not doubting that you have been deemed worthy of the body and blood of Christ. . . . [Since you are] fully convinced that the apparent bread is not bread, even though it is sensible to the taste, but the body of Christ, and that the apparent wine is not wine, even though the taste would have it so, . . . partake of that bread as something spiritual, and put a cheerful face on your soul.”

-Saint Cyril of Jerusalem, Catechetical Lectures, 350 AD

 

“Perhaps you may be saying, ‘I see something else; how can you assure me that I am receiving the body of Christ?’ It but remains for us to prove it. And how many are the examples we might use! . . . Christ is in that sacrament, because it is the body of Christ.”

-Saint Ambrose of Milan, The Mysteries, 390 AD

 

“When [Christ] gave the bread he did not say, ‘This is the symbol of my body,’ but, ‘This is my body.’ In the same way, when he gave the cup of his blood he did not say, ‘This is the symbol of my blood,’ but, ‘This is my blood’; for he wanted us to look upon the [Eucharistic elements] after their reception of grace and the coming of the Holy Spirit not according to their nature, but receive them as they are, the body and blood of our Lord. We ought . . . not regard [the elements] merely as bread and cup, but as the body and blood of the Lord, into which they were transformed by the descent of the Holy Spirit.”

-Theodore of Mopsuestia, Catechetical Homilies, 405 AD

 

“Christ was carried in his own hands when, referring to his own body, he said, ‘This is my body’ [Matt. 26:26]. For he carried that body in his hands.”

-Saint Augustine, Explanations of the Psalms, 405 AD

 

“I promised you [new Christians], who have now been baptized, a sermon in which I would explain the sacrament of the Lord’s Table. . . . That bread which you see on the altar, having been sanctified by the word of God, is the body of Christ. That chalice, or rather, what is in that chalice, having been sanctified by the word of God, is the blood of Christ.”

-Saint Augustine, Sermons, 411 AD

 

“We will necessarily add this also. Proclaiming the death, according to the flesh, of the only-begotten Son of God, that is Jesus Christ, confessing his resurrection from the dead, and his ascension into heaven, we offer the unbloody sacrifice in the churches, and so go on to the mystical thanksgivings, and are sanctified, having received his holy flesh and the precious blood of Christ the Savior of us all. And not as common flesh do we receive it; God forbid: nor as of a man sanctified and associated with the Word according to the unity of worth, or as having a divine indwelling, but as truly the life-giving and very flesh of the Word himself. For he is the life according to his nature as God, and when he became united to his flesh, he made it also to be life-giving.”

-Council of Ephesus, Letter of Cyril to Nestorius, 431 AD

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Confession

Confession in Scripture

John 20 22-23

Christ’s institution of the sacrament of Confession is clearly seen in John 20:22-23. It takes place when Christ appears to the apostles in the upper room, after the resurrection. In these verses Christ gave the apostles the authority to forgive men’s sins or else hold them bound.

He said therefore to them again: Peace be to you. As the Father hath sent me, I also send you. When he had said this, he breathed on them; and he said to them: Receive ye the Holy Ghost. Whose sins you shall forgive, they are forgiven them; and whose sins you shall retain, they are retained.” – John 20:21-23

“As the Father hath sent me, I also send you.”

The Father sent Christ into the world for the forgiveness of sins.  Christ sent his Apostles out in the same manner, and for the same reason.

“Whose sins you shall forgive, they are forgiven them; and whose sins you shall retain, they are retained.” Notice that Christ does not give any qualifying remarks here, so as to say, “If you choose to forgive or retain the sins of those who sin against you…”  Rather, Christ gave them unqualified authority to forgive or retain any and all sins.

Notice also how Christ breathed on them.

“…he breathed on them; and he said to them: Receive ye the Holy Ghost.”

The only other verse in the scriptures where God breathes on man is Genesis 2:7.

“And the Lord God formed man of the slime of the earth: and breathed into his face the breath of life, and man became a living soul.” – Genesis 2:7

Romans 6:23 tells us that:

“For the wages of sin is death. But the grace of God, life everlasting, in Christ Jesus our Lord.” – Romans 6:23

In breathing on the apostles Christ conferred on them spiritual life, the life of grace, of which they had the power to impart to others who were dead in their sins.

Some may argue that this power ceased with the apostles, but scripture is clear that this ministry was passed on to others:

James 5:14-16

“Is anyone among you sick? Let them call the elders of the church to pray over them and anoint them with oil in the name of the Lord. And the prayer offered in faith will make the sick person well; the Lord will raise them up. If they have sinned, they will be forgiven. Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective.” – James 5:14-16

From this verse we see that certain men, elders (or presbyters in Greek, the root word of the English word priest) anointed the sick with oils and prayed for healing, and this rite of the early Church was linked with the confession and forgiveness of sins, just as the Church still practices today in the Sacrament of Holy Anointing.  In His own ministry Christ linked the miraculous healing of the body with the forgiveness of sins. “Which is easier, to say to the sick of the palsy: Thy sins are forgiven thee; or to say: Arise, take up thy bed, and walk?” Mark 2:9

2 Corinthians 5:18-20

“But all things are of God, who hath reconciled us to himself by Christ; and hath given to us the ministry of reconciliation. For God indeed was in Christ, reconciling the world to himself, not imputing to them their sins; and he hath placed in us the word of reconciliation. For Christ therefore we are ambassadors, God as it were exhorting by us. For Christ, we beseech you, be reconciled to God.” – 2 Corinthians 5:18-20

The Church teaches that when a priest administers the sacraments, he stands “in persona Christi,” that is in a mystical sense he acts “in the person of Christ.” Those who act on another’s behalf act as ambassadors. When a priest administers the sacrament of confession (also called the sacrament of Holy Reconciliation) he acts as an ambassador of Christ, exhorting the faithful to be reconciled to God through penance and the confession of their sins.

“[Christ] hath given to us the ministry of reconciliation… For Christ therefore we are ambassadors, God as it were exhorting by us. For Christ, we beseech you, be reconciled to God.” – 2 Corinthians 5:20

Early Christian History

The belief that the Apostles and those they appointed had the power to forgive or retain sins in the name of Christ was believed by all early Christians.

“Confess your sins in church, and do not go up to your prayer with an evil conscience. This is the way of life. . . . On the Lord’s Day gather together, break bread, and give thanks, after confessing your transgressions so that your sacrifice may be pure.”

-The Didache, 70 AD

 

“For where there is division and wrath, God does not dwell. To all them that repent, the Lord grants forgiveness, if they turn in penitence to the unity of God, and to communion with the bishop.”

– St. Ignatius of Antioch, Letter to the Philadelphians, 110 A.D.

 

“Some of them, indeed, indeed make a public confession of their sins; but others are ashamed to do this, and in a tacit kind of way, despairing of [attaining to] the life of God, have, some of them, apostatized altogether; while others hesitate between the two courses.”

-St. Irenaeus of Lyons, Heresies, 189 A.D.

 

“[Regarding confession, some] flee from this work as being an exposure of themselves, or they put it off from day to day. I presume they are more mindful of modesty than of salvation, like those who contract a disease in the more shameful parts of the body and shun making themselves known to the physicians; and thus they perish along with their own bashfulness.”

-Tertullian, Repentance, 203A.D.

 

“[The bishop conducting the ordination of the new bishop shall pray:] God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. . . . Pour forth now that power which comes from you, from your royal Spirit, which you gave to your beloved Son, Jesus Christ, and which he bestowed upon his holy apostles . . . and grant this your servant, whom you have chosen for the episcopate, [the power] to feed your holy flock and to serve without blame as your high priest, ministering night and day to propitiate unceasingly before your face and to offer to you the gifts of your holy Church, and by the Spirit of the high priesthood to have the authority to forgive sins, in accord with your command.”

-St. Hippolytus, Apostolic Tradition, 215 A.D.

 

“It is necessary to confess our sins to those to whom the dispensation of God’s mysteries is entrusted. Those doing penance of old are found to have done it before the saints. It is written in the Gospel that they confessed their sins to John the Baptist [Matt. 3:6], but in Acts [19:18] they confessed to the apostles.”

–St. Basil, Rules Briefly Treated, 374 A.D.

“Priests have received a power which God has given neither to angels nor to archangels. It was said to them: ‘Whatsoever you shall bind on earth shall be bound in heaven; and whatsoever you shall loose, shall be loosed.’ Temporal rulers have indeed the power of binding; but they can only bind the body. Priests, in contrast, can bind with a bond which pertains to the soul itself and transcends the very heavens. Did [God] not give them all the powers of heaven? ‘Whose sins you shall forgive,’ he says, ‘they are forgiven them; whose sins you shall retain, they are retained.’ What greater power is there than this? The Father has given all judgment to the Son. And now I see the Son placing all this power in the hands of men [Matt. 10:40; John 20:21–23]. They are raised to this dignity as if they were already gathered up to heaven.”

–St. John Chrysostom, The Priesthood, 387 A.D.

 

“Let us not listen to those who deny that the Church of GOD is able to forgive all sins. They are wretched indeed, because they do not recognize in Peter the rock and they refuse to believe that the keys of the kingdom of heaven, lost from their own hands, have been given to the Church.”

-St. Augustine, Christian Combat, 396 A.D.

 

“Just as in the Old Testament the priest makes the leper clean or unclean, so in the New Testament the bishop and presbyter binds or looses not those who are innocent or guilty, but by reason of their office, when they have heard the various kinds of sins, they know who is to be bound and who loosed.”
-Saint Jerome, Commentaries on the Gospel of Matthew, 398 A.D


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