CATHOLIC CHRONICLE I
THE HOLY EUCHARIST
Eating the Flesh of Deity
Edited and compiled by Keith Green
Last Days Ministries, Box 40, Lindale, TX 75771-0040
One might wonder why, in a scriptural look at the doctrines of the
Catholic Church, I would choose this subject - The Roman Interpretation of
the Lord's Supper (more commonly known as "Communion") for the first of the
"Catholic Chronicles." Most Protestants (1) would expect me to deal with
what they might consider the more obvious departures from biblical
foundation - such as the worship of and prayers to the Virgin Mary, the
infallibility of the pope, purgatory and prayers for the dead, or the
history of the torture and burning of accused "heretics" and such like
But for this first article I believe that we should get right to the
root, before we begin exploring the branches of Roman doctrine and
practice. And any Catholic who has even a small knowledge of his church
knows that the central focus of each gathering (known as the "Mass") is the
The word "Eucharist" is a Greek word that means "thanksgiving." In the
gospel accounts of the Last Supper, Jesus is described as "giving thanks"
before breaking the bread (Luke 22:19), and so this word became a proper
name for the Lord's Supper in the early Catholic Church. Today, it is more
commonly associated with the elements in communion, especially the host or
"wafer," although the ceremony itself is still called "The Holy Eucharist."
Now, you might be wondering why I'm taking so much time and effort to
explain something as harmless as the ceremony known around the world as
communion. If you've probably taken part in a communion service. So why
make all this fuss about bread and wine? Why? Because that's where the
similarity between evangelical communion services and the Roman Catholic
Mass ends - at the bread and the wine!
That 18-letter word above is a complete theological statement . . . and
the name of a doctrine, out of which springs the most astounding set of
beliefs and practices that has ever been taught in the name of religion.
Very, very few people know what the Catholic Church actually believes and
teaches concerning this subject, and I am convinced that even fewer
Catholics realize themselves what they are taking part in. From earliest
childhood, "This is the body of Christ" is all they've ever heard when the
priest gingerly placed the wafer on their tongue. And as they grew up, it
was such a natural and normal part of religious life, that their minds
never even questioned the fact that Jesus Christ, Himself, was actually in
It might be hard for you to believe, but that's exactly, literally,
what "transubstantiation" means. The Roman Catholic Church teaches their
flocks that the bread and the wine used in the Mass actually, physically,
turn into the flesh and blood of Jesus Christ after the priest blesses them
during the liturgy (ceremony. Although this in itself might shock you, it
is really only the beginning. For the implications and practical
conclusions of this doctrine are absolutely mind-boggling.
For example, the Roman Catholic Church teaches that since their priests
are the only ones who have the authority from God (2) to pronounce the
blessing which changes the elements of communion into the actual body and
blood of Jesus, that they are the only church where Jesus "physically
resides" even now! Let me quote a letter written to one of the girls in
our ministry from a devoted Catholic:
"To explain the Catholic Church would take volumes, but basically the
Catholic Church was founded by Jesus Christ when He was here on earth.
It is the ONLY church founded by Jesus. The greatest asset of our church
is that we have Jesus present in the Holy Eucharist - He is really here,
body, soul and divinity. He is God and in His omnipotence can do
anything He wishes, and He decided to remain with us until the end of the
world in the form of the host in Holy Communion."
If you think this is just the isolated opinion of someone on the fringe
of the church, or that the Catholic Church as a whole does not really
believe or teach this, I beg you to read on. For not only is this the
official teaching of Rome, but according to irreversible church decree
(called dogma), anyone who does not hold to this belief, in the most
explicit detail, is accursed and damned forever!
The Council of Trent
When Europe was electrified by the eloquent preaching of the sixteenth
century reformation, the Roman Catholic hierarchy gathered together her
theologians who worked for three decades on the preparation of a statement
of faith concerning transubstantiation. This document remains, to this
day, the standard of Catholic doctrine.
As the Second Vatican Council commenced in 1963, Pope John XXIII
declared, "I do accept entirely all that has been decided and declared at
the Council of Trent." What did the Council of Trent decide and declare?
Some of the first sections are as follows:
"If anyone shall deny that the body and blood, together with the soul
and divinity of our Lord Jesus Christ, and therefore entire Christ, are
truly, really, and substantially contained in the sacrament of the most
Holy Eucharist; and shall say that He is only in it as a sign, or in a
figure - let him be accursed!"
"If anyone shall say that the substance of the bread and wine remains
in the sacrament of the most Holy Eucharist, together with the body and
blood of our Lord Jesus Christ - let him be accursed!"
"If anyone shall say that Christ, the only begotten Son of God, is not
to be adored in the holy sacrament of the Eucharist, even with the open
worship of Latria, and therefore not to be venerated with any peculiar
festal celebrity, not to be solemnly carried about in processions according
to the praiseworthy and universal rites and customs of the Holy Church, and
that He is not to be publicly set before the people to be adored, and that
His adorers are idolators, - let him be accursed!"
The Worship Of The Host
"Thou shall not make unto thee any graven image (4)...
Thou shall not bow down thyself to them, nor serve them"
- The 2nd commandment (Ex.20:4-5)
"God is spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and
- John 4:23
In Canon VI, a rite of worship called "Latria" was spoken of. This is
not just an "ancient custom," it is thoroughly practiced today in many
Masses. After the bread has been supposedly "changed" into the Christ by
the priest, it is placed in a holder called a monstrance. And before this
monstrance the Catholic must bow and worship (this act is called
genuflecting) the little wafer as God! Sometimes they have processions
where they solemnly march, as the congregation bows and offers praise and
worship - to this piece of bread!
The Roman teaching that Jesus Christ is physically present in each
morsel of bread creates many other doctrinal and practical problems. For
instance, when the service is over, what happens to all those leftover
wafers that have been "changed into Christ?" Do they change back into
bread again when the priest goes home? I'm afraid not. For according to
Canon IV of the Council of Trent, they stay flesh! And don't think that
400 year-old decree is just some dusty old manuscript in a museum case
somewhere - it still is completely adhered to and passionately practiced.
As an example, here is a passage from an official Catholic home instruction
book, copyrighted 1978:
"Jesus Christ does not cease to exist under the appearances of bread
and wine after the Mass is over. Furthermore, some hosts are usually kept
in all Catholic churches. In these hosts, Jesus is physically and truly
present, as long as the appearances of bread remain. Catholics therefore
have the praiseworthy practice of `making visits' to our Lord present in
their churches to offer Him their thanks, their adoration, to ask for help
and forgiveness: in a word, to make Him the center around which they live
their daily lives." That is an incredible interpretation of how to make
Jesus the center of your daily life!
When Did This Teaching Begin?
The teaching of transubstantiation does not date back to the Last
Supper as most Catholics suppose. It was a controversial topic for many
centuries before officially becoming an article of faith (which means that
it is essential to salvation according to Rome). The idea of a physical
presence was vaguely held by some, such as Ambrose, but it was not until
831 A.D. that Paschasius Radbertus, a Benedictine Monk, published a
treatise openly advocating the doctrine. Even then, for almost another
four centuries, theological was was waged over this teaching by bishops and
people alike, until at the Fourth Lateran Council in 1215 A.D., it was
officially defined and canonized as a dogma (a teaching or doctrine that can
never be reversed or repealed. It is equal in authority to the Bible.) by
Pope Innocent III.
Church historians tell us that when this doctrine first began to be
taught, the priests took great care that no crumb should fall - lest the
body of Jesus be hurt, or even eaten by a mouse or a dog! There were quite
serious discussions as to what should be done if a person were to vomit
after receiving the sacrament. At the Council of Constance, it was argued
that if a communicant spilled some of the blood on his beard, both beard
and the man should be destroyed by burning!
How Rome Views the Bible
Before we proceed to look at what the Bible has to say on this subject,
it is important to understand the official Catholic view of the Scriptures.
According to unquestionable decree, they hold that "Church tradition has
equal authority with the Bible." This is not just a theological view, but
it was made an article of faith by the same Council of Trent in 1546! And
again, this view is completely held by the Church today:
"The teachings of the Church will always be in keeping with the
teachings of the Scripture...and it is through the teaching of the Church
that we understand more fully truths of sacred Scripture. To the Catholic
Church belongs the final word in the understanding and meaning of the Holy
Spirit in the words of the Bible."
And explaining the premise used in interpreting the Bible:
"...usually, the meaning of the Scriptures is sought out by those who are
specially trained for this purpose. And in their conclusions, they know
that no explanation of the Scriptures which contradicts the truths
constantly taught by the infallible Church can be true." (10)
Anyone can see how such a mode of interpretation can be dangerously
used to manipulate Scripture to mean absolutely anything at all! Who has
not observed this of the various cults? The Moonies, Mormons, and
Jehovah's Witnesses all back up their false teachings with "new
revelations" and "inspired interpretations" of the Scriptures - each
claiming that the Holy Spirit revealed these new truths to their founders.
One opens themselves to all kinds of deception when they judge the Bible by
what their church or pastor teaches, instead of judging what their church
or pastor teaches by the Bible!
Catholic Proof-Texts Explained
With this in mind, we will briefly discuss the two main passages of
Scripture that the Roman Church uses while trying to show that Jesus
Himself taught transubstantiation.
John 6:54-55: "He who eats My flesh and drinks My blood has eternal
life; and I will raise him up on the last day. For My flesh is true food,
and My blood is true drink."
Catholics are taught here, that Jesus is explaining how He is literally
offering them His flesh and blood, so that they may have eternal life by
physically eating Him. With just a little study of the whole passage
(verses 27-71), it is clear that Jesus was not talking about physical, but
spiritual food and drink.
Food is eaten to satisfy hunger. And in verse 35 Jesus says, "He who
cometh to Me shall never hunger." Now, Jesus is not promising eternal
relief from physical hunger pains. He is, of course, speaking of the
spiritual hunger in man for righteousness and salvation, And He promises
to those who will "come to Him" that He will satisfy their hunger for these
things forever - therefore, to come to Him is to "eat"! (See also Matt.
5:6, 11:28; Jn. 4:31-34.)
We drink also to satisfy thirst, and again in verse 35 Jesus tells us,
"He that believeth on Me shall never thirst." Therefore, to believe on Him
is to "drink"! (See also John 4:13-14.) No one can say that Jesus was
here establishing the eating and drinking of His literal flesh and blood to
give eternal life, for in verse 63 He says, "It is the Spirit who gives
life; the flesh profits nothing; the words that I speak unto you, they are
spirit, and they are life." Thus Jesus makes clear what we should be
eating and drinking to have eternal life! Matt. 26:26 and 28: "This is My
body...this is My blood." (See also Matt. 4:4.)
Catholics base their whole religious system on their interpretation of
these tow verses. They adamantly teach that right here, Jesus is
pronouncing the first priestly blessing that mysteriously changes the bread
and wine into His body and blood. The absolute folly of such a conclusion
is proved by this one observation: He was literally still there before,
during, and after they had partaken of the bread and the cup! He was not
changed into some liquid and bread - His flesh was still on His bones, and
His blood still in His veins. He had not vanished away to reappear in the
form of a piece of bread or a cup of wine!
Let's look closer at His words. No one can deny that here we have
figurative language. Jesus did not say TOUTO GIGNETAI ("this has become"
or "is turned into"), but TOUTO ESTI ("this is," i.e., "signifies,"
"represents" or "stands for"). (11) It is obvious that Jesus' meaning was
not literal but symbolic! And He wasn't the first in the Bible to claim
figuratively that a glass of liquid was really "blood."
One time, David's friends heard him express a strong desire for water
from the well of Bethlehem. In spite of extreme danger, these men broke
through the enemy lines of the Philistines and brought the water to him.
When David found out that these men had risked their lives in this way, he
refused to drink the water, exclaiming, "Is not this the blood of the men
who went in jeopardy of their lives?" (2 Sam. 23:17)
Throughout the gospels we find similar metaphorical language: Jesus
referring to Himself as "the Door," "the Vine," "the Light," "the Root,"
"the Rock," "the Bright and Morning Star," as well as "the Bread." The
passage is written with such common language that it is plain to any
observant reader that the Lord's Supper was intended primarily as a
memorial and in no sense a literal sacrifice. "Do this in remembrance of
Me." (Luke 22:19)
True Pagan Origins
Where did this teaching and practice really come from? Like many of
the beliefs and rites of Romanism, transubstantiation was first practiced
by pagan religions. The noted historian Durant said that belief in
transubstantiation as practiced by the priests of the Roman Catholic system
is "one of the oldest ceremonies of primitive religion." (12) The
syncretism and mysticism of the Middle East were great factors in
influencing the West, particularly Italy. (13) In Egypt, priests would
consecrate mest cakes which were supposed to become the flesh of Osiris.
(14) The idea of transubstantiation was also characteristic of the
religion of Mithra whose sacraments of cakes and haoma drink closely
parallel Catholic Eucharist rites. (15)
The idea of eating the flesh of deity was most popular among the people
of Mexico and Central America long before they ever heard of Christ; and
when Spanish missionaries first landed in those countries, "their surprise
was heightened, when they witnessed a religious rite which reminded them of
communion...an image made of flour...and after consecration by priests, was
distributed among the people who ate it...declaring it was the flesh of
So Why Do They Teach It?
Before concluding our first chronicle, the question needs to be asked,
"Why does the Roman Catholic Church need to have such a doctrine - why do
they think that Jesus wants them to Physically eat Him?" That is what
truly puzzled me as I read astounded through the catechism and doctrinal
instruction books. But the answer to that question is a sad one. As I
said before, the implications and practical conclusions of the teaching of
transubstantiation are substantially worse than the doctrine itself - and
like a great web spun by an industrious spider, Rome's teachings spiral out
from this central hub like the spokes of a wheel.
In Catholic Chronicle II we will look intently at the next direct
result of transubstantiation in official Catholic systematic theology: "The
Sacrifice of the Mass."
1 - Today, Protestants are considered to be members of any church or
church-group outside the Roman Catholic or Eastern Orthodox churches.
2 - Passed down through "Apostolic Succession" from Peter the apostle-the
supposed "first pope."
3 - The "wafer."
4 - NASV reads, "You shall not make for yourself an idol."
5 - This act is called "genuflecting."
6 - "The Spirit of Jesus" Catholic Home Study Instruction Course.
Book #3, p.92.
7 - A "Dogma" is a teaching or doctrine that can never be reversed or
repealed. It is equal in authority to the Bible.
8 - The Other Side of Rome, p.21.
9 - By the end of the eleventh century, lest someone should spill God's
blood, some in the church began to hold back the cup from the people,
and finally in 1415, the Council of Constance officially denied the
cup to laymen. Although today, by decree of the Vatican, churches may
now offer the cup optionally to communicants.
10 - "The Spirit of Jesus," pp.94-95.
11 - If I held up a picture of my son and said, "This is my son," I am
certainly not saying that the actual picture is literally my son.
12 - The Story of Civilization, p.741.
13 - Roman Society From Nero to Marcus Aurelius, by Dill.
14 - An ancient Egyptian god of the lower world and judge of the dead -
Encyclopedia of Religions, Vol.2, p.76.
15 - Ibid.
16 - Prescott's Mexico, Vol. 3.
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