Sacraments & Sacramentals

‘If The Eucharist Is Just A Symbol, To Hell With It’ (quote by Flannery O’Conner)

 Bob Sullivan; published in the Southern Nebraska Register

A few months ago, I devoted four consecutive columns to transubstantiation. In that series I said that there was one Catholic teaching which was so important, so essential, that we are setting our faith, even our salvation, up for disaster if we do not know and understand it.

catholic-mass1A few weeks ago, a new national survey came out, which said that around 7 out of 10 Catholics do not believe in transubstantiation. While that survey is not really talking about you, who not only reads stuff about the Catholic faith, but who attends Mass regularly (at least every Sunday, and every holy day of obligation which does not fall on a Sunday), it is a really important fact to consider.

I say this because a lot of American Catholics do not go to Mass regularly, which means somewhere around 50 million American Catholics do not understand or believe that the bread and wine actually turn into the body and blood of Christ when the priest prays the words of consecration over them during Holy Mass.

RRL_9425eThere are approximately 73 million Catholics in the United States today. However, only about 18 million attend Mass regularly. It is interesting to note that this is fairly similar to the number of Catholics who believe in the Eucharist. This is no coincidence. When you truly believe that the Eucharist is Jesus Christ, you believe what Jesus says…

So Jesus said to them, “Very truly, I tell you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you have no life in you. Those who eat my flesh and drink my blood have eternal life, and I will raise them up on the last day; for my flesh is true food and my blood is true drink.” (John 6:53-55).

Either it is Jesus’ flesh and blood, or Jesus is a liar or a lunatic. And if Jesus is a lunatic or a liar, the Christian faith is in vain and you and I would be fools to believe in it (1 Corinthians 15:12-19).  However, you and I know He is the Lord, and therefore, we trust in Him. Because of this belief in the Eucharist, we make Mass the priority of our weekend, no matter where we are and no matter what else we are doing on the weekend. This actually describes about 25% of American Catholics. If it described half of American Catholics, our Catholic churches and Catholic schools would be bursting at the seams.

It seems to me that there are likely two or three primary reasons why more than 50 million Catholics still fail to understand or believe that the Eucharist is truly and fully, the body and blood of Jesus Christ. The first is apathy. Many of us are distracted, overworked, overstimulated, blinded by sin, etc… Because of this, we are not even inspired to try to understand our faith. We are attracted to worldly things instead of heavenly things. However, God isn’t worldly. While He can manifest Himself in awesome and powerful ways, He is usually found in the simplicity of silence:

…but the Lord was not in the wind; and after the wind an earthquake, but the Lord was not in the earthquake; and after the earthquake a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire; and after the fire a sound of sheer silence. When Elijah heard it, he wrapped his face in his mantle and went out and stood at the entrance of the cave. (1 Kings 19:11-13).

HOLY EUCHARIST 51The Eucharist is the silence given to us by Jesus Himself.

The second reason people fail to understand or believe in the Eucharist is poor teaching and example. I believe that we have excellent resources and sources of Catholic education today. This has not always been the case. The 1960s and 1970s are notorious for horrid Catholic catechesis, including religion class in Catholic schools, RCIA, CCD, and sometimes even in seminaries. Young Catholics received a very watered-down version of the faith, and many received deeply flawed catechesis.

The third reason is bad examples. In years past, Catholics received the Eucharist on the tongue while kneeling. Most now receive the Eucharist in the hand while standing. It appears we stroll up the aisle in a neat line while folk music resounds, get a round piece of bread, then stroll back to our seat while thinking about lots of things which do not involve God. This never applies to you, right? Me neither. But it does. Whereas in Heaven, the reverence is very different:

…the twenty-four elders and the four living creatures fell down and worshiped God who is seated on the throne, saying, “Amen. Hallelujah!” (Revelation 19:4).

In heaven, the saints fall down. They also cry out so loud it is like “mighty thunderpeals.” In other words, in Heaven, the worshipers are the loud and active ones and God is quiet and still, whereas in our Mass today, we are quiet, and we don’t even know God is right there with us.

Are people failing to believe in the Eucharist because they don’t go to Mass, or are they failing to go to Mass because they don’t believe in the Eucharist? It is probably a combination of both. However, those of us who do believe, couldn’t stop going to Mass if we tried. How could anyone believe in the Eucharist and choose to stay away? I do not think it is possible, apart from Satan and his demons.

Therefore, we must pray, but also teach, and inspire others to come to know the truth of the Eucharist. We do this through our words but most especially by the reverence we give to the Eucharist.

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The Kiss of Mercy

by Steve Ray on August 28, 2019

My daughter-in-law Anna is very insightful about spiritual things, and in raising our grandkids. Couldn’t ask for a better daughter (in-law, though we consider her our daughter by now :-) She put this up on her FaceBook page a while ago and I was compelled to share it again. Janet and I read this with tears in our eyes WHILE WE WERE IN THE CONFESSIONAL LINE this Saturday. Wow!

The Kiss of Mercy

“Kiss me!” – My young son looked up at me with this imploring demand. I look down upon my passionate, impulsive son observing his pain and anguish. His face is contorted and pleading. The pain he is experiencing is emotional, his center of well being is off.

The Father RUNS to his sinful prodigal son

He feels my displeasure at his most recent misbehavior and he desperately longs to restore the relationship. Without hesitation, I reach down, pull his small, tense body into mine and kiss his upturned lips. Instantly, as if a switch has been flipped, his body relaxes and all is restored.

Oh, how our Lord wishes we would behave as this young child! Multiple times a day, my son will behave in a less than virtuous manner. And yet, he does not despair, does not hide his pain and wrongdoing.

He comes running with all of his misery into my merciful arms. At the young age of 3, he has grasped what many of us have not. His sin is not a condemnation, it is an opportunity to receive mercy and healing. It is an opportunity to restore and strengthen the one relationship to him that is his whole world.

How can this be? Because our Lord said it was so. Hear his words, “Neither do I condemn you, go and sin no more.” See and feel his actions. Focus your heart on his passion.

Call to mind the scourging. The whip is in your hand. Your pride, anger, envy, greed, sloth, gluttony, and lust rush upon His body with a fury. He already sees it and knows it, admit to it yourself and become aware of the reality of your sin and misery. 

But don’t let it end there! Once all the dark passion within you is spent, fall to your knees. Look divine love in the face. Fix your gaze on him and let his gaze penetrate yourself. And then say to him, “It was not in vain. Kiss me!”

Allow divine love to hold you, as the sweet pain of that kiss courses through your body. Hold fast in trust, as it probes and burns away the dark places and secret misery within you. Experience the gift of merciful love as he transforms you each moment that you come to him demanding and trusting in that mercy again and again and again.

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In this episode of The Cordial Catholic Podcast, I talk to Steve Ray, author, speaker, and Catholic evangelist about the Eucharist. Is it a sign and symbol like Protestants say that it is, or something more? What did the Early Church believe?

Screen Shot 2019-06-26 at 7.27.27 AMWe unpack Steve’s conversion story to find out how a Bible-believing Baptist of 30 years could ever become a Catholic–and the central role of the Eucharist and the Early Church in his conversion story. For the whole story on an audio CD, click on the image to the right.

For more from Steve, visit his website at catholicconvert.com where you can find his books, extensive articles and talks, and information about his video series and pilgrimages. Steve is very, very busy and never slows down. Check out everything he’s up to and you won’t be disappointed.

For more, visit The Cordial Catholic. Send your feedback to cordialcatholic@gmail.com. This podcast is 100% listener supported. For more information about sponsoring the show, keeping this podcast going, and helping me to continue to deliver quality content please visit the Patreon page.  Even $1 or $2 a month can go a long way to helping make this podcast sustainable.

 

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Corpus Christi Sunday: Multiplication of Loaves a Miracle or Just a Lesson in Sharing?

June 23, 2019

When confronted with this at Mass a while ago I wrote a letter to the priest which became an article in Catholic Answers Magazine. Article HERE. The priest said there was no miracle when Jesus multiplied the loaves and fish. All he did was teach selfish people to share and they pulled extra loaves and fish from […]

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Interesting Explanation of Baptism from Protestant Dictionary – “baptism…in itself is unimportant”

May 11, 2019

I was looking up Greek definitions of the word baptism and found this interesting “definition.” This dictionary is usually very good but I found this summary of biblical passages on baptism very intriguing and disingenuous. Take a look at this definition and think about it for yourself. Analyze it and the verses used. Notice how they […]

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Genuflecting a No-No?

May 5, 2019

Several years ago my wife and visited a new parish (new for us). I genuflected before receiving the Blessed Sacrament. Believe it or not, I was reprimanded by the Extraordinary Minister while he handed me the host. After Mass I spoke with the priest about it and he reprimanded me as well. I told them Quite […]

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“This Is My Body” – Meaning What? :-)

May 2, 2019
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Gary Michuta Refutes Anti-Catholic William Webster on the Eucharist

March 7, 2019

A Critique of William Webster’s article: The Eucharist Steve Ray here: I have tangled with William Webster often in the past. You can read my debates with him at www.CatholicConvert.com/resources under the heading “My Books, Talks & DVDs: Reviews and Defense. Go to the end of the list. But this article, response and critique of […]

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Pastor Bob “Preaches the Word” (Discussing A Sermon on Baptism)

February 13, 2019

Pastor Bob Preaches The Word (or does he?) By Steve Ray Josh left Sunday services full of excitement, anxious to discuss Pastor Bob’s sermon with his sister Jennifer who had recently converted to the Catholic Church. The pastor had explained how salvation was by “faith alone” and not by rituals and works. He was anxious […]

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Cross vs. Crucifix

February 11, 2019

(A letter Steve wrote to an Evangelical friend asking for an explanation of the Crucifix) Dear Protestant Friend: You display a bare cross in your homes; we display the cross and the crucifix. What is the difference and why? The cross is an upright post with a crossbeam in the shape of a “T”. A […]

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Steve Ray on the Seven Sacraments

January 12, 2019

Have you ever wondered about the Biblical roots for the sacraments? Let these talks from Steve Ray be your map to discover the connection between the Sacraments and Sacred Scripture. In this brand new informative and inspiring series, Steve Ray walks through the Seven Sacraments and why they are necessary for our salvation. Using Biblical and historical […]

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Is the Mass a Sacrifice?

December 6, 2018

St. Paul mentions three sacrifices in 1 Corinthians 10:15-21 (see below). He compares the Sacrifice at the Mass with the sacrifice of the Jews and of the pagans. He even uses the phrase “table of the Lord” which is a technical term for an altar of sacrifice in the Old Testament (Malachi 1:7, 12). The […]

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Do the Church Fathers Teach the Eucharist is a Symbol and Not the Real Presence?

October 14, 2018

Today we are in Capernaum where Jesus said: “Eat My Flesh and Drink My Blood.” I thought it appropriate that I post this challenge today. A man sent a challenge saying “the Fathers of the Church limited the Eucharist to a symbol and therefore it is NOT the Real Presence of Christ.” Is that true? My […]

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Do the Sacraments Need A “Digestive Juice”?

October 13, 2018

At a recent conference, I mentioned that when we eat we need digestive juices in order to make our food do for our bodies what it was intended to do. I said sacraments are the same. The digestive juice of the sacraments is faith. A listener honestly and respectfully questioned my comments. She asked her […]

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Can Relics and Sacramentals Relay the Power of God?

October 11, 2018

Some might claim that Catholic teaching on relics and Sacramentals is unbiblical. Really? Check out these biblical passages: “So extraordinary were the mighty deeds God accomplished at the hands of Paul that when face CLOTHS or aprons that touched his skin were applied to the sick, their diseases left them and the evil spirits came […]

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Who Says the Mass is a Sacrifice?

October 9, 2018

Who Says the Mass is a Sacrifice? Jimmy Swaggart (making a foolish and unhistorical claim): “The Catholic doctrine of transubstantiation is, without question, one of the most absurd doctrines ever imposed on a trusting public…  Roman Catholic errors are inevitably human innovations that were inserted into the church during the early centuries. This teaching on […]

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