“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” (John 6: 54-55).
What do these verses mean? Ah, well, the answer, is another main difference between Protestants and Catholics. In fact, a whole system of worshipping the host (the wafer in communion) and the Cup (the wine) has built up around ‘one’ interpretation of these verses in John. It’s good to be reminded of this below though:
“I am the Lord your God, who brought you up out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery. You shall have no other gods before Me. You shall not make for yourselves an idol, or any likeness of what is in heaven above or on the earth beneath or in the water under the earth. You shall not worship (bow down to) them or serve them; for I, the LORD your God, am a jealous God…” (Ex. 20:2-5). [Commandments 1&2]
“God is spirit; and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth” (John 4:24).
From the Council of Trent (1545-1563), an ecumenical council of the Roman Catholic Church, whose main object was the definitive determination of the doctrines of the Church in answer to the heresies of the Protestants, Session XIII on Canons on the Most Holy Sacrament of the Eucharist, came this:
Canon 1. If anyone denies that in the sacrament of the most Holy Eucharist are contained truly, really and substantially the body and blood together with the soul and divinity of our Lord Jesus Christ, and consequently the whole Christ, but says that He is in it only as in a sign, or figure or force, let him be anathema.
Canon 2. If anyone says that in the sacred and, holy sacrament of the Eucharist the substance of the bread and wine remains conjointly with the body and blood of our Lord Jesus Christ, and denies that wonderful and singular change of the whole substance of the bread into the body and the whole substance of the wine into the blood, the appearances only of bread and wine remaining, which change the Catholic Church most aptly calls transubstantiation, let him be anathema.
Transubstantiation is a complete theological statement and doctrine within Roman Catholicism. ‘This is the body and blood of Christ’ means that when you eat the host and drink the cup in the Eucharist (communion) you are ‘actually’, and ‘really’ eating Christ’s body and drinking His blood; the priest’s liturgy and blessing has actually changed the elements of grain and grapes into the physical flesh and blood of Jesus.
Of course your mouth, nose, and eyes are telling you they’re just bread and wine, you wouldn’t know from your senses that you were eating human flesh and drinking human blood, but in fact, indeed, you are! The priest as the only one having authority from God to pronounce the blessing which changes the elements into flesh and blood has pronounced it so!
Does this really matter though? Is this really such a big difference between Protestants and Catholics? We’ll see why in how the Catholic Church conducts the Mass. Stay tuned.
Vaya con Dios mis hijas,
Dear ol’ Dad