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Transubstantiation—Hard to Believe? Transubstantiation—Hard to Believe? [Open]
Catholic Exchange ^ | May 26, 2008 | Marcellino D'Ambrosio, Ph.D.

Posted on 05/26/2008 4:50:16 AM PDT by NYer

The Catholic Church teaches that in the Eucharist, the wafer and the wine really become the body and blood of Jesus Christ.  Have you ever met anyone who finds this a bit hard to take?

If so, you shouldn’t be surprised.  When Jesus spoke about eating His flesh and drinking His blood in John 6, the response was less than enthusiastic.  “How can this man give us his flesh to eat?” (v. 52).  “This is a hard saying who can listen to it?” (v.60).  In fact so many of His disciples abandoned Him that Jesus asked the twelve if they also planned to quit.  Note that Jesus did not run after the deserters saying, “Come back!  I was just speaking metaphorically!”

It’s intriguing that one charge the pagan Romans lodged against Christians was that of cannibalism.  Why?  They heard that this sect met weekly to eat flesh and drink human blood.  Did the early Christians say: “Wait a minute, it’s only a symbol!”?  Not at all.  When explaining the Eucharist to the Emperor around 155 AD, St. Justin did not mince his words: “For we do not receive these things as common bread or common drink; but as Jesus Christ our Sav-ior being incarnate by God’s word took flesh and blood for our salvation, so also we have been taught that the food consecrated by the word of prayer which comes from him . . . is the flesh and blood of that incarnate Jesus.”

Not till the Middle Ages did theologians really try to explain how Christ’s body and blood became present in the Eucharist.  After a few theologians got it wrong, St. Thomas Aquinas came along and offered an explanation that became classic.  In all change that we normally observe, he teaches, appearances change, but deep down, the essence of a thing stays the same.  Example: If, in a fit of mid-life crisis, I traded my mini-van for a Ferrari, abandoned my wife and kids to be a tanned beach bum, bleached and spiked my hair, buffed up at the gym, and made a trip to the plastic surgeon, I’d look a lot different.  But for all my trouble, deep down I’d still substantially be the same confused, middle-aged dude as when I started.

St. Thomas said the Eucharist is the one change we encounter that is exactly the opposite.  The appearances of bread and wine stay the same, but the very essence of these realities, which can’t be viewed by a microscope, is totally transformed.  What starts as bread and wine becomes Christ’s body and blood.  A handy word was coined to describe this unique change.  Transformation of the “sub-stance”, what “stands-under” the surface, came to be called “transubstantiation.”

What makes this happen?  The Spirit and the Word.  After praying for the Holy Spirit to come (epiklesis), the priest, who stands in the place of Christ, repeats the words of the God-man: “This is my Body, This is my Blood.”  Sounds like Genesis 1 to me: the mighty wind (read “Spirit”) whips over the surface of the water and God’s Word resounds.  “Let there be light” and there was light.  It is no harder to believe in the Eucharist than to believe in Creation.

But why did Jesus arrange for this transformation of bread and wine?  Because He intended another kind of transformation.  The bread and wine are transformed into the Body and Blood of Christ which are, in turn, meant to transform us.  Ever hear the phrase: “you are what you eat?”  The Lord desires us to be transformed from a motley crew of imperfect individuals into the Body of Christ, come to full stature.

Our evangelical brethren speak often of an intimate, personal relationship with Jesus.  But I ask you, how much more personal and intimate than the Eucharist can you get?  We receive the Lord’s body into our physical body that we may become Him whom we receive!

Such an awesome gift deserves its own feast.  And that’s why, back in the days of Thomas Aquinas and St. Francis of Assisi, the Pope decided to institute the Feast of Corpus Christi.

TOPICS: Apologetics; Catholic; Theology; Worship
KEYWORDS: catholic; eucharist; realpresence
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1 posted on 05/26/2008 4:50:17 AM PDT by NYer
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Comment #2 Removed by Moderator

To: All

The Eucharistic Miracle of Lanciano

8th Century A.D.

       A Basilian monk, wise in the ways of the world, but not in the ways of faith, was having a trying time with his belief in the real presence of Our Lord Jesus in the Eucharist. He prayed constantly for relief from his doubts, and from the fear that he was losing his vocation. He suffered through the routine of his priesthood day after day, with these doubts gnawing at him.

       The situation in the world did not help strengthen his faith. There were many heresies cropping up all the time, which kept chipping away at his faith. They were not all from outside the church either. Brother priests and bishops were victims of these heresies, and they were being spread throughout the church. This priest couldn't seem to help being more and more convinced by the logic of these heresies, especially the one concerning his particular problem, the physical presence of Jesus in the Eucharist.

       One morning, while he was having a strong attack of doubt, he began the Consecration of the Mass for the people of the town. He used the same size host which is used in the Latin Rite masses today. What he beheld as he consecrated the bread and wine caused his hands to shake, indeed his whole body. He stood for a long time with his back to the people, and then slowly turned around to them.

       He said: "0 fortunate witnesses to whom the Blessed God, to confound my disbelief, has wished to reveal Himself in this Most Blessed Sacrament and to render Himself visible to our eves. Come, brethren, and marvel at our God so close to us. Behold the Flesh and Blood of our most beloved Christ."

       The host had turned into Flesh. The wine had turned into Blood.

       The people, having witnessed the miracle for themselves, began to wail, asking for forgiveness, crying for mercy. Others began beating their breasts, confessing their sins, declaring themselves unworthy to witness such a miracle. Still others went down on their knees in respect, and thanksgiving for the gift the Lord had bestowed on them. All spread the story throughout the town and surrounding villages.

       Jesus even allowed Himself to be crucified again. After the miracle, the Host was pinned down to a wooden board, so that when it dried, it would not curl up, as scabbed flesh does. So here He was again, with nails in His Body, nailed to a piece of wood.

       The miracle that occurred in 700 was just the beginning. That was 1250 years ago. Had that miracle taken place, and then the flesh and blood disintegrated, as would have been normal, the miracle would have been none the less a miracle. The priest's faith had been renewed. The entire town, the whole country for that matter, became aware of the miracle. Pilgrims flocked to Lanciano to venerate the Host turned flesh. Belief in the Eucharist had been reborn. The gift from the Lord was complete.

       But that's not all. The miracle is ongoing. The Host-turned-Flesh, and the Wine-turned-Blood, without the use of any form of preservative, is still present in the reliquary. In 1574 testing was done on the Flesh and Blood and an unexplainable phenomenon was discovered. The five pellets of coagulated Blood are different sizes and shapes. But any combination weighs the same as the total. In other words, 1 weighs the same as 2, 2 weigh the same as 3, and 3 weigh the same as 5.

       From the very beginning, the local church accepted this miracle as a true sign from heaven, and venerated the Eucharistic Flesh and Blood in processions on its feast day, the last Sunday of October. The fame of the shrine spread throughout the region quickly, and soon all of Italy came to the Church in Pilgrimage.

Analysis of Still Existing Evidence

       A pilgrim, born and baptised Catholic, shared with his convert wife, after venerating the Eucharistic Miracle of Lanciano, "I never believed in the physical presence of Jesus in the Eucharist. To me, it was strictly `in memory of Him'. Now, I truly believe that my Jesus comes alive to me personally in the Consecrated Host that I consume at Holy Mass."

       On one occasion, after the priest had shown all our pilgrims the Eucharistic Miracle, he came down to the foot of the altar, and made the following observation:

       "Remember, this miracle that you are witnessing now, and that you have traveled so far to witness, happens every day in every church in the world, at the consecration of the Mass."

       How many tests have been made over the years, how many times Our Dear Lord Jesus allows Himself to be prodded and cut, examined under microscopes, and photographed. The most recent, an extensive scientific research done in 1970, used the most modern scientific tools available. The results of the tests are as follows:

  1. The flesh is real flesh. The blood is real blood.
  2. The flesh consists of the muscular tissue of the heart (myocardium)
  3. The flesh and blood belong to the human species.
  4. The flesh and blood have the same blood type (AB).
  5. In the blood, there were found proteins in the same normal proportions as are found in the scro-proteic make up of fresh, normal blood.
  6. In the blood, there were also found these minerals: Chlorides, phosphorous, magnesium, potassium, sodium and calcium.
  7. The preservation of the flesh and of the blood, which were left in their natural state for twelve centuries (without any chemical preservatives) and exposed to the action of atmospheric and biological agents, remains an extraordinary phenomenon.

       As part of this most recent investigation, the following comment was made: "Though it is alien to my task strictly speaking, I feel I should insert the following reflection into the study just completed: the clarification, which comes through in these studies, of the nature of the flesh gives little support to the hypothesis of a `fraud' perpetrated centuries ago. As a matter of fact supposing that the heart may have been taken from a cadaver, I maintain that only a hand experienced in anatomic dissection would have been able to obtain from a hollow internal organ such a uniform cut (as can still be glimpsed in the flesh)."

       What the doctor, a scientist and not a theologian, is saying in simple language is that although it's not his task to speculate, it would have been difficult, next to impossible, for anyone to have cut a slice of the heart in the way that it was done. He also states that it's highly doubtful that there was any fraud involved.

       Another unusual characteristic of the blood is that when liquified, it has retained the chemical properties of freshly shed blood. When we cut ourselves and stain our clothes, the chemical properties of the blood are gone within 20 minutes to a half hour. If blood is not refrigerated within an hour maximum, the composition rapidly breaks down. If blood were taken from a dead body, it would lose its qualities quickly through decay. This blood is over 1250 years old and still contains all its properties, chemicals and protein of freshly shed blood. And yet in the testing, it was determined that no preservatives of any kind were found in the blood.

       The Above Information is extracted from:

This Is My Body,            
           This Is My Blood

Miracles of the Eucharist
               by Bob and Penny Lord

3 posted on 05/26/2008 4:55:01 AM PDT by NYer (John 6:51-58)
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To: NYer

“WHAT????” she exclaims...”you eat Jesus?”

“Yes, we partake in the body and blood of Jesus Christ at the mass” the priest says.

“That’s blasphemy! How can you eat Jesus....just sitting around...mackin’ on Jesus. Oh Lord have mercy, you’re just sitting there chowing down on Jesus.”

4 posted on 05/26/2008 4:55:30 AM PDT by Rome2000 (Peace is not an option)
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To: Salvation; narses; SMEDLEYBUTLER; redhead; Notwithstanding; nickcarraway; Romulus; ...



Square before the Basilica of St John Lateran
Thursday, 26 May 2005



Dear Brothers in the Episcopate and in the Priesthood,
Dear Brothers and Sisters,

On the feast of Corpus Domini, the Church relives the mystery of Holy Thursday in the light of the Resurrection. There is also a Eucharistic procession on Holy Thursday, when the Church repeats the exodus of Jesus from the Upper Room to the Mount of Olives.

In Israel, the night of the Passover was celebrated in the home, within the intimacy of the family; this is how the first Passover in Egypt was commemorated, the night in which the blood of the paschal lamb, sprinkled on the crossbeam and doorposts of the houses, served as protection against the destroyer.

On that night, Jesus goes out and hands himself over to the betrayer, the destroyer, and in so doing, overcomes the night, overcomes the darkness of evil. Only in this way is the gift of the Eucharist, instituted in the Upper Room, fulfilled: Jesus truly gives his Body and his Blood. Crossing over the threshold of death, he becomes living Bread, true manna, endless nourishment for eternity. The flesh becomes the Bread of Life.

In the Holy Thursday procession, the Church accompanies Jesus to the Mount of Olives: it is the authentic desire of the Church in prayer to keep watch with Jesus, not to abandon him in the night of the world, on the night of betrayal, on the night of the indifference of many people.

On the feast of Corpus Domini, we again go on this procession, but in the joy of the Resurrection. The Lord is risen and leads us. In the narrations of the Resurrection there is a common and essential feature; the angels say: the Lord "goes ahead of you to Galilee, where you will see him" (Mt 28: 7).

Taking this into deep consideration, we can say that this "going ahead" of Jesus implies a two-way direction.

The first is, as we have heard, Galilee. In Israel, Galilee was considered to be the doorway to the pagan world. And in reality, precisely on the mountain in Galilee, the disciples see Jesus, the Lord, who tells them: "Go... and make disciples of all the nations" (Mt 28: 19).

The other preceding direction of the Risen One appears in the Gospel of St John, in the words of Jesus to Mary Magdalene: "Do not hold me, for I have not yet ascended to the Father" (Jn 20: 17).

Jesus goes before us next to the Father, rises to the heights of God and invites us to follow him. These two directions on the Risen One's journey are not contradictory, for both indicate the path to follow Christ.

The true purpose of our journey is communion with God. He himself is the house of many dwelling places (cf. Jn 14: 2ff.); but we can be elevated to these dwelling places only by going "towards Galilee", travelling on the pathways of the world, taking the Gospel to all nations, carrying the gift of his love to the men and women of all times.

Therefore, the journey of the Apostles extends to the "ends of the earth" (cf. Acts 1: 6ff.). In this way, Sts Peter and Paul went all the way to Rome, a city that at that time was the centre of the known world, the true caput mundi.

The Holy Thursday procession accompanies Jesus in his solitude towards the via crucis. The Corpus Domini procession responds instead in a symbolic way to the mandate of the Risen One: I go before you to Galilee. Go to the extreme ends of the world, take the Gospel to the world.

Of course, by faith, the Eucharist is an intimate mystery. The Lord instituted the Sacrament in the Upper Room, surrounded by his new family, by the 12 Apostles, a prefiguration and anticipation of the Church of all times.

And so, in the liturgy of the ancient Church, the distribution of Holy Communion was introduced with the words Sancta sanctis: the holy gift is intended for those who have been made holy.

In this way a response was given to the exhortation of St Paul to the Corinthians: "A man should examine himself first; only then should he eat of the bread and drink of the cup..." (I Cor 11: 28).

Nevertheless, from this intimacy that is a most personal gift of the Lord, the strength of the Sacrament of the Eucharist goes above and beyond the walls of our Churches. In this Sacrament, the Lord is always journeying to meet the world. This universal aspect of the Eucharistic presence becomes evident in today's festive procession.

We bring Christ, present under the sign of bread, onto the streets of our city. We entrust these streets, these homes, our daily life, to his goodness. May our streets be streets of Jesus! May our houses be homes for him and with him! May our life of every day be penetrated by his presence.

With this gesture, let us place under his eyes the sufferings of the sick, the solitude of young people and the elderly, temptations, fears - our entire life. The procession represents an immense and public blessing for our city: Christ is, in person, the divine Blessing for the world. May the ray of his blessing extend to us all!

In the Corpus Domini procession, we walk with the Risen One on his journey to meet the entire world, as we said. By doing precisely this, we too answer his mandate: "Take, eat... Drink of it, all of you" (Mt 26: 26ff.).

It is not possible to "eat" the Risen One, present under the sign of bread, as if it were a simple piece of bread. To eat this Bread is to communicate, to enter into communion with the person of the living Lord. This communion, this act of "eating", is truly an encounter between two persons, it is allowing our lives to be penetrated by the life of the One who is the Lord, of the One who is my Creator and Redeemer.

The purpose of this communion, of this partaking, is the assimilation of my life with his, my transformation and conformation into he who is living Love. Therefore, this communion implies adoration, it implies the will to follow Christ, to follow the One who goes ahead of us. Adoration and procession thereby make up a single gesture of communion; they answer his mandate: "Take and eat".

Our procession finishes in front of the Basilica of St Mary Major in the encounter with Our Lady, called by the dear Pope John Paul II, "Woman of the Eucharist". Mary, Mother of the Lord, truly teaches us what entering into communion with Christ is: Mary offered her own flesh, her own blood to Jesus and became a living tent of the Word, allowing herself to be penetrated by his presence in body and spirit.

Let us pray to her, our holy Mother, so that she may help us to open our entire being, always more, to Christ's presence; so that she may help us to follow him faithfully, day after day, on the streets of our life. Amen.

5 posted on 05/26/2008 4:58:53 AM PDT by NYer (John 6:51-58)
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To: NYer

“It’s intriguing that one charge the pagan Romans lodged against Christians was that of cannibalism.”

Excuse me, WHO was it precisely that such charges were lodged against? ALL people professing Christianity? I don’t think so.

6 posted on 05/26/2008 4:58:59 AM PDT by John Leland 1789
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To: Rome2000

“How can this man give us his flesh to eat?”

7 posted on 05/26/2008 5:06:04 AM PDT by the invisib1e hand (The road to hell is paved with euphemisms.)
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To: the invisib1e hand; Religion Moderator
Is the double title some kind of riddle or clue?

I goofed and the Mod corrected it. Thank you!

8 posted on 05/26/2008 5:06:18 AM PDT by NYer (John 6:51-58)
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To: John Leland 1789
Excuse me, WHO was it precisely that such charges were lodged against? ALL people professing Christianity? I don’t think so.

There was only one Christian Church so, 'yes'.

9 posted on 05/26/2008 5:09:24 AM PDT by NYer (John 6:51-58)
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To: John Leland 1789
Excuse me, WHO was it precisely that such charges were lodged against? ALL people professing Christianity? I don’t think so.

From 33 AD until the 1554 Schism there was one and only one "Christian" Church, That was the Catholic Church.

At the time of the Reformation; Luther, Calvin, Zwingli, etal... Created about 5-7 "Christian" churches.

For 1500 years there were exaclty four choices:





There were no other choices and there were no other Christians, The occasional heresies, but no "hidden" groups

10 posted on 05/26/2008 5:18:03 AM PDT by verga (I am not an apologist, I just play one on Television)
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To: Rome2000; the invisib1e hand
“That’s blasphemy! How can you eat Jesus

John 6:30 begins a colloquy that took place in the synagogue at Capernaum. The Jews asked Jesus what sign he could perform so that they might believe in him. As a challenge, they noted that "our ancestors ate manna in the desert." Could Jesus top that? He told them the real bread from heaven comes from the Father. "Give us this bread always," they said. Jesus replied, "I am the bread of life; whoever comes to me will never hunger, and whoever believes in me will never thirst." At this point the Jews understood him to be speaking metaphorically.

Jesus first repeated what he said, then summarized: "‘I am the living bread which came down from heaven; if any one eats of this bread, he will live for ever; and the bread which I shall give for the life of the world is my flesh.’ The Jews then disputed among themselves, saying, ‘How can this man give us his flesh to eat?’" (John 6:51–52).

His listeners were stupefied because now they understood Jesus literally—and correctly. He again repeated his words, but with even greater emphasis, and introduced the statement about drinking his blood: "Truly, truly, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of man and drink his blood, you have no life in you; he who eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day. For my flesh is food indeed, and my blood is drink indeed. He who eats my flesh and drinks my blood abides in me, and I in him" (John 6:53–56).

Notice that Jesus made no attempt to soften what he said, no attempt to correct "misunderstandings," for there were none. Our Lord’s listeners understood him perfectly well. They no longer thought he was speaking metaphorically. If they had, if they mistook what he said, why no correction?

On other occasions when there was confusion, Christ explained just what he meant (cf. Matt. 16:5–12). Here, where any misunderstanding would be fatal, there was no effort by Jesus to correct. Instead, he repeated himself for greater emphasis.

In John 6:60 we read: "Many of his disciples, when they heard it, said, ‘This is a hard saying; who can listen to it?’" These were his disciples, people used to his remarkable ways. He warned them not to think carnally, but spiritually: "It is the Spirit that gives life, the flesh is of no avail; the words that I have spoken to you are spirit and life" (John 6:63; cf. 1 Cor. 2:12–14).

But he knew some did not believe. (It is here, in the rejection of the Eucharist, that Judas fell away; look at John 6:64.) "After this, many of his disciples drew back and no longer went about with him" (John 6:66). This is the only record we have of any of Christ’s followers forsaking him for purely doctrinal reasons. If it had all been a misunderstanding, if they erred in taking a metaphor in a literal sense, why didn’t he call them back and straighten things out? Both the Jews, who were suspicious of him, and his disciples, who had accepted everything up to this point, would have remained with him had he said he was speaking only symbolically.

But he did not correct these protesters. Twelve times he said he was the bread that came down from heaven; four times he said they would have "to eat my flesh and drink my blood." John 6 was an extended promise of what would be instituted at the Last Supper—and it was a promise that could not be more explicit. cf

11 posted on 05/26/2008 5:19:46 AM PDT by NYer (John 6:51-58)
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To: NYer

And if you believe the Bible that one Church is all believers. ...

12 posted on 05/26/2008 5:22:27 AM PDT by Always Right (Was it over when the Germans bombed Pearl Harbor?)
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To: NYer
No, I don't.
13 posted on 05/26/2008 5:23:24 AM PDT by Titus Quinctius Cincinnatus (Here they come boys! As thick as grass, and as black as thunder!)
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To: NYer
There was a medieval studies component in my third year of theology studies at a catholic university. The professor argued the position of Luther, Zwingli and the findings of Trent on transubstantiation. It was one of the greatest stand up comedy routines have ever witnessed. Not because of the individual theologies being argued but because of the hopeless confusion on the part of the students of trying to figure out the differences.

Christians believe Eucharist is a transformative moment. Exactly what has been transformed is grist that will keep the faithful amused for centuries to come. My view is that Eucharist bonds us together as the people of God and in that moment we become and remain the everlasting Body of Christ.

14 posted on 05/26/2008 5:25:54 AM PDT by spatso
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To: verga
From 33 AD until the 1554 Schism there was one and only one "Christian" Church, That was the Catholic Church.

Completely untrue. All throughout the Middle Ages, there were many, many independent baptistic bodies of Bible believers who had no communion nor any history with the Catholic religion. The Catholics tried to suppress them through violence, and when that failed, have continued to try to lie about what these groups believed and practiced, but they were there nevertheless, the true adherents to the apostolic Christianity, instead of the paganised "Christianity" which arose in the 4th century when Constantine tried to unite the various belief systems of the Empire together, which eventually resulted in Catholicism.

15 posted on 05/26/2008 5:28:34 AM PDT by Titus Quinctius Cincinnatus (Here they come boys! As thick as grass, and as black as thunder!)
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To: verga
Actually, there were only 3 choices. Islam is an outgrowth of a christian heresy dating to the 7th century.
Heresy of Mohammed .
16 posted on 05/26/2008 5:28:56 AM PDT by NYer (John 6:51-58)
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To: NYer

Taking the figurative literally, and taking the literal figuratively.

17 posted on 05/26/2008 5:35:12 AM PDT by AD from SpringBay (We deserve the government we allow.)
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To: John Leland 1789

Yes, ALL people professing Christianity that the Romans dealt with. The Eucharist - and the Roman misunderstanding of It - were accomplished facts in early Christianity.

18 posted on 05/26/2008 5:39:50 AM PDT by vladimir998 (Ignorance of Scripture is ignorance of Christ. St. Jerome)
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To: Always Right

You wrote:

“And if you believe the Bible that one Church is all believers. ...”

No, if you believe the Bible then you’ll see that all orthodox believers had one set of beliefs and one Church. Only later - 1500 years later - did Protestants invent the idea of the invisible church or the church of all believers (no matter how much they disagreed with one another on doctrine!) so as to support their own schism.

19 posted on 05/26/2008 5:43:44 AM PDT by vladimir998 (Ignorance of Scripture is ignorance of Christ. St. Jerome)
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To: Titus Quinctius Cincinnatus
Thank you for posting that link! It helps to correct misunderstandings. In the first part of the document is a major error. In practice, however, the wine ("blood") is withheld from the laity. This is not true. At the Mass, Catholics partake of both; optionally they may take one or the other, since both are valid.

The remainder of the document is also filled with gross errors.

A scriptural understanding of our Lord's intentions appears in my post #11. You should also read this for the a true understanding of the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass.

20 posted on 05/26/2008 5:44:51 AM PDT by NYer (John 6:51-58)
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