Why I Became Catholic


Originally published in Surprised by Truth 3
schedule 2Author

HOW CAN I KEEP MY HEART FROM SINGING

Pam Forrester

When I was eight I asked my mom to take me to the little church at the end of our street. She began to drop me off every week for Sunday School. One Sunday, my teacher presented the Gospel and encouraged us to accept Jesus Christ as our savior.
“But,” she told us, “you must be willing to do anything for God, like be a missionary.”
Well, I really wanted to be saved but I did not want to be a missionary! I had to think this over. I went home and thought about it for a while, my little 8 year-old soul struggling against selfish desire. Some weeks later, I convinced myself that I would be willing to be a missionary for Jesus and I asked Him to come into my heart.

For years I had a very fervent faith, even up to my first year in college – when the theory of evolution and the desire to sin enticed me to abandon my faith. I conveniently became an atheist for two years during the 60’s. Then, my mom gave me a copy of The Late Great Planet Earth, a book about the second coming of Christ. After reading it, I decided that perhaps the Bible was relevant after all and not just some dusty old book I could safely ignore. So, I rededicated my life to Christ.

I gave a copy of the Late Great Planet Earth to my boyfriend Mike, a first-year medical student, and he committed his life to Christ too. A year later we took a Bible course called The Bethel Series – a two year overview of the whole Bible. We got married, taught Bethel, led small group Bible studies and studied Scripture in depth. We moved from California to Baltimore so Mike could do his surgery residency at Johns Hopkins Hospital. And then we moved to Houston so he could do specialty training.

***

Since we were convinced that the Bible alone was sufficient for faith and salvation, we wanted to know exactly what words in the Bible meant. I bought a Greek dictionary and a Greek interlinear Bible and taught myself to read the Greek alphabet. When Mike finished his residency we moved to California with our three young children. Mike set up practice in a small town north of San Diego. We found a great church and we joined a weekly Bible study group.

It was here that we first heard about the doctrine of Eternal Security – the belief that a once a Christian is “saved,” he cannot lose salvation no matter what he does. We objected initially, but were assured it was true, our friends firing off memorized Bible verses to support the doctrine. We backed down for a while. Then Mike began his own Bible study by listening to tapes of the Bible while exercising. I also studied, on my own, with my dictionaries, concordances and Greek interlinear. Before long, Mike was using these sources as well. We soon became convinced that there were hundreds of verses that did not align with the “once saved, always saved” doctrine. Our Bible study group swelled to overflowing as Mike taught how Scripture refuted Eternal Security. We were labeled Arminian even though we had never heard of Arminius or what he wrote. But we did reject Calvinism, especially the doctrine of Limited Atonement .

Our pastors did not agree with us, but since everything Mike was teaching was biblical he was allowed to continue as an elder in the church and even to teach from the pulpit several times a year. Some people agreed with us; some were convinced we were heretics and told us so. Mike’s sermons usually caused controversy. The Elder board tried to talk Mike out of speaking on Eternal Security issues; others tried to show us the error of our ways.
We worried about the people who might think they were eternally secure and bound for heaven no matter what kind of life they lived. My husband even wrote a two volume book and was asked to teach at a Bible college by a popular radio preacher in order to point out the errors of the “once saved, always saved” theology. We were still convinced that once all the biblical evidence was compiled it would be irresistibly persuasive and all our friends and pastors would see the truth.

But the evidence was met with a yawn. Those who disagreed with us didn’t refute the scriptural evidence – they just ignored it. We were astounded! We eventually realized that most people didn’t really practice sola scriptura after all; they clung to the Protestant traditions begun by Luther and Calvin, sometimes in spite of Scripture. After ten years of attempting to show how the Bible did not support Eternal Security, being called heretics, hearing through the grapevine about people who resented and suspected us, we became discouraged and disillusioned.

If I hadn’t been so thoroughly convinced there was a God, I could easily have become an atheist. In my heart I was prideful, arrogant, and critical. No church quite suited me since most Protestant churches incorporate some form of Calvinism. According to my understanding of the Bible, which I was convinced was led by the Holy Spirit, all the nearby churches were wrong about something. Despite this, I sensed that my attitude was not Christ-like, so I would pray about that. I wanted to be humble, but I just…wasn’t. “Maybe I am a heretic?” I wondered. “What makes me so sure I’m right and other Christians are wrong?” I desperately wanted to find a church where I could simply worship God without being critical. In the meantime, all I could do was studiously try to keep my mind from dwelling on criticisms. I thought I could be content in my apathy.

***

A few years later, in the summer 1997, while perusing home school curriculum catalogs, I saw a course for junior high school students designed to introduce Protestants to the Catholic faith and vice versa. The student was supposed to read the books in one order if he was Protestant and in the opposite order if he was Catholic, so that the last book read confirmed him in his own faith tradition. Since my oldest daughter had just started college at USD, a Catholic university, I decided that this would be the perfect time to find out more about the Catholic faith. That way if Heather came home with questions, I would be able to answer them. I didn’t want her to become Catholic!

I ordered three of the books. The first, Evangelical Is Not Enough was written by Thomas Howard, a convert to Catholicism and the brother of prominent Evangelical, Elizabeth Elliot( Through Gates of Splendor and End of the Spear). I had long been curious about why a “Christian” would join the Catholic Church, and found Howard’s story interesting. He also made a lot of sense, and I grew slightly annoyed that I had accepted so many misconceptions about the Catholic faith. Hey, I thought, maybe the Catholic Church wasn’t so weird after all.

One evening at our Bible study, my husband brought up John 14:26, where Jesus says,

“the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, he will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you.”

Mike reminded every one that our usual interpretation of this verse was that this promise was given to each and every believer. The result has been that there are now over 25,000 different Protestant denominations. But the Catholic view, as Howard had explained it, is that this promise was made in the upper room to the twelve disciples and therefore it only applied to them and their successors: the Pope and the Catholic leaders. Without the final, ruling authority of Christ through the Bishop of Rome and the Magisterium, the Catholic Church would splinter into even more sects than Protestantism.

I was quietly aghast because I wasn’t ready to say anything yet. No one said much and we went on with the study as usual. But I found out the next day that one of my best friends at the study had cried all the way home. She had been shocked to hear us say something outside of “Scripture alone”. And I didn’t blame her. I decided then not to say a word to anyone about my research into the Catholic Church until it became absolutely necessary, if ever.

After reading Howard’s book, I felt very broadminded toward the Catholic Church. But I did not sense the danger my Protestantism was in as I opened up the second book, Catholicism and Fundamentalism by Karl Keating. This book promised Catholic answers to the charges against “Romanism” by “Bible Christians”. By the time I had read about half of the book, I no longer felt broad minded, but sick and horrified all at once. I had read enough of Keating’s book to learn, for the first time, that Catholicism had a defense for beliefs like the Eucharist and Papacy. Keating’s use of Scripture was standard exegesis. It made sense. What I read in that book coalesced with doubts and questions I had put on the back burners of my mind. No longer simmering, they began to boil.

For instance, I had long wondered, how could each and every individual person’s faith rest on personal devotional Bible reading, when most people, until relatively modern times, couldn’t even read? And even if they could read, they wouldn’t be able to own their own personal Bible because Bibles were hand copied (until the 16th century) and very expensive.

Personal devotional Bible reading for growing in Christ began to seem suspiciously modern. Especially when I discovered that the Catholic Church had read Scripture to the faithful at every Mass for 2000 years. But could the Catholic Church be the one Church founded by Jesus Christ himself? No! Never! It couldn’t possibly be true. My soul in turmoil, I slammed Catholicism and Fundamentalism shut and grabbed the book that was supposed to confirm me in my Protestant faith, The Gospel According to Rome by James McCarty.

***

In McCarty’s book I was looking for a rebuttal to Catholic Scripture interpretation. I wanted to know why Jesus didn’t literally mean to eat His flesh in John 6, when that sure seemed like what He said. I wanted to know exactly why Jesus did not found His Church on Peter in Matthew 16, when that is what He said. I wanted to know what was wrong with confession to a priest when the Bible says, “confess your sins to one another,” and “Receive the Holy Spirit, whose sins you forgive, they are forgiven….”
But, The Gospel According to Rome didn’t help at all. It didn’t address my questions, but merely explained why Catholicism was wrong according to traditional Protestant interpretations of certain Biblical passages. It never convincingly refuted the Catholic interpretation of verses that supported Catholic beliefs.

Now I really felt scared. I begged God to show me the truth about what was wrong with the Catholic Church. I did not want to be Catholic. There were no Catholics anywhere in either of our families. I had never been anti-Catholic; I believed there were a few real Christians in the Catholic Church in spite of Catholicism. I liked Catholics, I just didn’t want to be one!
I stopped reading for several weeks. I needed to get my perspective back. I thought and prayed. When I felt calm again, I picked up Keating’s book and finished it. Yes, the Catholic Church had good reasons, Biblical reasons, for its theology. But I was certain there had to be a good Protestant refutation, by somebody, somewhere.

But here was my dilemma. We had this early church that we trusted to tell us which writings floating around the ancient world were inerrant and inspired. It seemed logical, then, that we should therefore be able to trust this same church and the doctrines taught by it at least up until the time the Bible was canonized. Right? We always used to talk about the church of the Apostles and how it was the true model for Christian belief and practice. So when reading the Acts of the Apostles we sought to align our present day worship with what we found in sacred scripture. This goal of worshiping in imitation of the early church was a foundational principle. Therefore, you can imagine my shock when I discovered that this early church believed in that particularly Catholic doctrine, the Real Presence of Christ in the Eucharist.

“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 the Father, in His goodness, raised up again.”

St. Ignatius of Antioch- 110 AD

“We call this food Eucharist; and no one else is permitted to partake of it, except one who believes…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 nourished, is both the Flesh and the Blood of that incarnated Jesus.”

St. Justin Martyr-150 AD

***

Jesus tells his followers eight times to eat His flesh in John 6. I came to the inescapable conclusion that the earliest Christians took Jesus literally. When I found out that even Martin Luther – one of the principal fathers of the Reformation – believed in the Real Presence I realized that Christians had always believed this doctrine.

This put me in a tough position.

On the one hand, the early Church canonized the Bible around 400 AD. On the other hand that very same early Church believed in the Real Presence of Christ (and, I was discovering, many other Catholic doctrines). The standard Protestant solution to this dilemma was that these strange Catholic doctrines were pagan corruptions of the pure and simple Christianity of the apostles. But I could no more take the Bible from the hand of a church that was supposed to be corrupted by paganism than I could accept the Pearl of Great Price (an extra biblical text considered part of inspired Scripture by Mormons) while rejecting everything else about the Mormon belief system. That seemed totally irrational. I couldn’t buy it.

Being a Protestant was like watching a Corpus Christi procession, then rushing up and knocking down the priests and nuns, candles, censors, crucifix, and monstrance but grabbing the Bible and carrying it away and basing faith on it alone. What sense does that make? I just could not find a logical way to accept the authority of the Bible while rejecting the beliefs of the very earliest Christian Church that, under the guidance of the Holy Spirit (which we all believe) chose the books that make up the Bible.

***

I began to read Catholic books, hoping to find the Church’s Achilles heel.

Nothing.

Still resisting, I called Hector, a pastor friend who had a ministry to bring Hispanics out of the Catholic Church. He seemed like a likely candidate to know the intricacies of Catholic doctrine and what was wrong with it. I told him what I was going through and he sympathetically recommended The Gospel According to Rome. I told him I’d read it and it wasn’t convincing.
Then he asked, “But, what about the fact that Jesus had brothers? The Bible talks about the brothers and sisters of Jesus.”
My experience with Greek had already helped me tackle this question.

“I looked that up and the Greek word can legitimately be translated ‘kinsman’ or ‘brother’ depending upon the context,” I said. “And that same Greek word is translated ‘kinsman’ in lots of other places in the New Testament. Such as when Paul addresses the recipients of his epistles. So the Catholics could be right about Mary being ever-virgin,” I said.

He kindly promised to pray for me and we hung up. I silently stared into space and wondered, “Is that the best he can do?!”

A few hours later my pastor called. I decided Hector must have called him so I told him all about my dilemma. Then I asked,

“Why don’t we believe in the Real Presence of Christ in Communion when Jesus says in John 6 over and over that we must eat His body and drink His blood in order to have eternal life? Why don’t we take it literally like the Catholics do?”

“That is just symbolic,” he responded “because later Jesus says the flesh is of no avail.”

“Yes, Jesus says, ‘the flesh is of no avail’ but what does He mean by that? Jesus is God in the flesh. Is His flesh of no avail?”

“Well of course His flesh is important. The ‘flesh of Jesus availeth much.’ But Jesus is speaking symbolically when he talks about eating his flesh.”

“Ok, but how do we know that for certain?” I asked.

“Because cannibalism is strictly forbidden in the Old Testament.”

“You’re right. But the Old Testament prohibition against cannibalism is exactly why many of Jesus’ Jewish disciples left Him at this point saying, ‘This is a hard saying; who can listen to it?’ And as far as we know Jesus didn’t chase after them and say, ‘Wait, I was only speaking symbolically!’ So the disciples who left understood Jesus to be speaking literally. Otherwise, why would they leave? So somehow Jesus must have been speaking literally and yet not advocating cannibalism. The Catholic doctrine of the Eucharist is literal and yet not literally cannibalistic since Jesus didn’t cut off His arm and pass is around saying, ‘Take, eat.’ How can we as Protestants respond to this?”

“Well, what about all the money they spent building cathedrals when people were starving?”

“But when they built a cathedral it was like a giant welfare project. People had work for years and years,” I replied.

He changed the subject again: “The Catholic Church became corrupted by pagan beliefs shortly after the apostles died.”

“Well then, wouldn’t that mean that the gates of Hell prevailed against His Church and Jesus was unable to keep that promise?”

“No…there was always a remnant.”

“But how can we know for sure that the remnant part of the Church, the true Church of Christ, was the one that canonized the Bible and not the corrupted part of the Church?”

“We just trust the Holy Spirit was able to do that.”
“But the earliest Christians held Catholic beliefs like the real presence and the perpetual virginity of Mary? Who threw these beliefs out? Luther believed them. Luther and Calvin believed Mary was a perpetual virgin. Who decided Mary definitely had other children when everyone right up to and including the Reformation believed she only gave birth to Jesus?”

Our conversation continued like this for a couple of hours. When he couldn’t give an answer he changed the subject. I wasn’t actually defending the Church at that point. I was telling him the Catholic viewpoint in desperate hope that he could give me a convincing Protestant rebuttal. But nothing he said was convincing.

Later I wrote him letters with about forty questions and included a review of the books I had read. He was in a doctoral program at the time, and I hoped maybe he could get some answers from his professors. When we talked again he said I had done so much research that he didn’t have time to get up to speed with me. He told me to go ahead and visit a Catholic Church, thinking that would put an end to my fantasy. It didn’t. Meanwhile I kept searching for a Protestant refutation of the Catholic Faith. There just had to be one.

***

Next, I watched a video debate between Father Mitch Pacwa S.J. and two prominent Protestant apologists (Walter Martin and John Ankerberg). Again, there was no refutation of Catholic claims, no explaining what was wrong with Catholic exegesis: only what was wrong with the Catholic beliefs, according to the interpretation of Scripture in a particular Protestant tradition. My husband, who was at once fascinated by the Catholic interpretation of Sacred Scripture and at the same time repulsed by the thought of becoming Catholic, was also disappointed that no one refuted the points Father Pacwa made. Martin and Ankerberg never explained why Fr. Pacwa’s interpretation was wrong. They merely condemned Catholic theology according to what they thought the Bible meant.

For example, I remember Walter Martin asking,

“Why does the Catholic Church believe Mary was without sin when she admits that God is her savior in Luke 1:47? She must have needed a savior because she sinned.”

Fr. Pacwa replied “Yes, she needed a savior. But, a person can be saved out of a pit after he has fallen in, or he can be saved from the pit before he falls in. We believe God saved Mary before she fell into sin by creating her, from conception, without the fallen nature caused by the stain of Original Sin, she otherwise would have inherited from her parents. So He created Mary without sin just like He created Adam and Eve without sin.”

Martin and Ankerberg would then go on to to another topic without dealing with Fr. Pacwa’s explanations.

***

Then, I decided to find out why some of my ex-Catholic friends had left the Church. One of them, I was surprised to learn, was on the verge of returning to the Catholic Church. The others had just drifted away when their parents could no longer make them go to Sunday Mass. None had left for any particular doctrinal reason.
One friend assured me the Catholic Church was really weird and unscriptural because she remembered, as a young, devout Catholic, having to go from church to church all in one day in order to say prayers for her loved ones. She assured me that she couldn’t pray for all the people she cared about in one church, but was only allowed pray for one person per church. I have since asked priests and lay Catholic friends if they have ever heard of this; none have. Perhaps she was either misinformed or misunderstood. Even if it were true, it seems to me little reason to reject the Church!

***

After six months of frantic detective work, I had exhausted every avenue I could think of to find a Protestant rebuttal to Catholic doctrine. There were of course many great Protestant arguments out there.

The trouble with them was that they rebutted doctrines that Catholics didn’t believe. For instance, you could find lots of apologetic material condemning the worship of Mary, complete with scriptures against idolatry. But that was useless, since the Catholic Church too condemns the worship of Mary. Most importantly, I could find no good Protestant reason for the rejection of the Real Presence in the Eucharist when John 6 so clearly has Jesus commanding his disciples to eat His flesh, and historically all Christians believed this doctrine for the first 1500 years of Christianity. I finally “knocked at the door” of my parish church and began the process of entering the Church.

When I told my friends, they were mostly kind and accepting. Some tried to dissuade me from entering the Church. And one friend, Donna, invited me to go to hear anti-Catholic, apologist Bart Brewer speak about the Catholic Church at a large nondenominational church in a nearby town. I knew Brewer was an ex-priest and anti-Catholic but I went anyway. The Easter Vigil was only months away. I wanted to let him take his best shot at me before I entered the Church. But as it turned out his was just the same old attack on the Catholic Church without refuting the scriptural and historical evidence for its doctrines.

Surprisingly, Donna saw through his double standard. While Brewer criticized and condemned the Catholic Church for relying on the “Bible plus the Catechism” instead of relying on the Bible alone, she was struck by the realization that he wasn’t sola scriptura either! He was relying on the Bible plus Calvin’s Institutes. She found him totally useless in helping her to “deprogram” me.

***

Eighteen months after my inquiry began, I embraced the Holy Catholic Church at the Easter Vigil 1999. Our four youngest children were received into the Catholic Church at Easter 2000 with my husband’s permission. My husband and three oldest children are still Protestant but they are very supportive – especially my husband In fact, Mike is currently leading a Catholic/Protestant Bible study on the Gospel of John, with the stated purpose of teaching the biblical basis for Catholic theology. At first, I thought he would quickly follow me into the Church, but he has his own path to follow on the journey of faith.

But Donna entered the Catholic Church at Easter 2002. I am thankful to my Protestant teachers for the solid foundation they laid in me about the truths of Christianity, the illusions of worldly passions, and encouragement to study God’s Holy Word. It fed my soul for forty years. The irony is, I studied the Bible so much I uncovered many discrepancies between some Protestant doctrines and Sacred Scripture. This was the beginning of my loss of confidence in Protestant Christianity

But it wasn’t until Catholic authors made me face the historical evidence that Christianity preexisted the New Testament by 400 years that I began to consider the implications of this fact. That the Faith was alive, making converts, establishing churches, instructing and baptizing converts for so long (for reference, 400 years ago was about the time the Pilgrims came to America!) before the New Testament was compiled, meant that the New Testament could not be the touchstone of the Faith. The New Testament was not the very first reservoir of Christian teaching.

Something else existed before it.

And that same “something else” kept the Faith alive and also gave birth to the New Testament. It was the oral teaching, the deposit of the Faith of the Apostles, that was used to make the final decisions about which books would end up in the New Testament. No book was included in the canon of the New Testament that contradicted the Faith of the Apostles. And that is why, I discovered to my joy, that nothing in Catholic doctrine contradicts anything in the Bible. The Bible, loved by Protestants as well as Catholics, the inspired and inerrant word of God, was written and published by the Catholic Church.

The icing on the cake of solid, scriptural Catholic doctrine was the beauty and poetry of Catholic worship. Its reverence in comparison to modern Evangelical praise services spoke to me of its ancient pedigree and authenticity. The Mass is ancient and Jewish – closer in form to Temple worship than to a Calvary Chapel. The ritual, prayers, and priestly robes are more Old Testament than my former Evangelical Free Church. And the incense and chants echo the heavenly worship found in the Book of Revelation better than any Baptist service.

In the end, a thousand tiny puzzle pieces of Bible verses, doctrines, prayers history, martyrs, liturgy, came together to form for me a clear image of the One, Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic Church.

“It is impossible to be just to the Catholic Church. The moment men cease to pull against it they feel a tug towards it. The moment they cease to shout it down they begin to listen to it with pleasure. The moment they try to be fair to it they begin to be fond of it. But when that affection has passed a certain point it begins to take on the tragic and menacing grandeur of a great love affair.”

-G.K. Chesterton (1874-1936)


 Pam Forrester writes from Fallbrook, California, where she lives with her husband, Mike, of thirty four years. They have seven children. The youngest was six when her mother entered the Catholic Church in 1999.

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The Body of Christ is Symbolic!!!



Dear Rex,
It looks like you put a lot of time and effort into your comment on my Post Why Can’t Protestants Take Communion In a Catholic Church? . First I would like to take a look at

John 6:51 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, which I will give for the life of the world.

52 The Jews therefore strove among themselves, saying, How can this man give us his flesh to eat?

53 Then Jesus said unto them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Except ye eat the flesh of the Son of man, and drink his blood, ye have no life in you.
54 Whoso eateth my flesh, and drinketh my blood, hath eternal life; and I will raise him up at the last day.

55 For my flesh is meat indeed, and my blood is drink indeed.
56 He that eateth my flesh, and drinketh my blood, dwelleth in me, and I in him…. 60 Many therefore of his disciples, when they had heard this, said, This is an hard saying; who can hear it? …66From that time many of his disciples went back, and walked no more with him.

Those who left Jesus are the same ones who said, “How can he give us his flesh to eat”. v. 52

It is the unbelievers who cannot accept the hard saying of Jesus that we must eat His flesh and drink His blood in order to have eternal life. That is what He said.

The attempt to make the plain words of Jesus, saying seven times that we must literally eat, gnaw on His flesh and drink His blood, in order have eternal life, symbolic and to nullify them with the verse:

John 6:63 It is the spirit that quickeneth; the flesh profiteth nothing: the words that I speak unto you, they are spirit, and they are life.

Proves too much. It just does not work for two reasons:
1)Spiritual realities are REAL they are NOT in any way, shape, or form symbolic. The flesh of Christ IS His Spirital/physical BODY.

2)When this verse is used to explain away the literal interpretation of Jesus’s words it may at first be a comfort to Protestants. But, it cannot be accurate because if one says that the “flesh profits nothing” but ONLY the Spirit gives life then what about the death of Jesus in His flesh?

So, trying to say all of the talk about flesh and blood was just symbolic has ABSOLUTELY NO BASIS IN SCRIPTURE. The basis for the Protestant belief that communion is mere symbolism resides nowhere in Sacred Scripture.

It is nothing more than an attempt to explain away the explicit and LITERAL meaning of Jesus’s words in John 6 and in the other Gospels when He says, “This is my body. This is my blood.”

The Catholic understanding of all of these verses makes cohesive sense of scripture and rejoices the heart and mind in its simplicity and sublimity.
You might also find these posts interesting:

Communion: Symbol Only
Bread From Heaven is Symbolic
Open Commuion Debate

The Miracle of the Loaves–Natural Sharing or Supernatural Miracle?


Today, I heard a homily that claimed what really happened about the five loaves and two fish, is that bystanders took out food they were hiding under their cloaks and shared it. Jesus’ preaching inspired the melting of selfishness, and this was the true miracle according to this preacher. He went on to justify his reading that this was a miracle of sharing rather than a miracle of multiplication, because:

How many of us would go on a trip away from home for a couple of days without our credit card to provide food and lodging?
If we wouldn’t leave home without making plans for food and lodging then what makes us think these people, in the crowd with Jesus, made no provisions?
Were they any different that us? Therefore, Jesus changed their hearts and they shared all they had with each other. this is the true miracle.

This is appealing to people these days because we lack FAITH. We lack the Faith to believe that Jesus/God can do ANYTHING. So, those who subscribe to this interpretation hope to make the Gospel more palatable to modern men. But the above appeal to reason does not ring true for the following reasons:

1) This passage does not say anywhere that the people had been away from home for more than a day. So the above pastor built his rationale on a false premise. Of course, people then, just like us, make plans to provide for themselves on journeys. But there is nothing in the passage that indicates this was anything other than a day trip. And the parallel passages in Matthew, Mark and Luke indicate that the people could have gone into nearby villages for food and lodging.

Luke 9:12 “and the twelve came and said to Him, “Send the crowd away, that they may go into the surrounding villages and countryside and find lodging and get something to eat; for here we are in a desolate place.”

But Jesus had other plans.

2) There is NO mention that Jesus performed a miracle of convincing people to share. And we would have to believe that the disciple were so stupid and out of touch with their culture that they had no clue the crowd were all hiding food under their cloaks.

3) But the Gospels do say,

Matthew 14:19 He took the five loaves and the two fish, and looking up toward heaven, He blessed the food, and breaking the loaves He gave them to the disciples, and the disciples gave them to the crowds.”
Mark 6:41 “and He kept giving them to the disciples to set before them; and He divided up the two fish among them all.

Luke 9: 16Then He took the five loaves and the two fish, and looking up to heaven, He blessed them, and broke them, and kept giving them to the disciples to set before the people.
John 6:11 Jesus then took the loaves, and having given thanks, He distributed to those who were seated; likewise also of the fish as much as they wanted.

There is not the whiff of a hint that this is not a supernatural miracle of multiplication of the loaves. The Gospels say Jesus gave the food to the disciples who gave it and kept giving it to the people. Not a single word about the people giving food to each other.

Only one miracle of Jesus is recorded in all four gospels–the multiplication of the loaves and fishes. Even the miracles of raising the dead are not recorded in every Gospel. While sharing is a wonderful virtue, it just is not a supernatural miracle. Why was this miracle so important that every Gospel writer included it?

Because this was a prefiguring, on a small scale, of the Eucharistic sacrifice. This is the supernatural miracle of the multiplication of the body and blood of Christ for the faithful at every mass, every day of the year, around the whole wide world; the Mass, the source and summit of our Faith. John, purposely locates this story right before Jesus’ discourse on the necessity of eating His Flesh and drinking His blood in order to have Eternal life.

Eucharist in the Early Church



Q. Did the Christians in the first three centuries believe in the Real Presence in the Eucharist?

A. Yes. They certainly did!

110 AD–St. Ignatius of Antioch, a disciple of the Apostle John wrote  :

“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 the Father, in His goodness, raised up again.” (Letter to the Smyrnaeans 6,2)

“I desire the Bread of God, which is the Flesh of Jesus Christ…and for drink I desire His Blood, which is love incorruptible.” (Letter to the Romans 7,3)

150 AD–St Justin Martyr wrote to the Emperor of Rome :

“We call this food Eucharist; and no one else is permitted to partake of it, except one who believes our teaching to be true…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 nourished, is both the Flesh and the Blood of that incarnated Jesus” (First Apology 66,20 )

180 ADSt. Irenaeus, was the bishop of Lyons, France and a student of St. Polycarp who sat at the feet of the Apostle John. St. Irenaeus wrote  :

“He (Jesus) 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 to our bodies.” (Against Heresies, 5,2,2 )

350 AD St Cyril of Jerusalem, in a teaching to those coming into the Church wrote :

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.” (Catechetical Lectures:(Mystagogic 4) 22,6 )

Thus we see that the Christian Church, at the very beginning of its history taught and believed that the bread and wine of communion was transformed into the body and blood of Jesus Christ in fulfillment of Jesus’ discourse on the Bread From Heaven in John 6 and the plain sense of His words at the institution of Communion at the Last Supper. “This is My Body” This is My Blood”

This is the same Church that Jesus founded on Peter and the Apostles.

This is the same church that Jesus promised the Gates of Hell would never overcome.

This is the same Church that chose the books of the Bible out of all the other books floating around the ancient world, at the end of the fourth century.

This is the same Church that was called Catholic at least as early as 110 AD.

This is the One, Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic Church. Ancient, but ever young.

Protestants and Catholic Communion



Q. Why can’t Protestants receive communion at the Catholic Church?

A. To protect them from Judgment.

1 Corinthians 11: 27 Therefore, whoever eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner will be
guilty of sinning against the body and blood of the Lord.
28 A man ought to examine himself before he eats of the bread and drinks of the cup. 29 For anyone who eats and drinks without recognizing the body of the Lord eats and drinks judgment on himself. 30That is why many among you are weak and sick, and a number of you have fallen asleep.

Since, Protestants do not believe in the Real Presence of Jesus in the Eucharist as we do, they do not discern or recognize that Jesus’ body is present under the appearance of bread and wine. We would be allowing them to eat and drink judgment upon themselves. The prohibition is actually very charitable but, unfortunately, it is usually seen as a rejection.

Evidence of this interpretation of this passage is supported by St. Justin the Martyr :

“We call this food Eucharist; and no one else is permitted to partake of it, except one who believes our teaching to be true…”
-Justin Martyr –FIRST APOLOGY, 66,20–(150 A.D.)

Q. Why do we call the bread “The Host”?

A. Our use of this term, to refer to the consecrated bread, comes from the Latin word hostia, which means ‘victim’. We believe that Jesus Christ is really present in the consecrated bread and wine on our altars. The mass is a re-presentation of the sacrificial death of Jesus on the cross. Therefore, Jesus is the victim of sacrifice and we call the bread the host/victim to help us remember that it is no longer bread but the Real Presence of our Lord Jesus Christ given to us to strengthen and keep us on the journey to Heaven.

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When Did Jesus Teach Communion was His Flesh and Blood?



Q. Did Christ or the Apostles: Teach us that the communion supper should be imagined as real human flesh and blood?

BFHU: ABOLUTELY! Right here in John 6 :

John 6: 47“Truly, truly, I say to you, he who believes has eternal life.
48″I am the bread of life 49″Your fathers ate the manna in the wilderness, and they died.
50″This is the bread which comes down out of heaven, so that one may eat of it and not die.
51″I am the living bread that came down out of heaven; if anyone eats of this bread, he will live forever; and the bread also which I will give for the life of the world is My flesh.” 52Then the Jews began to argue with one another, saying, “How can this man give us His flesh to eat?”
53 So Jesus said to them, “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 yourselves.
54“He who eats My flesh and drinks My blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day.
55″For My flesh is true food, and My blood is true drink.
56″He who eats My flesh and drinks My blood abides in Me, and I in him.
57″As the living Father sent Me, and I live because of the Father, so he who eats Me, he also will live because of Me.
58″This is the bread which came down out of heaven; not as the fathers ate and died; he who eats this bread will live forever.”

Q. Remember Christ said His words are spirit (i.e. spiritually symbolic and important), the spirit gives life Jn 6:63.
BFHU Exactly, but the Spirit is in NO WAY just a symbol. Spiritual does NOT equal Symbolic. That which is spiritual is an unseen reality. It is in NO WAY equivalent to a symbol or symbolism in any way. We do not believe that the third person of the Holy Trinity is the Holy Symbol.

Q. We eat Christ spiritually, not physically like cannibals.
BFHU True that it is not cannibalistic. But neither is it symbolic. That would be contradictory. In the Aramaic language that Jesus spoke, to symbolically “eat the flesh” or “drink the blood” of someone meant to persecute and assault him. Did you know that there are several places in the Bible where “eating flesh and drinking blood” is used in a symbolic or metaphorical way? Lets take a look at what this phrase means when it is used metaphorically as opposed to literally.

Psalm 27:2 When evil men advance against me to devour my flesh, when my enemies and my foes attack me…”
Micah 3:2-3 you who hate good and love evil;…who eat my people’s flesh…
Rev 17: 6 I saw that the woman was drunk with the blood of the saints, the blood of those who bore testimony to Jesus.
Rev. 17:16 The beast and the ten horns you saw will hate the prostitute. They will bring her to ruin and leave her naked; they will eat her flesh and burn her with fire.

So, we see that when “eating flesh” and “drinking blood” is used metaphorically or symbolically in the Bible it means destruction and murder. And it is still true today. If you got a letter that said someone wanted “to eat your flesh and drink your blood” you would take it as an evil threat of some kind and not an invitation to loving communion. Jesus was speaking literally in John 6 but no one would know just what He had in mind until the Last Supper. Communion in His body and blood is literal but not cannibalistic. Jesus feeds us spiritually with Bread from Heaven. Only the faithful stayed with him. Only faith helps us believe Him.

Q. He is the bread from heaven. Spiritually. Remember, many of His disciples left Him that day because they thought He was saying to literally eat His body. Jn 6:66

BFHU: Exactly! Many left Him BECAUSE THEY KNEW HE WAS SPEAKING LITERALLY AND NOT SPIRITUALLY OR SYMBOLICALLY. Did you know that in the Greek, when people began to question His seeming cannibalism, he switched from a general word for “eat” to a word that means “chew” or “gnaw.” Jesus did not try to explain in any way that he was not speaking literally. And unfortunately, Protestants have left Him over this as well.

Why Do Catholics Take Communion Every Week?



Q. Where does it say in the Bible that you have to take communion every week?

A. It does not say anything about the frequency of communion in the Bible. Jesus only says, “as often as you do this” That is why there is such diversity in

Sola-Scriptura-Christendom. Some churches offer communion four times a year (every quarter), some once a month and others every Sunday or every day. For instance the Catholic Church offers the Mass and communion every day in nearly all of her churches around the world and sometimes more than once a day in large metro areas. But a Catholic is only required to receive communion once a year, preferably around Easter.

CCC 2042 The third precept “You shall receive the sacrament of the Eucharist at least during the Easter season”) guarantees as a minimum the reception of the Lord’s Body and Blood in connection with the Paschal feasts, the origin and center of the Christian liturgy”

The reason for the once a year requirement is not b/c it is thought to be optimal but because in some cultures people would not ever receive communion out of an exaggerated sense of their unworthiness. Therefore, the Church made the once a year requirement.

Q. I believe that we should take communion, but that is not the thing that is growing you closer to GOD. It should be about digging deeper into his word and learning more about him.

A. Catholics believe that ,just like we eat food to nourish our physical bodies, we receive communion to nourish and keep our soul strong enough to keep pursuing God and resist the temptations and deceptions of Our Enemy. The Eucharist is spiritual nourishment. The stronger our soul is the more likely it is to dig deeper in His word and learn more about him.

Q. Taking communion once a month or whatever then, it should not matter because we are still obeying him by doing it.

A. So taking communion once a month is fine but you deprive your soul of spiritual food. I go to mass every day because my soul needs all the help it can get.:-) Jesus did say, John 6:53 Jesus said to them, “I tell you the truth, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you have no life in you. 54Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day. 55For my flesh is real food and my blood is real drink. 56Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood remains in me, and I in him. 57Just as the living Father sent me and I live because of the Father, so the one who feeds on me will live because of me. 58This is the bread that came down from heaven. Your forefathers ate manna and died, but he who feeds on this bread will live forever.”

We go to Church every week in obedience to The Commandment to “Keep the Sabbath Holy”