The Eucharist is literal: John 6:22-71

The following video has some great Biblical exegesis as to why the Eucharist is literal, not figurative. Among other things, it compares the “bread of life discourse” in John 6, to other Bible passages where Jesus was speaking figuratively, people thought he was speaking literally or they did not understand him, and he corrected them (“We brought no bread,” “I am the door,” “Destroy this temple and I will raise it in three days.”). No correction happened in John 6 when the people indicated that he was speaking literally, but correction happend at those other times.

Plus, in every other passage regarding the Eucharist (ie, Last Supper, Paul’s admonition at 1 Cor 11), there is no indication that that the Eucharist was figurative. 1 Cor 11 is especially interesting to me. Since St. Paul was correcting the Corinthians anyway for the way they were treating the Lord’s Supper, it would have been a good time to explain or at least indicate somehow that it was not literal. But he didn’t do that.

I don’t know who this guy his, but I’ve watched a number of his videos. The name of his YouTube channel is “How To Be Christian.” He argues each topic thoroughly, and completely from the Bible. Check him out and see if you agree.

Heavenly Catholic worship music

I’ve previously shared a few beautiful worship songs created by Protestants. Below I’ve embedded something Catholic called Agnus Dei, which means Lamb of God. It’s chanting in Latin, in four part harmony. In English it means:

Lamb of God, you take away the sins of the world, have mercy on us.

Lamb of God, you take away the sins of the world, have mercy on us.

Lamb of God, you take away the sins of the world, grant us peace.

You will recognize some of these words. They were spoken by John the Baptist when he saw Jesus (John 1:29). The words are spoken or sung during the mass as the priest breaks the consecrated host.

As I mentioned before, I am still acclimating myself to Catholic art. Thankfully there is no rush nor is there even an obligation. For example, I entered the Church in a parish that was meeting in a gymnasium it had recently built as part of a larger project. There was almost no art present inside the gym, and to be frank this is one of the reasons I chose that parish. Getting used to Catholic art is definitely one consideration in regards to becoming Catholic. Unfortunately it is never discussed, at least not that I’ve seen. I think converts, or potential converts, need to be told that they can become Catholic without embracing art that they find intimidating or off-putting.

Along these same lines, the kind of music in this video might be a bit of an acquired taste… like a fine red wine. I take a few sips here and there and find that I enjoy it a lot in small amounts. This piece in particular is heavenly and only about 1:30 long. Take a small sip and see if you enjoy it as much as I do! If you can read sheet music you’ll be able to follow along.

Just for clarity: most parishes in the U.S. won’t be singing these words in Latin at the consecration, they will be singing or saying them in English. The way to hear this in Latin during a mass is to attend a mass said in Latin, aka Extraordinary Form (EF).

Another way to think about problematic members in the Catholic Church

As I discussed before, the Catholic Church has problematic members. We can think of them as weeds according to Matthew 13. I hope I am not a weed, but given that others probably think I am, I can’t rule out that possibility. After all, none of us is the final judge of who is or who is not a weed. That is for God alone.

Today I want to look at the Church’s problematic members in a different way.

Because of the Church’s claims about who she is, it seems that she is judged more harshly for having problematic members than when problematic members are revealed in other churches or organizations. Wouldn’t you agree that this is true? For example, sexual abuse exists in Protestant churches, but for some reason it just doesn’t get the same media coverage or fanfare as when it happens in the Catholic Church.

If I am right about this, it might be evidence for the Church’s claim about who she is, rather than evidence against that claim. Consider what happens with colors. The same color looks different depending on its background.

two colors in the middle are the same

I created this image in Word to show what I mean. The smaller squares are the same color. I created the first one, then created the others by copying and pasting them, so you can know with 100% certainty that they are the same exact color. The one on the right looks darker than the one on the left, because it is on a lighter background. You can do this yourself in Word just to verify it.

We can apply the same principle to the Church. She shines more brightly, so her problematic members provide a starker contrast:

Insurance companies, child advocacy groups and religion scholars say there is no evidence that Catholic clergy are more likely to be involved in sexual misconduct than other clergy or professionals. Yet ongoing civil litigation of decades-old cases against a church with deep pockets keeps the Catholic Church in the headlines.

“There is no plausible evidence that Catholic priests are gangs of sexual predators, as they are being portrayed,” said Pennsylvania State University Prof. Philip Jenkins, eminent religion and history scholar, and a non-Catholic who’s studied the church’s abuse problems for 20 years.

It is not that her members are worse sinners, it is that she is more holy.

On Sunday worship

Under the Old Covenant, Saturday was the day for worship. But all Christians (except Seventh Day Adventists) worship on Sunday. There is not a lot of support for a change in the day of worship in Sacred Scripture, yet the day was changed. Here are the passages I found in the New Testament describing certain activities happening “on the first day” or “the Lord’s day” (Sunday): Mark 16:2, Mark 16:9, Luke 24:1, John 20:1, John 20:19, Acts 20:7, 1 Cor. 16:2, Rev. 1:10.

The Old Testament also shows another meaningful day: “the eighth day.” Eight days after a male child was born, he would be circumcised (Gen. 17:12). Similarly, eight days after the sabbath is the first day, Sunday. Look at a calendar, put your finger on any Saturday, then count forward each day. When you count up to eight you will be on the first day of the following week, which will be a Sunday.

christus_ravenna_mosaic
Christus Ravenna mosaic, c. 550. Doesn’t directly apply to what I’m saying here… I just thought it was pretty. 🙂

The Scripture is clear about the requirement to worship on the sabbath. Yet the Scripture references above don’t add up to a clear argument for changing the day of worship and rest. Relying on Sacred Scripture alone to make that argument doesn’t seem very persuasive to me. If you read each of the New Testament verses above, you will see that they are all descriptive; none are imperative. Here is an example of an imperative statement:

“You shall love the Lord your God…”

This can be found in Matt. 22:37, Mark 12:30, and Luke 10:27. It is easy for us to understand him regarding what we are supposed to do, but he does not then change when we are to do it. There is no explicit command in Sacred Scripture to change the day of rest and worship from Saturday to Sunday.

The New Covenant ushered in a new way to worship. It follows then that it ushered in a new day to worship. The Catechism of the Catholic Church (CCC) has a lot to say about this but these two references make the point:

1166 By a tradition handed down from the apostles which took its origin from the very day of Christ’s Resurrection, the Church celebrates the Paschal mystery every seventh day, which day is appropriately called the Lord’s Day or Sunday. The day of Christ’s Resurrection is both the first day of the week, the memorial of the first day of creation, and the “eighth day,” on which Christ after his “rest” on the great Sabbath inaugurates the “day that the Lord has made,” the “day that knows no evening.”

2174 Jesus rose from the dead “on the first day of the week.” Because it is the “first day,” the day of Christ’s Resurrection recalls the first creation. Because it is the “eighth day” following the sabbath it symbolizes the new creation ushered in by Christ’s Resurrection.

Sunday as the day of worship proclaims the most important aspect of the New Covenant, Christ’s resurrection.

See also: Tradition precedes Scripture.

New Testament verses that point to the First Commandment

Catholics believe that we have an obligation to God to worship him on Sundays. Some Christians or other people might not agree with this obligation. Does this mean that they believe worship is optional? Think about it for a moment: if worship is not obligatory, then somebody could legitimately choose to never worship God. This is unthinkable for a Christian.

Let’s go one step further: if somebody permanently opts out of worshiping God, are they sinning? Matthew, Mark and Luke all show Jesus affirming the first commandment to love God (Matt. 22:37, Mark 12:30, Luke 10:27). Notice the imperative: “You shall love the Lord your God…” It is not optional. How do we show love for him? Through worship. There are other ways as well, but we can’t neglect worship.

Here are some other verses from the New Testament that point to the first commandment (there were more than I thought there would be!):

1 Cor. 16:24:

If anyone has no love for the Lord, let him be accursed.

2 Tim. 3:1-5:

But understand this, that in the last days there will come times of stress. For men will be lovers of self, lovers of money, proud, arrogant, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, inhuman, implacable, slanderers, profligates, fierce, haters of good, treacherous, reckless, swollen with conceit, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, holding the form of religion but denying the power of it. Avoid such people. (emphasis added)

2 Tim. 4:8:

Henceforth there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, will award to me on that Day, and not only to me but also to all who have loved his appearing.

James 1:12:

Blessed is the man who endures trial, for when he has stood the test he will receive the crown of life which God has promised to those who love him.

James 2:5:

Listen, my beloved brethren. Has not God chosen those who are poor in the world to be rich in faith and heirs of the kingdom which he has promised to those who love him?

1 Peter 1:8:

Without having seen him you love him; though you do not now see him you believe in him and rejoice with unutterable and exalted joy.

1 John 2:5:

 but whoever keeps his word, in him truly love for God is perfected.

1 John 2:15:

Do not love the world or the things in the world. If any one loves the world, love for the Father is not in him.

1 John 4:21

And this commandment we have from him, that he who loves God should love his brother also.

 

10 tips for successful commenting on my blog

OK so the other day somebody came onto my blog and the interaction troubled me a lot. It was as if I was being accused and found guilty of a false sin, a sin not found in the Bible. Now, maybe I’m not characterizing it correctly, or maybe I am. But regardless of that, what transpired was an attempt to avoid my argument by discrediting my character. This list is the result of that interaction. I created it because I foresee similar interactions in the future with different people, and I want to be able to link back to this post rather than repeat myself over and over.

10 tips for successful commenting on my blog

1) Don’t make up false sins. Sin is clearly defined in the Bible. Avoid making up false sins. They will lead you astray.

2) Don’t find me guilty of your false sin. If believe you must expand on what scripture says regarding what a sin is, keep in mind that I have no obligation to accept your interpretation.

3) Discrediting my character will be a losing strategy. Why? Several reasons.

  • You are changing the subject and I will point this out.
  • I may use it as an opportunity to teach readers about the sort of fallacy you used.
  • Your false sin doesn’t even begin to scratch the surface of how much of a sinner I really am. I have committed actual, Biblical, REAL sins. So there is no need to make up a false sin to find me guilty of committing.

4) Address the substance of my arguments. Point by point, detailed descriptions of why you think I’m wrong work best for me. Be sure that I have not addressed what you are saying. I find that people rush through my posts without reading them thoroughly, and say something in their comment that I addressed in the post. I put a care into what I write, so it means a lot to me when readers use care when reading and responding.

5) I welcome original, thoughtful dialog, and will be suspect of a response that seems canned, predetermined, or unthoughtful. Why? Because my arguments are unique. Marriage is a stand-alone issue, and so, for example, I never talk about gay sexual activity. I don’t have to talk about gay sexual activity to defend marriage. If you respond by accusing me of being against gay people, you are trying to discredit my character by giving a canned response. You either didn’t read my post or you read it but couldn’t/wouldn’t formulate a response to it. Imagine me describing a mountain, and somebody comes along insisting that I am against oceans. It’s a non-sequitur and makes it hard for me to take you seriously. Please avoid it on my blog.

6) I am a convert to the defense of natural marriage. For example, I did not vote yes on California’s Prop 8 marriage campaign in 2008. I converted to this issue in about 2010. So don’t assume that I’ve always held this view. I have not.

7) I defend a broad category called “natural marriage.” This includes the sub category of “sacramental marriage,” but I do not focus my defense on only the sub category. In my view, the sub category is not specifically under assault. It is only under assault to the extent that the broader category is.

8) I am just as hard, if not harder, on other kinds of family breakdown as I am on same-sex marriage policy. A cursory glance at the posts on my blog will confirm this.

9) Comment deletion/redaction/editing policy. Examples of when I might do one of these: criticizing my Church without providing reasons or citations; attacking my character; spam.

10) I view the category of “sexual orientation” in light of Romans 6. Romans 6 talks about being a slave to sin. “Sexual orientation” is used to justify sexual behavior, as if the behavior cannot be freely chosen. Doesn’t that sound like to being a slave to sin? Now, I know from first hand experience that until we get our lives right with Jesus, sin is powerful, and even after we do, we still have to struggle against it. I also know that because of His grace we can choose to reject sin and follow God, day by day.

Thank you.

What does it mean to abide in Jesus? (John 15:5)

As I mentioned a few days ago, I am still in the process of articulating why I became Catholic. I am an INTJ and have a gift of recognizing patterns. I saw the pattern of the logical and scriptural consistency of the Catholic Church, and I became Catholic because of what I saw. It’s been four years, so you might think I would have worked out all of those details by now. But going back and articulating the mechanics of what I saw is not very interesting to me. So I haven’t spent a great deal of time doing it. I trust my own judgment about what I saw (another INTJ characteristic), so don’t feel a strong urge to reverse engineer what happened. But for some reason the words come to me spontaneously from time to time.

It happened just today.

One of the things I saw in my mind was how the history of Christianity is like a tree. Its trunk grows for a period of time, then it splits apart into branches as time goes on, especially at the Reformation. At that point it splits into smaller branches and even twigs.

Here is a diagram of Church history presented two ways. The first diagram is right side up. The next one is upside down. The upside down diagram looks like a tree, with a trunk, some shoots off the trunk, and branches at the top. It wasn’t that I had this particular diagram in my mind, but I am using this diagram to explain my thought process.

history of catholic church
The history of Christianity…

 

history of catholic church upside down
…looks like a tree when you turn it upside down.

If you start at the top of the tree, on a twig for example, then trace the historical lineage down to the stump, you end up Catholic which is founded on Christ. Since He is the vine, then based on John 15:5 it made sense to me to get as close to the vine as I could. Once I saw the history of Christianity like this, I knew I would not be content spending time on what looked like the twigs of the tree. They seemed too far away from Him.

Later I saw how Ephesians 5:31-32 is related to this. St. Paul says something that did not make sense to me until I looked at it through Catholic eyes:

“‘For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.’ This is a great mystery, and I mean in reference to Christ and the church.” (emphasis added)

As far as I am aware, the marriage discourse in this chapter is always applied to human married couples. I am not aware of these two verses being treated in a literal way among Protestants or Catholics. I’m not an expert on Protestant or Catholic apologists or the arguments they make, so I may be entirely off the mark there. It seems, though, that if people do apply those verses to the church, the verses are viewed figuratively or as a mystery that will be revealed after we die or at the resurrection. But it became clear to me that this is not the case. It is true right now. It seems clear we must take St. Paul at face value here, which means that where the Church is, Christ is. I don’t remember when, if it was at this juncture or earlier, but I was able to easily reject any argument that stated or required Jesus to have somehow lost control of His Church at some point in time. It seems clear that this could never be the case, first because to argue that way diminishes the power of Jesus and His work on the cross. Second, because He said that the gates of Hell would not prevail against it (Matthew 16:18). Third, we apply Eph. 5:31-32 literally instead of figuratively which makes it clear that there is no way Christ was ever separated from His Church.

Notice what He says about abiding in John 6:56:

“He who eats my flesh and drinks my blood abides in me, and I in him.” (emphasis added)

How do we do this? In order to abide in Jesus (John 15:5), we abide through His Church because they are one (Eph. 5:31-32), and because of whom we abide in Him by receiving His body and blood (John 5:56) every Sunday. Where the Church is, Jesus is. It is a mystery exactly the same way it is a mystery how the egg and sperm become one.

 

INTJ and pattern recognition

I am an INTJ. It means, among other things, that I have a good sense of pattern recognition.

When I first encountered that idea, I mentally scanned back through my life and realized that this made sense.

I’ve since observed it quite frequently, this ability to locate patterns pretty easily. It’s kinda cool, really. In some ways it is like a shortcut to understanding stuff. But it can be hard to articulate the process behind the pattern.

halsey physics croppedFor example, sometimes I can solve an algebra problem without thinking about it. I just see the answer and write it down.

The first time this happened to me was in physics in high school. On one of the problems on a test, I just wrote the answer down because I saw how the problem worked. The teacher didn’t give me any points because I didn’t show a step-by-step solution. So I had to explain the solution to him after class, and it was hard to do because I just SAW how it worked. I don’t know how else to describe that experience. That was a fun class and he was a great teacher. But he didn’t let me slide! lol I had to work out the solution. This is him, Mr. Halsey. He wrote a very touching note to me in my senior yearbook. I’m friends with him on Facebook now.

So I think that happens a lot to me, more than just with math problems. I see how something works and I move forward based on what I see, but I have to struggle to describe the mechanics behind it.

Like when I decided to become Catholic. Not long after I left the cult I knew that I had to reject the gnosticism I had been taught there. I wanted to return to my first love of Jesus, son of God, second person of the Trinity, that I had when I was younger. For a couple years I considered returning to some sort of Protestant church but intuited that I would eventually become Catholic anyway. Meandering through Protestantism first, then converting to Catholic later, was a definite possibility, but at some point I realized that it would be inefficient. So I went straight to the Catholic Church. Seeing what I saw about contraception and how it harms the “one flesh” teaching of scripture was the main pivot point, but there were other things as well. For example, I needed a firm historical basis for the church I would join, and I found that in the Catholic understanding of apostolic succession. So again I saw the pattern of how things would play out and made a choice based on that. But articulating that pattern came later, and, in fact, I’m still working on it.

I have sometimes wondered if my friends and family thought I acted impulsively when I became Catholic, because it may have seemed like a sudden decision. But it wasn’t impulse. Setting aside the obvious role of God’s grace in all this… as far as I could see at that time, it was just me seeing the pattern of how things would play out eventually, then making a decision based on that.

Perhaps this gift of pattern recognition is one reason my childhood was so distressing. There was no pattern to my family. Nobody else had the “family” that I had. I bet most reading this can’t imagine being the lone member of a family. That doesn’t make sense, it is a contradiction, but that’s the way it was.

Read more about INTJ and pattern recognition.

 

 

 

I love being Catholic

I really love being Catholic. It makes me so happy just to write those words. I wish I could convey my love so that others could see what I see.

The Church is a good mother.

She helps me grow closer to Jesus. She teaches me how to pray. She loves art, music and beauty.

holy familyShe taught me about marriage and the family. She showed me how they are a reflection of the Trinity. This insight is the the firm foundation for all of what I write about here.

She gave me my baptism and my confirmation. She gave me Sacred Scriptures and teaches me what they mean. She gives me the fulfillment of John 6:53 every Sunday, the body and blood of our Lord, as He commanded.

She gave me an identity, one I will have forever.

I know these things because she is His bride, and she loves her Bridegroom. They are one. Where she is, He is. Where He is, she is.

I believe in one, holy, catholic and apostolic Church. I love the one, holy, catholic and apostolic Church.