Sacraments & Sacramentals

Leonard Alt debates an anti-Catholic named Phil. He writes:

I have a choice: I can listen to the Evangelicals who confuse the blood of animals, with the blood of Christ and choose not to eat the Flesh and drink the Blood of Christ, or, I can listen to Jesus who said; “Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him on the last day” (Jn 6:54). Who will you listen too? 

Phil Wipperman in the Facebook group “The Catholic Church is NOT a Christian Church” says, “Leonard Alt claims that Jesus Christ endorsed sin by COMMANDING people to drink blood even though he has given CLEAR COMMANDMENTS in the Old Testament FORBIDDING the wicked behavior of the heathens. Why is this not shocking?” 

Phil Wipperman cites the Old Testament, out of context, not mentioning that the blood they didn’t drink was the blood of animals.  However, the drinking of blood of animals is a moot point because no one is recommending drinking the blood of animals in the New Testament.

Jesus commands us in the New Testament to drink of His blood and there is no prohibition against this.  In fact, it was Jesus who said, “For my flesh is true food, and my blood is true drink” (Jn 6:55).  At the same time Phil Wipperman says; “Why is this not shocking?”  

Phil is actually correct; it was shocking.  In fact, Jesus asked the same of those who were having difficulty believing Him; “Does this shock you?” (Jn 6:51).   It was shocking because this is the only place in all of the Gospels where many of Jesus very own disciples “returned to their former way of life” (Jn 6:66).   Of course, as shocking as it was, His twelve Apostles did not leave Him.  Peter said, “Master, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life” (Jn 6:68). 

When Jesus said “For my flesh is true food, and my blood is true drink” (Jn 6:55), it was very difficult for some of His disciples to believe; and it is difficult for some of us to believe today.  

When Phil and other Evangelicals oppose drinking blood, they are confusing the prohibition against drinking the blood of animals in the Deuteronomy 12:27, with drinking the blood of Christ, which was commanded by Jesus.  It was Jesus who said, “I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you do not have life within you” (Jn 6:53).

Many claim that the drinking of the Blood of Christ is not Biblical, even Pagan; however, that is not the way Jesus saw it.  

  • IT WAS JESUS WHO SAID,Drink from it all of you, for this is my Blood, of the covenant, which will be shed on behalf of many for the forgiveness of sins” (Mt 26:28)
  • IT WAS JESUS WHO SAID, after drinking from it, “this is my blood, of the covenant, which will be shed for many (Mk 14:24).
  • IT WAS JESUS WHO SAID, “I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you do not have life within you” (Jn 6:53). 
  • IT WAS JESUS WHO SAID,“Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him on the last day” (Jn 6:54).
  • IT WAS JESUS WHO SAID, “For my flesh is true food, and my blood is true drink” (Jn 6:55). 

The Catholic Church follows Biblical tradition by echoing the words of Jesus “For my flesh is true food, and my blood is true drink.”  However, this begs the question; is it possible for Phil and other Evangelicals to be following a Biblical tradition and at the same time not accept these words of Jesus?   Yes, they have a Biblical tradition as well; they are following the tradition of the disciples who could not accept the words of Jesus. 

These disciples were quoted as saying; “This saying is hard; who can accept it” (Jn 6:60).   These same disciples left Jesus and “returned to their former way of life” (Jn 6:66).   There is one difference between the disciples who left Jesus and todays Evangelicals.  The Evangelicals of today still claim to be followers of Jesus; however, they are not following Jesus when He says, “For my flesh is true food, and my blood is true drink” (Jn 6:55).  

In fairness, it should be also said that there are many non-Catholics today, who while not having exactly the same understanding of Communion as Catholics, still believe in a real presence of Jesus in or around the elements of bread and wine during their liturgies.   Martin Luther and John Calvin believed in a real presence; Ulrich Zwingli did not.  Most Evangelicals today are coming from the Zwinglian tradition.  

I can listen to the Evangelicals who confuse the blood of animals, with the blood of Christ and choose not to eat the Flesh and drink the Blood of Christ.  Or, I can listen to Jesus who said; “Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him on the last day” (Jn 6:54).   Who will you listen too?

FRANCIS CHOUDHURY COMMENTARY:  Any Christian who believes that God’s OT prohibition on eating blood still stands (after Christ), needs to explain why he/she eats normal meat (with blood in it), instead of eating only Kosher/Halal meat (drained of blood), as Jews and Muslims, who are stuck in the OT and do not accept Christ’s teachings, do.

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Some might claim that Catholic teaching on relics and Sacramentals is unbiblical. Really?

Check out these biblical passages:

“So extraordinary were the mighty deeds God accomplished at the hands of Paul that when face CLOTHS or aprons that touched his skin were applied to the sick, their diseases left them and the evil spirits came out of them” (Acts 19:11-12).

“So they cast the dead man into the grave of Elisha, and everyone went off. But when the man came in contact with the BONES of Elisha, he came back to life and rose to his feet” (2 Kgs. 13:21).

“They even carried the sick out into the streets and laid them on cots and pallets, so that when Peter came by at least his SHADOW might fall on any one of them. Also the people from the cities in the vicinity of Jerusalem were coming together, bringing people who were sick or afflicted with unclean spirits, and they were all being healed” (Acts 5:15).

“When [Jesus] had said this, He spat on the ground, and made CLAY of the spittle, and applied the clay to his eyes, and said to him, “Go, wash in the pool of Siloam ” (which is translated, Sent ). So he went away and washed and came back seeing” (John 9:6-7).

OIL – see James 5:14-15

WATER – see 2 Kings 5:14

SACRAMENTALISM (Quoted from Dave Armstrong’s “One Minute Apologist“)

Objection: Matter cannot convey grace. Sacramentalism and relics are unbiblical magic

The Bible teaches that grace and salvation come through the spirit (Jn. 6:63), not through “holy objects”

 Initial reply 

 The Incarnation of Jesus “raised” matter, and His death on the cross was intensely physical. Protestants often speak of “the blood” (Rev. 5:9; Eph. 1:7; Col. 1:14; Heb. 9:12; 1 Pet. 1:2; 1 Jn. 1:7), which is but one of many examples of sacramentalism. 

 Extensive reply 

 The New Testament is filled with many concrete examples or teachings about the “incarnational principle” and sacramentalism. Baptism confers regeneration (Acts 2:38, 22:16; 1 Pet. 3:21 – cf. Mk. 16:16; Rom 6:3-4 -, 1 Cor. 6:11; Titus 3:5). Jesus’ garment (Matt. 9:20-22), saliva mixed with dirt (Jn. 9:5 ff.; Mk. 8:22-25), and water from the pool of Siloam (Jn. 9:7) all were used in healings. Anointing with oil for healing is also prescribed (Jas. 5:14). The Bible often calls for a laying on of hands for the purpose of ordination and commissioning (Acts 6:6) and in order to heal (Mk. 6:5; Lk. 13:13).

Catholics believe in seven sacraments: all of which are established on the basis of extensive biblical evidences: 1) The Eucharist: Lk. 22:19-20; Jn 6:53-58; 1 Cor. 11:23-30; 2) Baptism: Matt. 28:19; Acts 2:38, 22:16; 3) Penance and Reconciliation: Matt. 16:19; Jn 20:23; 1 Cor. 5:3-5 with 2 Cor. 2:6-11; 4) Confirmation: Acts 8:14-17, 19:1-6; Eph. 1:13; 5) Anointing of the Sick: Mk. 6:13; Acts 9:17-18; Jas. 5:14-15; 6) Ordination: Mt. 18:18; 1 Tim. 4:14; 2 Tim. 1:6; 7) Matrimony: Matt. 5:31-32, 19:1-9; Eph. 5:21-33.

Even relics (remnants of the bodies of saints and holy people, and related physical items), have (perhaps surprisingly) strong biblical support. Perhaps the most striking proof text is a story about the prophet Elisha:

 2 Kings 13:20-21: So Eli’sha died, and they buried him. Now bands of Moabites used to invade the land in the spring of the year. And as a man was being buried, lo, a marauding band was seen and the man was cast into the grave of Eli’sha; and as soon as the man touched the bones of Eli’sha, he revived, and stood on his feet.

 Examples of second-class relics (objects that came into contact with holy people) are also clearly found in passages about the prophet Elijah’s mantle, which parted the Jordan River (2 Kings 2:11-14), and Peter’s shadow (Acts 5:15-16) and Paul’s handkerchief (Acts 19:11-12), used by God to heal sick people and to cast out demons. If all of this is “magic,” then it is a sort of “magic” directly sanctioned by God Himself.

 Objection 

 Protestants can agree with some of this. What cannot be found in the Bible, however, is the excessive veneration of relics. This goes too far, and is idolatry. We can remember the deeds of great heroes of the faith (Acts 7; Hebrews 11) and thank God for them, but we shouldn’t get into worshiping bones or pieces of hair and so forth, or go on pilgrimages to “holy places.” That’s too much like paganism or heathenism and adds nothing to our spiritual life. All places are equally “holy.”

 Reply to Objection 

 If matter can indeed convey grace and blessing, according to the Bible, then we can give glory to God for what He has done with lowly matter by venerating (not worshiping) even now-inanimate objects. Protestants themselves would not, for example, think that the birthplace of Jesus in Bethlehem or the hill where He died on the cross or His tomb, from which He rose from the dead, are merely rocks and dirt like any other rocks and dirt. In their own way they do indeed venerate and honor them. If the physical location were so irrelevant, why visit it at all; why not simply ponder Jerusalem and Israel in their heads, in “spirit.” 

Plenty of Protestants are also fascinated and intrigued by the Shroud of Turin, which is an extraordinary secondary relic related to our Lord Jesus. That is an object, too; a mere piece of cloth. But would any Christian treat it like any other cloth and tear it up for rags to dust with? Of course they would not, because it was connected with Jesus and has miraculous properties (like Elisha’s bones): a supernaturally produced image. Therefore it is highly regarded and revered. It all goes back to God and His great works, using matter. Sacramentalism and relics flow from the Incarnation: God Himself taking on flesh and matter and becoming man.

 St. Thomas Aquinas (1225-1274) 

 The death of Christ is the universal cause of man’s salvation: but a universal cause has to be applied to particular effects. Thus it was found necessary for certain remedies to be administered to men by way of bringing Christ’s death into proximate connection with them. Such remedies are the Sacraments of the Church. And these remedies had to be administered with certain visible signs: — first, because God provides for man, as for other beings, according to his condition; and it is the condition of man’s nature to be led through sensible things to things spiritual and intelligible: secondly, because instruments must be proportioned to the prime cause; and the prime and universal cause of man’s salvation is the Word Incarnate: it was convenient therefore that the remedies, through which that universal cause reaches men, should resemble the cause in this, that divine power works invisibly through visible signs.

Hereby is excluded the error of certain heretics, who wish all visible sacramental signs swept away; and no wonder, for they take all visible things to be of their own nature evil, and the work of an evil author. These visible sacramental signs are the instruments of a God Incarnate and Crucified. (Summa Contra Gentiles, IV, 56: “Of the Need of Sacraments”)

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Our group praying in the Upper Room on Mount Zion in Jerusalem

This is quite incredible since it has not been done since Pope John Paul II received permission from Israel to celebrate Mass there on his visit to the Holy Land. Pope Francis will do the “not allowed”–he will celebrate Mass in the Upper Room.

Seems odd, eh, that the place where the first Eucharist was celebrated by Jesus is not open for Catholics to worship. It is a “secular” building like a museum where anyone can walk through, sing, make noise, whatever. But the one thing we cannot do is celebrate Mass.

Pope’s Detailed Holy Land Schedule

Three, maybe four, sacraments were instituted in this room: ordination, Eucharist, Reconciliation and we can also suggest Confirmation since the Holy Spirit descended in fire upon 120 in this room on the day of Pentecost. 

Now, I have been informed the Pope Francis will celebrate Mass in the Upper Room. I hope he can convince Israel to give it back to the Catholic Church.

(See Zenit Report)

Pray!

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What Does God See When He Opens His Eyes?

March 8, 2014

Recently we went to Mass with two Protestants.  As we walked in the door — there it was, as big as life — a CRUCIFIX with the Body of Our Lord hanging over the altar. I knew what the Protestants were thinking — I used to think the same – ”CATHOLICS ARE WRONG, JESUS IS NO LONGER [...]

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What Does “Water and Spirit” Mean?

February 3, 2014

A while ago a Protestant friend tried to prove that Born Again by “water and Spirit” did not mean baptism. Here is one paragraph that he sent me: In John, chapter 3, Jesus told Nicodemus, a ruler of the Jews and a Pharisee, that one must be born ‘from above’ (Gr. anothen) in order to enter the [...]

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Amazing Miracles still Happen and the Use of Sacramentals

December 9, 2013

From my friend Leonard Alt: He had been in a coma for ten days, no speech, no voluntary movements of the body. His condition was such that the only question was whether he would live. There was no question of recovering from what was diagnosed as permanent and inoperable brain damage… I was about to [...]

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White Bread and Shot Glass of Grape Juice: But Now I am Home!

September 25, 2013

Elizabeth wrote:  I grew up Catholic, left off practice of my faith, then wandered around several churches before coming back.  It just seemed like the preaching I was hearing treated the Bible like Ann Landers, and people wanted to be soothed rather than challenged.  There would be preaching and singing but no Eucharist.  It’s like [...]

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Massively Busy and Exciting Day in Israel, Day 4

September 4, 2013

Today we had a long and very eventful day. I only have the morning and the homily. I will have to post the afternoon video tomorrow, so stay tuned. We started the day by visiting the ancient boat from the 1st century. Was Jesus on this boat? We don’t know, but if he wasn’t it [...]

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Before Mass: 1 or 3 Hour Fast?

August 29, 2013

Interview note from my friend Dr. Edward Peters (his opinions are not necessarily mine; I post this for information and discussion only) This afternoon at 5:15 Eastern, Drew Mariani (Relevant Radio) and I [Ed Peters] will be talking about my suggestion that the fast required for holy Communion be re-extended to three hours (up from [...]

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Cross vs. Crucifix

June 20, 2013

(From a letter Steve wrote to a Evangelical Protestant who asked about the Catholic Crucifix) Dear Evangelical Friend: You display a bare cross in your home; we display the cross and the crucifix. What is the difference and why? The cross is an upright post with a crossbeam in the shape of a “T”. A [...]

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Corpus Christi Sunday – Prepare for the Heresy!

May 31, 2013

Article HERE.  In John 6:1-14 it says Jesus fed 5,000 men plus women and children. When Jesus fed the 10,000+ people, he didn’t really do a miracle, right? He just taught everyone to care and share, right? You’ve probably heard that homily, right? The people had all brought picnic baskets which they kept hidden up [...]

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Why Can’t Evangelicals See the Eucharist?

May 16, 2013

I was recently asked why Evangelicals cannot see the Eucharist and Real Presence in the Bible. This person said that when they read the Bible it seems so clear — especially John 6 where Jesus says “Unless you eat my Flesh and drink my Blood . . .” and at the Last Supper when he [...]

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Primer on the Mass

March 25, 2013

A while ago I sat with a Protestant friend who came to Mass with me. To help him understand what was going on I wrote this short Primer on the Mass for him in advance. The Mass can be very confusing, even intimidating I wanted to make sure he understood how the Mass was tied [...]

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If Only Our Eyes Could See

March 24, 2013

Wouldn’t it be amazing to see what the angels see. We are so limited in the mortal bodies.

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“Sunday Mornings in Ancient Times” or “Why I Teared up Last Sunday”

February 3, 2013

Tears welled up in my eyes — again — at Mass last Sunday. It was not always so. As a former Baptist I used to think the Catholic Mass was a sacrilege and an abomination. How could anyone worship a piece of bread? Really! However, last Sunday I was overcome with emotion while sitting in [...]

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Riddle: What is the New Testament?

January 27, 2013

Before you say “a book” ask yourself what the book says the New Testament is.

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