Apparently, across the United States and in other countries, the Roman Catholic Church (RCC) is modifying church services to take "common sense" precautions against spreading the Swine Flu. Clearly gathering in public places can heighten one's risk for contracting this virus and everyone should take steps to ensure that they are safe.
One of the changes some parishes are implementing is to dispense of the shaking of hands during the Rite of Peace. This is understandable as direct contact with other people can also increase one's risk of exposure.
However, many churches are also changing the way that Communion is served. In particular they are not placing the eucharistic wafer directly on the parishioners' tongues and are foregoing the sharing of a common cup. So my question is: What does this say about the RCC's faith in the efficacy of the eucharist and even transubstantiation?
According to the RCC, the eucharist is a sacrament where the bread and wine of the Lord's Supper (while maintaining their outward appearance) becomes the literal body and blood of Jesus Christ. Through a process called transubstantiation, the priest presiding over the ceremony performs a rite and says, "Hoc est enim corpus meum" (which some say is the origin of the magician's term 'hocus pocus') to bring about this miraculous change. The congregation may then partake in the literal body and blood of Jesus as a "spritiual" food.
According to the Catholic Reference website, these terms are defined as:
The true Body and Blood of Jesus Christ, who is really and substantially present under the appearances of bread and wine, in order to offer himself in the sacrifice of the Mass and to be received as spiritual food in Holy Communion. It is called Eucharist, or "thanksgiving," because at its institution at the Last Supper Christ "gave thanks," and by this fact it is the supreme object and act of Christian gratitude to God. Although the same name is used, the Eucharist is any one or all three aspects of one mystery, namely the Real Presence, the Sacrifice, and Communion. As Real Presence, the Eucharist is Christ in his abiding existence on earth today; as Sacrifice, it is Christ in his abiding action of High Priest, continuing now to communicate the graces he merited on Calvary; and as Communion, it is Christ coming to enlighten and strengthen the believer by nourishing his soul for eternal life.
The complete change of the substance of bread and wine into the substance of Christ's body and blood by a validly ordained priest during the consecration at Mass, so that only the accidents of bread and wine remain. While the faith behind the term itself was already believed in apostolic times, the term itself was a later development. With the Eastern Fathers before the sixth century, the favored expression was meta-ousiosis, "change of being"; the Latin tradition coined the word transubstantiatio, "change of substance," which was incorporated into the creed of the Fourth Lateran Council in 1215. The Council of Trent, in defining the "wonderful and singular conversion of the whole substance of the wine into the blood" of Christ, added "which conversion the Catholic Church calls transubstantiation" (Denzinger 1652). After transubstantiation, the accidents of bread and wine do not inhere in any subject or substance whatever. Yet they are not make-believe they are sustained in existence by divine power.
Discussing the concept of the "real presence", the New Advent Catholic Encyclopedia says:
"Consequently, eating and drinking are to be understood of the actual partaking of Christ in person, hence literally...Consequently, together with His Body and Blood and Soul, His whole Humanity also, and, by virtue of the hypostatic union, His Divinity, i.e. Christ whole and entire, must be present. Hence Christ is present in the sacrament with His Flesh and Blood, Body and Soul, Humanity and Divinity."
It is important to note that the "real presence" of Christ being in the eucharist is an essential part of this doctrine. As stated above, the RCC teaches that Jesus' whole humanity and divinity is present in the eucharist after transubstantiation.
I am taking such time with this because I understand that these are concepts with which those outside of the RCC may be unfamiliar. When Catholics partake of the Lord's Supper, they believe that they are literally eating and drinking Jesus Christ. They believe it to be a "moral necessity" for salavation as a continual sacrifice for the sin of man.
I can remember when AIDS first began to become a national concern. I experienced a crisis of faith as a Catholic, knowing that there were people with AIDS in our church. Would I follow a number of my family members and simply stop drinking from the communal cup? Or, would I trust that once transubstantiation had occurred, any impurities would be purged because the wine had truly been changed into Jesus' blood? Each Sunday, I would put aside my fears and partake of communion. If I did not have faith in Christ to sustain me in my obedience to His command to partake of His literal Body & Blood, then I figured that my faith was in vain.
Since that time, God in His mercy has brought me out of the RCC doctrinal errors and deception. Indeed, it was nothing but His grace and power that sustained me as I ignorantly participated and placed faith in a ritual that is nothing more than Babylonian mysticism.
It can certainly be argued that it is only "common sense" for parishoners to abstain from shaking hands during the Rite of Peace. Other men and women may be contaminated with this horrible virus, even unwittingly.
Yet, where is the logic behind changing the way that the "literal body and blood" of Jesus Christ is given? By admitting that the bread and wine could become contaminated with the swine flu, the RCC is indirectly stating one of the following:
- Transubstantiation is a lie. The bread and wine really DO NOT become the Body and Blood of our Savior & Lord, Jesus Christ (God incarnate) and is therefore subject to contamination, OR
- Our Saviour & Lord Jesus Christ is not really God and is subject to the same curses of sickness and disease that befall man. Indeed, under this scenario, the Blood of Jesus would be insufficient to save even from the swine flu let alone anything else.
Transubstantiation is an unScriptural, man-made tradition. Therefore, it makes perfect sense to stop serving the wine in communal cups as a precaution against the spread of the swine flu. Because these elements do not become the Body & Blood of Jesus Christ, they are not sanctified from disease.
When trying times such as these arise (and those even harder to come very shortly), the RCC is showing you that you cannot place faith in their doctrines and teachings. By their example, you had better stray from their doctrinal traditions and do what is necessary to save your life. This implication alone - that adherence to what are supposed to be the things of God is secondary to the preservation of our own lives - is an anti-Christ theology.
When you really know Jesus Christ and really do His will, you don't have to worry about modifying His commands in order to save your life. In fact, He says, "For whosoever will save his life shall lose it: and whosoever will lose his life for my sake shall find it." Matthew 16:25
It is time that those who truly desire a relationship with Christ leave religiousness behind and stop playing pretend with the things of God.