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Wednesday, August 10, 2022

The Real Presence

Written by  Michael Steil
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The Real Presence

We have all heard by now the Pew study taken back in 2018, which shows that 69% of all self-identified Catholics said that they believe the bread and wine used at Mass are not Jesus, but instead “symbols of the body and blood of Jesus Christ,” —thereby becoming, in effect, Protestants who deny the Eucharistic Truth of the Real Presence. So, I am assuming that the great majority of Catholics go to communion with nary a concern for how they have lived their lives since the last time they went to confession—if they ever do—or if they even really practice, or attempt to practice their Catholic faith, which also accounts for the nonexistent confession lines in so many churches. Do they refuse to sully their souls with sexual license, etc.? But in the same way, a Gallup study states that about 68 percent of Catholic women use a highly effective method of “abortifacient” birth control, meaning hormonal methods like the Pill, the injectable Depo-Provera, and the IUD—or sterilization like the family pet. So, these are most likely the same brand of Catholics who saunter up in the communion line to receive our Lord, like it is some sort of conga line of “everybody is doing it” sort of thing. I mean, what the heck, they are in good company with such “exemplary” Catholics as Nancy Pelosi and Joe Biden, and the other politicians who have no concern with how their Catholic faith might be a stumbling block to the wanton murder of the unborn in abortion.

 

Jesus said, “But yet the Son of man, when He cometh, shall he find, think you, faith on earth?” These words should haunt us—they do me! Since Jesus is not known for using empty words, His words have to be expressing a very grave concern. Could the words be a warning for the time of the antichrist? (I hope and pray that I will hold up and boldly express the Catholic faith in order to finish the race and receive the crown of eternal life.) There is no apparent explanation, unlike some of the other things Jesus said, where the dimwitted desciples ask for, and receive an explanation.

Without Catholics faithfully recopying the scriptures, most if not all of them would be lost to the past.

As part of my own observations, I am going to go out on a limb, so to speak. I am going to volunteer that since God is in control, therefore any circumstance is the Will of God.

As Sister Patricia Proctor, OSC, succinctly explains it in her book, 101 Inspirational Stories of the Rosary: “I have been a Poor Clare Sister for over 20 years, and during that time I have figured out a few basic things about how God works. One is — and don’t take this wrong — but I think God is kind of sneaky. He sort of sets you up. He tends to fix things and arrange things so that as you blithely go along your life thinking you are totally in charge, all of a sudden you realize, “I have been set up!” Now, if you think this is totally unscriptural, just recall the book of Jeremiah in which he laments to God, ‘You duped me, and I let myself be duped!’” (Jeremiah 20:7)

If we look at the Holy Scriptures, we should take note that they were handwritten by God, complete with chapter and verse, and then published in the same way. Now, I know nobody believes that, but to listen to some of the Evangelical Protestants you might get that idea; said in order to discredit the fact that the New Testament was compiled around 400 A.D. by those heretic Catholics!

The truth is that the scriptures were penned onto a lambskin, or some other type of material like papyrus that, unfortunately, doesn’t generally last very long. The exceptions, to note, were the Dead Sea Scrolls which were pretty well insulated from the elements by being stored in the desert in the protection of caves.

Where I am going with this is establishing that without Catholics faithfully recopying the scriptures, most if not all of them would be lost to the past. The addition of chapters and verses was not considered for hundreds of years. The first modern system of dividing the Bible into sections was devised by Cardinal Hugo in the mid-thirteenth century. Hugo, who was compiling a concordance to the Latin Vulgate version of the Bible, found it necessary to divide the Bible into sections. These sections basically became the chapters we are acquainted with today. As yet, there were no divisions into verses. The next discovery of the addition of verses intrigued me: “In 1551, the New Testament was similarly subdivided into verses. This work was accomplished by the famous English printer, Robert Stephens—of all things, while riding on horseback from Switzerland to France! Ever since that time, the Bible has followed his chapter-and-verse system.”

Jesus said, “He that eateth me, the same also shall live by me.” How much clearer can His message be?

This being about 34 years after the most monumental event that horribly disfigured the Body of Christ—the one Holy Apostolic Catholic Church of Jesus Christ. For those knowledgeable of the history of the Church, that would be the so-called, “Protestant Reformation”—an event that could only have come from the hand of Satan. However, if we were to listen to the Protestant explanation of this event, you might be led to believe there could have been nothing better that has ever happened: that the Bible was released from the bondage that the Catholic “Whore of Babylon” had on it; that we would not know the slavery of “works” that we were under, until being mercifully released by “faith alone,” as expressed by the ex-monk, Martin Luther. And has since been the battle cry for the many succeeding generations of Protestants.

As knowledgeable Catholics, we are fully aware of the scriptures in the sixth chapter of John, where Jesus is addressing the crowds who have been following him in order to see Him perform miracles on the sick, or maybe they have heard that He also feeds the multitudes.

As the people gather round, Jesus shocks the listeners with these words:

I am the bread of life. Your fathers did eat manna in the desert, and are dead. This is the bread which cometh down from heaven; that if any man eat of it, he may not die. 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, for the life of the world. The Jews therefore strove among themselves, saying: How can this man give us his flesh to eat? Then Jesus said to them: Amen, amen I say unto you: Except you eat the flesh of the Son of man, and drink his blood, you shall not have life in you. He that eateth my flesh, and drinketh my blood, hath everlasting life: and I will raise him up in the last day. For my flesh is meat indeed: and my blood is drink indeed. He that eateth my flesh, and drinketh my blood, abideth in me, and I in him. As the living Father hath sent me, and I live by the Father; so he that eateth me, the same also shall live by me. This is the bread that came down from heaven. Not as your fathers did eat manna, and are dead. He that eateth this bread, shall live for ever. (John 6:48-59, Douay Rheims version)

To make the message crystal clear, in reading over 6:58, Jesus said, “He that eateth me, the same also shall live by me.” How much clearer can His message be?

And we are all aware of what follows. “Many therefore of his disciples, hearing it, said: ‘This saying is hard, and who can hear it’” Maybe some of those same disciples were in the Passover crowds that betrayed Jesus to death. “Crucify him, crucify him.” (How many times has my own lack of speaking out, or fully consenting to sin, contributed to the cries of the crowds?)

Could the words of Jesus be reaching across the centuries as a warning to the believers of the new heresy that denies the Real Presence of Christ in the Eucharist, using the 666 symbol of the beast?

Now, I am bringing up something maybe as crazy as the one-time disciples probably thought of the last words they heard Jesus utter at that gathering at Capernaum. If we look at verse 66*:

After this many of his disciples went back; and walked no more with him.” Taken together as chapter and verse it is 6:66. According to The Apocalypse of St. John the Apostle: “And he shall make all, both little and great, rich and poor, freemen and bondmen, to have a character in their right hand, or on their foreheads. And that no man might buy or sell, but he that hath the character, or the name of the beast, or the number of his name. Here is wisdom. He that hath understanding, let him count the number of the beast. For it is the number of a man: and the number of him is six hundred sixty-six.” Book of Revelation 13:16-18. (*This appears in the Douay-Rheims version as verse 67.)

Would I be so bold as to say that maybe this is a portent for succeeding generations to see and take notice? After all, the verse numbering system was not added to the New Testament for over 1500 years. In fact, the first use of it was during the printing of the Bibles by the first printing presses, amazingly, about the same time as the Protestant Reformation. And what was a key mark of it? It was the denial of the Real Presence of Christ in the Eucharist. Martin Luther and John Calvin, along with some of the other reformers, were Catholic priests, and their beliefs devolved into, at most, belief in the spirit of Jesus somehow inhabiting the communion service, or maybe the community. Could the words of Jesus be reaching across the centuries as a warning to the believers of the new heresy that denies the Real Presence of Christ in the Eucharist, using the 666 symbol of the beast?

I was at a point where I still believed in God, only I had lost belief in myself as a Catholic.

My own story, in contrast, is quite different in that I never actually left the Catholic Church—but I came close! I was at a point where I still believed in God, only I had lost belief in myself as a Catholic.

I quickly made friends with a coworker in my first job as a graphic artist, who also happened to be Lutheran with a lot of questions and concerns about the Catholic Faith. It was through the discussions of God and religion with him that I began to review my own Catholic beliefs. By this, I mean that in order to answer some of his questions about the Catholic Church I had to recall what I had been taught about my Faith in Catholic grade school. All of the pre-1965 catechesis teachings came back to me as if a tape recording was being played in my head of all that I had learned. Such questions as, “What is the Trinity,” and “Who is Jesus Christ,” etc.

In addition, I also found myself actively listening and enjoying his contemporary Christian music, as an alternative to secular rock and roll, which was unlike the Southern Gospel music I assumed was the only Christian music. There were a few artists, such as John Michael Talbot (before he became Catholic) and Don Francisco, that had a significant effect on preparing me for the next step in my journey back to God and the Catholic Faith. By this I mean, it was by listening to the music of those same artists that my heart was breaking — or at least the protective hard outer crusty shell that had formed as a result of the rejection and hurt I had experienced — and as a result of my own selfish misconceptions of God. My heart was being prepared so that God could work His great work in me.

There was no way at that moment that I could have resisted the loving grace of God, being instantly converted into a crying, slobbering mass of penitence right there at work.

However, there was one particular song by Christian songwriter Don Francisco that really did a number on me. You see, the song called “Too Small a Price” was his masterful way of placing the listener into the role of the good thief as he is encountering Jesus on his way to the cross and in return realizing his own sinful life in comparison. There was no way at that moment that I could have resisted the loving grace of God, being instantly converted into a crying, slobbering mass of penitence right there at work. It was most likely through the Providence of God that nobody even noticed.

Just to be entirely accurate, listening to the song didn’t fully convert me. No, it took the Blessed Virgin Mary at Fatima saying, “You have seen hell, where the souls of poor sinners go,” to completely bring me around. I remember saying to myself that, “I didn’t realize it was real!” I immediately realized that I needed to really change the direction of my life.

Through the sacrament of confession (which I hadn’t attended for some time, as I didn’t notice any real difference in my life after confessing), there was a noticeable outpouring of God’s Grace that changed me from having a very negative, pessimistic disposition, to a more hopeful attitude. I felt real love for the first time. God really loves me. Not in some touchy, feely way, but in a way that was all encompassing, that filled my entire being to the point, as the author, Fr. John Powell, says so well: “I felt like a balloon being blown up with the pure pleasure of God’s loving presence, even to the point of discomfort and doubt that I could hold any more of this sudden ecstasy” (He Touched Me: My Pilgrimage of Prayer). I looked around and realized that life and the world around me were indeed beautiful. During this time it was easy to pray and to do the right things. I no longer had the bad language that had become a regular part of my life. For the first time, reading and understanding the Bible was relatively easy, and became a complete joy. I was given an insatiable desire to learn about God and my Catholic faith and, to this day, I cannot get enough. As a result, I then read innumerable spiritual books in my newfound quest to know, “Who is this Lover of my soul?”

I was almost convinced to leave by people that I came to trust.

The only problem was, my main “religion” teachers were my Lutheran co-worker, who was used of God to help me see the error of my ways, and an assortment of Evangelical Protestants—including, unfortunately, Jack Chick publications, although, even I could see how utterly preposterous were many of Jack Chick’s accusations in his constant attack on the Catholic Church.

Instead, I was almost convinced to leave by people that I came to trust. When they were explaining that the Catholic Church is the “Whore of Babylon” and the “city on seven hills” as the terms are mentioned in the Book of Revelation — for someone who was not familiar to the Scriptures — their arguments made quite an impression. That, in fact, all of the things that made the Catholic Church different from the protestant churches, such as the sacraments, Sacred Tradition, and apostolic succession, were truly not of God — and maybe from the “Father of Lies”— Satan himself.

The thing that really disturbed me, though, was the monthly publication, Last Days Newsletter, published by a singer/evangelist whom I deeply respected. The writer, the late Keith Green, stated:

A young Catholic believer recently asked me, ‘What are Protestants still protesting about anyway?’ The question caught me off-guard, and at the time I had to answer, ‘I don't really know… nothing, I guess.’ Well, my on-the-spot answer really bothered me, and it started gnawing away at me. What were Martin Luther, the Huguenots, the Anabaptists, the Quakers and the multitudes of others protesting anyway when they broke away from the Church of Rome? What did they suffer untold persecutions and martyrdoms for? I had to find the answer… and when I found it, I knew I had no choice but to share it.

Keith Green then went on: “In fact, nothing at all qualifies me for this task— except for this one fact: I am sure God has told me to do it.” (emphasis added)

I have since fallen totally in love with the Catholic Church instituted by Jesus.

In the series called, The Catholic Chronicles, Keith Green made attacks on a number of Catholic doctrines using some of the more notorious sources, such as Lorraine Boettner’s book, Roman Catholicism. With titles such as “The Holy Eucharist: Eating the Flesh of Deities,” and “The Sacrifice of the Mass,” he would then go on to provide very extensive documentation from Church councils and even pagan sources to back up his accusations. And, of course, it was all substantiated by Scripture. It made for very compelling reading. Then as you continued to read the next month’s newsletter you were hit with another piece and you also got to read the “Letters to the Editor” by ex-Catholics who were gratefully freed from the slavery of Rome by reading The Catholic Chronicles.

The thing is: I had enough respect for Keith Green that I was willing to seriously consider his claims. The thought that the Catholic Church was the “Whore of Babylon” as the term is mentioned in the Book of Revelation, was almost more than I could take. I assumed that if the charges he had made were true, then I would be best to leave the Catholic Church as soon as possible in order to be “SAVED.” The only problem was: if I did that, I would then be repudiating the faith of my entire life since birth. Saying, in effect, that almost everything I had learned as a Catholic was error — or possibly even heresy! These supposed revelations from Keith Green caused great turmoil to my soul.

As it was, I prayed about the situation while using a little “Bible roulette,” desperately looking for an answer from God. Since at that time I hardly knew which books were even in the Bible, I believe it was only by the direction and Providence of God that I was drawn to the answer in 1 Corinthians 11:27-29: “Therefore, whosoever shall eat this bread, or drink the chalice of the Lord unworthily, shall be guilty of the body and of the blood of the Lord. But let a man prove himself: and so let him eat of that bread, and drink of the chalice; for he that eateth and drinketh unworthily, eateth and drinketh judgment to himself, not discerning the body of the Lord.” (This actually happened by way of literally opening the Bible to this particular chapter and verses.)

This, I realized, is what the Catholic Church already believes and teaches in the Institution of the Eucharist. As a result, I confirmed that God was calling me to remain in the Church of my upbringing and find out all I could about the historic Catholic Church. Later I bought some books on the early history of the Catholic Church, including the excellent three-volume, Faith of the Early Church Fathers, by William Jurgens. I have since fallen totally in love with the Catholic Church instituted by Jesus.

As for the scripture in John 6:66, my contention is that it was meant for a time such as ours. A time that has seen the tearing apart of the Church during the Protestant revolt—and now with the vast numbers of unbelieving Catholic pew warmers who deny the Real Presence of Christ in the Eucharist—and as a result commit the sin of sacrilege by receiving the precious Body and Blood of our Lord. In addition, when Jesus mentioned in Luke 18:8, “But yet the Son of man, when He cometh, shall he find, think you, faith on earth?”, that maybe He was actually referring to faith in His Real Presence in the Eucharist? After all, he let many of his own dear disciples leave Him rather than explain that it was only symbolic language. If that is the case: Blessed are the Remnant who still believe!

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Last modified on Wednesday, August 10, 2022