“Editorial” American Sentinel 9, 25, pp. 193-195.

June 21, 1894

THE Christian doctrine of the real presence is “Christ in you.”

THE Catholic theory of the real presence is “Christ in the eucharist.”

THE Christian doctrine of the real presence is Christ in the believer by the creative power and overshadowing of the Spirit of God. The Catholic theory of the real presence is Christ in the eucharist by the word of the priest.

IN the Christian doctrine of the real presence there is an inward change or conversion of the soul of the believer himself by the power of the Holy Spirit, by which he is made a “new creature.” In the Catholic theory of the real presence there is what is called an “inward change or conversion” of the bread and wine, or the wafer of the communion into the very flesh and blood of Jesus Christ by the word and at the will of the priest.

NOR is any of this mere captious criticism or prejudiced statement. It is all the straight truth. And that all may see that it is so, we herewith give the authoritative proof. First, as to the real presence of Christ being in the eucharist. Here is the statement:—

Among the various dogmas of the Christian church there is none which rests on stronger scriptural authority than the doctrine of the real presence of Jesus Christ in the holy eucharist. The fathers of the church, without an exception, re-echo the language of the apostle to the Gentiles, by proclaiming the real presence of our Lord in the eucharist…. I have counted the names of sixty-three fathers and eminent ecclesiastical writers flourishing between the first and the sixth century, all of whom proclaim the real presence—some by explaining the mystery, others by thanking God for this inestimable gift; and others by exhorting the faithful to its worthy reception.—Faith of Our Fathers, by Cardinal Gibbons.

AND that it is in the eucharist instead of “in you” is shown by the following words:—

Redemption satisfied eternal justice, but it did not satisfy the Saviour’s love; this still required the eucharist. The Saviour’s love is a consuming passion, and his love achieved the blessed sacrament. There is not true lover but would work a miracle to attain a perfect union with the beloved. Our Saviour had the power, and he wrought the miracle of the real presence…. On the altar behold the infinite longing of your Saviour.—Philip ONeil, in Catholic Mirror, January 20, 1894.

Every one knows that example loses much of its efficacy in passing through the medium of history, and that virtues perceived at a distance of eighteen centuries are not sufficiently eloquent to move our hearts. It was then very necessary that the divine Model of the elect should dwell in the midst of us full of grace and truth, and that he should offer to each one the living picture of the same virtues which charmed the witnesses of his mortal life and attached to him so powerfully the hearts of his disciples. This need Jesus Christ satisfies in his eucharistic life. Could Jesus Christ manifest more strikingly his unspeakable tenderness for sinners, and his ardent zeal for their salvation, than he does in the adorable sacrament in which he condemns himself to remain on the earth so long as there is one soul to save?—Religion in Society, by Abbe Martinet, Introduction by Archbishop Hughes, of New York, p. 180, Sadlier & Co., Barclay St., N. Y.

AND that it is at the word and will of the priest that this is all done, is shown plainly enough and strongly enough to satisfy anybody, in the following words:—

To obtain from us this abnegation of self it was not enough that the Son of God obeyed Mary and Joseph for thirty years, made himself, during his public life, the servant of all, and delivered himself, without resistance, to his executioners. For eighteen hundred years that he has reigned at the right hand of the Father, he never has ceased to give to men the example of the most universal and humiliating obedience. Every day multitudes of priests, be they fervent, lukewarm, or vicious—it is the same—summon him where it pleases them, give him to whom they will, confine him under lock and key, and dispose of him at their will.—Id., p. 182.

AND that by the words or ceremony of consecration pronounced by the priest there is what is called an “inward change or conversion” of the bread and wine, or the wafer, into the very flesh and blood of Christ, is shown in these words:—

The holy eucharist is the true body and blood of Jesus Christ under the outward appearances of bread and wine…. This most blessed sacrament contains truly, really, and substantially, though not perceptibly to our senses, nor with their natural accidents…. the body and blood of our Lord Jesus Christ, together with his soul and divinity; which can never be separated from his body and blood…. The Catholic Church teaches that before consecration, that which on the altar appears to be bread and wine, is simply bread and wine; and that after the consecration of that bread and wine, what appears to be bread and wine is no longer bread and wine, but the body and blood of Jesus Christ. Something remains, namely, the outward qualities or species of bread and wine, and something is changed, namely, the inward, invisible substance of that bread and wine, into the body and blood of Christ; this inward change or conversion is what is called transubstantiation.—Catholic Belief, pp. 93, 95.

HAVING found so full and so plain a statement of the Catholic theory of the “real presence,” it is only proper that we should have an official and highly authoritative “argument from the New Testament,” which is set forth as sustaining the theory: even an “argument” by Cardinal Gibbons. He presents “three classes of arguments” on the point, but his first one will be all-sufficient for this occasion. Here are his words:—

I shall select three classes of arguments from the New Testament which satisfactorily demonstrate the real presence of Christ in the blessed sacrament. The first of these speaks of the promise of the eucharist….

To begin with the words of the promise. While Jesus was once preaching near the coast of the sea of Galilee, he was followed as usual by an immense number of persons, who were attracted to him by the miracles which he wrought, and the words of salvation which he spoke. Seeing that the people had no food, he multiplied five loaves and two fishes to such an extent as to supply the wants of five thousand men, besides women and children.

Our Lord considered the present a favorable occasion for speaking of the sacrament of his body and blood, which was to be distributed, not to a few thousands, but to millions of souls; not in one place, but everywhere; not at one time, but all days, to the end of the world. “I am,” he says to his hearers, “the bread of life. Your fathers did eat manna in the desert and died…. I am the living bread which came down from heaven. If any man eat of this bread, he shall live forever: and the bread which I will give, is my flesh for the life of the world. The Jews, therefore, disputed among themselves, saying, How can this man give us his flesh to eat? Then Jesus said to them, Amen, amen, I say to you: Unless ye eat the flesh of the Son of man, and drink his blood, ye shall not have life in you. He that eateth my flesh, and drinketh my blood, hath everlasting life, and I will raise him up on the last day. For my flesh is meat indeed, and my blood is drink indeed.

If you had been among the number of our Saviour’s hearers on that occasion, would you not have been irresistibly led, by the noble simplicity of his words, to understand him as speaking truly of his body and blood? For his language is not susceptible of any other interpretation.

When our Saviour says to the Jews: “Your fathers did eat manna, and died…. but he that eateth this (eucharist) bread shall live forver,” he evidently [194] wishes to affirm the superiority of the food which he would give, over the manna by which the children of Israel were nourished….

But the best and most reliable interpreters of our Saviour’s words are certainly the multitude, and the disciples who were listening to him.—Faith of Our Fathers, pp. 327-330.

NOW the manifest truth is, that the multitude and the disciples at that time, were just as bad and as unreliable interpreters of Christ’s words as are any other people who are unconverted and doubt his word, and who therefore receive heavenly things in an earthly way. For all this were that multitude, and the disciples at that time.

It is difficult to conceive how the cardinal could have made a selection that would more clearly show the utter falsity of the Catholic interpretation of this Scripture, than does this reference which he has chosen. For it would be hard to find in all the record another “multitude” that was altogether so worldly-minded and unbelieving as was this one.

These were the people who were going to take Jesus by force and make him king. And because of this he departed from them and went away alone. When darkness had come his disciples took a boat and started over the sea toward Capernaum, but they were met by a heavy wind which held them back. Then Jesus came walking on the sea, and they received him into the ship, and immediately they came to the land where they were going. The next day, many at least of those who had been fed with the miraculous bread, crossed over the sea also and came to where he was; and knowing that he had not gone with the disciples, they asked him, “Rabbi, when camest thou hither? And Jesus answered them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Ye seek me, not because ye saw the miracles, but because ye did eat of the loaves and were filled.” This shows that their minds were earthly and their desires, even with relation to him, were altogether selfish.

This is further shown by the fact that although they themselves had seen the whole multitude fed with the five loaves and two fishes, and had themselves eaten of the miraculous bread, and were at that very time following him for more bread, yet directly in the face of all this, they had the hardness of heart to say to him, “What sign shewest thou, then, that we may see, and believe thee? What dost thou work? Our fathers did eat manna in the desert; as it is written, he gave them bread from heaven to eat.” They themselves the day before had eaten bread from heaven as certainly as had their fathers in the desert. And he who had given them the bread the day before, was the same one who had given the manna in the desert. But they did not believe in him. Then he said to them, “I am the bread of life…. Ye also have seen me and believe not…. The Jews then murmured at him, because he said, “I am the bread which came down from heaven.” Having thus doubted, and murmured, and opposed him, so far, is it any wonder that, when he said, “The bread that I will give is my flesh which I will give for the life of the world,” they should murmur again and “strive among themselves ?” And, behold, these worldly-minded, selfish, unbelieving, opposing, murmuring, striving people, are the ones whom the cardinal commends as “the best and most reliable interpreters of our Saviour’s words”!

And these people who understood neither the Saviour nor anything that he said, in any proper sense at all—of these the cardinal says:—

They all understood the import of his language precisely as it is explained by the Catholic Church.—Id., p. 330.

We do not doubt it in the least. We believe that this is the exact truth. And as certainly as the cardinal herein tells the truth, it follows that the Catholic Church, in explaining it “precisely as” those people “all understood” it, confesses herself “precisely” as worldly-minded, as selfish, as unbelieving, and as much opposed to the Lord, as those people were.

Nor is the cardinal any more fortunate in his commendation of the disciples at that time as “the best and most reliable interpreters of our Saviour’s words.” For it is not only several times plainly stated in the Scriptures, but anybody who will read the four gospels can plainly see, that the disciples, as well as the multitude, did not understand the Saviour’s words. They, too, were filled with the same idea as all the others, that if Jesus was the promised Messiah he was surely to set up a visible kingdom at once and give the Jews their coveted dominion over all the earth. And though the disciples never went so far as to propose to take him by force and make him king, they were most grievously disappointed when he died without making himself the king that they were expecting. The first time that Jesus spoke to them definitely and plainly of his sufferings, and death, and resurrection, Peter actually rebuked him and told him to pity himself instead of talking that way, and told him that such things would never be unto him. Here is the conversation: “From that time forth began Jesus to show unto his disciples, how that he must go unto Jerusalem, and suffer many things of the elders and the chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and be raised again the third day. Then Peter took him, and began to rebuke him, saying, Be it far from thee, Lord: this shall not be unto thee. But he turned and said unto Peter, Get thee behind me, Satan: thou art an offense unto me: for thou savorest not the things that be of God, but the things that be of men.” And though he told them this at least twice more as plainly as words could make it, and mentioned it five other times besides, making eight times at least that he told them of his rejection, and death, and resurrection, yet for all this not one of them knew a thing about what was going to befall him. And when he had actually been crucified, they knew nothing of the coming resurrection, and were hardly to be convinced of it even after it had been accomplished.

All this darkness of mind and failure to understand the import of his language was but the direct result of their consuming ambition for worldly power, and their selfish desires with reference to high places in the kingdom that they were so positive was to be then set up by the Saviour. There was among them a constant strife and dispute as to which of them was to be the greatest and have the highest place in their much coveted kingdom. So thoroughly were they imbued with this ambition, that at the last supper, almost in the presence of Gethsemane and his dying agonies, when the Sacrament of the Lord’s Supper was instituted—even there they continued the “strife among them, which of them should be accounted the greatest.” Luke 22:19-27. Nor did this failure to understand the things of the Lord end with the resurrection. At the very hour of his ascension, when he had promised the descent of the Holy Ghost, they interposed their long mistaken idea of the kingdom, with the inquiry: “Lord, wilt thou at this time restore again the kingdom to Israel?” Nor did this misunderstanding of his words end until, at Pentecost, the Spirit of God had taken full possession of them, enlightening their minds and hearts and converting their souls, and thus enabling them to see heavenly things in a heavenly, instead of an earthly, way.

Such were the disciples, and such their inability to understand the Saviour’s words at the time to which the cardinal refers, when he says that they “understood the import of his language precisely as it is explained by the Catholic Church.” That is, when they were unconverted, when they were so filled with worldly ambition and selfish desire for earthly power and dominion that they could not understand at all even his plainest words when they were repeated over and over. And men in such a condition as this, the cardinal declares, “understood the import of his language precisely as it is explained by the Catholic Church.” There is no doubt whatever, that this is precisely the truth of this matter. And as certainly as it is the truth, so certainly does it demonstrate that the Catholic Church does not understand our Saviour’s words at all. And so certainly does it demonstrate also that the Catholic Church is unconverted, and so filled with worldly ambition and selfish desire for power and earthly dominion that she is incapable of understanding the Saviour’s words, as were the disciples when they were in this condition.

This much is demonstrated by the cardinal’s citation and approval of the example of the multitude, and of the disciples who did not abandon their Master. And of those of the disciples who at that time did abandon the Saviour, the cardinal says, too, that their interpretation of the Saviour’s words was “precisely as it is explained by the Catholic Church,” and that this interpretation “led them to abandon their Master:” and that “had they interpreted his words in a figurative sense, it would not have been a hard saying, nor have led them to abandon their Master.”—Id. 330. Now it were literally impossible for any interpretation to be right which could lead anybody to abandon Jesus Christ. And that interpretation could only be right which would lead them to abide with him. Now the cardinal admits that a figurative sense of these words would not have led them to abandon the Master, while the interpretation which the Catholic Church gives did lead them to abandon him. Then upon the cardinal’s own proposition it is certain that the figurative sense of these words is the right one.

And further, from the cardinal’s own proposition, it is perfectly plain that as certainly as the literal sense of these words led them to abandon Jesus Christ, and as certainly as this is “precisely as it is explained by the Catholic Church,” so certainly is this evidence that the Catholic Church has abandoned Jesus Christ, the Master.

Such is the Catholic doctrine of the real presence, and such are its inevitable results. Such also is the difference between the papal dogma of the real presence, and [195] the Christian truth of the real presence of Christ.

The Christian truth of the real presence of Christ converts the soul of the believer: the papal dogma pretends to convert the bread and wine. The Christian truth of the real presence of Christ believed, makes man subject to God in everything; the papal dogma makes God subject to man in everything. The preaching of the Christian truth of the real presence of Christ in the believer, is the revelation of the mystery of God; the preaching of the papal dogma of the real presence is the proclamation of the mystery of iniquity. The Christian truth of the real presence of Christ is the sum of the mystery of God; the papal dogma of the real presence is the sum of the mystery of iniquity. [195]

Share this: