Thursday, April 30, 2009

The Eucharist: The “Reformed” Deformation of Saint Austin

The Eucharist: The “Reformed” Deformation (Butchery) of Saint Austin (Augustine) and the Rest of the Early Fathers.

Look out the butchers are it again! It has been an historical practice of Calvinists to twist Saint Austin's writings to fit their own heretical ideas. Although is is quite clear that the great Saint often spoke of Christ as being bodily present in the Eucharist, the “Reformers” do with his words that which they do with Sacred Scripture, they butcher it. One recent post uses a problematic argument to redefine St Austin's writings describing the Eucharist as being Christ's real body and blood. The Protestant butcher refuses to let St. Austin's words be taken at face value, deciding ignorantly that everyone should take them as being symbolic, or spiritual in nature only. This comes as no surprise since they expect people to take Jesus' words as being symbolic or merely spiritual in nature in the sixth chapter of the gospel of St. John as well. The problem is there is no evidence that any of the early Christians during the time of St. Austin took any of it only symbolically, or as referring to a spiritual presence only.

Those who force St. Austin's writings to be taken at less than face value must first prove that he did not mean what he wrote. This however is never proven by any of these heretics. In fact they are so blinded by hatred for the Catholic Church that they will do anything they can to twist St. Austin or any of the early writers for that matter. The fact is, they cannot stomach the possibility that they may be wrong and the Catholic Church may be right. Why should we reinterpret St. Austin's writings to be anything less than what the text says? Of course half-baked apologists like James White will take one of St. Austin's writings out of context to try and shoehorn an argument as to why St. Austin would not have written it to be taken literally. White frequently in his debates loves to quote St Austin as saying that Christ was no longer present on the earth. White seems to miss that fact the Christ is no longer present on the earth in the same exact manner as He was before His ascension. Meaning that He is not walking around talking to people and interacting with them as he did 2000 years ago. This however does not negate the real and substantial presence of Christ in the Eucharist, which comes to us under that sacraments in an un-bloody manner. St. Austin is clear on the teaching of the Christ being substantially present in the Eucharist after consecration. Here are a few of the passages that the heretics refuse to take as they are written by St Austin.

"That Bread which you see on the altar, having been sanctified by the word of God is the body of Christ. That chalice, or rather, what is in that chalice, having been sanctified by the word of God, is the blood of Christ. Through that bread and wine the Lord Christ willed to commend His body and blood, which He poured out for us unto the forgiveness of sins.(Sermons 227)

"The Lord Jesus wanted those whose eyes were held lest they should recognize him, to recognize Him in the breaking of the bread [Luke 24:16,30-35]. The faithful know what I am saying. They know Christ in the breaking of the bread. For not all bread, but only that which receives the blessing of Christ, becomes Christ's body." (Sermons 234:2)

"What you see is the bread and the chalice; that is what your own eyes report to you. But what your faith obliges you to accept is that the bread is the body of Christ and the chalice the blood of Christ." (Sermons 272)

"How this ['And he was carried in his own hands'] should be understood literally of David, we cannot discover; but we can discover how it is meant of Christ. For Christ was carried in his own hands, when, referring to His own body, He said: 'This is my body.' For he carried that body in His own hands" (Psalms 33:1:10)

If we read these passages in context and at face value the heretic has no rational argument. He can only try and get you to believe that the great Saint was only speaking symbolically or spiritually. The heretic must assume that the great saint could never have been affirming a Catholic teaching, yet never proving that he meant anything otherwise. One such heretic wrote recently “This is what I call the "weakest argument against the spiritual presence." As I have noted over and over again, even someone who views the sacrament is merely symbolic could use those expressions.” Yes we hear the lame argument over and over again, but repeating a bad argument doesn't make it any more convincing than the first time he said it. Who has the weak argument? The one who has to play word games with the text or the one who reads the text at face value? Does the heretic ever prove that the great Saint did not mean it to be taken literally? No, he does not, because he cannot. It is clear that St. Austin is not using any of these terms in a symbolic nor a mere spiritual manner. As we will see, if we look to another great Saint of the early Church, Saint John Chrysostom, he also believes Christ to be bodily present in the Eucharist.

Before we look at the text we must understand that even when we as Catholics refer to the substantial, bodily presence of Christ, we understand it not in a mere carnal bodily presence, but as it is presented to us in an un-bloody, mystical manner. This is attested to in many official Catholic sources. The Catechism paragraph 1357 uses these words, “We carry out this command of the Lord by celebrating the memorial of his sacrifice. In so doing, we offer to the Father what he has himself given us: the gifts of his creation, bread and wine which, by the power of the Holy Spirit and by the words of Christ, have become the body and blood of Christ. Christ is thus really and mysteriously made present.”

If we read Saint Chrysostom's commentaries on the New Testament there can be no doubt as to his interpretation as being a literal one, in line with Catholic doctrine, and not symbolic, or spiritual in nature alone. Saint John Chrysotom makes it clear that we are to accept Jesus' words as being literal, yet he carefully explains that it is not a mere carnal understanding of the bodily presence of Christ. If we examine part of his writing on the Gospel of Saint John we can see that the bodily presence is never questioned, but only how we accept the bodily presence in light of the whole person of Christ as a divine person, not a mere human person in which we consume carnally. It must be understood in a mystical and spiritual sense in that Christ is not subject to the laws of nature because He is a divine person. That is why the argument against cannibalism is not tenable when talking about Christ in the Eucharist in Catholic teaching. He is not a mere human person, but a divine person with a human nature and a divine nature.

After we look at St. John's commentary on the gospel of John, I will close with his commentary on 1st Corinthians 11:25-27. This will cement in the fact that St. Chrysostom was not looking at the Eucharist as a spiritual presence alone, but the mystical and real presence of Christ's body as well. He uses words such as, “And these things thou doest when thou hast enjoyed the Table of Christ, on that day on which thou hast been counted worthy to touch His flesh with thy tongue. What then is to be done to prevent these things? Purify thy right hand, thy tongue, thy lips, which have become a threshold for Christ to tread upon.” So now let us look at part of Saint Chrysostom's commentaries. I have looked at these in particular in more detail in another of my writings found here.

Saint John Chrysostom's homily on the Gospel of John 6:55-69

Ver. 55. “For My flesh is true “truly,” N.T. meat, and My blood is true drink.”

What is that He saith? al. “but what is the, ‘ is true meat ’ ?” He either desireth to declare that this is the true meat which saveth the soul, or to assure them concerning what had been said, that they might not suppose the words to be a mere enigma or parable, but might know that it is by all means needful to eat the Body. Then He saith,

Ver. 56. “He that eateth My flesh, dwelleth in Me.”

Ver. 63. “It is the Spirit that quickeneth, the flesh profiteth nothing.”

His meaning is, “Ye must hear spiritually what relateth to Me, for he who heareth carnally is not profited, nor gathereth any advantage.” It was carnal to question how He came down from heaven, to deem that He was the son of Joseph, to ask, “How can he give us His flesh to eat?” All this was carnal, when they ought to have understood the matter in a mystical and spiritual sense. “But,” saith some one, “how could they understand what the ‘eating flesh’ might mean?” Then it was their duty to wait for the proper time and enquire, and not to abandon Him.

“The words that I speak unto you, they are spirit and they are life.”

That is, they are divine and spiritual, have nothing carnal about them, are not subject to the laws of physical consequence, but are free from any such necessity, are even set above the laws appointed for this world, and have also another and a different meaning. Now as in this passage He said “spirit,” instead of “spiritual,” so when He speaketh of “flesh,” He meant not “carnal things,” but “carnally hearing,” and alluding at the same time to them, because they ever desired carnal things when they ought to have desired spiritual. For if a man receives them carnally, he profits nothing. “What then, is not His flesh, flesh?” Most certainly. “How then saith He, that the flesh profiteth nothing?” He speaketh not of His own flesh, (God forbid!) but of those who received His words in a carnal manner. But what is “understanding carnally”? It is looking merely to what is before our eyes, without imagining anything beyond. This is understanding carnally. But we must not judge thus by sight, but must look into all mysteries with the eyes within. This is seeing spiritually. He that eateth not His flesh, and drinketh not His blood, hath no life in him. How then doth “the flesh profit nothing,” if without it we cannot live? Seest thou that the words, “the flesh profiteth nothing,” are spoken not of His own flesh, but of carnal hearing?

1st Corinthians 11:25-27

Ver. 25. “In like manner also the cup after supper, saying, This cup is the New Covenant in My Blood: this do, as oft as ye drink of it, in remembrance of Me.”

What sayest thou? Art thou making a remembrance of Christ, and despisest thou the poor and tremblest not? Why, if a son or brother had died and thou wert making a remembrance of him, thou wouldst have been smitten by thy conscience, hadst thou not fulfilled the custom and invited the poor: and when thou art making remembrance of thy Master, dost thou not so much as simply give a portion of the Table?

But what is it which He saith, “This cup is the New Covenant?” Because there was also a cup of the Old Covenant; the libations and the blood of the brute creatures. For after sacrificing, they used to receive the blood in a chalice and bowl and so pour it out. Since then instead of the blood of beasts He brought in His own Blood; lest any should be troubled on hearing this, He reminds them of that ancient sacrifice.

[6.] Next, having spoken concerning that Supper, he connects the things present with the things of that time, that even as on that very evening and reclining on that very couch and receiving from Christ himself this sacrifice, so also now might men be affected; and he saith,

Ver. 26. “For as often as ye eat this bread, and drink this cup, ye proclaim the Lord’s death till He come.”

For as Christ in regard to the bread and the cup said, “Do this in remembrance of Me,” revealing to us the cause of the giving of the Mystery, and besides what else He said, declaring this to be a sufficient cause to ground our religious fear upon:—(for when thou considerest what thy Master hath suffered for thee, thou wilt the better deny thyself:)—so also Paul saith here: “as often as ye eat ye do proclaim His death.” And this is that Supper. Then intimating that it abides unto the end, he saith, “till He come.”

Ver. 27. “Wherefore whosoever shall eat this bread and drink the cup of the Lord unworthily, shall be guilty of the Body and the Blood of the Lord.”

Why so? Because he poured it out, and makes the thing appear a slaughter and no longer a sacrifice. Much therefore as they who then pierced Him, pierced Him not that they might drink but that they might shed His blood: so likewise doth he that cometh for it unworthily and reaps no profit thereby. Seest thou how fearful he makes his discourse, and inveighs against them very exceedingly, signifying that if they are thus to drink, they partake unworthily of the elements τῶν προκέιμενων.? For how can it be other than unworthily when it is he who neglects the hungry? who besides overlooking him puts him to shame? Since if not giving to the poor casteth one out of the kingdom, even though one should be a virgin; or rather, not giving liberally: (for even those virgins too had oil, only they had it not abundantly:) consider how great the evil will prove, to have wrought so many impieties?

“What impieties?” say you. Why sayest thou, what impieties? Thou hast partaken of such a Table and when thou oughtest to be more gentle than any and like the angels, none so cruel as thou art become. Thou hast tasted the Blood of the Lord, and not even thereupon dost thou acknowledge thy brother. Of what indulgence then art thou worthy? Whereas if even before this thou hadst not known him, thou oughtest to have come to the knowledge of him from the Table; but now thou dishonorest the Table itself; he having been deemed worthy to partake of it and thou not judging him worthy of thy meat. Hast thou not heard how much he suffered who demanded the hundred pence? how he made void the gift vouchsafed to him154154 ἐξενεχθεῖσαν, perhaps “officially declared.”? Doth it not come into thy mind what thou wert and what thou hast become? Dost thou not put thyself in remembrance that if this man be poor in possessions, thou wast much more beggarly in good works, being full of ten thousand sins? Notwithstanding, God delivered thee from all those and counted thee worthy of such a Table: but thou art not even thus become more merciful: therefore of course nothing else remaineth but that thou shouldest be “delivered to the tormentors.”

[7.] These words let us also listen to, all of us, as many as in this place approach with the poor to this holy Table, but when we go out, do not seem even to have seen them, but are both drunken and pass heedlessly by the hungry; the very things whereof the Corinthians were accused. And when is this done? say you. At all times indeed, but especially at the festivals, where above all times it ought not so to be. Is it not so, that at such times, immediately after Communion, drunkenness succeeds and contempt of the poor? And having partaken of the Blood, when it were a time for thee to fast and watch, thou givest thyself up to wine and revelling. And yet if thou hast by chance made thy morning meal on any thing good, thou keepest thyself lest by any other unsavory viand thou spoil the taste of the former: and now that thou hast been feasting on the Spirit thou bringest in a satanical luxury. Consider, when the Apostles partook of that holy Supper, what they did: did they not betake themselves to prayers and singing of hymns? to sacred vigils? to that long work of teaching, so full of all self-denial? For then He related and delivered to them those great and wonderful things, when Judas had gone out to call them who were about to crucify Him. Hast thou not heard how the three thousand also who partook of the Communion continued even in prayer and teaching, not in drunken feasts and revellings? But thou before thou hast partaken fastest, that in a certain way thou mayest appear worthy of the Communion: but when thou hast partaken, and thou oughtest to increase thy temperance, thou undoest all. And yet surely it is not the same to fast before this and after it. Since although it is our duty to be temperate at both times, yet most particularly after we have received the Bridegroom. Before, that thou mayest become worthy of receiving: after, that thou mayest not be found unworthy of what thou hast received.

“What then? ought we to fast after receiving?” I say not this, neither do I use any compulsion. This indeed were well: however, I do not enforce this, but I exhort you not to feast to excess. For if one never ought to live luxuriously, and Paul showed this when he said, “she that giveth herself to pleasure is dead while she liveth” (1 Tim. v. 6.); much more will she then be dead. And if luxury be death to a woman, much more to a man: and if this done at another time is fatal, much more after the communion of the Mysteries. And dost thou having taken the bread of life, do an action of death and not shudder? Knowest thou not how great evils are brought in by luxury? Unseasonable laughter, disorderly expressions, buffoonery fraught with perdition, unprofitable trifling, all the other things, which it is not seemly even to name. And these things thou doest when thou hast enjoyed the Table of Christ, on that day on which thou hast been counted worthy to touch His flesh with thy tongue. What then is to be done to prevent these things? Purify thy right hand, thy tongue, thy lips, which have become a threshold for Christ to tread upon. Consider the time in which thou didst draw near and set forth a material table, raise thy mind to that Table, to the Supper of the Lord, to the vigil of the disciples, in that night, that holy night. Nay, rather should one accurately examine, this very present state is night. Let us watch then with the Lord, let us be pricked in our hearts with the disciples. It is the season of prayers, not of drunkenness; ever indeed, but especially during a festival. For a festival is therefore appointed, not that we may behave ourselves unseemly, not that we may accumulate sins, but rather that we may blot out those which exist.

There is no doubt that St. Austin or St. Chrysostom who came before him, both believed that Christ's body was present in the Eucharist. The only tactic the heretic can use is one of deception. They try to convince people that the Scriptures and the writings of the early fathers are only speaking in symbolic or spiritual terms alone, but as we can see the mystical bodily presence of Christ in the Eucharist is well understood and taught by both St. Chrysostom and St. Austin as well as the Catholic Church.

I also once again found it absurd for the heretic to pit the Orthodox Churches against the Catholic Church when it comes to the true substantial presence of Christ in the Eucharist. The Orthodox also hold that Christ is bodily present and that the substance indeed changes after the consecration. The Orthodox do believe in transubstantiation as far as taking the term at face value to mean, “the substance changes”. They just do not go into the philosophy and theological detail that the Catholic church does to explain it. This is yet another trick to try and divert attention away from the fact the every single church before the Reformation believed in Christ's mystical, substantial, bodily presence in the Eucharist after consecration. Unfortunately we will have to deal with heretics in all ages who seek to butcher and twist the Church Father's writings so that they can feel better about themselves living in rejection of Christ and His Church. John Calvin was famous for doing this, and his followers today are no different.

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