Crossed The Tiber

An Evangelical Converts to Catholicism

My Photo
Location: Pennsylvania, United States

I was born into the Catholic faith. At 14, I was "born again" and found Jesus personally but lost His Church. After thirty years as an evangelical protestant, I have come full circle to find that He has been there all the time, in the One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church. I wish others to find the beauty and truth of the Catholic faith as I have found.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Jesus Gives Himself to Us: Transubstantiation

Here is an excellent article by Anglican priest, Fr. Ray Ryland, now a Catholic priest:

One of the post-communion prayers in the Eucharistic liturgy makes this petition: “Lord, by our sharing in the mystery of this Eucharist, let your saving love grow within us. Grant this through Christ our Lord.” Notice the italicized words. We pray and say things like this so often in our liturgy we tend to take them for granted. Take another and closer look at what Jesus Christ does in this great mystery of the Eucharist.
Start With the Incarnation
Ponder these astounding words from the prologue to the Fourth Gospel: “In the beginning was the word, and the word was with God, and the word was God...And the word became flesh and dwelt among us, full of grace and truth...” (John 1:1, 14a) Sacred scripture is telling us that Almighty God has become part of the material world. And all for the purpose of working out our salvation through the human nature (body as well a soul) of his divine Son.
Now that Christ has been raised in glory, through his transfigured human nature God mediates to us the salvation Christ has won for us. God acts on us in an intimate, person-to-person way. Our contact with God is a spiritual reality made possible by God’s grace and by our response to that grace in faith. And so for all persons who have faith in Christ, he makes himself spiritually available to them. But in his infinite love for us, Jesus Christ has chosen to do far more than be simply spiritually available. In the Eucharist, Jesus Christ gives us direct contact with His human nature. Think of your senses: hearing, seeing, smelling, touching, tasting. You can hear or see or smell something, but our sense of hearing or seeing or smelling is detached from its object. You are not in elements in such a way that he pulls them toward himself. He subjects them to himself. A miraculous change occurs which we call “transubstantiation.”
But note: the King of Glory does not descend in order to “enter” the bread and wine. No, instead of his coming down, he draws the essence of the elements to where he is, at the right hand of the Father. The risen Lord draws the inner reality of the bread and wine in all celebrations of the Mass unto himself and indeed into himself. Thus he maintains his own bodily unity. In other words, Jesus Christ himself is not changed into the essence of the elements of bread and wine. Rather, the essence of those elements is changed into him.
Consider the Sacred Host and the Precious Blood on a Catholic altar. We can see the hosts being distributed and the Precious Blood being consumed. What we see happening to the hosts and the Precious Blood happens not to the substance of those elements, but to the accidents, the appearances. It is the accidents that we see consecrated, handled, broken, multiplied in many ciboria on many altars in churches around the world. The substance of all the Hosts, all the Precious Blood, in all the world is the one Body and Blood Soul and divinity, of the one risen Lord Jesus Christ.
Always remember: Jesus Christ does not come down from heaven to enter the substance of these elements. Jesus Christ in heaven changes the substance of these elements into himself, while leaving their appearances unchanged. That is the miracle of transubstantiation.


In any non-Catholic church, you can hear Jesus Christ proclaimed, often quite powerfully. In any non-Catholic church, you can be invited to commit your life to Jesus Christ. In almost any non-Catholic church you will find warm human fellowship. All of these, of course, you should find in any Catholic church.

But in no non-Catholic church (excepting the Eastern Orthodox) can you receive Jesus Christ himself, Body and Blood, Soul and divinity. Because of the lack of apostolic orders for their ministers, none of the non-Catholic communion services is the Eucharist. Therefore, in no no-Catholic church can you be literally united with Jesus Christ.

I shall never forget the exclamation of a theologian, himself a convert, as he thought about the Eucharist and the priesthood: “that man,” he said in a hushed tone, speaking of his priest, “can put God in my mouth!”

This most precious of privileges, this most intimate of all person-to-Person unions, is available to you only in Christ’s one true Church. Rejoice! And do something else. Go about your life, carrying out your individual apostolate, with the words of Jesus ringing in your ears: “From him who has been given much, much will be expected.”

Jesus Gives Himself to us:


Blogger Magister Christianus said...

Often when I know something full well, I will ask my wife to tell me it again. Sometimes it is just because I want to hear whatever it is again. Sometimes because I just need that extra bit of confirmation of what I already know. Perhaps in that regard I am not altogether different from "Doubting" Thomas. Because of that, despite all that I have read and come to agree with, tell me again. Why is it that in my non-Catholic church, where I do hear Jesus Christ proclaimed quite powerfully, where I committed my life to Jesus Christ, and where I find warm human fellowship, my pastor is unable to "put God in my mouth?"

A friend who is still picking up shells on the banks of the Tiber.

September 20, 2009 6:01 PM  
Blogger Tiber Jumper said...

Dear Magister:

I know you know this so forgive me if I am being too redundant here. It all goes back to apostolic succession. The early Christians really took this very seriously and would literally trace the succession of their bishops back to the apostles to make sure they weren't getting an impostor or a self-proclaimed bishop over them. Heresy abounded then as it does now, and the only way for them to know they were in the "right church" was through this wonderfully simple process of apostolic succession. If the bishop could say that hands were layed on him that were layed on his bishop before him that were layed on his bishop before him etc etc, all the way to the apostles, than they were safe. Of course this gets to be pretty difficult by the third of fourth generation to document, but it is part of the living and sacred Tradition of the Church.

from the Catechism:
" The ordained priesthood guarantees that it really is Christ who acts in the sacraments through the Holy Spirit for the Church. The saving mission entrusted by the Father to his incarnate Son was committed to the apostles and through them to their successors: they receive the Spirit of Jesus to act in his name and in his person.39 The ordained minister is the sacramental bond that ties the liturgical action to what the apostles said and did and, through them, to the words and actions of Christ, the source and foundation of the sacraments. "

The ability to "put God in one's mouth" of course is not dependent on the personal sanctity of the individual priest but related to his ordination and his receiving the "mantle" as it were of apostolic succession. Jesus gave his first apostles the power to forgive sins, celebrate the Eucharist and this was intended to be passed on in like manner to the successors of the apostles all within the safe confines of this thing called the universal church.

"This is the meaning of the Church's affirmation49 that the sacraments act ex opere operato (literally: "by the very fact of the action's being performed"), i.e., by virtue of the saving work of Christ, accomplished once for all. It follows that "the sacrament is not wrought by the righteousness of either the celebrant or the recipient, but by the power of God."50 From the moment that a sacrament is celebrated in accordance with the intention of the Church, the power of Christ and his Spirit acts in and through it, independently of the personal holiness of the minister. Nevertheless, the fruits of the sacraments also depend on the disposition of the one who receives them"(cf Catechism)

So, it is not with triumphalism that these things are said here, but with sadness that such a breach has occurred in His mystical body. Your pastor is certainly able to preach the gospel and has the Holy Spirit operating in him, but regarding the ability to confect a valid Eucharist, he lacks the sacramental bond that links him with the successors of the apostles.
I hope that helps. let me know. This is a touchy issue and unfortunately is often the issue that truly separates the brethren, and I can tell you some sad stories offline sometime if you care to hear.

God bless you , keep picking up those shell along the banks. You know the story of St. Augustine of the seashore right?

September 20, 2009 8:41 PM  
Blogger Tiber Jumper said...

Check out this post I did awhile back. It might help to see it like this

September 20, 2009 8:44 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...


I come to your blog from time to time and read. Thank you for all that you share.

You seem like a person that may have some insight on a particular subject, please share if you do. Sometimes everything just seems so confusing!

What are your feelings on George Smoot and his dicoveries? Do you know if he believes in GOD?

Thank You,

September 21, 2009 10:25 AM  
Blogger Magister Christianus said...

Thank you, Tiber. As with any good answer, your reply raises even more questions for me to ponder. Perhaps I am just feeling particularly Protestant today, or particularly American, but I wonder why it is that a perfectly vile person, who stands in apostolic succession, can administer valid sacraments, yet a baptized believer who strives by the aid of the Holy Spirit to follow God's will, yet does not stand in apostolic succession, cannot administer valid sacraments. I am well aware that even this line of questioning is caught up in issues of rights and justice that are irrelevant, yet they form lenses that this American Protestant has trouble removing from his eyes at times.

It seems that I am questioning this because I have not fully accepted that something real and spiritual has taken place in the laying on of hands for apostolic succession, and it occurs to me now that this is no surprise. If we Protestants see nothing real, but only spiritual, in the celebration of the Eucharist and in baptism, then it is unlikely we would see something both real and spiritual in the laying on of hands for succession. Clearly the matter of the sacraments and that of the aposotolic succession are linked.

Yet I have long been convinced that there IS something real and spiritual in both the Eucharist and baptism, far more than the mere memorial or rite of membership that many Protestant churches have made of these practices. Is it really such a stretch, I now ask myself, to accept that something real and spiritual is going on with the apostolic succession and that God has voluntarily bound Himself to whatever is going on in such a way that valid succession becomes a necessary condition for the valid administration of the sacraments?

Hmmm... As I said, you have given me more good stuff to think about.

P.S. I like the mirror analogy. That is very good!

September 21, 2009 11:59 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I meant discoveries. Sorry!

September 21, 2009 12:34 PM  
Blogger TJ said...

I don't know anything about him but a quick googling looks like he is a proponent of the Big bang theory, which as you know is not contradictory to Catholic thought on creation. I don't know of his religious persuasions but do wonder how you can be a serious cosmologist without considering a First Cause.

September 22, 2009 11:44 AM  
Blogger kkollwitz said...

Magister, I should've expected to see your posts here!

"a perfectly vile person, who stands in apostolic succession, can administer valid sacraments..."

A great question. I am reminded of both the traitor Judas, and the sleazy denier St. Peter, who both were nonetheless empowered apostles.

I also figure that since Jesus is/was physical, that physicality (e.g. laying hands to transmit authority) is going to be an important and inescapable component of faith. It's kind of crude in a sense, but I think that's part of the point: the physical has been raised to the level/ dignity of the spiritual through Jesus' physicality.

I feel a post coming me!

September 22, 2009 11:54 AM  
Blogger kkollwitz said...

Tiber & Magister, y'all may like this:

I suppose y'all are familiar with francis beckwith.

September 22, 2009 2:19 PM  
Blogger Tiber Jumper said...

Thanks KWitz!
I saw him this time and his first time as well.
I found out about his conversion 2 years ago which was "broken" by a new convert catholic blogger named Kacy, who was a calvinist turned Catholic. She saw Dr. Beckwith in her Church at college one Sunday and spilled the story on her blog which went viral in a short time.
As an aside:You guys might appreciate this, back when Dr. Beckwith converted, I wrote this blog as a tonguein cheek commentary on the number of intellectuals that were crossing the Tiber.

September 22, 2009 5:38 PM  
Blogger Tiber Jumper said...

My wife and I were talking about this concept of how a vile individual can administer the sacrament of the eucharist.
We thought of this; why our own goodness can't come into the equation. How good does one have to be before the Eucharist he confects becomes valid? Or another way, how much sin is the celebrant "allowed" to tolerate in his life before the confection doesn't work?
This ability conferred on by the laying on of hands is totally by grace and none of the priests' works, good or bad can be determinants in the efficacy of the gift.
Is it tragic and a scandal that priests with bad moral practices can still confect the Eucharist?
Yes but it would be scarier still if the priest's own righteousness, or lack thereof was the barometer for when God decides to let human hands bring forth Christ in the changing of the substance of the bread and the wine.

Just a few thoughts.
God bless

September 22, 2009 5:47 PM  

Post a Comment