Sacraments & Sacramentals

This month my topic on Catholic Answers Live was “Defending the Eucharist.” You can listen here.

Questions I Answered:

1. What did you believe about the Eucharist before you became Catholic?

2. What helped you understand the fullness of the teaching and why did you change?

3. The Bible also says Jesus is door, the gate, etc. Isn’t “this is my Body” just another example of symbolic language?

4. What is the history of Eucharistic adoration? When did it start?

5. How can I explain to Lutherans why their Eucharist isn’t the true body and blood of Christ in their churches?

6. At the consecration, the priest says, “This is My Body” and “This is My Blood” but at communion, I know that each particle of the Eucharist contains the Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity of Christ, so when is the Body and Blood rejoined?

7. Why is it still valid if you chose to eat only the bread and not to drink the wine?

8. How can I explain to non-Catholics that the Eucharist isn’t just bread and wine but the Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity of Christ?

9. Why is it so hard for some people to believe it when Jesus says it as clear as can be, “This is My Body”?

 10. What is your opinion on James White’s YouTube video “John 6 for Roman Catholics”?

11. What happens when a non-Catholic or someone who is not in the state of Grace receives the Eucharist? Is it still the Body, Blood, Soul, Divinity of Christ?

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I was looking up Greek definitions of the word baptism and found this interesting “definition.” This dictionary is usually very good but I found this summary of biblical passages on baptism very intriguing and disingenuous. Take a look at this definition and think about it for yourself. Analyze it and the verses used. Notice how they dismiss the clear biblical meaning and importance of the word and the sacrament.

“The goal of baptism is eternal life, but not primarily by way of vivification [my comment: giving of new life]. In spite of 1 Pet. 3:20–21; Jn. 3:5–6; Tit. 3:5, the thought of the cleansing bath is more fundamental (1 Cor. 6:11; Eph. 5:26; Heb. 10:22). Biblical piety rules out magical evaluations of religious objects and actions. Hence baptism has no purely external efficacy and in itself is unimportant (1 Cor. 1:17; Heb. 9:9–10; 1 Pet. 3:21).”
(Kittel, Gerhard, Gerhard Friedrich, and Geoffrey William Bromiley. Theological Dictionary of the New Testament. Grand Rapids, MI: W.B. Eerdmans, 1985.)

An unsuspecting person, a subscriber to the heresy or a newbie might read this without discerning the bias and the error — and how they dismiss some biblical passages to promote others. Can you find it and explain it?

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NOTES: These are some notes related to the above passages. Below are quotes from an attack on my book Crossing the Tiber made by a Pastor Chris Bayak so I added them here to explain some of his false assumptions about the same verses mentioned above.

Bayak writes: “For example, [Ray] uses 1 Peter 3:18-21, admittedly one of the hardest passages in the New Testament, as proof for baptismal regeneration.”

Steve Responds: This passage is hard for Fundamentalist Protestants to interpret because they don’t like what it says and they have to twist it to fit their own man-made tradition. It is quite sad when one has to twist Scripture to fit one’s preconceived ideas. James McCarthy has a tough time with this verse in his book The Gospel according to Rome. I discuss this passage at some length in my book. I wonder how Mr. Bayack would have preferred that St. Peter reword this passage to better fit his Fundamentalist tradition.

 What Peter says is this: “And corresponding to that [Noah’s ark], baptism now saves you” (1 Peter 3:21). What about these words does Mr. Bayack find difficult? They seem pretty straightforward to a Catholic and to all Christians before the Fundamentalist movement came into being. We as Catholics don’t have to do mental gymnastics to “get around” this verse. It sounds a lot like the very first Gospel message ever preached. St. Peter preached the first gospel message in Jerusalem. It is recorded in the inspired word of God. Let’s all open our Bibles to Acts 2:38 and allow God to instruct us. “And Peter said to them,  Repent, and let each of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. “

 Enough said. My book goes into much more detail on the issue of Baptism in the Bible and in the early Church. I question whether Mr. Bayack really read the whole thing or just used the “hunt and peck” method to look for objections. In any case, he certainly uses “selective scholarship.”

Bayak writes “Yet in over ninety pages about baptism, not once does he ever mention clear passages like 1 Corinthians 1:17,  For Christ did not send me to baptize, but to preach the gospel  (italics added).”

 Steve Responds: I really don’t see what the above verse has to do with anything unless Mr. Bayack is trying to imply that Paul had a low regard for baptism or considered it an unnecessary appendage to belief in Christ. I remember as a Fundamentalist making my daughter write a report on the unnecessary nature of baptism a symbol only before I would allow her to be baptized. How far off I was.

 Paul’s converts were all baptized immediately upon belief in Christ (e.g., Acts 16:31) as was he himself (Acts 9:17 18). Philip also showed the importance of baptism and baptized the Ethiopian eunuch immediately (Acts 8:36ff.). St. Paul himself recognizes that baptism was the means of his own cleansing and regeneration (e.g., Acts 22:16; Titus 3:5). The very fact that St. Paul makes this observation at this point in the argument demonstrates the importance and deep significance Baptism held in the apostolic Church. Had it been unnecessary or unimportant, he would not have even mentioned it in this context. What Mr. Bayack assumes about this passage actually proves the opposite.

 Jerome’s Biblical Commentary observes, “No special mission was needed to baptize, and Paul usually left the administration of baptism to others. This does not imply any disdain for it; Rom 6:3-12 and 1 Cor 6:11 indicate Paul’s high regard for the sacrament of incorporation into Christ.”

 Matthew Henry, in his ever popular Protestant commentary on the Bible, is also instructive in this matter. “Was it not a part of the apostolical commission to baptize all nations? And could Paul give thanks to God for his own neglect of duty? He is not to be understood in such a sense as if he were thankful for not having baptized at all, but for not having done it in present circumstances, lest it should have had this very bad construction put upon it that he had baptized in his own name, made disciples for himself, or set himself up as the head of a sect.

[Paul] left it to other ministers to baptize, while he set himself to more useful work, and filled up his time with preaching the gospel. This, he thought, was more his business, because the more important business of the two. He had assistants that could baptize, when none could discharge the other part of his office so well as himself. In this sense he says, Christ sent him not to baptize, but to preach the gospel not so much to baptize as to preach” (Matthew Henry’s Commentary on the Bible).

 Paul, like Jesus, delegated baptizing to his disciples and ministers. The Catholic Church has never taught that baptisms must be done by an apostle or priest. The Church has acknowledged that any person can do baptisms, if done in the correct manner. Jesus thought baptism was important since he told Nicodemus he couldn’t see heaven without it (John 3:5). If Mr. Bayack denies that John 3:5 refers to Baptism he really shows that he is out of continuity with the Bible and the early Church and again his Fundamentalist Protestant tradition is shown to nullify the inspired word of God.

 Jesus also, like Paul, did not baptize His followers but delegated the task to his disciples (cp. John 4:1 2).

Bayak writes: “He ignores Paul’s definition of the gospel in 1 Corinthians 15:1-4, which makes no mention of baptism or communion, that “Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, and that He was buried, and that He was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures.” Likewise, because he seeks to prove the necessity of the sacraments, he never addresses verses declaring salvation as a free gift such as Romans 6:23 and Ephesians 2:8-9.”

Steve Responds:  I do not ignore 1 Corinthians 15:1 4 but since it does not directly refer to the topic at hand Baptism it was not necessary to bring it up. What would happen if I brought up every verse in the Bible?

 Does Mr. Bayack imply that Baptism is not a free gift? How much more gratuitous can God be than to offer us a sacrament of faith as simple and as wonderful a gift as baptism? Ephesians 2:8 9 and Romans 6:23 do not contradict the Church’s teaching on Baptism, rather they support it. Does Mr. Bayack forget that the first verses of Romans 6 directly mention Baptism and its necessity for the placement of the believer into Christ? In fact, in Romans 6, Paul says that baptism is quite essential. Listen to what he says, “Or do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus have been baptized into His death? Therefore we have been buried with Him through baptism into death, in order that as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, so we too might walk in newness of life. For if we have become united with Him in the likeness of His death, certainly we shall be also in the likeness of His resurrection” (Romans 6:3 5). According to St. Paul, it is through Baptism that we are placed into Christ!

 Is Mr. Bayack again being selective (practicing “selective scholarship”) by using a proof text allegedly against baptism from Romans 6 but ignoring the fact that Romans 6 begins by teaching us that it is through Baptism that we are placed into Christ? He ignores the whole context but pulls his proof text out of context to support his Fundamentalist tradition.

 I also deal with this passage to some degree in Crossing the Tiber, and find it frustrating that Mr. Bayack appears not to have read what I wrote, but still somehow feels competent to review and critique my book. I feel that I am spending far too much time rewriting things for him that he should have understood if he really read the book.

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A friend and fellow pilgrim got in a row with a friend on Facebook and asked for my help. You might enjoy the question and the answer.

St. Ignatius of Antioch eaten by lions in 106 AD

My friend wrote: “I have a quick apologetic question.  A Protestant Facebook page was denying the Eucharist and I pasted St Ignatius’ quote about the Eucharist, “Let us stand aloof from such heretics. They abstain from the Eucharist and from prayer, because they confess not the Eucharist to be the flesh of our Savior Jesus Christ, which suffered for our sins, and which the Father, of His goodness, raised up again.” (Ignatius of Antioch, The Epistle of Ignatius to the Smyrnæans).   (Picture to right: Ignatius of Antioch eaten my lions in 106 AD).

The antagonist guy responded with this:

“Mike, I have a homework assignment for you.  I want you to find out who “those who hold heterodox opinions” are.  I want you to find out what they believe.  I want you to read this letter from beginning to end and look for the context of what you posted.  Can you confirm in the affirmative that Ignatius had Aristotelian concepts in mind when writing his letter?”

“Any idea what he is referring to and how to respond? If you don’t have time to respond, I understand.”

Mike is a friend so of course I had time to respond:

5283570-3x2-700x467“I am not sure what he is referring to other than that in the 1200’s Aquinas defined Transubstantiation in terms of Aristotelian philosophy of substance and accidents. It is a trick question to get you to admit that St. Ignatius did not know about transubstantiation in Aristotelian terms and therefore did not believe in transubstantiation. 

The truth is — doctrine develops over time. For example Ignatius would not have described the two natures of Christ in terms of the hypostatic union nor the Trinity in the sophisticated words of “generation,” “proceeds” and “spiration” that were later used to more carefully and philosophically define what orthodox Christians had always believed but were later developed further to combat the heretics. 

nt2Even the canon of the New Testament took 400 years to develop and close; neither St. Paul nor Ignatius could have rattle off the 27 books of the NT since that also took time to develop into the canon used by your Protestant interlocutor, though he doesn’t realize that. By trying to trick you he steps in his own trap.

Ignatius believed in the real presence of Christ in the Eucharist, the two natures of Christ, the Trinity, etc. though he would not have used the sophisticated words later developed to define these things more precisely and deeply.

The little sapling doesn’t look like the big oak tree but they are organically the same thing.  The baby pictures of your challenger may not look like him as a full-grown man but he’s developed over time and is still the same organic person. Theology also develops and takes on new words and explanations but is only a further development of what was already believed by the early Christians. 

Hope that helps. I feel sorry for the deluded Protestants who are so “wise” in their disputations. I used to be one of them and thank God those days are in the past.”

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Did Jesus Contradict the Old Testament’s Prohibition on Drinking Blood?

January 7, 2017

Leonard Alt debates an anti-Catholic named Phil. He writes: I have a choice: I can listen to the Evangelicals who confuse the blood of animals, with the blood of Christ and choose not to eat the Flesh and drink the Blood of Christ, or, I can listen to Jesus who said; “Whoever eats my flesh […]

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Cross vs. Crucifix

January 6, 2017

(From a letter Steve wrote to a Evangelical Protestant who asked about the Catholic Crucifix) Dear Evangelical Friend: You display a bare cross in your home; we display the cross and the crucifix with the corpus of Christ on it. What is the difference and why? The cross is an upright post with a crossbeam […]

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The Eucharist and the Fathers of the Church: Article by Steve Ray

January 2, 2017

The Eucharist and the Fathers of the Church, by Steve Ray The word “Eucharist” was used early in the Church to describe the Body and Blood of Christ under the forms of bread and wine. Eucharist comes from the Greek word for “thanks” (eucharistia), describing Christ’s actions: “And when he had given thanks, he broke […]

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Rome in the Eye of a Storm

December 13, 2016

Catholic Journalist and writer for National Catholic Register summarized the situation in Rome as the Pope refuses to respond to a growing number of voices requesting an explanation of his document Amoris Laetitia. I found it worth reading, along with the two below. Msgr. Charles Pope has written  the clearest and simplest explanation I’ve read to […]

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Petition to the Holy Father for Clarification. I Signed Today with over 800,000 other Catholics

December 4, 2016

I received and signed this petition today… On the eve of the Ordinary Synod on the Family held in Rome in October 2015, we delivered to the Holy See a “Filial Petition to His Holiness on the Future of the Family” signed by 879,451 persons, including eight cardinals and 203 archbishops and bishops, asking for […]

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1st Baptismal Font and Pulpit in Americas, Eating Ant Eggs in a Cave, Climbing Pyramids to Moon & Sun and more

December 3, 2016

An amazing day in Mexico. We renewed our baptisms in the first baptismal font ever in the Americas. We also saw the first pulpit where the gospel was first preached in the Western Hemisphere. We ate in the belly of a cave and part of our dinner was ant eggs and larva. Then we climbed […]

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Confrontation: Cardinal Burke on Amoris Laetitia Dubia: ‘Tremendous Division’ Warrants Action

November 16, 2016

Posted by Edward Pentin on Tuesday Nov 15th, 2016 at 11:25 AM In an exclusive Register interview, he elaborates about why four cardinals were impelled to seek clarity about the papal exhortation’s controversial elements. Article main image Four cardinals asked Pope Francis five dubia questions, or “doubts,” about the apostolic exhortation Amoris Laetitia (The Joy […]

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What Does “Water and Spirit” Mean?

September 26, 2016

Since we are at the VERY place where Jesus was baptized in water and the Spirit came down, I thought I would share this post again. A while ago a Protestant friend tried to prove that Born Again by “water and Spirit” did not mean baptism. Here is one paragraph that he sent me: In John, chapter […]

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Do the Fathers Claim the Eucharist is a Symbol and Not the Real Presence?

September 8, 2016

A man sent a challenge that the Fathers of the Church claim the Eucharist is a symbol and therefore NOT the Real Presence of Christ. Is that true? My friend Gary Michuta answers the question. Thanks for including me in on this conversation. Brian, there are three issues that commonly trip up non-Catholics when they read […]

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What’s the Deal with Infant Baptism?

August 16, 2016

What’s the Deal with Infant Baptism? by Steve Ray My past tradition — Fundamentalist Baptist — rejected Infant Baptism. In fact, the Baptist tradition originated during the “Reformation” when they broke from Rome (and Luther) and promoted “ana-baptism” which means — baptized again. The infant baptism taught by the Catholic Church was utterly rejected and they “re-baptized” […]

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Eucharistic Miracles Website

August 15, 2016

Interesting site with articles on the Eucharist and the Real Presence, a catalog of Eucharistic miracles and more. It is a wealth of information — especially as we approach Corpus Christi Sunday. I knew nothing of this as a Protestant and find it absolutely intriguing now. I am so glad to be a Catholic and […]

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Can Relics and Sacramentals Relay the Power of God?

June 28, 2016

Some might claim that Catholic teaching on relics and Sacramentals is unbiblical. Really? Check out these biblical passages: “So extraordinary were the mighty deeds God accomplished at the hands of Paul that when face CLOTHS or aprons that touched his skin were applied to the sick, their diseases left them and the evil spirits came […]

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Canon Law and the Pope’s Unfortunate Words on Cohabitation and Non-sacramental Marriages

June 19, 2016

There are so many issues to write about; I would have wished that this would not be one of them, but… Canon Lawyer Dr. Ed Peters brings clarity to the confusion caused by the Pope’s recent words.  If you’re concerned about marriage, the problems in the Church in that regard, the Pope’s recent words about […]

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