Continuing my theme of the spiritual works of mercy this month, here is a question that a parishioner asked me last week about speaking to her siblings about our Catholic faith.
May you know the peace of Christ,
“My siblings and I, were all raised Catholic. I am the only one who still attends Mass. They all go to non-Catholic Christian churches and don’t see any difference between attending their services and Holy Mass. What can I say to them?”
Look for opportunities to remind them of their Catholic upbringing in casual ways. Tell good stories from your youth about Catholic school or Mass from time to time. This will remind them of their true religious identity. And, when there is a good opening, remind them about the Eucharist. You can say something like, ‘I have come to really appreciate the Eucharist as the Body and Blood of Christ as I’ve gotten older. I didn’t realize growing up that it’s really the flesh and blood of Christ’. If they question you about this or say that they don’t agree, then you can defend the teaching:
Last Supper: the Lord Himself says: “This is my body” Catholics believe “This is my body” means THIS IS MY BODY Protestants believe “This symbolizes my body” or “this represents my body”
John 6:51 – “The bread that I will give is my flesh for the life of the world”
Here, Jesus teaches that the Eucharist is the same flesh and blood that was on the Cross:
The bread that I will give is my flesh for the life of the world
The Eucharist = body and blood on the Cross
You and your siblings might remember this big term which describes the change in bread and wine to the Body and Blood of Christ. When the priest says the words of consecration, “this is my body…this is the chalice of my blood”, the elements are no longer bread and wine. They are truly the Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity of Jesus Christ. The substance of each has changed, but their qualities remain. They are no longer bread and wine even though they still look, smell, and taste like bread and wine.
For 1,500 years, all Christians were Catholic, so they all believed in the Eucharist. But, 500 years ago, some Catholics protested against the Church and started their own religions and doctrines (now, there are about 30,000 Protestant denominations). One of those new, heretical doctrines was “consubstantiation” which means that the substances of bread and wine do not change into Christ’s Body and Blood unless you believe that they change. Basically, this is saying that the Eucharist is just a symbol. That is obviously a false teaching! And, it’s nowhere in the Bible.
Tell your brother or sister to ask their pastor what he / she believes happens to the bread and wine during the service. If somehow he says that he believes it’s the Body and Blood of the Lord, they should ask if he means actual flesh and blood? He would say,’ no. Only Catholics believe that’. Even if the minister believes it’s the Body and Blood, he / she doesn’t have the power to consecrate bread and wine. Christ gave that power to the Apostles and they have passed it down to Catholic priests ever since. It’s called Apostolic Succession. Protestants broke off from this Apostolic line which means they broke off from the power. So, the main difference between the Protestant service and Catholic Mass is the difference between receiving only a symbol of the Body and Blood of Christ and receiving the real thing. It’s like the difference between monopoly money and real money. Or, as the Lord says in Jn 6, it’s the difference between manna and the Bread of Life:
“Unlike your ancestors who ate and still died, whoever eats this bread will live forever“. (v.58).