Friday, 31 March 2017

The Catholic Doctrine Of The Eucharist. Part 48.


Protestants should acknowledge with a holy fear, to what a degree they are inexcusable if they do not submit to this article. In reality, one may say, there is no error against which the word of God presents us with such powerful arguments as against this error, which denies the incomprehensible eating of the flesh of our Lord, because the word of God represents those who were first engaged in this error as apostates and deserters from Jesus Christ. No other error has so express a declaration against the first abettors of it. The consolation of the Catholic is, that if on one side Protestants, by abandoning the Church on account of this incomprehensible article concerning the eating of the flesh of our Lord, have the unhappiness to see, that both in sentiments and in conduct they resemble the first deserters from the communion of Jesus Christ, Catholics have the comfort to see themselves here followers of the example of the Apostles. They continue faithful to our Lord, notwithstanding the ineffable mystery of the eating of his flesh, because they know that Jesus Christ, who is the author of it, is the Son of God, that he has the words of eternal life, and that he has the power to do more than man can conceive, and that how incomprehensible soever his words may be, they are the only way by which we can come to life everlasting.

Thus the Disciples who here abandoned Jesus Christ, were, in some sense, the first Protestants, that is, the first Christians that would not submit to the word of Jesus Christ concerning the eating of his flesh. And, on the contrary, the Apostles were the first Catholics, I mean the first Christians that believed this eating, how inconceivable soever it might appear to their reason. And I will venture here to entreat my readers to meditate well on the following quotations from two of the most illustrious doctors of God's church, viz., from St. Cyprian and from St. Augustine, who is, according to Calvin, the most faithful witness of antiquity. St. Cyprian, Bishop of Carthage in Africa, who lived in the third century, says: "The priest in consecrating imitates what Jesus Christ did, and indeed is our Lord's lieutenant, and offers then a true, perfect, and accomplished sacrifice in the faithful Church to God the Father, endeavouring to do as Jesus Christ himself did at his last supper."— (L. 2, Ep. 3.) St. Augustine says: " Oh most beautiful Jesus Christ, I beseech thee by that sacred effusion of thy precious blood, whereby we are redeemed, grant me contrition of heart, and a fountain of tears, especially, whilst I, although unworthy, am assisting at the sacred altar, desiring to offer up to thee that admirable and celestial sacrifice, worthy of all reverence and devotion, which thou, oh Lord my God, immaculate priest, didst institute and command to be offered up in commemoration of thy charity, that is, of thy passion."— (Manual, c. 11.)