This the ninth in a series reviewing John C. Wright’s A Universal Apologia for the Catholic Church.
See part 1, part 2, part 3, part 4, part 5, part 6, part 7, part 8, and part 10.
We now delve into the question of the Roman Catholic Eucharist. Wright explains:
The sixth point I encountered was the question of the Host. I had noticed that various non-Catholic denominations were willing to share with me, even though I was not one of them, their bread and wine of their Host. It was not until later that I discovered that this was not a Host at all, but merely a memorial or symbol of the Host.
And indeed, the Protestants and Anabaptists believe that bread and wine are symbols of Christ’s body and blood. Since they do not turn into the actual body and blood of Jesus, but remain items crafted by the hands of man, to worship them is idolatry. Wright agrees:
[if] the bread is not Christ, and the Protestant knows it is not Christ, but he nonetheless consumes it in an act of worship, in which case, to eat is idolatry, because it shows divine worship to what is not divine.
If it is not the blood and body of Christ, then so too for the Roman Catholic to eat is to commit the sin of idolatry. To worship something made by the hands of man is the very definition of idolatry. But to reject the Roman Eucharist is to reject Rome itself. Completely. Without question or compromise. Regardless of the positive merits of any other Roman Catholic doctrine, this one has the potential to sink the whole ship.
A Matter of History
Wright makes this claim:
We have 1500 years or so of Church practice, which even Arians and Donatists and Albigensians performed, of consecrating the host and taking it as if it were the body and blood of Christ.
Wright is in error.
Both the Paulicians and Albigensians (or Cathars) appeared to be closely related, both referring to themselves as “Good Christians”. Their names were given to them by their enemies in the Roman Catholic Church and many of the accusations made against them were fabricated. Henry James Warner (The Albigensian heresy, 1922, p.5-6,9,11,14) wrote:
“[The Albigensian heresy] was not one heresy, but many, defying rigid classification, heterogeneous, self-contradictory, yet united in opposition to the Church of Rome. It is mere accident of history that the name is derived from Abi. [..] Its enemies declared it to be rank paganism (Manicheism): its adherents the purest form of Christianity (Catharism). [..] The Church commonly labelled the heresy “Manichean”, but that label was a libel. [..] Paulician was an early appelation of the Catharist [..] There is a close correspondence between the doctrines and practices of the Paulicians and Bogomiles and those of the Albigenses. These prevail everywhere throughout the Byzantine Empire, and the Crusaders and pilgrims could not fail to come across them.”
In Sermones Contra Catharos, 11th Discourse paragraph XI, Maitland, 361-2, Migne P.L. 195, col 90, Eckebert the Benedictine Abbot of Schönau described their refusal to accept the Roman eucharist:
From one man who came out of your hiding places I heard this piece of your wisdom—your body is the Lord’s ; and therefore you make the body of the Lord, when you bless your bread, and support your body with it.”
This was the “heresy” that when you bless the bread (the epiclesis or consecration) and eat of it at the Lord’s Table, your body metabolizes it (because it is just food) to sustain you—you who are the flesh of Christ. For it is written in scripture:
“For we are members of his body, of his flesh” — Ephesians 5:30
This is of course logical. If we are members of the flesh of Christ then when we eat the bread of communion, it sustains us and grows our flesh, which is the body of Christ. The Roman Catholics were perplexed and could make no sense of this, but this merely shows that the Paulicians and the Algibensians were more familiar with scripture than the Roman Catholics who were so obsessed with tradition that they blinded themselves.
For their “heresy”, Pope Alexander II at the Council of Tours in 1163 in Canon 4 declared:
That the Albigensian heretics are to be shunned. … Commercial trade with them is forbidden; neither the sale nor the purchase of things may be undertaken with them, in order that that source of comfort to mankind might at least force them to see the errors of their lives to return to their senses.
Since the Roman Catholic Church frequently misrepresented those they viewed as heretics, it is impossible for us to take any of Rome’s claims at face value. Incredulous, Wright asks:
If you are knowingly performing idolatry, and if you have so much control over the minds of the gullible Christians that they will accept idolatry without demur, why not simply say that God allows the faithful to give incense to Diocletian, and avoid being torn to pieces by lions or red-hot pincers?
What Wright hypothesizes is a double bind where Satan wins either way: whether by increased idolatry or fake martyrdom in his name, any who embrace idolatry are condemned. The only thing that truly mattered was libeling and taking the focus off the true church that stubbornly “prevailed everywhere throughout the Byzantine Empire.” All across the empire were Christian protestants, those who were unified on one thing: protesting the corrupt doctrines of the Roman Catholic Church, and the Roman Catholic Eucharist in particular.
Before we discuss the Eucharist, we need to first visit John’s Apocalypse: the book of Revelation. In Revelation 13, we read of the Beast, False Prophet, the Image of the Beast, and the Mark of the Beast.
The False Prophet—the second beast—is described in Revelation 13:11, 16:13, 19:20, and 20:10. These are the signs of the False Prophet:
- Comes up out of the earth
- False Prophet comes peacefully, as a lamb, with persuasive words, garnering sympathy.
- The prophet’s message comes from the dragon—Satan.
- The False Prophet’s mission is to force humanity to worship the Antichrist.
- False Prophet has all the authority of the Antichrist.
- False Prophet has signs and wonders:
- Fire from heaven
- Convince to worship the idolatrous image of the beast
- The image of the beast can speak
- Those who refuse to worship the image will be put to death
- They will receive the mark of the beast on their right hand or on their forehead or else be unable to buy or sell.
The False Prophet is [the Apparition of] Mary. “She” comes as an demonic angel of light from the earth. “She” is a lamb whispering persuasive words. Her mission is to support the beast—Papal Roman Catholicism—who falsely declares the power of Christ to himself. Mary has been granted great authority in the Roman Catholic Church.
Here are the signs of the False Prophet:
The False Prophet can call down fire from heaven. At the Miracle of the Sun, that Mary performed at Fatima Portugal on October 13, 1917, as many as 100,000 pilgrims were on hand to witness fire from heaven that dried up the heavy rain from the ground. There is also a report of another Miracle of the Sun on December 8, 1949 by Mary in Heroldsbach, Germany to 10,000 witnesses. Pius XII in his memoirs wrote that
“…he saw the miracle in the year he was to proclaim the dogma of the Assumption, 1950, while he walked in the Vatican Gardens. He said he saw the phenomenon various times, considering it a confirmation of his plan to declare the dogma. …. Pius XII said he saw the same phenomenon “the 31st of October and Nov. 1, the day of the definition of the dogma of the Assumption, and then again Nov. 8, and after that, no more.”
The apparition of Mary has been crucial in the development of doctrine, including the Immaculate Conception, Assumption of Mary, and Papal Infallibility. But the primary purpose of Mary is to convince the people to worship the image of the beast: the Roman Catholic Eucharist, Transubstantiation, the Host.
The Host can speak. There are numerous instances spanning centuries of the Host speaking to its recipients, in audible words. There are also well known cases of the host turning into actual flesh—heart muscle—and blood. If the Host can turn into actual flesh and blood, what difficulty is speaking? I do not dismiss these claims as legendary, but quite real. At least one example has been lab tested to confirm that it turned into heart muscle.
Those who refused to worship the image were killed. For centuries of history, the Roman Catholic Church executed people for refusing to take the Roman Catholic Eucharist (e.g. Inquisition; Reformations). The Albigensian Crusade specifically targeted the Cathars over a period of 20 years.
The Host is the mark received on their right hands or forehead. This is mentioned time and again in Revelation: Revelation 13:16-17, 14:9, 11, 15:2, 16:2, 19:20 and 20:4. But what does this mean?
The Bible mentions receiving a mark on the forehead or hand three other times. The first is in Exodus 13:6-9 and refers to the repeated observance of the unleavened bread of the Passover feast. The second is in Exodus 13:12-16 and refers to the redemption of the firstborn when Israel entered Canaan, like a sign on the hand and forehead. The third is in Deuteronomy 6:6-8 and 11:18, whether the commandments of God are to be placed in one’s heart and mind, as symbols on the hand and forehead.
Of these, only the first applies. Unleavened bread is the only one of the three that is an object made by man: something that can be an idol. And it applies perfectly. The Host is quite literally the unleavened Passover bread. As receiving the unleavened Passover bread is “a sign on your hand and a reminder on your forehead”, so too is receiving the Host. But the Roman Catholic Host is false. It is not the actual body of Christ. It is an idol. Participating in Roman communion is to take the Mark of the Beast on your hand or forehead and to worship an idol.
Moreover, as cited above, the Catholic Church forbid those who rejected the its idolatrous eucharist from buying and selling. And this is just one example.
Let’s once again reiterate what Wright has said:
We have 1500 years or so of Church practice [..] of consecrating the host and taking it as if it were the body and blood of Christ. Then we suddenly have Martin Luther and his epigones who discover that the Host is a symbol only, not the Christ.
As we noted in the previous part, the consecration of the host was an Roman Catholic corruption of the 4th century and later. Wright is incorrect that the Church had this practice prior to that point, an area we may go into more detail in the future. For now, suffice it to say that both Protestant and Roman Catholic historians have identified the 4th century as the critical point for Roman Catholic doctrines.
Far from being a novelty, Luther was just one of a long line of Christians, like Aerius, Jovinianus, Vigilantius, Sarmatio Barbatianus, Paulicians, Aligensians, Bogomils, Waldensians, Anabaptists, and others: Protestants who rejected the Roman Church. The church has long recognized the idolatry of the Rome’s eucharist and has called Rome to repentance time after time after time. It was no discovery, recent or otherwise, but Rome in its arrogance continues to insist on error.
 And also the Bogomils and the Waldensians.
 In the same way, the Roman Catholic libelous accusation of dualism leveled at the Paulicians, Albigensians, and Bogomils, is refuted with scripture and history and reflects both the Roman Catholic’s ignorance of scripture and their propensity to spread falsehoods about heretics.
The Paulicians were accused of being “dualists,” and yet no evidence exists from their own hands or mouths suggesting that they were any more “dualist” than the New Testament itself is “dualist” [..] They were accused of teaching that Satan had created the world—an accusation, we hasten to add, that does not arise until 500 years after the Paulicians were first identified by name (Garsoïan, 166)—but when we see how the Early Church understood these “dualist” verses, we can see that the Paulicians were simply expressing what the Scriptures and the Early Church understood about the evil times in which they lived.
The Paulicians were classified as Manichæans and were accused of being disciples of the heretic Paul of Samosata, and yet “all the Byzantine sources concede[d]” that the Paulicians freely anathematized Manes and Paul of Samosata (Garsoïan, 116).
“For this reason, true Paulicianism cannot in any real sense be considered as the purveyor of Manichean beliefs to the medieval world. Nor does it seem to be the link between dualist heresies of late antiquity and those of Western Europe in the twelfth and thirteenth centuries.” (Garsoïan, Nina G., The Paulician Heresy (Paris: Mouton & Col (1967) 233)
 The false prophet is like a lamb, deceiving the people who believe “she” is an angel of light.
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