« Can Ethics be Objective?Unified Deism and how My Work Relates to it »

Why I am not a Catholic nor Protestant Christian, Part 3: The Most Holy Sacrament of Communion

04/21/10

Permalink 10:23:00 pm, by Norgaard Norgaard Email , 956 words   English (US)
Categories: Why I am not a Catholic nor Protestant Christian

Why I am not a Catholic nor Protestant Christian, Part 3: The Most Holy Sacrament of Communion

Today I continue my “Why I am not a Catholic nor Protestant Christian” series by examining the Roman Catholic concept of holy communion. Some posts in this series deal with general Christian themes, such as the last one, which was on the idea that Jesus Christ died for our sins. But some posts, including this one, deal with issues that are mostly or entirely Catholic in nature. For me, that which is Christian in general and that which is Catholic blend together because of how the religion was taught to me. I will be dealing with more general Christian themes in forthcoming posts.

I was told of the importance of holy communion from when I was five years old. For those who don't know, communion is the part of a mass service where the congregants each take a wafer of bread and a sip of wine, which according to Catholic dogma, is supposed to be the body and blood of Jesus Christ. I was told that this is the most holy sacrament. Sacraments are an important part of Catholic dogma and can be defined as situations in life where one has a special connection with God. Other sacraments besides communion include baptism, marriage, confession, etc. The church makes clear that what begins as ordinary bread is trans-substantiated into what is literally the flesh of Jesus and what begins as ordinary wine is also trans-substantiated into what is literally the blood of Jesus. We are all told that it is very important to eat Jesus' flesh and drink his blood, because through this we can achieve everlasting life.

When I was seven years old I began to prepare for my first holy communion, which involved studying Catholic dogma and learning about communion and other aspects of the faith. For many children, first communion is an event that is taken quite seriously, involving a special mass for the event where the children dress up and some degree of pomp and circumstance is included. For me, it was more low key, but it was still seen as important to my family.

In every Catholic mass, there are special rituals for communion. The most important ritual, according to the church, is where the priest asks Jesus to sanctify the host, which is supposedly where the bread and wine turn into Jesus. Later, the priest holds up one of the wafers and says “This is the lamb of God which takes away the sins of the world, happy are we who are called to his supper” whereupon the congregants need to say “Lord, I am not worthy to receive you, but only say the word and I shall be healed”. The idea behind this is that if one is not worthy to receive communion, then when they eat it it will return to being ordinary bread and wine.

I began to have questions about communion in my teenage years. The church leaders insisted that the sanctified host was literally the body of Christ, but of course it still looked and tasted like bread (the wine was optional and many of us opted out because everyone drinks from the same cup and there are health concerns). In other Christian denominations, including Episcopalian, communion is merely supposed to be a symbolic representation of Jesus instead of literally being Jesus himself. This would of course make more sense and would be more coherent with the plainly obvious observation that the sanctified host appeared physically the same as the ordinary bread that it came from. The Episcopalian dogma made more sense, but the church made clear that this was wrong. They said that we just needed to have faith that communion was indeed the body and blood of our lord Jesus and that through this our sins can be washed away and we can achieve everlasting life.

I thought about this quite a bit and I theorized at the time that there was a certain nonphysical spirit of Jesus that somehow inhabits the bread when we believe that this is possible. I reasoned that just as a soul inhabits a human body, so can the soul of Jesus inhabit communion wafers. One problem with this is that it is actually against Catholic dogma because technically the bread is supposed to physically become the body of Christ. Another problem with this is that it still does not make any sense for several reasons. How can a soul inhabit a piece of bread? Perhaps a soul can inhabit a body, but the way we know that is because the body is moving and breathing. A piece of bread doesn't move. Also, why does one have to eat the body of Jesus and drink his blood? This seems like some ancient barbaric ritual. And why is it necessary to have this ritual in order to achieve everlasting life? If there is a such thing as everlasting life, why would God make us go through this ritual of eating part of his son in order to achieve this?

I was told from an early age of the importance of communion, and I did believe that it was important for a few years. As I reached adulthood, I no longer thought it was important, though for a while I still had some faith in the Catholic Church and in the Bible and in the divinity of Jesus. As I realized the incoherence of this concept of holy communion, this was one step towards my eventual realization that Christianity is false and that I needed to find a more enlightened worldview.

What are your thoughts on this topic? Is faith virtuous, or is it harmful? Let your voice be heard in the forum.
You can also email the me at brandon@enlightenedworldview.com

PermalinkPermalink  

No feedback yet