When it comes to theologically proving that the Catholic Church is the Church that Jesus Christ started through His Apostles, what most Apologist and Theologians like to do is take every peculiar doctrine of the Catholic faith and try to explain their reasonableness through the aid of Scripture and patristic text.
Actually, it has been my experience that Protestants generally believe every doctrine that Catholics believe, except for the Sacrament Holy Eucharist. It usually just a matter of formulating the right order of words for us to come to agreement. For example, both Catholics and Protestants believe in ‘intercessory prayer’, but Protestants merely fail to see the value in asking people who they can’t see (those in Heaven) to pray for them. Both Catholics and Protestants believe that we have to be purged of what separates us from God before we can dwell fully in His presence in Heaven, but Protestants would never call that process after death ‘Purgatory’. Protestants would never agree that only the Bishop of the Catholic Church of Rome (the Pope) and the Magisterium (the authoritative teaching office of Bishops in union with the Pope) has been entrusted and protected by God to always authentically interpret the sacred Scriptures, but they do believe that their conferences, they themselves, or their local reverend has that same authority, as long as they agree with him or her.
On the contrary, the only doctrine that separates Catholic Christians from Protestant (non-denominations Protestants included) Christians is the sacrament of the Holy Eucharist. It is very strange indeed that only the Catholic Church believes that the Real Presence (Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity) of Christ Jesus is the actually Bread and Wine consecrated at the Sacrifice of the Mass, while all other Christians believe that ‘communion’ is something much LESS
than that. Indeed, only Satan could trick Christians into believing that Jesus is not where He truly is. If we could agree on this one essential thing, then all other issues with fall in line. As I wrote in my article Finding Christian Unity through the Holy Eucharist, “If we cannot be a people of one bread then we will never be a people of one body.”
Therefore, the last three Proofs of the Catholic Church that I have to offer will center on the Holy Eucharist being the source and summit of Christian Unity. By borrowing some paragraphs from my book Cooperating with God: The Life with the Cross (Chapter Eight),
in Part 4 (below)
I will demonstrate why we must still celebrate the Passover Meal that God commanded us to always do (Exodus
12) and how the Sacrament of the Eucharist, as celebrated only in the Catholic Church, is Christ Jesus’ fulfillment of the Old Covenant Passover. In Part 5
I will demonstrate that the Fathers of the Church; those who actually knew the Apostles and their students also believed that Jesus became the Sacrament of the Holy Eucharist. In Part 6
I will lay out the gruesome fact; that every heresy from the beginning of Christianity has always tried to reduce the Holy Sacrament into something less that what we have always believed it to be – from the Jews in John
6 who stopped following Jesus when He told them the truth about the Bread and Wine to John Calvin to the Salvation Army – time and time again Satan has used men to try to dupe us into believe that Jesus does not truly come to us through the consecrated Bread and Wine.
The Sacrament of the Holy Eucharist is the New Covenant Seder/Passover Meal
The Permanent Command from God to Celebrate the Passover Meal
- Exodus 12:1-27
The Lord said to Moses and Aaron in the land of Egypt, “This month shall stand at the head of your calendar; you shall reckon it the first month of the year. Tell the whole community of Israel: On the tenth of this month everyone of your families must procure for itself a lamb, one apiece for each household. If a family is too small for a whole lamb, it shall join the nearest household in procuring one and shall share in the lamb in proportion to the number of person who partake of it. The lamb must be a year-old male and without blemish. You may take it from either the sheep or the goats. You shall keep it until the fourteenth day of this month, and then, with the whole assembly of Israel present, it shall be slaughter during the evening twilight. They shall take some of its blood and apply it to the two doorpost and the lintel of every house in which they partake of the lamb. That same night they shall eats it roasted flesh with unleavened bread and bitter herbs. It shall not be eaten raw or boiled, but roasted whole, with its head and shanks and inner organs. None of it must be kept beyond the next morning; whatever is left over in the morning shall be burned up.”
“You shall observe this and as a Perpetual Ordinance [NEVER ENDING] for yourselves and your descendants. Thus, you must also observe this rite when you have entered the land which the Lord will give you as he promises. When your children ask you, ‘What does this rite of yours means?” you shall reply, ‘This is the Passover sacrifice of the Lord, who passed over the houses of the Israelites in Egypt; when he struck down the Egyptians, he spared our houses. “
The Fulfillment of Jesus Christ of the New Covenant Passover Meal
- Luke 22:14-23
When the hour came, He took His place at table with the Apostles. He said to them, “I have eagerly desired to eat this Passover with you before I suffer, for, I tell you, I shall not eat it [again] until there is fulfillment in the Kingdom of God.”
Then He took a cup, gave thanks, and said, “Take this and share it among yourselves; for I tell you [that] from this time on I shall not drink of the fruit of the vine until the Kingdom of God comes.”
Then He took the bread, said the blessing, broke it, and gave it to them, saying, “This is my body, which will be given for you; do this in memory of me.”
And likewise the cup after they had eaten, saying, “This cup is the New Covenant in my Blood, which will be shed for you. And yet behold the hand of the one who is to betray me is with me on the table; for the Son of Man indeed goes as it has been determined; but woe to that man by whom He is betrayed.”
And they began to debate among themselves who among them would do such a deed.
(Matthew 26:20-30; Mark 14:17-26; John 6:45-59, 13:21-30)
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“Throughout sacred Scripture we can clearly and consistently see Christ Jesus working within the written and oral laws, not to destroy, but rather to fulfill them.[i] It then follows that if the Catholic Sacrament of the Eucharist is indeed the fulfilled Seder, then we should be able to point to Scripture and Tradition to demonstrate how Christ both met the requirements of the Old Law and brought it to true bloom in its fulfilled meaning.
“We begin our examination as to whether this Passover Feast of Unleavened Bread, which Jesus shared with His disciples, met the requirements of having been a genuine Seder, by first examining the first condition – that the Feast must take place on the fourteenth day of Nisan.[ii] The orthodox Jewish response is that if the Seder did not take place on the prescribed day reserved for it, then it was not valid. Fortunately, the Gospel of Mark clearly states that “On the first day of the Feast of Unleavened Bread, when they sacrificed the Passover lamb, His disciples said to Him, “Where do you want us to go and prepare for you to eat the Passover?””[iii] The second requirement, which was also met by Jesus and His disciples, was that the Passover could only be celebrated in Jerusalem.[iv] Continuing in the Marcan account, “He sent two of his disciples and said to them, “Go into the city and a man will meet you, carrying a jar of water. Follow him. Wherever he enters, say to the master of the house, ‘The Teacher says, “Where is my guest room where I may eat the Passover with my disciples?’’ Then he will show you a large upper room furnished and ready. Make the preparations for us there.” The disciples then went off, entered the city, and found it just as he had told them; and they prepared the Passover.””[v] There is every indication in sacred Scripture that the ‘city’ being referred to here is the city of Jerusalem.
“Now we turn to the actual Passover meal ritual. There are four cups of wine that are poured and drunk during Seder,[vi] with the first cup being mixed (wine cut with water) during the Kiddush, in which various traditional prayers and sanctifying events take place. The Synoptic Gospels do not tell us whether any elements of the Kiddush had taken place, but because the Gospels do not indicate that any prayers were offered before they began eating, it would not be unreasonable for us to believe that these thirteen Jewish men did offer some form of thanksgiving praise to God before they ate. That is, the absence of the Kiddush in Scripture does not mean that it did not take place, but rather because it was such a standard element in all Jewish liturgy, it leads us to believe that it did take place, especially if we can point to evidence of a significant number of other elements of the Seder as being present at this meal.
“After the Kiddush, they would have eaten lettuce dipped in salt water or vinegar, vegetables together with the cake of matzah, and two cooked things. Afterwards the second Seder cup would have been mixed.
“The next portion of Seder is more liturgical in nature, in that the head of the family takes time to recount the story of the exodus. Likewise, here we can see Jesus giving an actual and liturgical fulfillment of this tradition when He foretells the New Covenant exodus. Allow me first to preface my explanation with clear image of the Old Covenant Seder, as written in the Mishnah:
The second cup is mixed. The son ask his father the four questions, and if the son does not have enough knowledge his father teaches him how to ask: “Why is this night different from all other nights? On the other nights we eat leavened or unleavened bread, but this night only unleavened. On all other nights we eat a variety of vegetables, but on this night only bitter herbs. On all other nights we may eat meat which has been roasted, stewed, or boiled, but this night only roast meat. On all other nights we dip our food only once, but on this night twice.” The father then instructs him according to his son’s level of knowledge. He begins with the disgrace an ends with the glory [[story from the Haggadah]], and he expounds from “A wandering Aramean was my father. . . .” (Deuteronomy 26:5), until he finished the whole story.
Rabban Gamaliel used to say: Whoever has not spoken of these three things at Passover has not fulfilled his obligations: Pesah,[vii] Matzah,[viii] and Maror.[ix] Pesah, because God passed over the houses of our fathers in Egypt. Matzah, because our fathers were redeemed out of Egypt. Maror, because the Egyptians made th
e lives of our fathers bitter in Egypt. In each and every generation, a man must think of himself as if he came out of Egypt, as it is written: “And you shall tell your son on that day saying, it is because of that which the Lord did for me when I came forth out of Egypt” (Exodus 13:8). Therefore we are required to give thanks, to praise, to glorify, to honor, to exalt, to extol, and to bless Him who performed all those wonders for our fathers and for us. He brought us from bondage to freedom, from sorrow to gladness, from mourning to Festival, from darkness to great light, and from slavery to redemption. Let us say before Him: Hallelujah.
“When Jesus took His place among the Apostles and said to them, “I have eagerly desired to eat this Passover with you before I suffer, for, I tell you, I shall not eat it [again] until its fulfillment in the Kingdom of God,” He instantly met and fulfilled the prescribed ritual of the Seder, by telling His Apostles how this night is different from every other night. That is, He points to Himself as being the new Pesah that will suffer and die for the sins of many. Later on during the meal, He will also point to Himself as being the new and true Matzah (Manna) that gives eternal life, and as the new Maror who the world will make things bitter for, and bitter for those who are members of His body.[x]
“Now, turning back to the Seder, after Jesus told His Apostles about the new exodus, they would have drunk the second cup of wine and entered into the third section of the Seder, which is the actual meal, commencing with the breaking of bread. We can see this portion of the Seder clearly in all of the Synoptic Gospels where Jesus took the bread, said the blessing, broke it, and gave it to them saying, “This is my body, which will be given for you; do this in anemeno of me.”
“According to the Mishnah, after the meal, the third cup would have been mixed and blessed:
After the third cup has been mixed, the leader says the blessings after the meal. Before the fourth cup, he completes the Hallel and then says the blessing over song. If he wishes to drink wine between the cups he may do so. But he may not drink between the third and fourth cups.
“Again, sacred Scripture confirms that this requirement of the Seder took place on the night before Jesus was crucified, in saying, “And likewise the cup after they had eaten, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in my Blood, which will be shed for you.”” Our Lord even fulfilled the meaning of the cups of wine; from this point forward, there would no longer be four cups containing merely the fruit of the vine, but now just one cup of His Life, of His Love, of His Truth, and of His Death. God’s promissory Covenants are always sealed and renewed with Blood, by which they also become familial bounds, as we see here with God and man sharing the same blood.
“Whereas in the Old Covenant, Moses took the blood of the lamb, “sprinkled it on the people, saying, “This is the blood of the covenant which YHWH has made with you in accordance with all these words of His,”[xi] Christ Jesus, the true Lamb of YHWH, told His disciples to drink His Blood and said, “this is my Blood of the Covenant, which will be shed on behalf of many for the forgiveness of sins.” Whereas the blood of the first lamb, sacrificed repeatedly, bound the Israelites to the law and atoned for their sins, the Blood of the second Lamb, sacrificed once and for all, bound us to the Holy Spirit and brought Salvation from sin.[xii]
“Some theologians have posited that the fourth cup of wine was not actually drunk, but instead had become the cup that our Lord was asking His Father to take from Him: “Father, if you are willing, take this cup from me; still not my will but yours be done.”[xiii] This assumption might have worked if Matthew’s and Mark’s narratives had not said, “Then after singing a hymn, they went out to the Mount of Olives,” and we know from the Mishnah (as cited above) that the third cup of wine was drunk immediately after the meal. Being that so many requirements of the Seder had already been met, there is no reason to believe that the fourth cup was not drunk after the Hallel was sung and the final blessing was given. The traditional Hallel that is sung after Seder is Psalms 112 through 118.[xiv]
This is the Fulfilled Theology of the Passover Feast of Unleavened Bread in summary:
1. Whereas, in the Old Covenant, soon before the Israelites were delivered from slavery in Egypt, God commanded them to do this (the Passover celebration) forever in memory of when the Lord spared the Israelites by passing over their houses, but struck down the Egyptians,[xv] now in the New Covenant, soon before those who were in the bondage to sin and death were delivered from it, by the way of the Cross, they were commanded by Christ to “Do this in anemeno of Me.” God commanded His people to celebrate this memorial feast forever,[xvi] and it has never stopped being celebrated in the Catholic Church.
2. Whereas, in the Old Covenant, the roasted flesh of the lamb was eaten with unleavened bread,[xvii] now, the New Covenant, we are commanded to eat the Flesh of Christ Jesus under the guise of unleavened bread. “Then He took the bread, said the blessing, broke it, and gave it to them, saying, “This is my body, which will be given for you; do this in anemeno of me.”
3. Whereas, in the Old Covenant, God commanded the Israelites to apply the blood of the lamb to the two doorpost and lintel of every house in which they partook of the lamb,[xviii] so that they would be passed-over, now, in the New Covenant, we are commanded to drink the Blood of the true lamb under the guise of wine; taking it into ourselves, so that we will be passed-over (have eternal life). “And likewise the cup after they had eaten, saying, “This cup is the New Covenant in my Blood, which will be shed for you.” [xix]
“Our questions in this section were: Did this Passover meal, between Jesus and His Apostles, rise to the level of being a verifiable Seder and, if it was, was it also fulfilled by Him and propelled into the New Covenant as the Sacrament of the Holy Eucharist? Even after a cursory overview, I think that the answers to those questions are a rotund yes, yes, and yes.[xx] More will be said later about the meaning of the matzah being His true Body, and the Seder wine being His true Blood.“
[ii] Cf. Exo. 12:6; Dt. 16:1-6; Num. 28:16-17.
[iii] Mk. 14:12; Cf. Mt. 26:17-19; Lk. 22:7-13.
[iv] Cf. Dt. 16:5-6; Mt. 26:18.
[v] Mk. 14:12-16; Cf. Mt. 26:17-19; Lk. 22:7-13.
[vi] Each cup represents one of the four promises that YHWH made to the Israelites while they were still being held captive in Egypt (Cf. Exo. 6:6).
[vii] Pesah is the lamb or kid slaughtered and eaten in ancient times on the first evening of Passover.
[viii] Matzah is the unleavened bread, required in ancient times in connection with all sacrifices in the Temple in Jerusalem, and in all Jewish homes during the seven (later eight) days of Passover.
[ix] Maror is the bitter herbs eaten at the Passover Seder.
[xiv] Psalm 114 recounts the theme of the entire Passover ritual.
[xix] Because the Flesh is eaten and the Blood is drank under the guise of unleavened bread an
d wine, we can eat and drink it under obligation, otherwise, it would be a sin according to Lev. 3:17 and Dt. 12:23.