Hi, Sagar —
- Why is transubstantiation necessary in the Communion
Rite for Catholics?
I feel that if it were not so, the symbolism and the
message would still be the same.
That may be so, but the reality would not be the
same. Scripture says we are made partakers
of the divine nature (2 Peter 1:4); either
this is imaginary or real. There is a saying, You
are what you eat. St. Athanasius had another
God became man so that man might become
By partaking of the divine nature, we are deified.
We become one with God in a manner that would not
be possible by closing our eyes and conjuring it
up in our minds. There is yet another saying, The
flesh is the hinge of salvation. This aptly
describes the difference between Catholicism (and
Orthodox) and Protestantism. While this saying is
not biblical, it flows from the Incarnation; again,
God became man so that man might become God. The
flesh is how God chooses to communicate to us salvation.
Grace comes through the senses just as God became
visible to us in the form of Christ. We see this
as Jesus used spittle to heal, water to baptize,
rivers to cure, and so forth.
Sometimes I meditate on the Indiana Jones and the
Last Crusade where they are looking for the Holy
Grail. When I go to Communion, what I am receiving
is more holy than that Holy Grail, and it's as close
as my local church. Not only am I given this object,
being God, more holy than the Holy Grail, more holy
than anything else on the face of the earth, but
it is edible; not only is it edible, but it goes
into all my joints, my veins, and transforms my body
and soul into God.
St. Ignatius of Antioch
in 107 calls it the medicine of immortality.
Early Christians also called it the antidote
to death. We also call it the cup of salvation. (Psalm 116:13, Jerusalem Catecheses, St. Cyril of
Jerusalem [d. 386])
It is the Christian Passover, which means that since
Jesus is the Passover Lamb, it was necessary both
for Him to be sacrificed and for His Flesh to be
eaten by the faithful. The Eucharist is the means
by which we eat the flesh of the sacrifice on Calvary.
We also believe it is the fruit of the tree of life
in the garden of Eden, and the new manna prophesied
by Moses. None of these things fit with a symbolic
view of the Eucharist.
Here are a couple of Early Church quotes on the
Eucharist. While not infallible, they do testify
to the early point at which our Eucharistic doctrine
Ignatius of Antioch, Epistle to the Smyrnaeans,
Chapter 6, 110 A.D. (Jurgens):
"Take note of those who hold heterodox opinions
on the grace of Jesus Christ which has come to
us, and see how contrary their opinions are to
the mind of God ... They abstain from the Eucharist
and from prayer because they do not confess that
the Eucharist is the flesh of our Savior Jesus
Christ, flesh which suffered for our sins and which
that Father, in his goodness, raised up again.
They who deny the gift of God are perishing in
Justin Martyr, Apology, I.66-67, 2nd century:
Communion in the Body and Blood of Christ
It is allowed to no one else to participate in
that food which we call Eucharist except the one
who believes that the things taught by us are true,
who has been cleansed in the washing unto rebirth
and the forgiveness of sins and who is living according
to the way Christ handed on to us. For we do not
take these things as ordinary bread or ordinary
Just as our Savior Jesus Christ was made flesh
by the word of God and took on flesh and blood
for our salvation, so also were we taught that
the food, for which thanksgiving has been made
through the word of prayer instituted by him, and
from which our blood and flesh are nourished after
the change, is the flesh of that Jesus who was
- What is the role of Mary and why is she venerated
- Also, why is the Immaculate Conception necessary
and where does this concept come from?
It seems to me that Christ's perfection should not be
affected by this.
- Also, did Mary eventually sin or do Catholics believe
that she was without sin for her life?
Oh, the roles of Mary would take too long to enumerate
— let's just say that she is the chief saint,
greater than any other creature (this excludes Christ,
of course), and we regard her as, in a sense, the
secondary cause of our salvation since, if
she did not say Yes to God, who knows what
He would have done?
I suspect she is venerated so prominently because,
being sinless, the greatest saint, and the Mother
of the Redeemer, people think she has a lot of pull.
The Immaculate Conception is not necessary, but it
is fitting. In Romans and 1 Corinthians, Paul speaks
of Christ being the New Adam.
- This begs the question,
if there are two Adams, are there two Eves?
there are. Both Eve and Mary were created sinless.
One believed the word of the serpent and became
the cause of death for the human race; the other
believed the Word of God and became the Cause of
Life for the human race. Mary undid what Eve wrought.
This principle was first articulated by St. Justin
Martyr (c. 150).
Death through Eve, life through Mary. (St.
If Mary was fallen like us, it would not have been
possible for her to be the New Eve. There is also
the conviction that it was fitting for Mary to be
a pure vessel to bear God, just as the Ark of the
Covenant (often a type of Mary) had to be constructed
perfectly according to God's instructions.
This is obviously not to imply that Christ had a
subordinate role in our redemption. He, of course,
is Our Redeemer, whose sacrifice ultimately won our
salvation but he chose to come through Mary, and
her fiat was very important to
We believe that Mary was wholly without sin throughout
Hope this helps,