Choose a topic from Vol 3:


Reason proves God's existence
Primitive monotheism
Mystery of God's inner nature
Personality of God
Providence of God and the problem of evil


Immortal destiny of man
Can earth give true happiness?
Do human souls evolve?
Is transmigration possible?
Animal souls
Freedom of will
Free will and faith


Religion and God
The duty of prayer
The mysteries of religion
Can we believe in miracles?

The Religion of the Bible

Historical character of the Gospels
Canonical Books of the Bible
Original Manuscripts
Copyists' errors
Truth of the Bible
New Testament "contradictions"

The Christian Religion

Christianity alone true
Not the product of religious experience
Compared with Buddhism, Confucianism, Mahometanism, Bahaism, etc.,
Rejected by modern Jews
The demand for miracles
The necessity of faith
Difficulties not doubts
Proofs available
Dispositions of unbelievers

A Definite Christian Faith

One religion not as good as another
Changing one's religion
Catholic convictions and zeal
Religious controversy
The curse of bigotry
Towards a solution

The Problem of Reunion

Efforts at the reunion of the Churches
The Church of England as a "Bridge-Church"
Anglicans and the Greek Orthodox Church
The "Old Catholics" of Holland
Reunion Conferences
Catholic Unity
The Papacy as reunion center
Protestant hostility to Catholicism
The demands of charity

The Truth of Catholicism

Necessity of the Church
The true Church
Catholic claim absolute
A clerical hierarchy
Papal Supremacy
Temporal Power
Unity of the Church
Holiness of the Church
Catholicity of the Church
Catholic attitude to converts
Indefectible Apostolicity
Necessity of becoming a Catholic

The Church and the Bible

Catholic belief in the Bible
Bible-reading and private interpretation
Value of Tradition and the "Fathers"
Guidance of the Church necessary

The Dogmas of the Catholic Church

Dogmatic certainty
Credal statements
Faith and reason
The voice of science
Fate of rationalists
The dogma of the Trinity
Creation and evolution
The existence of angels
Evil spirits or devils
Man's eternal destiny
The fact of sin
Nature and work of Christ
Mary, the mother of God
Grace and salvation
The sacraments
Holy Eucharist
The Sacrifice of the Mass
Holy Communion
Marriage and divorce
Extreme Unction
Man's death and judgment
Resurrection of the body
End of the World

Moral Teachings of the Catholic Church

Catholic intolerance
The Spanish Inquisition
Prohibition of Books
Liberty of worship
Forbidden Socieities
Church attendance
The New Psychology
Deterministic philosophy
Marriage Legislation
Birth Prevention
Monastic Life
Convent Life
Legal defense of murderers
Laywers and divorce proceedings
Judges in Divorce
Professional secrecy

The Church in Her Worship

Why build churches?
Glamor of ritual
The "Lord's Prayer"
Pagan derivations
Liturgical symbolism
Use of Latin
Intercession of Mary and the Saints

The Church and Social Welfare

The Church and Education
The Social Problem
Social Duty of the Church
Catholicism and Capitalism

Holy Eucharist

847. I presume that the Eucharist is of supreme importance in your religion.

It is. Since the Eucharist is the sacramental presence of Christ Himself in the Catholic Church, it cannot but be the very heart and soul of our religion. As a matter of fact, there is no true Christianity without the Eucharist any more than there is without the Incarnation itself.

848. My studies have shown that union with God by eating is the law in all ancient religions.

Your studies should have shown you that the immense differences totally unexpected far outweigh any expected similarities between the Christian doctrine, and any ritualistic taking of food in ancient pagan religions.

849. Could not the first Christians have got the idea from pagan religions?

No. The first Christians were Jews, rigidly attached to Mosaic beliefs and rites. They would never have abandoned those beliefs and rites for pagan rites which they hated and held in the utmost abomination. Christ Himself instituted the Eucharist, and apart from that no one would have dreamed of inventing it. Christians accepted it because they believed in Christ. They had no other reason for doing so, and a right idea of the Christian doctrine shows that no pagan rites could have given rise to such a concept.

850. I have read that primitive Christians used bread and water for the Eucharist, copying Mithraism, the rival religion which so severely challenged Christianity.

Mithraism was widespread during the first centuries of Christianity, chiefly amongst pagan Roman soldiers. This pagan and mythological religion did include in its rites a symbolical banquet of bread and water. But the rite was in no way sacramental in the Christian sense of the word, and had no similarity with the Christian Sacrament of the Eucharist any more than any other partaking of bread and water under any other conceivable circumstances. Above all, the statement is entirely untrue when it suggests that the use of bread and water in a Christian Communion service is a reversion to primitive Christian practice. Never did the early Christians substitute water for wine in this sacramental rite. They knew quite well that water would be an invalid substance for the purposes of the Eucharist, and that the very substances used and prescribed by Christ had to be employed. As for the remark that Mithraism was a rival religion which severely challenged Christianity, I can but say that it was a prevalent form of paganism in the early centuries, rivaling the official pagan religion of Rome. But it was no more a challenge to Christianity than that same Roman paganism. Christianity rather challenged all forms of paganism rife in the Roman Empire, and fought them out of existence.

851. Why is it not idolatry to adore a wafer of bread, just as it is to adore idols of wood and stone?

Because the Blessed Sacrament is not an idol of wood or stone. Nor is it bread. It is the substance of Christ's Body under the appearances of bread. And this substance of Christ's Body is the living Christ whom we adore as our God. It would be idolatry did we adore a thing as if it were God. It is not idolatry when we adore as God One whom we know to be God.

852. If the Apostles returned to earth, would they not be amazed to learn that the consecrated wafer was the body of Christ?

No. They would be amazed to learn that any other doctrine could possibly be believed as the teaching of Christ. They would quote St. Paul's words from I Corinthians XI, 29, "He that eateth or drinketh unworthily, eateth and drinketh judgment to himself, not discerning the body of the Lord."

853. Cardinal Cajetan confesses that the Gospels nowhere prove that the bread is changed into the body of Christ, and admits that Christ spoke figuratively.

Nowhere does Cardinal Cajetan say that. Cardinal Cajetan is dealing with the one text, "This is My body" and not with any other references in Scripture. Nor does he say that Christ spoke these words figuratively. He says that Christ meant them literally, and that these words prove that bread is changed into the body of Christ. He gives it as his personal opinion that a man might doubt whether this particular text was to be taken literally or metaphorically if he did not have the guidance of the Church on the matter. But he says that the guidance of the Church is clear as to the literal sense of the words, and that those words are undoubtedly the direct revelation of Christ and the conversion of the substance of bread into the substance of His body really takes place.

854. I am afraid I could never believe that bread and wine are changed into the actual body of Christ.

If you look up St. John, Chapter VI., you will find that you are uttering just what those Jews said who refused to believe Christ Himself. Jesus had said, "The bread that I will give is My flesh for the life of the world." The Jews therefore said, "How can this man give us His flesh to eat?"

855. It seems to me that it could only be a spiritual change.

That is not intelligible. You might say that Jesus meant the bread to remain merely bread, but that it should effect a spiritual change in those who received it, just as the water of Baptism remains water, yet effects a spiritual change in those baptized. That, I say, is intelligible as a process. But it is not what Christ meant. When the Jews said, "How can this man give us His flesh to eat," they thought He really meant to give His actual body under the appearances of bread. And Jesus knew that that was the thought in their minds. If He did not mean that, He had only to say so, and all their difficulties would have vanished. But no. He intensified their thought. "Of a truth I say to you," He said, "except you eat the flesh of the Son of Man . . . you shall not have life in you. He that eateth my flesh and drinketh my blood hath everlasting life ... for my flesh is meat indeed, and my blood is drink indeed. . . ." The Jews saw that He did mean that they should eat His actual body, and many cried, "This saying is hard, and who can hear it." So they walked no more with Him. And you say with them, "I, too, am afraid I could never believe."

856. How could Christ give them His very body without apparent diminution of His natural body?

Difficulties in our minds as to how God could do a thing are of no value against the fact that He did do it. I am quite willing to admit that the real presence of Christ's body in the Eucharist is as much a mystery to be believed by an act of faith as the mystery of the Trinity. At the same time, there is no reason of any value in your objection. Any apparent diminution of Christ's mortal body would be by a reduction of quantity. But quantity is not concerned in this matter. Substance as such underlies all quantity and all qualities, and is distinct from these accidental qualifications. The substance of bread, underlying the qualities of bread, was converted into the substance of our Lord's body, the qualities of bread remaining as usual. This change neither added to, nor took from, any dimensive properties of our Lord's mortal body. Your difficulty arises from your confusion of substance and accidental and variable modifications of substance. Abstracting from all such modifications, the substantial reality of bread was miraculously and instantaneously converted into the substantial reality of Christ's body. No man on earth could say that the omnipotent God could not do this, for He who can create substance out of nothing, can put it through any subsequent changes He might wish.

857. You claim an unseen change in the substance of bread to the substance of the body of Christ, yet no visible change in the appearance or taste?

That is correct. At the moment of consecration the substances of bread and wine are changed into the Body and Blood of Christ.

858. Can you give a logical reason for this invisible change?

The change not being due to natural powers, I cannot account for it by any natural factors. But granted the Divinity of Christ, the logical reason is to be found in His omnipotent power, and in His own teaching. In the sixth chapter of St. John's Gospel, He undoubtedly promises that He will give us His very flesh to eat. Twelve months later, He kept that promise, taking bread and saying, "This is My body." The word of God is power. He had but to say, "Let there be light," and light existed. And when He said, "This is My body," His body was present. Now since the appearances or qualities of bread did not change, there was but one way left in which that bread could become His body, and that was according to substance. The logic is clear enough. Could God do it? Yes, for He is omnipotent. Did He do it? Yes, for His words bear no other logical explanation.

859. All Christ's miracles were visible changes. This isolated case of an invisible miracle is against His usual methods of clear and concise guidance of mankind.

Firstly, you do not understand our Savior's method of clear and concise guidance. Christ chose as His method of guiding mankind the establishing of an infallible teaching Church, sending it to teach all nations, and saying, hear the Church. A man has but to study the claims of the Catholic Church, notice her unity, holiness, Catholicity and historic Apostolicity, submit to her teaching authority and accept all that she teaches. At once he attains clear and concise guidance. But now, to your main thought. You have concentrated upon one aspect of the miraculous only. The miraculous may be taken to refer to any event above the capacity of any merely natural laws. In this sense, the invisible change of substance is miraculous, for only the omnipotence of God can account for it. In a second sense, the miraculous can refer to an event which is not only beyond the power of any law of nature, but is also apparent to the sense-faculties of bystanders. To this category belong the incidents you mention. Now Christ used His miraculous powers in both ways. For example, God alone can forgive sin. No natural powers in existence can do so. Yet Christ said to a sinner, "Son, be of good heart. Thy sins are forgiven thee." This involved an invisible supernatural change of soul. No external sign guaranteed it. Christ's word alone guaranteed it, and, of course, His word alone is sufficient guarantee to anyone who believes in His Divinity. But the Pharisees would not believe, and for the sake of these unbelievers, Christ proceeded to an external and visible miracle merely to confirm the former. "You do not believe," He said. "But which is easier? To forgive sin, or to say, 'Take up thy bed and walk.'?" Then He restored the man to health in order to prove His Divine power, so that, believing in Him, they would take His word for it that the greater disease of sin had really been healed. Almost the same thing occurs where the Eucharist is concerned. In the sixth chapter of St. John, when Christ promised to give His very flesh to eat, the Jews took His words literally, just as Catholics do, but they refused to believe, as Catholics do not. They cried, "How can this man give us His flesh to eat?" just as they had cried, "How can a man forgive sin?" Yet as Christ had associated the external miracle of the sick man's bodily cure with His forgiveness of sin, so here He had associated the miraculous multiplication of the loaves with His doctrine concerning the Eucharist. At the Last Supper, of course, when Christ fulfilled His promise, there was no need to perform any external miracle.All the Apostles believed in His Divinity. External miraculous signs are for unbelievers rather than for believers. The word of Christ is sufficiently clear and concise guidance for them; and for us today, the teaching of the Catholic Church is sufficiently clear and concise guidance as to the word of Christ.

860. I cannot see how such a change of substance could be made.

That does not surprise me in the least. For you are overlooking the fact that Christ is God to whom all things are possible, and judging the matter merely from the natural standpoint, and the ordinary laws of nature as experienced by men. But I would like to remind you that, if you cling to that attitude, you must give up believing in Christ at all; you must reject the Gospels, and cease even to be a Protestant. For you don't see how Christ could walk upon the waters, or how He could amplify five small loaves of ordinary bread to feed thousands of people. If you do accept the fact that Christ could in these cases act independently of ordinary natural laws, despite your inability to see how He could do so, then you can accept the Catholic doctrine of the Eucharist. If you can't accept the latter for the reason you give, then you can't logically accept other departures from ordinary and merely natural laws. It all comes back to the question as to whether you really have faith in Christ, or not.

861. You would have the body and blood of Christ, whilst yet alive, simultaneously in two places at once.

That is not really true, for place supposes location in space, and the substantial presence of Christ's body and blood in the Eucharist happens to be independent of the ordinary laws of space. Here, I know, I will be out of your depth. But the greatest philosopher in the world cannot tell you what space is, or what place is, or what precisely is the relationship between a thing in a given locality, and the locality in which it is. And if we do not know what a place is, or what it is to put something in a place, how can we say that God can't put a thing in two places at once? However, as I have said, the Catholic doctrine does not really require a presence in two places at once. For normally a material substance occupies a place by its quantity. Now the substance of the body and blood of Christ was present in Him according to the ordinary limitations of quantity as He spoke the words, "This is My body." But that same substance became present in the Eucharist independently of the ordinary laws affecting quantity and its relation to space. I say that this will be beyond you, but I give it to show that, however mysterious it may be, the fact of the twofold presence violates no principles of reason and philosophy. Men can but say, "It could or it could not be. If God wanted to do it, there is no reason why He could not do so. The whole point is as to whether He did do it." And we Catholics reply, "The fact that He did do it is clearly recorded in the Gospels."

862. But the same substance would be present in the two places simultaneously.

I have, already warned you against superficial notions of place. Here I must warn you against equally superficial notions of time. For simultaneous means at the same time. Do you know what time is? You do not. The deepest philosophers are unable to tell you. St. Augustine said, "If no one asks me what time is, I know. If anyone asks me, then I don't know." You would say that a body could be here and there successively, but not simultaneously. But you don't know what here is, or what there is, nor what succession is, nor what simultaneity is. All our thoughts are necessarily conditioned by our space-time environment; but both space and time are relative things only, and our thoughts by no means embrace the whole of reality. No wonder God has said to us, "Your thoughts are not My thoughts, nor My ways your ways." Where the Eucharist is concerned the only thing we can do is to see what Christ says, and take His word for it. St. Peter and the Apostles did that when they refused to follow the unbelieving Jews who abandoned Christ, and said, when Christ challenged them with the words, "Will you also go away?" "Lord, to whom shall we go? Thou hast the words of eternal life; and we have believed and known that Thou art the Christ, the Son of God." Such is still the Catholic attitude.

863. According to you, Christ Himself, whilst still alive, would have partaken of His own flesh and blood, together with His disciples.

That is true. But any difficulties on that point arise from our notions of quantity, and space-time relationships from which the substantial Eucharistic presence of the body and blood of Christ abstracts. Meantime, our Lord both gave Himself and received Himself as He instituted the Blessed Sacrament in order to signify the intimate sacramental bond of union with Himself created by Holy Communion. So He said, "With desire have I desired to eat this Pasch with you." I admit the mystery in all this, but that is not sufficient reason for rejecting the clear teaching of Scripture on the subject. If it were, as I have pointed out before, you would have to reject Christ altogether. He who has faith in the Divinity of Christ has already accepted an overwhelming mystery, and should have no difficulty in accepting His teachings, however mysterious they may be.

864. I would like to be able to feel and know the Divine Presence. But how?

You can have no means of feeling that our Lord is present in the Eucharist. You can know that He is there by Faith. We believe in Christ. We know that Christ said, "This is My body." We know that the Catholic Church definitely teaches that Christ meant by those words that He intended to give us His very body under the appearances of bread. Our belief in Christ, and in His Catholic Church enables us to know by Faith that Christ is indeed present. I admit that deep Faith can awaken a reaction of feeling. But devotional religious feelings are caused by Faith. Faith is not a product of those feelings.

865. You have not always been a Catholic and could help me more than others. How did you get the feeling of the Presence of our Lord on the Altar?

I have never had it. But, if I have never felt that our Lord is present, I have the supreme conviction that He is there. It is a conviction of Faith. I say Mass every morning. After the words of consecration, I see no external and apparent change in the Host. It still looks like bread. Yet I know that there is no bread there. The qualities of bread remain, but the substance of the bread has changed into the substance of the risen and glorified body of Christ. And I adore and worship the Blessed Sacrament with the same adoration which I will give to Almighty God when death carries me into His eternal presence. My adoration then will be more intense, more vivid, better realized; but it will not be different. We are living now by Faith, not by sight. Though a priest, I am as subject to the conditions of Faith as any other Catholic. When the Blessed Sacrament is lying before me on the Altar, the reason for my belief is not in anything I can see in the Host before me. The reason is in God; or, if you wish, in His infinite knowledge and veracity. God has said it. God must know. God could not tell a lie. I believe absolutely.



Prefer a PRINT version?