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Michael wrote:

Hi, guys —

  • What are some things about the Reformation that many, if not most, Protestants do not know about?

From what I have studied, it was more like a Protestant rebellion that anything else.

  • As an aside to this, what are some things that probably could have been done to avoid this schism (on either side)?

It seems to me that both sides kind of overreacted a bit.

  • Also, what is it like receiving the Eucharist?
  • Is the Real Presence actually experienced with the senses or does receiving the Eucharist appear like receiving ordinary bread and wine?
  • Have there been cases where the power of God is manifested during Holy Communion in a Catholic Church?

I ask because I really believe that Communion can really be a point of unification between Protestants and Catholics.

  • Finally, how does the Catholic Church view ordained Protestant pastors?
  • Are they viewed:
    • on the same level as priests
    • some other type of minister, or
    • as laity?

Regards,

Michael

  { Can you reply to some questions on the Reformation, the Eucharist, and Protestant pastors? }

Mike replied:

Hi Michael,

You said:

  • What are some things about the Reformation that many, if not most, Protestants do not know about?

From what I have studied, it was more like a Protestant rebellion that anything else.

  • As an aside to this, what are some things that probably could have been done to avoid this schism (on either side)?

It seems to me that both sides kind of overreacted a bit.

I am not, nor have been, a Protestant so it would be unfair for me to speak on this issue.
I can only give you a speculative answer.

In my opinion, many are not aware:

  • That the Bible they are reading never existed before the Reformation, which took place in 1517. From 33 AD to 1517 AD, the only Bible Christians had recourse to was a Catholic Bible.

    The main different being which books and passages are included and the content or lack of content in the footnotes for various passages.

  • That those Ministers who broke from the Reformation or trace their roots back to the Reformation don't have a valid priesthood. This is because Thomas Cranmer changed the words or form for the administration of the priesthood, and Luther, himself, denied the sacrificial priesthood, the root of the Catholic priesthood.

    No one would deny that Protestant Ministers, as well as others like you and me, exercise a universal priesthood in our lay state — we offer all our prayers, works, joys, and suffering up to the Lord for the Church, but Protestants Ministers cannot validly administer most of the sacraments they believe in. They cannot consecrate the sacrament of Communion.

    Protestant participants who receive communion at their local Protestant congregation do receive actual grace by receiving a symbol of the Eucharist but they don’t receive sanctifying grace or sacramental grace which only comes though Church’s like the Catholic or Easter Orthodox Churches, who have a valid Eucharist.

  • What some Protestant Ministers are unaware of is if they feel drawn to join the Catholic Church, there are ways that they can keep their ministry and become Catholic priests in the Church. If one is interested, they should contact the Catholic bishop of their local diocese to see what is, or is not, possible.

You said:

  • Also, what is it like receiving the Eucharist?
  • Is the Real Presence actually experienced with the senses or does receiving the Eucharist appear like receiving ordinary bread and wine?


In philosophy, every object has what is referred to as the accidents of the object, This is not like a car accident but in Aristotelian thought, there are the properties of a thing that are not essential to its nature, like the taste, touch, smell, or looks of an object.

When we receive the Blessed Sacrament, the consecrated host tastes, smells, and looks like unleavened wheat bread, but the substance of the object is the Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity of Our Lord. In the past I have personally referred to the importance of having a Eucharistic faith because although the accidents of the Eucharist appear like bread and wine, their substance (what is really is) is not!

You said:

  • Have there been cases where the power of God is manifested during Holy Communion in a Catholic Church?

There may be sporadic cases in the past of God’s power being manifested during the reception of Holy Communion, but I’m unfamiliar with specific cases.

You said:
I ask because I really believe that Communion can really be a point of unification between Protestants and Catholics.

You have made a stellar point here.

I would guess that 98% of the sincere misperceptions non-Catholic Christians have are tied to this issue. When sincere Protestants understand that any work we have done for the Lord on this site, is not solely our own, the misperceptions go away.

Everything we do is solely because of the Grace of Our Blessed Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ from beginning to the end.

Any catecheses or apologetics work we have done is the work of Our Lord working in us and through us through the Eucharist. No one is undermining the sole meditation of Jesus Christ.

No, Jesus is working in us and through us.

Yes, they are our works and merits but only because we have cooperated and choose to allow the Lord to work in us for His glory.

Our free will can change the world in grand ways, for the better, or the worse.

When we ask St. Joseph or Our Blessed Mother for help by their prayers, we are glorifying Our Lord because everything any saint, whether Mary, Joseph, or whoever, did, has been done In Christ, not apart from Christ. Accepting the Catholic view of the Eucharist brings this point home. (John 6:53-57)

If more Catholic Christians in the Church cooperated with spreading the Gospel instead of sinning and dissenting from Church teachings, we would have a much stronger Church.

You said:

  • Finally, how does the Catholic Church view ordained Protestant pastors?
  • Are they viewed:
    • on the same level as priests
    • some other type of minister, or
    • as laity?

I think I answered this already. They view them as Lay Ministers exercising their Universal Priesthood in Jesus Christ.

We have to encourage those taking Catholic CCD or RCIA classes to follow in the steps of these Ministers but along a Catholic path either as a:

  • Catholic priest, or
  • Lay Catholic [Evangelist|Apologist].

I hope this helps,

Mike

John replied:

Hi Michael,

Thanks for your questions.

In some ways the Reformation became a rebellion however even the Church readily admits that individuals on both sides were guilty of sin in the way things were handled and how the Church hierarchy had become corrupt.

Doctrines such as the Treasury of Merit and Indulgences were abused and used as a means to collect money. This amounts to the sin of simony: the sin of buying or selling spiritual or sacred goods or offices. For decades and even centuries, the papacy and bishoprics were bought and sold by the most powerful and rich families. Our Popes were some of the greatest sinners in the world.

It was against this background that Martin Luther, who was honestly struggling to live a chaste life, struggled with lust and began in a scholarly way to read the Scriptures. In doing so, he came across certain texts in Romans and he misunderstood them. Simultaneously he had a genuine encounter with Christ and understood what the Church had always officially taught — that we are justified by faith — to mean by faith alone. He then had an entirely emotional response to this conversion.

Luther suffered from being overly scrupulous. He sought to feel forgiven, as opposed to knowing that he would been objectively forgiven at Baptism and every time he went to Confession. When he finally got this feeling he allowed all the rest of his theology to be ruled by it.

Now as for the Bible. You're on the right track but not entirely accurate. First of all, we didn't get the Bible in it's present form until 382 A.D. All we had in 33 A.D. was the Old Testament and even then there were different canons.

  • The Palestinian Canon written almost entirely in Aramaic had 39 books. It's same Canon the Jews use today, and it is the Old Testament that Protestants accept.

  • There was also a couple of Alexandrian Canons known as the Septuagint. Depending on manuscript it contains 46 books or more. This was Greek Translation that was translated and put together 250 B.C. and 150 B.C.

The Septuagint was actually the most widespread and accepted canon for the Old Testament but it also remained in flux until the Church started to actually deal with it for the first time at the Council of Rome in 382 A.D. then later again at the Councils of Hippo and Carthage in the following two decades but was not universally accepted by a full blown (Church-wide) Council until the Second Council of Nicaea in 787 A.D. This was the last Ecumenical council that took place before the schism of 1054 A.D. when the Orthodox East and Catholic West parted company.

As for the New Testament it wasn't written for a few decades after the Christ's death.

  • The first books written were Paul's letters to the Thessalonians.
  • Then came some of Paul's other letters and later the Gospels.

Most scholars today would agree that Revelation was written last circa 90 A.D. although there is a school of thought that says it was written prior to 70 A.D. Nevertheless, like the Old Testament, it was not settled until the Church first settled the matter in 382 A.D.

To make things murkier, the Jews got together in 90 A.D. and made up their own canon at the Rabbinic Council of Jamnia. At that time, they rejected the Alexandrian Canon, because it was written in Greek but really the didn't like certain books like Maccabees because they painted the Romans as allies of Israel against the Greeks.

What they didn't reject were the two major doctrines found explicitly in those books.

  1. One being prayer for dead. Jews still pray for their dead to this day.
  2. Second the notion that dead or faithful departed pray for us. To this day they accept this as well.

So this was purely political. Moreover, the same Jewish Council that rejected the Septuagint Canon, also rejected all of New Testament, which certain Jews were reading as Scripture. Finally the Jews no longer had the authority to canonize Scripture. Jesus had given the authority to bind and loose to the Church. Read Matthew 16 and Matthew 18.

Now let's fast forward to Luther. Luther wanted to reject First and Second Maccabees because he rejected:

  • Purgatory or our personal purification after death, and
  • the Communion of Saints

as taught by the Church but he needed justification so, because there was early controversy over the Septuagint — the fact that the Jews had rejected it, and the fact that St. Jerome (influenced by Palestinian Christians) didn't consider them canon — Luther then accepted the decision of Jewish Council and tossed out the entire Alexandrian in favor of the Palestinian Canon.

Luther also wanted to reject James and Revelation, but could not find a reason to justify it.
So once again the Church dealt the Canon at the Council of Trent, because it was being challenged and all Trent did was to affirm what previous Catholic Councils had declared as the Scriptures.

Interestingly enough the Orthodox Church met in Council at a place called Jassy in 1642 and, not be out down by Rome, they accepted the Alexandrian Canon, including some Old Testament books the Church had never accepted such as Third and Fourth Maccabees. Their manuscript also has some longer versions of books that both Catholics and Protestants accept. This last point should prove interesting, if and, when the Orthodox and Catholics are reunited under one roof as we generally accept their Traditions as valid. It's not really a problem because their Canon doesn't teach anything that ours doesn't. Moreover, unlike Protestants, Catholics and Orthodox, rely on:

  • Scripture
  • Tradition, and
  • the Magisterium — not just Scripture Alone.

This brings us to where Luther completely went off the deep end. He based Protestantism on Faith Alone and Scripture Alone. While we can resolve the former, the latter is far more problematic.

It really depends on how you use the word Faith. If by faith you simply mean, a mental agreement to a proposition — say 2 + 2 = 4, well, then Faith Alone doesn't work but if by Faith, you mean Fidelity that brings about obedience, then the formula can work.

Scripture Alone is a theological impossibility. Quite simply, Scripture itself does not teach it. Scripture doesn't tell you what Scripture is, therefore to know what the Scriptures are, you must accept the authority of the Church to tell you what it is.

Finally with respect to ordination of Protestant Ministers, the Church recognizes that these folks are spiritual heads of the communities but they don't have Holy Order as a Sacrament (for the most part — there is a question about one or two groups of Swedish Lutherans.)

So they are ministers of the Gospel. We believe that to some degree the Holy Spirit works in them. After all, they are baptized believers and therefore part of the universal priesthood we all share but they aren't ordained priests, able to:

  • convect the Eucharist
  • forgive sins, or
  • administer Confirmation or the Anointing of the Sick.

Their bishops, can't ordain priests. They can't trace their Apostolic Succession back to the Apostles.

All that said, we have move forward in a charitable dialogue, recognizing that the Church did need a reform. That's why the Church met at the Council of Trent and had the Reformers possibly attended, we might not be separated today.

What the Reformers had to say had nothing to do with heresy. For the most part, their motives were to serve God. The corrupt hierarchy of the Church had put many reformers to death over the previous century so I can understand why they stayed away. As I said, the Church recognizes that sin, on both sides, played a very big part in the split.

We also can't hold anyone living today responsible for those sins rather it's time to move forward in Truth and Charity.

Many, if not most, Evangelical Protestants, really reject the term Protestant. They call themselves Christians. They don't believe they are protesting anything. They simply believe they are following Christ and the Scriptures.

  • The average Evangelical is only concerned with leading people to Christ and living a Godly life. They don't really get into doctrine beyond that so unless they study the Reformation, they don't have clue what the Reformers taught and of course they certainly don't have a clue what the Catholic Church teaches.
  • Even sadder, too many Catholics don't have a clue what the Church teaches and far to many Catholics need to be evangelized themselves.

I hope this helps,

God Bless,

John

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