February 24, 2000
volume 11, no. 39

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    Pat Ludwa, a committed lay Catholic from Cleveland, has been asked to contribute, on a regular basis, a lay person's point of view on the Church today. We have been impressed with his insight and the clear logic he brings to the table from his "view from the pew." In all humility, by his own admission, he feels he has very little to offer, but we're sure you'll agree with us that his viewpoint is exactly what millions of the silent majority of Catholics believe and have been trying to say as well. Pat puts it in words that help all of us better understand and convey to others what the Church teaches and we must believe.

    Today Pat points out without a shadow of a doubt that Jesus is truly present, Body and Blood, Soul and Divinity and, because of that, questions how parishes can eliminate kneelers and encourage the faithful to stand in defiance of what the Holy Father has mandated in the liturgical document released in 1980, Inaestimabile Donum. It is happening all too often in more churches throughout America and Pat exposes the myth that this comes from the bishops. Rather, it is more of the insidious infiltration of dissidents who are trying to demystify the Divine Mystery of Transubstantiation. That is the gist of his column today, Every knee shall bend!

    For past columns by Pat Ludwa, click on VIEW FROM THE PEW Archives   If you want to send him ideas or feedback, you can reach him at

Every knee shall bend!

        "Outside the Baptist church where the head of Mission to Catholics International was to speak there was a large table filled with Catholic artifacts...People were shaking their heads over what they saw, wondering how these pagan trinkets could be used by folks who called themselves Christians...Ruth Brewer, Bart's wife (head of Mission to Catholics International and a former Carmelite priest) stood behind the table...She pointed out holy cards, rosaries, medals, crucifixes. The main attractions were a chalice filled with small hosts and a large priest's host, all presumably unconsecrated. They were brittle with age, but quite serviceable - "Cookie Christ's", as some opponents of the Church call them." (Catholicism and Fundamentalism; The Attack on "Romanism" by "Bible Christians" by Karl Keating, pg. 51)

        Cookie Christ's, Jack Chick calls it the "Death Cookie", say what you will anti-Catholic's know the main target to attack the Church, the Eucharist. "As often as the sacrifice of the cross in which "Christ our Passover was sacrificed" is celebrated on the altar, the work of our redemption is carried on, and, in the sacrament of the eucharistic bread, the unity of all believers who form one body in Christ is both expressed and brought about. All men are called to this union with Christ, Who is the light of the world, from Whom we go forth, through Whom we live, and toward Whom our whole life strains…..Really partaking of the body of the Lord in the breaking of the eucharistic bread, we are taken up into communion with Him and with one another. 'Because the bread is one, we though many, are one body, all of us who partake of the one bread'. In this way all of us are made members of His Body, 'but severally members one of another'."(Lumen Gentium; Vat. II; Chap 1, #3 & #7)

        Or as the Catechism says: "The Eucharist is 'the source and summit of the Christian life.' The other sacraments, and indeed all ecclesiastical ministries and works of the apostolate, are bound up with the Eucharist and are oriented toward it. For in the blessed Sacrament is contained the whole spiritual good of the Church, namely Christ Himself, our Pasch." (CCC #1324)

        We shouldn't be too upset with those who don't know the Eucharist. Many attack blindly, not what they attack. As Christ asked, so should we, "Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do" (Luke 23:34).

        We know the Eucharist is Christ, Real and Truly present. "Christ said 'I am the living bread which came down from Heaven; if any one eats of this bread, he will live for ever; and the bread which I shall give for the life of the world is My flesh...Truly, truly, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of man and drink His blood, you have no life in you; he who eats My flesh and drinks My blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day. For My flesh is food indeed, and My blood is drink indeed. He who eats My flesh and drinks My blood abides in Me, and I in him. As the living Father sent Me, and I live because of the Father, so he who eats Me will live because of Me. This is the bread which came down from Heaven, not such as the fathers ate and died; he who eats this bread will live for ever.' This He said in the synagogue, as He taught at Capernaum" (John 6: 51; 53-59).

        Then, as now, His disciples grumbled. Was what He said symbolic? Were they mistaken in what they thought He meant when they left Him? If it was symbolic, why didn't Christ ease their concerns by explaining what He said as He had before? "Jesus answered him, 'Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born anew, he cannot see the kingdom of God.' Nicodemus said to him, 'How can a man be born when he is old? Can he enter a second time into his mother's womb and be born?' Jesus answered, 'Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God. That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit'" (John 3:3-6).

        "But He said to them, 'I have food to eat of which you do not know.' So the disciples said to one another, 'Has any one brought Him food?' Jesus said to them, 'My food is to do the will of Him who sent Me, and to accomplish His work'" (John 4:32-34).

        "Jesus said to them, 'Take heed and beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and Sadducees.' And they discussed it among themselves, saying, 'We brought no bread.' But Jesus, aware of this, said, 'O men of little faith, why do you discuss among yourselves the fact that you have no bread? Do you not yet perceive? Do you not remember the five loaves of the five thousand, and how many baskets you gathered? Or the seven loaves of the four thousand, and how many baskets you gathered? How is it that you fail to perceive that I did not speak about bread? Beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and Sadducees.' Then they understood that He did not tell them to beware of the leaven of bread, but of the teaching of the Pharisees and Sadducees" (Matthew 16: 6-12).

        To actually eat His flesh and drink His blood would be something abhorrent to them, not perceiving that He was God, and He would and could, do it. So it was that they understood that that was exactly what He meant. Yet, Christ doesn't correct their error, because they perceived correctly. Just as He once said, "'Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up.' The Jews then said, 'It has taken forty-six years to build this temple, and will you raise it up in three days?' But He spoke of the temple of His body" (John 2:19-21).

        None of the Apostles clarified Christ's teaching in John 6 as meaning something else, in fact, St. Paul is very clear; "Whoever, therefore, eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner will be guilty of profaning the body and blood of the Lord. Let a man examine himself, and so eat of the bread and drink of the cup. For any one who eats and drinks without discerning the body eats and drinks judgment upon himself" (1 Corinthians 11:27-29) Hardly the sort of admonition and judgment one would receive from a mere symbol.

        But through the error's of Wycliffe, Luther, Zwingli, Calvin, as well as the heresies of the Docetae and the Gnostic-manichaean sects (who were the basis of the theologies of the Cathari and Albigenese), the truth was lost to them. But we have, not only the teachings of the Holy Scriptures, but of the Early Church Fathers, many who were taught by the Apostles themselves.

        St. Ignatius of Antioch, a disciple of St. John the Apostle, wrote to the Smyrneaens; "They (those who hold heterodox opinions) abstain from the Eucharist ….because they do not confess that the Eucharist is the flesh of our Savior Jesus Christ, flesh which suffered for our sins and which the Father, in His goodness, raised up again." (Letter to the Smyrneaens; 6,2; ca. 110 AD)

        And St. Justin Martyr wrote "For not as common bread or common drink do we receive these; but since Jesus Christ our Savior was made incarnate by the word of God and had both flesh and blood for our salvation, so too, as we have been taught, the food which has been made into the Eucharist by the Eucharistic prayer set down by Him, and by the change of which our blood and flesh is nourished, is both the flesh and blood of that incarnated Christ." (Apologia prima pro Christianis, 65; ca 150 AD) In fact, no writing of the Early Church Fathers can be found which says that the Eucharist is anything but the Real Presence of Christ, Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity.

        So, where it is understandable that non-Catholics may not know or understand the Eucharist, it is amazing that Catholics would have any other reaction than love, honor and devotion to the Lord in the Blessed Sacrament. Yet, that's what we're seeing more and more of. In fact, a recent poll showed that some 49% of American Catholics no longer believe in the Real Presence, but rather, it's only a symbol.

        " the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in Heaven and on earth and under the earth" (Philippians 2:10). If this is true at just the mention of His name, what about His actual presence? Are we so bold as to stand in pride before God, are we so arrogant as to imply that we are equal to God?

        But in many churches today, kneeling before the Lord in the Blessed Sacrament, is not only not encouraged, it's attacked. "Kneeling benches continue to be removed from churches or not installed in new ones. Reports that worshippers who kneel during the Eucharistic Prayer have been publicly insulted, ordered to stand or get out, even refused Communion, are, sadly, not infrequent. Many Catholics have been told that they are being disobedient to 'the bishops' if they kneel during Mass." (Every Knee Should Bow - But When? Uncertainty Surrounds the Postures of the People During the Liturgy of the Eucharist by Helen Hull Hitchcock and Susan Benofy; Adoremus: Society for the Renewal of the Sacred Liturgy; Vol. V, No. 4: June 1999)

        The reality is that no such order, or teaching has come from the bishops. Rather, this posture has been thrust on us, not by the Council of Bishop's but by dissident Catholic groups. In fact, the bishops have reiterated that kneeling is the appropriate posture during the Eucharistic prayer.

        Kneeling, in the Old and New Testament, as well as the tradition of the Church, has always denoted a posture of repentance and adoration. Standing has always been an active posture of receptivity, respect and readiness for a mission. So, we stand for the reading of the Gospel, the Our Father, and the closing of the Mass. But when the priest holds up the Host and repeats Christ's words, "This IS My Body", what other stance can we have but one of repentance, adoration and awe?

        If you find yourself in a church with no kneelers, or are told the bishop(s) said we have to stand, this is false. "One who offers worship to God on the Church's behalf in a way contrary to that which is laid down by the Church with God-given authority and which is customary in the Church is guilty of falsification."…. The Second Vatican Council's admonition in this regard must be remembered: "No person, even if he be a priest, may add, remove or change anything in the Liturgy on his own authority." (Instruction Concerning Worship of the Eucharistic Mystery; Approved and Confirmed by Pope John Paul II INAESTIMABILE DONUM; April 17, 1980)

        "Every day He humbles Himself just as He did when He came from His heavenly throne" (cf. Wisdom 18:15) into the Virgin's womb; every day He comes to us and lets us see Him in abjection, when He descends from the bosom of the Father into the hands of the priest at the altar. He shows Himself to us in this sacred bread just as He once appeared to His Apostles in real flesh. With their own eyes they saw only His flesh, but they believed that He was God, because they contemplated Him with the eyes of the Spirit. We, too, with our own eyes, see only bread and wine, but we must see further and firmly believe that this is His most Holy Body and Blood, living and true." (Admonitions, #1, The Blessed Sacrament; St. Francis of Assisi)

        No saint can be shown who was so bold as to stand before the Lord in the Blessed Sacrament. The angel of God who came before the children of Fatima knelt before the Sacred Host. I kneel before the Lord in the Most Blessed Sacrament, not just because the Bishops have said we are to, but also because, without Him in the Blessed Sacrament, I, we, cannot stand. Without Him in the Eucharist, we have no life, without Him in the Eucharist, we have no hope.

        How can we adore the Lord of life, our Savior, the King of kings and Lord of lords while we stand in pride instead of kneeling in humble adoration?

      "We adore Thee, O most blessed Lord, Jesus Christ, and we bless Thee; because by Thy Holy Cross Thou has redeemed the world."

    Pax Christi, Pat


February 24, 2000
volume 10, no. 39

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