Sunday, November 19, 2017

Happy Anniversary Protestants

It was Halloween, 1517. A defiant Catholic monk nails a paper to the door of All Saints Church in Wittenberg and shakes his fist defiantly in the air. The Protestant Reformation had begun. At least that was the story taught to me when I was growing up in the Lutheran Church.
For the most part that story is a fable. Luther did write his Ninety-five Theses where he protested the sale of indulgences. He did not intend to challenge the Church but offered the paper as scholarly objection. For years prior to this Luther had begun teaching things more in line with his evolving personal beliefs than what the Church held true and had taught for fifteen hundred years. The Church responds to these things slowly because the charge of heresy is extremely serious. They took time to review each line of the Ninety-five Theses and other of Luther’s writing and teaching. Eventually a case of heresy was cast at Luther who was then called in to be examined.  The hearings broke down and Luther directly challenged Church teaching. An order for his arrest was issued but Luther snuck away in the middle of the night to avoid it. Luther was ordered to recant forty-one sentences from things he had written. When he refused to do so he was excommunicated in 1521.

Luther determined that the Church had fallen into error and that only he knew the truth. He founded his own church based upon his opinions, translating the bible into common German. He took out seven books of the bible that had been in the Catholic Canon for over a thousand years. He even added the word “alone” in Romans 3:28 to support his concept of Sola Fide. Other reformers, like Knox, Calvin, and Wesley, also agreed with Luther that the Catholic Church had fallen into error. They disagreed with Luther that Luther knew the truth and each founded their own denominations of the Christian church. Luther lived long enough to see his own church splinter into denominations of Lutheranism when other Lutherans believed Luther was in error and formed their own churches. As the world becomes smaller and smaller through immediate and electronic communications the splintering of the Christian faith continues at an ever increasing rate. There are currently over 40,000 different flavors of Christianity in the world today, each teaching what they believe to be the one truth passed down from Jesus.

The one thing the Catholic Church can claim that no other church can is that they have the body, blood, soul, and divinity of Jesus physically present in their Church at all times. The Catholics believe that when a priest consecrates a host Jesus becomes fully present in that host through transubstantiation. The hosts are no longer bread and wine but are actually body and blood. Lutherans believe in substantiation, or of the same substance. Jesus exists within the bread and wine but for only as long as communion takes place. Then he leaves from the leftovers.

If what the Catholic Church believes is false there is little reason to be Catholic. Almost any Christian church would work at that point. But, if what they say is true there is little reason to be anything but Catholic. I am Catholic because I do believe what they claim to be true is actually true. God has given us signs and miracles so that we may know that the Catholic claim is true. As with every sign, God gives us enough room to not believe. When we are blessed with a sign the Church investigates it. They will rule if the sign can be believed or should not be believed. They never require that a sign be believed.

So why do I believe the Eucharist is the actual body, blood, soul, and divinity of Jesus my Lord?

Mystics exist who can tell the difference between a consecrated host and an unconsecrated one. When they look at the hosts a consecrated host had a glow to it. They have been tested time and time again by placing a consecrated host among hundreds of unconsecrated ones. They can always successfully pick the consecrated host.

A consecrated host is needed to perform a proper black mass by Satan worshipers. When we are trained as Extraordinary Ministers of Holy Communion we are taught to be on a constant lookout for those who pose as Catholics to obtain a consecrated host. This happens in no other church. A Lutheran communion wafer does not cut it in a black mass. If they are all the same what would it matter?

Probably the strongest evidence to me are the Eucharistic miracles. There are several well documented cases where a consecrated host has changed in to flesh and blood. When this happens the Church launches a thorough investigation by an independent third party investigator. If the miracle is found to be what it appears to be the Church will rule that it is worthy of our belief. We are still given the option to disbelieve if our hearts are not moved by it.

One of the most recent Eucharistic Miracles happened in Buenas Aires, Argentina in 1996. The short story is that a host was dropped on the ground. It was placed in some water to dissolve. After a few days it started to change. The Archbishop, a man named Jorge Mario Bergoglio, ordered an investigation be done on this host. You may know him by his new name of Pope Francis. (See linked video)

Two samples were taken to laboratories in California and New York.  The scientists looking at the sample were not told what it was a sample of. One of the scientists was an expert in cardiology, pathology, and biochemistry. He said that the sample was heart tissue taken from a man who had been tortured to death. He had no idea that this was taken from a consecrated host.

Then the scientist asked a question. How is it that this heart tissue is alive? It is moving. It is beating. This was three years after the sample had been taken.

You can believe this or not. I do not require proof that what the Catholic Church claims is the truth. I believe it with all of my heart. I believe it to the point that I am willing to die for it. How could I ever consider going to a another church, a church that does not have the physical presence of Jesus in it?

This year the world celebrated the 500th anniversary of the beginning of the Protestant Reformation. The world celebrated the anniversary of the beginning of the Church Jesus created being torn apart, shredded into over 40,000 pieces by men who thought they knew more than the Church Christ promised to stand by until the end of the age. Is this something that should be celebrated or a tragedy that should be mourned? Did Luther reform the Church or revolt from it?