Apologetics Does Not Mean
Apologetics and the Holy Eucharist:
When the average person gets an "apology" from another
person, he hears that person express regrets, or ask pardon for a fault or
offense. There is, however, a less common connotation of this word even in a
secular dictionary; it also means "a formal justification or defense".
connotation is rarely used in common speech except when it comes to religion
where it is quite common.
"Apologetics" has come to be known solely as "the branch of theology that deals
with the defense and proof of Christianity." This science does NOT teach people
to say, "Pardon me for believing....". Rather, it teaches one to say, "I believe
this BECAUSE...", and does so with reasons which supplement the prime reason for
our belief - "because the Church teaches and has always taught this."
Apologetics is a science indeed, and it exists only where truth can be
systematically justified and defended with consistency...in Catholicism.
Apologetics teaches a Catholic to approach a topic on the grounds of the
non-Catholic listener with the object of convincing him of the truth, using
logic and evidence.
Obviously one would not quote from the Scriptures when speaking to a pagan, and
one would not quote from the New Testament when speaking to a Jew. For those
particular non-Catholics who think they are following Christ by adhering "to the
Bible alone", we can base our arguments on
Holy Scripture itself. If we can
show them they are plainly wrong on a major point by using the Scriptures which
they say they believe in, we have done well in our apologetic work to show the
truth of Catholicism. Not that you must go around picking arguments with
everyone you can, but that you must be "ready always to satisfy every one that
asketh you a reason of that hope which is in you."
(I Peter 3:15)
As we know, having the Scriptures "alone" does not guarantee one the correct
interpretation when one rejects the Church which Christ founded on St. Peter and
his successors. In the Scriptures there "are certain things hard to be
understood, which the unlearned and unstable wrest, as they do
other Scriptures, to their own destruction." (II Peter 3:16)
Those who are outside of Christ's Church do not have the systematic and
consistent theology which would place them in the class of the "unlearned". They
do not have Christ in the Blessed Sacrament of which Christ said - "If any man
eat of this bread, he shall live forever".
Without it one would most
certainly be in the category of the "unstable".
St. Peter speaks of the "unlearned and unstable" who "wrest" certain things in
Scripture which are hard to understand. This, however, does not exclude the fact
that the more plain things of Scripture are also twisted to their own
destruction. There are now hundreds of "Christian" sects all believing different
interpretations of Scripture (even within the same sect!), yet all claiming
"they" personally have the guidance of "the Spirit".
If we can ever apply the principle of "by their fruits you will know them", it
is certainly here. A prime example of apologetics at work is in the defense of
the Holy Eucharist. While some non-Catholics may claim to adhere to Scripture as
"the word of God", they at the same time deny the Real Presence of Jesus in the
Sacrament of the altar.
The words of Scripture were not found written on a stone such that one could
take the individual words and GIVE them a purpose. No. They were already written
with a purpose, inspired by God yet written by men, for other men of a certain
time period. Bible quotes alone do not suffice; even
the devil is known to
have tempted Our Lord by quoting scripture out of the original context.
DEFENSE OF THE REAL PRESENCE...
Look at Holy Scripture:
Jesus often used
symbolic language; He used it to give a deeper, spiritual meaning to His words
(not to confuse His listeners.) Cardinal Wiseman said that, "whenever our Lord's
hearers found difficulties, or raised objections to His words from taking them
in their literal sense, while He intended them to be taken figuratively, His
constant practice was to explain them instantly, in a figurative manner, even
though no great error could result from their being misunderstood." An example
of this was when Jesus said to his disciples, "Lazarus our friend sleepeth; but
I go that I
may awake him out of sleep." His disciples then said, "Lord, if
he sleep, he shall do well." Jesus then said plainly, "Lazarus is dead." Christ
did not leave them with the misunderstanding that they expressed.
In another incident Jesus told Nicodemus, a ruler of the Jews, that "unless a
man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God."
Nicodemus then asked,
"How can a man be born when he is old? Can he enter a second time into his
mother's womb, and be born again?"
Jesus then answered him precisely by
telling him that a man must be "born again of water and the Holy Ghost." Christ
again corrects his misunderstanding.
At still another time, Jesus said to His disciples, "Take heed and beware of the
leaven of the Pharisees and Sadducees." The disciples then thought that Jesus
was talking about their taking no bread with them. Jesus, knowing what they were
thinking, explained Himself and asked, "Why
do you not understand that it
was not concerning bread I said to you:
Beware of the leaven of the
Pharisees and Sadducees?"
The disciples then understood that Jesus was
talking about their doctrines.
In all these incidents Our Lord explained the meaning of His figurative speech
even though taking His words literally would have caused no great harm. We know
from this, most certainly, that where there would arise a misunderstanding that
would cause harm, Our Lord would most definitely make things very clear to his
listeners. We have just such an incident in the Gospel (John 6:48-72):
Jesus was teaching in the synagogue He told His listeners that:
that I will give, is my flesh, for the life of the world." The Jews then,
"strove among themselves, saying: How can this man give us his flesh to eat?"
Jesus then, rather than give a figurative meaning to His words, repeated the
same in more emphatic terms:
"Amen, amen I say unto you: Except you eat the
flesh of the Son of man, drink indeed."
This was a command, and a divine
precept. Many of his disciples murmured at this saying, "This saying is hard,
and who can hear it?"
Jesus, knowing this, said to them, "Doth this
scandalize you?" And, rather than give a figurative meaning still, "many of his
disciples went back, and walked no more with him." Jesus, knowing that they had
taken Him literally, was then prepared to allow even the twelve apostles to
leave Him; Jesus asked His twelve, "Will you also go away?" It is obvious that
Jesus meant his words to be taken literally. The way Catholics have always
believed them. Jesus promised: "The bread that I will give is my flesh...".
On the eve of His death Jesus fulfilled His promise saying, "Take ye and eat.
This is my body." Those who have the true Faith accept this. Before the
"Deformation" of the 16th century, when being Christian was synonymous with
being Catholic, all Christians believed this and obeyed
Our Lord's command
by receiving Him in the Eucharist so that they would "have life".
Reprint Freely With This Information:
(c) 1998 Catholic Dispatch
December 21, 1998
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