The Old Testament fulfilled in Jesus Christ and the Holy Eucharist


Melchisedech, Manna, Passover, Last Supper
(Click on graphic to enlarge)

It would take pages to reveal the prefigurement of the Sacrament of the Eucharist in the Old Testament. Melchisedech offering bread and wine was a figure of Christ Himself, Who chose bread and wine the night of the Last Supper as the elements for both the sacrifice and the sacrament.

The manna that fell in the desert was also a symbol of the Eucharist, which Our Blessed Lord said was Himself: “I myself am the living bread that has come down from heaven” (John 5:51). St. Paul, picking up the analogy, said that what the Jews
ate in the desert was a figure of our spiritual food: “They all ate the same prophetic food…. It is we that were foreshadowed in these events (I Corinth. 10:3, 6).

The blood of the paschal lamb, sprinkled on doorposts to preserve the Jews from destruction, was a sign not yet of a reality, but a figure of the blood of Christ sprinkled on our souls, which would save us from evil. Because the paschal lamb was a figure of Christ, it was on the feast of the Passover that Our Blessed Lord gave to His Church the Eucharist which He had promised over a year before, at Capharnaum.

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Passover, Mass, Holy Communion


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Jesus Christ Is the Divine Link Between Passover, Mass, and Holy Communion


Good Archbishop Charles Chaput opens his final paragraph of this most important speech with “Let us preach Jesus Christ with all the energy of our lives.”

Just what does this seemingly simple statement really mean?  How does one “preach” Jesus?  This has been a major issue in my life for as long as I remember.  My mother tells of story of a six year old Bryan declaring, from the Chrysler’s backseat one Sunday after church that he was not interest in attending the New Haven United Methodist Sunday School anymore.  She asked why and I commented”  “Because they are not teaching me about Jesus, they are just teaching me how to be a good boy and I can figure that out on my own.”  (In their defense it was the 60’s.)

As Mom tells the story our family became Baptists the next week.  My mom was “saved” after her first Sunday at New Haven Baptist Church, the church that taught me about Jesus, the Bible and never secularist ethics.

I grew up in the Baptists’ well run Sunday School program, learning the Old and New Testaments on Anna Jury’s flannel board.  I graduated to Bible College in my late teens.

A few years after that I was struggling with the concept of “Church.”  Why do it?  What was it supposed to be? How does it differ from a few friends in a living room?

One of the things about church that bothered me most was an ad hoc and seemingly casual attitude toward the communion service.  This “ordinance” of the Word (a sign, not a sacrament I was taught) allowed much interpretation and was the subject of almost no religious zeal among the Baptists I knew.

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Reflections on Holy Thursday and the Last Supper

At the Last Supper, Jesus instituted the New Covenant, and he also gave us the definitive sacrifice of that Covenant, his very own body, blood, soul and divinity, under the traditional auspices of ordinary bread and wine. Doing so, Jesus perfectly fulfilled all the institutions, holy days and sacrifices of old, particularly the Jewish Passover, making them, along with the totality of the Old Law, things of the past.

If this were not the case, then there would have been no reason for Jesus to give us a “NEW” Covenant at all, since the “OLD” (with a few strategic alterations) might have then sufficed.

2Corinthians 5:17 –

“If then any be in Christ a new creature, the old things are passed away. Behold all things are made new.”

What had only been prophesied before in scripture, through mysterious types and shadows, was now a new, eternal and saving reality.

Jesus was the lamb whose blood would be poured out, in order to save the people of God from Satan, sin, and eternal death.

The ancient Passover observance was always about Jesus. And once Jesus fully revealed himself and completed his work, all of the ancient observances and feasts would be divinely incorporated into just one universal (Catholic) New Covenant observance of the Paschal Mystery, that we know today as the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass.

Lest anyone doubt this is true,  all we need do is consult the Old Testament Book of Malachi, written around 400 years before the Last Supper, where this singular, eternal, and uniquely “unbloody” sacrifice was described and clearly foretold.

Malachi looks forward to a time when only a “clean” (unbloody) sacrifice would be offered up to God … not by the Jews … not only in Jerusalem … but by Gentiles (non-Jews) the world over.

Malachi 1:11

“From the rising of the sun, even to the going down, my name is great among the Gentiles, and in every place there is sacrifice, in every place there is a clean oblation (unbloody sacrifice) for my name is great among the Gentiles, says the Lord of Hosts.”

From this it should be absolutely clear … it’s no accident that today, every hour of every day, every day of every year, in virtually every nation, all around the world … Jesus, in the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass … is offered up to God, for the needs of the whole world. And in this sinful and seriously misguided world, it’s very nice to know that somewhere, there’s always a few good people still faithfully heeding Christ’s personal instructions: “Do this in memory of me.”

Anticipated at the Last Supper, fulfilled at Calvary, made present for us (and for every generation) at Mass … this one time, once for all, eternal sacrifice serves as the “engine of divine grace” that in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, perpetually empowers the Church and sanctifies its members, courtesy of Jesus, our perfect victim, high priest, mediator, God, risen brother and king.

The “token” which confirms God’s promise of salvation is none other than the Holy Eucharist, wherein the same Christ, truly present under the auspices of bread and wine, personally reaffirms his new, sacred and saving  covenant, each and every time we receive him. A better example of a real, close, personal relationship with Jesus Christ is available only in Heaven!

This is why Catholics have priests, rather than ministers, since the primary function of a priest is to offer sacrifice to God, for the people, and the Mass is indeed a true, liturgical re-presentation of Jesus Christ’s singular, perfect, and eternal  sacrifice on the cross, at Calvary. An image of the crucified Jesus on the cross … the crucifix … serves to remind us of this.

It’s also no accident that at the Last Supper, Jesus  instituted the Ministerial Priesthood of the Catholic Church, making the apostles the first New Covenant priests, since the fullness of the ministerial priesthood will always be essential to the basic work of the church (teaching, sanctifying, governing, in Jesus’ name).

It wasn’t until a few days later, when the apostles encountered the risen Christ, that they began to truly understand how all this actually worked. The scriptures explain that Jesus made things pretty clear for them:

Luke 24:44-48  And he (the risen Jesus) said to them: These are the words which I spoke to you while I was yet with you, that all things must needs be fulfilled which are written in the law of Moses and in the prophets and in the psalms, concerning me.  Then he opened their understanding, that they might understand the scriptures.  And he said to them: Thus it is written, and thus it behoved Christ to suffer and to rise again from the dead, the third day:  And that penance and remission of sins should be preached in his name, unto all nations, beginning at Jerusalem.  And you are witnesses of these things.

Jesus spent another 40 days working with the apostles, before he ascended to Heaven, promising:

John 14:26  … the Paraclete, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, he will teach you all things and bring all things to your mind, whatsoever I shall have said to you.

Was Easter Originally A Pagan Holiday?

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STRAIGHT ANSWERS

by Father William Saunders

Q: Was Easter Originally A Pagan Holiday?

Recently a Moslem co-worker made the comment that Easter was originally a pagan holiday. Where would he get such a notion?-A reader in Alexandria

A: I think your Moslem co-worker is confused to say the least. In accord with the gospels, Easter is unequivocally the solemn feast celebrating the resurrection of Christ. In the Western tradition of the Church, Easter has been celebrated on the first Sunday following the new full moon which occurs on or immediately after the vernal or Spring equinox. This dating was established by the Council of Nicea in 325 A.D. As such, the dates for Easter may range from March 22 to April 25. (The Orthodox Churches follow a different dating system and will thereby celebrate Easter one, four, or five weeks later).

The confusion in the mind of the co-worker lies in the etymology of the word itself. In the original language of the gospels, the Greek word <pascha> is used for the Aramaic form of the Hebrew word <pesach>, which means Passover. During the first three centuries of the Church, <Pasch> referred specifically to the celebration of Christ’s passion and death; by the end of the fourth century, it also included the Easter Vigil; and by the end of the fifth century, it referred to Easter itself. In all, the term signified Christ as the new Passover Lamb. Together, the mystery of the Last Supper, the sacrifice of Good Friday and the resurrection of Easter form the new Passover – the new Pasch.

Latin used the Greek-Hebrew root for its word <Pascha> and other derivatives to signify Easter or the Easter mysteries: for instance, the Easter Vigil in Latin is <Sabbato Sancto de Vigilia Paschali> and in the First Preface of Easter, the priest prays, <“…Cum Pascha nostrum immolatus est Christus”> (“When Christ our Pasch was sacrificed”). The Romance languages later used the Hebrew-Greek-Latin root for their words denoting Easter: Italian, <Pasqua>; Spanish, <Pascua> and French, <Paques>. Even some non-Romance languages employ the Hebrew-Greek-Latin root: Scotch, <Pask>; Dutch, <Paschen>; Swedish, <Pask> and the German dialect along the lower Rhine, <Paisken>.

However, according to St. Bede (d. 735), the great historian of the Middle Ages, the title Easter seems to originate in English around the eighth century A.D. The word Easter is derived from the word <Eoster>, the name of the Teutonic goddess of the rising light of day and Spring, and the annual sacrifices associated with her. If this is the origin of our word Easter, then the Church “baptized” the name, using it to denote that first Easter Sunday morning when Christ, our Light, rose from the grave and when the women found the tomb empty just as dawn was breaking.

Another possibility which arises from more recent research suggests the early Church referred to Easter week as <hebdomada alba> (“white week”), from the white garments worn by the newly baptized. Some mistranslated the word to mean “the shining light of day” or “the shining dawn,” and therefore used the Teutonic root <eostarun>, the Old German plural for “dawn”, as the basis for the German <Ostern> and for the English equivalent “Easter”.

In early English translations of the Bible made by Tyndale and Coverdale, the word “Easter” was substituted for the word “Passover,” in some verses.

Even though the etymological root of “Easter” may be linked to the name of a pagan goddess or pagan ceremonies, the feast which the word describes is Christian without question. Exactly why the English language did not utilize to the Hebrew-Greek-Latin root is a mystery. Unlike Christmas which was set on December 25 and “baptized” the former Roman pagan Feast of the Sun, Easter is a unique celebration. Any confusion, therefore, rests with etymology, not theology.

Fr. Saunders is president of Notre Dame Institute and associate pastor of Queen of Apostles Parish, both in Alexandria.

This article appeared in the April 27, 1995 issue of “The Arlington Catholic Herald.”

Courtesy of the “Arlington Catholic Herald” diocesan newspaper of the Arlington (VA) diocese. For subscription information,  write 200 North Glebe Road, Suite 607 Arlington, VA 22203.

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Question for Catholics: How many of you accept transubstantiation? (I’ve yet to meet a Catholic who does.)

Q: Question for Catholics: How many of you accept transubstantiation? (I’ve yet to meet a Catholic who does.)

A: Anyone who understands that Jesus fulfilled the OT Passover at the Last Supper, and that he replaced it with the NT Mass, which is the re-presentation of his one time, once for all, perfect and eternal sacrifice for the sins of the world, knows that Jesus was deadly serious when he declared, “This is my body. This is my blood.” Do this in remembrance of me.”

Ask yourself what would have become of those who applied only symbolic lamb’s blood to their doorposts, and who ate only symbolic lamb on the first Passover, and you’ll see that God is very serious about this type of thing.

Catholics have always believed in transubstantiation, more than a thousand years before the term for it was even invented, because that is what Jesus taught, that is what the apostles taught, that is what the early Church Fathers taught, and that is what the Church continues to teach today.

Nothing has changed … and there’s certainly nothing to be found in the Bible, to the contrary.

At every Mass, Jesus becomes truly and substantially present on the altar for us … body, blood, soul, and divinity … as High Priest, Perfect Victim, brother, king, and God.

In this way, through Jesus, we faithfully ask God to bless us and keep us, and to provide for all our needs.

God originally spoke everything into existence, from nothing.

Why is it so difficult for some people to take him at his word about the Holy Eucharist, especially those who claim to be justified by faith?

Here’s another Catholic who gracefully accepts transubstantiation, and all that goes along with it!

Someone please explain Catholicism to me?

Q: Someone please explain Catholicism to me?

My girlfriend is catholic and I’m protestant, so I want to know a bit about it like:
What was the origin of the pope and having a hierarchy within the church. What do you believe exactly leads to salvation? What would a catholic probably think about being married to a protestant. What is mass and confessions like. What’s with hail Marys and the other prayers, etc.

Plus do they believe you have to be baptised in order to be saved and anything else that might be interesting to know.

I’ve never been to a catholic church in my life.

A: It would be impossible to answer all your questions here, but there’s a link to the Catechism at the bottom, and plenty of links to other Catholic resources on this site.

Here’s a fairly comprehensive overview:

Catholicism is based on all the original authority, grace, and truth that Jesus obtained for us and and willed to us, and that the Holy Spirit delivered to the Church, the “People of God” and the “Mystical Body of Christ” at its’ birth, on Pentecost.

The authentic Church has been known as Catholic since at least 107 AD.

St. Peter was selected by God the Father to lead the Church, sworn in by Jesus, and accepted as the leader of the Church, by all the apostles.

The apostles shared the awesome power of binding and loosing, on earth and in heaven, and in governing the Church, but the holy office of Pope is charged with making the final decision, and the Pope remains at the top of the earthly hierarchy.

The authentic Christian Church was originally and eternally constituted by Jesus Christ as one (there are no other authentic Christian churches), holy (it belongs to God), catholic (universal – one for all) and apostolic (established and governed by the apostles, and later, by their duly ordained successors).

Absent all of these four marks, no church can claim to be the “true” church.

Jesus founded, authorized, empowered, and eternally guaranteed the Catholic Church to lead all to salvation in his grace.

The Holy Spirit is the eternal advocate of the Church, and the arbiter of all divine truth. The Holy Spirit guides the Church from age to age, by means of sacred Tradition.

“Tradition” defines how Catholics should live and worship. Tradition may be written or oral. The Bible is a portion of authentic Catholic Church Tradition reduced to writing, under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit.

Catholics, by nature of their baptism, are part of the Royal Priesthood of all believers in Christ.

Catholics are typically baptized as infants, relying on the faith of the Church and the power of God for their sanctification and their salvation. Baptism may be conferred at any age, but when received by infants, Baptism serves as the ultimate demonstration of personal salvation in Christ, by the power of the Holy Spirit, according to the will of God the Father, with absolutely NO works at all.

Baptism serves to remove all traces of sin … original sin and other … makes one a temple of the Holy Spirit, an adopted child of God, a citizen of Heaven, co-heir with Jesus Christ, and a member of the Church.

The Ministerial Priesthood is ordered towards service to the faith community, and sacrifice to God, and it complements the work and the mission of the Royal Priesthood.

The primary duty of the ministerial priesthood is pastoral in nature, and sacramental in application.

Catholics rely on 7 sacraments, each of them personally instituted by Jesus Christ, as the primary channels of God’s grace and peace, in this sphere of existence:

Baptism, Reconciliation, Holy Communion, Confirmation, Matrimony, Holy Orders, and Anointing of the Sick.

All of these are biblical, and most are essential to the salvation of the believer. All constitute a close encounter with the risen Christ, courtesy of the power of the Holy Spirit, working through the Church, and through the ministerial priesthood.

The Mass … where Jesus becomes truly present for us on the altar, and Holy Communion, where we personally receive the risen Christ … body, blood, soul, and divinity, constitutes the source and summit of all Catholic worship.

The Mass constitutes the eternal fulfillment of the Jewish Passover, and it also fulfills the command that Jesus gave us at the Last Supper, to “Do this in memory of me.”

The Mass also re-presents Christ’s one time, once for all, eternal sacrifice for sin, and makes possible our current day participation in that very same sacrifice … as well as our regular reception of all the graces that continue to flow from it.

The Catholic Church celebrates Mass every hour of every day, every day of every year, all around the world, as a holy propitiation for the sins of the whole world.

Catholics are blessed to receive the real and substantial body, blood, soul, and divinity of Jesus Christ in Holy Communion, as often as two times each day … three times in a day, if in danger of death.

Holy Communion constitutes the central point of our participation in the Catholic faith, personally uniting every Catholic with Jesus Christ, with God the Father and the Holy Spirit, and with every other faithful member of the Christian Church, whether they might be alive here on earth, awaiting admittance to heaven in purgatory, or already enjoying their eternal reward, in heaven.

First among these holy people of God, according to the order of grace, is the Blessed Virgin Mary, the Mother of God, the New Eve, and Jesus’ first, best, and most constant disciple.

God honored Mary in a totally unique, equisite, and infinitely perfect way when he chose her to be the mother of his divine Son, Jesus. Any honors we Catholics might give to the Blessed Virgin, who remains a creature, as we are, pale in comparison to that which God has already given her. 

Catholics believe that Mary has already been admitted to Heaven, and that she has already received all of the rewards and promises that Jesus desires to share with those who manage to overcome the world, the flesh, and the devil, with the help of his grace.

Catholics rightly understand that Mary, though still a mere creature, already dwells with her divine Son in the eternal glory of Heaven, and that she has already received the recognition, the power, and the fullness of the eternal rewards that God generously offers to each and every one of the faithful. 

For specific details on all of these “rewards” read the Book of Revelation, Chapters 2,3,11,13,15,21, and see exactly what has been promised to all of “those that shall overcome”.

Catholics also understand that no one is truly “saved” until Jesus personally and finally invites them into heaven.

Until then, we remain in blessed hope, relying on a lifetime of full, active, and charitable participation in all the work, worship, sacraments, and devotions of the Catholic Church, to guide and sanctify us.

The Catholic Church is the ONLY Church that Jesus ever founded, authorized, and eternally guaranteed, for the purpose of our salvation.

Jesus remains the head of the Catholic Church, and faith in Christ necessitates faith in his authentic Church, even if some of those who belong to, and even govern the Church, are terrible sinners.

Catholics understand all this by means of a 2000 year old tradition of some of the finest theological scholarship and philosophy that the world has ever known. Scholarship, theology, and philosophy that is freely available to all.

The Catholic faith is clearly defined through Scripture, through Tradition, and through the authentic teachings of the Pope and the Bishops, who were charged with that sacred duty by Jesus Christ, himself.

These “3 witnesses” have always been in complete agreement, and are impossible to refute. This is itself a biblical concept.

For all these reasons and many more, the Catholic faith remains the most practical, complete, truthful, and fully documented faith on earth … or for that matter … ANYWHERE else.

The final proof of this divine practicality can be found in the broad, comforting, and remarkably effective array of pastoral and sacramental care that is available to the sick and the dying … care that is more than powerful enough to literally snatch the soul of even a heinous sinner away from Satan the devil, before he’s even had time to notice.

In short, from conception until natural death, Catholics enjoy all the best that God has to give, and we look forward with blessed hope, to someday receiving all that Jesus Christ has promised us, in the next life.

We Catholics like to do all this In the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.

Amen.

Link to the Catholic Catechism