|Last Supper by Pascal Adolphe Dagnan-Bouveret (1852-1929)|
In our last installment we made the case for the historical authenticity of the Gospels. In short, when compared with any other ancient document, there is more evidence for the historical reliability of the Gospels than there is for the writings of Socrates, Plato, or even Shakespeare - unquestioned intellecutal pillars of classical western civilization. So let us look at what those Gospels record.
They record, of course, the birth, life, passion, death, resurrection, and ascension of Jesus Christ. They also record his teachings, miracles, and directives. For our purpose - which is to evince and expound upon the reason to be Catholic - let us examine one of those teachings, his most important: DO THIS.
In fact it is more than a teaching, it is a directive, an order. And it is most important because worship is man’s fundamental duty to God, and Christ’s instruction at the Last Supper is an instruction on how he is to be worshipped, commemorated, acknowledged, remembered, and recognized. There is, for man, nothing more important.
Scripture records: on the night before he died, Jesus took the bread and said THIS IS MY BODY, EAT THIS..., and the wine and said THIS IS MY BLOOD, DRINK THIS... And then he commands: DO THIS IN MEMORY OF ME.
Many Christian church services have great singing, sermons, and fellowship, but only one Church fully worships God as Christ Himself instructed. Only one Church obeys, and has obeyed from the beginning, despite the fallibility and failings of its ministers, the command of Jesus Christ to DO THIS.
To be sure, many Christian communities have communion services, but the presider normally does not hold up the bread and wine and say THIS IS MY BODY...THIS IS MY BLOOD. And while it is true that some Anglican and even some Lutheran churches have liturgies in which at least the words and actions of Christ at the Last Supper are re-presented, neither religion accepts that the bread and wine REALLY are the true body and blood of Jesus Christ.
For our purposes, we need not engage the debate over whether or not the bread and wine become the actual body and blood of Jesus Christ upon the words of the minister. We are simply looking at whether or not non-Catholic Christian churches actually do what Christ instructed on the night before he died. Do they DO THIS?
Only the Catholic Church obeys this command and obeys Christ's command to DO THIS fully. What’s more, the Catholic Church obeys Christ’s instruction as the first Christians obeyed it: weekly and on Sunday. Acts 20:7 says “On the first day of the week they gathered together to break bread...” We know that the "break bread" is not a reference to some first century picnic because “breaking bread”, as demonstrated elsewhere in the New Testament, references the Eucharistic celebration.
So here, right in the heart of the New Testament, we see the first Christians commemorating Christ as he instructed, commemorating him weekly, and commemorating him on the first day of the week. And where is the only place on Earth where we will find that command obeyed, obeyed weekly, and on Sunday? Answer: The Catholic Mass.
Jesus did not say to sing, lecture, dance, drum, shout, shake, or read your bible in memory of me. He said DO THIS IN MEMORY OF ME. And the Catholic Mass is simply the only place where the DO THIS is done and Christ is worshipped as he taught us to worship.