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Many non-Catholics do not understand the Mass. Television evangelist Jimmy Swaggart wrote, "The Roman Catholic Church teaches that the Holy Mass is an expiatory sacrifice, in which the Son of God is actually sacrificed anew on the cross" (Swaggart, Catholicism and Christianity). The late Loraine Boettner, the dean of anti-Catholic Fundamentalists, said the Mass is a "jumble of medieval superstition."
The Eucharist is a true sacrifice, not just a commemorative meal, as "Bible Christians" insist. The first Christians knew that it was a sacrifice and proclaimed this in their writings. They recognized the sacrificial character of Jesus’ instruction, "Do this in remembrance of me" (Touto poieite tan eman anamnasin; Luke 22:19, 1 Cor. 11:24–25) which is better translated "Offer this as my memorial offering."
The Holy Eucharist is the most important of the seven sacraments because, in this and in no other sacrament, we receive the very body and blood, soul and divinity of Jesus Christ. Innumerable, precious graces come to us through the reception of Holy Communion.
Protestant attacks on the Catholic Church often focus on the Eucharist. This demonstrates that opponents of the Church—mainly Evangelicals and Fundamentalists—recognize one of Catholicism’s core doctrines. What’s more, the attacks show that Fundamentalists are not always literalists. This is seen in their interpretation of the key biblical passage, chapter six of John’s Gospel, in which Christ speaks about the sacrament that will be instituted at the Last Supper. This tract examines the last half of that chapter.
The doctrine of the Real Presence asserts that in the Holy Eucharist, Jesus is literally and wholly present—body and blood, soul and divinity—under the appearances of bread and wine. Evangelicals and Fundamentalists frequently attack this doctrine as "unbiblical," but the Bible is forthright in declaring it (cf. 1 Cor. 10:16–17, 11:23–29; and, most forcefully, John 6:32–71).
"There is one jewel for my poor soul, in a life which desires not sin; it is the beads... Suitable are these for a gift; bits of the tree of Him Who redeemed us."
~ Gitto'r Glyn, Welsh poet; opening lines from his "popish" Cywydd y paderau prennau (Ode to the Wooden Beads); secretly circulated among private Catholic homes in Wales during the English persecutions, when possession meant a death sentence.