Here is an article that came across my feed today from Vatican Radio: Corpus Christi - June 18, 2017. The celebration of Corpus Christi (the body of Christ) is celebrated every year in the church.
The Catholic feast day honors what the church calls the "real presence" of Jesus in the Eucharist, or Holy Communion, which is taught as the actual body and blood of Jesus. The article delves into some detail about the Eucharist.
This seemed like a good oppportunity to bring to light the Urantia Book revelation regarding this most sacred of all of the Catholic doctrines/rituals regarding the Master's life. The Urantia Book dispels centuries of mystery and misinformation about the Last Supper, and its true meaning for all who love Jesus - especially those who are "un-churched." We'll blog about it below, but here are a few snippets from the article to show some of the main teachings of the church on this matter:
" 'The Catholic Church teaches that in the Eucharist, the Body and Blood of the God-man are really, truly, substantially, and abidingly present together with his soul and Divinity by reason of the Transubstantiation of the bread and wine into the Body and Blood of Christ. This takes place in the unbloody sacrifice of the Mass.' "
"Jesus instituted the Holy Eucharist during the Last Supper as a Sacramental banquet and a sacrificial offering. As a Sacrament, the Holy Eucharist is an outward sign in and through which we meet Jesus who shares his life of grace with us. "In the Most Blessed Sacrament of the Eucharist the Body and Blood, together with the soul and Divinity, of our Lord Jesus Christ and, therefore, the whole Christ is truly, really, and substantially contained" (CCC #1374). In this Sacrament of the Eucharist, we do meet Jesus, the Risen Lord who comes to us under signs of Bread and Wine to nourish and strengthen us for our journey through life. The Eucharistic Meal is a great mystery because during the Eucharistic celebration the substance of bread and wine are converted into the substance of the risen Jesus' Body and Blood, while their appearances (or 'accidents') remain. We believe in this transformation of bread and wine (called Transubstantiation), because Jesus unequivocally taught it and authorized his apostles to repeat it."
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What is The Eucharist?
As mentioned above, the Catholic Church teaches its followers that the Eucharist, or Holy Communion - the wafer of bread (and sometimes a sip of wine) is the actual body and blood of Jesus; that when one partakes of this wafer, that one is actually consuming Jesus' body and blood. In the Catholic Mass, which is essentially the celebration of Jesus' last supper communion with his apostles, there is a complex and rigid set of rituals that have to be performed in order to effect this "transubstantiation" of ordinary bread into the substance of Jesus' physical body and blood.
Did Jesus really teach this doctrine?
If one's sole source for truth is contained in Scripture, that person cannot be blamed for getting some things wrong. But, as an even casual student of Scripture knows, the Biblical records have been altered greatly and repeatedly over centuries of time.
Only the apostles (and celestial observers) heard Jesus real words that Thursday night; until The Urantia Book, there have been only scanty accounts of those events. But the words Jesus spoke that night were altered over the centuries to suit the forces of organized religion who instituted this sacrament of the Eucharist...a required sacrament that some believe was developed in order to make all subsequent followers of Jesus spiritually dependent upon the Church, which was at that time establishing itself as a dominant world religion. In addition, the new teachings fully supported the atonement doctrine of Jesus as sacrificial lamb, a cornerstone of the institutionalized church. It was a way of incorporating both the atonement doctrine and the celebration of the Mass into one ritual.
It is interesting to note that it was not until the 9th century after Jesus left this earth that the rituals and theologies surrounding the sacrament of communion were seriously discussed and it was not until the Fourth Lateran Council in 1215 A.D. that the doctrine was established; in other words, before that, there were centuries during which this so-called sacrament was either celebrated not at all, or it was celebrated the way that Jesus taught his followers to celebrate it - as a remembrance supper, with no mentions of atonement or sacrifice.
Establishing a church is not, in and of itslef, something bad; however, when a church requires blind allegiance to doctrine and theology and discourages the believer's own strivings toward truth, it can become counterproductive to real spiritual growth. Jesus was a spiritual original; he broke with the traditions of his day, and he encouraged his followers to break with tradition, too. In The Urantia Book, we learn that Jesus established no church; instead he worked to establish the Kingdom of Heaven in the hearts of all mankind.
"His religion never became crystallized (during his day) into creeds and theological laws; he left not a line of writing behind him."
The last supper of Jesus with his apostles was the occasion of the Master "instituting a new remembrance supper as a symbol of the new dispensation wherein the enslaved individual emerges from the bondage of ceremonialism and selfishness into the spiritual joy of the brotherhood and fellowship of the liberated faith sons of the living God."
Eyewitness accounts of Jesus' Life
The Urantia Book contains eyewitness accounts of many of the Master's activities; Holy Week is no exception. The eyewitnesses were spiritual beings - those who are record-keepers and who act as living memory banks for all future generations. And in The Urantia Book, we are able to read the real sayings of Jesus, undiluted and unadulterated, except for teachings that are paraphrased for ease of understanding in this modern era.
And this should not be all that difficult to understand, considering the importance of a Son of God incarnating as a creature of the realm. This miracle of incarnation only happens one time in a universe and only on one planet, but for the benefit of the entire universe, the beings who Jesus said were "not of this flock." One might easily imagine that every word, every event was recorded, so as to be enjoyed by all subsequent generations of all mortals of all worlds.
Until the advent of the printing press, this angelic record of Jesus' life and teachings were not available to us. Even so, it took centuries after that until celestial government saw fit to share this record with our world - the world of Jesus' incarnation. And this record of Jesus' life and teachings is now available in The Urantia Book.
While many events in The Urantia Book are paralleled in the Bible, the events and sayings of the Master are often different and greatly expanded from what we have traditionally seen in Scripture. They are given to us free from the doctrines of earthly religions, and more importantly, free from the errors that have attended the centuries of Scriptural alterations done repeatedly by human beings.
What happened at the Last Supper?
Let's explore the differences between The Urantia Book accounts and what the Church teaches:
In Part IV of The Urantia Book - The Life and Teachings of Jesus - the events of the last supper occupy three papers (chapters):
Paper 179 The Last Supper,
Paper 180 The Farewell Discourse, and
Paper 181 Final Admonitions and Warnings.
This indicates just how much was included in this final meal with his apostles, and the importance of all of it. For our purposes, we'll be exploring Paper 179 primarily - contrasting the actual events of the supper as revealed in The Urantia Book with the subsequent teachings formulated by the church. Please click on that link above to read the paper in its entirety, from which most of the passages are taken in this article. Of course, you will likely want to continue to read all three of these wonderful papers.
What did Jesus Say?
We will deal mainly here with Urantia Book teaching regarding key words that Jesus spoke regarding the bread and the wine.
About the wine:
179:5.1 As they brought Jesus the third cup of wine, the "cup of blessing," he arose from the couch and, taking the cup in his hands, blessed it, saying: "Take this cup, all of you, and drink of it. This shall be the cup of my remembrance. This is the cup of the blessing of a new dispensation of grace and truth. This shall be to you the emblem of the bestowal and ministry of the divine Spirit of Truth. And I will not again drink this cup with you until I drink in new form with you in the Father's eternal kingdom."
About the bread:
179:5.3 When they had finished drinking this new cup of remembrance, the Master took up the bread and, after giving thanks, broke it in pieces and, directing them to pass it around, said: "Take this bread of remembrance and eat it. I have told you that I am the bread of life. And this bread of life is the united life of the Father and the Son in one gift. The word of the Father, as revealed in the Son, is indeed the bread of life." When they had partaken of the bread of remembrance, the symbol of the living word of truth incarnated in the likeness of mortal flesh, they all sat down.
But the Catholic Catechism teaches:
Christ instituted the Holy Eucharist in this way: He took bread, blessed and broke it, and giving it to His apostles, said: "Take and eat; this is My body"; then He took a cup of wine, blessed it, and giving it to them, said: "All of you drink of this; for this is My blood of the new covenant which is being shed for many unto the forgiveness of sins"; finally, He gave His apostles the commission: "Do this in remembrance of Me."
So, the church has taken the words of Jesus and altered them to make it appear that Jesus was offering himself as the sacrifice, and that as such, he must be consumed by the faithful in order for Jesus to be able to actually BE with them as a real presence. But even in this Biblical passage, he calls it a remembrance, not a sacrificial supper.
This ritual was expanded upon, set in stone, and relegated to the custody of intermediaries - consecrated priests - who were the only persons qualified to effect this so-called miracle of transubstantiation - translating ordinary bread and wine into so-called sacred body and blood.
About the development of this ritualistic and exclusive celebration of Jesus simple ceremony with his apostles, The Urantia Book teaches:
179:5.5 Notwithstanding the Master's effort thus to establish this new sacrament of the remembrance, those who followed after him in the intervening centuries saw to it that his express desire was effectively thwarted in that his simple spiritual symbolism of that last night in the flesh has been reduced to precise interpretations and subjected to the almost mathematical precision of a set formula. Of all Jesus' teachings none have become more tradition-standardized.
Anyone who has witnessed a Catholic mass can attest to this "almost mathematical precision" that takes place at the consecration of the host. All the movements, prayers, bell-ringing are quite precise and measured, and have been "set in stone" for centuries.
The Urantia Book further instructs:
179:5.8 And this mighty occasion took place in the upper chamber of a friend. There was nothing of sacred form or of ceremonial consecration about either the supper or the building. The remembrance supper was established without ecclesiastical sanction.
For centuries since, it has been taught by the church that these last supper events are so sacred, so out of reach for ordinary believers, that only a priest can share this supper with the faithful; that an intermediary must stand between man and God in order for the individual to properly take his/her place at the Master's table and to experience the presence of Jesus. It is as if one must join a secret society. Anyone who knows Jesus might find this development very unattractive, as Jesus never established such exclusive institutions. His teachings were all-inclusive : "Whosoever will, let him come."
The Remembrance Supper
Conversely, in The Urantia Book, we read the refreshing and inclusive nature of this remembance supper. It puts the events of the last supper firmly back into the hands and hearts of all believers - all followers of Jesus, no matter whether they are Catholic or not, churched or not. Experiencing the presence of Jesus is something that can be enjoyed freely by any sincere believer.
179:5.4 In instituting this remembrance supper, the Master, as was always his habit, resorted to parables and symbols. He employed symbols because he wanted to teach certain great spiritual truths in such a manner as to make it difficult for his successors to attach precise interpretations and definite meanings to his words. In this way he sought to prevent successive generations from crystallizing his teaching and binding down his spiritual meanings by the dead chains of tradition and dogma. In the establishment of the only ceremony or sacrament associated with his whole life mission, Jesus took great pains to suggest his meanings rather than to commit himself to precise definitions. He did not wish to destroy the individual's concept of divine communion by establishing a precise form; neither did he desire to limit the believer's spiritual imagination by formally cramping it. He rather sought to set man's reborn soul free upon the joyous wings of a new and living spiritual liberty.
179:5.6 This supper of remembrance, when it is partaken of by those who are Son-believing and God-knowing, does not need to have associated with its symbolism any of man's puerile misinterpretations regarding the meaning of the divine presence, for upon all such occasions the Master is really present. The remembrance supper is the believer's symbolic rendezvous with Michael. When you become thus spirit-conscious, the Son is actually present, and his spirit fraternizes with the indwelling fragment of his Father.
Who can celebrate a remembrance supper?
Anyone, anywhere, can celebrate a remembrance supper. As we learned above, any small gathering of believers can constitute a supper with whatever food and drink is available - and when this is undertaken sincerely, the Master is really present. There are no specific rituals to be done, no special words have to be spoken, one does not have to gather in a special place, no bells have to be rung and no priest has to intercede. It is, instead, a simple, joyous, and beautiful rendezvous with Jesus himself. It might be helpful to read the Urantia Book account of the occasion, but any words can be spoken. All sincere effort is rewarded by the Master's presence.
What a joy! To have this overcomplicated and ritualistic church dogma be dissolved and made accessible to even unchurched persons who wish to remember Jesus and to have his actual presence made manifest in their midst. Jesus is for everyone!
Read for yourself
As always, we invite you to explore The Urantia Book for yourself - and in this case Part IV especially, which chronicles the entire life and teachings of Jesus. In its pages, you will discover even more instances where the events of Jesus' life have been misunderstood, but whose actual details once again open the Master's life so as to make it completely accessible to everyone and anyone who wants a relationship with him.
Here's another example from a recent blog of ours of how words can be changed, altered, or taken out of context so as to mean something altogther different from their original purposes.
Jesus has often been appropriated by institutionalized Christianity for its own purposes, which are not, unfortunately, always consistent with the purposes for which Jesus came to us. Jesus stands above ALL earthly religions; The Urantia Book points out:
140:8.29 [Jesus'] life and teachings were bequeathed the universe as an inspirational and idealistic inheritance suitable for the spiritual guidance and moral instruction of all ages on all worlds. And even today, Jesus' teaching stands apart from all religions, as such, albeit it is the living hope of every one of them.
Discover Jesus again as he was during his short life here with us- free from ecclesiastical constraints...free from theologies...free from spiritual bondage. Let your heart and soul soar! And - the next time you're with some other beleivers, celebrate a remembrance supper together...experience the joy of Jesus' presence as a liberated child of God!