In my effort to explain the uniqueness of our faith in contrast to other Protestant denominations, I explained two principles of faith, namely, how we, Catholics, are different in understanding the Bible, in order to have a holistic and correct understanding of the Word of God, written by human authors. In the same way, Catholics are different and unique in maintaining the Apostolic Tradition in the Church. This week, I would like to explain two more principles of our faith, that we hold as Catholics.
Primacy of the Pope:
Unlike the Protestant denominations, Catholics believe in the one leadership of the Pope, as the head. We believe as historically true that Peter was appointed by Jesus; the other Apostles and the early Christians also accepted him as the head of the Church. Maintaining the same Apostolic succession, the Catholics believe and accept the Pope as the only head of the Church and the representative of Christ to lead the believers in the plan of God.
Whereas, the other Churches do not accept this doctrine of faith. Each Evangelical denomination has an individual leader. Lack of one leadership among them is the fundamental reason, why there are thousands of divisions among non-Catholics.
It is our strong faith that Jesus instituted the Holy Eucharist as the Sacrament of His love, to serve as His permanent presence among us and as the spiritual food for our spiritual life, that we have received through Baptism.
We also believe that when every Catholic Priest, celebrating the Holy Mass, prays the words of consecration, imposing the hands over the Bread and Wine on the altar, through the divine power of the Holy Spirit, the Bread and Wine are substantially and truly transformed into the Most Holy Body and Blood of Our Lord Jesus Christ. Once transformed into the Body and Blood of Christ, they remain so. Hence, we retain the consecrated Host in the Tabernacle. In order to acknowledge the presence of Christ in the Eucharist, kept in the Tabernacle, we have the eternal lamp burning near the Tabernacle.
The contrasting belief of the Protestant Churches is that they celebrate the Last Supper only in memory of what Jesus performed before His Passion and Death. Hence, they don’t believe in the substantial transformation of Bread and Wine and in the continuous presence of Jesus Christ. Based on this belief, they don’t retain any of the remaining host; rather they take home the remaining bread and wine.
To be continued …
God bless you
Fr. Arul Joseph V.