Sacrilege Reveals Scratch-Off Atheists

Sacrilege Reveals Scratch-Off Atheists January 21, 2020
Sacrilege with Hosts
Photo by Grant Whitty on Unsplash

Sacrilege should never happen, but sometimes it does, and it can even be the occasion for self-discovery.

Sacrilege comes in many shapes and sizes. The Universal Catechism (CCC 2120) defines sacrilege here—

Sacrilege consists in profaning or treating unworthily the sacraments and other liturgical actions, as well as persons, things, or places consecrated to God. Sacrilege is a grave sin especially when committed against the Eucharist, for in this sacrament the true Body of Christ is made substantially present for us.

Let’s consider sacrilege in light of theology. Theology is that chief outcome of faith by which we critically reflect on faith. We Catholics ought to hold theology sacred. All Church teaching is comprised of various theologies. There is no Catholic doctrinal or dogmatic formula we possess that is not theological in essence, or could even exist without prior theologizing. We Catholics believe that faith is consonant with reason (the First Vatican Council’s Dogmatic Constitution on the Catholic Faith, chapter 4). Considering the Catechism’s definition above, I wonder if we might call “sacrilege” any unworthy treatment of the sacredness inherent to all that?

Sacrilege of Duty

“Keep It Simple, Stupid!” keeps them stupid, simply. If the Church teaches something officially, and the people by and large misunderstand and distort that teaching, what should be done? “Church” (as Yves Congar wisely taught us) to most means the shepherding authority of the church (i.e., the magisterium). Shouldn’t the shepherding authority own up to some responsibility and stop thinking of itself as a societas perfectas and other such nonsense? Where does the buck stop?

Catholics and other Christians believe many things, some good, some bad, and yes, some ugly. We often pool much ignorance. Go to your average Catholic and ask him what is the Church’s official teaching on the Trinity. You’ll often get tritheism and modalism. Same thing with your average Christian of whatever stripe. Ask most about the teaching on the incarnation. You’ll get Docetism, Monophysitism, and Monothelitism, galore.

Subtle Theology

I am grateful to an old friend and mentor for the theological challenge of this post. Here is a true story that I learned of recently from this brother and gentleman, without whom I could not have written this. The events it describes happened over ten years ago. The culprit who acted in terrible disrespect boasted to my friend about his actions. So here we go…

Storytime!

Once upon a time, not too long ago, a university employee and graduate student (who now happens to be a high-ranking member of the Southern Baptist convention) attended Mass at a nearby Catholic parish. I should say that this person was energetically anti-Catholic. He had entered the liturgy with the sole purpose of obtaining a consecrated Host for a special purpose, and not that of the Church.

It was toward the end of mass when this fellow entered the church. He quietly got into a communion line. Once in front of the Extraordinary Minister of Communion, he received the Host on the tongue as he had watched people do on EWTN many times. Then, without swallowing, he quickly exited and got into his car.

From the glove compartment he took out a prepared Ziploc bag and spit the Host into it. He sealed the bag. A Biology major (and Creationist besides!), he drove to the university, and placed the semi-dissolved Host on a Petri dish. He next began to observe the material through a microscope. His preconceived idea was confirmed: it was carbohydrates only.

In triumphalist bombast, the next day he celebrated his sacrilege to his fellow Christian collegians. “I knew it all along!” He exclaimed, gleefully. “This disproves the false doctrine of the Real Presence! The physical substance is nothing but bread!!”

To Any Protestant Fundamentalists Reading This:

What do you think? Was the anti-Catholic right? Did he really disapprove “C” Catholic teaching?

If you asked this anti-Catholic, he would tell you that he believes that every human person has a soul. What if we extracted blood from this man and put it under a microscope? Would we rightly say that the man had no soul because clearly all we see inside him is physical matter?

This man also believes that God is sovereign and controls the universe. So what if we used a space telescope to look out deep into the cosmos? When we fail to see the face of God out there, should we conclude that God is a fantasy?

The man believes that Jesus’ Resurrection wasn’t only a bodily reality, but was physical too. And thus he believes that the Ascension was a literal space travel. When we tell him that we cannot find the Risen Jesus by space telescope, nor pinpoint his trajectory and velocity, should he repudiate Christianity?

Recall that this man, despite being a biology major, holds dearly that the planet earth and universe are only a few thousand years old. To him belief in creation means belief in Creationism. What if we used solid science to demonstrate the absurdity of that belief? Should he cease believing and become an atheist then because of the failure of his Creationist beliefs matching reality?

To Any Catholic Fundamentalist Reading This:

Having read this sad story, how do you understand the Church’s chosen adverbs—truly, really, and substantially—used to describe the Real Presence of Jesus in the Eucharist (DS 1651)? Let’s say, typical of many Catholic fundamentalists, you insist that “substance” in the Church’s teaching on the Real Presence means a physical-chemical substance. What happened then with the anti-Catholic’s experiment?

Do you believe that at the words of consecration spoken by a validly ordained priest or bishop celebrating the mass, a physical and chemical change occurs to the bread and wine? Do you believe that “Real Presence” and “transubstantiation” represent a real physical change in the host? But if that gets disproved, what then becomes of your faith?

Thomas Aquinas speaks of the possibility of Eucharistic wonders. Such wonders fascinate many. They are brought up ad nauseam every Corpus Christi in “homilies.” Aquinas says that if God wanted to manifest real physical change in the consecrated elements, God could do that. God could physically or chemically change the material structure of the Host into blood or heart tissue or the appearance of a recognizable face. But according to Aquinas, even in such wondrous cases, the blood and flesh manifested cannot be the real properties of the risen Jesus who bleeds no more.

Given all that, what becomes of your beliefs?

To Anyone Reading This:

Can’t you see that all fundamentalists are merely scratch-off atheists? Wouldn’t it be a sacrilege to go through life misusing apologetics to “prove” to metaphysical certitude your “faith”? Wouldn’t it be a sacrilege to call yourself “a believer” when you are just a rationalistic atheist? Isn’t it sacrilege to confuse faith with certitude, to distort reasonable with rational?

Fundamentalism, like most silly versions of atheism, is a rationalistic approach to faith. But faith is reasonable, not rational! Faith is reasonable to the extent that it is not absurd to believe and, indeed, it makes good sense to believe. Accepting Christ is not renunciation of the intellect! So faith is reasonable in that we can show that life in Christ is more meaningful than life without him.

But faith is not rational. This is because faith cannot be proved through reason alone. As if an unprejudiced observer, under the impact of logical arguments, would be forced to mentally assent to it, otherwise violate her own integrity. This is what many popular Catholic authors, speakers, and so-called apologists would have us accept. They present revelation and faith as achievable through reason alone, thereby making conviction into a natural act. But the Second Council of Orange condemned this position in 529 CE.


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  • Ellabulldog

    Many Catholics believe it’s more than a piece of bread. That the priest really converts it. Seems that is what was taught early on. Others think it is a symbol only.

    Of course it’s only a piece of bread.

    A Catholic mass is very similar to a witch doctor performing for a crowd or someone doing a rain dance.

    It’s quite primitive. The psychological reasons for religious belief can be studied as can the cultural reasons religion has influenced human societies.

    The Creationist of course is wrong. Catholics are wrong as well. Arguing over who is more wrong makes for a hilarious post. Yet something that should make people wonder.

    Ask yourself why you believe such things. What you believe doesn’t matter. Well it may to you.

    Creationists actually while denying Evolution do understand why they HAVE to. A Catholic knowing Evolution is fact misses the point that one can’t agree with Evolution and also the Bible. The whole narrative falls apart.

    Watch others at church. It’s rituals. Habit forming. Repetitive music. Repetitive prayers. Repetitive stories.

    Then it’s about obeying authority and conforming to societal norms.

    Most have no chance and their mind is easily taken over by others.

  • Fellow Dying Inmate

    ^ scratch off fundamentalist.

  • Ame

    One of the most devastating circumstances that I ever experienced was when I went to my college parish Eucharistic Chapel to pray only to find out from the pastoral staff that the whole tabernacle was stolen just a couple hours before.

    “They have taken away my Lord, and I do not know where they have laid Him.” – Mary of Magdala

  • Raymond

    In a discussion with my parish priest, who is also a Canon lawyer, he said that he believed that more than have of the parishioners didnt believe the Real Presence, and than most of those had probably never heard of it.

    Not that I ever saw him preach a homily about it.

  • Ellabulldog

    Faith is not rational. You are correct. It’s emotional.

    It resides in the amygdala not the cerebral cortex.

    Reason doesn’t hold up so you reject it. You have to.

    We now have knowledge of why people believe.
    Not just your faith but why other’s hold theirs.

    So an honest discussion of faith is about why not what.

    Why are you Catholic and not Muslim or a Scientologist?

    Lot’s of beliefs out there.

    Why matters quite a bit.

    It applies to things beyond religious belief.

    Turn on the TV and watch the impeachment.
    Do they want reason, facts and evidence?
    Or do they want to appeal to emotion?

    Depends on a person’s bias and tribalism.

    Have a great day.

  • There is a reason why Eucharistic Miracles are called miracles- they are rare But they do happen. There is a collection on DVD you can get of over 150 of them.

    Accidents of appearance are for non-believers.

  • I am Catholic because I saw atheist scientism proven wrong.

  • Ellabulldog

    wrong about what? Catholics do not deny science.
    atheism is just a rejection of theist’s assertions. you are atheist to a lot of gods.

    what is wrong with agnosticism?

  • I did not say science, I said scientism: the irrational belief that only what can be proven in an experiment is real.

  • Ellabulldog

    for something to be “real” you need to show evidence it is.

    wishful thinking doesn’t make something real.

    it’s not scientism it’s holding people accountable when asserting something.
    can’t support your belief then don’t blame others.

    it’s your irrational belief.
    stop projecting.

  • We have 2000 years of evidence in a science that has been developing repeatable experiments into God and Human Nature for the entire time. What, exactly, do you have to compare in your utter nihilism?

  • Ellabulldog

    gods are figments of the human imagination.

    no evidence for any “god” exists. all are fable or lies instilled by cultures using indoctrination.

  • That is your rather uninformed opinion based mainly on bigotry.

  • Ellabulldog

    No it’s based on cognitive science, psychology, anthropology, biology, and comparative religious studies.

    Your belief is no different than any other.

    It’s not bigotry to be correct.

    You have to lash out because you know you can’t defend your belief.

    Catholics can’t kill rational people anymore. Guess that’s the best you can do.

    Your hurt feelings are noted. Don’t shoot the messenger.

    Knowledge and honesty should be valued over the lies of theists.

    Not my fault you believe lies. If you don’t want to hear the truth the internet isn’t the best place.
    They have churches where you can hide from reality.

  • ” No it’s based on cognitive science, psychology, anthropology, biology, and comparative religious studies.”

    In other words, modernist bigotry with less than 50 years worth of evidence mainly created by con artists and people manipulating statistics in ridiculous ways.

  • Kevin R. Cross

    No. It’s hundreds of years of learning and trying new things, finding out what works and what doesn’t, seeking out the answers to questions and then the answers to the questions posed by those answers.
    Cognitive Science and psychology really do explain how we think. They work
    Anthropology really does explain much of the development and actions and habits of humankind. It works.
    Biology is the reason humans are living to greater and greater ages, diseases are being defeated and the infant mortality rate is a tiny fraction of what it was 100 years ago. It not only works, it thrives!
    Science has made the world a better place and humankind in a better position in one short century than all the religions of the world have managed in all of history. Modernism is not bigotry, it is reality!

  • They actively do not work, because they encourage aberosexuality and abortion.

  • Then why does it reject the experimental evidence of theology?

  • Kevin R. Cross

    What experimental evidence of theology? I’m not being snarky here, I literally do not know of any.

  • Kevin R. Cross

    What you are actually saying is “I reject this because it doesn’t line up with my pre-assigned positions.” That’s irrational.

  • The Summa Theologicae is the classic text on the subject.

  • More rational than genocidal mania.

  • Ame

    Okay, you really have to stretch things to get to the point that you’re going to say that psychology, biology, and anthropology are all bigotry against the Summa. You’re getting sloppy with your argumentation.

    To everyone else: it’s not any of the sciences in themselves that contradicts theology but how atheistic scientists who have a materialistic, utilitarian approach to science who claim their science proves there is no God that is antagonistic towards God and early & allegedly-inferior states of human development and aging. This may be what Mr. Seeber argues as being scientism, as though such atheistic scientists are a step away from regarding Science-with-a-capital-S with the same reverence that is due to God. Science, the empirical sciences to be more exact, itself has nothing to say about religion and God because theology and metsphysics and even philosophy are outside the scope of the topic of the natural world. Even so, faith and science are only at odds with each other if that is the way you wish them to be. In fact, philosophy, theology, and mathematics were the early sciences from which the modern sciences evolved.

  • Ellabulldog

    says a hypocrite using a computer to knock modern science.

    statistics/demographics prove that religion is cultural.

    other science shows how such a thing is possible.

    knowledge isn’t bigotry.

    it’s wasn’t bigotry to show that the Earth revolved around the Sun.
    it’s not bigotry to teach Evolution by Natural Selection.

    I know what you believe and WHY you believe it.
    you only know what you believe.

    you don’t even know why you get angry when others tell you that your god isn’t real.

  • Ellabulldog

    I have family that are Catholic. They are wrong about their belief but it’s not bigotry to tell them that.

    You can’t defend your belief so you attack others. It’s a ploy. Not effective and just shows that you are not capable of an honest conversation about what religion really is.

    It is a self defense mechanism to protect your emotionally held belief.

  • Not a step away. They’ve gone whole hog on it.

    Oh, and I’d say that the natural world is inside the supernatural world. So yes, not within the limitations scientism puts on evidence, but all of science is encapsulated within theology.

  • Kevin R. Cross

    That’s largely been the province of the theist.

  • Kevin R. Cross

    Is there an online reference? In English, please, I do not speak Latin.

  • I beg your pardon, but have you ever referenced THE BLACK BOOK OF COMMUNISM? Communism is an aggressively atheistic ideology, and it’s responsible for at least 100,000,000 deaths in the previous millennium. Nearly every democide of which I’m aware, starting with the Vendee, was committed by a government proclaiming itself to be rationalistic and atheistic.

  • Kevin R. Cross

    Then you haven’t done a very good job of studying your history.
    The Soviet Union probably did kill more people than any other in the 20th century, that’s quite true. The hundred million number would be highly inflated, however, even taking into account events such as the Holodomor and the Kazakh Famine of 1932-33.
    But then you get into the rest of the 20th. The only other major population drop we can attribute to Communism as policy was in Cambodia, and with all due horror over that event, it pales into comparison with a bunch of the others.
    The obvious one is, of course, Nazi Germany. While Adolf Hitler’s religious position is at best unclear, there is no doubt of the Christian nature of the Nazi party as a whole, the same being true of the Fascist party in Italy and similar regimes in Romania and Vichy France. The Armenian holocaust was of course committed by the Ottoman Empire, as were the massacres in Greece, the Ottomans being Muslim, as were the Indonesians who slaughtered millions in the 1950s, and the massacre of Bangladeshi intellectuals during their (successful) attempt to separate from Pakistan. Japan massacred literally millions of Chinese during the Second Sino-Japanese War, the Rwandan genocide around a million, and neither of them had anything to do with communism or atheism. And this is just restricting myself to the 20th century. Go back even a little further and things get much worse, and nary an unbeliever to be seen.
    Were many of these caused directly by religion? Some were – the Albigensian Crusade, much of the Spanish conquest of the Americas (the code of the Conquistador – “For God, Gold and Glory!”), the aforementioned Armenian Genocide – some weren’t. But the same is true of the actions of the USSR – some of their actions were deliberate promotions of communism, some political machinations, some simply mismanagement. If you wish to tar the one with all the guilt, the same must be true for the other. This is not an argument theism can win.

  • You underestimate Chairman Mao, who (according to the best estimates of which I’m aware) pretty much managed to match Joe Stalin’s body count. The two of them, especially combined, killed more than just about everyone else combined.
    And if the Fascists had a religion, it was statism: “Everything within the state, nothing outside the state, nothing against the state.” Martin Luther’s unChristian anti-semitism was borrowed by the NSDAP, but hardly anything actually Christian was.

  • Kevin R. Cross

    Yeah, fair enough, I did miss China. Mind you, China is China – it’s tradition of mass killing goes back all the way to the Yellow Emperor. I’m not sure any nation has traditionally valued human life less.
    Fascism is a very interesting case. Especially the leadership – Mussolini was explicitly an Atheist, Ion Antonescu in Romania was Orthodox Christian, and what Adolf Hitler’s actual views on religion were, only he knew – and took it to his grave. He gave notable speeches supporting Christianity, called that religion “fodder for sheep”, gave orders not to leave a church standing in some (mostly Orthodox) areas, enshrined Protestant Christianity as the official church of both the Heer and the SS, made special provisions for priests and church officials accused of crimes, and rarely attended church himself. Historians have been arguing that one since 1945.
    What isn’t of question is the fact that the vast, vast majority of Fascists were Christians, including the majority of the leadership of both the Nazi and Fascist Parties. Was Fascism an outgrowth of Christianity? No, it was primarily a political, not a religious movement. But they were certainly believers, and that didn’t moderate their actions.