My dear Brethren: Grace and peace through our Beloved Master!
In offering a few of our own thoughts for this hallowed occasion, we first of all follow the course of Brother Johnson who always recommended that the brethren everywhere read the chapter in Volume F-6 on the Passover. Certainly, nothing we say here will improve upon that; our only thought is to add a little something in the hope it may prove even some little help to our readers. Thus, we offer as introductory some thoughts from Brother Johnson in E-6-574:
"The spirit in which the Lord's Supper should be celebrated should as long as the Church celebrates it be the same as from the beginning: Sorrow that our sins brought our Lord to death; sympathy with Him and our fellow body members in their suffering; gratitude for our Lord in dying for us, and appreciation for His and the Body's faithfulness in suffering; gratitude and appreciation of our privileges symbolized in the Lord's Supper; rejoicing in the victory of Jesus and those already faithful unto death; prayer for those who have not yet finished their course; hope for their and our victory; faith in everything symbolized by the Lord's Supper; determination to go forward to a successful conclusion and to help our brethren do the same. These sentiments have not changed and will not change so long as the Church's memorializing will be in order. Our Lord's second presence since 1874 has made no other change in the celebration than to energize us in the above-mentioned respects. His presence assures us of more favorable providence and a nearer realization of our hopes and rejoicing on behalf of resurrected saints."
In contemplating the Lord's Supper, the Memorial, it is probably well to consider that throughout Christendom all shades of meaning have been attached to it – from one extreme to the other. Christian Scientists do not observe it at all – which means they attach no significance or meaning whatever to it; while those who observe it in the form of the Mass go to the other extreme by placing the actual body and blood of our Lord in the "accidents" of the communion. We shall entertain a few thoughts with respect to the Mass – a service which involves transubstantiation, this word meaning 'the substance transposed'. This is a more extreme view than that accepted by the Lutherans, who hold to Consubstantiation, meaning 'the substance contained'. The Catholic Church has multiplicity of names for this ceremony – as they do for so many other things: Table of the Lord, Holy of Holies, Blessed Sacrament of the Altar, The Eucharist, etc.
The Catholics conduct two kinds of Masses – High Mass and Low Mass. High Mass in our day is usually sung by the officiating priest, and requires a number of assistants; Low Mass is recited, and requires but one assistant. To have the High Mass performed costs more money, of course. The performance in either case is intricate and lengthy, culminating in the "words of consecration", which are said actually to transpose the "accidents" (the bread and wine) into the actual body and blood of Jesus. And the "words of consecration" are without value unless they are uttered by a regularly ordained priest. Thus, individuals of the Church cannot observe the Lord's Supper without a priest to help them. On the other hand, the character of the officiating priest seems to matter not at all – he has the power of "consecration" though he be of vicious criminal tendencies, some of them, as we know, having been convicted of actual murder and other heinous crimes. This, however, does not impair their ability in magic to create the "substance transposed." Of course, the poor human race thinks so little over what their religious leaders tell them, that the Prophet Isaiah (60:2) makes most apt observation, not only of Catholics but of many others, including many so-called Truth people: "Darkness shall cover the earth, and gross darkness the people."
Justification for the Mass demands weighty and sundry words of explanation. The transposition of the bread and wine into the body and blood have been described as "one substance converted into another – just as if wood were miraculously converted into iron, the substance of the iron remaining hidden under the external appearance of the wood." Thus, "Jesus is directly present under the appearance of bread and wine." Since no human science can explain this – no human logic make clear its intricate depths – it must be accepted solely upon faith – another of the unexplainable "Mysteries". Here is what one writer says about it: "The church honors the Eucharist as one of her most exalted mysteries, since, for sublimity and incomprehensibility, it yields to the allied mysteries of the Trinity and incarnation.... These three mysteries constitute a wonderful triad .... far transcending the capabilities of reason... far above Pagan and non-Christian religions." It is defended with extensive presentation of cultured and intricate words by men of much literary skill; but is best described by St. John in Rev. 17:5: "Upon her forehead a name written, MYSTERY, Babylon the Great."
Some of these same writers also attack the Lutheran concept of Consubstantiation, or Imputation, with adroit and forceful rhetoric: "This heretical doctrine is an attempt to hold the real presence of Christ in the Holy Sacraments without admitting Transubstantiation", says one of them. Of course, the Lutheran view holds "the substance contained" – quite some difference from the Catholic "substance transposed." Here is their modified contention – "The substance of Christ's body exists with the substance of bread, and His blood together with the substance of wine .... not losing anything that it was, but assuming something which it was not."
It is not our wish to burden our readers with too many explanations of erroneous methods in this matter. Already in the 16th century Christopher Rasperger wrote a book setting forth some two hundred different interpretations; but we think it well to terminate this feature of our presentation by setting out one other radical difference between the celebration of the Mass and all other interpretations and rituals: After the "words of consecration" the priest offers the individual communicants only the transubstantiated wafer, but drinks the entire cup of transubstantiated wine himself, giving the communicants none whatever of it. There is a surface logic of explanation for this, of course: In the passing of this now sacred cup with its priceless contents from one to the other, it could very readily occur that one of them might be jostled in the process, thus spilling some or all of the sacred liquid. And, Horror of Horrors! The actual blood of Jesus would then trickle away and vanish into the carpet beyond hope of recovery; and such occurrence would be an indescribable calamity. Therefore, the priest drinks all of the cop himself to insure against this. And this last would have some justification, of course, if the first premise were true – That the wine had actually been transubstantiated into the actual blood of Jesus.
Of course, the theories defined aforegoing are the result of too much poor thinking and too little good thinking, and is an accumulation of dark-age rubbish gradually built into a furbished pyramid of error, a most deceptive counterfeit – an "abomination that maketh desolate." We ourselves realize that, since Jesus was not yet dead when He instituted the Lord's Supper, He could not possibly have been offering the Disciples His actual body and blood, because He still possessed them; He had not yet been "offered up." Therefore, He could mean only one other thing: This represents my body; this represents my blood. And so we understand it; and it is with this true belief that we trust all our readers will partake of it.
Who, then should partake of it? We answer, All who can conform themselves to the requirements as contained in Volume 6. And how should we partake of it? We offer St. Paul's answer: "Let a man examine himself." This does not mean we are to examine others (except in extreme cases); it does not mean we should allow others to examine us. It means exactly what it says – Let a man examine himself. There is a worldly expression with a measure of surface appeal to it: Oh, would some power the gift to give us to see ourselves as others see us! But, from the Christian's standpoint this saying can have no appeal whatever. If Christians throughout the Age had viewed themselves as others have viewed them, then every one of them would have quit. We need only consider our Lord in this light to grasp the fallacy of it. They classified Him as a "gluttonous man, and a winebibber, a friend of publicans and sinners" (Luke 7:34) – just as they had labeled John the Baptist as a man demonized. And all during the Age the vicious and adverse opinion of the Jews has been so intense against Jesus that almost universally they would expectorate and curse at the very mention of His name. Therefore, Jesus would have seen only despair and defeat and contempt had He viewed Himself as others viewed Him.
As the communicant "examines himself", his only proper viewpoint is to try to view himself as God views him. Some judge themselves much too harshly; others judge themselves much too leniently; but the judgment from on High is exactly measured to each individual case. Of course, it is impossible for us to form such perfect judgment of ourselves or of others – nor should this distress us; but it still leaves for us the ideal standard of judgment, for which we should all strive. It has been well stated that your reputation is what others think you are; your character is what you really are – what you are in the dark; that is, when you do what you do even though you are certain no other human being will know about it. In such cases, "good and honest hearts" abstain from evil from the purest of motives, because they themselves "love righteousness and hate iniquity" – just as they also practice "good works" from sheer love of that which is "pure, noble and of good report." If a man "examine himself" by these standards, then he will surely "keep the feast" in newness of life, with the peace of God reigning in his heart and mind – a peace which none can take away from him by any amount of contrary opinion.
A substantial part of this self-examination may well be devoted to an introspection of our Christian courage. From the time of Jesus on down through the Age many have loved right ways, but have lacked the courage to stand for the right. "Among the chief rulers also many believed on Him; but because of the Pharisees they did not confess Him, lest they should be put out of the synagogue: For they loved the praise of men more than the praise of God" (John 12:42,43). Of these was one Joseph of Arimathea – "being a disciple of Jesus, but a concealed one through fear of the Jews" (John 19:38, Dia.) – who waited until Jesus was dead before rendering to Him that "cup of cold water" He so sorely craved and needed during those last turbulent days. Then there was the youth (Mark 14:51) standing in the Garden that awful night, clothed in a linen garment, who also fled naked and in terror at the first evidence of trouble for himself. He apparently represented many at that time who lost their tentative justification (represented in his leaving behind the linen covering) by forsaking Him who alone could justify them. And this youth forsaking his linen garment probably pictures a class of Truth people in the end of this Age who also will lose their tentative justification because they forsake those who courageously "witness to the Truth" under present adverse circumstances. "Because iniquity shall abound, the love of many shall wax cold." Among such are those who "kiss Baal", and thus lose their tentative justification. See E-7-225, top. Thus, for all who attempt an honest self-examination, these cases just cited may well serve as pertinent examples. And such self-examination cannot do other than bring such to the table in a condition to "eat and drink worthily." "Therefore, let us keep the festival, not with the old leaven, nor with leaven of vice and wickedness, but with the unleavened principles of sincerity and Truth"1 Cor. 5:8 (Dia.).
This year we expect to commemorate at 1507 N. Donnelly, Mount Dora, Florida, at 7:30 P. M., April 1 – and we extend a cordial invitation to all of like mind to join with us as their convenience may determine. And to one and all everywhere do we wish and pray the lord's blessing for their preparation for and participation in this Memorial of "Christ our Passover who is sacrificed for us."
Sincerely your brother,
John J. Hoefle, Pilgrim
Question of General Interest
Question: – In 1 Tim. 3:16 St. Paul says, "Without controversy great is the mystery of godliness." Does he mean by this that we should avoid controversy in our witness of the Truth?
Answer: – If St. Paul meant what the Questioner seems to think, then he directly contradicts himself in other places. In 2 Tim. 3:16 he says one of the four cardinal purposes of inspired Scripture is "for reproof" (for refuting); and he says in Phil. 1:17, "I am set for the defense of the gospel." Jesus Himself certainly engaged in much controversy for the Truth during His ministry on earth. The King James version offers a very poor and misleading translation in the words "without controversy". The Diaglott renders it "confessedly great" – that is, "without any doubt", or "no room for argument or chance of successful dispute." "The mystery of godliness", which St. Paul says is "confessedly great" is the fact that the Christ is a composite company, consisting of many members – "Christ in you the hope of glory." This has been a great mystery completely hidden from the world of mankind in general during this Gospel Age. It is one of those things which "the natural man receiveth not" (1 Cor. 2:14). It is one of the great paradoxical expressions of the Bible that God's people are "Sons of peace", that they should "seek peace and pursue it"; yet they are fighting a great part of their time as "good soldiers." Their fighting for the Truth is not a matter of natural choice with them, as all of them would much prefer that all men everywhere receive the Truth in meekness and rejoicing; but the "god of this world" has blinded the minds of many, so that the true followers of Jesus have been forced to "fight the good fight" if they would be faithful in the covenants they have made. Hear the words of Jesus in Luke 12:51-53 – "Do you imagine that I am come to give Peace in the land? I tell you, No; but rather Division. For from this time, five in One House will be divided; three against two, and two against three; – Father against a son, and a Son against a Father; a Mother against the daughter, and a Daughter against the Mother"... And it has been the Truth – and the Truth alone – that has caused such controversy and divisions.