THE EUCHARIST— THE DRAMA BEHIND THE CURTAIN

 

VARGHESE PAMPLANIL

 

I have gone through the introduction of Dr. James Kottoor on the write up “Eucharist Ceremony” by George Nedumparambil.

 

By any yardstick, George, being a non-Italian is no Latino; I am no Syro-Malabarian either. Both of us are citizens of India residing in the state of Kerala.

 

I presume George was with a commercial bank; I happened to be employed in the Reserve Bank, the Central Bank of India, Bankers’ Bank, Lender of the Last Resort and Supervisor of Banks. In my whole career, I was not exposed to banking in the conventional mode, except I had examined the methods of operations and the books of accounts of  commercial banks, urban cooperative banks and non-banking financial companies.

 

The Lord’s Supper, Eucharist, Holy Communion???

One should be grateful to George for pointing out that the socalled exhortion of Jesus to his disciples to ”eat his body and drink his blood” is an oddity of the gospel of Luke alone; not mentioned in other Synoptical gospels. This omission in the gospels attributed to  Mark and Matthew, written prior to that of Luke is significant.

 

The poignant scene in the Last Supper is the figment of imagination of Renaissance painters. So also is the betrayal of Judas Iscariot.

 

The early Christians more or less adhered to the Passover of the Jews. Jesus would have observed the Passover in Jewish way, granted such a thing happened just before he was arraigned before the Romans for sedition.

 

In the beginning of Christianity, the Passover lamb was slaughtered in the Temple; the meat eaten in any house inside Jerusalem. Jesus and his disciples would have behaved like a family for the celebration.

 

Christians in the second century replaced the Passover for the Lord’s Supper.The observance of the event followed a fairly standard pattern. First was an opening prayer and the blessing of the cup of wine. Then each person took herbs and dipped them in salt-water. The head of the family took one of the three flat cakes of unleavened breads, broke it, and put some aside. The story of the first Passover was recounted, and the second cup filled and passed around.

 

Before the meal itself, all washed their hands, grace was said, and the bread was broken. Bitter herbs dipped in sauce were distributed. The climax was the festive meal of roast lamb, followed by the third cup of wine: a final psalm and the fourth cup of wine.

 

The Lord’s supper was actually a MEAL

Originally the Lord’s Supper was celebrated as a “full meal” within the framework of the Lord’s Day’s gathering in the evening. In the second half of the second century, the Eucharist meal assumed a more modest form either on the Lord’s Day in the morning or on other days of the week.

The Last Supper Facts for Kids

While there is some mystery as to how the Last Supper was transitioned into a truncated form,  there is no doubt whatsoever that the Lord’s Supper was an actual meal. This fact may be revelation to many Christians.

 

“For over a thousand years, Communion, the Eucharist, or the Lord's supper, has degenerated to no more than a bit of bread and tiny taste of wine or grape juice. The Lord’s Supper is no longer a supper; it has become the Saviour’s Snacklets or the Nazarene’s Nibble.”

 

But, it is clear from the accounts in Acts, and the description in 1 Corinthians 11, the Lord's Supper was a “full meal”. In Corinth, the problem with the Lord’s Supper was: some people ate and drank everything before all had arrived (1Cor 11:21- 22, 33-34). Some people were even dead drunk (1 Cor 11-21).”

 

From the descriptions in 1 Corinthians 11, it is evident that the Lord’s Supper was the time for the Christians to gather and mingle with one another over an actual meal, where they would enjoy conversation and fellowship with one another: a celebratory meal, where they would laugh, tell stories and build relationships.This was the Lord’s Supper; the weekly gathering in the local church.

 

Communion in wafer form is believed to have been used from either the 9th or 10th century for economic reasons; at worst fooling the congregation with a paltry wheat wafer; the money collected, stolen and pocketed by the clergy on the sly.

 

Is the Catholic Communion is the adaptation of Mithraic rite?

Mithraism was a Roman religion from the 1st century BCE; flourishing in the first few centuries of CE. Features common to Mithraism and Christianity include the motif of a crucified and resurrected god-man who brings salvation from sin, and the primary of 12 followers. Jesus son ofthe Hebrew sky god called Father and Mithras son of Ormuz are two versions of the same myth. The rituals of Christianity meshed with the rituals of Mithraism: the Eucharist Communion dovetailed seamlessly in both the religions in great detail. The religious language used in Mithraism became the language of the Christians. The idea of a sacrificial saviour is of Mithraist origin , so also the symbolism of bulls/ rams/sheep; the blood of a saviour from the heavens washing away sins and granting eternal life. The 7 sacraments, the banishing of an evil being from nether world,apocalyptic end of time when God/Ormus sends the wicked to hell and establish peace. Mithraism and Christianity emerged from the same cultural milieu.

 

The rite of “eating the flesh of Jesus and drinking his blood” for salvation was imported and absorbed in Pauline Christianity from Mithraism. Paul (born as Saul in Tarsusin Turkey) was a Roman citizen, a hellenised diaspora Jew grew up in the milieu of Mithraism. He organised his brand of Christianity around the middle of the 1st century at various cities of the Roman Empire during his business trips (he was a maker of huge tents out of animal skins for Roman soldiery). He never met Jesus. It is doubtful whether he was aware of the teachings of the Galilean. He seemed to have rebelled against Jewish religious leadership and its laws,replacing it with Mithraic/Hellenistic theology.

 

Luke, the ardent follower of Paul had only hearsay knowledge of Jesus. He wrote his gospel after, at least 60 years after the death of Jesus. Luke was a hellenised Greek born in Antioch, Syria. He was not even familiar with the geography of Israel for when he says east, he would be talking of events in the west.

 

Luke’s gospel are all FAIRY TALES right from his Christmas fairy tale, all unreliable ones.

 

Emperor Constantine, a Mithraist converted to Christianity, established 25th of December, the birthday Mithras as the birthday of Jesus: Saturday, the day of Sabbath of the Jews gave way to the Mithraist Sunday as Christian holiday. The principal Catholic Church of Rome was built on the place where the most venerated Mithraist temple stood.

 

The Sacrament of Communion with bread and wine was replaced by wheat wafer bearing the imprint of the cross; cross (anklet) an ANCIENT PHALLIC SYMBOL that originated in Egypt; the cross the female symbol. The roots of Mithraism can be traced to Zoroastrianism, a Persian (Iranian) religion which had links with Vedic thoughts.

 

Ever since the establishment of Constantianity the Christian Church became a monolithic structure with a  uniform pattern of worship. Recent research has shown that the actual situation was different. Converts to Christianity were drawn from a variety of cultures and back grounds and they carried with them their pre-Christian ways of worship. Various congregations developed their own individual worship practices that emphasised different theological views.

 

In the Books of Acts and in Paul’s writing to the Church of Corinth,  one may get some idea of how the earliest followers of Christ celebrated the the Lord’s supper, but neither source provides much detail. But there are other written records that help to flesh the bare bones of the biblical record; one of them is the Didache discovered in 1873.

 

The Didache is a manual for church order for Christians living probably in Syria around CE 60. The Didache recommends, praying the Lord’s Prayer thrice daily; gathering on the Lord’s Day (would have been Saturday, the Sabbath day) to “break bread and give thanks”, an activity solely for the baptised.

 

The first activity of the Day, involved confessing of sins and reconciling with neighbours in preparation for a pure sacrifice to the Lord, the Father. The actual service which followed orthodox Jewish form of prayer before and after the MEALS began with thanksgiving over the cup and the loaf. When offering the cup, the worship leader would give thanks for the “holy wine of David” a likely reference to the Messianic community (Psalm 80.8), with a doxology “To you be glory forever.”

 

After the doxology, the worship leader would give thanks over the broken loaf, thanking God “for the life and know- ledge You have revealed through Jesus, Your Child” concluding with another doxology. That was followed by a COMMUNITY MEAL, which though not detailed in Didache, likely was a precursor of the pot luck.

 

Notice this early guidebook for Christian worship, a sort of early day, Novus Ordo, makes no mention of either the “BODY OR THE BLOOD OF CHRIST!" The emphasis is on the gathering of the church body (1 Corinthians 10.17). The worship service as practised by the first Christians was a “praise celebration” of the congregation of God’s people, an event where prayers and thanksgiving interwoven with doxologies, offered to God. Rome claims the “mythical apostolic succession” to validate her high priest, the Pope, and has developed all sorts of rules and practices to control.

 

Communion, Jewish Sacrifice, Blood, Flesh, Eating and Drinking

 

The Bull was seen as a symbol of Spring, of rebirth, the belief of Mithras cleaning himself with the blood of the bull has roots in the Mesopotamian myth later adopted and adapted by Zoroastrianism and later in Hebrew religions and further to Christianity .

 

The Mithraic sacrament involved the eating the flesh of the sacrificed bull and drinking its blood, According to Mithraic myth, Mithras would undergo cultic transformation into a bull (or) ram, which would be killed and its flesh and blood (or wine) representing the flesh and blood of Mithras would be consumed by the faithful.

 

The Jews followed the ritual of animal sacrifice. Some say that the Mithraists practised human sacrifice as well,leaving cannibalistic elements in the Christian Communion, the Eucharist. The imagery of the blood of Jesus washing away sins and granting eternal life (like Mithras) was transported to the Christian faith of Jesus’s death and rebirth. The injunctions that his disciples should eat his flesh and and drink his blood to wash away sins and gain eternal life are telltale remnants of Mithraism.

 

Plato (420 – 347 BCE) wrote, with awe, about the power of the Hamoa juice/wine used in the communion of mystery religions, the rites which predated Christian versions of these rites.

 

Transubstantiation – an absurdity

 

The Roman Church would have the world to believe that during the Catholic Mass, the wheat waferwafer and wine are changed into the actual body and blood of Jesus in the process the Church calls transubstantiation, a faith and belief that emanated in the Council of Trent (1640-1651).

 

The art of cheating the believers by giving the tiniest of hosts and a smack of wine has been fine crafted as a con game by the Catholic Church. 

 

The celebration of the Lord’s Supper in Syro-Malabar Church

The Syro-Malabar Church will take the trophy for “most convoluted” form of celebrating the Eucharist. Its Mass is an atrocious mishmash of repetitive prayers and irrelevant songs, wild gesticulations charismatic style, unwanted out of context and meaningless intonations, theatrical gestures, odious reading from Old Testament and above all insuffer- able and often nauseating “bla bla” of the officiating priest. If the cleric has any grudge against any body in the congregation, out comes the worst unbearable abuses and bad language. There is no opportunity for any dialogue. The cleric monopolises everything. The congregation is forced to be mere spectators. The overwhelming theme is SIN AND GUILT with no avenue for atonement. The show that starts at the wee hours of the day, drags on monotonously for even 1. 5 hours. Comic relief: the rantings, wailings and howling of possessed individuals.

 

What is achieved by the reading of Eusebius crafted Constantine imposed inanity “Nicene Creed” during the Syrian-Malabar Catholic Mass?

There is no reconciliation. The worshippers leave the church with a final reminder of impending death. A thinking person is forced to leave the church with very bad taste in his mouth, tongue, mind and body.

 

A plea

It is a fruitless enterprise to find out anything worthwhile from the Bible, “the tale told by idiot signifying nothing.” It is book written backwards in total secrecy and kept hidden for years in the dark labyrinths of Vatican away from the scrutiny of critical minds. When the book was written hardly 5% of the population could at least read. The book was redacted, revised and even prostituted to serve nefariousness purposes. Arguments based on the sayings in the book end up in circular reasoning.Trying to prove anything on the strength of the book is waste of time.

 

Tailpiece

Because of Covid–19 many Catholics could have been denied of the taste of the communion host to their discomfiture. But don’t worry.  Unconsecrated communion wafers bought from religious stores can be eaten as snackwafers. It is okay. No one would  be committing any sacrilege. Walmart sells a box of 1000 communion wafers made of whole wheat, 11/8 inches dimension at the rate of $ 20,75. Interested persons can order them through Amazon. In Kerala the going rate of wafers sold by convents may be around Rs. 150 per 1000 pieces. Only influential persons may have access. 

 

Main Sources:

1 : Dr. S. Radhakrishnan — “Eastern Religions and Western Thoughts”

2 : Ralf Philip Martin- (1925-2013) British New Testament scholar — Education : Liverpool Collegiate School, University of Manchester and King’s College —“ The History of Christianity”:

3 : Jeremy P Meyer — He teaches in  Arizona State University— Education: M. A.English (Summa Cum Laude) – 1996. “Article”

4 : Vexen Crabtree- Bournemouth University —Management of Computer Systems Department — Student of  Religious Studies. “Article”

 

 

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1 Response

  1. George Nedumparambil says:

    Varghese does a neat work of tracing the historical development of Eucharist to its present shape with its underlying beliefs.  Could anything be more obnoxious than believing that by eating this wafer more often, a believer can get eternal life, a life without death, presumably after the first death that all of us have to experience.  What makes it repulsive even more is the teaching that the wafer is actual flesh of Jesus.  Assuming Jesus had said the words "eat my body", could he have meant a literal interpretation.  He probably would have meant listen to my teachings and live by them as Jeremiah seems to suggest in 15:16 "Thy words were found, and I did eat them; and thy word was unto me the joy and rejoicing of mine heart: for I am called by thy name, O LORD God of hosts."  Quite obviously 'words' cannot be eaten and so it simply meant Jeremiah understood and grasped them and his subsequent doings or teaching were guided by those words. 

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