Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Fr. Robert Nash, S.J., "Protestants Are Hankering For The Doctrine, Which Was Filched From Them By Unscrupulous Men In The Sixteenth Century."

The Jesuits chapel at Rathfarrnham Castle
When I return tonight to Rathfarnham Castle where I live, I shall go into our chapel there and kneel to pray for a while. I am pretty sure to find other Jesuits there in prayer also. Now here is a group of men, — a mere handful of the more than four hundred million Catholics scattered across the world, [in 2013, there were 1,200 million Catholics in the world] — and they are absolutely convinced of this, that Jesus Christ is really, truly, and substantially present on that altar before them, under the Eucharistic Species. 
They are kneeling at His feet as truly as Mary His Blessed Mother knelt before Him in the crib at Bethlehem; as truly as if they were on their knees by His side when He passed the whole night in prayer on the mountain; as truly as if they were close to Him when He preached from Peter's boat to the crowds drawn up along the shore; as truly as if they were on Calvary itself, on the ground soaked in His Precious Blood. 
We are not asking you necessarily to believe this. All we want to stress is that if the Catholic doctrine of the Real Presence were true, it would be extraordinarily comforting and beautiful. It would infuse new life and meaning into the apostle's phrase: "Jesus Christ, yesterday, today and the same forever." A beautiful faith! 
A Protestant once said to a Catholic friend of mine: "If I believed what you Catholics believe about the Blessed Eucharist, I think I'd never be off my knees." Father Peter Gallway, a Jesuit who lived many years in London, was accustomed, even in his very old age, to remain long hours every night before the Blessed Sacrament. 
You would find him at midnight, and far into the small hours of morning kneeling, or seated, there in the darkness, seemingly, like his divine Master, spending the whole night in the prayer of God. A younger priest once made bold to ask him how he occupied himself during all that time. What did he do or say or think? The old man smiled. “I suppose, Father, I may as well tell you very simply. I stay there quite quietly, and occasionally I say just one single word, — `God,' or, sometimes, 'Jesus.'" That was all. The overwhelming truth of that Presence filled and satisfied his hungering soul. 
The beauty of it. The solid consolation of it. The unfailing source of joy it is to the soul that realises. "Hold Him and keep Him for your friend," counsels a Kempis, "who, when all others forsake you, will not abandon you nor suffer you to perish in the end." Is it possible to doubt that the Catholic's conviction that in the Blessed Eucharist he can most literally obey this injunction, must inundate his soul with joy? The beauty of it! But what most of all consolidates his happiness is the unfaltering assurance that it is true. 
It is no wonder that many Protestants are hankering for the doctrine, which was filched from them by unscrupulous men in the sixteenth century. One sees signs of this nostalgia, for instance, in several Anglican Churches, which set up an altar, and keep a lamp always burning, and genuflect, and celebrate "Mass." All this is evidence of their longing, their hunger, for the Real Presence. They are painfully conscious of what the late Monsignor Knox (himself a convert from Anglicanism) described as "The Real Absence" in their Church. Their efforts to fill it are beyond all praise. Catholics are certain that these efforts can be successful when they seek the Real Presence where alone It can be found.

"Would that thy creed were sound, thou Church of Rome!
For thou hast power to soothe the heart, thou Church of Rome!
With thy unwearied watch and varied round
Of service in thy Saviour's holy Home."
Link (here) to the full discourse by Fr. Robert Nash, S.J.

1 comment:

Qualis Rex said...

If Protestans are "hankering for (Catholic) doctrine" it is unlikely they will find it within the ranks of the Society of Jesus (so called). There are of course many good Jesuit priests, but the vast majority adhere and promote a very modernist agenda at odds with church doctrine. A bit of a dychotomy here.