Questions from a Lutheran

Fr. Phil Bloom,

I am a Lutheran from St. Louis, MO.

Several things have bothered me in studying church history and the differences in the branches of the Christian church. The obvious mystery to me is praying to Mary and Saints. In the discussion on Praying to Saints it is mentioned at those in heaven pray with us. Okay, fine. But where does is mention or speak of us praying TO them?

I don't really care to get into the discussion of praying to Mary right now. Mary was a sinful being just like you and me. Jesus was not. Since he personally invited me to pray to him, I choose to do that.

My question is regarding the Sacrament of Holy Communion. I am sure you are very aware of Martin Luther's teaching of the Real Presence. In reading the scriptures (and I apologize for not having my bible with me) where Christ instituted Holy Communion, he said "Take Eat, this IS my body, take drink, this IS my blood" Where does the practice of using a ceremony to transform it from the bread to the body and the wine to the blood come from? Baptist (and other denominations) says that the wine/bread symbolized the blood/body.

How can we as humans make the determination of what is fact (literal) and what is metaphoric. Revelations clears says this was a dream, therefore it can be taken metaphoric, but otherwise, can we we make the determination with out fear of making the wrong interpretation. The Bible is God's word. I can not see him wanting to make it a huge puzzle we have to figure out an interpret. Why would he want to make it difficult to understand his Word?

I know I am rambling, but I would appreciate some guidance on the Catholic practice of Communion.

Thanks for your time.

Your brother in Christ,

Jeff Ilseman


Dear Jeff,

Good to hear from you. You asked: Where does the practice of using a ceremony to transform it from the bread to the body and the wine to the blood come from? The answer is found in Luke 22:9 (see also I Cor 11:25) where Jesus says "Do this in memory of me."

As you note, Martin Luther had a strong belief in Christ's real presence in the host. When he debated w/ Zwingli, who had slid to the "Baptist" position you described, he wrote on the floor: Hoc EST enim corpus meum. And he underlined the word, "Est." Unlike a certain past president, he did know what "is" means.

I know you don't want to get into an argument (nor do I) but would it be possible to respectfully clarify our statements? First, how do you know that "Mary was a sinful being just like you and me"?

Also, what is wrong with speaking to another person asking them to pray for ones needs? And does not the psalmist (Ps. 148:1-2) address the angels and heavenly host? I suspect the phrase "pray to" may mean something different for you than me, but perhaps we could each try to clarify what we mean. Does that sound fair?

And, yes, it would a shame to argue over smaller points when we have so much in common - and so much that God is calling each of us to for others - and our own souls.

God bless,

Fr. Phil Bloom

Reply ("All have sinned." Is Mary an exception?)

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