I grew up Lutheran. I was admitted to Catholic Communion because I said publicly that I believed what the Catholic Church teaches.


By Fr. John Zuhlsdorf,  

I grew up Lutheran. It is of constant consternation and amazement to me that I have had to fight with Catholics over what the Catholic Church teaches about the Eucharist. I have met Lutherans who believe more about the Eucharist than a few of my seminary profs. I am not exaggerating.

As things rev up toward 2017 and the Lutherfest, much about Catholic Lutheran dialogue will be in the offing. You will read lots of blah blah about…


I say YES! I want intercommunion, too!

I want intercommunion between Catholics and former Lutheran converts to Catholicism.

Also, before everyone out there gets their underthings in a twist, I said “blah blah”.  Mark my words.  A lot of the blah blah about how wonderful we all are together in this warm envelope of fraternal dialogue and sky-filled fellowship of sharing with open-hearts and arms for the sake of the unity of Christians in one hope of charity which propels us forward, ever forward, to the heights despite our historic differences, with eyes and hearts fixed first on not on what separates but what brings together in the unity of united unitors united but not-yet-fully-unified…. yes… I can write ecumenical documents for hours …  A lot of the blah blah is really blah blah.  Everyone knows that it is blah blah.  We all smile at the blah. And we hope for more, rich, deeper sharing from the now heaped up blah in the future, for the sake of…  okay, I’m doing it again…

When I became a Catholic, I knelt in front of the Blessed Sacrament exposed and in Latin declared (grad school classical languages major that I was) aloud with many witnesses in a public rite:

I accept and hold in each and every part all that has been defined and declared by the Sacred Council of Trent concerning original sin and justification. I profess that in the Mass there is offered to God a true, real, and propitiatory sacrifice for the living and the dead; that in the holy sacrament of the Eucharist the body and blood together with the soul and divinity of our Lord Jesus Christ is really, truly, and substantially present, and that there takes place in the Mass what the Church calls transubstantiation, which is the change of all the substance of bread into the body of Christ and of all substance of wine into His blood. I confess also that in receiving under either of these species one receives Jesus Christ whole and entire.

I professed that and became, formally, a Catholic because I had come to believe it, through an intellectual and affective conversion.  Only then was I admitted to Holy Communion.

Lutherans don’t believe what Catholics believe about the Eucharist.  

I had to – formally – adhere to Catholic dogma.  I had to – formally – leave heresy, though I had left it a long time before.  I was admitted to Catholic Communion, and to the Catholic Communion, because I said publicly that I believed what the Church teaches.

Might I add an anecdote?

Once upon a time, I was sent to attend as a Catholic representative an ecumenical Thanksgiving Breakfast.  Yes.. as you spit your beverage on the screen.  I… I… was sent. Upon my entry, a young Lutheran pastor planted himself in front of me and said, “Are you the priest at St. Raphael who won’t give Communion to non-Catholics?”  “I am”, quoth I.  “THANK YOU!”, said he.  He continued, “We don’t have intercommunion among Lutherans!”  “I know!”, I responded.  “I used to be one of you!”  We sat together and had a great breakfast.  It was founded on honesty.  We didn’t gloss over anything.  We didn’t pretend that there were differences.

I saw this at LifeSite:

ZAGREB, Croatia, October 28, 2016 (LifeSiteNews) — It is “irreformable” dogma of the Catholic Church that only those who believe that Jesus Christ is truly present in the consecrated bread and wine are able to receive Holy Communion, stated Cardinal Raymond Burke. The Vatican cardinal said that St. Paul makes it clear that unless the person receiving recognizes the body of Christ, he “eats condemnation to himself.”

“This is a sacrilege. This is among the gravest of sins,” he said.

The cardinal was responding to a question on intercommunion with other Christian denominations asked by LifeSiteNews’ John-Henry Westen during the October 23 launch of the Croatian version of the cardinal’s book on the Eucharist in Zagreb, Croatia.

“No one can approach to receive the Holy Eucharist unless he believes that the host that he is receiving — even though it looks like bread, tastes like bread, and smells like bread — is in reality the body and blood of Christ. Only that person who believes in this way can approach the Blessed Sacrament, can approach to receive Holy Communion,” he stated.


I was thrown out of my seminary by the prof who, in class, explicitly denied the Church’s teaching on transubstantiation. I fought him in class when he stated that “no real change takes place”.

Shall I tell you about it?  It was a matter of great personal suffering.

This heretic stated in class that when the “ordained minister [we are all ministers, you see, some ordained and some non-ordained], says the words of institution [not consecration] over bread and wine “no real change takes place.”   Wait for it.   “No real change takes place.  It becomes [and this is word for word] a symbol of the unity of the community gathered there in that moment”.

How many things are wrong with that?

I had been good.  I had kept my head down.  Then… I raised my hand.

I asked about transubstantiation.

“How”, I asked, “does that reflect the Church’s teaching on transubstantiation?”

“The Church no longer teaches transubstantiation.”

“When did that happen?”, I asked.

He said, “With Vatican II.”

“Okay,”, I admitted, “let’s say that Vatican II did that.  Can you tell me how that harmonizes with what the Church used to teach on transubstantiation?”

He said that transubstantiation wasn’t a valid term, because we don’t adhere anymore to Aristotelean categories of substance and accident, form and matter, and all that.

I then asked him why Paul VI in his encyclical on the Eucharist, after Vatican II, said that we had to refer to transubstantiation, even when we use new ways to describe the Eucharist.

He became furious.

Purple, he ranted at me about outdated Aristotelean categories, blah blah blah.

I responded… and this, dear readers, was my Waterloo,…

“I grew up Lutheran. Even Lutherans believe more than you do!”

Soon after, the rector had a heart attack and he, rector of vice (not kidding, but that’s another story), became the rector.

The next day he threw me out of the hell on earth that was our seminary, back in the day.

Yep. I’ve been fighting this fight for a long time. I take this issue seriously.  Some of you younger priests and seminarians haven’t fought this fight yet.  You will.   In that day, find us older guys, with the scars.  We’ll help you.

(BTW… a now well-know Archbishop and St. Therese de Lisieux got me back in.)

May I suggest to all priests reading this to review the Church’s teaching on the Eucharist and preach it clearly and boldly?

May I suggest to all priests and bishops to revive the Forty Hours Devotion?

May I suggest to all lay people to ask, request, beg, cajole, demand, urge the return of devotions such as Forty Hours and frequent Exposition and Benediction?


Further reading

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7 Responses to I grew up Lutheran. I was admitted to Catholic Communion because I said publicly that I believed what the Catholic Church teaches.

  1. Toad says:

    “We didn’t gloss over anything. We didn’t pretend that there were differences.”

    I think he probably means, “We didn’t pretend that there were no differences.”
    But what do I know? I’ve never been a Lutheran.
    Not even once.


  2. ginnyfree says:

    Bravo! Go team! I’ve got a few scars myself. In RCIA, the DRE was a RSM who thought she’d be a better Pastor than our Pastor and was working towards women’s ordination. I challenged her heresy in front of the class and it nearly cost me Baptism, Confirmation and First Holy Communion at the Vigil. I got there, but it was very obvious to me that I wasn’t welcome, nor were my children because they were mine. Heresy hurts everyone. We are all being robbed by it, whether or not we are aware of it. We are living through exceedingly dark times. When history writes about what is going on, it will tell the tale much differently than those who speak about such things today. Heresy? What heresy? There’s no such thing anymore. Just about the finish Burke’s book Divine Love Made Flesh. I love the man. I wish he were my Pastor. Sigh. Nuff said. God bless. Ginnyfree.


  3. johnhenrycn says:

    Good for you, Ginny. There was one teacher in my RCIA class who insisted on referring to the Holy Spirit as “she”, to which I (innocently) responded: “Does that mean Jesus had two mommies?” Another instructor, a professor from a local Catholic college, said something – I forget exactly what is was – that got my back up, and I started to explain why, but he ignored my interjection (which he had consented to when I raised my hand) and just started talking over me as if I wasn’t in the room.


  4. Toad says:

    “In RCIA, the DRE was a RSM “


  5. ginnyfree says:

    Alphabet soup Toad. I took the initiative and made an acronym out of Ribbit. It goes like this: Refreshing, Inventive, Brave, Brilliant, Impressive, Truthful. It certainly describes our little Toady doesn’t it? You can go here: http://www.nameacronym.net/ and make more if you’d like. It’s fun. Happy Feast Day BTW, God bless. Ginnyfree.


  6. Toad says:

    “You can go here: http://www.nameacronym.net/ and make more if you’d like. It’s fun.”
    Certainly sounds like fun, GF – and it will keep you and Toad out of the bar for a bit longer than usual, at least.


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