Defending the Real Presence: Two True Stories

Written By Fr. Michael Mueller

It happened once in the Netherlands that two ladies, a Catholic and a Protestant, were disputing on the subject of the Real Presence. The Protestant asserted that the Real Presence was impossible. The Catholic asked her: “Have you Protestants any creed in your religion?” “Oh, to be sure,” said the Protestant; and she began to recite: “I believe in God the Father Almighty, Creator of heaven and earth.” “Stop,” said the other; “that is enough. You say that you believe in an all-powerful God; why then do you not believe that He can change bread into His Body and wine into His Blood? Is that difficult for Him who is Almighty?” The Protestant had nothing to answer.

A similar argument was once made use of by a pious painter named Leonardo. He one day met in an inn two men, one of whom was a Lutheran and the other a Calvinist. They were ridiculing the Catholic doctrine about the Blessed Sacrament. The Calvinist pretended that by these words, “This is My Body,” it was only meant that the bread signifies the Body of Christ; the Lutheran, on the other hand, asserted that this was not true, but that they meant that bread and wine, in the moment of their reception, became, by the faith of the recipient, the Body and Blood of Christ, While this dispute was going on, Leonardo took a piece of paper and drew the image of Our Lord Jesus Christ, with Luther on the right hand and Calvin on the left. Under the image of our Saviour, he wrote the words: “This is My Body.” Under the figure of Calvin he wrote: “This signifies My Body”; and under that of Luther: “This becomes My Body in the moment that you eat it.” Then handing the paper to the two disputants, he said: “Which of these three is right, our Saviour, or Calvin, or Luther?” They were struck at the force of the argument, and ceased to scoff at the Catholic doctrine.

Indeed, this objection to the Real Presence is but a proof of the blindness into which men fall when they are led astray by pride and instigated by the devil. The devil has had from the beginning a special hatred for this doctrine. In the early ages of the Church, he incited Simon the Magician and the Manichaeans to deny it, and in later times, he seduced Berengarius to follow their example; but he never succeeded so well as with Luther, Calvin, Zwingli and the other heresiarchs of the sixteenth century.

Luther acknowledges himself that the devil once appeared to him in a visible shape and told him to abolish the Sacrifice of the Mass and to deny the Real Presence of Our Lord in the Blessed Sacrament. And indeed, this is not strange. The devil knows that, according to the promise of Jesus Christ, they who receive Holy Communion worthily will not fall into his power but will obtain eternal life, and on this account he either tempts men to disbelieve the mystery, or he suggests every sort of pretext to keep them from receiving it. But he himself believes it and trembles. Would to God that all men had so strong a faith! After Our Lord had changed bread into His Body and wine into His Blood, He added the words: “Do this in remembrance of Me.”

This article is taken from a chapter in The Blessed Eucharist: Our Greatest Treasure by Father Michael Mueller which is available from TAN Books.

Fr. Michael Mueller (1825 - 1899) was a German-American author and spiritual writer who was a prominent member of the Redemptorist Order in the United States.  His work The Blessed Eucharist Our Greatest Treasure is available from TAN Books.