How valid is the consecration of the bread and wine in a Lutheran or Episcopal holy eucharist liturgy?

By November 18, 2014 19 Comments

Full Question

How valid is the consecration of the bread and wine in a Lutheran or Episcopal Holy Eucharist liturgy? I am a Lutheran considering becoming a Catholic, and I have always believed/sensed that holy communion in the Lutheran church is in fact holy, and not a sham.


For the consecration of the elements to take place, it must be performed by a ministerial priest, whose role is different from that of the universal priesthood all believers. Since the Catholic Church, the Eastern Orthodox churches, and the other ancient Christian churches have preserved the ministerial priesthood through the apostolic succession of bishops, their Eucharist is valid.
Unfortunately, the ministerial priesthood has not been retained in Protestant churches. Most Protestant churches (all but the Anglican/Episcopalian tradition) have rejected the existence of a ministerial priesthood distinct from the universal priesthood and thus ceased to perpetuate it, breaking the apostolic succession in their circles.
It is equally unfortunate that, while many Anglicans/Episcopalians profess belief in a ministerial priesthood, the apostolic succession was ruptured in their circles, and their priesthood is no longer valid. After Henry VIII broke away from the Church, his successor, Edward VI, introduced a drastically altered and invalid version of the rite of ordination, with the result that the apostolic succession (which had previously been present in the Anglican Church) ceased, and its ministerial priesthood stopped.
This does not mean that Protestants such as Lutherans and Anglicans do not experience a real encounter with Jesus in the Eucharist. They can receive Jesus spiritually in communion, they just do not receive him in the full, sacramental manner he intended and which he wants them to experience. These communions are not just “a sham” but can be genuine spiritual encounters with Christ.
Upon entering Catholic life, one does not need to look back upon one’s former communions as simply empty shams; one can view them as spiritual encounters with Christ, encounters which gave one the grace to approach Christ even more closely, finally coming to receive the fullness of the Eucharist he wanted you to have.


  • tomrightmyer says:

    Sorry to read this historically and theologically inaccurate report on the Anglican apostolic succession. The stated objection is to the form of the Prayer Book ordinal, drawn from a misreading of the papal bull Apostolicae Curae. I recommend reading the Anglican archbishops’ response. The Roman Catholic succession cannot be historically traced to before the early 15th century. I am glad to see that the article no longer attempts to deny the historic succession of the Anglican episcopate, but it depends on a peculiarly Roman understanding to the sacrifice of the mass.

  • Adrián says:

    ¡Qué vergüenza! tener que leer algo tan ridículo y débil. Es inaceptable, no sólo por lo histórico y teológicamente incorrecto, sino por los avances ecuménicos entre ambas iglesias, gracias a Dios hoy la Iglesia Romana está dirigida por alguien tan maravilloso como Francisco y no por gente retrógrada.
    What a shame! having to read something so ridiculous and weak. It is unacceptable, not only because is historically and theologically incorrect, but for the ecumenical advances between the two churches. Thanks God today the Roman Church is led by someone as wonderful as Francisco and not by retrograde people.

  • Vicki Sawarin says:

    Is the Eastern Orthodox church the same as the Greek Orthodox church? We have a Greek Orthodox church in our area & it does appear to be even close to what a Catholic church is. If it is not a Catholic Church with a priest saying Mass, It very likely is not a valid Eucharist.

    • JET says:

      Vicki – The Eastern Orthodox (and any one of the 20-some sui iuris Eastern Catholic Churches in Communion with Rome) actually absolutely have a valid Eucharist. We Catholics (I am Byzantine Catholic) are still separated from the Orthodox, but both maintained apostolic succession and valid Sacraments.
      Most Eastern Catholic Churches most likely don’t appear to be much like what you are used to in a Roman Catholic Church. But they are still Catholic. Byzantine Catholic Churches have icons instead of statues, usually an icon screen at the front of the church that separates the sanctuary from the rest of the church. Candles, incense, the people stand during Divine Liturgy (our “Mass”), usually the Liturgy is chanted, not spoken. Communion is usually given in a different way. The sui iuris Churches have their own traditions, spirituality, theology. It might seem very confusing if all you’ve ever been exposed to is of the Latin Rite (Roman Catholic), but in all reality, these Churches are in communion with the Pope. Orthodox, unfortunately, are still not in union, but they are our separated sister churches and have valid sacraments.
      Maybe this will help about the “Other Catholics.” Most people really don’t know.
      Greek Orthodox are Eastern Orthodox — As are Russian Orthodox, Syrian Orthodox, Coptic Orthodox, etc.

  • Karen Bushy says:

    Would be interested to know the Biblical basis for the pronouncement that somehow those of us who commune in the Lutheran Church are receiving some kind of “B” grade communion with the Lord. I understand proclamations made by men over the centuries – wondering about a Biblical basis for the position. Thank you.

  • How arrogant can the catholic church be! I am an Anglican! I do not think that a whole church is surrounded by a man who puts on his pants the same as I. The Roman church is a break off of the Eastern orthodox church!! I am Holy,catholic, and apostolic! You are still mad at us for our break from a corrupt church! We seek Christ! You Catholics believe in a man who wants to be Christ! Shame on you!!

    • migs says:

      Sorry to burst your bubble. But it is not arrogance. It is just the truth. If you can’t handle the truth that’s your own problem. The Church of England removed itself from its communion with Rome due to the earthly desire of the British Monarch. The Moment when the King of England became the supreme Authority of the Church of England, which is equivalent to Papacy/Patriarch, you already loss you apostolic succession. Now the Church of England had loss its mind and is now having priestess which was against the established tradition of Christian Church. Next you allow openly gay priest on your clergy. The moment when men redefine Jesus/God to fit his own earthly interest is the moment you move away from the true faith of Christianity.

      • Father Andrew Crosbie says:

        Migs. Your comments are ignorant . There was no British Monarchy in the 16th century. The Union of the Crowns is 1603. The Union of Parliaments 1707. Try not to confuse Britain and England. If Catholicism is being defined as being in communion with the Bishop of Rome then all Orthodox and Anglican ( those who can prove a valid Apostolic succession, and have maintained the same ) are not Catholics. I dont think you will find that Pope Francis would agree with this. I agree that there is no such thing as a woman priest or bishop. Women cannot be Ordained. Stating something as being the truth without any level of understanding of the historical or theological setting is taking us back to the pre-school level of debate. Either do some reading and contribute with some level of informed opinion or stop making offensive and ignorant comments. You are doing more damage to the Catholic Faith than good . Timothy : your comments are just as bad as Migs. The same message to you.

  • I read the little article on the Eucharist. It has two major flaws. 1. The writer assumes that Roman Catholic Apostolic succession is beyond question. This is far from the accurate. 2. It ignores the fact that Anglicanism exists beyond England. Here in Scotland several pre-reformation Catholic Bishops became reformed Bishops, thus taking with them into the Priesthood and Epsicopate that they Ordained true Apostolic Succession. In addition many present day Anglican Priests and Bishops can prove that their Ordintaion pedigree contain valid, if not Roman, Apostolic Succession. If a local 5 year old here had written this article I would be ashamed

    • Eric says:

      Still, the Eucharist is not valid because the Church of Scotland is calvanist in orientation and does not believe in the real presence. The Church of Scotland believes that the elements are metaphysically just bread and wine and that they symbolize Christ’s body and blood but that they serve as channels of God’s grace in some sense.

      • Father Andrew Crosbie says:

        In the name of God read a history book before writing crap on the internet. The Church of Scotland was not Presbyterian at the time of the reformation it became such only after 1707 when the English Government removed the Anglican Bishops because they had refused to foreswear allegiance to King James. The argument I was making was that you cannot deny the validity of the Orders of those Bishops and Priests ordained before the last quarter of the 16th Century in Scotland because they were ordained within the rules of Apostolic succession, They became Anglicans not Presbytrians . They continued to ordain validly becuase they were themselves validly ordained, like it or not. I did not suggest that Presbyterians had any validity or succession. I would never do so as there is no proper argument to support such a position.

  • Father Dominic says:

    even if the original Anglican orders were in some way invalid, since those days there have been numerous Catholic priests who have become Anglican/Episcopalian and numerous Old Catholic bishops, with VALID orders recognized by Rome have been involved in episcopal consecrations/ordinations. so chances are very good that most if not all Anglican/Episcopal bishops do have valid ordinations that would satisfy Rome.

  • John Jennings says:

    Stop pitting one denomination against another please. Not buying in to technicalities that can always be found in the tortured history of Christianity.

  • Mike Clinch says:

    This kind of theological arrogance is what leads too many of our modern Millennial generation to conclude that there is nothing valid in any church, or any religion. I left the Catholic Church over the ministrations of a so-called “ministerial priest” who emphasized generosity to the church and school above all else, and extolled one member of the parish as the catholic ideal. I never met the man, as he was incarcerated in Leavenworth, Kansas, the had of the Genovese family of the mafia, Vito Genovese.
    The real test about whether a sacrament is valid or not is if you have an authentic encounter with the Risel Lord through the experience of worship in that community. If you do, then that rite or serice brings you closer to God, which is what God really wants.

  • Pastor Jack says:

    In Martin Luther’s Small Catechism (1529), says that the Lord’s Supper, or the Sacrament of the Altar, “is the true body and blood of our Lord Jesus Christ, under the bread and wine, for us Christians to eat and to drink, instituted by Christ Himself.” We believe this because Jesus said “This is my Body, this is my Blood” and we take him at his Word.” Roman Catholics will say that Lutherans and Anglicans don’t have valid Sacraments because they don’t have valid bishops (ordained in an unbroken historic succession going back to the Apostles themselves), and therefore do not have valid priests and valid deacons. Okay, fine. Believe that if you want to. However, that is you theological opinion. We believe that we are part of the one, holy catholic, and apostolic Church of Jesus Christ. As a Lutheran pastor, I believe and teach that Christ is truly present in the bread and wine of His Holy Supper because our Lord said so and His Word is trustworthy and true. Our faith stands upon the Word of God, not the word of men. In some parts of the Lutheran Church there are bishops in historic succession; in other parts there is continuity through a presbyteral succession. In Sweden, for example, the bishops embraced Luther’s reforms. In Germany only a few bishops did, so priests began to ordain priests. Again, if you’re Roman Catholic this is unacceptable. Lutherans, including myself, don’t have a problem with this because we believe that apostolicity is about preaching and teaching what the Apostles preached and taught. Our faith is apostolic and catholic because it is grounded in God’s Word. If a bishop is “in the pipeline” but doesn’t preach and teach and administer the Sacraments in accordance with God’s Word, then he is no true bishop. What is troubling to me about the original question is that while the person who asked it said he always “felt” that communion in the Lutheran Church is holy, he didn’t say that his pastor told him that IT IS HOLY! Did the person who asked this question not have First Holy Communion classes? Was he not confirmed? Did his pastor not explain to him that Holy Communion is the Living and True Body and Blood of our Savior Jesus Christ?! Was he not required to study Luther’s Small Catechism? Or was he just not listening? Well, then let me set the record straight–Lutherans believe that the bread and wine are the Body and Blood of Christ! Period! Now, Roman Catholics can argue the validity of Lutheran Communion all they want, but lets be very clear about what Lutherans believe and teach. By the way, you all might want to read the Lutheran/Roman Catholic Dialogue on the Eucharist. You’ll find it on the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishop’s website. The dialogue took place way back in the 1960’s and you will find that there’s a lot of agreement between the two ‘ecclesial communities.’

  • Wow, all of these remarks are very interesting. I’m a Roman Catholic and no one will ever change my mind on what the consecrated bread and wine truly mean to the RC members of the world, it’s the true Body and Blood off Jesus, as was instituted at the last supper.
    He told St. Peter that “upon this rock YOU will build My Church”. Mybeliefs start right there. No offense meant, most of the words people are Christians, surely we can find resolve in that alone and only pray that the balance of people wake up and see THE LIGHT.

  • Ron Pulliam says:

    I’m sorry for any offense I may give to anyone, but… When Jesus told His disciples that the bread was His body and the wine was His blood, He asked them to partake in this manner in remembrance of Him. There were no codicils about the wine and bread having to be blessed in any other way…only in HIS NAME. Therefore, any group of people wishing to remember Him in this way may partake of bread and wine and, by invoking His name, these things are AUTOMATICALLY and UNEQUIVOCALLY consecrated. Organized religious rites do not IN ANY WAY make the Eucharist “MORE” holy. It’s just a “control” mechanism. If you fall for it, shame on you!

  • pwandersen says:

    Question: Paul says quite plainly that he refused to see or speak to any disciples who lived and worked with Jesus, other than a very brief meeting with James and Peter after his three-year hiatus in Arabia, which is where he says he received revelation directly from Jesus. Then he wrote the description of the Lord’s Supper (and thus the words of the Eucharistic Prayer) about 20 years before Mark wrote almost the identical words in his Gospel. So isn’t it plain that the description that has been handed down to us as historical fact was actually written by Paul, who was not present and did not speak to any witnesses about it?

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