RA Podcast #215 – Do You Want a Big Brain?

Grace Before Meals Video Shoot with Fr. Leo, Trip to Steubenville, Lenten Music, Who Can Receive the Eucharist, and Win a Free Copy of Timez Attack! 206-984-1899 for feedback!

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25 responses to “RA Podcast #215 – Do You Want a Big Brain?”

  1. Ryan says:

    Ok guys, here it is- the big “P” word- PRIDE! AHH!

    No, really. One of my frequent confessions as I enter the holy box is pride, which often stems from me watching my fellow parishioners receive Our Lord. In the back of my head, the little concupiscent voice likes to point out that I have never seen THAT woman in the confession line…
    My priest’s advice to me: close your eyes and search the Lord’s heart of mercy. I am to never watch anybody else receive the Eucharist because I can’t handle it. That’s how prideful I can be.

    I’m glad you’re talking about this touchy subject, because quite frankly, it was because of podcasts that I learned all of these things in the first place. And as a young man, it is the heroic and radical lifestyle of faithful Catholics that attracted me to the Church and attracts me to the priesthood.

    Keep it up guys.

    sidenote: I’m going to seminary, so unless there is a widespread ignorance among seminarians about math, I think I can humbly pass on the math game, as fun as it probably is 😉

  2. Hey guys I finally ‘got it’ I thought you were talking at first about the Wii Game Big Brain Academy, but no it is the uber cool math game you promoted on the last show. I showed my wife and kids and we are planning to use it soon. I would love to receive a full copy.

    Take care guys and I’m so glad you got the show out after yesterdays, issues.


  3. Terry says:


    I enjoyed your discussion on the proper reception of the Eucharist.

    Taking a socio-historical look at the Jewish law, its been purposed that the customs and traditions were a reaction to their exile from Israel/Judah. Each other their customs, in some way, ran contrary to the dominate Mediterranean culture of the region, and helped distinguish them from their “pagan” captors.

    I view the taking of the Eucharist in the same light (of course, I also view this through the lens of faith, which tells me that the Eucharist is an expression of spiritual unity and friendship with God…I don’t want to get pegged as purely materialist on this). In fact, I view many of the Church’s teachings in this light: not only is our devotion to Catholic teaching an expression of our faith, but its a social demarcation. What the world teaches and encourages, and what God teaches and encourages, can be very different. This conscious social demarcation not only serves as a guide for other people, but a reminder to ourselves.

    It also reminds of our Catholic faith. Where I converted, even going to other worship services were looked down upon. I’ve been chatting with college-age Catholics, and I’m always slightly shocked to hear about some of their opinions. For instance, some don’t keep the Friday fast, and more than a few haven’t gone to Confession in quite a while, yet continue to take the Eucharist. I take issue with this for two reasons: 1) as I said above, the Eucharist is is a physical expression of our inward friendship with God, as well as a social expression of our belief in the Catholic Church. As such, 2) such simple rejections of faith call into question the whole concept of the Magisterium. If we’re willing to compromise on this, what next? How does this make us any different from Luther? Calvin? Catholicism is a spiritual and social reality, in my view.

    But, I could be wrong (and rambling). Perhaps because I want a big brain? Maybe I already have one?

  4. Terry says:

    And, just in case my monologue, complete with grammatical mistakes wasn’t enough, here are a few corrections that should be applied above:

    Each other their customs=Each of their customs (clarification: such as the prohibition against pork, and circumcision)

    It also reminds of our Catholic faith.= reminds us of

  5. Deidre says:

    There are numerous references to the Eucharist in the bible. I could list them here but think hearing the “Mass Explained” would have more of an impact. I would like to invite all Catholics and non-catholics, especially those struggling with the existence of Jesus, to check out Father Larry’s Mass Explained. It will be the best $2.00 you ever spent. Link: http://thereasonforourhope.org/

    I have seen at a Catholic Mass, where non-catholics attend like a wedding, listed in the program the Churches regulations on Communion. For their protection this is a good thing.

    If the big brain is a “MAC” brain… yep, it could grow. Sorry, Don’t do PC !!!

    Thanks guys, glad you are back. DMc

  6. Ryan says:

    Terry! Greg! Jennifer! Just a few things from one of those “college-age Catholics”…

    I, too, am a convert, but like any Catholic who is sincerely fighting the good fight, I too attempt to keep my Friday fast, my hour-before-reception fast, and a clean conscience when receiving the Eucharist.

    I think something to keep in mind while talking about this topic is the big “P” word that we all struggle with, and that is pride. A frequent confession of mine that it is, it certainly is no stranger to me. And when it comes to the Eucharist and all of these issues of who is “worthy/not worthy”, the instructions given to me is to simply close my eyes when others receive, because as we all know, that confession line is often times very short on Saturday afternoon, yet Sunday mass is extremely well attended. “I never see HER in the confession line!”

    That being said, podcasting aids with this ‘problem’ of ours, doesn’t it? Because I think the biggest hurdle is awareness. People simply don’t know, or don’t know anybody who gives a crap about going to confession. That is where we come in, with charitable hearts and a fervent love for the face of Jesus in the sacraments.

    I am young, but so are many of us. Perhaps we have a higher ‘tolerance’ for other ecclesial communities and their opinions, but that certainly doesn’t mean that we negate the truths of the Church and the infinite grace only offered through Jesus’ sacraments. The world needs this message of love, now more than ever.

  7. Ryan says:

    Hey Terry! Just a few responses to your great post!

    I myself am one of those “college Catholics”, and I too am a convert like yourself (they got me young…praise God!) And to just clarify something, there are plenty of us young men and women who strive to live sacramental lives according to the guidelines of the Church.
    With that said, I am pretty sure many people simply do not understand the gravity of the reality that the bread and wine have actually become Jesus during mass. Furthermore, hear this loud and clear, DURING MASS IS NOT THE TIME TO TELL YOUR ALMOST FALLEN-AWAY CATHOLIC FRIEND THAT HE SHOULD NOT RECEIVE COMMUNION. Charitable discussion and thorough explanation, laced with the reality that Jesus is real in every aspect of the phrase and that God’s love is infinite and forever inviting, must happen before Holy Mass. It must.

    The reason people leave the Church is broken relationships; broken family, broken friendships, broken relationship with God, or a mistrust in individuals of the Church , be it personal pastor or the Pope. If people knew what they were leaving, which is Jesus’ unending grace, nobody would leave. Ultimately and ironically, it is only that same life-changing reality of Jesus love’ that will bring them back.

    Is explaining what the Church teaches enough to get somebody into the confessional? Nope. It’s a great thing to do for those who believe in the Church- trust me, I’m a convert. But the reality is, there must be an extension of real grace and love in order to change hearts.
    What is that? How is it done?

  8. Kim Whelan says:

    Woo Hoo a new podcast. I listened last night. I love your podcasts and miss them when I don’t have any new ones to listen to. I’m one of those crazy moms that begins to worry when things aren’t going along normally. I.e. you all not podcasting last week. I was so worried that something was wrong. I almost emailed, but decided that you didn’t need the pressure to email someone back. 🙂 But certainly, I understand “time” issues.

    I’m posting to ask to put my name in the drawing for the Timez Attack game. I have a 2nd grader and a pKer… so we can use it.

    God Bless

  9. Ryan says:

    There was some problems with the site earlier, that is why my comments are a bit repetitive…

  10. Terry says:


    Very quickly-I certainly appreciate your honesty and your response. I certainly didn’t mean to take aim at college-age Catholics! It just happens that I spoke with two of them very recently.

    I thoroughly believe that one should always inform non-Catholic friends about the Eucharist’s importance well before Mass. But then, this raises a tricky issue: are we loathed to “restrain” our friend during Mass because it seems socially unacceptable? How, then, can we defend our poor Carthusian brothers who bath once every two weeks (at least, they did)! Praying in public has become “socially unacceptable” in many ways, as well. Should we avoid it? Apologize for it?

    (Of course, there are occasions when taking the Eucharist can be acceptable, but it usually involves a grave matter, and perfect contrition. I’m lucky to make imperfect contrition!).

    Perhaps half the remedy to the Eucharist “problem” is a more thorough drilling in the Eucharist’s centrality, both spiritually and communally, within the Catholic Faith. This not only involves RCIA classes, the clergy as well.

    As to falling away from the Church-I must give some thought on that one. I’ll be interested to see what other people say.

  11. Scott says:

    Just a thought on those who receive communion who aren’t properly prepared. If they don’t know they’re not properly prepared, I’m not sure it’s nearly as serious. After all, mortal sin requires knowledge that the sin is mortal. If someone receives communion and isn’t aware that what they’re doing is a sin, and they’re not aware of it though any fault of their own, I’m not even sure that we can properly call it a sin. We can call it a massive, horrible mistake. But sin requires knowledge of wrong.

    Now, I’m having difficulty imagining that there wouldn’t be at least a fair degree of venial sin in the case of a cradle catholic. Even if they were never properly catechized they would surely have known the importance of trying to educate themselves better in their faith. But the degree of culpability here is not for us to know. It could be very slight for a variety of reasons, and we’re obliged to assume the best. In this case then, the reception could involve very minimal sin, despite being very wrong.

    However, I can also see how someone, a protestant for example, might receive communion and not be sinning at all. If they simply thought it a symbolic ritual without realizing the full metaphysical implications, they could simply be completely unaware for completely valid reasons. In which case it’s terribly unfortunate, but not a sin.

    Regardless of the sin they’ve incurred (or not incurred), I think we need to keep in perspective what the Eucharist is, and thus what God is. He is infinitely greater and more majestic than anything we can conceive of. It’s our job to bring the love of God to everyone we meet, not worry about their sins. We can tell them in love and understanding what’s going on, but once we’ve done that, it’s up to them to work through the details. If they continue to receive, it’s unfortunate, but I don’t think we need to be too worried, apart from any diminishment in the awe of God it might cause others who are aware of the specific circumstances.

    What I’m getting at here is that God doesn’t need our awe and wonder for his own sake – it’s only for our benefit. If someone is slighting God one way or another, God only cares inasmuch as it hurts us. He doesn’t care about how it reflects on him because he has no pride. Moreover even if he did (absurd, but in any case) he is so much greater than ourselves that he would simply laugh. It would be like a .5cm ant scolding a .6cm ant for not believing in the proper size of humans. Christ continually talks about the insults uttered against us falling on him; he doesn’t seem too concerned with protecting his own dignity. What was the cross if not the greatest disgrace that could be inflicted upon anyone in the ancient world?

    So let’s not worry too much if someone is receiving communion when they shouldn’t. It’s an opportunity to tell them about the truth in love, and let them go from there. If those of other religions and even those who are of no religion can potentially be received into heaven, as our Catechism says, then surely we need not worry about someone who doesn’t understand one element of our faith.


    On a personal note, it hits me very hard when someone doesn’t properly respect Christ in the Eucharist. But we’re given very specific instructions not to worry about anything, provided we do all that love requires, by a rather trustworthy source. Thus I’m willing to defer to Him on this point. 🙂

  12. Ryan says:


    Your comment that maybe the key is to drill into the minds of others about how central the Eucharist is to our lives (actually, the center of our lives) I believe, is dead on. Great thought.

  13. Terry says:

    “So let’s not worry too much if someone is receiving communion when they shouldn’t. It’s an opportunity to tell them about the truth in love, and let them go from there. If those of other religions and even those who are of no religion can potentially be received into heaven, as our Catechism says, then surely we need not worry about someone who doesn’t understand one element of our faith.”

    I would agree to this up to a point.

    Since I don’t have the Catechism with me at the moment, I’m working from memory (which may prove dangerous!), but I’m pretty sure it states that mortal sin can only be incurred with a conscious action of our will (among other guidelines). I recently spoke with a friend of mine (Baptist), who honestly thought that the Catholic conception of the Eucharist was that it was just a symbol. At the same time, however, he knew that he couldn’t take it. However, if a Protestant honestly believes that its just a symbol, and takes the Eucharist without realizing that he shouldn’t, its not a mortal sin. Being aware of a grave matter, and having committed it willing, is required for mortal sin (and thus, not taking the Eucharist).

    I’m always surprised when I meet someone who thinks the Catholic understanding of the Eucharist is the same as the Protestant understanding of Communion (fyi: I’m speaking in general now, and not towards you). I always figured Protestants would be drilled on the Catholic understanding, as a point of contrast with their own. This misunderstanding of Catholic faith can also lead to personal misunderstanding and hurt feelings: if someone thinks that Communion is the same in both faiths, but is then told (without proper explanation) that it’s restrict in the Catholic faith, how else will they view our practice except as a strictly “ritualistic” and “socially exclusive” role (or like capitalism in Weber’s conception of the “Protestant work ethic”).

    This is one reason why, in addition to a greater drilling in Catholic doctrine, we should promote greater ecumenism, at least in terms of making sure people comprehend our faith. Someone who knows that Catholics believe that Christ is present in the Host, while perhaps finding the belief incomprehensible, will be less likely to try to rush the altar rail (there are, of course, several exceptions and scenarios).

    Which is why I can’t agree with the last part of your statement. The Eucharist, strictly speaking, isn’t “one” part of our faith, but the central part. The Eucharist is Christ continually present here on Earth in the Host. I can see someone taking him, either on accident or on purpose, once. But if someone sees it happen, its their duty, both out of love of Christ and of that person, to tell them explicitly what it is, what their taking it means, and what it means to you to see that person take it when not in a state of grace (yikes, what grammar!). But, the crucial part of that last sentence is this: you tell them out of love.

  14. Scott says:

    Hi Terry,

    Good comments, thank you for replying! I should perhaps clarify what I meant there. I agree that the Eucharist is the source and summit of the ecclesial life. However, it’s not our greatest mystery – that belongs to the trinity. And if the Eucharist truly is the central part of our faith, can we honestly call our protestant brethren Christians if they don’t believe in the Eucharist? Since the Vatican calls them Christians, our “separated brothers”, it can’t be the central part of our faith, without which we aren’t Christian, as they don’t believe in the real presence.

    By these comments I don’t intend to diminish the importance or the centrality of the eucharist. I would agree that it’s central to our faith, just not perhaps “the” central part. Perhaps a building analogy would explain better what I mean. There are some supports which, when removed, cause the building to collapse. I don’t think the Eucharist is one of these pillars, or we couldn’t call our Protestant brothers Christian, but perhaps it is something more. Maybe akin to the physicality of the totality of the completed building itself?

    I’m a philosopher by trade, not a theologian, so I’d appreciate any corrections if I’m wrong, or fuller explanations of what I’m aiming at if I’m right – I’m out here to learn! Thanks, God bless,


  15. Danielle Hines says:

    Hi Greg,

    When you started the podcast you stated that you were in Emmittsburg, MD, well I live in Frederick, Md, literally on your way to and from the Mount. Too bad you did not say anything ahead of time we could have met up for coffee in downtown Frederick, or you could have stopped by the house on your back to the airport.


  16. Greg Willits says:

    Hi Danielle,

    I was literally gone for only about 27 hours, and except when I was sleeping, I was pretty much working the whole time. I’ll be making another similar trip up there soon, but it will be another whirlwind working trip, unfortunately. I don’t like being away from home any longer than I have to, so if I can be gone only one night, or can travel out and back on the same day, I usually do that and deal with the exhaustion 🙂

    Thanks for the invite, though! Maybe another time will call for a longer trip.

  17. Rod says:

    My wife & I are fairly new to podcasts & have found sqpn & then the Rosary Army and have really been enjoying all you have to offer. We have 3 young children and we believe the knowledge we are gaining from these podcasts is already helping us to guide them in their faith formation. We ordered two copies of “That Catholic Show” – one for our parish & one for at home. Our kids really enjoy the episodes and they help lead us into great discussions with them. In many ways, they will have a better grounding in their faith than we did at a much older age! Keep up the great work and by the way, the new web site looks great.

    PS – Our oldest has tried the free version of “Timez Attack” and really liked it…so put us down as wanting a “Big Brain”.

  18. Ryan says:

    Scott and Terry,

    The discussion is good. I’m a little torn between your guys’ points to be honest. On the one hand, I disagree with Scott that the Eucharist is not “the” central part of our faith; quite frankly, I think the catechism makes that blatantly obvious. Yet, I see what he means when the building analogy is used. Suffice to say, the analogy is just that; an analogy that falls short. Besides that, I don’t think the Eucharist can just be ‘another pillar’ in the building. It is THE pillar, because it is Jesus himself.

    Would it be right to say, then, that Protestants know Jesus only as a mediated experience through the Holy Spirit, since they don’t visit him/receive him sacramentally? Whereas Catholics know Jesus one on one in a more ‘physical’ way? I really don’t like the way the question is posed, but perhaps somebody understands what I’m getting at?

  19. I was going to leave a comment but man those are some nice comments up there already. I couldn’t add anything more eloquent than what has already been said.

    I will say that i love the show and I am proud to be a subscriber and monthly donor. Keep it up and please enter me in the contest.

    God Bless.

  20. Jenny says:

    Receiving the Sacraments out of order is unfortunately a problem in our area. We had to insist that our son receive his First Reconciliation before his First Communion – and we were made to feel like we were being a bit of a pain because we “wanted” it that way. This year our next son is about to begin his First Communion classes (they’re doing First Communion in June for some reason this year), and I’m hoping we don’t have to push so hard for First Reconciliation this time — it should just be expected for goodness sake!


  21. Scott says:

    I think perhaps Aquinas has found a means of somewhat unifying our thoughts on this matter to a certain extent:

    I answer that, Two things have to be considered in this sacrament, namely, the sacrament itself, and what is contained in it. Now it was stated above (1, Objection 2) that the reality of the sacrament is the unity of the mystical body, without which there can be no salvation; for there is no entering into salvation outside the Church, just as in the time of the deluge there was none outside the Ark, which denotes the Church, according to 1 Peter 3:20-21. And it has been said above (68, 2), that before receiving a sacrament, the reality of the sacrament can be had through the very desire of receiving the sacrament. Accordingly, before actual reception of this sacrament, a man can obtain salvation through the desire of receiving it, just as he can before Baptism through the desire of Baptism, as stated above (68, 2). Yet there is a difference in two respects. First of all, because Baptism is the beginning of the spiritual life, and the door of the sacraments; whereas the Eucharist is, as it were, the consummation of the spiritual life, and the end of all the sacraments, as was observed above (63, 6): for by the hallowings of all the sacraments preparation is made for receiving or consecrating the Eucharist. Consequently, the reception of Baptism is necessary for starting the spiritual life, while the receiving of the Eucharist is requisite for its consummation; by partaking not indeed actually, but in desire, as an end is possessed in desire and intention. Another difference is because by Baptism a man is ordained to the Eucharist, and therefore from the fact of children being baptized, they are destined by the Church to the Eucharist; and just as they believe through the Church’s faith, so they desire the Eucharist through the Church’s intention, and, as a result, receive its reality. But they are not disposed for Baptism by any previous sacrament, and consequently before receiving Baptism, in no way have they Baptism in desire; but adults alone have: consequently, they cannot have the reality of the sacrament without receiving the sacrament itself. Therefore this sacrament is not necessary for salvation in the same way as Baptism is.


    So I think to a certain extent we’re all in agreement. God bless Aquinas for bringing unity through precision!


  22. Terry says:

    I find it amusing that we have a Philosopher (Scott), a Seminarian (Ryan), and a (recently accepted) Divinity student (your humble narrator) “holding court” about the nature of the Eucharist. It feels like the beginning of a Chesterton novel, doesn’t it?

    You make a good point. The central pillar of our faith *is* Jesus Christ (hence Christ-ianity).

    The Eucharist, however, is Christ’s continued physical presence here on Earth (in the Host, via transubstantiation). Participating in the Eucharist allows us to participant in the life of the Church (the social aspect…spiritual too), and of God (the spiritual part…and social too). Thus, I don’t think it’s too out outrageous to say that that the Eucharist is the central pillar of the Christian life. However, perhaps this part is wrapped up with all the Sacraments, given to us by Christ, and administered by the Church (except for Marriage, which technically is done between the couple).

    The Eucharist must be the most important part of our faith, if Protestants (who believe in Christ), are not allowed to participate in Communion. The Eucharist is the “mystical” expression of everything we believe, teach, and profess as the Church (that might be hyperbole…if its veering into heresy, someone let me know!). Properly taking the Eucharist requires a full and complete love of God and Christ (even if our knowledge can be sometimes shaky).

    I agree, that if we consider the beliefs of the Church to be like a building, that there are some parts that you can remove, and not destroy the structure. However, I consider the Eucharist the steel beam that runs from the very bottom (and thus most basic) of our beliefs, up towards the tower that leads onward to God Himself.

  23. Terry says:

    I just want to note that my #21 post was written without reference to post #20, though it appears that I had some Aquinas overtones…which is funny, since I’ve never read Aquinas.

  24. Joel says:

    Thanks for the discussion about this issue. It is very important to me. I wonder that we are forgetting about the group of protestants that DO hold the Catholic view of the Eucharist. (I know many dont, that it is merely symbolic for many protestant churches) I can speak only for myself: I believe that the Eucharist is the body and blood of our lord Jesus Christ (as can be seen in John ch 6, very clearly), I think many of my brethern are mistaken when they teach only it’s symbolic nature.

    That being said, I am curious what it is that Christian unity “looks like.” Is unity = uniformity? I would say no. Look at the many Eastern Rite churches that are in communion with Rome, and yet differ on some very significant issues. (The orthodox church teaches the Holy Spirit comes only from God for one example).

    From my protestant perspective we believe that we will not be united until we can commune together. And Catholics teach that we cannot commune together until we are united. An analogy might help: Think of a Mother and child who are fighting. Would we suggest that they don’t share a meal together until they have made up? Certainly not. Often spending time together, and sharing a meal is a means to reconciliation.

    I know that the Eucharist is not exactly that kind of a meal, but it certainly has some of those elements. And there are great discrepancies between Catholic theology and the majority protestant theology regarding the Eucharist. But what can we do in the interim (between now and unity) that will foster that unity that is to come?

  25. Terry says:


    Then let me ask this question: why not convert? What’s holding you back?

    I like how you brought up the Eastern Rite Churches: you are correct to note that there isn’t a uniformity in belief (the Holy Spirit being the first thing that comes to mind). But then issue gets down to essentials of worship: Eastern Rite Churches accept the authority of the Pope, apostolic sucession, a sacramental system of worship and grace. In essence, they *chose* to Communion with Rome, by accepting these issues. Thus, in turn, their sacraments and worship are seen to be both valid and licit.

    Now, you might throw the Orthodox Church itself at me. They have broken communion with Rome (and we with them, back in 1066 I believe). They have sacraments, and apostolic sucession (in fact, I believe Rome recognizes their sacraments to be valid, but not licit…I’ll leave to someone with better clarity to explain this important difference).

    I’ve said Rome a lot, and that is an important thing to note: the Eucharist is the summit of the Catholic faith. We believe the Catholic faith is the “purest and truest form” of Christianity, because we believe we have held to the faith as taught by the Apostles, and “re-interpreted” for every age via the Magisterium. Taking the Eucharist, as I’ve said, is a social reality as well as a spiritual one: accepting not only that the Body and Blood is present in the Eucharist, but the teachings and Authority of the Church herself. We can’t pick and chose what we like.

    So your criticism is correct: we believe that everyone should be united to the Church, before they unite themselves to God through the Eucharist. Taking the Eucharist outside the Church implies a unity that isn’t present.

    To that end, I don’t have a good answer as to how to foster unity between branches of Christianity. To push Catholics to amend their faith, so that anyone can participate in the sacraments, however, is not a step in the right direction.

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