Posted by FrGamble
Jun 08, 2013

Rocky Gap, MD review

In the middle of the week my dad and I had a chance to get away for a few days and we decided to head up to the newly opened Rocky Gap Casino. Rocky Gap Hotel, which is in the state park with the same name, is not new. The rooms were clean and I don't think there is any room, nor any spot in the entire park, that won't give you a great view of the lake, mountains, park, or golf course. However they do need updating, especially in the bathrooms. Again everything was clean, but it also seemed outdated a little. The room has a nice digital TV with more channels and stuff than I had ever seen. There was a coffee maker and a nice little fridge.

The lobby is pretty spacious. Both the check-in desk and the entrance to the casino are very small. Two or three computers to check in and it is almost single file to enter or leave the casino. There are superfast elevators to take you up to your room or down one level to the restaurants, pool, fitness room, and pro shop. We ate at two of the three restaurants there. They have a casual grab a seat place and a nice sit down restaurant looking over the lake. The casual place was serving greasy spoon type of stuff and the fancy place had food that was trying to be fancy but really wasn't great. I got the sense they were a little understaffed while we were there. The pool is small but it is inside/outside which is always neat and the fitness room has just four aerobic machines. This is where the most renovation is taking place and I hope they make the pool an even nicer place to hang out. The final restaurant that I did not eat in and the pro shop are at the far corner of the hotel. This is the only Jack Nicholas golf course in Maryland and consistently is one of the top five in the state to play. The fees are $69 if you are staying at hotel, $46 if you are local. However, wait till 2pm and you can get an amazing twilight rate of $40! It is a really tough course, but awesome! Did I mention anywhere you go you are able to see nature's beauty all around you, that is especially true on the course. You can also rent bicycles and boats here.

Okay the casino. I need to tell you that I like smaller casinos that aren't too crowded. I also place a high value on the friendliness of the staff and dealers. This casino fit the bill perfectly. The mirrors covering the top half of the wall make it look a little bigger, but it is a small casino. I don't play slots but they seemed to have all the new ones and lots of interesting looking ones. People seemed to be having fun playing them, I like to see that. I do like to play video poker and there were a good amount of machines. At all the bars, coming in to the casino and in the middle they have video poker machines with JoB 8/6 or worse. I was drawn like a moth to the flame by the Ultimate X poker machines. The pay tables there were JoB 8/5, Bonus 6/5, Dbl. Bonus 10/6/4 (I need to confess I did not write the pay tables down or study them in depth, but this is what I remember).

I thought Blackjack had amazing rules. It was a six deck machine shuffled but shoe dealt game. Double any two cards, double after split, split up to four times, hit all 17s, late surrender, with what looked to my untrained eye as 75% penetration. There were always five dollar minimums everywhere and they had at least 6 of their ten table games set up for blackjack.

Finally craps. It takes some effort to throw down to the other end of an 18' table and for someone who pretends and imagines I can influence the dice it is daunting. Only half the table is usually open, because of the lack of crowds and the inexperience of the dealers. Odds are 3,4,5x and a five minimum. The field bet is double both the 2 and the 12. Buy bets require the commission always. The dealers are friendly but really brand new so you and the boxman really need to watch. It is a good thing the suits are awesome at Rocky Gap, they are pros and are really nice.

I never know how to evaluate the reward system but they say you get 1 point for every dollar spent on slots or in the hotel. 1 point for every five dollars you play on Video Poker. They also say the average may be 90 points per hour for $10 avg. bet table games. The good news is they rated me much higher than that. The bad news is that every 1,000 points you can redeem for a dollar of free play or a dollar off something at the hotel. Let me know if you think that is decent.

In conclusion I feel bad for Harrington, which was my casino of choice before Rocky Gap. From Baltimore they are almost exactly the same distance away without the worry about the bay bridge and tolls. The beach is nice (Rocky Gap state park has two small beach areas), but the view of the mountains, the cooler weather, and that Rocky Gap is in my home state make me now gravitate to the west. If you are looking for a simple relaxing time to gamble without big crowds or hassles and like to enjoy nature and play a little golf. Rocky Gap could be just the place. God Bless!


RogerKint Jun 08, 2013

So for $5,000 coin-in at VP the player gets $1 back? That's pretty horrific. Then again, I'm used to dumpy casinos. Maybe this is standard for casinos with a beautiful location and good amenities such has this one.

djatc Jun 08, 2013

I'm a big fan of dumpy casinos/better cashback. Leaky roofs, bums circling the craps tables, and dismal drink service for a 1% players club would be perfect for me lol.

Sounds like this casino is ripe for counting more then VP.

odiousgambit Jun 08, 2013

thanks for the report.

I've gotten to where I ignore the points per play and wait to see if other offers come by mail or whatever. At Harrington, that turned out to be where they were taking care of me. They might go after the Baltimore business with some offers, wait and see.

Doc Jun 08, 2013

I'm skeptical of the "hit all 17s" rule, but I'm not sure whether you intended to say "stand on all 17s" or "hit soft 17s." If the dealer were really required to hit all 17s, that could call for a strategy change.

odiousgambit Jun 09, 2013

>If the dealer were really required to hit all 17s

that would be player advantage methinks, as the dealer would bust too much on hard 17s, no?

Mission146 Jun 09, 2013

I'm surprised that a house with such liberal Blackjack rules would be so stingy on the Field.

FrGamble Jun 09, 2013

You guys are right, I saw a 17 on the felt but I am pretty sure it must have been "hit all soft 17s". That would make it the only rule not in the players favor. Did I mention they paid out 6 to 5 (JUST KIDDING!!!)

Astragali Jun 13, 2013

The dealer has to stay on soft 17 there, so that is in the player's advantage. Awesome views out there!

ahiromu Jun 13, 2013

Are you sure about the craps odds situation? I thought 10x was a MD state rule.

Buzzard Jun 15, 2013

My last visit to Cumberland was 1961. To the horse race track. I remember that on the drive there from Baltimore we would pass this horse farm that had a white 3 rail fence that seemed to be a mile long. My Dad said they had one man who whitewashed that fence each summer. But never finished. Just started where he left off the next year.

silversonic2006 Jun 22, 2013

@ahiromu - 10X is the max odds MD allows at craps games, I think....casinos can certainly go lower than that. Hollywood Perryville had 3-4-5X odds when I stopped in back in April. I do believe MD, like PA or DE, requires the house to stand on all 17's in blackjack...I don't think the casino has any latitude there. There are i-Blackjack tables (real cards, cash out for real chips, but bet/decide on an in-table monitor) at MD Live that are H17, but maybe the electronic component allows them to skirt those rules somehow.

Posted by FrGamble
Dec 24, 2012

Christmas Homily 2012

As some of you know I have recently been eating better and exercising regularly, I have been feeling great and really doing good. However, with the seemingly endless supply of delicious Christmas cookies coming to the rectory and office it has been a challenge lately. I have for the most part behaved myself and enjoyed treats in moderation, except for this one treat a parishioner made – it is a mix of white chocolate, nuts, pretzels, and some illegal and addictive narcotic. Anyway, these temptations with sweets brings back to mind my first Christmas as a priest. Someone had made me a beautiful gingerbread house. This was not just a house it was a cathedral. Marshmallow snow and gum drop trees were all over the place. There was a licorice road leading to what looked like a two story house. Everything was edible I was assured and the woman who made it pointed out that the windows, which looked like stain glass were actually melted down sugar. There was frosting on the graham cracker roof and sturdy ginger bread walls. It was impressive and when I looked at it the first time I thought this is a perfect Christmas scene, right out of a dream come true, everything was perfect.
Well remember I said this was my first Christmas as a priest, I was unprepared for the craziness that Christmas brings with it and I remember one night a few days before Christmas I got home exhausted. There wasn’t much food around and then I saw it out of the corner of my eye, the perfect Christmas gingerbread house. I started with a gum drop tree, just to see if I could really eat it. It was good. Before I knew it I was scooping up the marshmallow snow. I decided to try just a little bit of the roof, just on the edge where the frosting was, well all of the sudden half of the roof caved in – I didn’t have a choice then I had to eat it. I really wanted to try a window so I ate most of the wall to get down to a window, which was so sweet. About this time I started not feeling so well so I laid down on the coach to go to sleep. I woke up in the middle of the night with an awful stomach ache and I looked back at the now destroyed Christmas scene and I had an interesting thought – my gingerbread house with a roof have fallen in, crumbling walls, bare ground, and broken windows was NOW the perfect Christmas scene.
Think about it, Christ was born into a dirty manger not a sugar plum palace. God our savior was born into poverty, He was not stranger to cold, hunger, and suffering from the very beginning of His life. My stomach ache even took on new meaning that night. What anxiety did Joseph feel, he traveled this distance with his pregnant wife at the behest of a foreign dictator who was oppressing the people and taking a census to charge more in taxes. I imagine Joseph’s stomach turning wondering how he was going to make ends meet? Not much longer and the jealousy of King Herod and his desperate attempt to hold onto his power and wealth and royal palace will have him commit the atrocity of the slaughter of the innocents. Aren’t our stomachs and our souls still hurting in our country after so much senseless violence? However, it is into this broken mess that Jesus is born. I want you to know that Jesus wants to come into your life anew this Christmas. If it feels like the walls of your life are crumbling, if it feels like something is eating at you that you can’t seem to stop worrying about, if the roof is caving in on you, if we are physically ill or worried about a diagnosis, if you are going through a though time emotionally, mentally, or grieving a loss, if your stomach is tied into knots because you are worried about finances, the future, relationship problems, grades, your weight or anything else. Please know that this is a perfect Christmas moment for Christ to be born anew into your life. Invite Him in to your life as it is with all its joys and problems, let Jesus’ birth tonight bring you peace and hope:
(spontenous prayer)


odiousgambit Dec 25, 2012

Thanks Father G. and Merry Christmas!

Wizard Dec 26, 2012

Feliz Navidad, Padre.

Posted by FrGamble
Dec 16, 2012

Guadete Sunday Homily 2012

There was a lot of homily rewriting going on Friday evening and Saturday. As I re-read the scriptures in the light of all that has happened in our country recently I heard some lines from the Prophet Zephaniah and from St. Paul that had previously went right by me. This time they hit me square on the nose. Zephaniah says, “fear no more disaster” and “do not be discouraged.” St. Paul writes to the Philippians, “Do not worry about anything.” These are nice words, comforting words, words we probably all need to hear, but they need to have a reason. Why should we fear disaster no more, why should we not worry? Are these nice platitudes or is there some meat to these bones, is there a good reason in the face of tragedy that we should not be overcome with anxiety and fear?

Before or immediately after all of these kind statements in scripture comes the phrase, “the Lord is in your midst” or “the Lord is near”. This is the reason given for imploring us not to fear or worry. Certainly on face value it does lessen our grief and fear to be with another person. When a community gathers, when friends rally, when families hold each other we feel blessed. However, there is much more taking place when the Lord Jesus is in our midst and when he draws intimately near to us. For the Lord is one who is no stranger to suffering. We believe in a God who doesn’t draw away from suffering but comes closest to us when we suffer. We believe in a God who has taken the worst evil could dish out and has conquered even sin and death itself. Yes, when the Lord Jesus draws near to us in our difficulties we are filled with hope because here is one who has won the victory over sin and death, one who reminds us that evil will NOT get the last word. The Lord Jesus brings with Him hope in suffering.

This is so important for us because the ultimate victory of the evil one is not unspeakable and unimaginable crimes or violence. No these ugly tools are only used to attempt to suck out hope from us. The devil wants us to despair and we as Christians will NOT despair. We gather on Guadete, “rejoice” Sunday. It seems audacious for us to even attempt to rejoice today. Rejoicing is the opposite of despair and maybe that is why we need this Sunday. We need to do the opposite of what this evil act tempts us to do. We will not give up, we will not lose hope, we will not forget the overwhelming good that exists all around us, we will not live in fear of our neighbors, we will not despair. My brothers and sisters today we rejoice, I say it again Rejoice – for the Lord is near!


Buzzard Dec 16, 2012

Some of us are not comforted by knowing the Lord is near. Quite the opposite !

FleaStiff Dec 16, 2012

The Lord is near... platitudes and collection plates to follow.

Just as the Medicine Men of the Mau Mau encouraged their followers to cry out Dawa, Dawa (Rain, Rain) as they faced bullets, so to would Medicine Men of a different cloth cry out The Lord Is Near.

FarFromVegas Dec 16, 2012

I think in times of tragedy people need to gather together and not isolate themselves. That it a good purpose for church services and funerals. Maybe they consider it being in the presence of something else, but it really is the other people they need. My b-i-l has been keeping busy since the death of his daughter and it really helps. My sister isn't particularly fond of having to host gatherings every weekend, but if that what it takes to keep him out of a funk it's what she does.

Buzzard Dec 16, 2012

Far from Vegas. He's a better man than me. Losing a daughter ? Not sure I could survive that. NO WAY !

Wizard Dec 17, 2012

I'd be interested to know the Catholic position on pre-determination when it comes to things like Sandy Hook. I am more familiar with the Protestant beliefs, and I think all but the most liberal would say that God has a hand in everything, which always results in some greater good. When asked about things like Sandy Hook the answer is always a variant of "God works in mysterios ways."

So, what is the Catholic position? Personally, I'd have more respect for a religion with a God that doesn't sit there pulling strings with everything that happens, in some cases murdering 16 first grade children.

midwestgb Dec 17, 2012

As succinct a message about the essence of faith as I can remember hearing. Well said, father.

FrGamble Dec 20, 2012

God is not pulling strings or triggers when it comes to such henious acts. However, it is painfully obvious that God allows human beings in their freedom to do grave and unimaginable evil. I don't know why God would allow this to happen, but He did not cause it. Somedays I wish that God would not respect our freedom so much, but then I imagine what life would be like without this radical notion of freedom to hate or to love in extreme ways.

Buzzard Dec 21, 2012

I wish I had your faith that those kids were in a better place now, but I don't !

Posted by FrGamble
Sep 16, 2012

Think like God

I’d like to begin today by bringing you back to 2006 when Pope Benedict XVI travelled to the University of Regensburg to deliver a lecture at the place were he was once professor. The lecture was all about the importance of reason and faith going hand in hand. He makes many good arguments in his speech but in the light of our Scripture readings today and current events I want to focus on his first point. The Pope points out at the beginning that a tell tale sign that reason is not present in faith is when faith resorts to violence. To illustrate this point he quotes a late 14th century emperor in debate with a Muslim. He says this;

“Violence is incompatible with the nature of God and the nature of the soul. "God", [Emperor Manuel II] says, "is not pleased by blood - and not acting reasonably (σὺν λόγω) is contrary to God's nature. Faith is born of the soul, not the body. Whoever would lead someone to faith needs the ability to speak well and to reason properly, without violence and threats... To convince a reasonable soul, one does not need a strong arm, or weapons of any kind, or any other means of threatening a person with death...".[4]
The decisive statement in this argument against violent conversion is this: not to act in accordance with reason is contrary to God's nature.”

The Pope is very clearly saying that violence is against human reason and our divine and supernatural nature as beings with souls. It must be rejected by all but in particular by those who believe in God. Now you might remember what the response was to these concerns and forthright challenges. The Pope was burned in effigy, ironically Muslim states withdrew their ambassadors from the Vatican, and tensions were very high. Is was as if people were inadvertently trying to prove the Pope’s point.

Today we need to pay very close attention to the Gospel and Old Testament message so that somehow we can all break free from a devastating and repetitive cycle of violence upon violence. We have all heard the sayings, “What happens when you fight fire with fire…you create a bigger and more destructive fire!” Then there is the classic saying attributed to Gandhi that goes, “When everyone follows the philosophy of an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth, the whole world becomes blind and toothless.” It is the philosophy of Jesus Christ that puts an end to violence with the cooling waters of baptism and helps the world to see that what is needed is loving sacrifice not angry revenge.

Today Jesus gives his disciples the antidote to violence when He explains to them that He must suffer and be killed. He must lay down His life, take the brunt of anger and frustration the world feels and instead of answering in kind accept it in the greatest act of love mankind has ever seen. The implication is that Jesus’ disciples should do the same. They should offer their backs to those who beat them, their cheeks to those who would pluck their beards (Isaiah reading), this non-violent response puts an end to it and it is buried in the tomb. There anger finally dies and the new green shoots of life begin to arise, like in Christ’s Resurrection.
Isn’t Saint Peter’s reaction typical. Peter pulls Jesus aside and rebukes Jesus?!? He must have told Jesus something like, “Listen Lord, you are not going to suffer you are going to kick butt. You are going to cause others to suffer and reign victorious in splendor – cut out all this suffering and dying talk.” Well Jesus then rebukes Peter with the strongest language we hear in the Gospels, “Get behind me Satan, you are not thinking like God does, but like human beings do.” Indeed we all need to start think much more like God does and control our natural inclination towards violence as the answer.

Today let us recommit ourselves to being men and women who are truly Christ’s disciples and who are committed to non-violence. For it is not just the world around us that needs to rediscover the joy and power of love over hate it is also right here in our country. When we malign and treat each other so disrespectfully because of what side of the political aisle they sit we do our country and our neighbors no good! As followers of the Prince of Peace we vigorously defend the truths about marriage and the rights of the unborn but we do so with compassion and sacrificial love. Abraham Lincoln once famously responded to someone who questioned his resolve to destroy the enemies of the Union right after the Civil War because some of his reconstruction policies seemed too lenient that, “My dear sir I am destroying our enemies, by making them our friends.” Violence makes no friends or converts, violence is antithetical to the message of Jesus Christ, violence is not reasonable and leads to chaos, and finally violence is only truly and completely defeated by sacrificial love.


buzzpaff Sep 16, 2012

" violence is only truly and completely defeated by sacrificial love. " Think that would have worked against Hitler ?

odiousgambit Sep 17, 2012


Jesus then rebukes Peter with the strongest language we hear in the Gospels

Where is that found? I sort of remember it. We don't actually know what Peter said?

Re Buzzpaff's remark, I'd like a response to that as well.

Jesus is complicated in this regard. I can think of two examples, probably there are more. He was forceful with the moneychangers in the temple. Also, he directed his disciples to be armed when things were getting nasty at the end [they were to get swords and did so]. He submitted to being arrested anyway, but it seems there was some scenario he was prepared for, where they would fight. Although that is mysterious, my point is that there some sort of Christian provision for defense and even forceful assertiveness. Your thoughts on that please [g]

Wizard Sep 17, 2012

Nice to see your sermon here father. It has been a tough week for me, so just having you around provides a little comfort somehow. However, I'll be the first to ask -- What about the many wipe outs of the Old Testament? If this is the same god, why didn't he get the message right the first time?

FrGamble Sep 17, 2012

I think you guys are asking the classic and good questions that come about when anyon talks about Jesus' preaching about the power of love and non-violence.

First of all you are right there is indeed very legitimate self defense. The Catechism covers what is called "Just War" in #2309. The qualifications of which are: 1) the damage caused by an aggressor must be certain, lasting, and grave. 2) All other means have been proven ineffectual or impractical. 3) There must be a serious chance of success. 4) The use of arms must not produce evils and disorders greater than the evil to be eliminated. In the case of Hitler and WWII I think it is fair to say that all of these conditions are present and the use of war was justified.

Secondly in regards to the Old Testament and its seemingly approval of violence in certain cases and acts of violence attributed to God. I think there are many ways of looking at this question. First we have to remember that there is a divine pedagogy taking place. God is teaching and preparing a people to receive the message of Jesus Christ. Some make the arguement that humanity needed to be brought along slowly from its pagan and often violent ways to a new revelation and covenant in Jesus. Kind of like your eyes needing to adjust to the sun when it rises. I think another way to look at this dilema is to recognize the different ways God speaks to us through the inspired Word. There is the literal sense of course but there is also the spiritual sense of Scripture that is filled with allegory, moral stories, or anagogical texts. The classic text of the great flood then can be read as both a moral story about the serious consequences of sin and God's justice as well as an allegory for baptism which puts an end to sin and a new beginning to goodness.

buzzpaff Sep 18, 2012

" 3) There must be a serious chance of success." I think some martyrs must disagree with that point. I believe all the others are valid.

I am no martyr, but quite often my violence had little chance of success. Especially in righteous situations.

FrGamble Sep 19, 2012

Buzz you are right on point. A martyr standing up for and fighting for what they believe can tackle impossible odds. However in the just war theory if you are leading others into battle who might not be as committed as you then there should be a serious chance of success for their sake. Not everyone is ready or wants to be a martyr just yet.

AZDuffman Dec 22, 2012

@Wizard: Your question is similar to some I hear from time to time, all based around "well, if there is a God why do bad things happen? Why is there suffering?" The answer I always got, and one that seems logical (FrGamble please correct me if I am wrong here) is simple, "Life on earth is not supposed to be Heaven, Heaven is supposed to be Heaven."

My personal belief, no matter what my Catholic Church "officially" says, is that God created the earth then has a "mostly" hands-off policy. Like a store-owner who has competent people running the operation but watches over what is going on. But when the group gets themselves into a bind he intercedes just a bit. But he only intercedes in indirect ways. The favorable weather on D-Day, and putting all those great Generals on the Allied side in WWII would be one example, not to mention the great minds that founded the USA. On a personal level maybe you noticed. On my personal level I remember a weekend I decided last-minute to go home instead of stay around. One other friend in my group did as well. And EVERYONE else we knew seemed to get into one kind of trouble or another, some serious. If I had stayed that weekend it would have set off a life-changing series of events.

So call me more than a Diest but less one who believes the Big-Guy is spending all his time pulling levers and flipping switches. But call me one to say that you do not deny existance because of such an event. If you want to have other reasons, hey, we all believe what we believe. But remember the evil on earth is here to, in a way, make us appriciate what comes after.

Posted by FrGamble
Aug 19, 2012

Homily - Forsake Foolishness

Readings: Proverbs 9:1-6; Eph. 5:15-20; John 6:51-58

I’m getting excited for our pilgrimage to Ireland and having never been before I was searching around for information other day and came upon a disappointing poll that The Irish Times one of the newspapers there took. It was specifically asking Catholics what they believed about the Eucharist. Only around 30% said they believed the bread and wine actually became the Real Presence of Jesus Christ. About 60% said that the bread and wine were only symbolic.

It so happened that evangelical atheist Richard Dawkins was in Dublin and grabbing hold of this poll he called on that 60% of Catholics to admit they really weren’t Catholic and leave the Church. The other 30% he said were, “barking mad” his term for foolish, and that we were worthy of great ridicule.
Now in our first reading the personification of Wisdom sets us a feast and encourages us to “forsake foolishness.” In St. Paul’s letter to the Ephesians he reminds us to watch carefully and do not live as the foolish do. I don’t believe we need to ridicule anyone’s deeply held belief, but we need to make sure today that we forsake foolishness and think and watch carefully because the ultimate foolishness is atheism.

Its not hard to see why the Church’s teaching on the Eucharist is not easy for any of us to understand and even more so if we are infected with a very common disease to the modern mind, a cancer really, that is still found in epistemology – the study of knowledge and how do we know things.

You see if you look back in these last couple of centuries it is staggering the amazing progress made by the sciences. In fact you don’t have to look back very far to see how dizzyingly quick we discover new things and advancements in all the natural sciences that make life easier and fill us with wonder. Have you seen the pictures and heard about how we landed this scientific SUV on the planet Mars? Awesome. Well on the heels of these developments a thought began to creep into our minds that all truth and all knowledge really come from the natural sciences. If you can’t test it, experiment on it, and if your five senses can’t observe it than it cannot be real or true.

This radical break from the history of philosophy and logic itself is foolish, yet we must admit has a certain appeal. It makes things fairly black or white. If you can observe it is real if not it is not real. This denial of metaphysics or the spiritual dimension of our lives effectively eliminates God or makes Him not important. It also promises that one day when we have a big enough microscope or a powerful enough telescope all mysteries will be solved scientifically. There is I guess and intrigue and appeal to this simple way of viewing the world.

However it is nonsense as soon as it comes out of our mouths. The whole idea falls apart much the same way that the argument for sola scriptura from our fundamentalist Christian brothers and sisters falls apart. When someone claims that, “all truth about Christianity must come from the Bible and the Bible alone!” the simple question we should ask is, “Can you show me where in the Bible it says that?” In fact there are many places in which the Bible encourages a more robust understanding of Christianity based on the Bible, tradition, and the authoritative interpretation guided by the Holy Spirit found in the Church. When someone says that, “something is only true and real if it can be scientifically tested, physically present and experimented upon!” Our question can simply ask them what scientific test, measurement, or experiment led you to that strange conclusion.

One of the first principles of logic - that of non-contradiction - is already broken. Something cannot be both true and not true at the same time. Of course it is not as if these first principles would matter to someone like Dawkins because these a priori truths also can’t be physically examined; they are true and we know that through our God given reason and not by physical evidence. By the way this is what makes it so hard for an atheist to understand Christianity much less the Eucharist. If someone believes that there is nothing more to this world that was we can touch, taste, and feel around us, if someone denies that it is possible to arrive at truth through philosophy, theology, or faith in revelation – then besides it being foolish it results in a total confusion when discussing eternal, supernatural, or spiritual things. As Aristotle once said, “If you choke on water, with what can you wash it down?”

So to be honest I’m okay with some of us not completely understanding the miracle and mystery of the Eucharist. Jesus has been explaining it to his disciples for the last three weekends now and He continues to talk about it next weekend with a special challenge to his followers at the end of this great chapter 6 of John’s Gospel. What I do want us all to be 100% in agreement on is that we believe in the truths natural science teaches us about the what of the visible world around us, but we also believe in truths we arrive at logically about the how the visible world was created, and the truths surrounding the important why the visible world and ourselves exist including our spiritual and eternal destiny which we learn through faith in God’s revelation. To limit our minds to only the physical plane is not only foolish it will doom us to never understand the Eucharist not to ever understand that there is more to this world and our lives that we can see or touch.


Wizard Aug 20, 2012

Oh boy. Every time transubstantiation comes up on this forum it gets a little silly and/or ugly. Even if I agreed with Catholicism about everything else, the doctrine of transubstantiation would prevent me from joining. To me it is as silly as taking an elephant, and saying it is a an elephant one second, and a duck the second.

What I still fail to understand is the Catholic position is that the bread truly and literally becomes the flesh of Jesus. Yet, when they eat the bread/body they are not committing cannibalism. However, we don't need to go through that again.

I do have a simple question. Are the 60% Catholics, and I'm pleased to see the percentage that high, who do believe the bread and wine are symbolic only of the body and blood of Jesus can call themselves Catholics with a straight face? In other words, is belief in transubstantiation required to be a member of the faith?

FrGamble Aug 20, 2012

I agree we don't need to get into another discussion about transubstatiation or the Real Presence of Jesus in the Eucharist. The point I am mainly trying to make is that the philosophical ideas of substance and accidents or the existence of spiritual and sacramental realities like the presence of Christ in the Eucharist, can be real and true even without being seen or scientifically proved.

I reckon the vast majority of the 60% were probably confused by the language of the question or by the Church's teaching. If you asked me if I thought the Eucharist became the actual human flesh of Jesus I too would dissagree. The Church's teaching is about Christ's full and real presence. In my mind this makes it clear we are not talking about canabalism or something gross like that, the Eucharist is not just a hunk of flesh and blood, Jesus and all of us are more than that. We are talking about spiritual realities that enable Jesus Christ to continue to lovingly give us His whole self in a mysterious and miraculous way much like He did on the cross. If you asked Catholics if Jesus Christ was really truly, and fully present in the Sacrament of the Eucharist I would hope the numbers would be much closer to 100%.

Wizard Aug 21, 2012

"If you asked Catholics if Jesus Christ was really truly, and fully present in the Sacrament of the Eucharist I would hope the numbers would be much closer to 100%."

Thanks Padre. That wording would be a lot easier for me to accept. It is the word "literally" that I have trouble with.

FrGamble Aug 21, 2012

RCIA (The Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults) usually begin in September, contact your local parish :)

Mission146 Aug 21, 2012

That was a very well-worded essay, Father. It would make a near-perfect sermon, verbatim.

It is very difficult for me to discern that the bread and wine are anything but symbolic. I would suggest that the taking of the bread and wine have no absolute meaning, but the meaning that they have is whatever meaning the taker of the bread and wine assign to them. In essence, then, I would suggest that they are wholly symbolic.

What about the communion prepared by Priests who have committed atrocities into which we will not go into specifics? Have they defiled the flesh and blood of Christ? By way of their acts, did it fail to be the flesh and blood of Christ in the first place? Have the souls of those who have partaken of that communion been forever defiled because the communion was prepared by a Father who committed acts that were both a debasement to the Church and Christ?

(For the above, see 1 Cor. 11:27-28, Matt. 5:28-29)

If you look at the communion as representative of the flesh and blood of Christ in anything more than a subjectively symbolic way, I would have no alternative but to answer in the affirmative to one (or more) of the above questions. However, those filled with the Spirit from the communion (at least most of them) could not know that the flesh and blood from which they ate was filthy and defiled. It meant something, to them. In my opinion, it meant nothing to those Priests who would commit such horrific acts upon the sons of God.

Those who are filled with the Spirit of the Communion find themselves more in touch with God and Christ by virtue of undertaking this symbolic act that puts Christ first and foremost in their hearts. It is not what they are eating that matters, it is what they believe they are eating that matters, or the gesture they believe that they are making to Christ.

As such, if they believe that the Bread and Wine are transformed into the actual flesh and blood fo Christ, then the Communion simply has a greater meaning for them than it does to the next person. Is it a sin to take Communion if one does not believe in Transubstantiation? I don't know, but it sure seems like it took them a long time to come to this idea of Transubstantiation, what was it, 1100-something+ years after the crucifixion?

Furthermore, there are any number of Christian Religions that do not take Communion at all, I'd certainly like to believe that they are not all destined for the Fires of Hell. (Romans 2:6 & Romans 2:7) "Who will render unto every man according to his deeds, to them who by patient continuance in well-doing seek for glory and honor and immortality, eternal life..."

I would suggest that, provided one believes in repentance of one's wrongdoings and in the divinity of Christ, the specific beliefs of these customs and mores of the Church are not nearly as important in determining the final outcome as are a man's acts. The Communion, thusly, can have a meaning all of its own to each individual, for we will be judged not by whether or not we think the Communion is symbolic, but rather by the goodness of our deeds and our willingness to truly repent of evil deeds.

It's simply just all internal.

"Let he who faileth to toke when he colors up burn in the firey inferno of damnation for all eternity!" Ok, maybe not that. The second thing is that I added the hyphen to, "Well-doing," but that's because it should be there...


The great failing of strict Empiricism and/or Logical Positivism is that it is always perfect in hindsight. Wittgenstein was reasonable enough, "There are things in existence that are beyond our human ability to imagine or conceive," and, "What can be said at all can be said clearly, and what we cannot talk about we must pass over in silence."

In this sense, Wittgenstein at once admits to the possibility of God and states that he would not speak either for/against the existence of God (though he did in later years) by virtue of the fact that he understood that we, as humans, are limited.

Many Athiests, in this sense, are just as nonsensical as they claim Thiests to be, but the second strike on them is that to claim the Christian speaks of nonsense makes them hypocrites (for they are speaking of the same thing, just to the antithesis) and the strike-out comes when they fail to Empirically disprove God. They then fall back onto the contention, "Well, you can't prove God's existence." Well, the burden of proof is on the prosecution.

The promises that we will know all there is to know of the World via the Sciences and Empiricism is a promise just as empty, and hypocritically so, as the promises of eternal paradise made to the Holy. Science has simply replaced God as the answer to the Meaning and Purpose of existence. They are as much a believer, equally devout, worshipping their God of Investigation as a Catholic worships Christ.

It is no different. It's not proof, until it's proven! They say, "Show me God," Christians say, "Show me how else the Universe came to be!" Both are placing their belief in something of which neither side can be sure, which makes it a matter of blind faith on both sides, and neither will EVER satisfy the demands of the other. Emotion v. Logic? Maybe, so what? Perspective v. Perspective. Nothing more or less.

Wittgenstein recognized this. He basically admitted that it must be one way or the other way, and these back-and-forth sessions of attempted conversion, logic-twisting and attempts to obfuscate that which is being argued are pointless.

I say it is better for every individual to walk amongst his own, or bloody well just try to be a more agreeable person. If one cannot do either of these things, then simply pass it over in silence.

Either way, there are only two elements at work, perspective and faith.

I've rambled long enough, sorry, Father.

FrGamble Aug 23, 2012

I knew you would have some good thought provoking comments Mission, thanks.

Mission146 Aug 23, 2012

Thank you for making me aware of your Blog, Father, I don't know why, but I just forget about them sometimes and go days without checking them.

AZDuffman Aug 26, 2012

I think I came here late, Padre, but I have to say I wish someone, anyone, had explained it a "presence" of Christ instead of the literal "body" thing I heard in years of Catholic School and Church. Would have made a whole lot more sense and makes me wonder if there was something lost in translation over 2,000 years since the Last Supper?