Ever wonder why Catholics worship differently than Protestants?

By Tom Quiner

I lived the first half of my life as a Protestant, the second as a Roman Catholic.
Some Protestant services mirror the Catholic Mass liturgically, despite different beliefs regarding Eucharist.
Some Protestant services have no similarity, other than, perhaps, a scripture passage. Catholic Masses are very scriptural. A full quarter of the Mass is devoted to the Liturgy of the Word, complete with an Old Testament reading, a Psalm, a New Testament reading, and a Gospel passage, each brilliantly connected by a common theme.
Then we move to the drama of the Liturgy of the Eucharist, which incorporates more scripture based on Christ’s words at the Last Supper.
So why do Catholics worship the way we do? Thousands of books have been written on the subject that explain all of this in a very scholarly way.
Here’s a quick, simple explanation: we do it exactly like the early Christians did it.
Catholics embrace the exact same Eucharist-centered beliefs that Saint Paul wrote about.
Catholics worship just like the early Church Fathers did, like St. Justin Martyr, a famous Christian apologist of the second century (100AD to 165AD).
St. Justin Martyr, who was martyred in the name of Christ, wrote clearly about the way Christians worshipped in the early Church with a clear devotion toward Eucharist:

“And this food is called among us Eucharist, of which no one is allowed to partake but the man who believes that the things which we teach are true, and who has been washed with the washing that is for the remission of sins, and unto regeneration, and who is so living as Christ has enjoined.
For not as common bread and common drink do we receive these; but in like manner as Jesus Christ our Saviour, having been made flesh by the Word of God, had both flesh and blood for our salvation, so likewise have we been taught that the food which is blessed by the prayer of His word, and from which our blood and flesh by transmutation are nourished, is the flesh and blood of that Jesus who was made flesh.
For the apostles, in the memoirs composed by them, which are called Gospels, have thus delivered unto us what was enjoined upon them; that Jesus took bread, and when He had given thanks, said, “This do ye in remembrance of Me, this is My body;” and that, after the same manner, having taken the cup and given thanks, He said, “This is My blood;” and gave it to them alone.”

The early Church Fathers were unanimous in their belief that Christ was present in the Eucharist, body, soul, and divinity, which even Martin Luther adamantly affirmed (Luther’s Collected Works, Wittenburg Edition, no. 7 p, 391):

 “Not one of the Fathers of the Church, though so numerous, ever spoke as the Sacramentarians: not one of them ever said, It is only bread and wine; or, the body and blood of Christ is not there present.
Surely, it is not credible, nor possible, since they often speak, and repeat their sentiments, that they should never (if they thought so) not so much as once, say, or let slip these words: It is bread only; or the body of Christ is not there, especially it being of great importance, that men should not be deceived. Certainly, in so many Fathers, and in so many writings, the negative might at least be found in one of them, had they thought the body and blood of Christ were not really present: but they are all of them unanimous.”

As Protestantism began to splinter into the some 40,000 versions that now exist, so did their rejection of the Eucharist. Today, some forms of Protestant worship and belief would be unrecognizable to the early Church Fathers.
So why do Catholics worship the way we do? We stuck with the beliefs and form of worship taught to the Church Fathers by the first Disciples.


  1. doctorjohn on June 6, 2014 at 12:33 pm

    Yes, and when one looks at the early Church from Pentacost through seven Ecumenical Councils and the first 1,054 years of Christian history one can truely appreciate the Liturgical service of the Roman Catholic Church.
    In reality it is a spin off from the original Christian Church , known today as the Orthodox Christian Church that dates back to Pentacost.
    In many ways the Roman Church is the “first denomination”.
    The Orthodox Church today is the second largest group of Christians in the world (second only to the Roman Catholic Church) but is less known in America.
    This however is changing as folks like me are discovering early church history and the traditional, historical, liturgical way of praising God as done in the Roman Catholic and the Orthodox Churches.
    All Christians; Catholic, Orthodox and Protestant are united as One Holy, Catholic(universal), Applstolic body and need to be engaged and united against the evils that secular society and “big government” are imposing on us in America today.
    One such Evil is abortion.
    And one way I’m fighting against abortion is by supporting a Catholic Organization called Priests for Life which can be found here:
    I may not be Catholic but I am part of that Holy, Catholic, Applstolic group of Christians that was vey active at the time of America’s founding.

    • quinersdiner on June 6, 2014 at 12:45 pm

      Amen, brother. Love Priest for Life. I just heard Fr. Pavone speak here in Des Moines last month. I was just talking about the Orthodox Church this morning because the local Orthodox church here is having a food fair this weekend. Question: is a Roman Catholic permitted to take communion in an Orthodox church?

      • doctorjohn on June 6, 2014 at 10:50 pm

        No and I believe not the other way around either.
        A lot of history in common but the Schism in 1054 ended what had been a council of five Bishops for over a thousand years working together through seven Ecumenical Councils deciding, with God’s guidance, what would be in the Bible as well as working through more than one heresy.
        The Bishop in Rome separated from those in Constantinople, Jerusalem, Antioch and Alexandria in 1054. (Great Schism)
        “Becoming Orthodox” by Peter Gillquist is a great read.
        I grew up Methodist with a Catholic father until I discovered Peter Gillquist and renowned Christian historian Jerislaf Pelican.

        • quinersdiner on June 7, 2014 at 5:52 am

          Thanks for the feedback.

  2. karensiena on June 9, 2014 at 7:29 am

    I am not sure you are correct DoctorJohn.
    Here is what a trusted Roman Catholic source says.
    “None of these differences between the Roman and Orthodox rites constitute a separation of faith or of communion with the See of Peter.
    Because of this, any Catholic may attend, receive Communion, and fulfill the holy day precept at any Catholic rite.”
    But then I read an opposing view here:
    I do know this, the Roman Catholic church holds the Orthodox church in very high esteem. I hope and pray we are united in every way some day.
    God bless you.

  3. doctorjohn on July 30, 2015 at 11:59 pm

    Google…timeline of Christianity
    Take note that the Roman Catholic Church began with the Great Schism in the year 1054 when the previously co-equal Bishop in Rome excommunicated 4/5ths of the Christians in the world.
    Christ’s Church began in the year 33AD, is known today as the Orthodox Church and it wasn’t till 1985 that leaders of the Orthodox Church and the Roman Catholic Church officially made amends for the Schism of 1054. Not that it made any practical difference for either Church.