Friday, 1 June 2012
REFUTING ERRORS CONCERNING THE MOST HOLY SACRAMENT OF THE EUCHARIST. Part 3
23. The Council of Trent, however, teaches, that the whole substance of the bread and wine is changed into the body and blood of Christ. It issued a Decree to that effect (Chapter 4, Session 13), and says, that the Church most aptly calls this change Transubstantiation. The words are in the Second Canon. Remark the words, ‘mirabilem ilium, et singularem conversionem totius substantiæ’, ‘the wonderful and singular conversion of the whole substance’. It is called ‘wonderful’, for it is a mystery hidden from us, and which we never can comprehend. It is ‘singular’, because in all nature there is not another case of a similar change; and it is called a ‘conversion’, because it is not a simple union with the body of Christ, such as was the hypostatic union by which the Divine and human Natures were united in the sole person of Christ. Such is not the case, then, in the Eucharist, for the substance of the bread and wine is not united with, but is totally changed and converted into, the body and blood of Jesus Christ. We say a ‘conversion of the whole substance’, to distinguish it from other conversions or changes, such as the change of food into the body of the person who partakes of it, or the change of water into wine by our Redeemer at Cana, and the change of the rod of Moses into a serpent, for in all these changes the substance remained, and it was the form alone that was changed; but in the Eucharist the matter and form of the bread and wine is changed, and the species alone remain, that is, the appearance alone, as the council explains it.
24. The general opinion is, that this conversion is not performed by the creation of the body of Christ, for creation is the production of a thing out of nothing; but this is the conversion of the substance of the bread into the substance of the body of Christ. It does not take place either by the annihilation of the matter of the bread and wine, because annihilation means the total destruction of a thing, and the body of Christ, then, would be changed, we may say, from nothing; but in the Eucharist the substance of the bread passes into the substance of Christ, so that it is not from nothing. Neither does it take place by the transmutation of the form alone (as a certain author endeavours to prove); the same matter still remaining, as happened when the water was changed into wine, and the rod into a serpent. John Duns Scotus says that Transubstantiation is an act adducing the body of Christ into the Eucharist (actio adductiva); but this opinion is not followed by others, for adduction does not mean conversion by the passage of one substance into the other. It cannot be called, either, a unitive action, for that supposes two extremes in the point of union. Hence, we say, with Saint Thomas, that the consecration operates in such a manner, that if the body of Christ was not in heaven, it would commence to exist in the Eucharist. The consecration really, and in the instant, ‘instanti’, as the same Doctor says in the Summa, reproduces the body of Christ under the present species of bread, for as this is a sacramental action, it is requisite that there should be an external sign, in which the rationale of a Sacrament consists.
25. The Council of Trent has declared (Session 13, chapter 3), that the body of Christ alone is under the appearance of bread, and the blood alone under the appearance of wine; that by natural and proximate concomitance the soul of our Saviour is under both species, with his body and his blood; by supernatural and remote concomitance the Divinity of the Word is present, by the hypostatic union of the Word with the body and soul of Christ; and that the Father and the Holy Ghost are present, by the identity of the essence of the Father and the Holy Ghost with the Word. You might wish to examine the words of the Council.
26. Transubstantiation is proved by the very words of Christ himself: "This is my body." The word ‘this’, according to the Lutherans themselves, proves that Christ’s body was really present. If the body of Christ was there, therefore the substance of the bread was not there; for if the bread was there, and if by the word ‘this’ our Lord meant the bread, the proposition would be false, taking it in this sense, ‘This is my body’, that is, ‘this bread is my body’, for it is not true that the bread was the body of Christ. But perhaps they will then say, before our Lord expressed the word ‘body’, what did the word ‘this’ refer to? We answer, as we have done already, that it does not refer either to the bread or to the body, but has its own natural meaning, which is this: This which is contained under the appearance of bread is not bread, but is my body. Saint Cyril of Jerusalem explains it is his Catechetical Discourses. The doctrine is upheld by Saint Gregory of Nyssa, Saint Ambrose, and Saint John of Damascus in his treatise On the Orthodox Faith. Tertullian, Saint John Chrysostom, and Saint Hilary use the same language.
27. Transubstantiation is also proved by the authority of Councils, and especially, first, by the Roman Council, under Gregory VII, in which Berengarius made his profession of Faith, and retracted his errors. Secondly: By the Fourth Council of Lateran in 1215 (chapter 1). Thirdly: By the Council of Trent (Session 13, canon 2), which condemns all who deny this doctrine.
OBJECTIONS AGAINST TRANSUBSTANTIATION ANSWERED.
28. The Lutherans say, first, that the body of Christ is locally in the bread as in a vessel, and, as we say, showing a bottle in which wine is contained, "This is the wine," so, say they, Christ, showing the bread, said: "This is my body”; and hence, both the body of Christ and the bread are, at the same time, present in the Eucharist. We answer, that, according to the common mode of speech, a bottle is a fit and proper thing to show that wine is there, because wine is usually kept in bottles, but it is not the case with bread, which is not a fit and proper thing to designate or point out a human body, for it is only by a miracle that a human body could be contained in bread.
29. Just to confound one heresy by another, we will quote the argument of the Zwinglians against the Impanation or Consubstantiation of the bread and the body of Christ, invented by the Lutherans. If, say they, the words "This is my body" are to be taken in a literal sense, as Luther says they are, then the Transubstantiation of the Catholics is true. And this is certainly the case. Christ did not say, this bread is my body, or here is my body, but this thing is my body. Hence, say they, when Luther rejects the figurative meaning, that it is only the signification of the body of Christ, as they hold, and wishes to explain the words "this is my body" after his own fashion, that is, this bread is really my body, and not the frame of my body, this doctrine falls to the ground of itself, for if our Saviour intended to teach us that the bread was his body, and that the bread was there still, it would be a contradiction in itself. The true sense of the words "This is my body," however, is that the word ‘this’ is to be thus understood: this, which I hold in my hands is my body. Hence, the Zwinglians concluded that the conversion of the substance of the bread into the substance of the body of Christ should be taken either totally figuratively or totally in substance, and this was Beza’s opinion in the Conference of Monbeliard, held with the Lutherans. Here, then, is, according to the true dogma, the conclusion we should come to in opposition to Luther. When our Lord says, "This is my body," he intended that of that bread should be formed either the substance, or the figure of his body; if the substance of the bread, therefore, be not the mere simple figure of Christ’s body, as Luther says, then it must become the whole substance of the body of Jesus Christ.
30. The Lutherans object, secondly, that in the Scripture the Eucharist is called bread, even after the consecration: "One body . . . . who all partake of one bread" (1 Corinth 10:17); "Whosoever shall eat this bread, or drink the Chalice of the Lord unworthily" etc. (1 Corinth 11:27); the bread, therefore, remains. Such, however, is not the case; it is called bread, not because it retains the substance of bread, but because the body of Christ is made from the bread. In the Scriptures we find that those things which are miraculously changed into other things are still called by the name of the thing from which they were changed, as the water which was changed by Christ into wine, at the marriage of Cana in Galilee was still called water, by Saint John, even after the change: "When the Chief Steward had tasted the water made wine" (John, 2:9); and in Exodus also we read that the rod of Moses changed into a serpent was still called a rod: "Aaron’s rod devoured their rods" (Exodus 7:12). In like manner, then, the Eucharist is called bread after the consecration, because it was bread before, and still retains the appearance of bread. Besides, as the Eucharist is the food of the soul, it may be justly called bread, as the Manna made by the angels is called bread, that is, spiritual bread: "Man ate the bread of angels" (Psalm 77:25 in the Vulgate, or Psalm 78:25 in the Hebrew). The sectarians, however, say, the body of Christ cannot be broken, it is the bread alone that is broken, and still Saint Paul says: "And the bread which we break is it not the partaking of the body of the Lord?" (1 Corinth 10:16). We answer, that the breaking is understood to refer to the species of the bread which remain, but not to the body of the Lord, which, being present in a sacramental manner, cannot be either broken or injured.
31. They object, thirdly, that Christ says, in Saint John: "I am the bread of life" (John, 6:48); still he was not changed into bread. The very text, however, answers the objection itself. Our Lord says: "I am the bread of life:" now the word "life" shows that the expression must be taken not in a natural but a metaphorical sense. The words "This is my body" must, however, be taken in quite another way; in order that this proposition should be true, it was necessary that the bread should be changed into the body of Christ, and this is Transubstantiation, which is an article of our Faith, and which consists in the conversion of the substance of the bread into the substance of the body of Christ, so that in the very instant in which the words of consecration are concluded, the bread has no longer the substance of bread, but under its species exists the body of the Lord. The conversion, then, has two terms, in one of which it ceases to be, and in the other commences to be, for otherwise, if the bread was first annihilated, and the body then produced, it would not be a true conversion or Transubstantiation. It is of no consequence to say that the word Transubstantiation is new, and not found in the Scriptures, when the thing signified, that is, the Eucharist, really exists. The Church has always adopted new expressions, to explain more clearly the truths of the Faith when attacked by heretics, as she adopted the word Consubstantial to combat the heresy of Arius.