The shoe drops

Speculating regarding the idea of “minimum standard of Catholicism” advocated by the Catholic Left, a month or so ago, I argued that such a minimal standard should include attitudes towards the Eucharist and towards contraception.

Now, a blogger at Vox Nova, who says his research specialty is “ecumenism” (note: clear difference between a specialty of “ecumenism” and a specialty of “apologetics”), has written a piece claiming it’s heresy to say Jesus is physically present in the Eucharist.  He uses the testimony of an unnamed female theology professor and a bunch of Rahnerian doublespeak according to which “substance” is not something physical but something spiritual.

In the process, he claimed that anyone who believes the Eucharist has miraculous properties is actually a materialist(!) or a fideist. He said that those who believe the Eucharist is truly the Body of Christ are guilty of “Caphernism” (is that even a word?), saying that faithful Catholics who think Jesus is physically present in the Host are like the people at Capernaum who turned away at the Bread of Life Discourse.

I mean, that’s the epitome of poor logic: if you think the Eucharist is miraculous and cannot cause disease, you’re a materialist; if you think the Eucharist is the Body of Christ, you’re the equivalent of those who denied it.

All of this twisted logic to avoid giving offense to the Lutheran heretics, whose insults to the Eucharist caused so much sorrow for St. Teresa of Avila.

Philosophy 101: substance is that which makes something what-it-is.  Substance is what remains when a thing has lost all accidental properties.

I offered an immediate rebuttal, but here is one with citations.

First, excerpts from an EWTN article called “Modern Misconceptions of the Eucharist”, by Fr. Regis Scanlon (I think it’s the same one I quoted to “Anonymous” last month):

St. Thomas also gave a very good reason why bread and wine cannot remain after the consecration: “Because it would be opposed to the veneration of this sacrament, if any substance were there, which could not be adored with adoration of “<latria>”.”[9] If bread and wine remained, Catholics would be committing the sin of idolatry by adoring it. So, physical bread and wine do not remain!

Jesus is corporally, that is, physically, present:

Finally, in 196:S, Pope Paul VI taught most clearly that, after the consecration at Mass, “nothing remains of the bread and wine except for the <species> (smell, taste, etc.)” and that Christ is (bodily) present whole and entire in his lt;physical> ‘reality,’ corporeallypresent, although not in the manner in which bodies are in a place.”[11] So, the “<physical” thing> that remains after the consecration is Jesus Christ and not bread and wine.

On Rahner:

In 1966 the late Fr. Karl Rahner stated that “one can no longer maintain today that bread is a substance, as St. Thomas and the Fathers of the Council (of Trent) obviously thought it was”.[12] For Rahner, the “substance” of a thing did not include its <material and physical> reality, but the “meaning and purpose” of the thing. [13] So, according to Karl Rahner, transubstantiation meant that, after the consecration of the Mass, the physical bread remained physical bread but it now had a new “meaning” of spiritual food because it was now a “symbol” of Jesus Christ.[14]

I was speaking with a theologian friend of mine, a former department head at Duquesne, and he said that, in part, Rahner was right: we cannot identify Aristotelian substance with modern ideas of matter, but that does not mean it is not physical, since modern physics knows that the universe is composed of far more than just energy and matter.

But Rahner reduces the Eucharist to symbol by saying its “significance” changes.  The problem is a definitition of physicality which is limited to matter–in other words, materialism.

14 responses to “The shoe drops

  1. For the record, I’ve never denied the Eucharist is the Body of Christ. I invite people to actually read what I said. Lewis’s charicature is more heat than light.

    • I read what you said. And my name is not “Lewis,” and the word is spelled “caricature.”
      You denied that Jesus is physically present in the Eucharist. He is corporally present, bodily present. That is physically.
      You also said you’re studying “Ecumenism.” What is the point in that?
      What is the point in being a Catholic if you’re making a career out of compromising with the Lutherans?

  2. Yes, erm, caricature. Typo. I tried to fix it, but couldn’t edit my post.

  3. Take it up with the Vatican.

    And read Trent.

    The way that bodies are “naturally” present is “physically” but Trent (Session 13, Chapter 1) says Christ’s body is NOT present naturally in the Eucharist. Rather, it is present sacramentally. In everyday life for non-resurrected bodies corporally does mean physically. In the sacrament it does not – as should be obvious just from looking at the host.

    I have never denied Christ is corporally present in the Eucharist. There are also a bunch of other things you accuse me of saying that I never say. For instance, I explicitly affirmed the Eucharist as a miracle. I never said that people who believe the Eucharist is the Body and Blood of Christ are Capharnaites. How could I? I believe the Eucharist is the Body and Blood of Christ.

    And why, if you are so against ecumenism, is your blog named for a non-Catholic?

    • 1. Of course, Vatican II’s teachings on Ecumenism–and both John XXIII and Paul VI emphasized that Vatican II was not infallible and that anything new it introduced was not authoritative–are its biggest offense to traditionalists.
      2. St. Louis of France, one of the namesakes of this site, was told of a miracle of the face of Christ appearing in the host at Midnight Mass, Christmas Eve: “Why did you interrupt my meditation on the birth of Our Lord to tell me of a miracle that occurs at every Mass”?
      3. Most strictly speaking, this site is named for my dead child. Though I partially named him or her in honor of C. S. Lewis, who was strongly opposed to the “ecumenical” movement and said the last thing Christian denominations should do is water down their teachings. He was also against creating unnecessary divisions by being overly philosophical. He said, either you believe Jesus is in the Eucharist, or you don’t. I also named my child (and this site) in honor of soon to be Bl. Louis Martin, whose devotion to the Eucharist was such that he would not allow his family to speak for 1 half an hour after Mass. then there was the aforementioned St. Louis of France. And of course St. Louis de Montfort.
      4. The point is: are you encouraging greater devotion to the Eucharist? Or are you encouraging people to downplay Eucharistic devotion and reverence to satisfy the demands of non-Catholics and of “liberal” Catholics?

  4. Furthermore, I explicitly noted that many people use the term ‘physical’ to describe Christ’s presence in a perfectly orthodox way, i.e., if all they mean by it is ‘real’ or ‘bodily’. I cautioned against its use because it leads to confusion like saying it is blasphemy to recommend withholding the cup during a flu epidemic, or that Jesus undergoes, by sensual experience, what the bread undergoes (e.g. touching, biting, dissolving in acid etc.).

    By ignoring such aspects of my claims you discredit your own arguments. You are not attacking what I actually said, but merely a caricature – as anyone who reads my original post next to your summary of it will see.

    • Right here:
      ” it is blasphemy to recommend withholding the cup during a flu epidemic”
      The point is that the Eucharist is God. The Eucharist is the Real Presence of God. It cannot transmit disease . That does not have to do with the accidental properties of the “bread.” It’s the same question of saying you can get disease from touching a Holy Water font. St. Paul says the only way you can get disease from the Eucharist is from receiving unworthily.
      You are implicitly denying that the Eucharist is miraculous. To say that the Eucharist spreads disease is to lack faith in Christ.
      That said, I am not an advocate of giving the Chalice to the laity willy-nilly, anyway.

      “that Jesus undergoes, by sensual experience, what the bread undergoes”
      He doesn’t?
      We are supposed to take extra care to guard the Sacred Species; or at least we did so before the Masonic Revolution in the 1960s that took Vatican II as its cover, doing things Vatican II never intended.
      We take extra care to prevent particles of the Eucharist from falling to the ground. Use special materials to clean the ground if they do.

  5. Now, if you want to claim that it is impossible to get the flu from the cup, or that Jesus feels cold when the heat gets turned off in the Church, you need to talk to your friend from Duquesne.

    • OK, now that’s a slightly different phrasing.
      Does Jesus “feel it”? First, how do we know? That seems to be the kind of area where it’s pure supposition and presumption.
      But when harm come to the sacred species, that is desecration of the Body of Christ. That is abuse of Jesus’ body.
      How it all works on God’s end is none of my business. I just know what it is.
      Does Jesus get “lonely” in the tabernacle when no one visits Him in Church? The mystics tell us so.
      So, what we have are
      a) What the Bible tells us.
      b) What the mystics tell us, which the Church says is “private revelation.” But it’s still revelation, and when it comes from a saint, particularly a mystical Doctor, it should mean something..
      c) What philosophers and theologians speculate about. Which really has no worth whatsoever, as Thomas Aquinas himself admitted.

  6. “Thou shalt not put the Lord thy God to the test” – can you explain to me how your presumptions about not getting sick from taking the chalice aren’t intrinsically putting God to the test?

    You’ve made a faith claim that’s based nowhere in scripture or Tradition, and you have an obligation to educate yourself and be careful before imposing those faith claims on others – would you encourage someone with Celiac’s disease to take the Eucharist in bread form, knowing they could lose their life if you were wrong? Would that not be your sin of presumption that caused the death?

    You don’t listen to the Vatican nor the Doctors of the Church, and rely on the unverifiable private revelation of mystics as the basis for your faith. You’ve got all the smatterings of a heretic who doesn’t know they’re a heretic because they’re blinded by irrational passion and fear of being wrong.

    I would strongly recommend evaluating the fears that motivate your belief system. If you believe in (a) above, the Bible indicates that “Perfect love has no fear”. If God is Love and your belief system is rooted in fear, it is not rooted in God.

    If you truly had the faith you claim to have, you wouldn’t be afraid of entering into dialogue and listening to the Vatican, theologians, and philosophers, because you know God would guide you in the right direction.

    • By “mystics,” I’m talking about Teresa of Avila, John of the Cross, Therese of Lisieux.
      I don’t need to “enter into dialogue” with the Vatican; you do.
      As for celiac disease, my family have a wheat allergy (tested negative for celiac disease). I would never refrain from receiving the Host because of it. And the only way that much gluten would be harmful to someone with celiac disease is if the person has already eaten a ton of wheat and destroyed his or her intestines.
      Putting God to the test applies to demanding a dramatic miracle or doing something God never intended (like jumping off a roof) and expecting to be protected.
      The fundamental message of the Bible is that we are to put trust in Divine Providence. Saints do what the Church calls imprudent and what liberal Catholics would call “putting God to the test.”

      What fears are you talking about ?
      You’re the one who’s afraid of getting the flu.

  7. Catholic Answers supports the use of vaccines derived from aborted fetuses.

    Superstitious? St. Paul is superstitious?

    And, again, it’s silly to argue this in regard to reception from the Cup, because that is only supposed to happen on rare occasions, anyway. The frequent use of the Chalice in the US is a liturgical abuse.

  8. And I didn’t say you *wouldn’t* get sick. I said if you get sick doing God’s will, it’s God’s will, and Catholicism is about embracing suffering to redeem the world.

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