In the series that began with Where's the Christ?, I have been presenting a detailed examination of what happens to the bread and wine during the Catholic Eucharistic Sacrifice. Drawing from Roman Catholic catechisms and other texts, I am exploring the belief that to which every Catholic must assent de fide: that when the priest consecrates the Eucharistic species, the substance of the bread and wine are transformed into the substance of the body, blood, soul and divinity of the Catholic Christ.
In previous parts of this study, I have detailed what Catholics are required to believe concerning wthe magical process Rome calls transubstantiation.. In the process, I have listed some of the peripheral dogmas that have been defined to sustain the fictions of transubstantiation and the Real Presence. In this part, I shall look at the durability of the Real Presence and how it is to be handled.
Though this belief that the bread and wine of the Eucharist are miraculously transubstantiated had been around for some time, it was the bishops gathered at Trent who infallibly defined the dogma, although with some apparent confusion as to what specifically was transformed into what. (Decree on the Most Holy Eucharist, Chap. 3 and 4, Council of Trent, Session XIII, Denzinger 876-77)
Non-Catholics may wonder why what the Roman Church declares to be the body, blood, soul and divinity of Christ still looks, feels, smells and tastes like bread and wine. The knowledgeable Catholic might respond that it is the substance of the bread and wine that are transformed, not the accidents.
In other words, for a person to be able to "know" something, like a car or a banana, he must recognize the "accidents", or physical characteristics that define the substance of that thing. One can look at a banana and, by recognizing its accidents, distinguish it from a four-storey apartment building. Some of the accidents that make a banana unique are its yellow color, its aroma, its shape and size, its taste and texture. That makes sense.
Does this mean that one can pick out the Catholic Christ in a crowded room because He looks something like the canned potato crisps arranged around a punchbowl?
The Roman Catholic Church declares to its faithful that the substance of the body, blood, soul and divinity of its Christ is to be found under the accidents of bread and wine. If we apply the definition provided by my Catholic encyclopedia, are we then able to know their Christ by the accidents of the species? Is the Catholic Christ distinguishable from all other things because he looks, tastes, feels and smells like a paper-thin wafer and a cup of wine? Good Heavens, no! One of my Catholic dictionaries offers more detailed information as to how something might look like one thing but really be another in its definition of "accident."
Rome, of course, has a dogma to cover this:
Doctor Ott explains this dogma in these words:
That might work with those of the Catholic faithful who are willing to chew on any bone the Vatican might toss their way, but surely a thinking person will demand more information if he is to commit to such a teaching. After all, this is the 21st century. The Catholic masses are educated now and surely can't be expected to believe such an idea simply because they are told they must. Can they?
If it were indeed true that, after the Catholic priest completes his rite of consecration, the species of bread and wine are magically changed into some combination of the body and blood and perhaps soul and divinity of the Catholic Christ, why does the wafer still look like and taste like a wafer and why does the wine look and taste like wine?
It is because the form of the 'accidents' of bread and wine remain, though their substances (molecular structure?) have been changed to those of the body, blood, soul and divinity of the Catholic Christ. Hmmm. Do such things as a soul or divinity have a molecular makeup? They must, I suppose, if what looks to be a wafer and a glass of wine is supposed to be really made up of those things.
As always, when a Catholic fantasy cannot be supported from the Scriptures nor even explained by science, someone in the Catholic hierarchy will conjure up an explanation.
In order to deal with the troublesome reality that the species appear unchanged to the human eye after the shaman chants the magic words and performs the sacred ritual of consecration, Rome had to come up with another dogma.
In supporting this dogmatic definition, Dr. Ott calls upon the words of one of the Church Fathers:
So the substances that were recognizable by their accidents as a wafer and some wine still manifest the accidents of that wafer and that wine but now the substance they relate to is body, blood, soul and divinity of the Catholic Jesus. Where's the proof? The wafer and wine continue to weigh the same. They taste and smell the same. To every test of their physical characteristics I daresay they would give the same results. Catholic theologians have an answer for this challenge also.
Seems to me that is so much gobbledegook. The Catholic church is requiring people to believe without question that the very accidents that once made it possible to "know" the bread and wine remain in the consecrated species but now in some magical way make it possible to "know" the body, blood, soul and divinity of the Catholic Christ. That's a real stretch.
I propose a challenge for the committed Catholic and his priest, singly or together. Let a third person, an ordained priest if you like, place one consecrated host in a platen with a number of unconsecrated hosts with similar accidents while outside the visual field of the test participants. Then invite the participants to identify the one that is the substance of the body, blood, soul and divinity of the Catholic Christ. The identification of the consecrated host may not be possible by appeal to chemical testing procedures but surely it will be possible by a test of faith.
"It's a matter of faith," the Roman Catholic might declare in response to my challenge. "It is a truth the Extraordinary Magisterium of the Church has defined and every Catholic must assent to the Real Presence under the accidents of bread and wine." And that, more often than not, will mark the end of the discussion.
The Christian asked to accept this fantasy of a Jesus who looks, smells, feels and tastes like a dietetic wafer and a glass of wine by this time may be throwing up his hands in frustration. Instead of biblical proof of this dogma, he gets circular reasoning. He is told this Catholic dogma is true because the Magisterium of the Catholic Church says it is true and that this position is supported by the Magisterium of the Catholic Church. Hard to argue against that kind of logic.
Let us turn our attention now to another aspect of this fanciful teaching. If the accidents of the eucharistic species are those of bread and wine, but the substance is that of the body, blood, soul and divinity of the Catholic Christ, what happened to the substances of the original bread and wine? They must be somewhere? Were they sent up to Heaven to sit at the right hand of the Father while the Catholic Jesus was in the form of bread and wine on a million altars or spying on the Catholic faithful from within a million cibora down here on earth? After all, one of those ordinances that govern the operation of the physical universe declares that atoms can neither be created nor destroyed.
It must be accepted, of course, that every atom in existence was once created by God. What Dalton's Theory seeks to establish is that those atoms He originally created continue to exist today and that no new ones are being made.
So, if the substances that once were bread and wine now are the Catholic Christ, where's the bread? Where are the atoms used to create the substance of the bread and wine now in use as the body, blood, soul and divinity of the Catholic Christ? There's a dogma to cover this, as you might expect. You're gonna love this one.
Dr. Ludwig Ott, noted Roman Catholic scholar and theologian, identifies another dogma that declares that the substance of the bread and wine displaced by the 'Real Presence' of the body, blood, soul and divinity of the Catholic Christ continue to exist but aren't anywhere.
Doctor Ott, bless his heart, is not one to toss out a dogma without providing both explanatory notes and supporting information. This is what he offers concerning the above teaching:
Things are really getting weird at this point. Let me try to organize what we have so far:
Maybe it will help to clarify the confusion if we seek the Catholic understanding of the term 'substance' as relates specifically to the Eucharistic Sacrifice:
Don't you have to wonder, just a little bit, why the species don't look, feel, smell and taste like a body and blood? Don't you have to wonder, just a little bit, why the mindmasters of the Roman Catholic Church decided to literally interpret the biblical Christ's words at the Last Supper yet when they read other, similar, statements of His as the metaphors He clearly intended?
I already have shown the Catholic dogma that:
Doctor Ott informs his readers that "In the dogma of the totality of the Real Presence it is implicitly stated that the Whole Christ is present under each of the two species individually." He adds that the Council of Constance defined this dogma . (Denzinger 626). It was re-affirmed by the councils of Trent and Florence (Denzinger 885, 698). (Ludwig Ott, Fundamentals of Catholic Dogma, Tan Books & Publ (1974), has Nihil Obstat and Imprimatur, p. 383)
It is the teaching of the RCC that all of their Christ -- body, blood, soul and divinity -- may be found in either of the sacramental species. This, of course, explains why for centuries, lay Catholics (including myself at one time) were denied the Communion cup.
I end this part of my study of Rome's dogma and teaching concerning the Eucharist with an invitation to readers to do as the Bereans and prayerfully compare what they have been taught, both by Rome and by me, against the Holy Scriptures. Ask yourself why the Magisterium chooses to literally interpret these words of biblical Jesus:
Then, ask yourself why the Magisterium chooses to interpret other words of biblical Jesus metaphorically:
More to follow.
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