The Eucharist
Part 3 - Where's the Body?

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.

1413. By the consecration the transubstantiation of the bread and wine into the Body and Blood of Christ is brought about. Under the consecrated species of bread and wine Christ himself, living and glorious, is present in a true, real, and substantial manner: his Body and his Blood, with his soul and his divinity [cf. Council of Trent: DS 1640; 1651.]. -- Catechism of the Catholic Church, 2nd Ed., (C) 1994/1997 United States Catholic Conference, Inc.

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.

If that seems confusing, it might be due to the esoteric interpretations Rome sometimes assigns to common words -- in this case, the word accident, which my Catholic encyclopedia defines thusly:

This philosophical term means any reality that does not possess the power of subsisting alone but must have another reality to hold it in existence. It is thus that the taste of bread is an accident since it does not exist apart from the reality of bread. In a person, happiness, anger, and love are accidents that may be present in the personality. That which is the support of accidents of a thing or person is called a substance. The accidents of a thing or person may change, but the substance does not. This is called accidental change, for example, a man who puts on weight or whose hair becomes gray. The classes of accidents are grouped under three categories: quantity, quality, and motion. -- Robert C. Broderick, Ed., The Catholic Encyclopedia, Rev. Ed., Thomas Nelson Publishers (1987), has Nihil Obstat and Imprimatur, p. 18

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."

i. A being that in the ordinary course of nature demands another as a subject in which to exist; e.g. colour in a wall. The essence of accident does not imply actual inherence in a subject but aptitudinal...Of accidents some are absolute and some modal: an absolute accident is a certain reality distinct from the substance in which it inheres and upon which it depends for its existence, as quantity, heat, etc.; a modal accident signifies not so much a reality as a state affecting the substance, as sitting, standing, etc... -- Donald Attwater, Ed., A Catholic Dictionary, The MacMillan Company (1942), has Nihil Obstat and Imprimatur,p. 6

Rome, of course, has a dogma to cover this:

The Accidents of bread and wine continue after the change of the substance. (De. fide) -- Ludwig Ott, Fundamentals of Catholic Dogma, Tan Books & Publ (1974), hasNihil Obstat and Imprimatur, p. 383

Doctor Ott explains this dogma in these words:

According to the explanation of the Council of Trent, the change extends only to the substances of the bread and the wine, while the appearances of accidents remain behind: manentibus dumtaxat speciebus panis et vini (D 884). By the appearances (species) is understood everything which is perceived by the senses, such as size, extent, weight, shape, colour, taste, smell. -- Ibid.

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.

The Sacramental Accidents retain their physical reality after the change of the substance. (Sent. certa.) -- Ludwig Ott, Fundamentals of Catholic Dogma, Tan Books & Publ (1974), has /Nihil Obstat and Imprimatur, p. 383

In supporting this dogmatic definition, Dr. Ott calls upon the words of one of the Church Fathers:

...St. Augustine, Sermo 272: "Thus what you see is bread and a chalice; your own eyes tell you that. But what your faith must learn is this: the bread is the body of Christ, the chalice is the blood of Christ." S. th. III 75, 5: sensu apparet, facta consecratione omnia accidentia panis et vini remanere... Ibid.

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.

ii. Eucharistic. After the substance (q.v.) of the bread and the substance of the wine have been converted into the Body and Blood of Christ at the consecration at Mass the accidents of bread and wine remain and are discernible by the senses. The fundamental accident is that of quantity, and in it inhere the shape, colour, brittleness or liquidity, taste and smell of the original substances. Hence, it is as foolish as it is impious to suggest that our Lord's presence in the Sacrament should be tested by chemical experiment. -- Donald Attwater, Op. cit.

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.

"Dalton's Atomic Theory," which represents the "first modern attempt to describe chemical behavior in terms of atoms." Among other things, this theory declares that all elements are made of atoms and that "atoms can be neither created nor destroyed. -- Patricia Barnes-Svarney, Ed., The New York Library Science Desk Reference, MacMillan (1995), p. 258

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.

The Sacramental Accidents continue without a subject in which to inhere. (Sent. certa.)" -- Ludwig Ott, Op. cit.

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:

It follows from the dogma of the Transubstantiation that the accidents after the change of the substances of the bread and wine exist without their own natural substance in which to inhere...The Body and the Blood of Christ cannot be bearers of the accidents of bread and wine; nor can any other substance (according to Abelard's School: the surrounding air). It follows from this that the accidents continue without any subject. The Roman Catechism (II 4, 43) calls this teaching: "the perpetual and constant teaching of the Catholic Church. -- Ibid.

Things are really getting weird at this point. Let me try to organize what we have so far:

1) Before consecration, the accidents of species make it possible to know bread and wine.

2) By consecration, the substances of bread and wine are transformed into the substances of the body, blood, soul and divinity of the Catholic Christ.

3) After consecration, the accidents of the species remain but the substances of the bread and wine that once made it possible to know them are having an out of body experience.

4) The body and blood of the Catholic Christ cannot 'bear' the accidents of the altered substances of bread and wine.

5) No other substance can 'bear' the accidents of the altered bread and wine.

6) Not even the surrounding air can 'bear' the accidents of the altered bread and wine.

7) The accidents of the bread and wine continue (are perceptible) but don't really relate to anything. We can smell and taste the wine, for example, but the wine isn't really there, etc.

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:

"Substance" literally means that which stands underneath. Underneath what? Underneath the outward appearances or qualities-such as color, taste, figure, smell, etc.-that are perceptible to our senses. Therefore we never see the substance of anything. Of this seat, for instance, I see the color, size, and shape; I feel the hardness, etc.; but I do not see the substance, namely, the wood of which it is made. When the substance of anything is changed, the outward appearances change with it. But not so in the Holy Eucharist; for by a miracle the appearances of bread and wine remain the same after the substance has been changed as they were before. As the substance alone is changed in the Holy Eucharist, and as I cannot see the substance, I cannot see the change. I am absolutely certain, however, that the change takes place, because Our Lord said so; and I believe Him, because- He could not deceive me. He is God, and God could not tell a lie, because He is infinite truth... -- Thomas L. Kinkead,Baltimore Catechism 4, Lesson 22: Question 238

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:

The Whole Christ is present under each of the two Species. (De. fide.)

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:

And as they were eating, Jesus took bread, and blessed it, and brake it, and gave it to the disciples, and said, Take, eat; this is my body. And he took the cup, and gave thanks, and gave it to them, saying, Drink ye all of it; For this is my blood of the new testament, which is shed for many for the remission of sins. -- Matthew 26:26-28

Then, ask yourself why the Magisterium chooses to interpret other words of biblical Jesus metaphorically:

Then said Jesus unto them again, Verily, verily, I say unto you, I am the door of the sheep. -- John 10:7

More to follow.

Click here to go to Part Four

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