In the series that began with Where's the Christ?, I have been presenting a detailed examination of what supposedly happens to the bread and wine during the Catholic Eucharistic Sacrifice. Drawing from Roman Catholic catechisms and other texts, I am exploring the belief to which every Catholic is to 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 the magical transformation 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 another part of this study, I raised the question of how could the biblical Christ be at the right hand of the Father, as the Scriptures say He is, and simultaneously present on a million altars around the world. A Catholic catechism informs that this is a way in which the Lord shows His infinite love.
This raises an interesting question. If, as Catholic dogma declares, the whole Christ is truly present in the Eucharist, can it be possible that the whole Christ be present in every consecrated host in every pyx in every Catholic church throughout the world? -- Ludwig Ott, Fundamentals of Catholic Dogma, Tan Books & Publ:Rockford (1974), has Nihil Obstat and Imprimatur, p. 385
If one is to believe that the whole of the Catholic Christ is at the Father's side in Heaven and that the whole of the Catholic Christ is present in every Blessed Sacrament in all the world, that must mean that Rome has assigned its own special definition to the adjective "whole." Either that, or there are a whole lot of Catholic Christs lurking in tabernacles, watching and listening at what goes on in the pews.
My dictionary of normal English usage lists these definitions for "whole" when used as an adjective:
Offhand, I would say the first three meanings might be applicable to the dogma cited above. The third definition seems particularly appropriate. Whole, as in the whole enchilada; as in that's all there is; etc. If the "full amount" of the substance of the body, blood, soul and divinity of the Catholic Christ is in the Blessed Sacrament the priest at YOUR altar breaks into pieces and is consumed with sacramental wine in the Eucharistic Sacrifice, then who is at the right side of the Father and who is in thousands of cibora and on the tongues of millions of Catholics? Clones?
Maybe the Catholic Christ is baked as a really, really big extra thin matzoh and fermented into a really big tank of wine so that parts may be separated and distributed to the various Catholic churches for use at the Mass. This could be true, for there is a Catholic dogma to cover bits and pieces and such:
This brings to mind a holographic image I once had an opportunity to examine. The image had been transferred to a piece of glass by some process I confess to be more complicated than I am able to grasp. One could move around the image and with each new angle see into corners, behind objects, etc. I was told that, should the sheet of glass be broken, the whole image, with all its component parts, would be on each shard. That information made a quite strong impression on my decidedly unscientific mind. Now, however, I am beginning to see parallels between what happens to a holographic image on a sheet of glass and the arcane rituals of consecration in the Roman Catholic Eucharistic Sacrifice. Could it be that what the shaman is doing at the altar is making something akin to a holographic impression of the Catholic Christ on the wafers and wine of the sacrifice?
Dogmas of the Roman Catholic Church declare that every Roman Catholic must believe, as a matter of faith, that the consecrated wafer and wine of the Eucharistic Sacrifice constitute the real presence of the whole body, blood, soul and divinity of the Catholic Christ. Catholics are to believe, as a matter of faith, that this Real Presence is to be found in both species and, therefore, it is not necessary that communicants -- other than the officiating shaman - partake of both species. To make absolutely certain that all Catholic faithful understand this, it was included in the 1917 edition of Canon Law:
Actually, this teaching had been around for some long time before the 1917 Code of Canon Law was promulgated. The bishops at Trent placed a heavy price on not believing that the whole substance of the Catholic Christ is to be found in either of the consecrated species:
Anathema? That's a pretty strong convincer for Catholics, I imagine. Believe it or else.
The latest version of the Code of Canon Law, promulgated in 1983, says essentially the same thing:
Yet the Catholic church has not always limited the lay faithful to communion under one form. In fact, it was pretty much the universal custom in the primitive church and even during the first millennium of Roman Catholicism that communicants partake of the Lord's Supper or Catholic Communion by ingesting both bread and wine. Ott agrees that Catholics used to do things differently:
If Mama Church's 'holy' ministers had been passing out bread AND wine to communicants for centuries, what brought about change? Perhaps the body of Catholic faithful had grown so large that passing out wine to communicants at every Mass was becoming a financial burden. Or, perhaps, communicants were soaking up all the booze and leaving the good fathers to drink water. Whatever the reason, in the Church that never changes, things changed.
Rome says that the body, blood, soul and divinity of her Christ is real and substantially present in both the Eucharistic species. How serious is Rome about this? All those who look to Rome for their salvation are required to believe this as a matter of faith. Those who doubt or do not believe come under anathema and that is plenty serious, at least as far as the Roman Catholic Church is concerned.
For the purposes of this study, let us accept the Catholic teaching concerning the existence of all the parts of the Catholic Christ in all the parts of the Eucharistic species. Let us turn our attention to the durability of the Catholic Christ in the Species.
How long does the Catholic Christ hang around in the form of wafers and wine? Does transubstantiation result in a transitory change of short duration? or does He move in and set up housekeeping? Does the Catholic priest determine the length of His stay? or does He make His own decisions? As might be expected, there is a Roman Catholic dogma to cover this issue:
"Permanently present in the Eucharist." That is a definitive statement if every I read one. Doctor Ott provides information to support this dogma:
This brings to mind questions and images, not all of them pleasant. Can "permanently present in the Eucharist" be taken literally? Is Rome here teaching that the substance of the species becomes the substance of their Christ and that this change is enduring? When I read this, I think of all the biological processes of digestion and excretion. Is the Catholic Church telling her faithful that their Christ, whose very body, blood, soul and divinity they take into their mouths, remains even as He transits the throat, stomach and intestines? Is she telling her faithful that their Christ continues permanently to exist even in the products of human elimination? That is a hard thing to accept. But isn't that what the use of the adverbs "permanently" and "continually" imply?
The same dictionary defines "permanent" thusly:
One would expect that in choosing to use the words "permanently present" Rome indeed is declaring that, once established in the consecrated species, the Catholic Christ is there for the long run. Perhaps the bishops are assigning an esoteric meaning to the word or, just maybe, they expect Catholic faithful to understand the word in a more modern and less literal sense, as suggested by the notes following Ott's definition (above):
The possibility of their Christ being permanently in the species, perhaps even unto digestion and elimination, could be a stumbling block for even some of the most credulous of the Catholic faithful, I should imagine. Not to worry, the Roman dreamworks has a dogma to cover that:
Doctor Ott explains in greater detail:
Whoa! Did you catch that? In an earlier part of this study, I discussed the RCC dogmas that, after consecration, only the accidents of the species remain, and that the substances of the species continue but exist without anything in which to inhere. Now, it would appear that Doctor Ott is saying that, once digestive processes begin to take effect on the accidents of the species, the Catholic Christ is gone and the substances of the bread and wine return from wherever they were. Did you also notice that Dr. Ott explained what does NOT happen to the body and blood of the Catholic Christ but failed to provide any information as to what DOES happen to that body and blood?
The Trent Canon cited above declares that the Catholic Christ is present in the consecrated species so long as the "appearances of bread and wine remain?" That seems a rather ambiguous statement. I should think that this leaves the identification of the moment of departure of Rome's Christ from the species rather open to individual interpretation. After all, some might argue that the Blessed Sacrament loses the appearance of bread the moment it makes contact with moisture in the mouth and begins to soften. Others might argue that so long as the bread is not a semi-liquid goo it retains the body, blood, soul and divinity of their Christ. There may be science majors in the Catholic flock who would argue that bread is bread, whether dry or wet, hard or soft, so long as it can be determined by chemical assay to be bread. As to the wine, well, surely the Catholic Christ flees the accidents of the wine as soon as it hits the mouth and is commingled with saliva. Where's the truth?
If we look to Ludwig Ott's comments for help, things get increasingly confused. "When the species are corrupted...?" What is lacking here is a definition of what it means to be corrupted in this context. Certainly, from the moment it was baked or fermented, bacteria and other microrganisms would have been at work in the species. Do these cease to operate at the moment of consecration? or do they continue to slowly eat away at the substance of the bread and wine, wherever they are? Do they continue to gnaw away at the accidents? What if a fly does a swan dive into the chalice? Is the species considered corrupted? or does the substance of the fly become part of the species? What happens to the substance of the fly? What about oxidation? If a consecrated wafer is stored overlong in the monstrance or the tabernacle and begins to suffer the disintegrating effects of oxidation and dehydration, at what point is the species considered to be corrupted? With the first subtle change of the first molecule of flour? when 15% of the molecules are changed? 30%? whatever? One would think that a church claiming to be guided by the Holy Spirit could come up with something more definitive than the situational definitions above.
At this point, it seems appropriate to look into an apparent conflict between present Roman Catholic practice and the way things were done in the primitive Christian church and for a 1000 years or more in the Roman Catholic Church. Could it be there is a similar conflict between present Roman Catholic dogma and the teaching of the Scriptures?
Rome teaches, and Catholic faithful had better believe it, that the body and blood of their Christ are present in both the bread and the wine of the Eucharistic Sacrifice. Therefore, when Catholic communicants receive the consecrated host, they are complying with the biblical Christ's commandments at the Last Supper, as corrupted and interpreted by the Magisterium of the Roman Catholic Church. But are they? Refresh yourselves with the Scriptures:
The Magisterium of the Roman Catholic Church chooses to interpret these verses in a strictly literal way, despite our Lord's obvious use of symbolism. Let us for the moment go with the Romish eisegesis. Notice that Jesus of Scripture did NOT distribute the bread saying, "Take, eat; this is my body and blood." Nor did He say when passing the cup, "Drink ye all of it; for this is my body and blood of the new testament."
Jesus Christ of Scripture, the Incarnate Son of God, when distributing bread and wine to His disciples, did NOT declare the bread to be both His body and blood, nor the wine to be both His body and blood. Yet the Roman Church that reads the obvious metaphors literally declares that both species contain not only the body and blood of their Christ, but also His soul and divinity -- which demands a less-than-literal interpretation of the passage. Is the Jesus of the Bible lying or, to be more charitable, misinformed? Or could it be that the bishops and priests who are the ordinary Magisterium of the RCC have changed or added to the Scriptures? Could it be that these changes or additions have been given the stamp of infallibility by the bishops assembled in the Extraordinary Magisterium?
Should the Roman Catholic layman, upon receiving Communion in the form of bread alone ask "Where's the Blood?"
Can it be that what the Roman Catholic Church teaches, allegedly protected from doctrinal error by the Holy Spirit, is not in accord with what the biblical Jesus Christ personally taught? If it is so, who is wrong? Are the words attributed to Christ in the Scriptures wrong? Is the Holy Spirit standing by and permitting the RCC to stand on incorrect doctrine? Is God a liar? Does the Roman Catholic Church teach error through ignorance or by design? These are questions with eternal consequences.
I submit there would be little point in going to a Catholic priest for answers to these questions. That would be tantamount to asking a fox it is a sin to raid chicken coops. Far better it would be to seek the answer from God Himself. Open your Bible, read it, prayerfully and honestly seeking God's truth, not man's interests.
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