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September 19, 2005

Ch. XXVIII. Q. 148. What is the doctrine of the Real Presence?

THE DOCTRINE of the Real Presence is that, by reason of the consecration of the species, the Sacrament of the Holy Eucharist possesses an inward part—the Body and Blood of Christ, which are present truly and objectively, although supernaturally, in with and under the consecrated bread and wine.1

2. The doctrine of such a presence follows necessarily from the communication of idioms expressed in our Lord's words, "This is my Body —This is my Blood." It is the Incarnation, the taking of the manhood into God, which justifies the application of the predicate God to the Child of Mary. So the Church has always believed that the accomplishment of a sacramental union and of a real presence of the Body and Blood of Christ in the consecrated species is the only fact which can justify the assertion of Christ that the consecrated species are His Body and blood (cf. Q. 107).2

3. Catholic theologians have made the further and inevitable inference from our Lord's words, that the bread and wine undergo a mysterious change or conversion, by means of their consecration, analagous to that through which the manhood of Christ passed, when taken into God. Because of this conversion the Church looks upon the consecrated species, not as ordinary bread and wine, but as somehow changed into the Body and Blood of Christ, although without losing their natural and nourishing qualities. This conversion is signified indirectly in our Communion by the term consecration. But the Latins and Greeks speak more directly and call it transubstantiation, transubstantio, μεταποίησις.3

4. The term transubstantiation has been used to signify two distinct doctrines. The one condemned by our Articles is that which was current among Romanists in England when the Articles were written, and which overthrew the nature of a Sacrament by denying all reality to the natural species after the consecration. Scholastic theologians and the Council of Trent meant no such doctrine by the use of the term; but simply this, that the consecration so changes the substantia or formal object of the intellect (as distinguished from the accendentia or formal object of the senses) that it is no longer bread and wine but the Body and Blood of Christ. No physical change is signified by the term, which is used philosophically, but one altogether supersensible and mysterious. Thus the official doctrine of the Greeks, Latins and Anglicans can be harmonized, although the ambiguity of the term transubstantiation, as used among us, and the language of our Articles make it impossible for us to employ it ordinarily without causing misconception and suspicion of error.4

5. The doctrine of the Real Presence and of the conversion of the consecrated species is contained in the writings of Anglo-Catholic theologians and of all the chief ancient Fathers, both East and West, who have thus interpreted Holy Scripture.5 It is also distinctly implied in all Catholic Liturgies and in our Book of Common Prayer, and is the only legitimate basis and justification of the Catholic practice of Eucharistic Adoration (Q. 151. 5).6

6. Since the two natures of our Lord are united hypostatically and are incapable of separation (Qq. 102, 105), they remain undivided in the Holy Eucharist; so that the entire Christ, including His human Body and soul and His Godhead, is present in the Sacrament. Two consequences follow (a.) Eucharistic Adoration is inevitable and is not idolatrous, since what we worship is a Divine Person Incarnate (Q. 151. 5); (b.) a concomitance of the Body and Blood of Christ exists in the Sacrament, which is independent of mechanical circumstances (Q. 149. 6).7

7. Four errors have existed as to the Real Presence: (a.) that which denies or mistakes the res sacramenti altogether, whether by treating the words of Christ as purely figurative, which is Zwinglianism, or by saying that the thing present is the dead body or corpse of Christ instead of His living and glorified Flesh: (b.) that which denies the reality of the outward sign or consecrated species, teaching that the senses are deceived, which is the transubstantiation condemned by our Articles as overthrowing the nature of a Sacrament: (c.) that which separates the two parts of a Sacrament, as Calvinism does when it speaks of a virtual presence only (a real absence) and denies that the consecrated species are the vehicle in which and by means of which we receive the Body and Blood of Christ: (d.) that which confounds either the two parts of the Sacrament or their functions. Thus Lutheranism teaches that the Body and Blood of Christ are truly present in the Sacrament, but only that the outward sign may become more significant. Like Calvinism, it denies that we receive the Body and Blood of Christ by means of our reception of the consecrated species. All of these errors violate the analogy of Faith involved in the Incarnation, and correspond respectively to the ancient heresies of Arianism, Docetism, Nestorianism and Monophysitism. Their promoters, one and all, are obliged to interpret the language of Holy Scripture in non-natural senses, and have departed from the unvarying consent of Catholic antiquity.8

8. The manner of the presence of Christ's Body and Blood in the Holy Eucharist has not been revealed, and has not been defined by the Church. The most which can be said is that it is spiritual. And this signifies two things: (a.) that it is supernatural, super-sensible and not physical: (b.) that it is achieved by the power and operation of the Holy Spirit, although through the instrumentality of the Priesthood. It does not signify that the presence is merely symbolical or virtual, nor that some other substance is present numerically speaking, than that which hung upon the Cross. Such teaching would be heretical.9

9. The importance of the doctrine of the Real Presence is very great, because (a.) it is necessary to establish satisfactorily our belief in Christ's promise that He would come among us, and truly impart Himself with power to the members of His mystical Body as their true Bread from heaven: (b.) it gives us a real and objective medium of approach to God and of spiritual worship—the veil of the Holy of Holies, and a ladder let down from heaven to earth on which we may ascend and descend: (c.) it shows that we have somewhat to offer—a living Manhood which has passed through death, in sacramental union with which we can offer ourselves to God as a reasonable and holy sacrifice: (d.) it shows how truly the Holy Eucharist is a memorial of the death of Christ, since there is present in it that very Body and Blood in which He endured His Passion—now alive and, by reason of that death, life-giving. In short, the Real Presence makes the Holy Eucharist the earthly meeting point of all Christian mysteries and the greatest of all Sacraments.10

1 S. Thos. Sum. Th., III. 75-77: Grueber's Cat. of the Church of Eng., 84-89: Pusey on the Real Presence, Patristic Appeal: Forbes' 39 Arts., XXVIII. 504-559: Mason's Faith of the Gosp., IX. 13, 14: Schouppe, XIII. 47-197: Moehler's Symbolism, § 34: Cat. of Nic. Bulgaris, 181, 232, 233, 240-243: Percival's Digest, 132-139: Dr. Fiske, in N.Y. Church Club Lec. of 1892, pp. 60-86: Wilberforce, Holy Eucharist, Chaps. I-X: Notes and Questions from Pusey, 142-148: Pusey's Univ. Sermons, Vol. I, Ser. 4: Elmendorfs Elem. Moral Theol., 582-584: W.K. Hamilton's Charge: Forbes' Considerations, Vol. II. 378-507.

2 Nic. Bulgaris, 240-243: S. Thos., III. 76. 2-4.

3 S. Thos., III. 75: Forbes, 538- 559: Schouppe, XIII. 98-108, 127-197: Percival's Digest, 137, 138: Neale's Holy Eastern Church, Alexandria, Vol. II. p. 465.

4 Forbes, 547-559: S. Thos., III. 75. 3, 4: Pusey's Church of Eng. a Portion of Christ's Church, 228, 239: Second Letter to Newman, 75-90: Cobb's Kiss of Peace: Notes and Questions, 144-146: Forbes' Considerations, Vol. II. pp. 424-507.

5 Pusey on the Real Presence, Patristic Catena: Forbes' 39 Arts., XXVIII. 504-536: Wilberforce, ch. III, VIII, IX.

6 Wilberforce, 32-50.

7 St. Thos., III. 76. 1-4: Nic. Bulgaris, 232, 233: Schouppe, XIII. 109-114: Moehler, 34 fin.

8 Wilberforce, V, VIII.

9 S. John VI. 60-63. S. Thos., III. 76: Wilberforce, ch. VI.

10 S. Thos. III. 65. 3.

Posted by Trevor at September 19, 2005 06:49 PM