Home >> Encyclopedia Americana, Volume 27 >> Siam to The Growth And Con >> Transubstantiation_P1

Transubstantiation

body, substance, bread, wine, presence, christ, doctrine, real, matter and change

Page: 1 2

TRANSUBSTANTIATION. The real substantial presence of the body and blood of Christ in the Eucharist is one of the funda mental doctrines of the Roman Catholic Church, and the mode or nature of this mysterious pres ence, which is also a matter of doctrinal belief, is expressed by the technical theological term °Transubstantiation.* The word seems to have been first used by Hilbert, bishop of Tours (1057-1134); it afterward became current in the Scholastic period and was solemnly adopted and approved by the Council of Trent (Sess. 13, Can. 2). In controversy exception has been sometimes taken to the term as being unscrip tural and relatively new, but the real issue is concerning the doctrine that it serves to ex press, for if the traditional Catholic belief in the Real Presence be true — belief which was never seriously called in question before the Sacramentarian controversy of the 16th cen tury—it must be granted that considering the system of philosophy according to which the entire scheme of scholastic theology was built up, no more appropriate word could be found to convey the idea than as is shown by the use of the cognate words transformation, transfiguration, etc. Like the words 6,06uatoc and artrOxoc which in ear lier controversies became famous as epitomiz ing the specific points of doctrine in dispute, the term kTransubstantiation* embodies the dis tinctive teaching of the Roman Catholic Church concerning the mystery of the Eucharist. In defining the traditional position on this point against the various new views advocated by the Reformers, the Council of Trent (Sess. 13, ch. 3, 4 and Can. 2)* describes transubstan tiation as uthe changing of the whole substance of the bread into the body, and of the whole substance of the wine into the blood of Jesus Christ, the appearances of bread and wine alone remaining.B This doctrine, as explained by theologians, involves the Aristotelian and scho lastic theory concerning the physical nature of bodies. These are supposed to contain two dis tinct and even, absolutely speaking, separable elements, namely, the underlying substance, and the accidents by which the substance is vari ously modified (for example, size, shape, weight, color, taste, etc.). Substance, according to the same theory, consists of two essential elements or principles, one passive and indifferent, called the matter (materia prima), the other active and determining, called the substantial form. The matter is supposed to be the same in all bodies, and the specific nature and characteris tics of each one are determined by its form. Thus, every species of body inanimate or liv ing, including man, has its own substantial form whereby it is specifically constituted, and differentiated from all other species, and when one substance or body is changed into another (for example, wine into vinegar), the process is understood by the Scholastics as the passing away of one form (that of wine) and the succession of a new one (that of vinegar), while the material element which is the subject or basis of the change remains the same. This

substantial change is, therefore, technically called transformation. No process of natural change from one thing to another was supposed to involve both elements of substance (matter and form), but such being the miraculous change recognized by tradition and the theological schools in the mystery of the Eucharist, it was aptly termed transubstantiation. According to this doctrine, in virtue of the divine power at tached to the words of consecration, the entire substance (both matter and form) of the bread and wine ceases to exist, and its place succeeds that of the body and blood of Christ. The accidents or appearances remain as they were before, but they do not adhere to or modify the body of Christ as they did the sub stance of the bread; they are sustained miracu lously without any connatural subject of in hesion, and in all respects they follow the same physical and chemical laws as if no change whatever had taken place. The body and blood of Christ remain present in these conditions as long as the consecrated species retain the out ward appearance and characteristics of bread and wine, but when through deglutition or otherwise these qualities disappear, the Real Presence ceases, and the matter of that sub stance, which if the process were merely natu ral would, in the given conditions, have suc ceeded the bread and wine, is created to meet the exigencies of the new accidents which supervene. Hence the doctrine postulates a real annihilation of matter and a subsequent creation of the same. Besides this the Real Presence thus explained, involves various other miracles, for instance, the multilocation of Christ's body in the Sacrament and its presence in the consecrated particle without the ordinary relations to space — a presence analogous to that of the soul in the body which it animates, but which is not really measured by any cor poreal dimensions. In explanation of this the theologians say that Christ's body in the Sacra ment retains its internal, intrinsic dimensions, that is, the mutual relation of the different parts to one another, but is deprived of its extrinsic quantity, that is, its relation to other physical objects and surrounding space. The Council of Trent defined transubstantiation as the tra ditional teaching of the Church chiefly in op position to the view put forward by Luther, who, while he retained on Scriptural grounds the doctrine of the Real Presence and defended it against the so-called °Sacramentarians,° main tained, however, that the substance of the bread and wine remain after the consecration as be fore. This theory is called that of °Consub stantiation,° a word implying the coexistence in the Sacrament of both the bread and the body of Christ. Another view advanced by some of the early Reformers who rejected the Catholic doctrine, is that of °Impanation,° ac cording to which in virtue of the consecration a hypostatical union would be effected between the person of Christ and the bread and wine.

Page: 1 2