Loading ...
Sorry, an error occurred while loading the content.

Fw: accidents and matter after the consecration

Expand Messages
  • thomas_the_lesser
    Message 1 of 1 , Nov 18, 2002

      --- In another list, someone wrote:

      << Didn't Aristotle say that matter is the principle of
      individuation, or something like that? If I've got that right, then
      how do the accidents of the bread and wine play in this picture? >>

      Dear father, Im sure you know most (and probably all) of this, but I
      will give an overview of the entire subject surrounding the
      metaphysical issue you raise, so as to discuss it in its context:

      The "observables" of the bread and wine, ie., the "species"
      (appearance and other accidents) of the forms, once consecration has
      been effected, are no longer attached to a subject (such as bread and
      wine, or Christ). They just "hang there" so to say, as outward
      signs, pointing to the essential signification of the sacrament, the
      grace effected by it (which is the deeper unity of the Church, which
      is furthered through the justifying application of the merits of
      Christ's Passion - an increase in justifying grace in one baptised
      and who receives the Blessed Sacrament worthily), but in a less
      precise manner than does the form of the sacrament, the words of
      consecration. The species (appearance and other accidents) of the
      bread and wine are no longer attached to any matter. The entire
      substance of the bread (including its matter) passes over into the
      substance of body of Christ and the entire substance of the wine
      (including its matter) passes into the substance blood of Christ; but
      the rest of Christ comes too, as His body and His blood are no longer
      separated except in a symbolic manner by the two consecrations; so
      that the Whole Christ is present under either species (appearance and
      other accidents) and under each "particle" of each species
      (appearance and other accidents). Its an exceptional event and the
      usual ontological norms (which are not rigid rules) do not apply. It
      is no contradiction for species (appearance and other accidents) to
      exist without a subject (or without matter which is part of the
      substance of the subject): it is simply unusual.

      It is certain that the matter of the bread and wine, being part of
      their substance, has entirely passed over into the substance of
      Christ - as it was defined at Trent that the entire substance so
      does. The accidents are not connected to any subject or any matter.

      We may say that a non-angelic "species" (genus - not appearance and
      other accidents) is usually individuated (given its accidents) by
      matter, but that the accidents of the subject need not be maintained
      by a continued connection with a subject or its matter. God does it
      and He is the Master of appearances and subjects. I dont think that
      there is any other example of this. Transubstantiation is a matter
      of Faith, and it is sufficient for the metaphysician to merely point
      out that there is no contradiction in this. God can do anything
      which is not impossible (not contradictory): and indeed He can create
      OR maintain accidents without a subject and its matter - as there is
      no contradiction in this. He is free to do it and freely chooses
      to. In the Holy Eucharist, He chooses to maintain such accidents;
      but He could create them, if He ("had") eternally and freely willed

      (It is important to note that the Scholasticism which has been
      approved by the Church is not mere Aristotelianism; St. Thomas
      purified and perfected Aristotle; for instance he introduced various
      sub-causes and corrected many of his errors, such as an eternity of

      For further reading on these matters of Transubstantiation, I would
      refer the readers to the Council of Trent's precise and ex cathedra
      discussion of the Blessed Sacrament, and to Monsignor Glenn's book
      called, "Ontology" which mentions this mystery and is a great (if
      imperfect) general manual.

      The key text from Trent is below, which discusses all that I have
      said, except for the bit about the appearance no longer being
      attached to a subject or its matter - the very point which father
      raised - which bit may be deduced from what else is said.

      Thanks; Thomas.


      << In the first place, the holy Synod teaches, and openly and simply
      professes, that, in the august sacrament of the holy Eucharist, after
      the consecration of the bread and wine, our Lord Jesus Christ, true
      God and man, is truly, really, and substantially contained under the
      species of those sensible things. For neither are these things
      mutually repugnant [ie., not contradictory],-that our Saviour Himself
      always sitteth at the right hand of the Father in heaven, according
      to the natural mode of existing, and that, nevertheless, He be, in
      many other places, sacramentally present to us in his own substance.
      [...] And this faith has ever been in the Church of God, that,
      immediately after the consecration, the veritable Body of our Lord,
      and His veritable Blood, together with His soul and divinity, are
      under the species of bread and wine; but the Body indeed under the
      species of bread, and the Blood under the species of wine, by the
      force of the words; but the body itself under the species of wine,
      and the blood under the species of bread, and the soul under both, by
      the force of that natural connexion and concomitancy whereby the
      parts of Christ our Lord, who hath now risen from the dead, to die no
      more, are united together; and the divinity, furthermore, on account
      of the admirable hypostatical union thereof with His body and soul.
      Wherefore it is most true, that as much is contained under either
      species as under both; for Christ whole and entire is under the
      species of bread, and under any part whatsoever of that species;
      likewise the whole (Christ) is under the species of wine, and under
      the parts thereof. [...] And because that Christ, our Redeemer,
      declared that which He offered under the species of bread to be truly
      His own body, therefore has it ever been a firm belief in the Church
      of God, and this holy Synod doth now declare it anew, that, by the
      consecration of the bread and of the wine, a conversion is made of
      the whole substance of the bread into the substance of the body of
      Christ our Lord, and of the whole substance of the wine into the
      substance of His blood; which conversion is, by the holy Catholic
      Church, suitably and properly called Transubstantiation. [...] CANON
      lI.-If any one saith, that, in the sacred and holy sacrament of the
      Eucharist, the substance of the bread and wine remains conjointly
      with the body and blood of our Lord Jesus Christ, and denieth that
      wonderful and singular conversion of the whole substance of the bread
      into the Body, and of the whole substance of the wine into the Blood-
      the species Only of the bread and wine remaining-which conversion
      indeed the Catholic Church most aptly calls Transubstantiation; let
      him be anathema. >>
    Your message has been successfully submitted and would be delivered to recipients shortly.