OBJECTIONS AGAINST TRANSUBSTANTIATION ANSWERED.

 

  

 

28. The Lutherans say, first, that the body of Christ is locally in the bread as in a vessel, and, as we say, showing a bottle in which wine is contained, ” This is the wine,” so, say they, Christ, showing the bread, said : ” This is my body ;” and hence, both the body of Christ and the bread are, at the same time, present in the Eucharist. We answer, that, according to the common mode of speech, a bottle is a fit and proper thing to show that wine is there, because wine is usually kept in bottles, but it is not the case with bread, which is not a fit and proper thing to designate or point out a human body, for it is only by a miracle that a human body could be contained in bread.

 

29. Just to confound one heresy by another, we will quote the argument of the Zuinglians (1) against the Impanation or Consubstantiation of the bread and the body of Christ, invented by the Lutherans. If, say they, the words ” This is my body” are to be taken in a literal sense, as Luther says they are, then the Transubstantiation of the Catholics is true. And this is certainly the case. Christ did not say, this bread is my body, or here is my body, but this thing is my body. Hence, say they, when Luther rejects the figurative meaning, that it is only the signification of the body of Christ, as they hold, and wishes to explain the words ” this is my body” after his own fashion, that is, this bread is really my body, and not the frame of my body, this doctrine falls to the ground of itself, for if our Saviour intended to teach us that the bread was his body, and that the bread was there still, it would be a contradiction in itself.

 

(1) Bossuet. Variat. t. 1, l. 2, i. 31; Ospinian. ann. 1527, p. 49.

 

The true sense of the words ” This is my body,” however, is that the word this is to be thus understood : this, which I hold in my hands is my body. Hence the Zuinglians concluded that the conversion of the substance of the bread into the substance of the body of Christ should be taken either totally figuratively or totally in substance, and this was Beza’s opinion in the Conference of Monbeliard, held with the Lutherans. Here, then, is, according to the true dogma, the conclusion we should come to in opposition to Luther. When our Lord says, ” This is my body,” he intended that of that bread should be formed either the substance, or the figure of his body; if the substance of the bread, therefore, be not the mere simple figure of Christ’s body, as Luther says, then it must become the whole substance of the body of Jesus Christ.

 

30. They object, secondly, that in the Scripture the Eucharist is called bread, even after the consecration: “One body… .who all partake of one bread” (I. Cor. x, 17); ” Whosoever shall eat this bread, or drink the Chalice of the Lord unworthily” c. (1. Cor. xi, 27); the bread, therefore, remains. Such, however, is not the case; it is called bread, not because it retains the substance of bread, but because the body of Christ is made from the bread. In the Scriptures we find that those things which are miraculously changed into other things are still called by the name of the thing from which they were changed, as the water which was changed into wine, by St. John, at the marriage of Cana in Galilee was still called water, even after the change : ” When the Chief Steward had tasted the water made wine” (John, ii, y); and in Exodus also we read that the rod of Moses changed into a serpent was still called a rod : “Aaron’s rod devoured their rods” (Exod. vii, 12). In like manner, then, the Eucharist is called bread after the consecration, because it was bread before, and still retains the appearance of bread. Besides, as the Eucharist is the food of the soul, it may be justly called bread, as the Manna made by the angels is called bread, that is, spiritual bread: ” Man eat the bread of angels” (Psalms, Ixxvii, 25). The sectarians, however, say, the body of Christ cannot be broken, it is the bread alone that is broken, and still St. Paul says : ” And the bread which we break is it not the partaking of the body of the Lord?” (I. Cor. x, 16). We answer, that the breaking is understood to refer to the species of the bread which remain, but not to the body of the Lord, which, being present in a sacramental manner, cannot be either broken or injured.

 

31. They object, thirdly, that Christ says, in St. John : ” I am the bread of life” (John, vi, 48); still he was not changed into bread. The very text, however, answers the objection itself. Our Lord says : ” I am the bread of life :” now the word ” life” shows that the expression must be taken not in a natural but a metaphorical sense. The words ” This is my body” must, however, be taken in quite another way; in order that this proposition should be true, it was necessary that the bread should be changed into the body of Christ, and this is Transubstantiation, which is an article of our Faith, and which consists in the conversion of the substance of the bread into the substance of the body of Christ, so that in the very instant in which the words of consecration are concluded, the bread has no longer the substance of bread, but under its species exists the body of the Lord. The conversion, then, has two terms, in one of which it ceases to be, and in the other commences to be, for otherwise, if the bread was first annihilated, and the body then produced, it would not be a true conversion or Transubstantiation. It is of no consequence to say that the word Transubstantiation is new, and not found in the Scriptures, when the thing signified, that is, the Eucharist, really exists. The Church has always adopted new expressions, to explain more clearly the truths of the Faith when attacked by heretics, as she adopted the word Consubstantial to combat the heresy of Arius.