Project Canterbury

Transubstantiation and the Black Rubric

The Catholic Propaganda Society, n.d.

IN a letter to "The Times" upon the question of the "Black Rubric," Dr. Headlam, Bishop of Gloucester, stated that the reason for omitting this rubric from the alternative Communion Service in the Deposited Book was the crude literalism of the words "the natural Body and Blood of our Saviour Christ are in heaven and not here: it being against the truth of Christ's natural Body to be at one time in more places than one." But at the same time the Bishop makes it clear that in its present form the Black Rubric proves clearly that the doctrine of the Real Presence is legitimate in the Church of England, for he says, "the words real and essential presence, which were used in the Prayer Book of 1552, were deliberately changed into corporal presence in the Prayer Book of 1661. No theologian, so far as I am aware, in the Church of England believes in a corporal presence."

Part of our purpose in this paper will be to explain how the words "real and essential presence" imply also a "substantial presence," or Transubstantiation.

Again, in the Gloucester Diocesan Magazine, Dr. Headlam, writing on Transubstantiation, asserts "that this dogma is not a materialistic theory: it does not imply any belief in a physical or material change in the elements. It means that the Transformation, whatever it may be, is entirely in the region of the spiritual, the essence of things." The Bishop continues, "that while the doctrine of Transubstantiation is inconsistent with any philosophical idea of the structure of the Universe which he could hold, yet there is nothing in it inconsistent with ordinary scientific teaching." "It would be possible for a philosophic realist who believed in the reality of the essence or substance of a thing to accept the whole of modern science." Tine only theory of the universe which the Bishop says he could hold would be one according to which there was a spiritual basis for all the phenomena of nature.

The term TRANSUBSTANTION is challenged on the ground that it binds us to a philosophy which no one now reasonably holds. Since Francis Bacon expressed his dislike for scholastic philosophy, English thought has substituted conceptions which are vain and illusory when compared with the immense work of Aristotle, St. Thomas Aquinas and modern scholastic philosophers such as the late Cardinal Mercier. In consequence there is a dread of the word Transubstantiation, grounded on a prejudice and a confusion of thought which arises from vagueness as to the exact meaning of the term. This prejudice, in minds untrained in philosophy, is implanted by the elementary teaching of History. But the Fathers of the Church explored all possible methods of expressing the truth of the Eucharistic change, and before the time of St. Thomas Aquinas (1226-1274 A.D.) they had agreed upon one interpretation of our Lord's words. They chose the word Transubstantiation so as to exclude such ideas as Transelementation, or Transaccidentation or Transformation. That the bread and wine are transubstantiated was embodied as a dogma in the Lateran Council, 1215 A.D. This Council was accepted by the whole Western Church, and expressly by the English provincial synods; and, in fact, some of the canons of the Council have recently been upheld as binding to-day in civil law.

The XXXIX Articles condemn an interpretation which was included by some under the term Transubstantiation, and give as a ground for this condemnation that the doctrine "overthroweth the nature of a sacrament." The truth of this statement lay in the fact that some asserted that the bread and wine were only left as a delusion of the senses after consecration. In such a misuse of the word Transubstantiation, the condemnation by the Articles is just, and in the same way St. Thomas Aquinas had refuted this false notion years before the Articles were compiled. In 1561, the Council of Trent was equally strong in its condemnation. This Council propounded its definition after the Articles were written, and so cannot be referred to by them. We therefore accept the definition of the Council as the best form of words to assert the doctrine of a real change in the Eucharist as held throughout the whole Church, East and West, to this day.

The doctrine under consideration is thus expressed by the Council of Trent (A.D. 1561):--

"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."

A very simple definition of the Holy Eucharist is that "it is the Sacrament of the True Body and Blood of our Lord, together with His Soul and His Divinity under the species of Bread and Wine." The Council of Trent also emphasised that while there is a conversion of the whole substance of the bread and of the whole substance of the wine, the ("appearances" or) species of bread and wine none the less remain.

We will now consider:--

(1) Transubstantiation in relation to modern science.

(2) What difference there is between the natural and the Eucharistic Body of our Lord.

(3) That the words "real and essential" in Black Rubric include the word "substantial."


As has been said, in this dogma "There is nothing inconsistent with ordinary scientific teaching." We can examine matter by physics or by metaphysics. The dogma of substance belongs to metaphysics rather than to physics. But in the Eucharist we are dealing with material things, bread and wine--and the Body and Blood of Christ. At the Last Supper that Body and Blood was a chemical compound, as our own bodies. Vet He said then of the bread, "This is My Body." So it is not out of place, keeping our minds on the Last Supper--the first Transubstantiation--very briefly to consider the conclusions of physics or chemistry concerning flesh and blood; bread and wine.

Dr. Headlam says that he could "only accept a theory of the universe according to which there was a spiritual basis for all the phenomena of nature." By phenomena is meant all that is experienced by the senses, and we can extend that to include those experiments in a laboratory which increase the powers of our senses. In scholastic philosophy these phenomena perceived by the senses are called "accidents."

(a) Matter in Modern Science is not Solid.

Bread and wine, flesh and blood, are chemical compounds. They were such at the Last Supper. When the scientist investigates all the compounds of the material universe, he asserts that their final form is built up from a combination of elements, which in their turn he scrutinises and discovers that each element is built up of atoms themselves composed of a proton and one or more electrons; the whole atom being charged with positive and negative electricity. The atom, itself, is not a compact solid, but between its particles there are wide spaces which may be occupied by the "Ether of Space," but in which the electrons and protons can move freely at enormous but calculable speed. In the final structure of a solid like a diamond, the atoms which compose it are also spaced so that ''the diamond is full of holes like a sponge."

If you want to know simply, but in more detail, the modern investigation of matter, it is clearly explained in "Concerning the Nature of Things," by Bragg (Bell and Sons).

In a complicated structure of gases, fluids and solids like a human body there is a similar combination of atoms within which is force, energy and motion.

(b) Force and Substance.

Thus, all the objects of the natural world can be analysed by physics. But there must be some-tiling in the case of each material form in the universe which determines the combination of atoms, and the force, energy and motion, and the order and arrangement hidden in a particle of matter, such as a wafer. In Creation, God must have determined all this force, order and arrangement, so that the compound forms might ultimately

emerge. If we accept the deductions of physics and then consider "matter" from the point of view of metaphysics, we should say that Substance is the thing which determines each varying form, in its minutest detail, or its complete structure. Thus it determines the difference between bread and wine, flesh and blood, and the conversion of bread into the living tissues of flesh and blood by nutrition.

(c) Substance the Spiritual Basis of Matter.

Thus--Substance is that which God has ordained in the laws of Nature to determine what a "thing is in itself." Substance might be described as the soul of matter. We should not think of asserting that the "electrons" of bread and wine are changed at consecration: it is the substance which is changed. In the Blessed Sacrament, bread and wine in their physical properties still continue, and so nourish. But the substance of the EUCHARIST is the Body and Blood of Christ. The properties of the Body of Christ have changed since the Last Supper by His Resurrection and Ascension, but the Substance of His Body remains. Sir Oliver Lodge, in "Ether and Reality," writes: "A real thing merely changes its form: it may have lost the special properties which depend on a particular form, but the substance remains. Real Substance, like Energy, is indestructible."

Behind force or energy there lies substance, which might well be called the "spiritual basis behind all the phenomena of nature." But if the word "substance" is disliked, we might express the doctrine of Transubstantiation in these words--

A conversion is made of the "spiritual basis" of the bread into the "spiritual basis" of the Body of Christ our Lord; and of the "spiritual basis" of the wine into the "spiritual basis" of His Blood; while the phenomena of bread and wine none the less remain.

But we must remember also that Transubstantiation is not a physical definition. "There is no precedent in the natural order of changes nor in Creation itself to this mystery."

We will conclude this section by a quotation from the Council of Trent:--

"Nothing more becomes the piety of the faithful than, omitting all curious questionings, to revere and adore the majesty of this august Sacrament, and to recognise the wisdom of God in commanding that these holy mysteries should be administered under the species of bread and wine."


The Body of our Lord (with His Precious Blood and His Immortal Soul for ever united to His Divinity) has ascended into Heaven. Its state now is glorious, impassible, and possessed of other properties of Resurrection. That is its natural mode of existence or being. In the same way, while He walked on earth our Blessed Lord lived in flesh under the same laws as we have for our being. At the Last Supper, in His natural mode of being, He consecrated bread and wine, declaring them to be His Body and Blood, as in the hour of Death or Sacrifice on the Cross, in the Last Supper His natural bodily life was unimpaired, yet He was at the same time present under the Eucharistic signs. This is His "Eucharistic" Body and Blood. The same JESUS had in the Last Supper a new mode of Being. This "mode of being" is continued now in the Eucharistic species, while in His natural mode of Being He liveth for evermore at the Right Hand of God. The natural mode of being is subject to physical laws whatever they may be for a Risen Body; but His Eucharistic mode of being is a "substantial presence" and is subject to the laws of "substance."

The Council of Trent thus expresses this truth:--In the august Sacrament of the Holy Eucharist, after the consecration of the bread and wine, our Lord Jesus Christ, true God and true Man, is truly, really and substantially contained under the species of these sensible things. For neither are these things mutually repugnant--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 by a manner of existing which, though we can hardly express it in words, vet we can conceive by the understanding illuminated by faith, and we ought firmly to believe to be possible to God."

This passage is happily devoid of the "crude literalism" to be deplored in the Black Rubric, while at the same time it expresses a truth which the Black Rubric was seeking to uphold--namely, the difference between the natural and Eucharistic mode of existence. Further, it avoids the overstatement involved by the words "real and essential" in the Black Rubric of 1551. The words of the rubric were: "No adoration is intended . . . unto any real and essential presence of Christ's natural Flesh and Blood: the natural Body and Blood of our Saviour Christ are in Heaven, not here: it being against the truth of Christ's natural Body to be at one time in more places than one." Presumably the Reformers would have admitted the worship due to our Lord in His natural Body in Heaven, and what they express in the Rubric is that it would be erroneous to suppose that His Natural presence is in the Eucharist. The theory which the Rubric condemns is the Lutheran teaching that our Lord's natural Body has the same ubiquity as His Godhead; so that being everywhere, the natural Body is present in the Eucharist together with the unconverted substance of bread and wine in such a way that in adoring the Eucharist we should also be adoring bread and wine.

(3) REAL, ESSENTIAL AND SUBSTANTIAL. The Black Rubric was left out of the Book of 1559. But it is clear from the controversial writings of the period of the Reformation in this country that the Rubric was framed to exclude any idea of a physical presence; and because "real and essential" were erroneously interpreted as involving physical presence, these words were used in the Rubric in 1552. It is admitted that belief in "the real and essential presence" is legitimate doctrine from the later history of the Rubric in the revision of 1661. But in the language of philosophy the words "real," "essential," "substantial," are almost interchangeable. Real means the RES. or "Thing in itself." What is the inward part, or Thing signified? "The Body and Blood of Christ, which are verily and indeed taken and received by the faithful in the Lord's Supper."

The word Essence may mean cither "That a thing has existence"; or it may be a synonym for "Substance," what a thing is in itself, or that which exists in itself. Much of the error or vagueness concerning Eucharistic doctrine is caused by misconceptions of the metaphysical meaning of Substance.

(a) Cranmer's Gross Notion of Substance.

Substance does not mean anything to do with size, motion, place, for these are all accidents or phenomena. It was just because Cranmer and his fellow-Reformers kept insisting that substance must mean place and size, and so on, that they could never grasp the true meaning of Transubstantiation. Cranmer could not see that the term substance was used in and other but the gross sense in which he himself understood it, though his master, Henry VIII, had won the title Defender of the Faith for vindicating Catholic truth against Luther, who tried to get over the "spatial bulk" of substance as he imagined it by speaking of "ubiquity" given to our Lord's Body. In the same way the compiler of the Black Rubric wrote: "The Sacramental bread and wine remain still in their natural substances." By the "natural" world we mean the world of sense, the world which we see and feel around us; the world of accidents or phenomena. Substance is in this world of sense, but it is not part of it, except as the unseen basis of it. We cannot see substance: we do not feel it, for it belongs to the world beyond sense. We only know its nature by its manifold appearances. In the Black Rubric the words "natural substances" obviously mean natural properties, appearances or phenomena. That is obvious from contemporary writings, and the use of the plural "substances" also makes clear that the word is used in its popular rather than its philosophic sense.

(b) Popular Misuse of the word Substance.

In English, a loose and vague meaning has become attached to the word Substance, as, for example, when we speak of a substantial table, meaning a heavy and solid table; or of one cloth being of softer substance than another: iron being a harder substance than gold; ryebread being a more nourishing substance than wheatbread. Any language in current use is liable to such variations in meaning. (For example, the word "let," which once meant "hindered," now means "allowed.") That is the fate of any living language--it is always dying or changing; whereas a "dead" language like Latin or Greek, lives for ever, the exact meaning of its words and phrases are fixed for all time. Nuttall's Dictionary is perhaps the most popular at the moment; there, substance is defined "a real thing with qualities: a material body substantiality: the essential part: goods: estate means of living: the assumed substratum of qualities (metaphysics)." Out of this variety of meanings, as a technical term, "Substance" means the invisible and invariable reality which a Thing is in Itself, or that which exists in itself apart from its phenomena.


CONFUSION arising from the use of words with different or opposite meaning is no new thing in Theological controversy.

The history of the technical terms used to expound the doctrine of the Blessed Trinity or the Incarnation is a striking proof of this. God is Three Persons in One God. But the Greek word for Person (PROSOPON) had been tainted in its use by a heretic. The Church had therefore to adopt another Greek word (HYPOSTASIS), which strictly was more nearly equivalent to OUSIA or ESSENCE (essentia in Latin). When Hypostasis is put into Latin, it should be substantia, substance. But Greek theologians and Fathers had been compelled to use Hypostasis instead of Prosopon to express Persona (Latin) or Person. Thus they spoke of Three Hypostases in one Ousia. (Three Persons in One Substance.) But it is obvious how the crossing of the words hypostasis and persona laid open the way for confusion of thought, and so for the long quarrel centring round the great Councils of Nicaea and Constantinople which gave us the Nicene Creed and the teaching that our Lord is "of one substance with the Father."

In the same way Nestorius kept insisting that there are two Persons in our Lord, because, of course, there are two substances in the Word-made-Flesh: consubstantiatial with His Mother as man, and consubstantial with His Father as God--two Natures in One Person--and that Person eternal, being the Second Person of the Blessed Trinity. The difficulty perhaps can be traced to the primary relation of Hypostasis to Ousia. So that when St. Cyril of Alexandria insisted that our Lord is one Hypostasis, Nestorius thought he meant that the ousia or substance of man had been merged into the ousia or substance of God; he thought ousia was akin to Hypostasis, whereas Hypostasis was being used by St. Cyril in its technical meaning of Person. Thus, it is not hard to see why Nestorius insisted that there are in the Incarnate Lord two Hypostases. Of course, Nestorius went further than this, for he refused to adore the Infant JESUS and denied that the Babe in His Mother's Womb is God. Both sides used the Eucharist as evidence in their own favour. Thus Nestorius asks: "Is the bread the Body of Christ by a change of ousia?" He insists that the bread and wine remain in their own nature or ousia; whilst St. Cyril affirms that the substance of the bread and wine is changed by consecration, and becomes the substance of the Word of God, which always includes in St, Cyril's mind the substance of His Body and Blood, i.e. of His Humanity; not merged together, of course, but as two substances in One Person, as we might speak of our whole compound soul and body, or St. John speaks of "the WORD made FLESH."

It is not difficult to imagine the arguments at cross-purposes in the Arian or Nestorian controversies; and in the same way Catholics like Gardiner disputed with Jewel or Cranmer; and while the Catholic party used "substance" in its technical sense, the other side thought they meant something natural and carnal, and, like Nestorius, they also refused to worship the Humanity of our Lord in its Eucharistic mode of being.


Before we continue to examine the word substance, it is convenient here to observe that the Holv Orthodox Church at the Synod of Jerusalem (date 1643 A.n.) used the word metousiosis--a change of ousia--to translate the Latin Transubstantiatio. The longer Catechism of the Orthodox Greek Church says:--

"As to the manner in which the Bread and Wine are changed into the Body and Blood of our Lord, none but God can understand: only this much is signified, that the Bread really and substantially becomes the very true Body of the Lord, and the Wine the very Blood of the Lord."


In using theological language, we must take care to interpret words in the sense in which the Church clearly intends them to be understood. Thus the word substance is used to define the doctrine of the Blessed Trinity in the Athanasian Creed, or of the Incarnation in the Nicene Creed, in one sense. Also St. Thomas Aquinas and the Council of Trent carefully safeguard the meaning of Substance when it is applied to expound the Eucharist, and we must understand the term in that particular sense and in no other.


We said that the Black Rubric uses the words "natural substances" in a sense which is not that of substance in the language of the Church--Latin or Greek. By "natural substances," the Rubric clearly means the natural qualities, properties or accidents, which as, the Council of Trent affirms, "none the less remain." By the accidents of a thing is meant all that we know of it from our senses.

"The size, shape, colour of a thing we learn from our eyes: the touch tells us it is hard or soft, solid or liquid. Its scent we learn from our sense of smell: its flavour from our power of taste, and its nutritive property from its effect on our digestive organs. But we know that the shape, colour, size and taste of a thing are not the thing itself. An alteration can take place in its shape, its colour, its taste, yet there is something remaining which is unaltered, and which forces us to regard the THING as It, whatever change its appearances may have undergone."

In the Blessed Sacrament the Host is still small, white, round, brittle, and tasting like wafer-bread, and the wine is still possessed of its fragrance and liquid quality; and both refresh the body physically as their nourishing property remains after consecration.

Wheat is milled; its form, shape and colour are altered--but It remains. The flour is baked in the way wafers are made. It is wafer-bread, unleavened bread--but It is still wheat---"the best wheaten bread that conveniently may be gotten."


Most properties, qualities or accidents can be discerned by our senses. But the substance of a thing is wholly beyond the reach of our senses and of any chemical analysis: just as the human soul in physical life cannot be discovered by experiment in a laboratory. Hence the folly of those who would challenge the faith of the Catholic Church by attempting to apply any material experiment to the consecrated elements: or deem that the evidence of their senses as to the external qualities of a consecrated or nnconsecrated Host should in any way effect their judgment of the truth of the change in that realm of reality which is called Kssence or Siibstance.


It is too technical to investigate the history of philosophy and the reasons why metaphysical thought has diverged from the idea of substance. But to say that the philosophy which thinks in terms of substance is not acceptable to modern minds is only to beg the question. The scholastic concept of "substance" is still acceptable to numerous philosophers: we need only mention Louvain University and the monumental work of Cardinal Mercier. Popularly and scientifically, the Theology of the Blessed Sacrament is accepted by millions in Latin or Greek Christendom. We may know nothing of substance save its existence. We prove its existence by reason and not by physical tests. But to deny its existence is to contradict a universal instinct of the human mind,--the instinct which distinguishes a thing from its qualities; a distinction which even young children can grasp. To deny its truth is to introduce a hopeless confusion between human thought and human language. It is far more lucid than philosophies based on the concept that nothing exists but thought or ideal, or nothing exists but my own thought.


Substance is that interior form hidden under exterior appearances, and which, independently of size and quality and molecular form, makes one body differ from another.

Here is a passage from the writings of St. Chrysostom:--

"There is much spiritual essence (ousia) in bodies." "Take a single grain of wheat, a single drop of wine: yon will possess all the substance of corn and wine as much as it you collected together all the produce of all the fields and of all the vines in the world. Wheat has been the food of man for six thousand years: this bread of earthly life has multiplied its material quantity under all forms, the whole substance of wheat has neither been increased nor diminished: it has always remained the same from the first hour when God created the first grain of corn."

In the same way, St. Thomas wrote:--

"The proper totality of substance is contained indifferently in a small or large quantity: as the whole nature of air in a great or a small amount of air, and the whole nature of man in a big or small individual. So the whole substance of Christ's Body and Blood is contained in this Sacrament."


It is thus that our soul is present in our body. The whole soul is wholly contained in the whole body, and also wholly in every part of the body. Similarly, the whole Christ is contained under each and every particle consecrated. His Body does not become small and round, nor is it divided millions of times in the countless Hosts, since that hour when with His holy and venerable hands He gave Himself to His disciples, saying: "THIS IS MY BODY." We do not explain this mystery any more that we can explain how the substance in a single grain of wheat or a single drop of wine is absolutely the same as in all the products of the earth, and how this substance is not more complete, nor more divided, in millions of atoms than in a single atom. There was the primaeval fiat--"Be fruitful and multiply." It is fulfilled hourly when from a single embryonic nucleus is formed the new-born structure of every human life, or when from primary substance all subsequent forms have repeated themselves; yet the substance of each form is not more nor less complete, nor is it consumed or diminished.


As far as the Sacrament is strictly concerned, the substance of bread is sacramentally changed into the substance of the Body of Christ, and the substance of wine is transubstantiated into His Blood. By this sacramental sign of separation the sacrifice of the Body broken and the Blood shed is re-presented. But to the Host the substance of the Body of Christ brings with it the Blood, together with the Soul and the Godhead. This must be true, since Christ dieth no more. It is doubtful if anyone thinks so crudely as to believe that the wine in the Chalice is Blood as if it were flowing from the Wounded Side. For this liquid wine is the Body of Christ substantially, as it is substantially His Blood: and the solid bread is changed into His Blood in the same sense as it becomes His Body; further, the wine is Body and Blood with the Soul and Godhead, and in each crumb of Bread there is the whole Christ, God-Man. St. Thomas is careful to point out that the Body, as far as the force of the Sacrament is concerned, has "corporeal" "being. Yet we know the Soul is also present by another principle, for since Christ is One, the Soul is contained in the Eucharist with the Body and Blood. Again, the whole Human Nature is for ever united to the Second Person of the Blessed Trinity. Therefore as God lie is present also. This truth is called CONCOMITANCE, because over and above the sacramental signification of Body and Blood, the Substance of Body is accompanied by the Blood, the Soul and the Godhead. Christ, God-Man, is whole and entire in His Substance under the Host or under the Chalice.


We believe that the Body of Christ is substantially present. But the Black Rubric asserts that no adoration is intended to "any Corporal presence" (1661).

As has been pointed out, we may rightly believe in a real and essential presence. This does not mean that in the Eucharist our Saviour has some shadowy form either about the Altar or in the heart of the communicant. A certain type of devotional picture depicts Him in this shadowy form to aid our imagination. But the words "real and essential" avoid any such notion, and exclude any conception of a tangible, sensible, localised presence; though at times our Lord if He wills does give to us through our senses at Mass, Communion, or before the Tabernacle a realisation of His Presence. In His natural corporal presence in the Upper Room our Saviour touched the hands of His Beloved disciple. Yet at the same moment that disciple received the First Communion of the Living Christ, who had consecrated Bread to be the reality, the essence, the substance of His Body and Blood with His Soul and Godhead. But there was no change visible in the natural Body of Christ, and the bread and wine remained in their natural appearances, as He gave that unleavened Bread and Chalice which He had consecrated, saying: "This is My Body," "This is the Chalice of My Blood." Obviously there is at once a difference and an identity between His Body in its natural being and in its Eucharistic Being.

The Catholic Church would never speak of a "corporal presence" as meaning a presence after the way or manner in which a body is present, i.e. after the manner of a body. But the use of "corporal Presence "to mean the presence of a body is quite justifiable, because this says nothing about the manner in which the body is present: not after the manner of a natural presence palpable to the senses, but apprehended by faith.

Praestet fides supplementum sensuum defectui (Faith supplies the defect of our senses). It has never been true and never could be true to say that the Church believed in a corporal presence of Christ in the way in which He was present at Capernaum when He revealed the wondrous truth that He would give His Flesh to be meat indeed and His Blood as drink indeed. At that time the Jews obtusely misunderstood His words in a gross sense. "How can this Man give us His Flesh to eat?" But the Church faithfully interprets the truth which He repeated without any attempt to explain it away. "Except ye eat the Flesh of the Son of Man and drink His Blood ye have no life in you."


The use of the word "corporal" as meaning "after the manner of a body" is false when applied to the Blessed Sacrament; and it is this use which the Black Rubric rightly condemns. But there is a sense in which it is true to say that the substantial conversion in the Eucharist is carnal, corporal or material. For the gift is a gift of Flesh, and is therefore carnal. And since it is His Body which He gives, it is a corporal gift, and the real presence is a corporal presence, since it is the presence of a Body. But it is a Body present substantially; and though its natural properties arc not visible in the "natural substances" of nerves and tissues and bones, yet these natural properties are all substantially present. And since a Body is not spirit like the soul, but is matter, it may be called a material presence, i.e. the presence of matter in its substance, but without any of its accidents. Christ's natural Body is now glorified in Heaven. But the substance of that natural Body is the same now in Heaven as it was through all His incarnate life on earth. It is this substance of His Body which is present in every consecrated Host as it was at the Last Supper.


The commentary of Harold Browne, Bishop of Ely, was at one time the standard work for the clergy on the XXXIX Articles. In commenting upon Article 28, the Bishop admits the use of the term "corporal Presence":--

"We acknowledge that the Body of Christ there received is the very Body that was born of the Virgin Mary; that was crucified, dead and buried. For there is no other Body, no other Blood of Christ. Christ's Body is now glorified, but still it is the same Body, though in its glorified condition. IT IS NOT EVEN DENIED THAT WE RECEIVE THE BODY REALLY, SUBSTANTIALLY, CORPORALLY: for though the word corporally seems opposed to spiritually, yet it is not so of necessity. And as we acknowledge that it is a body which we receive, so we cannot deny its presence corporally, i.e. after the manner of a body. Only when we come to explain ourselves, we say that, though it be Christ's very Body we receive in the Eucharist, and though we cannot deny even the word corporal concerning it, yet as Christ's Body is now a spiritual Body, so we expect a spiritual presence of that Body."

The Bishop admits the use even of the term "corporal." But we should not allow his explanation: for though there is a corporal presence of a body, there is not a corporal presence after the manner of a body, even though that Body be spiritual. Were our Saviour to appear as He appeared to His Apostle St. Paul after His Ascension, that would be a corporal presence after the manner of a body, albeit a spiritual Body; for "it was sown a natural body, it is raised a spiritual body." This vision or presence would be, as we should expect, "a spiritual presence of that Body." But the presence in the Eucharist, though it is a spiritual presence, differs from the spiritual presence of His Risen Body in the Gospel appearances after Resurrection or Ascension. It is not because Christ's Body is now spiritual that we expect a spiritual presence of that Body in the Eucharist. For at the Last Supper the Host was then the Body of the Lord "after a heavenly and spiritual manner." But the accidental condition of His Body then was still under the laws of physical life. Independent of the state of His Body in the Upper Room, or in Death or Resurrection, the Host is His Body. It is His Body "after a spiritual manner," because it is after a substantial manner. The Substance is present: the substance is the link between the Upper Room, Calvary, or Heaven. For whatever the external state of His Body, there is always one and the same substance of that Body; so that at the Last Supper, or at every Mass, what "we expect "is the same substantial "presence of that Body."


This substantial conversion is not one which can be measured by time: it takes place in Time, for the Sacrifice of Mass is enacted in Time. But the conversion of the substance cannot be measured by Time. Consecration is not a process of becoming or slow conversion, as chemical conversions must often be. The Host becomes what it is on the instant the words of Christ are uttered and ended. So sublime a mystery could not be delayed throughout the recitation of a series of men's prayers. It would be abhorrent to think that for a moment (even immeasurable in its minuteness) the Host is partly the substance of bread and partly the substance of our Saviour's Body. Above all natural measure of Time, the inward part becomes and is at once the Lord Christ.


It is still more impossible to imagine that the substantial conversion of the Host and Chalice is "intermittent "and not permanent.

"The Body of Christ remains in this Sacrament not only until the morrow, but also in the future, so long as the sacramental species remain (incorrupt): and when they cease, Christ's Body ceases to be under them, not because it depends on them, but because the relationship of Christ's Body to those species is taken away, in the same way as God censes to be the Lord of a creature which has ceased to exist."--ST. THOMAS.

NOTE.--(Incorrupt.) This word is not in the text of St. Thomas.

St. Cyril of Alexandria (fl. c. 431) is equally emphatic:--

"Some are so foolish as to say that the mystical blessing departs from the sacrament, if any of its fragments remain until the next day: for Christ's consecrated Body is not changed, and the power of the blessing and the life-giving grace is perpetually in it."

The Sacrifice of the Cross is represented at the moment when the Host and Chalice have been consecrated. Between that and the act of Communion a short period elapses. Xo one would suppose that the Host and Chalice have temporarily become bread and wine, and that the Divine Presence returns at the moment of Communion. However prolonged may be the time between the Consecration and Communion of any particular Host, the Catholic Church, East and West, believes that it is the Body of the Lord. If, then, as recorded in Apostolic Constitutions or Church Orders, deacons convey the Sacrament to those absent from the Liturgy, or if the Host be reserved in a hermit's cave or in the house of some Christian woman in a pyx (Tertullian, date c. 200), or if it be carried by a Martyr boy, Tarsicius, to a dying man. it is still the substance of Christ's Body. And if it be reserved in a fair pyx or within a tabernacle upon the Altar, as long as the species of bread remain unconsumed and incorrupt, so long does the substance of the Body of Christ abide therein. No one would say that a Bishop or priest who, for any reason, had ceased to exercise his office, was therefore no longer Bishop or priest. This Sacrament also is equally what it is--the Christ--as long as the species remain.


If the substance of bread and wine remained after consecration as Luther taught, though the Body of Christ would still demand worship, it would be "abhorred of all faithful Christians "to adore the substance of bread and wine unchanged, not transubstantiated. For the Host would thus be at the same time two Realities--Bread and Christ,--and we might truly be charged with idolatrous worship. But by the dogma of Tran-substantiation we are preserved from this danger. For then we believe that the species do not exist for and in themselves, but their inward part or reality is Christ only. Just as the Church says in the 6th General Council, we do not adore the human flesh of Christ in itself, but we adore it because it is personally united to the Word of God; so we worship the Blessed Sacrament. We must worship the Manhood with one and the same worship as paid to the Godhead. But if that worship is due to Christ present naturally, we owe also one and the same worship to Him in His Eucharistic being. St. Augustine says, "Let no man eat till he have first adored." No one thinks of adoring the accidents of bread and wine in their natural substances or properties as such. But we worship the Host wherein the substance of Christ is contained.


The Host is never reserved for the purpose of adoration. The last, the sole purpose of every Host, is Communion. Some human mouth will consume it and in his soul receive Christ, given, taken and received therein. It has been well pointed out that if Communion at all times is given from the Reserved Sacrament (apart from the practical convenience of this custom), the notion that the Hosts were reserved for any purpose but Communion would not arise. But if Reservation is in some remote spot, at once an association of abnormality arises. No consecrated Host has any other destiny than to be received in Holy Communion. But if the "consecrated element" is Christ, true God and true Man, adoration is due to Him and is not a "use." Adoration is not a purpose, or use. We owe adoration to GOD of GOD, whom we must worship in spirit and truth. We are bound to believe that the human nature of our Lord is inseparably united to his Godhead. Ascension has not terminated that Union. In the same way the consecrated Host, as long as it remains, is the Body of Christ. It must therefore receive the worship and adoration paid to His natural being.


Therefore we before It bending
This great Sacrament revere.

Who shall dare to refuse to Christ in His Eucharistic mode of being the adoration due to God, the Incarnate Lord at all times?


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