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  4. What Is the Meaning of Transubstantiation?

Fox, BostonGlobe. Send us feedback. See More First Known Use of transubstantiation 14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 2 Keep scrolling for more Learn More about transubstantiation Share transubstantiation Post the Definition of transubstantiation to Facebook Share the Definition of transubstantiation on Twitter Time Traveler for transubstantiation. Accessed 24 November Keep scrolling for more More Definitions for transubstantiation transubstantiation.

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While the three foregoing theses contain dogmas of faith , there is a fourth proposition which is merely a theological conclusion, namely, that even before the actual division of the Species, Christ is present wholly and entirely in each particle of the still unbroken Host and in each drop of the collective contents of the Chalice. For were not Christ present in His entire Personality in every single particle of the Eucharistic Species even before their division took place, we should be forced to conclude that it is the process of dividing which brings about the Totality of Presence, whereas according to the teaching of the Church the operative cause of the Real and Total Presence is to be found in Transubstantiation alone.


No doubt this last conclusion directs the attention of philosophical and scientific inquiry to a mode of existence peculiar to the Eucharistic Body , which is contrary to the ordinary laws of experience. It is, indeed, one of those sublime mysteries, concerning which speculative theology attempts to offer various solutions [see below under 5 ]. Transubstantiation Before proving dogmatically the fact of the substantial change here under consideration, we must first outline its history and nature. His encouraging example was soon followed by other theologians , as Stephen of Autun d.

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The Council of Trent Sess. XIII, cap. In a closer logical analysis of Transubstantiation , we find the first and fundamental notion to be that of conversion, which may be defined as "the transition of one thing into another in some aspect of being". As is immediately evident, conversion conversio is something more than mere change mutatio.

Whereas in mere changes one of the two extremes may be expressed negatively, as, e. A third element is usually required, known as the commune tertium , which, even after conversion has taken place, either physically or at least logically unites one extreme to the other; for in every true conversion the following condition must be fulfilled: "What was formerly A, is now B. If the act of conversion is not to become a mere process of substitution, as in sleight-of-hand performances, the terminus ad quem must unquestionably in some manner newly exist, just as the terminus a quo must in some manner really cease to exist.

Yet as the disappearance of the latter is not attributable to annihilation properly so called, so there is no need of postulating creation , strictly so called, to explain the former's coming into existence.


The idea of conversion is amply realized if the following condition is fulfilled, viz. Thus in the resurrection of the dead , the dust of the human bodies will be truly converted into the bodies of the risen by their previously existing souls , just as at death they had been truly converted into corpses by the departure of the souls. This much as regards the general notion of conversion.

Transubstantiation , however, is not a conversion simply so called, but a substantial conversion conversio substantialis , inasmuch as one thing is substantially or essentially converted into another. Thus from the concept of Transubstantiation is excluded every sort of merely accidental conversion, whether it be purely natural e. Finally, Transubstantiation differs from every other substantial conversion in this, that only the substance is converted into another — the accidents remaining the same — just as would be the case if wood were miraculously converted into iron, the substance of the iron remaining hidden under the external appearance of the wood.

The application of the foregoing to the Eucharist is an easy matter. First of all the notion of conversion is verified in the Eucharist , not only in general, but in all its essential details. For we have the two extremes of conversion, namely, bread and wine as the terminus a quo, and the Body and Blood of Christ as the terminus ad quem.

Furthermore, the intimate connection between the cessation of one extreme and the appearance of the other seems to be preserved by the fact, that both events are the results, not of two independent processes, as, e. Lastly, we have the commune tertium in the unchanged appearances of bread and wine , under which appearances the pre-existent Christ assumes a new, sacramental mode of being, and without which His Body and Blood could not be partaken of by men. That the consequence of Transubstantiation , as a conversion of the total substance, is the transition of the entire substance of the bread and wine into the Body and Blood of Christ , is the express doctrine of the Church Council of Trent, Sess.

Thus were condemned as contrary to faith the antiquated view of Durandus, that only the substantial form forma substantialis of the bread underwent conversion, while the primary matter materia prima remained, and, especially, Luther's doctrine of Consubstantiation , i. So the Catholic doctrine of Transubstantiation sets up a mighty bulwark around the dogma of the Real Presence and constitutes in itself a distinct doctrinal article, which is not involved in that of the Real Presence, though the doctrine of the Real Presence is necessarily contained in that of Transubstantiation.

It was for this very reason that Pius VI , in his dogmatic Bull "Auctorem fidei" against the Jansenistic pseudo Synod of Pistoia , protested most vigorously against suppressing this "scholastic question", as the synod had advised pastors to do. The total conversion of the substance of bread is expressed clearly in the words of Institution: "This is my body".

These words form, not a theoretical, but a practical proposition, whose essence consists in this, that the objective identity between subject and predicate is effected and verified only after the words have all been uttered, not unlike the pronouncement of a king to a subaltern: "You are a major", or, "You are a captain", which would immediately cause the promotion of the officer to a higher command. When, therefore, He Who is All Truth and All Power said of the bread: "This is my body", the bread became, through the utterance of these words, the Body of Christ; consequently, on the completion of the sentence the substance of bread was no longer present, but the Body of Christ under the outward appearance of bread.

Hence the bread must have become the Body of Christ , i. The words of Institution were at the same time the words of Transubstantiation.

Crux of the Matter - Transubstantiation

Indeed the actual manner in which the absence of the bread and the presence of the Body of Christ is effected, is not read into the words of Institution but strictly and exegetically deduced from them. The Calvinists , therefore, are perfectly right when they reject the Lutheran doctrine of Consubstantiation as a fiction, with no foundation in Scripture. For had Christ intended to assert the coexistence of His Body with the Substance of the bread, He would not have expressed a simple identity between hoc and corpus by means of the copula est , but would have resorted to some such expression as: "This bread contains my body", or, "In this bread is my Body.

On the other hand, the synecdoche is plain in the case of the Chalice: "This is my blood", i. Regarding tradition, the earliest witnesses, as Tertullian and Cyprian , could hardly have given any particular consideration to the genetic relation of the natural elements of bread and wine to the Body and Blood of Christ , or to the manner in which the former were converted into the latter; for even Augustine was deprived of a clear conception of Transubstantiation , so long as he was held in the bonds of Platonism.

On the other hand, complete clearness on the subject had been attained by writers as early as Cyril of Jerusalem , Theodoret of Cyrrhus , Gregory of Nyssa , Chrysostom , and Cyril of Alexandria in the East, and by Ambrose and the later Latin writers in the West. Eventually the West became the classic home of scientific perfection in the difficult doctrine of Transubstantiation.

The claims of the learned work of the Anglican Dr. Pusey The Doctrine of the Real Presence as contained in the Fathers, Oxford, , who denied the cogency of the patristic argument for Transubstantiation , have been met and thoroughly answered by Cardinal Franzelin De Euchar. The argument from tradition is strikingly confirmed by the ancient liturgies , whose beautiful prayers express the idea of conversion in the clearest manner.

The permanence and adorableness of the Eucharist Since Luther arbitrarily restricted Real Presence to the moment of reception in usu, non extra , the Council of Trent Sess. On the contrary, He continues His Eucharistic Presence even in the consecrated Hosts and Sacred particles that remain on the altar or in the ciborium after the distribution of Holy Communion. In the deposit of faith the Presence and the Permanence of Presence are so closely allied, that in the mind of the Church both continue on as an undivided whole.


What Is the Meaning of Transubstantiation?

And rightly so; for just as Christ promised His Flesh and blood as meat and drink, i. John sqq. This is my body", the Apostles received from the hand of the Lord His Sacred Body, which was already objectively present and did not first become so in the act of partaking. This non-dependence of the Real Presence upon the actual reception is manifested very clearly in the case of the Chalice, when Christ said: "Drink ye all of this.

For [ enim ] this is my Blood. Much as he disliked it, even Calvin had to acknowledge the evident force of the argument from tradition Instit.

Derived forms of transubstantiation

IV, xvii, sect. Not only have the Fathers, and among them Chrysostom with special vigor, defended in theory the permanence of the Real Presence, but the constant practice of the Church has also established its truth. In the early days of the Church the faithful frequently carried the Blessed Eucharist with them to their homes cf.

Tertullian , "Ad uxor. Justin , Apol. Eusebius, Church History VI. The deacons were also obliged to transfer the particles that remained to specially prepared repositories called Pastophoria cf.