Wednesday, 25 January 2017

The Catholic Doctrine Of The Eucharist. Part 22.



Alas, my Lord Bishop, what miracle then is it that plain bread should be taken from the common food of mankind in order to be consecrated to God ? Does not this happen to every thing which is offered to the supreme majesty of the Creator ? Is there any thing in this change which a mortal man cannot effect ? Jacob took a common stone and made an altar of it, which he consecrated to God. What miracle do we find in this change? The Jews offered their jewels to adorn the ark of the Testament. They performed a good act, I acknowledge, giving by this change a holy custom to common things; but what miracle, I ask, was there in it ? I say further, the Fathers have acknowledged that the paschal lamb was a sacred sign, but did they consider it a miracle ? They acknowledged the manna to have been miraculous, but did they ever place it on an equality with the Eucharist? Have they not declared, as your Lordship will see in the course of these Letters, that it was but a shadow of our mysteries; they have raised in an infinite higher degree, the sacraments of the law of grace over those of the ancient law. Can your Lordship produce even one single quotation from any one individual Father, to shew that he considered them above the Eucharist; on the contrary, do they not call it the sacrament of sacraments, the Sun of our mysteries, the abridgment of the wonders of God? Why? Because the author of these wonders being then present, everything regarding it becomes miraculous; the destruction of the substances, the preservation of the accidents, the absence of material bread, the presence of celestial bread in many places, and a hundred other wonders which follow this great and incomprehensible miracle of the substantial change, which is so solidly established by the all power of Jesus Christ, according to the doctrine of these great men. Is it not therefore the very essence of folly in Protestants to presume to measure the power of the Lord of heaven and of earth by human reason.

St. Cyril of Jerusalem fortifies our faith against our senses, and St. Gregory of Nyssen, shewing the great difficulties of the Eucharist, says, " Consider how it can happen, that this only Body, which is always divided among so many millions of the faithful throughout the world, should be whole and entire in each one of them by the part which they receive of it, and still remains whole and entire in itself."— (Cat. Gregor. Nysse. Or. Cath.)

Before the middle of the eighth century, St. John Damascene thus delivers the sense of the Church in his time, on the Eucharist: " If the word of God is quick and powerful; if God made all things which he would; if he said, let the light be made, and it was made; let the firmament be made, and it was made; if by his word the Heavens were made; and all the hosts of them by the breath of his mouth; if heaven and earth, water, fire, air, and all their perfections were the production of his sacred word; if man himself was made by it; if God the Son, when he pleased, was made man, and formed himself a body out of the immaculate blood of the holy and ever Virgin Mary; what can prevent him from being able to make his Body from Bread, and his Blood from Wine and Water.—(Quin ex pane corpus suum, ex vino et ex aqua sanguinem suum efficere queat?) Not, that his Body descends from heaven; but, that the Bread and Wine are changed into the Body and Blood of God. Neither are Bread and Wine the figure of the Body and Blood of Christ, (God forbid,) but the very body of Christ incarnate. And if some of the Fathers have called Bread and Wine the figure of the Body and Blood of our Lord, as St. Basil did, they did not say this of what is offered after consecration, but only before it. Yet we call them figures of things to come; not that they are not truly the Body and Blood of Christ, but because by them we are partakers of Christ's divinity now, of which we expect hereafter a clear light in the beatific vision." — (Lib. 4, de Fide Orthodoxa, cap. 14.)