Tuesday, 3 January 2017

The Catholic Doctrine Of The Eucharist. Part 8.



But, my Lord Bishop, you cannot surely fail to perceive how little solidity there is in this Protestant objection to Transubstantiation; an objection as weak and as nonsensical as could be invented by the depraved wanderings of a diseased imagination. I will here bring forward a most powerful argument to refute it, and to shew its absurdity. If the Son of God had intended, as Protestants assert, to have merely left us in the Sacrament the figure of his Body, when saying, " This is my Body," then he did not use natural and proper terms, as in such case the figurative interpretation required explanation; and it was absolutely necessary to have apprised the Apostles in order that they might not be deceived, that they might not take the shadow for the body, nor the figure for the thing figured. Consequently our blessed Saviour not having done so, and the same Scripture so often making use of those plain, clear, and simple words, and which we might well suppose never could be misunderstood but by a fool or a knave, " This is my Body," without ever mentioning in any one part that it was but the figure of his Body; this is an evident proof, that when his blessed mouth uttered those words, he intended that they should be taken in their natural signification, which required no explanation, and, consequently, that his design was to give us his true Body.

In order to complete this proof, I shall compare the opinion of Protestants with the belief of the universal Church in regard to the Will of Jesus Christ, and we shall see which of the two is the more honorable to the testator, and the more advantageous to his lawful heirs. Is there any one, permit me to ask. blessed with common sense, but must perceive the difference which exists between the Body of Jesus Christ, and the morsel of bread which the Sectarian takes and receives merely as the figure of his body ? If I am persuaded that it be the true Body of Jesus Christ which I receive in the Eucharist, as the Evangelist teaches, the very idea of his real presence fills me with love, with admiration, with happiness, and with wonder; when I dwell on his greatness, I am astounded at his goodness, and with astonishment I exclaim in the words of the great St. Chrysostom, " What Pastor has ever fed his Sheep with his own Blood ? The generality of mothers give out their children to strange nurses to be suckled, after having given them birth with so much pain; but the love of Jesus Christ does not permit him so to treat his children, he nourishes them with his own blood, and unites them entirely to himself."— (St. Chrysostom, Horn. GO, Ad Pop. Antiock.)

I revere his power in this abyss of wonders, and I exclaim with another of the Fathers, "O Lord Christ, with what contrition of heart, with what a flood of tears, with what reverence and trembling, with what purity both of body and of soul ought we not to celebrate this divine and heavenly sacrifice, where truly (ubi caro tua in veritate sumitur, ubi sanguis tuus in veritate bibitur) they eat your Flesh, where truly they drink your Blood. Where things the most exalted are joined to things the most low, where the holy Angels are found present, and where you yourself are both the Priest and the Sacrifice, established after a wonderful and ineffable manner."— (S. Anibrosius in Precatione 1, Proeparationis ad Missam.)

I admire his prodigious liberality, and not knowing how sufficiently to express my unbounded gratitude for the excess of the Divine magnificence, I repeat with the angel of the school, St. Thomas, (Opus 57,) " Oh precious, admirable, wholesome, and saving banquet, filled with all sorts of delicious things! For who can picture to himself any tiling more precious than this feast, where we do not receive the flesh of animals, as in the ancient law, but Jesus Christ himself, who is true God, is given to us to eat ? What can be more admirable than this Sacrament, where Bread and Wine are substantially changed into the Body and Blood of Jesus Christ, and consequently Jesus Christ, God and man, whole and entire, is comprised under the appearance of a little Bread and Wine."

I am astounded with the honor which he confers upon us, and I ask with St. Chrysostom, " What purity ought we not to possess to partake of such a sacrifice ? What ray of the Sun but must give way to the lustre of the hand which distributes this flesh, to the mouth which is filled with this spiritual fire, to the tongue which is purpled with this astonishing blood ! Reflect on the honor which is paid you, and the banquet to which you are invited; which the Angels behold with trembling, and dare not look steadfastly at, on account of the brilliant splendour which is spread around it; it is the very same which we receive, it is to that which we are united, it is by it we are made partakers of the Body and Blood of Jesus Christ."— (St. Chrysost. Hom 60, ad Pop. Ant lock.)

But on the contrary, my Lord Bishop, if we are to take it in the false and heretical sense which Sectarians are pleased to give to these divine words, " This is my Body, This is my Blood; " and instead of receiving the true and real Body t)f Jesus Christ, we are to receive nothing but bread, I lose much of that profound respect which I had conceived for this great mystery. According to the belief of the Christian Church in all ages, I am receiving the Holy of the Holies; but according to the Protestant doctrine, I behold nothing but a shadow. 'According to the first, I receive his true and precious Body and Blood; but according to the second, I receive nothing but Bread and Wine. According to the first, I receive the Sovereign Good in reality and in substance; but according to the second, I possess nothing but the figure. I was rich, being possessed of an immense treasure, which Hugues De St. Victor calls, " The riches of God," and which St. Chrysostom styles, " The whole treasure of the goodness of God;" whereas according to this Protestant doctrine, I find myself possessing but a mere figure. Say what you please, my Lord Bishop, there is as great a difference between our Sacrament and yours, as there is between the Day and the Night. In fine, what a splendid idea of the power, of the goodness, and of the magnificence of God, do not these sacred words fill us with, "Take, eat, this is my Body;" but if I interpret them after your manner, " Take," that is to say, take nothing, and take great core of it, " Eat," that is to say, believe, " This is my Body," that is to say, it is not my Body; was nonsense ever equal to this? Permit me now to tell you, it was not thus that the Fathers interpreted and explained the will of the Son of God; and if, as I shall clearly show, my Lord Bishop, Protestants would listen to them with a more humble heart, with a perfect humility, they would inspire them with more noble ideas of his love, and of the immense value of the gift which he bestowed on mankind before his death. They would teach them that their Heavenly Mediator has not left them by his Will, the figure only of his Body and Blood; no, but his Deified Body; since he himself declares, " This is (not the figure of my Body, but) my Body; This is (not the figure of my Blood, but) my Blood." " Non est figura panis et vinum Corporis, et sanguinis Christi, absit enim hoc, sed est ipsum Corpus Domini Deificatum, ipso Domino dicente; Hoc est meum, non figura Corporis, sed corpus, et non figura sanguinis, sed sanguis."— (St. Jn. Damasc. L. 4, de Orthod.fid. c. 14.)