Friday, 6 January 2017

The Catholic Doctrine Of The Eucharist. Part 11.



Theophilact writes: " Our Lord in saying, 'This is my Body' declares that this bread which is sanctified on the altar, is the same body of the Lord, and not the figure corresponding to it, in so much as he did not say, this is the figure, but, this is my body; for by an unspeakable operation it is transformed, although it seems to be bread, because we are weak, and have an abhorrence of eating raw flesh, especially human flesh, and nevertheless, though outwardly it seems to be bread, it is notwithstanding flesh indeed."— (Super 26, c. Sancti Mat.)

Did these Latin and Greek Fathers believe as our separated brethren do on this great question ? Surely not; for no one free from prejudice, and blessed with common sense, but must own that they had the same belief as we have. Moreover, the Fathers who have believed that we ought to adore the Lord in the Eucharist, as the Kings adored him in the crib, did believe that he was really, substantially, and truly there, as St. Chrysostom, (Horn. 24, Super. 1, ad Cor.,) St. Gregory Nazianzen in his sister's epitaph; these authorities, and many others which I omit here, as I mean to devote one of these letters in giving quotations from the Fathers of the five first centuries of the Church on this great dogma of Catholic faith, and which will evidently shew, that the belief of Catholics as regards the reality of Jesus Christ's body in the Eucharist, is not only conformable to the word of God, but also to the belief of the holy Fathers of the primitive Church.

But if your Lordship should ask me how is this done, I would make you a similar answer to that which the angel Gabriel made to the blessed Virgin Mary, regarding the mystery of the Incarnation. The Virgin asked, " How this was to be done ? " And the Angel replied, " The Holy Ghost shall come upon thee, and the power of the Most High shall overshadow thee." Your Lordship may likewise ask me, how is Bread made the Body of Christ ? I would answer thus, the Holy Ghost operates these things in a way far above what we can comprehend or express; and the Bread and Wine are changed into the Body and Blood of Christ. In fine, my Lord Bishop, though you may regret he did not say, that it is the true body of the Son of God, or any other words you please, yet remember he has said, " Take eat, this is my Body," and the Fathers have assured us of their belief on this point, " Discipulos docuit proprium se tradere Corpus." You may perhaps wish that he had said, it is the very substance of his body and of his blood which we take, and which enters our mouths, forgetting that he tells you so by his faithful interpreter St. Chrysostom, — (St. Chrys. Hom. 30, in 2, ad Cor.) —" Our mouth is honoured in an especial manner by receiving the Body of the Lord."

Hear now again St. Augustine, St. Ambrose, and St. Cyril of Alexandria On this point. St. Augustine says: " I did not know what God wished to express by his Prophet, when he commands us to adore his footstool, that is to say, the Earth; ' Adorate scabellum pedum ejus;' and I cannot comprehend how it can be done without impiety. But I have found the secret of it, and the mystery in the sacrament of Jesus Christ; it is what we daily perform when we eat his flesh, and before eating it we adore it, not only. without superstition, but with all the merit of faith; for this flesh being the food of salvation, we must adore it, although it springs from earth, and even the footstool of God, and far from committing sin by so doing, we sin in not adoring it." — (St. August. Ps. 98, T. viii. edFrolen.p. 1104.)

St. Ambrose, the holy Bishop of Milan, says: " We daily adore the flesh of our Redeemer, and we adore him in the mysteries which he himself has established, and which are celebrated daily on our altars. This flesh of Christ has been formed of earth as well as ours, and the Earth is called in Scripture the footstool of God. But this footstool, considered in the person of the Saviour, and in the Sacrament of his Flesh, is more venerable than all the thrones of Kings, and for this reason we adore it."— (St. Ambr. Lib. 3, de Spirit. Sanct. cap, 12, ed. Froben. p. 206.)

St. Cyril of Alexandria, who was present at the third General Council held at Ephesus, says: " Lest we should have an horror of the flesh and blood placed on our altars, God condescending to our weakness, infuses into the things offered up, (that is to say, into the Bread and Wine) the virtue of life, converting them into his own real flesh."— (St. Cyril, Lib. 13, Super Lev. in med.) Can anything be more clearly said ?