Saturday, 4 February 2017

The Catholic Doctrine Of The Eucharist. Part 28.



4th. Luther with his Consubstantiation, setting aside tradition, would certainly have been in the right, if our blessed Saviour when he took Bread and Wine into his hands, which was to be the communion of his Body and Blood, (1 Cor. x. 16,) had only said, here is my Body, here is my Blood. But nothing, my Lord Bishop, but a substantial change can make it be said of Bread and Wine, truly and literally, this is my Body, this is my Blood. As nothing but a substantial change could have made the words of Moses true, if, when he threw down his rod, he had said, this is a serpent; or of Christ, if he had said at Cana of Galalea, when the servants brought in water, this is wine.

5th. It is not then philosophy, as some Protestants affirm, but the plain texts of Scripture and universal tradition which force us to acknowledge Transubstantiation. I mean an entire change of one substance into another, as of Water into Wine, (St. John ii. 9,) of Water into Blood, (Exod. vii. 20,) of Moses's rod into a serpent, (Exod iv. 3.) And if when he cast his rod upon the ground, he had said, this is a serpent, his words would have been true in the same literal sense, in which the words of Christ are verified, This is my Body, this is my Blood, (St. Matt. xxvi. 26, 28.)

Luther in his Great Confession, (de Caena Domini,) against Zuinglius and (Ecolampadius, says, " Bread and the Body of Christ are so strictly joined together, that they become one and the same thing." But this is evidently impossible. For, though iron be red hot, and penetrated as it were with fire, yet nothing could be more false than to say, this iron is fire. So that Luther in the same book is forced to confess that Transubstantiation may be allowed. His words are: " Hactenus docui, et adhuc doceo, parum referre, nec magni momenti quaestionem esse, sive quis panem in Eucharistia manere, sive non manere, et transubstantiari credat."

CEcumenius commenting on 1 Cor. 10, says: "They have eaten manna as we the Body of Christ; they have drank a spiritual drink, that is, water running out of a spiritual rock or stone, as we the blood of Christ."— (CEcumen. 1 Cor. 10.)

St. Chrysostome when expounding this same text of St. Paul, uses no other words in his exposition but the following: " Ille illis Manna et aquam, et tibi Corpus et sanguinem dedit."—" He (meaning God) gave to them manna and water, and to thee his Body and Blood." And St. Jerome, in expounding the Scriptures, says: "Et Potum accipimus de latere Christi manantem."—" And we receive drink flowing from the side of Christ."

These great Saints therefore give us clearly to understand that Catholics do not receive a figure only in the sacrament, but the very Body and the very Blood of Christ Jesus, the only begotten Son of the Eternal Father.

Protestantism, on the contrary, which has rejected this magnificent gift, is the absence of Christ, as Deism is in a more general order of ideas, the absence of the Divinity. With the Bible in his hand, the Protestant fancies that he communicates with the living truth; but is it on the material form of the words, or on their real sense, that this communication depends ? And whereas it is the reason of each Protestant that determines for him the sense of the Bible, how can this ever varying reason be a transmission of the reason eternally unchangeable? How can so many interpretations that destroy one another be an emanation of the substantial word, which, like God himself, bears the character of unity ? There is between them that vast space which separates illusion from immutable reality. You imagine that you enjoy the immediate presence of the Sun of Intelligences, and nothing is present to you save the shadows of your own mind. Deifying your thoughts, you believe that you converse freely with the word, whilst you are separated from it by the profound abyss which pride has interposed. The Protestants resemble an unhappy wanderer on the deep, who mistakes for the paternal shore those hills of mist, which are capriciously raised and destroyed by the winds. But the illusion soon vanishes. The fantastical horizon which surrounds them changes every instant; their inconstant opinions come into collision, separate, scatter, and suddenly reveal to them the waves of boundless scepticism. Hence the anguish of those who desirous of faith, but weak in will, are bound to Protestantism by temporal ties;¹ they behold with terror the agitations of an unlimited scepticism which assail it on every side. This spectacle, so afflicting to every Christian heart, hurries them into the opposite extreme. The propensity to illuminism, which has been found at every period among this class of Protestants, augments and strengthens in proportion as rationalism destroys the little faith which the Reformation has preserved.² In this exaltation they seek an asylum against doubt.

In effect, every Protestant is placed in this dilemma: if he do not believe himself infallible, he has no certainty for his faith; if he believes himself infallible, each of his judgments must appear to him a ray of increased intelligence. He ought, according to the remark of Bossuet, to "deem all his thoughts to be emanations of the Deity; an intellectual pantheism which directly leads to the other.

I shall now conclude, my Lord Bishop, this lengthened letter with a quotation from the writings of a most holy, learned, and highly gifted prelate of the Catholic Church, the late Bishop of Siga,³ who is now, I sincerely hope and trust, reaping the benefits of a well spent life.

"All Protestants admit, (for it is impossible to deny it,) that the scriptures, as literally explained, are clearly in our favour, and clearly against themselves. Our Saviour says in the scripture, ' This is my body.' The Catholic Church assents, and says ' It is his body' Most of the Protestant sects dissent, and say ' It is not his body; it is only a figure of it' Our Saviour says in St. John, ' My Flesh is meat indeed, and my Blood is drink indeed' We say the same; but the Protestant says, ' His Flesh is not meat indeed, except inasmuch as he is the object of our faith.' St. Paul says, that ' Whoever eateth and drinketh unworthily eateth and drinketh judgment to himself, not discerning the body of the Lord.' We say the same; but Protestants say, 'It is impossible to discern what is not there.' St. Paul says, 'We have an altar,' (Heb. xiii.) (and consequently a sacrifice; for one implies the other,) and that ' the chalice of benediction which we bless is the communion of the blood of Christ, and the bread which we break the partaking of the body of the Lord." —(1 Cor. xi.) We say the same;—but most Protestants deny both the sacrifice and the victim.

It is for modern innovators to show that the literal sense of scripture is to be abandoned, and a figurative one preferred. In their favour they have their own private judgment, at the end of eighteen centuries; but against them they have the apostolical liturgies and the universal belief and practice of the Christian world from the very days of the Apostles. If their explanation is right, all Christendom was wrong from the beginning. But if their explanation is erroneous, the true worship of God is abolished amongst them, the channel, by which the merits of Christ were to be conveyed to their souls, is cut off,—they can ' have no life in them,' because they cannot ' eat the flesh of the son of man and drink his blood;' or if, eating and drinking, they believe erroneously concerning this mystery, they ( eat and drink judgment to themselves, not discerning the body of the Lord' Oh, that God would, in his tender mercy, open the eyes of his erring children, and, seating them once more as guests at his heavenly table, prepare them for future thrones of glory in His Eternal Kingdom. AMEN.

I am,
   My Lord Bishop,
      Your expedient Servant, 
            A CATHOLIC LAYMAN,

¹ Cunctaeque profundum pontum adspectabant flentes." 

² In a work published on the state of the Protestant Religion in Germany, Mr. Hugh James Rose, a Minister of the English Church, has forcibly pointed out this result of rationalism: " The Doctrines of the innovators must have shocked and afflicted all who as yet were sincerely attached to Christianity."— (See the Catholic Memorial of January 1829.) 

³ Dr, Baines, Vicar Apostolic of the Western District.