Monday, 6 February 2017

The Catholic Doctrine Of The Eucharist. Part 29.



It is most false in the enemies of the Catholic Church to assert as they constantly do, that by means of explication, any substantial addition was ever made to the doctrine of the Church in communion with the See of Rome on the Eucharist. The Roman Church always believed that Jesus Christ was present in the Eucharist, and " that the Eucharist was the Body and Blood of Jesus Christ;" and these words suggest the very same ideas upon the Eucharist that are suggested by the language which the Roman Church now uses. To be present, to be really present, to be substantially present, these phrases all express absolutely the same thing; because a metaphorical presence is not presence, but rather real absence. And hence the idea of presence is not included in the simple idea which the terms metaphorical presence suggest. On the contrary, in order to represent to oneself a presence merely metaphorical, we must exclude the simple idea of presence, and substitute the idea of presence in sign, in operation, or in some other manner that involves the idea of absence, rather than of presence. The difference between the language of the primitive Church, " the Eucharist is the Body of Jesus Christ," and the language of the Church in communion with the See of Rome, "the Eucharist is really and substantially the Body of Jesus Christ," does not arise precisely from these last recited words being more explicit than those used by the ancient Church; but simply from this, that they are more assertive than are the words which the ancient Church employed. For when we say, that the Body of Jesus Christ is really and substantially present in the Eucharist, we annex to the ideas of simple presence a reflection, which affirms more positively the truth of what we assert; and our words mean,—It is true that Jesus Christ is in the Eucharist. For as the words, " it is true," do not change the idea of the proposition to which they are added, and as they denote merely that the mind considers more expressly the truth of that proposition; in like manner, the terms, " Real presence, substantial presence," only more positively assert that which both now and at all times the simple and natural idea of presence includes. Thus the additions and the pretended explications of the primitive faith which Protestants suppose to have been made, are vain, groundless imaginations, unsupported by proof or by reason. In a word, the Catholic Church has ever been most watchful when the capital truths which the faithful distinctly believe were impugned. But it is impossible to assail popular truths without causing alarms among the people, and without occasioning scandals and tumults. Now the doctrine of the Eucharist was always familiar to the people, and was, so to speak, the most popular of all the mysteries, for with this mystery none of the faithful could have been unacquainted. It was therefore even more impossible to make any change in the common faith upon it, than the received faith of any other mystery.