Tuesday, November 15, 2011

"Whether bread can be converted into the body of Christ?"

                                                                    St. Thomas Aquinas

According to a recent poll, half of American Catholics do not accept Church teaching concerning the Eucharist.   We believe this alarming state of affairs has arisen through inadequate or non-existent catechesis.  To remedy the doctrinal deficit, we have been transmitting the teaching of St. Thomas Aquinas regarding the Eucharist, as contained in the great instructional text St. Thomas composed for beginners, the Summa Theologica.  To the quaestio above, St. Thomas responds:

"[S]ince Christ's true body is in this sacrament, and since it does not begin to be there by local motion, nor is it contained therein as in a place, as is evident from what was stated above, it must be said then that it begins to be there by conversion of the substance of bread into itself.

Yet this change is not like natural changes, but is entirely supernatural, and effected by God's power alone....

But God is infinite act … hence His action extends to the whole nature of being.  Therefore He can work not only formal conversion, so that diverse forms succeed each other in the same subject; but also the change of all being, so that, to wit, the whole substance of one thing be changed into the whole substance of another.  And this is done by Divine power in this sacrament; for the whole substance of the bread is changed into the whole substance of Christ's body, and the whole substance of the wine into the whole substance of Christ's blood. Hence this is not a formal, but a substantial conversion; nor is it a kind of natural movement: but, with a name of its own, it can be called "transubstantiation."

Courtesy of New Advent, you may read St. Thomas's full response here.

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