Tuesday, November 22, 2011

"Whether the whole Christ is contained under this sacrament?"

According to a recent poll of American Catholics, belief in fundamental Church teaching concerning the Eucharist has eroded to a shocking extent.  I suspect this erosion has two principal causes.  The first is the irreverence towards the Eucharist which the Novus Ordus makes possible, and perhaps even fosters.  The second, which is more easily remedied, is inadequate catechesis.  We have been addressing this second issue by periodically transmitting the teaching of St. Thomas Aquinas on the Eucharist as embodied in his teaching text "for beginners," the Summa Theologica.

To the quaestio above, St. Thomas responds:

"It is absolutely necessary to confess according to Catholic faith that the entire Christ is in this sacrament. Yet we must know that there is something of Christ in this sacrament in a twofold manner: first, as it were, by the power of the sacrament; secondly, from natural concomitance. By the power of the sacrament, there is under the species of this sacrament that into which the pre-existing substance of the bread and wine is changed, as expressed by the words of the form, which are effective in this as in the other sacraments; for instance, by the words: "This is My body," or, "This is My blood." But from natural concomitance there is also in this sacrament that which is really united with that thing wherein the aforesaid conversion is terminated. For if any two things be really united, then wherever the one is really, there must the other also be: since things really united together are only distinguished by an operation of the mind."

St. Thomas Aquinas, pray for us.

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