Concerns about the logic of the Eucharist

The Church teaches that during the Eucharist, the bread literally turns into the body and blood of Christ. The bread remains as an illusion to our senses.

This leads me to questions though.

  1. If the bread is only an illusion, than why does it have objective effects like causing allergies to those allergic to gluten from the bread? Since illusions can’t physically affect us (Someone hallucinating a sword piercing through their body won’t have a bloody hole in their body)

  2. Even if #1 is true, than that begs another question. Since we can’t trust our senses of knowing what is really there for the Eucharist. How can we really trust our senses with other things? For example, the crucifixion. The people saw Christ’s body, but that was only the accident. It was really someone else being crucified under the appearance of Christ.

The appearances of bread and wine after the consecration are not an illusion. They are real. They are called ‘accidents’ philosophically because that is what is perceptible to our senses. The accidents remain. The underlying reality is changed.

It is only the accidents or appearances of things that we can ever perceive. We don’t perceive the reality of things directly; we only perceive that which is perceptible to our senses. By definition the accidents interact with our senses.

And those sense perceptions can be relied on because that is the way God made creation. It is only in the case of the Eucharist that accidents are held in existence without inhering in the underlying reality. The reality of bread and wine become Christ’s body and blood, while the accidents of bread and wine remain.

The nun’s back at St Paul’s were on to something when they kept saying, “well, it’s a mystery!”

The point about the crucifixion is a Muslim way of response for why Jesus appeared after Good Friday. If you read the Gospels closely they refute this and other arguments. Take St. Thomas. His name means “twin,” and he said that he wouldn’t believe it was Jesus unless he touched the nail wounds and pierced side. A week later he gets to do just this, ending by exclaiming “my Lord and my God.”

Regarding Transubstantion, it is the logical implication of the Incarnation. Grace joined to nature transforms and elevates it. "The son of god became man in order that we might be transformed into sons and daughters of God.

Paul tells us there was nothing to distinguish Jesus outwardly, but faith exhorts us to confess him to be God incarnate. If Incarnation, then Real Presence. If not Incarnation, then no Real Presence. So we are asked by Christ: " Who do you say that I am?"

If you really want to get into the Eucharistic theology thing, the late Fr. Hardon had some very good talks about the nitty gritty of the mystery. Or you can do a shortcut and read a lot of St. Thomas Aquinas, from the Summa Theologica. (Which is online and translated into English.)

But your head is going to hurt. There is just no way around it. Sometimes it will hurt in a good way, but…

However, if you want a shorter answer, you should be aware that “accidents” is an Aristotelian philosophical/theological technical term, which pairs with the other Aristotelian term “substance.” Neither of these things is equivalent to what you are saying.

Substance is the is-ness of a thing. What makes a dog a dog, and a particular dog, from the point of view of existence? It’s the substance of a dog.*

The DNA of a dog, and every outward characteristic of a dog from his bones out, are the accidents of a dog. So you can see that accidents are not anything like an illusion. They are all the characteristics and components of a particular dog, and they all happen to exist in the material world; but they do not constitute the is-ness of a dog. (Or at least, not from the standpoint of a philosopher or a theologian who is not a materialist.)

You can conceive of fictional situations like an alien shapeshifter that is perfectly disguised as a dog, right down to the DNA – because humans do think there is some difference between the accidents and the substance of a creature.

If a prince were changed into a frog, fairy tale style, the prince would have the accidents of a frog. He would hop, he would eat flies, his DNA would be frog DNA. But as fairy tales tell us, the substance of the frog is still that of a human prince. (Of course, fairy tales usually cheat and give the frog some of the accidents of a human being, like the ability to talk.)

So yes, the accidents of bread are real and continue to exist. If you poison the chalice or if you are an alcoholic, the accidents of wine can hurt you, because they are also real and continue to exist. But the substance of the Eucharist in either form is Jesus Christ Himself: Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity. So what is there is not really bread or wine anymore, even though it has all the outward, material bread and wine characteristics. It is Him.

Transubstantiation is a lot weirder than fairy tale transformations or alien shapeshifters. That is why the more you learn about the theology, the more you will be filled with wonder (and your brain with headaches). But theology is worth studying, and it is fun too.

  • I am not much good at giving good definitions of Aristotelian or Thomistic stuff, so you would be better looking this stuff up than listening to me.

Ben I don’t think you understand the Eucharist .

  1. Who implemented ?

  2. What did the person who implemented the Eucharist have to say about it?

  3. Do some homework - which Bible Chapters are relevant.

  4. After your Research … who in the Church implemented the Eucharist

You did right well.

To which I would add: the substance is the Resurrected Christ. In other words, the resurrected body of Christ exhibited characteristics the pre-resurrected Christ did not.

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