Did Augustine believe in the Real Presence


#1

This was taken from another thread:

The part I am most interested in seeing addressed (cuz I’m pressed for time right this moment :stuck_out_tongue: ) is Radical’s claim: “Augustine is not saying that Jesus’s body is really on the Lord’s table and that the participant eats Jesus’s body…”


#2

I don’t read it that way at all. I read it that the bread is the body of Christ and the cup is the blood of Christ. Augustine clearly said this at the beginning of the paragraph.

"…but as for what your faith asks to be instructed about, the bread is the body of Christ, the cup the blood of Christ."It took no time to say that indeed, and that, perhaps, may be enough for faith;

You could stop right here since this should be enough for faith. This is what he just said.

Augustine now proceeds to start teaching further about his ideas of what the body of Christ might also entail.

This seems to me more of an attempted proof text to show that since we are the body of Christ, that in some mysterious way, we are also placed on the table along with Christ. This does not exclude Christ. Rather it includes us.

Augustine never denied that the Cup is the blood of Christ. And never went on to explain this away, which would be a requirement if he were saying the bread is only us and not Jesus.


#3

What you hear, you see, is The body of Christ, and you answer, Amen. So be a member of the body of Christ, in order to make that Amen true.

You cannot be a member of the body of Christ unless you become part of His body, logic; and you don’t become part of His body by eating just bread or anything less than His body, This Is My Body, the mystery being that His real body is therefore on the altar and we become part of His real body and we express our assent to this fact by saying amen, so be it, - so be a member of His body or remain and be a member of His body.


#4

Seems to me this is another example of either/or thinking rather than both/and. It illustrates a very limited understanding of scripture.

Either we are the Body of Christ, **or **the bread is the Body of Christ.”

As Catholics we know is is false. In fact, both the bread **and **“we” are the Body of Christ. As members of His Church, we are part of His Body. We become members of His Church by eating His Body.


#5

Exactly!!! Non-Catholic Christians (Protestantism and Eastern Orthodoxy) are plagued by shallow zero sum thinking.


#6

Greetings. MarcoPolo was good enough to invite me to this thread to speak for myself. I have actually quoted from three works of Augustine in the other thread. Here are those quotes with a bit of my commentary. As you can see, Augustine’s reasoning in the first quote is essential to the point I attempt to make and to the reason for my questions.

Personally, I agree with Augustine’s assessment of John 6 when he states:

*“If the sentence is one of command, either forbidding a crime or vice, or enjoining an act of prudence or benevolence, it is not figurative. If, however, it seems to enjoin a crime or vice, or to forbid an act of prudence or benevolence, it is figurative. “Except ye eat the flesh of the Son of man,” says Christ, “and drink His blood, ye have no life in you.” This seems to enjoin a crime or a vice; it is therefore a figure, enjoining that we should have a share in the sufferings of our Lord, and that we should retain a sweet and profitable memory of the fact that His flesh was wounded and crucified for us.” *(Book 3, Chap 16 of On Christian Doctrine)

I note you (MarcoPolo, in support of your position) quote from Augustine’s sermon 272. Here is the full paragraph that includes your quote:

One thing is seen, another is to be understood. What you can see on the altar, you also saw last night; but what it was, what it meant, of what great reality it contained the sacrament, you had not yet heard. So what you can see, then, is bread and a cup; that’s what even your eyes tell you; but as for what your faith asks to be instructed about, the bread is the body of Christ, the cup the blood of Christ. It took no time to say that indeed, and that, perhaps, may be enough for faith; but faith desires instruction. The prophet says, you see, Unless you believe, you shall not understand (Is 7:9). I mean, you can now say to me, “You’ve bidden us believe; now explain, so that we may understand.” Some such thought as this, after all, may cross somebody’s mind: “We know where our Lord Jesus Christ took flesh from; from the Virgin Mary. He was suckled as a baby, was reared, grew up, came to man’s estate, suffered persecution from the Jews, was hung on the tree, was slain on the tree, was taken down from the tree, was buried; rose again on the third day, on the day he wished ascended into heaven. That’s where he lifted his body up to; that’s where he’s going to come from to judge the living and the dead; that’s where he is now, seated on the Father’s right. How can bread be his body? And the cup, or what the cup contains, how can it be his blood?” The reason these things, brothers and sisters, are called sacraments is that in them one thing is seen, another is to be understood. What can be seen has a bodily appearance, what is to be understood provides spiritual fruit. So if you want to understand the body of Christ, listen to the apostle telling the faithful, You, though, are the body of Christ and its members (1 Cor 12:27). So if it’s you that are the body of Christ and its members, it’s the mystery meaning you that has been placed on the Lord’s table; what you receive is the mystery that means you. It is to what you are that you reply Amen, and by so replying you express your assent. What you hear, you see, is The body of Christ, and you answer, Amen. So be a member of the body of Christ, in order to make that Amen true.

If one reads the whole paragraph and not just the piece that MarcoPolo quoted, one sees that Augustine is in fact saying:

The bread = Jesus’s body = believers = the bread on the Lord’s table.

Augustine is not saying that Jesus’s body is really on the Lord’s table and that the participant eats Jesus’s body any more than he is saying that the believers (who he is addressing) are really on the Lord’s table and that they are eating themselves.

In Tractate 26, which deals with John 6:41-59, Augustine says:

But that which they ask, while striving among themselves, namely, how the Lord can give His flesh to be eaten, they do not immediately hear: but further it is said to them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, except ye eat the flesh of the Son of man, and drink His blood, you will have no life in you. …… And thus He would have this meat and drink to be understood as meaning the fellowship of His own body and members, which is the holy Church in his predestinated and called, and justified, and glorified saints and believers. …. The sacrament of this thing, namely, of the unity of the body and blood of Christ, is prepared on the Lord’s table in some places daily, in some places at certain intervals of days, and from the Lord’s table it is taken, by some to life, by some to destruction: but the thing itself, of which it is the sacrament, is for every man to life, for no man to destruction, whosoever shall have been a partaker thereof….This it is, therefore, for a man to eat that meat and to drink that drink, to dwell in Christ, and to have Christ dwelling in him. Consequently, he that dwells not in Christ, and in whom Christ dwells not, doubtless neither eats His flesh [spiritually] nor drinks His blood [although he may press the sacrament of the body and blood of Christ carnally and visibly with his teeth].

Please note how Augustine identifies the eating of Jesus’s flesh required in verse 53 with the eating that occurs in the sacrament of the Eucharist.

As previously pointed out, Augustine held that the eating of Jesus’s flesh required in verse 53 must be understood figuratively and not literally, otherwise Jesus’s would be requiring his followers to commit a crime/vice. As such, because Augustine identified that eating of Jesus’s flesh with the Eucharist, from his statements in On Christian Doctrine, Augustine held that the eating of Jesus’s flesh in the Eucharist must be understood figuratively and not literally, otherwise Jesus’s would be requiring his followers to commit a crime/vice.
My questions are then;

a) Does the RCC believe in the Real Presence of all believers on the Lord’s Table in the same way as it believes in the Real Presence of Christ’s body?
b) How do you reconcile Augustine’s figurative interpretation of John 6:53 (and his identification of that eating with the Eucharist and his view that a literal eating would be a crime/vice) with your understanding of the Real Presence?

Thanks.


#7

Simple answer. St. Augustine believed in the real presence.

Augustine

“Christ was carried in his own hands when, referring to his own body, he said, ‘This is my body’ [Matt. 26:26]. For he carried that body in his hands” (Explanations of the Psalms 33:1:10 [A.D. 405]).

“I promised you [new Christians], who have now been baptized, a sermon in which I would explain the sacrament of the Lord’s Table. . . . That bread which you see on the altar, having been sanctified by the word of God, is the body of Christ. That chalice, or rather, what is in that chalice, having been sanctified by the word of God, is the blood of Christ” (Sermons 227 [A.D. 411]).

“What you see is the bread and the chalice; that is what your own eyes report to you. But what your faith obliges you to accept is that the bread is the body of Christ and the chalice is the blood of Christ. This has been said very briefly, which may perhaps be sufficient for faith; yet faith does not desire instruction” (ibid., 272).


#8

Hi Radical,

           compliments for the charitable tone and your insightful questions. 

I’d begin with the first passage from On Christian Doctrine, particularly in relation with the articulation of your question B)

"If, however, it seems to enjoin a crime or vice, or to forbid an act of prudence or benevolence, it is figurative. Except ye eat the flesh of the Son of man, says Christ, and drink His blood, you have no life in you. John 6:53 This seems to enjoin a crime or a vice; it is therefore a figure, enjoining that we should have a share in the sufferings of our Lord, and that we should retain a sweet and profitable memory of the fact that His flesh was wounded and crucified for us.

Which in Latin is:
"Si autem flagitium aut facinus videtur iubere aut utilitatem et beneficentiam vetare, figurata est. Nisi manducaveritis, inquit, carnem Filii hominis et sanguinem biberitis, non habebitis vitam in vobis 31. Facinus vel flagitium videtur iubere. Figura ergo est, praecipiens passioni dominicae esse communicandum et suaviter atque utiliter recondendum in memoria, quod pro nobis caro eius crucifixa et vulnerata si

Anyway, Augustine is telling us that what seems a crime is not to be understood at face value. OK. The Lord is telling here the crowd: “You have to eat me”. What does this command look like ? "You have to become cannibals now, bite my leg , my arm, chew them ". That is the appearance of the command. Which, as such, is not to be taken literally, according to Augustine’s rule.
And we shall probably all agree. :slight_smile:

Now we have to see what is enjoined, always according to Augustine. First of all, If we go back from the English “we should have a share in the sufferings of the Lord” to the original “passioni dominicae esse communicandum”, we note this verb sounds quite familiar in our context, since related to it we have the substantive “communio”, from which the English “communion”.

Let’s therefore read the Catechism on the names of Eucharist:
1328 The inexhaustible richness of this sacrament is expressed in the different names we give it. Each name evokes certain aspects of it. It is called:

1330 The memorial of the Lord’s Passion and Resurrection.

1331 Holy Communion, because by this sacrament we unite ourselves to Christ, who makes us sharers in his Body and Blood to form a single body.

Hasn’t uniting ourselves with Christ and sharing in His body , here mentioned in the CCC…something to do with sharing in His Passion mentioned by Augustine ?

Let’s also note that in Augustine’s quoted exposition, indeed, both of the above mentioned aspects of Eucharist as taught by the Church appear evoked: Communion and Memorial. (Remember please the CCC expression "inexhaustible richness of this sacrament" :slight_smile: )

OK, but, can we be confident that the expression "communicare passioni (or if plural “passionibus” ) ", has been used within the Church as related specifically to our eating the Lord’s body in the Eucharist ?

Here is a passage by St. Bernard, from his Sermon 3 on Psalm 40:

Quid autem est manducare ejus carnem, et bibere sanguinem, nisi communicare passionibus ejus, …? Unde et hoc designat illibatum illud altaris sacramentum, ubi Dominicum corpus accipimus:

( more or less: What is eating His flesh and drinking His blood, if not “communicare passionibus” ( sharing in the sufferings) of Him … ? Hence that pure sacrament of the altar, where we receive the Lord’s body is designated by this too.

Is what Augustine consider enjoined by John 6:53 in any contrast with the CCC ?
Or isn’t Augustine after all then saying here that what appeared as gross cannibalism - and as such a crime to be considered a figure - is to be understood as the institution of the Eucharist or Holy Communion ?


#9

Some considerations on your (Radical’s) further quotations, after my HO about Christian Doctrine Book III Ch 16 in the previous post which I hope you have time to consider.

  1. To begin with, let’s observe something that can be anything from obvious to striking, depending on where you’re coming from.
    In the sentences from Sermon 272 you specifically quote you have the words pronounced every time, delivering a piece of eucharistic bread: “The body of Christ”, and the answer by the believer: “Amen”. What is striking, or obvious, or ( i’d probably say ) both of them, is that these are the very words you hear at every Eucharist in every catholic Church in 2008, precisely as in Augustine’s time and in every generation inbetween.

In our time, when the minister says “Body of Christ”, he means …“Body of Christ”. Do we have any compelling reason to believe that, on the contrary, the very same words “Body of Christ” pronounced on the eucharistic bread in the IV or V century would mean something radically different, ie something like: " This is NOT really the body of Christ" ?
Have we a general picture of the Church of that time obliging us to imagine this dramatic semantic change of the formulation through the following centuries ? When and how did this semantic, theological, ecclesial earthquake take place in the post-V century Church ?
As far as I can now remember we have isolated voices AGAINST Real Presence, recorded in the IX century. This could show that, after Augustine, and before the IX century one has to find the beginning the development and the success of this major paradigm shift.
What evidence do we have about that ? Can we find any age in Church History when the doctrine of Real Presence was a challenger rather than being challenged ?

  1. The Catholic Church maintains that Augustine gave an exceptional contribution to the understanding of the Sacrament of Eucharist, and of its “inexhaustible richness”. That is so true, and Augustine appears so organic within catholic eucharistic doctrine, that he is repeatedly quoted in the pages of the Catechism dealing with that Sacrament, considered central in the life of the Church.

I hope these passages can help

"
1396 The unity of the Mystical Body: the Eucharist makes the Church. Those who receive the Eucharist are united more closely to Christ. Through it Christ unites them to all the faithful in one body - the Church. Communion renews, strengthens, and deepens this incorporation into the Church, already achieved by Baptism. In Baptism we have been called to form but one body.233 The Eucharist fulfills this call: "The cup of blessing which we bless, is it not a participation in the blood of Christ? The bread which we break, is it not a participation in the body of Christ? Because there is one bread, we who are many are one body, for we all partake of the one bread:"234

If you are the body and members of Christ, then it is your sacrament that is placed on the table of the Lord; it is your sacrament that you receive. To that which you are you respond “Amen” (“yes, it is true!”) and by responding to it you assent to it. For you hear the words, “the Body of Christ” and respond “Amen.” Be then a member of the Body of Christ that your Amen may be true.235 "

The Catechism of the Catholic Church quotes precisely the sentence you quoted. :slight_smile: It happens in the context of the ecclesial dimension of Eucharist.

Let’s read the Catechism again:

1368 The Eucharist is also the sacrifice of the Church. The Church which is the Body of Christ participates in the offering of her Head. With him, she herself is offered whole and entire. She unites herself to his intercession with the Father for all men. In the Eucharist the sacrifice of Christ becomes also the sacrifice of the members of his Body. The lives of the faithful, their praise, sufferings, prayer, and work, are united with those of Christ and with his total offering, and so acquire a new value. Christ’s sacrifice present on the altar makes it possible for all generations of Christians to be united with his offering.

In the catacombs the Church is often represented as a woman in prayer, arms outstretched in the praying position. Like Christ who stretched out his arms on the cross, through him, with him, and in him, she offers herself and intercedes for all men. …

1372 St. Augustine admirably summed up this doctrine that moves us to an ever more complete participation in our Redeemer’s sacrifice which we celebrate in the Eucharist:

*This wholly redeemed city, the assembly and society of the saints, is offered to God as a universal sacrifice by the high priest who in the form of a slave went so far as to offer himself for us in his Passion, to make us the Body of so great a head. . . . Such is the sacrifice of Christians: “we who are many are one Body in Christ” The Church continues to reproduce this sacrifice in the sacrament of the altar so well-known to believers wherein it is evident to them that in what she offers she herself is offered.*196

( Quotation from De Civitate Dei 10,6 )

Now, Radical, I am not qualified enough to get and explain
in its multiple aspects the beautiful and difficult doctrines the Church and Augustine teach us in these passages.

But we see here how interwoven the Church’s teaching and Augustine’s teaching are. ( was it by chance that he was proclaimed Doctor of the Church in the XIII century ? :slight_smile: ).

Note that the sacrificial nature of the Eucharist is affirmed by Augustine as clearly as by the Church. Do you reject the sacrificial nature ? Or do you imagine it without Real Presence ?

You say: “Augustine is not saying that Jesus’s body is really on the Lord’s table and that the participant eats Jesus’s body any more than he is saying that the believers (who he is addressing) are really on the Lord’s table and that they are eating themselves.” You appear to propose this as a reductio ad absurdum, so that everyone may understand that Augustine would teach that we do not eat the Lord’s Flesh in the Eucharist.

Here is the beginning of Sermon 132 on the New Testament:
*1. As we heard when the Holy Gospel was being read, the Lord Jesus Christ exhorted us by the promise of eternal life to eat His Flesh and drink His Blood. You that heard these words, have not all as yet understood them. For those of you who have been baptized and the faithful do know what He meant. But those among you who are yet called Catechumens, or Hearers, could be hearers, when it was being read, could they be understanders too? Accordingly our discourse is directed to both. Let them who already eat the Flesh of the Lord and drink His Blood, think What it is they eat and drink, lest, as the Apostle says, they eat and drink judgment to themselves. But they who do not yet eat and drink, let them hasten when invited to such a Banquet. *

You see: according to St. Augustine the baptized ones do eat the Lord’s Flesh and drinking His Blood ( and therefore must remember Paul’s words quoted above), the catechumens not yet.

If doubts remain about whether St. Augustine is speaking about the Eucharistic Table, consider this passage from the same sermon:

those of you who have not yet wives, and who yet already approach to the Lord’s Table, and eat the Flesh of Christ, and drink His Blood, if you are about to marry, keep yourselves for your wives.

There is no limiting qualification here: they just eat the Flesh of Christ. Again, you can see a total agreement between Augustine’s words and the teachings of the Church.

Concerning the title of the thread, after this short examination, the answer has then to be affirmative, IMHO.

You could again ask at this point : “does that mean we eat the Church, the believers, ourselves precisely as we eat His Flesh ?”

I haven’t got under my eyes a magisterial statement on this. IMHO, since the Eucharist makes the Church as the Body of Christ, and makes the believer more fully member of that Body, and since on the Lord’s table there is “our sacrament” only because there is His Body and we confess that, what can be said about the believer’s presence appears strictly derivative in relation to the Lord’s Real Presence.

We should explore this fascinating issue much more.
I just hope this already too long post may somehow help in seeing

- how strong the harmony between Augustine and the Church is in matters of Real Presence and eucharistic doctrine in general.

*- how difficult it is to think of Real Presence as of a non-original doctrinal paradigm, which sometime, somehow challenged and ultimately substituted a previous one. *

Bless you.


#10

Hello pneuma07,

I was hoping that was the way I would come accross. Thanks for your thoughtful response.

Anyway, Augustine is telling us that what seems a crime is not to be understood at face value. OK.

I would say that Augustine is telling us that, if we took John 6:53 at face value, we would understand Christ to be requiring a crime of his listeners. (I assume we are in full agreement so far),

The Lord is telling here the crowd: “You have to eat me”.

Are we also agreed that the Lord is not just telling the crowd of this requirement, but is also telling Augustine and us that “You have to eat me”?

What does this command look like ? "You have to become cannibals now, bite my leg , my arm, chew them ". That is the appearance of the command. Which, as such, is not to be taken literally, according to Augustine’s rule.

I don’t know about the “now” aspect, particularly in light of how (I believe) the requirement also applies to us almost 2 millenia later. Augustine says: “This seems to enjoin a crime or a vice; it is therefore a figure, enjoining that we should have a share in the sufferings of our Lord, and that we should retain a sweet and profitable memory of the fact that His flesh was wounded and crucified for us.” Clearly, with the use of "we’ Augustine has applied the requirement to us, and I would suggest that Augustine is saying, with respect to that requirement of us, it must also be taken figuratively and not literally (as a literal understanding would see Christ requiring a crime from us). From there Augustine goes on to say that we do this figurative eating by sharing “in the sufferings of our Lord, and that we should retain a sweet and profitable memory of the fact that His flesh was wounded and crucified for us.”

And we shall probably all agree.

I would hope so.

Or isn’t Augustine after all then saying here that what appeared as gross cannibalism - and as such a crime to be considered a figure - is to be understood as the institution of the Eucharist or Holy Communion ?

I am not sure that I have followed your point here. I would suggest that Augustine understood John 6:53 to be a reference to the Eucharist., with the institutuion of it occuring at the last supper itself.

1330 The memorial of the Lord’s Passion and Resurrection.

1331 Holy Communion, because by this sacrament we unite ourselves to Christ, who makes us sharers in his Body and Blood to form a single body.

I agree that these understandings of the Eucharist are seen in Augustine (though I would believe him to be speaking of a spiritual sharing). What I am seeking to understand is the way Augustine is reconciled with this from the CCC:
1374…“This presence is called ‘real’ - by which is not intended to exclude the other types of presence as if they could not be ‘real’ too, but because it is presence in the fullest sense: that is to say, it is a substantial presence by which Christ, God and man, makes himself wholly and entirely present.”

It seems to me that, if Christ’s body is present in the fullest sense, then the eating of the bread/his flesh at the Lord’s supper would be more than just a spiritual or figurative eating, but would also be a literal eating as well. Maybe I am reading too much into “fullest sense”, so please clarify.
It seems that your reconciliation is that, although Augustine viewed a certain manner of eating human flesh as evil, it does not mean that Augustine would have viewed all manners of eating human flesh as evil (and in particular, would not have viewed the eating of Christ’s flesh in the Eucharist as evil). If that is your position (please clarify if it is), then I would not be inclined to accept that reconciliation for these reasons:

  1. In OCD Augustine is trying to teach his readers when they should not read a command literally. From the entire Bible he selected John 6:53. If I was in his position, I would have picked the most obvious unambiguous example. I would want a “But of course” response from the reader and not a “Well, that isn’t true in all cases” response. As such, I believe Augustine’s approach in OCD is that eating human flesh is wrong, everyone knows such to be the case and there is no way in which a literal interpretation of that command could be acceptable (and that. there is no way in which a literal eating of human flesh could be acceptable)

  2. There is no indication that Augustine is restricting his application of that command to the historical situation in question. Augustine doesn’t say that the command would only enjoin Christ’s listeners at that time in history to commit a crime, but concludes that it must be understood as a figure enjoining us to share in the sufferings of our Lord (b/c a literal understanding would require a crime of us as well).

  3. If Augustine had understood that literally eating human flesh was only a crime in that historical situation, but was acceptable at the Lord’s table, then Augustine should have provided a different solution. Instead of saying that the command should not be understood literally, he should have said that the command should not been understood by that particular crowd in a literal fashion, but should be now understood in a literal fashion within a different situation… Instead, Augustine denied a literal understanding and said the command should be taken figuratively.

I see that you have already fed me a second post to chew on, which I intend to digest over the next couple of days.

May God bless you.


#11

1374…“This presence is called ‘real’ - by which is not intended to exclude the other types of presence as if they could not be ‘real’ too, but because it is presence in the fullest sense: that is to say, it is a substantial presence by which Christ, God and man, makes himself wholly and entirely present.”

It seems to me that, if Christ’s body is present in the fullest sense, then the eating of the bread/his flesh at the Lord’s supper would be more than just a spiritual or figurative eating, but would also be a literal eating as well. Maybe I am reading too much into “fullest sense”, so please clarify.

Dear Radical,

the present question would deserve a new thread of its own. You can here note that the words proposed by the Church ( substantial, real, full … ) do not include “physical”, or “literal”.
Could you conceive that we can eat the Lord “really” without eating Him “literally” ?

Consider this please. Is God’s Incarnation (ie becoming flesh) so meaningless or trivial that we cannot conceive that Flesh any differently than that of an ordinary man ? You agree our God became Flesh in Mary’s womb I guess. Nothing less.
Then why is it not conceivable receiving that absolutely unique Flesh in an absolutely unique way, the way He chose to give us His Flesh, without becoming cannibals ?

It seems that your reconciliation is that, although Augustine viewed a certain manner of eating human flesh as evil, it does not mean that Augustine would have viewed all manners of eating human flesh as evil (and in particular, would not have viewed the eating of Christ’s flesh in the Eucharist as evil). If that is your position (please clarify if it is), then I would not be inclined to accept that reconciliation for these reasons:

  1. In OCD Augustine is trying to teach his readers when they should not read a command literally. From the entire Bible he selected John 6:53. If I was in his position, I would have picked the most obvious unambiguous example. I would want a “But of course” response from the reader and not a “Well, that isn’t true in all cases” response. As such, I believe Augustine’s approach in OCD is that eating human flesh is wrong, everyone knows such to be the case and there is no way in which a literal interpretation of that command could be acceptable (and that. there is no way in which a literal eating of human flesh could be acceptable)

This interpretation does not work IMHO.
Consider Ambrose’s position: Be convinced that this is not what nature has formed, but what the blessing has consecrated. The power of the blessing prevails over that of nature, because by the blessing nature itself is changed. . . . Could not Christ’s word, which can make from nothing what did not exist, change existing things into what they were not before? It is no less a feat to give things their original nature than to change their nature. ( From On the Mysteries, 9,6.)

So, clearly Ambrose would teach Real Presence. Can you imagine Augustine considering his great mentor a cannibal for that ?
Or can you even find a page,against this fundamental teaching by Ambrose in Augustine ?
Or against other contemporary fathers clearly teaching Real Presence ? Or against earlier fathers
teaching that ?
Not to say that what you read here would be so difficult to reconcile …with Augustine himself, his works as a whole.
We could find several quotations as you know.

The main problem of this position of yours, is IMHO probably that it makes Augustine not only or simply a non-supporter of Real Presence, but rather an open foeof it.
But if Eucharistic eating is vice and cannibalism, you have to fight it.

( I do not know whether you believe most of Christianity has always been committed to crime/vice by thinking they receive the Lord’s Flesh. If I ever had such a view,I guess I’d desperately try to keep my brothers far from that.)

Since we do not see a battle against Real presence in Augustine, the interpretation which is here proposed IMHO has to be ruled out.

To clarify, my position is that Augustine was not a foe of Holy Communion and Real Presence.

(I imagine it is mainly by these contextual considerations that we can hope to get a clarification of our issue.)

One point is that we have to understand this

  1. There is no indication that Augustine is restricting his application of that command to the historical situation in question. Augustine doesn’t say that the command would only enjoin Christ’s listeners at that time in history to commit a crime, but concludes that it must be understood as a figure enjoining us to share in the sufferings of our Lord (b/c a literal understanding would require a crime of us as well).

  2. If Augustine had understood that literally eating human flesh was only a crime in that historical situation, but was acceptable at the Lord’s table, then Augustine should have provided a different solution. Instead of saying that the command should not be understood literally, he should have said that the command should not been understood by that particular crowd in a literal fashion, but should be now understood in a literal fashion within a different situation… Instead, Augustine denied a literal understanding and said the command should be taken figuratively.

About points 2 and 3. For the reasons given above it does not appear plausible that Augustine would consider the Eucharistic banquet as a crime. For the reasons given in a previous post I mind that “passioni communicare” was an expression understandable as equivalent to the sacramental eating of His Flesh.

Bless you.


#12

Did Augustine believe in the Real Presence? I would say yes although not necessarily in the way that the Catholic Church defines it via transubstantiation.

Throughout his writings on John 6, Augustine appears to make it clear that he does not believe Jesus is talking about eating Him with our teeth.

“They said therefore unto Him, What shall we do, that we may work the works of God?” For He had said to them, “Labor not for the meat which perishes, but for that which endures unto eternal life.” “What shall we do?” they ask; by observing what, shall we be able to fulfill this precept? “Jesus answered and said unto them, This is the work of God, that you believe in Him whom He has sent.” This is then to eat the meat, not that which perishes, but that which endures unto eternal life. To what purpose do you make ready teeth and stomach? Believe, and you have eaten already.-Augustine (Tractates on the Gospel of John, Tractate 25, Paragraph 12)
newadvent.org/fathers/1701025.htm

Wherefore, the Lord, about to give the Holy Spirit, said that Himself was the bread that came down from heaven, exhorting us to believe in Him. For to believe in Him is to eat the living bread. He that believes eats; he is sated invisibly, because invisibly is he born again.-Augustine (Tractates on the Gospel of John. Tractate 26, Paragraph 1)
newadvent.org/fathers/1701026.htm

And thus He would have this meat and drink to be understood as meaning the fellowship of His own body and members, which is the holy Church in his predestinated, and called, and justified, and glorified saints and believers…For my flesh, says He, is meat indeed, and my blood is drink indeed. For while by meat and drink men seek to attain to this, neither to hunger nor thirst, there is nothing that truly affords this, except this meat and drink, which does render them by whom it is taken immortal and incorruptible; that is, the very fellowship of the saints, where will be peace and unity, full and perfect… In a word, He now explains how that which He speaks of comes to pass, and what it is to eat His body and to drink His blood. He that eats my flesh, and drinks my blood, dwells in me, and I in him. This it is, therefore, for a man to eat that meat and to drink that drink, to dwell in Christ, and to have Christ dwelling in him. Consequently, he that dwells not in Christ, and in whom Christ dwells not, doubtless neither eats His flesh [spiritually] nor drinks His blood [although he may press the sacrament of the body and blood of Christ carnally and visibly with his teeth], but rather does he eat and drink the sacrament of so great a thing to his own judgment, because he, being unclean, has presumed to come to the sacraments of Christ, which no man takes worthily except he that is pure: of such it is said, Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.-Augustine (Tractates on the Gospel of John. Tractate 26, Paragraphs 15, 17, &18)
newadvent.org/fathers/1701026.htm

This would seem to be particularly relevant as he says that people can eat the sacrament without eating the flesh. The Catholic Church teaches that anyone who partakes eats and drinks the body and blood whether they believe or not.

. “But Jesus, knowing in Himself that His disciples murmured at it,”—for they so said these things with themselves that they might not be heard by Him: but He who knew them in themselves, hearing within Himself,—answered and said, “This offends you;” because I said, I give you my flesh to eat, and my blood to drink, this forsooth offends you. “Then what if you shall see the Son of man ascending where He was before?” What is this? Did He hereby solve the question that perplexed them? Did He hereby uncover the source of their offense? He did clearly, if only they understood. For they supposed that He was going to deal out His body to them; but He said that He was to ascend into heaven, of course, whole: "When you shall see the Son of man ascending where He was before;" certainly then, at least, you will see that not in the manner you suppose does He dispense His body; certainly then, at least, you will understand that His grace is not consumed by tooth-biting.-Augustine (Tractates on the Gospel of John, Tractate 27, Paragraph 3)
newadvent.org/fathers/1701027.htm


#13

I’ve always liked Augustine’s commentary commentary on Psalm 33 .
In explaining the Psalm, Augustine applies it to Jesus and the Last Supper.

And he was carried in his own hands. Now, brothers, who can understand how this can happen to a man? Who can be carried in his own hands? A man is able to be carried in the hands of others, but no one is carried in his own hands. How this is to be understood in a literal way of David himself we cannot discover; however, we can discover how this happened in the case of Christ. For Christ was carried in his own hands when, entrusting to us his own Body, he said: “This is my Body.” Indeed he was carrying that Body in his own hands.


#14

pneuma07, thanks again for your remarks. I still want to address some points in your second last post, but had the time to quickly address your remarks in your last post. Hopefully I can catch up soon.

It seems that you want to eat your wafer and have it too. :wink: By that I mean, you want to declare that there is a “Real Presence”, yet you also seem to be saying that the presence and consumption is different from the reality of flesh and of eating that we actually know. If that is what “Real Presence” is, what meaning can be said to exist in the “real” of “Real Presence”? It’s kinda a surreal presence.

Can you imagine Augustine considering his great mentor a cannibal for that ?

No, he wouldn’t think Ambrose a cannibal, but he very well might think Ambrose was misguided. Specifically, Augustine might say, “Now it is surely a miserable slavery of the soul to take signs for things, and to be unable to lift the eye of the mind above what is corporeal and created, that it may drink in eternal light.”

Or can you even find a page,against this fundamental teaching by Ambrose in Augustine ?
Or against other contemporary fathers clearly teaching Real Presence ? Or against earlier fathers
teaching that ?

The passage in OCD is the one on point. The question of the thread is whether Augustine believed in the “Real Presence” (as understood by the RCC). You now declare that Ambrose believed in the “Real Presence” and ask if Augustine taught against Ambrose. I suggest we answer those questions by using the following procedure (which I will complete for the RCC):

First ask, does the RCC (like Augustine) believe that the requirement to eat Christ’s flesh set out in John 6:53 applies to the Church today?

If yes, does the RCC (like Augustine) believe that that command would require a sin if it was understood to entail the actual eating of flesh?

If yes, does the RCC (like Augustine) believe that that command must be understood figuratively?

These three beliefs are expressly set out in the passage from OCD. If the answer is “no” to either of the last two, then there is very good reason to believe that Augustine and the RCC differ in their understanding of the presence of Christ’s flesh in the Eucharist. If, instead a “yes, but” answer is given for either of the last two, then (because of the “but”) there is still good reason to believe that Augustine and the RCC differ in their understanding of the presence of Christ’s flesh in the Eucharist.

The main problem of this position of yours, is IMHO probably that it makes Augustine not only or simply a non-supporter of Real Presence, but rather an open foeof it.
But if Eucharistic eating is vice and cannibalism, you have to fight it.

I suggest that if one allows Augustine to speak for himself, then yes, one would see Augustine as an opponent of a literal view that believes flesh is actually eaten at the Eucharist. I see every reason to allow Augustine’s words in OCD speak for him in order to figure out what he believed. Once one does that it does not matter how many other quotes from Augustine can be produced along the lines of “Jesus said the bread was his body”, because then we know that in those cases Augustine was speaking figuratively. (Just as Augustine states that Christ spoke figuratively with respect to eating his flesh) I have yet to see anything from Augustine on this topic that can’t be taken figuratively. The degree to which Augustine believed that he would have to “fight it” would depend on how harmful he believed the misguided belief to be and how widespread that it was. Personally, I believe the RC view to be unfortunate, but I am not about to initiate a campaign against it. Perhaps Augustine was an accomodating fellow such as myself. :wink:

( I do not know whether you believe most of Christianity has always been committed to crime/vice by thinking they receive the Lord’s Flesh.

No, I don’t believe the “real bodily presence” view controlled the field at the time of Augustine. I believe a variety of views existed among the ECFs.

Since we do not see a battle against Real presence in Augustine, the interpretation which is here proposed IMHO has to be ruled out.

We do see a clear statement from Augustine saying that if “we” (Augustine and his audience) actually ate flesh, that such a thing would be a crime. “We” are not facing Jesus at the Sea of Galilee and possibly thinking that John 6:53 might possibly be a requirement to take a bite out of his calf muscle then and there. Nevertheless, the man said we must understand the eating of his flesh (that Jesus required of us) as a figurative thing. How much more does he have to say?

May God bless you.


#15

It isn’t a matter of asking “how much more does he have to say.” Instead, it is a matter of what else did he say? Augustine believed in the real presence of Christ in the Eucharist. The figurative element exists right along with the real presence. The separation of the body and blood as seen figuratively in the bread and wine is a sign of the Lord’s sacrificial death. The figurative aspects do not deny the real aspects. It is not either/or. It is both.


#16

Hello Pax,

It is of course possible to believe that both aspects exist, however, if that was Augustine’s position then, with respect to John 6:53, he should have said that both a literal and figurative meaning should be understood for the passage. He did not. Instead he said that a literal interpretation was wrong and only a figurative interpretation was correct.

Peace.


#17

i wonder whether this is your own impression, and cannot imagine it was Augustine’s.

The passage in OCD is the one on point. The question of the thread is whether Augustine believed in the “Real Presence” (as understood by the RCC). You now declare that Ambrose believed in the “Real Presence” and ask if Augustine taught against

Ambrose. I suggest we answer those questions by using the following procedure (which I will complete for the RCC):

First ask, does the RCC (like Augustine) believe that the requirement to eat Christ’s flesh set out in John 6:53 applies to the Church today?

If yes, does the RCC (like Augustine) believe that that command would require a sin if it was understood to entail the actual eating of flesh?

If yes, does the RCC (like Augustine) believe that that command must be understood figuratively?

These three beliefs are expressly set out in the passage from OCD. If the answer is “no” to either of the last two, then there is very good reason to believe that Augustine and the RCC differ in their understanding of the presence of Christ’s flesh in the Eucharist. If, instead a “yes, but” answer is given for either of the last two, then (because of the “but”) there is still good reason to believe that Augustine and the RCC differ in their understanding of the presence of Christ’s flesh in the Eucharist.

I

To be brief my answers can be:

  1. yes
  2. The Church, like Augustine, IMHO says both YES, if understood ordinarily
  3. The Church like Augustine says that is to be understood sacramentally.

I suggest that if one allows Augustine to speak for himself, then yes, one would see Augustine as an opponent of a literal view that believes flesh is actually eaten at the Eucharist. I see every reason to allow Augustine’s words in OCD speak for him in order to figure out what he believed. Once one does that it does not matter how many other quotes from Augustine can be produced along the lines of “Jesus said the bread was his body”, because then we know that in those cases Augustine was speaking figuratively. (Just as Augustine states that Christ spoke figuratively with respect to eating his flesh) I have yet to see anything from Augustine on this topic that can’t be taken figuratively.

I accept both of your suggestions: 1)let Augustine speak for himself 2) I am not going to produce any passage which simply states “is the Body of Christ”.

TBC


#18

Allow me a long quotation from “On the merits of Forgiveness and the Baptism of Infants” Book 1 Ch 34 (or 24).

The Christians of Carthage have an excellent name for the sacraments, when they say that baptism is nothing else than salvation, and the sacrament of the body of Christ nothing else than life. Whence, however, was this derived, but from that primitive, as I suppose, and apostolic tradition, by which the Churches of Christ maintain it to be an inherent principle, that without baptism and partaking of the supper of the Lord it is impossible for any man to attain either to the kingdom of God or to salvation and everlasting life? So much also does Scripture testify, according to the words which we already quoted. For wherein does their opinion, who designate baptism by the term salvation, differ from what is written: …? … And what else do they say who call the sacrament of the Lord’s Supper life, than that which is written: I am the living bread which came down from heaven; John 6:51 and The bread that I shall give is my flesh, for the life of the world; John 6:51 and Except ye eat the flesh of the Son of man, and drink His blood, you shall have no life in you? John 6:53 If, therefore, as so many and such divine witnesses agree, neither salvation nor eternal life can be hoped for by any man without baptism and the Lord’s body and blood, it is vain to promise these blessings to infants without them.

A a lot of food for thought here. :slight_smile:

  1. The sacrament of the Body of Christ, as well as baptism, is necessary for salvation.
  2. That is what is shared by the Christians at large in Augustine’s area.
  3. The excellent way they express this truth is an ancient and likely apostolic tradition.
  4. They perfectly agree with Scripture, teaching clearly that Baptism and Holy Communion are necessary for salvation.
  5. To this effect, among other verses, the one considered in OCD in the passage we’re dealing with is quoted.

( correct me where I am substantially wrong in my summary. )

Do you believe, like Augustine, in the necessity of Holy Communion for our salvation ? Do you believe eating a wafer can save you ? Did, in your opinion, Augustine believe that a piece of bread could save him ?


#19

Now let’s read from the Enarration on Psalm 99 (or 98)

In another passage of the Scriptures it is said, The heaven is My throne, and the earth is My footstool. Isaiah 66:1 Doth he then bid us worship the earth, since in another passage it is said, that it is God’s footstool? How then shall we worship the earth, when the Scripture says openly, You shall worship the Lord your God? Deuteronomy 6:13 Yet here it says, fall down before His footstool: and, explaining to us what His footstool is, it says, The earth is My footstool. I am in doubt; I fear to worship the earth, lest He who made the heaven and the earth condemn me; again, I fear not to worship the footstool of my Lord, because the Psalm bids me, fall down before His footstool. I ask, what is His footstool? And the Scripture tells me, the earth is My footstool. In hesitation I turn unto Christ, since I am herein seeking Himself: and I discover how the earth may be worshipped without impiety, how His footstool may be worshipped without impiety. For He took upon Him earth from earth; because flesh is from earth, and He received flesh from the flesh of Mary. And because He walked here in very flesh, and gave that very flesh to us to eat for our salvation; and no one eats that flesh, unless he has first worshipped: we have found out in what sense such a footstool of our Lord’s may be worshipped, and not only that we sin not in worshipping it, but that we sin in not worshipping.

Dear Radical, isn’t Augustine amazing in his exposition ?
Fearing to fall into idolatry, or to disobey God’s word, Augustine finally gets it. What we have to worship is the consecrated bread. It is a sin not worshipping it.
The Lord did give us for salvation the very same flesh He received from Mary. We have to eat it and worship it.

Would you worship a piece of bread ? Did in your opinion teach to worship a piece of bread ?

The chapter goes on ( this quotation is long, but essential IMHO for our topic)

But does the flesh give life? Our Lord Himself, when He was speaking in praise of this same earth, said, It is the Spirit that quickens, the flesh profits nothing…But when our Lord praised it, He was speaking of His own flesh, and He had said, Except a man eat My flesh, he shall have no life in him. John 6:54 Some disciples of His, about seventy, were offended, and said, This is an hard saying, who can hear it? And they went back, and walked no more with Him. It seemed unto them hard that He said, Except ye eat the flesh of the Son of Man, you have no life in you: they received it foolishly, they thought of it carnally, and imagined that the Lord would cut off parts from His body, and give unto them; and they said, This is a hard saying. It was they who were hard, not the saying; for unless they had been hard, and not meek, they would have said unto themselves, He says not this without reason, but there must be some latent mystery herein. They would have remained with Him, softened, not hard: and would have learned that from Him which they who remained, when the others departed, learned. For when twelve disciples had remained with Him, on their departure, these remaining followers suggested to Him, as if in grief for the death of the former, that they were offended by His words, and turned back. But He instructed them, and says unto them, It is the Spirit that quickens, but the flesh profits nothing; the words that I have spoken unto you, they are spirit, and they are life. John 6:63 Understand spiritually what I have said; you are not to eat this body which you see; nor to drink that blood which they who will crucify Me shall pour forth. I have commended unto you a certain mystery; spiritually understood, it will quicken. Although it is needful that this be visibly celebrated, yet it must be spiritually understood.
I hope this can be useful, if your looking for the meaning of the passage from OCD.

You see: the wrong (carnal) way to understand 6:53 is “you are to eat this body which you see”, ie becoming cannibals.

The right (spiritual ) way to understand it is that the Lord “commend …a mystery”.

Now we cannot think that a “mystery” is a simple memorial supper.

Please consider the combined evidence I gathered for you before
expressing your thoughts about that, and whether you can consider as possible a change of opinion.


#20

The degree to which Augustine believed that he would have to “fight it” would depend on how harmful he believed the misguided belief to be and how widespread that it was. Personally, I believe the RC view to be unfortunate, but I am not about to initiate a campaign against it. Perhaps Augustine was an accomodating fellow such as myself. :wink:

No, I don’t believe the “real bodily presence” view controlled the field at the time of Augustine. I believe a variety of views existed among the ECFs.

We do see a clear statement from Augustine saying that if “we” (Augustine and his audience) actually ate flesh, that such a thing would be a crime. “We” are not facing Jesus at the Sea of Galilee and possibly thinking that John 6:53 might possibly be a requirement to take a bite out of his calf muscle then and there. Nevertheless, the man said we must understand the eating of his flesh (that Jesus required of us) as a figurative thing. How much more does he have to say?

Augustine does not look accomodating at all in his looking for and defending the truth. I guess both Donatists and Pelagians, for example, would tell you how little accomodating he was towards what he believed being error. :slight_smile:

The beginning of a passage quoted in a previous post contributes to the picture of a "Real presence " view having the field.

You might anyway start a thread such as:

“Did Chrysostom believe in RP ?”, or “Did Jerome believe in RP ?” or "Did Theodore of Mopsuetsia believe in RP ?"and so on.
Or just a thread on the general view in those times. I’d follow it with interest.

I hope I have contributed to show that letting Augustine speak for himself the interpretation you are proposing again here could be reconsidered.

IMHO, you can read the dual context ( Augustine’s works and the general picture of the Church of his time) in the light of your interpretation of that passage. Or you can consider that very passage in the light of that dual context.

Bless you.


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