Bad title, but I hope you’ll understand what I mean. A while back I read a Protestant text from the time of the Reformation that described how a Catholic priest had converted to Protestantism after he watched as a mouse ran across the altar and ran off with a consecrated Host. First, he was shocked and affronted that a “low class” rodent had made off with the holiest thing on earth. But then he reflected on the incongruous enormity of even the possibility of such a thing happening, and on the absurdity of it actually happening, and being witnessed by himself. Eventually, he judged that the RP doctrine simply took Eucharistic theology too far. In no sane and ordered world, overseen by God, would a mere beast feast on God’s own flesh. So he left the Church.
If we could do a thought experiment and put ourselves in non-RP Protestants’ heads, would not this example be an enduring reminder not to over-literalize Jesus’ presence in the Eucharist?
After all, the issue goes deeper than the simple fact that accidents happen, or that, of course, no blasphemy occurred, since accidental ingestion of a consecrated Host by an animal could never be a real Communion, etc. The issue, rather, is simply the idea of such a thing happening. Here Christ is really present in the elements, only to be whisked off by a mouse. It’s at once horrific and blackly comical. It could be reasoned that if God manifested the miracle of the Bread of Life actually present in the Host, but at the same time leaves the Host vulnerable to all kinds of oddball depredations, then where are God’s priorities?
Perhaps this theme of accidental, random desecration of the Host is one of the most cogent arguments against the RP in Protestant minds. After all, in these cases, it is not a matter of Communist soldiers deliberately trampling on Hosts, or of an idiotic atheist like Paul Myers encouraging unbelievers to steal and desecrate Hosts. Such cases are the result of rationally understandable, motivated, intentional actions. But to have a Host stolen by an animal? That would seem to expose the Eucharistic miracle to a little too much chance and random effect.
How would Catholics address this issue if queried by non-Eucharistic Protestants?