Eucharistic "accidents"


#1

I was doing some reflections on the Eucharist and am trying to come to grips with the “accidents” of the Real Presense.

An “accident” is defined as a non-essential attribute or characteristic (webster definition).

I understand that Christ is truly and completely present. My question is this: Is it possible to have non-essential attributes of our Lord present in the Eucharist?

It seems to me that every aspect of our Lord is essential. Any input would be appreciated. Thanks! :slight_smile:


#2

Howdy,

Perhaps the key is to remember that the accidents that are present in the Eucharist are the accidents of the eucharistic species (the bread and wine), not the accidents of Our Lord.

Hope that helps!
VC


#3

Perhaps a better definition of accident would come from Aristotelian philosophy than from Webster’s dictionary. Aristotle distinguished substance and accident. Accidents can be described as those things we can sense, while substance is the essence of the thing.

Usually (in all cases I know of but one) accidents are present with substance. However, in the eucharist, the accidents of bread are present without the substance, and the substance of Christ is present without the accidents.

In Christ’s case, accidents would include hair color, the feel of his flesh (a la Thomas), et cetera. The accidents of Christ are clearly not present in the Eucharist.


#4

As the others have noted, the accidents (appearances) of bread and wine are NOT the accidents or appearances of Christ. They do not belong to Him or inhere in him.

Jesus is fully present in his entirety, body and blood, soul and divinity, beneath the accidents of bread and wine. We do not perceive him with HIS appearances or accidents because all we can perceive are the accidents of bread and wine–they are all that remain of the bread and wine, and all that is perceptible to the senses.

You might consider the appearances of bread and wine as a hologram beneath which is the reality of Jesus.


#5

I think others have covered it pretty well in terms of Aristotelian scholasticism, but keep in mind, even here these are just ways to help us get our deeply fallible, easily deceived human minds around a divine Truth, i.e. while we should always strive for greater and greater understanding of the Eucharist, we will never fully comprehend its Mystery (perhaps in the next life though).

While we may say that we must mustn’t confuse transubstantion (a change in substance not “accidents” like color, texture, taste, etc.) with tranformation (a change in humanly perceptible “form”), nothing can beat a prayerful, worshipful attitude of acceptance of the Lord’s Body and Blood.

Think John 6:63.


#6

I strongly recommend that anyone who is interested in learning what the Catholic Church teaches, use sound, authentic definitions and terms. I highly recommend the Modern Catholic Dictionary by Father John Hardon S.J. I also strongly discourage using any secular American English (Webster’s, Collegiate etc.) or English-English dictionary (Oxford etc.), as the secular versions repeat and provide almost exclusively an anti-Catholic bias (either blatantly or subtly). This is due to the sad residue within the Englis lexicon remaining from the English Reformation and subsequent English persecution of Catholics.

The following two definitions are directly quoted from the Modern Catholic Dictionary, by Father John Hardon S.J.

“ACCIDENTS. Things whose essence naturally requires that they exist in another being. Accidents are also called the appearances, species, or properties of a thing. These may be either physical, such as quantity, or modal, such as size or shape. Supernaturally, accidents can exist, in the absence of their natural substance, as happens with the physical properties of bread and wine after Eucharistic consecration.”

“SUBSTANCE. A being whose essence requires that it exist in itself. It is an ens per se (a being by itself) or ens in se (being in itself). It is commonly distinguished from an accident, whose essence is to exist in another, that is, in a substance. (Etym. Latin substantia, that which stands under, principle, foundation.)”

Thanks


#7

[quote=diarmait]…the accidents of bread are present without the substance, and the substance of Christ is present without the accidents…
[/quote]

I think it just clicked for me. The term “accidents” refers to what we see, not to what is actually there. Accidents do not refer to a non-essential of the real presense but in terms to what we sense. Our perception is the accident we see.

Thanks everyone! You have been most helpful to my understanding of what I already knew as to what the Real Presense is. I was trying to put the context of the term “accidents” as it relates to my faith in that Real Presense.


#8

[quote=Stylteralmaldo]I think it just clicked for me. The term “accidents” refers to what we see, not to what is actually there. Accidents do not refer to a non-essential of the real presense but in terms to what we sense. Our perception is the accident we see.

Thanks everyone! You have been most helpful to my understanding of what I already knew as to what the Real Presense is. I was trying to put the context of the term “accidents” as it relates to my faith in that Real Presense.
[/quote]

This was a good thread on this topic a month or two ago…

forums.catholic.com/showthread.php?t=57677


#9

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