From St. Justin Martyr's Transmutation, to St. Thomas Aquinas' Transubstantiation


#1

This is my first time posting a question, so, I hope I am doing this correctly!

My question stems from St. Justin Martyr's great description of the Early Church's Mass- in his letter to the Roman emperor, he uses the theological term 'transmutation' when discussing the Eucharist. As an RCIA candidate, I am well aware of the meaning and theological significance of the term Aquinas used to describe the change from bread and wine into the Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity of Christ- Transubstantiation. Could anyone provide me with a brief explanation of any differences between the two terms? (I fully understand that it is merely a shift in vocabulary over the centuries, and that it doesn't change the reality of the Sacred Mysteries.)

This one has puzzled two deacons and a monk!

Thank you for your time and help!


#2

[quote="RCIAcollegeKID, post:1, topic:307658"]
This is my first time posting a question, so, I hope I am doing this correctly!

My question stems from St. Justin Martyr's great description of the Early Church's Mass- in his letter to the Roman emperor, he uses the theological term 'transmutation' when discussing the Eucharist. As an RCIA candidate, I am well aware of the meaning and theological significance of the term Aquinas used to describe the change from bread and wine into the Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity of Christ- Transubstantiation. Could anyone provide me with a brief explanation of any differences between the two terms? (I fully understand that it is merely a shift in vocabulary over the centuries, and that it doesn't change the reality of the Sacred Mysteries.)

This one has puzzled two deacons and a monk!

Thank you for your time and help!

[/quote]

Trent says you better believe one of these or you are anathemized, the other you can freely not believe. That is the difference.


#3

Transmutare: "to change beyond'. Usually found in the context of alchemy, when referring to the transmutation of lead into gold, it is thus employed with the meaning "to change the nature, substance of something".

Transubstantiation: a more accurate description, because the previous word leaves us asking just "what" is being changed, but the new word specifies that it is the substance what is being changed (while the "accidents" or "species" are unchanged). However, it took some time for theology to be able to use the proper wording (substance, accidents, etc.) which, of course, are not a perfect description of what happens, but the closest we have ever been to understanding it correctly. But before this understanding was reached, transmutation sufficed.


#4

I would say it simply reflects our increased understanding of what happens in the Eucharistic Species. Think of it in terms of development of Doctrine. The truth of it has always been true, and known to some extent, that the species change into Christ somehow. They describe the same reality, St Thomas simply gives us more information on how it happens. When writing letters the Fathers rarely spelled out in detail what they meant when refering to the Sacraments.


#5

Thanks to everyone for the responses! I love what R_C and Theophorus had to say regarding the matter. And to ConstantineTG, you are absolutely correct- the transubstantiation of the bread and the wine into Christ’s Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity is a key dogma of the Church.

In Christ and His Church.


#6

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