Is the Host the body and blood of Christ even at the atomic level? Suppose we consider just one atom of the Host. Is it the body and blood? How about its parts, the electrons , the protons, etc? In handling the wafers the priest must certainly occasionally pass them through an area of positively charged air mass. It is inevitable that an electron form the Host leaves the Host and is attracted to the positive air mass. So we have the possibility that small Jesus electrons are floating all around in the air of our churches? This is not meant to be a humorous question. It just follows from a scientific analysis of what is involved in transubstantiation as we accept it.
The Sacred Host is indeed the Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity of Christ in substance, and it remains such insofar as our human senses can perceive it.
Let’s suppose that you walk “through an area of positively charged air mass.” When you do, some of your electrons leave you, right?
Would you, then, say that you – that is, your substance – are present where these electrons are? Or, would you just say that “electrons that used to be part of your physical body are present in that area”?
I would guess you’d only assert the latter. The same for the Eucharist, then.
(The theological response would be: “the presence of Christ exists where and while the appearance of the accidents exists; therefore, where there is not the appearance of ‘bread’ and ‘wine’, there is not the presence of Christ… so, no, where there is merely an electron or two, there is not the presence of Christ.”)
Fascinating question! So, I’m thinking that if each wafer has 100% of the essence of body, soul and divinity of Christ; then each crumb would have 100% of the essence of the body, soul and divinity of Christ. The inference, then seems to be that each election, neutron and proton would also have 100% of the essence of the body, soul and divinity of Christ. That is, yes, even at the atomic level.
Any part of it that can still be considered under the appearance of bread and wine. When we eat it, the Real Presence is held to no longer be there after digestion changes it from that appearance. So I believe we can apply the same logic to any stray, isolated atomic particles. Particles big enough to be considered to have the accidents of bread, yes? A lone carbon atom? No.
Stray question: What is the substance of bread?
Do we have the means to detect spirit?
At the atomic level - no I don’t think so. At this level “bread” ceases to exist as its atoms are indistinguishable from other matter derived from carbon, etc.
If we don’t make have the means to detect spirit then how can it be said that spirit isn’t here or there?
How can we say that God is everywhere if we exclude Him because of this type or that type of atom? And then say that He is obviously not in the Host.
I believe that Jesus is in the Host in a level we know nothing about.
In other words, where you talk about “essence”, the correct theological/philosophical term is really “substance”. It’s the substance of Christ – body, blood, soul, and divinity – that exists in the Eucharist.
The Church teaches that the Real Presence of Christ exists in every particle of the Eucharist (crumb, droplet, etc) which is identifiable as the accidents (i.e., physical attributes) of bread and wine.
Therefore, if a small particle can be IDed as ‘bread’ or ‘wine’, then the Real Presence exists. But, if a particle is so small that the accidents of bread or wine are not discernable, then the Real Presence does not exist. So, in response to your assertion: no, that does not mean that Christ is present at the merely atomic level. In fact, it explicitly means that He is not.
Hope that helps!
But what is the substance of bread?
Generically speaking (and, I have to admit, it’s difficult to say this, since philosophers through the ages have debated this topic and come up with a variety of claims!), in the context of the theology of the Church, ‘substance’ can be thought of as ‘being’. That is, it is what makes a thing what it is.
On the face of it, this is a silly definition: when we see something that looks like a dog, we say “dog!”. However, we need to dig a bit deeper. What would you say that this is:
On the face of it, we would say “bacon and eggs”, right? So, we would presume that this has the “substance of bacon and eggs”. The problem is… it isn’t bacon and eggs: it’s soap. So, from a philosophical sense, although it appears to be bacon and eggs, it’s really soap – we would say that its substance is ‘soap’. (In fact, we wouldn’t even say that it has all the accidents of bacon and eggs, although it has some (at a surface level, and without deep inspection).)
So, ‘substance’ means “what a thing really is”. Usually “what a thing appears to be” and “what it really is” are one and the same. In the case of the Eucharist, though, we would say that “what the Eucharist appears to be” (i.e., its physical accidents) and “what the Eucharist really is” (i.e., the Real Presence of Christ) are quite different.
Does that help?
(Edited to add:
In that picture of bacon-and-egg soap, would we say that, at an atomic level, there is the substance of ‘soap’? That is, if we were able to chip off one electron – or even one atom – would we say “this is soap!”…? I think the obvious answer is that we would say, “no, it’s not soap – it’s ‘a proton’ (or ‘an electron’, or ‘a carbon atom’).” In a similar way, then, we wouldn’t say that an electron that strays off a consecrated host is anything but ‘an electron.’
I don’t think so. What a thing really is, it’s substance, is directly tied to its accidents. Eucharist is THE only exception.
What makes bread bread is not some transcendent thing but the accidents which can be eaten.
I think (IIRC) that Aquinas made the same case – that is, that the Eucharist is the only example of something in which all of the accidents of something else exist, but the substance is completely different.
However, we really could make the case in which, at a certain level, appearances exist but substance doesn’t match the appearances. Wouldn’t you agree?
On the other hand, your assertion (“the substance of a thing is directly tied to its accidents”) is an argument based on “how things usually work.” Usually, accidents-of-X imply substance-of-X. We’re so conditioned to that relationship that it’s not unreasonable to conclude “accidents-of-X must mean substance-of-X”. However, that doesn’t necessarily follow. (And, we see, in the Eucharist, why this is not so. It is possible … although not naturally occurring in the universe.)
It’s possibility is a matter of faith.
Here’s where I go heavy-duty philosopher and ask you to be more precise:
Its possibility is a matter of logic.
Its actual existence in the Eucharist is a matter of faith.
How can it be logically possible? Unless we first have a more clear definition of “substance”?
The Host ceases to be the Body of Christ when it no longer has the recognizable appearance of bread. Stray atoms would not be recognized as bread, so the True Presence would cease.
Similarly, every time Christ got a haircut, the True Presence would cease in the discarded hair. If such artifacts existed, they would be worthy of veneration as a reminder of Christ’s body, but would not be equilivant to the Eucharist.
[quote=“clarkgamble1, post:1, topic:506450, full:true”]
Is the Host the body and blood of Christ even at the atomic level?
Well, the bread and wine are made up of molecules of elemental atoms and after the consecration and transubstantiation of the bread and wine at Mass, the substances of the bread and wine are changed into the substances of the body and blood of Christ so that what underlies the appearances or accidents of the bread and wine remaining after the transubstantiation are the substances of the body and blood of Christ and not the substances of the bread and wine. So, I would say yes, the substances of the body and blood of Christ are invisibly present at the atomic level whole and entire under the atomic accidents that remain after the consecration.
Suppose we consider just one atom of the Host. Is it the body and blood? How about its parts, the electrons , the protons, etc?
The body and blood of Christ are wholly and substantially present under every particle of the consecrated bread and wine that can be called bread or wine. A single particle of bread and wine that can be called bread and wine is going to consist of a molecule or molecules of elemental atoms. One single elemental atom does not make up bread or wine but each single elemental atom that does make up a molecule of bread and wine is a part of a single molecule of bread or wine as well as the parts of atoms such as the neutrons, protons, and electrons analogous to our arms, legs, and feet making up parts of our bodies. The whole and entire body of Christ is substantially present under a single molecule of the consecrated host that has the appearance of bread but if this single molecule is divided further such as what happens in our digestive process after partaking of communion and after a few minutes, the body of Christ becomes no longer present. Also, the substantial presence of the body of Christ in the consecrated host or a single molecule of the accidents of the bread is not divided into the parts of the appearances of the bread or a single molecule of ‘bread’ as if in a single molecule one part of his body is in one part of the molecule and another part of his body is in another part of the molecule. The whole and entire body of Christ is substantially present without the visible appearance of its accidents under every part of a single molecule of what can be called or has the appearance of ‘bread’ because the substance, essence, or nature of a thing is whole and entire in every part of the thing analogous to our souls being whole and entire in every part of our bodies except that our souls are not the entire substance of our complete being and human nature. Similarly, our arms, legs, and feet in themselves are not the human body but parts of a whole and complete human body.
Weren’t people healed by touching remnants of Paul’s clothes?