My parish priest in London, a normally reliable source of knowledge, once told me about a medieval heresy of corpusilium (I assume that is how it was spelt), which was a belief that the Blessed Sacraments became the physical body of Jesus. I have searched for it in libraries (you know, the type with books in it) and online for the last two decades but have not found anything concrete. Though I have come across Church teachings that makes clear that the Real Presence does not mean physical change in the elements of bread & wine, I have not come across any formal condemnation of such a position.
I think you refer to the heresy that I’ve always known as “carnalism,” but which I am unable to find (after a fairly quick Google search).
This heresy maintained that the bread and wine became actual flesh and blood in both substance and attributes (accidents), but we are miraculously prevented from detecting this change by any power or test of observation. Such as: if we peer at a consecrated Host in a microscope, we will “really” see human muscle tissue, but God will somehow “intercept” our neural impulses such that we see wheat cells, as we would see in unconsecrated bread.
I remember hearing of this some 20+ years ago, but my inability to readily find information about in this “internet age” makes me suspect that it is a myth.
I found them by doing a search on CA and think there might be a few more references if you search “carnalism” on CA.
I Googled “heresies in the catholic church - carnalism” and found quite a few references to the word. I don’t have the time to actually read them - you might have better luck if you have the time since I had never heard the word until you mentioned it and have no pre-existing idea of what it actually means nor, as I said, the time just now to inform myself and read/search out sound and reliable reading matter. But there does seem to be or to have been a heresy called “carnalism”.
I had no luck at all with Google on the subject of “corpusilium”
Thanks David (and Tigger for tracking down David’s posts). I think the carnalism that you came across and corpusilium that I came across are both the same thing (same root word) but somehow neither term made it into the internet. It didn’t turn up in any of the lists of heresies that I look up. It is so plausible that I really didn’t want it to be a myth. Well, we can keep searching and update each other if we came across it.
I think the priest said “cartesianism”, not “corpusilium”.
Here are a couple quotes from the online Catholic Encyclopedia.
(Just use the “find” feature – control F – and do a find/search on “cartesianism”. It will bring you to the section where the word appears.)…This being the case, some theologians in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, who inclined to Cartesianism, as E, Maignan, Drouin, and Vitasse, displayed but little theological penetration when they asserted that the Eucharistic appearances were optical illusions, phantasmagoria, and make-believe accidents, ascribing to Divine omnipotence an immediate influence upon the five senses, whereby a mere subjective impression of what seemed to be the accidents of bread and wine was created… newadvent.org/cathen/05573a.htm
…Theorists who, like the Cartesians, deny the objective, distinct entity of all accidents have been obliged to reconcile this negation with their belief in the Real Presence by maintaining that the species, or accidents, of bread and wine do not really remain in the Eucharist, but that after Consecration God produces on our senses the impressions corresponding to the natural phenomena. This theory obviously demands a seemingly unnecessary multiplication of miracles and has at present few if any serious advocates… newadvent.org/cathen/01096c.htm
BTW, I found it after going to the New Advent website and using their search feature. Did a search on “eucharistic heresies illusion”.
One has to keep in mind that all we can ever perceive of any physical object is its accidents. We never perceive directly the substance of anything–only accidents.
In the Eucharist, the accidents of bread and wine remain–but they do not inhere in the body of Christ. They are not his accidents. Neither do they inhere in the substance of the bread and wine, which are gone, having been transformed into the body and blood of Christ.
So yes, the accidents of bread and wine remain. Christ is wholly present, but we do not perceive his accidents. He does not “take on” the accidents of bread and wine, which remain, but do not inhere in any substance.
I think the link posted by a previous poster, an article from the EWTN site title “The Eucharist is the Whole Christ,” by Fr. John Hardon, along with one by Frank Sheed on transubstantiation, also from the EWTN site, explain the matter pretty well: