[quote="Contarini, post:16, topic:225428"]
James O'Connor has a pretty good discussion of this subject in The Hidden Manna: A Theology of the Eucharist (Ignatius, 1988, 2005), pp. 51ff (available on Google Books).
I have the book....and, although I think O'Connor is way too optimistic WRT Augustine (and reconciliation with a somatic real presence [SRP] ), I at least respect his honest presentation of Van der Meer's conclusion.
I'd grant a bit more to your side of the argument than O'Connor does, but he points out several facts that you have to take into account:
- Neither Augustine nor anyone else at the time ever noted any difference between Augustine and Ambrose on this point. (This is not decisive, since it is possible that people just weren't as attentive to possible differences in Eucharistic theology as we are. But it's a point worth considering in combination with other factors.) That Ambrose taught a "realist" view, substantively indistinguishable from transubstantiation, is pretty hard to deny, I think.
This is the best I think Catholics have WRT trying to make Augustine their own (re a SRP)...but it seems to work off the assumption that Augustine would take Ambrose to task and publicly embarasss him for holding to a carnal understanding of the Eucharist. IMHO Augustine says as much in OCD ( but w/o dragging Ambrose's name through the muck) when he wrote:
*(in On Christian Doctrine BK III p.13):...as the sacrament of baptism, and the celebration of the body and blood of the Lord. And as soon as any one looks upon these observances he knows to what they refer, and so reveres them not in carnal bondage, but in spiritual freedom. Now, as to follow the letter, and to take signs for the things that are signified by them, is a mark of weakness and bondage; so to interpret signs wrongly is the result of being misled by error. He, however, who does not understand what a sign signifies, but yet knows that it is a sign, is not in bondage. And it is better even to be in bondage to unknown but useful signs than, by interpreting them wrongly, to draw the neck from under the yoke of bondage only to insert it in the coils of error. *
- Augustine is the source for the trope of Jesus "carrying himself in his own hands." He does not explain this away as a simple metaphor.
This is from his first sermon on Psalm 33 (34) where Augustine said:
And he was carried in his own hands. Now, brothers, who can understand how this can happen to a man? Who can be carried in his own hands? A man is able to be carried in the hands of others, but no one is carried in his own hands. How this is to be understood in a literal way of David himself we cannot discover; however, we can discover how this happened in the case of Christ. For Christ was carried in his own hands when, entrusting to us his own Body, he said: “This is my Body.” Indeed he was carrying that Body in his own hands.
Continuing with his second sermon, he clarified:
And he carried himself in his own hands: How was he carried in his own hands? Because, when he entrusted his own Body and Blood, he took into his hands that which the faithful are aware of; and he carried himself in a certain way when he said, “This is my Body.”
Augustine's use of "certain" most certainly opens the door for the metaphorical. Jesus literally carried bread which was his body in a certain (metaphorical) way.
- Most importantly, I think, Augustine says that the Sacrament should be adored. That is a decisive difference between Augustine and the Reformed theologians who would later claim him as an ancestor.
I suspect you have Psalms 98/99 in mind. If so, it is an assumption that he is contemplating worshipping Christ's body present in the Eucharist as opposed to worshipping Christ's body (plain and simple). One can note that from OCD Augustine makes it clear that eating the flesh of the Son of Man is achieved by sharing in the sufferings of our Lord, and by retaining a sweet and profitable memory of the fact that His flesh was wounded and crucified for us. Insert Augustine's actual understanding of flesh eating into the Psalms 98/99 passage and we have:
And because He walked here in very flesh, and gave (in a figure of speech) that very flesh to us to eat for our salvation; and no one shares in the sufferings of our Lord, and retains a sweet and profitable memory of the fact that His flesh was wounded and crucified for us, unless he has first worshipped: we have found out in what sense such a footstool of our Lord's may be worshipped, and not only that we sin not in worshipping it, but that we sin in not worshipping.
Further, there is nothing that would require Christ's body to be actually (somatically really present) before us, in order for us to worship his body. One can worship from afar. As such, worshipping Christ's body does not require a SRP.
- It's also worth noting that Augustine spoke of the Eucharist as a sacrifice (as did nearly all the Church Fathers).
heck, prayer was viewed as a sacrifice. Augustine wrote:
*Thus a true sacrifice is every work which is done that we may be united to God in holy fellowship, and which has a reference to that supreme good and end in which alone we can be truly blessed.…. *
Use that definition of sacrifice and a whole lot of Protestants could view the Lord's supper as a sacrifice too.