Why does transubstantiation occur?


#1

I once heard a priest say in a homily, “I don’t command Christ to come down into the bread and wine. That’s ridiculous.” I agree, but I don’t understand exactly why the words of institution are effecacious. Certainly priests have no authority over Christ. I know they act in persona Christi, but does that mean it is Christ acting through them to consecrate the gifts, or that they have been given some measure of authority by Christ (through apostolic succession) to perform consecration?

Said another way, how would you finish this sentence? If none of those options work, please tell me how it ought to be finished.

During the consecration…
…Christ’s body, blood, soul and divinity enters the gifts, wholly replacing their substance.
…Christ joins the accidents of the gifts to the substance of his body, blood, soul and divinity.
…transubstantiation occurs as the inevitable result of an ordained priest praying the words of institution.
…Christ effects consecration of the gifts through the priest. The priest is not the principal actor.


#2

'Cause Christ doesn't break his promises. ??


#3

[quote="Binary, post:1, topic:311369"]
I once heard a priest say in a homily, "I don't command Christ to come down into the bread and wine. That's ridiculous." I agree, but I don't understand exactly why the words of institution are effecacious. Certainly priests have no authority over Christ. I know they act in persona Christi, but does that mean it is Christ acting through them to consecrate the gifts, or that they have been given some measure of authority by Christ (through apostolic succession) to perform consecration?

Said another way, how would you finish this sentence? If none of those options work, please tell me how it ought to be finished.

During the consecration...
...Christ's body, blood, soul and divinity enters the gifts, wholly replacing their substance.
...Christ joins the accidents of the gifts to the substance of his body, blood, soul and divinity.
...transubstantiation occurs as the inevitable result of an ordained priest praying the words of institution.
...Christ effects consecration of the gifts through the priest. The priest is not the principal actor.

[/quote]

It's a Mystery! :)

It's interesting that in one of the oldest liturgies we have, the Liturgy of Addai and Mari, the words of institution don't occur in the anaphora. And it's my understanding (I could be wrong) that to the Eastern Orthodox, transubstantiation -- transelementation -- occurs at the invocation of the Holy Spirit, the Epiclesis, rather than at the words of institution. For them, the process of the change from bread to wine begins at the Liturgy of the Preparation and ends with the Epiclesis.

Ultimately if transubstantiation is a Mystery, then it doesn't matter why or how it occurs, because it can't be arrived it by reason.


#4

[quote="gnosisofthomas, post:3, topic:311369"]
It's a Mystery! :)

It's interesting that in one of the oldest liturgies we have, the Liturgy of Addai and Mari, the words of institution don't occur in the anaphora. And it's my understanding (I could be wrong) that to the Eastern Orthodox, transubstantiation -- transelementation -- occurs at the invocation of the Holy Spirit, the Epiclesis, rather than at the words of institution. For them, the process of the change from bread to wine begins at the Liturgy of the Preparation and ends with the Epiclesis.

Ultimately if transubstantiation is a Mystery, then it doesn't matter why or how it occurs, because it can't be arrived it by reason.

[/quote]

I agree that the "how" is a mystery, but I thought we had a better understanding of the "why" part.


#5

[quote="Binary, post:4, topic:311369"]
I agree that the "how" is a mystery, but I thought we had a better understanding of the "why" part.

[/quote]

Well obviously we know there's a reason it occurs -- to give us Life!

I would say it's Christ working through the priest, by the authority He gives them to consecrate the Eucharist.


#6

My priest once explained it as when God says or commands something, it simply is. In the beginning, he said “let there be light,” and there was. He says ( through the priest) “this is my body…this is my blood…” and so it becomes that.


#7

Maybe just as a husband fertilizes his wife to create new life, God fertilizes our souls with the divine. After all, the Church is considered the "bride of Christ"...

I know that sounds kind of weird, but then again, so does eating flesh and drinking blood. :shrug:


#8

I see it in somewhat the same light as the one prayer which always and everywhere works: “Come, Holy Spirit!” He will not force Himself into this situation, but rather, eagerly enters when invited. As to the change in the bread and wine, it is the will of God. Just as Christ was predicted to supplant the symbolism of the Manna, so also, in following Christ’s command in John 6:54, it is made present by the will of God, according to His promise in Matthew 28:20 as well as the invitation made by the inviting hearts that are present.


#9

Because Jesus said in the last supper before his passion: "Do this in memory of me." From here we should remember that the Eucharist is a memorial, an anamnesis. By memorial we do not mean a simple recollection of past events. It is not simply we remember a past event in the present. Rather, when we say memorial in the Jewish sense (where we got it), it means we are putting, transporting ourselves from our time to the original event.

And what is the memorial for? the saving action of God through Jesus by his passion, death and resurrection.

When we celebrate the Eucharist, we could say we are joining Jesus in the last supper when he said this is my body, this is my blood. But more importantly, we are remembering/transported to the original Eucharist sacrifice, which is the paschal mystery.


#10

[quote="coolbopski, post:9, topic:311369"]
Because Jesus said in the last supper before his passion: "Do this in memory of me." From here we should remember that the Eucharist is a memorial, an anamnesis. By memorial we do not mean a simple recollection of past events. It is not simply we remember a past event in the present. Rather, when we say memorial in the Jewish sense (where we got it), it means we are putting, transporting ourselves from our time to the original event.

And what is the memorial for? the saving action of God through Jesus by his passion, death and resurrection.

When we celebrate the Eucharist, we could say we are joining Jesus in the last supper when he said this is my body, this is my blood. But more importantly, we are remembering/transported to the original Eucharist sacrifice, which is the paschal mystery.

[/quote]

But by taking the Eucharist and merging it within us, it must do something to us. Something mysterious.

Otherwise, it would just by symbolic. Surely the Apostles were also receiving His actual Body and Blood at the last supper, and it must have been for a reason then too.


#11

Yes it does. We become one with Him–with Christ and we also become one with His body the Church. That is why we call it holy communion. When we partake in this communion we receive the grace of being able to be in union with God and our brothers. I say “being able” because part of that grace is the freedom God has given us to choose to be in communion or to reject this communion. The more we partake in this holy communion the more we receive the grace of being oriented towards that communion–koinonia.

It is symbolic BUT not in our modern understanding of the word. In ancient–or even biblical sense–symbol means putting two things together like a bridge. The “symbol” of the bread and wine is the bridge that brings together two realities the natural and the supernatural, the physical and the spiritual. BOTH realities are real. So the effect IS real.

I not so comfortable using the word ACTUAL–actual body and blood. After all, after the consecration what we see and taste are still bread and wine. Maybe the more accurate to say is that the bread and wine are the SACRAMENTAL body and blood and these are the TRUE and REAL body and blood of Christ. Our faith lets us see–and taste–these bread and wine as the TRUE body and blood of Christ.

Thanks for your response.


#12

Aah. And like musical symbols, when they merge, they make sound… So in a way then, communion is the merging of natural and supernatural qualities. It unites the entire Catholic Church on earth and in heaven with God.

So the Eucharist is a “symbol” in that sense… VERY interesting.


#13

…well maybe not. I was referring to cymbals:blush:, but it’s the same concept…:smiley:


#14

For your consideration:

…During the consecration the priest has the authority and power–in personae Christi…to change bread and wine into the body and Blood of Christ…nothing more…priest has nothing to do with the soul and divinity of Christ being present…that is an action of Christ and the Trinity being inseparable.

…Christ does not join the accidents of the gifts to the substance of his body blood soul and divinity…what happens is transubstantiation…the same thing that happened when Christ did it at the Last Supper…the bread becomes his body and the wine becomes his blood…again how did it happen…the mystery of Transubstantiation.

…Transubstantiation occurs because of Christ’s power and authority…which he gives to and performs through the priest…it is God who creates…same as the soul in the conception of a child…he allows husband and wife to participate in his mystery and power.

…It is always Christ…but the priest is the principal actor…because Christ has a natural presence in heaven…he needs/uses the priest… throughout time and geography to effect his real presence in a sacramental way in the Eucharist…throughout the world…because Christ is Real Presence is present in a sacramental way…not a natural way.

Saint Thomas Aquinas…Summa…III, q. 75, a. 1, ad 3.

The** Body of Christ is not in this sacrament in the manner in which a body is in a place, having its dimensions commensurate with that place;** but it is present in a certain special manner, which belongs exclusively to this sacrament. So we say that the Body of Christ is on many altars, not as in so many places, but as in the sacrament; by which we do not mean that Christ is there only in a sign, although the sacrament be of the genus sign; but we understand that His Body is there according to the manner proper to the sacrament."

Pax Christi


#15

I love my husband’s answer to this question: we are physical and spiritual beings. Christ can dwell within us spiritually but obviously out physical nature matters or else he would not have become man and we would have no teaching on the resurrection of our physical bodies. The only way something can become physically one with us is for us to eat it. Christ created us and wants to be in every part of us: thus He multiplied Himself (like the loaves and the fishes) so that we can all eat Him and become one. The Eucharist connects us all into one beautiful mystical and physical body that transcends time and space. Kind of blows my mind!


#16

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