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#394776 05/23/13 12:18 PM
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The recent discussion about Jan Hus got me thinking about this issue. As we all know, most RCs regard TS as a touchstone of orthodoxy, while EOs see it as problematic at best. (Jan Hus apparently favored the term "Impanation," which seems to be closer to the EO teaching.)

As I understand it, the problem with TS (aside from its use of Aristotelian categories) is that by affirming that the "accidents" are all that remain of the bread and wine, it suggests that the role of bread and wine with regard to the sacrament is rather like that of a canvas to what's painted on it: a place for it to be, and nothing more. The intrinsic symbolism of the bread and wine--along with the importance of that symbolism--is obscured, if not denied outright.

From this perspective, it's easy to see how "infrequent communion" became the norm in the West, since it was the "presence" of Christ that mattered, rather than His invitation to "take and eat/take and drink." What is not so easy to see is how infrequent communion also became the norm in the East.

Any thoughts?


Peace,
Deacon Richard

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Dear Fr Deacon,

An excellent and deeply insightful point!

Personally,I believe that the old rules of strict fasting and prayer, including abstention from sexual relations prior to Communion in the East are the probable culprits . . .

The canons of the Kyivan Metropolitan St John II prescribed fasting, including fasting from sex on all Wednesdays, Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays. If someone was planning on going to Communion one week, the whole week would be like that.

The prayer rules of preparation for Holy Communion would be prescribed for an entire week. The Canon of St Andrew with all the prostrations had to be done following any Confession in those days.

Not a spirituality for "wusses" would you say?

Alex

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Also, there is a kind of implicit "Jansenism" in the idea connoted by the popular imagery of "Holy things for the Holy."

Fr. Alexander Schmemann once wrote about this. The result was a kind of asceticism that relied on one's own capacity to practice. Holy Communion in that instance is too holy for "regular people in the world" to approach too frequently.

Schmemann added, however, that the Divine Liturgy, following the exclamation "Holy Things for the Holy" seems to beg the question, "But who is Holy?" and then answers the question immediately with, "One is Holy, One is Lord, Jesus Christ to the Glory of God the Father."

If laity were trained in the fundamentals of a proper prayer life, something which is severly lacking among our parishioners in the main, perhaps this wouldn't be such an issue.

Is it not true that a lack of a personal life of prayer is at the root cause of this and other matters?

Whose job is it to teach the fundamentals of prayer to laity? Saturday religion teachers can only do so much.

Why is this not a high priority goal for our churches and church leadership?

Alex

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Growing up, in the Roman rite, I was mainly asked to memorize prayers. I don't remember being asked to know why we pray these prayers, or even to devise a rule of prayer. I do know people, at one of the Roman rite parishes I used to attend regularly, who attend Eucharistic Adoration; and pray the rosary, prior to the daily morning mass. But, a lot of the people who are in attendance, during such services, many of them are of the older generation.

In some ways, or many rather, catechesis needs an overhaul. The Hours don't seem to be discussed.

As I recently finished Liturgy & Life: Christian Development, Through Liturgical Experience, I really think the liturgy should be the focus of catechesis; and, go from there.

A lot of the theological upbringing is very protestant in approach, if I may use such a description, at least it is in the Roman rite.


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Dearest Fr. Deacon,

I'm not sure I understand

Originally Posted by Epiphanius
The recent discussion about Jan Hus got me thinking about this issue. As we all know, most RCs regard TS as a touchstone of orthodoxy, while EOs see it as problematic at best. (Jan Hus apparently favored the term "Impanation," which seems to be closer to the EO teaching.)
From what I understand, "impanation" means that the humanity-divinity of Christ was hypostatically united to bread/wine. Is that really what the EO teach? I do recall one or two Eastern Fathers argue that lack of belief in the Eucharist is tantamount to lack of belief that Christ came in the flesh, but "impanation" would be a rather large leap from that assertion, IMO.

Quote
As I understand it, the problem with TS (aside from its use of Aristotelian categories) is that by affirming that the "accidents" are all that remain of the bread and wine, it suggests that the role of bread and wine with regard to the sacrament is rather like that of a canvas to what's painted on it: a place for it to be, and nothing more. The intrinsic symbolism of the bread and wine--along with the importance of that symbolism--is obscured, if not denied outright.
Accidents are real things, and have ontological importance, but I think critics of TS often understand accidents as having no reality. For example, I've read that Latin anthropology holds that the body is the accident of the soul, the latter being the real essence of the human being. I don't think anyone would accuse the Latins of claiming that the human body is just a "place holder." That's the way I understand the term "accidents" in the theology of TS. I see TS as being perfectly complementary to the statement of a few Fathers that in the Eucharist, the bread becomes something more than bread. That patristic idea indicates that something of the bread still remains. I believe TS easily accommodates that understanding since the "accident" of bread can still be called "bread," according to our human senses, and our senses relate to real things.

Humbly,
Marduk

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It's hard to accept the scholastic doctrine of transubstantiation without also accepting the medieval hylomorphic sacramentology that goes with it. And, fortunately, the Latin Church no longer places much emphasis on that (witness its acceptance of the uninterpolated Anaphora of Addai and Mari). But, if we were to return to the minds of the Fathers, we would simply accept the great mystery whereby the Bread and Wine become the Body and Blood of Christ, without attempting to plumb the hydraulics of divine grace.

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Anglican Priest John Donne said it best:

He was the Word, that spake it:
He took the bread and brake it;
And what that Word did make it,
I do believe and take it.

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Originally Posted by StuartK
It's hard to accept the scholastic doctrine of transubstantiation without also accepting the medieval hylomorphic sacramentology that goes with it. And, fortunately, the Latin Church no longer places much emphasis on that (witness its acceptance of the uninterpolated Anaphora of Addai and Mari). But, if we were to return to the minds of the Fathers, we would simply accept the great mystery whereby the Bread and Wine become the Body and Blood of Christ, without attempting to plumb the hydraulics of divine grace.

The 'hydraulics of divine grace' is a very fine turn of phrase.

Indeed much objection to transubstantiation, particularly from the East, seems targeted at the scientifical pretensions of the doctrine. I agree that we must proclaim the mystery and bow before it, rather than attempt to describe the mechanics of the transformation.

That said, I don't think the criticism is entirely fair to Latin theology. I don't think that 'transbustantiation' needs to be taken as a purported scientific 'discovery,' nor do I think that one particularly need accept wholesale the Aristotelian science behind it. St. Thomas, for example, certainly didn't think that he'd explained away the mechanics of the sacrament, he continued to hymn its mystery and bow before it. As Martin Luther noticed in the Babylonian Captivity, the doctrine doesn't particularly work as scientific description. Luther ridiculed and rejected the doctrine of the 'Thomistic church' because of that--to me that particular criticism has always seemed more of a credit to the doctrine than a discredit.

What 'transubstantiation' finally amounts to saying is that the 'substantial whatness' of the bread and wine really is fundamentally changed in the sacramental mystery, while all the empirical and sensible properties of it really do remain unchanged. Our senses are not lying to us, not even by some special dispensation of mercy, but rather, the 'what it is' is somehow transformed by divine power.

I do think that it pertains to the Church's faith that in this mystery the bread and wine are transformed so that they really become the body and blood of the Lord. I don't believe that this faith can only be stated by this formulation, but I do believe that it can be suitably stated in this way.


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The problem is not so much with the great Thomas, but with his much inferior disciples and successors.

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I think the word scientific came up in this discussion. I think that is what divides. One needs to look at the philosophical tradition of the West. The western philosopher as historically being the medieval equivalent to the modern rocket scientists. There was no difference in the physical vs sacred sciences. As someone who studied for six years for the Roman priesthood, the east and west need to cleanse itself of historical paradigms. If one were to read the texts of the great liturgy of Corpus Christi written by St Thomas one will see his pure theological thought minus the medieval scientific though found in his Summas. That is what we need to focus on the theological living of this belief.

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Originally Posted by StuartK
The problem is not so much with the great Thomas, but with his much inferior disciples and successors.

I think I would extend the point--to me the still bigger problem is the later marshaling of Thomas as the great answerer for all the questions of modernity, thus refracting him through a set of fundamentally modern epistemological concerns. In this apologetic mode, transubstantiation can appear as a scientific rationalization, as if the mystery of the Lord's Body and Blood might finally be shown to be as intelligible as electromagnetism or radio waves.

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Originally Posted by lmier
If one were to read the texts of the great liturgy of Corpus Christi written by St Thomas one will see his pure theological thought minus the medieval scientific though found in his Summas. That is what we need to focus on the theological living of this belief.

I think I would suggest that the same man wrote both. If we think them opposed, I think we risk misconstruing them both.

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Originally Posted by Epiphanius
As I understand it, the problem with TS (aside from its use of Aristotelian categories) is that by affirming that the "accidents" are all that remain of the bread and wine, it suggests that the role of bread and wine with regard to the sacrament is rather like that of a canvas to what's painted on it: a place for it to be, and nothing more.

Doesn't the Lateran IV definition pre-date the scholastic Aristotelian rediscovery? I've read before that the Aristotelian theologizing on the subject happened later, and that the word "substance" had a history all its own prior to the scholastics.

Therefore it seems that receiving Lateran IV does not demand the acceptance of the later Aristotelian explanations. I'm not an expert in this topic and don't have the Lateran text handy. Can anyone speak with authority?

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Originally Posted by StuartK
It's hard to accept the scholastic doctrine of transubstantiation without also accepting the medieval hylomorphic sacramentology that goes with it ...
Stuart,

Just to be clear here, I assume you're referring to the basic Scholastic requirement of necessary "matter" and "form" for each Sacrament?


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Deacon Richard

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Originally Posted by Epiphanius
Originally Posted by StuartK
It's hard to accept the scholastic doctrine of transubstantiation without also accepting the medieval hylomorphic sacramentology that goes with it ...
Stuart,

Just to be clear here, I assume you're referring to the basic Scholastic requirement of necessary "matter" and "form" for each Sacrament?


Peace,
Deacon Richard

I was also curious to see what exactly he meant by 'hylomorphic sacramentology'. I wonder if Stuart could elaborate a bit more on this topic, since he seems to know quite a bit.

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