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Posted By: Epiphanius Transubstantiation - 05/23/13 12:18 PM
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
Posted By: Orthodox Catholic Re: Transubstantiation - 05/23/13 02:30 PM
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
Posted By: Orthodox Catholic Re: Transubstantiation - 05/23/13 02:35 PM
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
Posted By: Lester S Re: Transubstantiation - 05/23/13 03:50 PM
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.

Posted By: mardukm Re: Transubstantiation - 05/24/13 06:35 PM
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
Posted By: StuartK Re: Transubstantiation - 05/24/13 10:52 PM
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.
Posted By: Fr. Deacon Thomas Re: Transubstantiation - 05/24/13 11:36 PM
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.
Posted By: eastwardlean? Re: Transubstantiation - 05/25/13 11:05 AM
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.

Posted By: StuartK Re: Transubstantiation - 05/25/13 12:15 PM
The problem is not so much with the great Thomas, but with his much inferior disciples and successors.
Posted By: lmier Re: Transubstantiation - 05/25/13 12:48 PM
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.
Posted By: eastwardlean? Re: Transubstantiation - 05/25/13 02:53 PM
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.
Posted By: eastwardlean? Re: Transubstantiation - 05/25/13 02:56 PM
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.
Posted By: Booth Re: Transubstantiation - 05/26/13 10:16 AM
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?
Posted By: Epiphanius Re: Transubstantiation - 05/28/13 02:40 PM
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
Posted By: Cavaradossi Re: Transubstantiation - 05/28/13 02:52 PM
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.
Posted By: StuartK Re: Transubstantiation - 05/28/13 05:18 PM
Hylomorphic simply refers to the Aristotelian theory that everything consists of substance and form. When applied to the sacraments, it tends to reduce everything to the proper matter (substance) and the proper words (form), which in turn allows the sacraments to be analyzed through a set of abstract propositions concerned mainly with "validity", outside of the liturgical, ecclesial and eschatological dimensions of the sacraments.
Posted By: Epiphanius Re: Transubstantiation - 05/28/13 05:27 PM
Originally Posted by mardukm
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?
Hmm ... I wonder how much of this interpretation actually comes from Wycliff or Hus, and how much comes from their detractors. The fact that the Czech Orthodox Church wants to glorify Jan Hus rather strongly suggests that they find his teaching on "impanation" a faithful reflection of the Orthodox teaching.

Originally Posted by mardukm
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 know where you read this, but I was taught that in the hylomorphic model, the soul is the "form" of man, while the body is the "matter"--both are required for the "substance." The "accidents," on the other hand, refer to properties or characteristics that can differ from on person to another, without their ceasing to be human.

In other words, we could have a three-dimensional projection that would have all the outward appearances of a man, yet clearly it would not be a man. This is what I understand to be the meaning of "accidents" in the theology of TS.

Originally Posted by mardukm
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.
In my RC elementary school training, we used the term "appearances" rather than "accidents" (although it was explained that this was not limited to visual appearances, but included all sensible characteristics). When I learned the term "accidents" later on, I was not given to understand that it encompassed anything beyond the scope of "appearances" as described above.

I would be glad to hear that this is *not* the original intent of these terms, but it is certainly the way they were taught to me.


Peace,
Deacon Richard
Posted By: danman916 Re: Transubstantiation - 05/29/13 08:46 AM
Originally Posted by Orthodox Catholic
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.
Without trying to de-rail this thread, can someone explain to me:

a) Why one needed to abstain from sexual relations? Doesn't this smack of ritual impurity? I don't understand.

b) Is this prohibition still in place?

Thanks
Posted By: Andrew J. Rubis Re: Transubstantiation - 05/29/13 11:52 AM
Danman916
First, let me point out that Alex has referred to a Kievan Metropolitan's rules that are stricter than the canonical norms established in the seven Ecumenical Councils as held in the East. we'll never stop one from being stricter than required, but we won't require it.

Second, there are two general categories of fasting which are confused by the faithful: ascetical and pre-eucharistic. They are related, but not in a one to one relationship. The pre-eucharistic fast is much more closely tied to "ritual impurity." More on that later.

Those ecumenical norms would include acceptance of ascetical fasting throughout the year on Wednesdays and Fridays as well as during the Great Lent and Holy Week. It doesn't mean that one adheres to the fasting regime strictly (no eating until the afternoon plus the varying restrictions on meat, dairy, fish, wine, and olive oil), but that one make sincere efforts in that direction. Are conjugal relations between a married couple included? Well, as the Apostle Paul wrote, only by mutual agreement for a season.

A canon is a ruler against which we measure ourselves - or as the same Apostle wrote (paraphrased), 'if there hadn't been the Law, I wouldn't have know that I was sinning.'

The canonical pre-eucharistic fast precludes all sexual relations on the eves of receiving the eucharist along with all eating and drinking from the midnight (or from when one lays down to sleep) until the time of reception.

Ritual impurity is greatly understood and badly maligned, but I'll use the term "ritual preparedness" to help explain the point of it.

When we seek to contact the holiness of God, we should prepare. We fast. We pray. We abstain. Moses was told to take off his sandals. We humble ourselves, for what are we compared with almighty God?

When our contact with the holy is over, we are not ready to do anything. Certainly, we don't go from the holy to the banal or vulgar. Isn't there something particularly wrong with receiving the eucharist and then immediately opening an i-phone to check the score on the ball game? We certainly are not ready to pursue more contact with the holy. We are ritually unprepared (impure/unclean). We need to stop and allow the contact with the holiness of God to possess us.

It is equally true that sin makes us ritually unprepared (unclean/impure) but that concept is not so hard to grasp. So the adulterer abstains from the eucharist 20 years, the fornicator seven, and the man who killed an enemy in battle three. [These are canonical norms, not any particular penitent's actual period of excommunication which would vary according to the person's understanding of the gravity of his or her sin and the repentance shown.] So that concept is simple: do bad = stay away from the holy.

But the trouble seems to be this: How does doing good/contacting the holy make one ritually unprepared/unclean/impure? A good guess is that the "blood" has a lot to do with it, but in the Semitic languages "blood" and "life" are almost the same word. And therein lies the key.

The conjugal relationship between husband and wife is holy and creates its own period of ritual unpreparedness. It involves blood, but also gives the possibility for new life.

The celebrant makes the offering to God for the people and (in the Eastern Orthodox Churches) is not prepared to immediately make another the same day for this is the body and blood of Christ.

The High Priest entered the Holy of Holies and afterwards burned his clothes and touched no one for three days. The scrolls in the tabernacle are the word of life for the people.

The women abstain from the eucharist during their monthly cycle because it is holy not because it is bad. Without this, how would new life come into the world? "Eve" means "life."

Finally, the woman gives birth and stays away from the chalice for fourty days - because she did something wrong, impure or unclean? No, she did the holiest thing that a human can do - she brought new life into the world!

In the risen Christ,
Andrew
Posted By: danman916 Re: Transubstantiation - 05/30/13 08:36 AM
Interesting thanks.
It makes sense that we should fast from the profane when preparing to experience the sacred.
However, I thought that ritual purity was set aside with the fulfillment of Christ's redemptive work.
I'll have to ponder this some more.
Posted By: Epiphanius Re: Transubstantiation - 05/30/13 04:41 PM
Originally Posted by StuartK
Hylomorphic simply refers to the Aristotelian theory that everything consists of substance and form. When applied to the sacraments, it tends to reduce everything to the proper matter (substance) and the proper words (form), which in turn allows the sacraments to be analyzed through a set of abstract propositions concerned mainly with "validity", outside of the liturgical, ecclesial and eschatological dimensions of the sacraments.
Stuart,

I don't remember exactly how this system works, but I do know that in the hylomorphic model, matter is not the same thing as substance. Otherwise, your observations are accurate. Also, your point is very good regarding this system's emphasis on "validity" of the sacraments, along with the consequent de-emphasis of their liturgical, ecclesial and eschatological dimensions.

However, you also state that the Latin Church "no longer places much emphasis" on hylomorphic sacramentology, and I question just how accurate that is. ISTM that where the RCC is strongest these days is right where it's the most conservative.


Peace,
Deacon Richard
Posted By: StuartK Re: Transubstantiation - 05/30/13 04:42 PM
How can a medieval innovation be considered "conservative"?
Posted By: Epiphanius Re: Transubstantiation - 05/30/13 04:45 PM
Originally Posted by StuartK
How can a medieval innovation be considered "conservative"?
Ha ha! I'm afraid we're not all historians like yourself--most people think of 100 years as time immemorial. wink
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