The mystery of a Mystery

“Research showing that less than a third of US Catholics believe the Church’s teaching that Jesus is really present in the consecrated bread and wine caused alarm among Church leaders” opens the article The real thing in the Tablet, 14 August 21.

Given that Secondsight blog has a large number of Catholic readers it would be interesting to know how many of us have an orthodox belief in transubstantiation as set out in the full Catechism of the Catholic Church. I pinch the questions below from https://www.newadvent.org/summa/4075.htm:

Is the Body of Christ in this sacrament truly, or figuratively?
Do the substance of bread and wine remain in this sacrament after the consecration?
Is it annihilated?
Is it changed into the body and blood of Christ?
Do the accidents remain after the change?
Does the substantial form remain there?
Is this change instantaneous?
By what words it may be suitably expressed?

I am by no means a theologian — but I am a born Catholic, and continually interested in aspects of the Church’s teaching. Here is one difficulty I have:

While I accept that the host and the wine are genuinely the body and blood of Christ I cannot understand why the bread and wine do not also continue actually to be bread and wine. But, if I understand the formal teaching, this is not so. Since the sacred host will be dealt with by my interior system as bread and wine it all sounds to be a bit odd.
But that’s small beer compared to the list of other questions above. And the formal answers.

I have to say that the claim that the orthodox teaching is a simply a mystery does not satisfy me. And I am in no way surprised that many Catholics misunderstand the teaching. How about you?

About Quentin

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55 Responses to The mystery of a Mystery

  1. David Smith says:

    Quentin asks ( https://secondsightblog.net/2021/08/17/the-mystery-of-a-mystery/ ) :

    // How about you? //

    I’m an odd beast, baptized Catholic but neither orthodox nor liberal. Born without a belief gene. Both in and out, simultaneously. It’s my honest opinion – for the moment – that Catholics who reject whatever bits of dogma displease them should be chucked out. Of course, that’s impossible; there are no membership cards to revoke. So I can stay, off to the side, watching the Church disintegrate, little by little. Damien Thomas remarked in a recent podcast that the Church cannot survive another bad pope. But I doubt it has much vitality left in it in any case. Some traditional Catholics may survive, but theirs will be a lonely and precarious church, besieged from both without and within. Martyrs. May God be with them.

    • galerimo says:

      Damien might be surprised to learn how many bad Popes have occupied the Chair of Peter down through the ages while the institutional Church continued to thrive under their tyranny and corruption.

    • FZM says:

      While I accept that the host and the wine are genuinely the body and blood of Christ I cannot understand why the bread and wine do not also continue actually to be bread and wine. But, if I understand the formal teaching, this is not so. Since the sacred host will be dealt with by my interior system as bread and wine it all sounds to be a bit odd.

      I will try an answer, as far as I understand the topic. I think some background knowledge of Aristotelian philosophy about objects is needed to make sense of it; in this case it involves the difference between substantial and accidental forms, so first that:

      One part of the metaphysics of objects involves looking at the basis upon which natural objects are distinguished and categorised, In the Aristotleian tradition this was by substantial form, the essential features of an object that mean it is placed it in a particular category (e.g. a rubber ball, being made of rubber and being spherical would be two aspects of its substantial form). Substances or objects could have further features or properties that were not essential, but secondary, they may or may not be present in objects in that category. These were called accidental forms; for the rubber ball it might be colour (blue, red, etc.), whether there were marks of blemishes on the surface of the ball, where these marks were placed and so on. In the case of an oak tree, having a trunk and branches, producing leaves a certain shape might be part of its substantial form, but where exactly it grows, how many leaves are present at any one time, burn marks on the trunk may be accidental forms individuating particular oak trees.

      In the case of Transubstantiation the substantial form of the bread and wine is changed by a miracle into Christ’s body and blood, Christ becomes the new substantial form of those two objects. The observable forms of the bread and wine then become accidental forms of the new substance. They remain in existence and can be digested, but after the miracle they exist only as accidents.

      • ignatius says:

        FMZ,
        Ah…thats it then, the extra peice in the jigsaw. I’d got there with most of that but hadn’t thought that an accidental quality could be digestible…of course, when you think about it..why not? Well done!

  2. galerimo says:

    Ours really is a very theological religion.

    Don’t you just envy our Muslim sisters and brothers?

    One God, his teaching dictated word for word to the Prophet, once and for all, and just say your designated prayers when the call is heard, every day. A lot easier.

    Compared with the poor Catholic who first of all has to try and figure out how there can be only one God, but still three of them, then how Jesus was executed before he saved his people and then rose again and disappeared, His Mother never ceased to be a Virgin, the Pope is infallible despite all the errors of the papacy, and sex is a sin unless your married.

    That’s a lot!

    And the theology we are given is not easy. Transubstanti-what? Substance and Accidents?
    Don’t we understand the material universe in a different way to Thomas Aquinas these days?

    I am seriously sceptical about what those “less than a third”, those who have got it right, truly believe.

    How could such an elite ever have managed to make their way through the morass of our complex theologies to be still in Church let alone believe in a real presence!

    The temple police will relish the questions you raise – what a joyful chorus of condemnation will be heard as we try to answer their questions- orthodoxiclallogially. “Out, out” they will cry!

    Our God given world, where Christ came to be with us, now totters on the edge of survival after millennia of our abuse: the poor, hungry and displaced abound in greater and greater numbers in our affluent world and the only rule of governance everywhere seems to be corruption.

    So, getting it right with the hydraulics we have constructed around the Eucharist hardly ranks among the most urgent things we need to fix right now.

    • FZM says:

      Don’t we understand the material universe in a different way to Thomas Aquinas these days?

      Outside of university settings very few people seem to study the philosophy around differentiation and classification of objects so it wouldn’t be surprising if the Scholastic understanding is not more widely known than all of the contemporary empiricist ones, just due to the transubstantiation issue.

  3. David Smith says:

    FZM writes ( https://secondsightblog.net/2021/08/17/the-mystery-of-a-mystery/#comment-64410 ) :

    // I will try an answer, as far as I understand the topic. I think some background knowledge of Aristotelian philosophy about objects is needed to make sense of it; in this case it involves the difference between substantial and accidental forms //

    That’s the intellectualized approach. I’d guess that the Church has never tried to to require that the Catholic in the street sees transubstantiation in that light. The catechism probably provides a description considerably less academically finicky. Miracles are miracles. God is not a piece of seaweed whose genome can be deciphered.

  4. ignatius says:

    David Smith writes: ” That’s the intellectualized approach. I’d guess that the Church has never tried to to require that the Catholic in the street sees transubstantiation in that light. The catechism probably provides a description considerably less academically finicky. Miracles are miracles. God is not a piece of seaweed whose genome can be deciphered.”

    Yes, there is much in this. The whole Christian/Catholic revelation comes out of mystery and returns to it. For example attempting an explaination of physics or logic as to why the burning bush was not consumed goes only so far before travelling wide of the mark and missing the point entirely. If we are respectful of mystery then we come to contemplate and encounter it, walk its outer edges and marvel at our inability to penetrate other than by bowing our heads and opening our hearts. None of this ,of course, means that scientists, philosophers, theologians, historians, bishops and artists should cease their wholesome endeavours, only that the boundariesof mystery are recognised as a reality.

  5. Iona says:

    As I understand it, “transubstantiation” is a theory as to how Jesus can be present in the Blessed Sacrament which still appears to be bread. (Other theories may or may not be available). When children are working towards their first Holy Communion, all they really need to know is that Jesus is truly present.
    Quentin says: “Since the sacred host will be dealt with by my interior system as bread and wine it all sounds to be a bit odd.” Somewhere I have heard – or read – or been told – that Jesus remains truly present for about the first 20 minutes after being ingested; presumably after that He is still present in/with the person, while the Host is digested as bread. But I’ve no idea whether this is orthodox belief.

  6. David Smith says:

    Iona writes ( https://secondsightblog.net/2021/08/17/the-mystery-of-a-mystery/#comment-64418 ) :

    // But I’ve no idea whether this is orthodox belief. //

    https://www.britannica.com/topic/transubstantiation

    Not just “orthodox”; doctrine:

    https://digitalcommons.bucknell.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1010&context=honors_theses

    Quentin writes ( https://secondsightblog.net/2021/08/17/the-mystery-of-a-mystery/ ) :

    // I have to say that the claim that the orthodox teaching is a simply a mystery does not satisfy me. //

    It’s about belief, acceptance, not about satisfaction, no? The modern weltanschuung is heavily into pleasure, which can be synonymous with satisfaction. I’m stuck there, too. I imagine most of us born within the past ninety years share the feeling.

  7. David Smith says:

    Quentin, I’ve just twice tried to send a contribution and apparently had it rejected by the WordPress software. When the first attempt failed, I re-wrote it (stupidly had forgotten to save the original) and tried again, with some nonsense padding to try to fool the censor, suspecting that the several URLs it contained might be the stumbling block. Padding didn’t help; the second attempt was also rejected. Would you mind checking to see if one of those attempts is awaiting your approval?

  8. David Smith says:

    Assuming for the sake of simplicity that Quentin’s not found a way to let in the failed posts, I’ll try a third time, this time neutering the URLs. That will make them unusable without a bit of fiddling, but if this works, I guess it’s the price we all pay for an increasingly nannying and even censorious Internet. Here goes.

    Iona writes ( https://secondsightblog.net/2021/08/17/the-mystery-of-a-mystery/#comment-64418 ) :

    // But I’ve no idea whether this is orthodox belief. //

    It’s doctrine, dogma. Nothing “orthodox” about it.

    digitalcommons bucknell.edu / cgi / viewcontent.cgi ? article=1010 & context=honors_theses

    vatican va/ archive /compendium_ccc/ documents /archive_2005_compendium-ccc_en.html

    See “282. How is Christ present in the Eucharist?”

    Quentin writes ( https://secondsightblog.net/2021/08/17/the-mystery-of-a-mystery/ ) :

    // I have to say that the claim that the orthodox teaching is a simply a mystery does not satisfy me. //

    It’s rather about belief, faith, not satisfaction, no? “Satisfaction” can be synonymous with pleasure, which lies deep in the weltanschuung of the modern world. I, too, have this feeling, as do, probably, all born within the past hundred years.

  9. Quentin says:

    I don’t think I can help you here. You will see that others contributors come straight through. Yes, I have accepted you at this end.

  10. John Thomas says:

    I think I’m a bit late replying to this piece, Quentin – everything has been said – but here goes:
    So much of the Christian faith is metaphor, analogy, symbol, or type. Surely the nature of Transubstantiation is of this kind. In the end, it comes down to the meaning of words. And Mystery, Mysterious, Unfathomable do come in the end – and why might we be afraid of such things, or reject them? (Materialists will scorn them, of course, denying the possibility of the existence of anything that is beyond human reason, or the this-worldly realm). Not being a Roman Catholic, I have never really investigated transubstantiation, but firmly believe in the Real Presence (are they so different?). We affirm that the sacramental elements do not change their physical/chemical nature, and yet the Lord is “somehow” present – and lives that have for a long time involved taking the consecrated elements, the sacrament, ARE changed, affected, different. By what means, though? Does mystery, lack of actual knowledge, explanation matter?

  11. ignatius says:

    When we were at seminary one of our class asked a priest:
    “At what point does the epiclesis occur? (In other words at which point in the ritual does the bread become sacrament) The priest, wisely in my view, replied:
    “Why do you ask?”
    The answer lies in the attitude of asking. In other words, by all means enquire intelligently into the process of divinisation, but don’t expect an answer and don’t expect your questioning to make much difference. So, no, ‘Transubstantiation’ is not the same as the Eucharistic miracle. The Eucharistic mracle is what happens, transubstantiation is a kind of laboured guess at the miracle.

  12. Iona says:

    David – thank you for the links. I have scampered through the first 50 pages of the 141 digital commons pages; the rest will have to wait until later.

  13. galerimo says:

    It is a wonderful topic, as are the contributions to it.

    Especially in these COVID times of isolation, it is a great comfort to know how our presence to each other in the Body of Christ as well as our amazing union with Jesus is never limited by shutdowns or quarantines.

    It is the Risen Body of Jesus who is alive today that comes to us in the Eucharist and of course even during his historical time this Risen Body was obviously a different body with extra-ordinary qualities, not always recognised easily; it was evident through faith.

    The fact is that we live in a very privileged time with so much good theology and amazing spirituality to nourish our faith in the Eucharist.

    Sadly little of this seems to find its way into the sacramental living of many good Catholics. And the result is what I think is showing in the survey you quote from The Tablet.

    I would offer that it is our dogma, our theology, all our academic learning about God that is analogical. Not our faith.

    The object of our faith is Jesus and it puts us directly in contact with Him and He with us. But the way we understand that connection can only ever be more in terms of what it is not, than what it is.

    Our tradition has laboured very hard to emphasise the physicality of Jesus’ presence but like Jesus said to Mary in the Garden, it is not a good idea to cling to that too much. A lot of that emphasis comes from a particular and outdated Aristotelian world view.

    In saying that, I don’t mean to dismiss it.

    But with a topic like this one, concerning the content of other people’s faith, I have to ask whether it is any of my business really?

    The Eucharist is the source of our Unity and that is not an unity based on the teaching of the Academy and goes much deeper than mind. We are brought together in love, through love…

    “…the memory of His passion is renewed, the soul filled with grace and a pledge of future glory is given to us…”

    • FZM says:

      Our tradition has laboured very hard to emphasise the physicality of Jesus’ presence but like Jesus said to Mary in the Garden, it is not a good idea to cling to that too much. A lot of that emphasis comes from a particular and outdated Aristotelian world view.

      The Orthodox seem to have a similar attitude to the real presence in the consecrated gifts as Catholics, though the philosophy explaining it is different and more Platonic. IIRC transubstantiation was an attempt to explain existing beliefs within the Scholastic framework, which would fit with this.

      On the other hand, the Orthodox don’t venerate consecrated hosts in the way that Catholics might because icons of Christ fulfill this role instead. There is probably some connection between these practices and the need to keep spiritualising Gnostic and dualist beliefs at a distance.

  14. David Smith says:

    Coincidentally, this popped up today from another blog to which I subscribe (my apologies for mangling the URL):

    https: // michaelrennier. wordpress.com /2021 /08/ 22/ only-a-miracle-can-explain-this/

  15. David Smith says:

    FZM ( https://secondsightblog.net/2021/08/17/the-mystery-of-a-mystery/#comment-64487 ) quotes galerimo (
    https://secondsightblog.net/2021/08/17/the-mystery-of-a-mystery/#comment-64444 ) :

    // Our tradition has laboured very hard to emphasise the physicality of Jesus’ presence but like Jesus said to Mary in the Garden, it is not a good idea to cling to that too much. A lot of that emphasis comes from a particular and outdated Aristotelian world view. //

    There’s that assumption again that whatever comes latest is always more valid, far better than what came before: progress. It’s an attitude that seems to have be a modern belief. Curious. When, and whence?

    • FZM says:

      There’s that assumption again that whatever comes latest is always more valid, far better than what came before: progress. It’s an attitude that seems to have be a modern belief. Curious. When, and whence?

      As far as I can see it goes back in a prototype form to the period after the Reformation, but really got going after the Enlightenment era, due to all of the scientific and technological progress that has been seen.

      Then, some 19th C. German philosophers went further and developed grand narratives of inevitable human historical development which encompassed all of human activity like Marx and Hegel. Hegel had this idea that new ideas and developments in society are the result of absolute spirit (which all human lives are a manifestation of) reaching a higher and more perfect level of self awareness. Marx rewrote that kind of idea into material and economic terms, where new ideas were part of the dialectic moving society towards the final perfect stage of Communism.

      It is interesting to look at some of their contemporaries working within the same tradition who were more sceptical; Schopenhauer famously saw history as a directionless, aimless and a futile struggle. Nietzsche took up the old pagan ideas about an endlessly repeated cycle of time. I think Heidegger pointed out that these narratives of progress were secularised and technologised versions of Christian eschatology.

      • ignatius says:

        FMZ writes: “Hegel had this idea that new ideas and developments in society are the result of absolute spirit (which all human lives are a manifestation of) reaching a higher and more perfect level of self awareness.”

        Yes. This form has been taken up in a manner of speaking by Teilhard De Chardin and more recently by Karl Rahner. Here is a quote by Hegel which lays it out well. I pinched it off Wikipedia:
        “Thus the immortality of the soul must not be represented as first entering the sphere of reality only at a later stage; it is the actual present quality of spirit; spirit is eternal, and for this reason is already present. Spirit, as possessed of freedom, does not belong to the sphere of things limited; it, as being what thinks and knows in an absolute way, has the universal for its object; this is eternity, which is not simply duration, as duration can be predicated of mountains, but knowledge”
        Rahner, as I understand him, pushes the idea forward into the concept of divinisation which seems to loom large in current Catholic thinking though it is a divisive tendency among theologians and Church leaders.

  16. galerimo says:

    Jesus does not institute the Eucharist in John’s Gospel. Unlike the other three.

    John’s is a later reflection.

    But it does not reject what came before, in fact this development of John’s “Good News” and the different lens he uses to focus on that central moment, the dying of Jesus.

    John tells us so much about the real presence of Jesus in an amazing variety of ways – perhaps even more than the Gospels that emphasise “this is My Body, this is My Blood”.

    One that fateful evening, in the upper room, Jesus’ dialogue with our fellow disciples around the meaning of His absence and the meaning of Holy Spirit as presence bearing, is not just enlightening on this subject of “Real Presence” but so very reassuring too.

    It seems that Jesus’ physical presence has to end, not just because of the death experience he shares with all of us, but because somehow, if he did not go, the Spirit would not be able to activate among us. Something that Jesus seems very keen on doing.

    Sometimes you might be forgiven for thinking how little we really appreciate the power of God’s Holy Spirit in our Catholic practices and thinking.

    Its great to see the flourishing of so many Pentecostal type churches, at least as a redress to this slowness.

    It is indeed a comforting and consoling presence but not a static one that the Holy Spirit brings as we learn about how real Jesus is and is present.

    But, on occasion, I still wish the same beautiful Spirit would help with the flow of traffic outside those crowded Churches where Sunday worshippers seem to clog up the parking for miles around!

    • milliganp says:

      I am not entirely convinvced that the rise of Pentecostal Churches is a work of the Spirit. Some of their pastors wear expensive clothes, drive expensive cars and live lavish lifestyles – the properity gospel seems at odds with the eye of the needle.
      This is not to excuse the lack of energy in many of our churches but I’m not sure the solution lies elsewhere.

      • ignatius says:

        I have quite extensive experience of Pentecostalism. The majority of churches are relatively small run by well meaning people who are subject to the same temptations and having the same needs as all of us. Their doctrine of the gathered church as of a people called out to be together is of course a two edged sword. One edge of the sword is probably the spirit and the other is the flesh. That would be your human being for you. The Pentecostal churches score highly on visible fellowship and have, if you like, a methodology which at least temporarily uplifts the soul and the flesh, thus the church is popular. The mega churches I don’t know well but I guess are all structured along house group lines and so hold a similar attraction but run the risk of so called ‘heavy shepherding’ which is, in fact, religious abuse. They are of course our brothers and sisters These days, those kind of services bore me rigid and anyway I never get to them.

  17. David Smith says:

    FZM ( https://secondsightblog.net/2021/08/17/the-mystery-of-a-mystery/#comment-64568 ) writes:

    // As far as I can see it goes back in a prototype form to the period after the Reformation, but really got going after the Enlightenment era, due to all of the scientific and technological progress that has been seen.

    I think Heidegger pointed out that these narratives of progress were secularised and technologised versions of Christian eschatology. //

    Thank you, FZM.

  18. milliganp says:

    Some of this complex theology / philosophy stuff brings to mind G K Chesterton’s remark:-

    And Jesus said unto them, “And whom do you say that I am?”

    They replied, “You are the eschatological manifestation of
    the ground of our being, the ontological foundation of the
    context of our very selfhood revealed.”

    And Jesus replied, “What?”

  19. galerimo says:

    Perhaps, more worthy of the title “The Real Thing” might be an article based on research into responses from Catholics, to questions such as –

    What priority is given in your local Church community to refugees, people of different ethnicity and race, LGBTQIA people, former and anti-Catholic people, and other marginal groups?

    As a multi-national and local body, how is your Church dealing with the current and projected state of wellbeing of our planet earth?

    Does your local Church meet with the local Jewish community and other Christian denominations?

    As a Catholic are you offered, free of charge, on-going education through your Church on matters such as Church teaching, current ethical questions, scripture, liturgy and ways of reflecting and envisioning these and other structures of your local Church?

    As a Catholic how do you view the licensing of clergy, by their relevant “flock”, based on organisational standards of efficiency, effectiveness, connection with the community and the demonstration of a belief in God, along with the ability to lead others in doing so?

    How well is the Catholic Church in your area served by the celibacy of your clergy. How do you view the ordination of women. How does your local Church leader manage your views?

    My feeling (yes, thinking with my entire body here!) is that a good measure of how well people manage their belief in the Real Presence of Jesus would become more manifest in the way they would respond.

    • ignatius says:

      And so, Galerimo, how did you personally, and your church corporately fare…. with your quiz I mean?

    • milliganp says:

      Gosh, it’s a desperately “woke” list – I wouldn’t trust any minister who gave the “right” answers to those questions, since it is unlikely (s)he would have the mind of Christ who said “Be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect”.
      My measure, given we are all imperfect, is “how close does this priest bring me to Christ?”.
      Does the priest seem holy (not pious)?
      Has the priest integrated holiness into his personality?
      Does he show genuine care for all?
      How hard is it to make him loose his temper (except with Pharisees)?
      Does he make the faith community he leads have a sense of collective identity?

      Without that sort of start, we just become a church of identity politics and single issue social justice.

      • ignatius says:

        I’m not sure why it all depends upon the priest, or indeed any of it. My list would be:
        Am I trying to come close to Christ?
        Am I seeking holiness or just self assurance through piety?
        Have I become more integrated through my turning to Christ and asking for his spirit to dwell in me in increasing measure?
        Is the miracle of faith beginning to show in this my selfish life so that I criticize less and care more?
        Am I seeking to help our priest build our community?

    • FZM says:

      I think what milliganp has suggested is going in the right direction. Wokeness and the current Social Justice movement seems to be too rooted in specific national and cultural contexts (mainly English speaking, former majority Protestant countries) to be suitable for the Church, much of whose centre of gravity is elsewhere.

  20. Iona says:

    To most of Galerimo’s questions above I should have to answer in terms which I guess he would consider negative, simply because I live in a small rural parish and the church’s congregation is mainly elderly to very elderly.

  21. ignatius says:

    Galerimo writes: “My feeling (yes, thinking with my entire body here!) is that a good measure of how well people manage their belief in the Real Presence of Jesus would become more manifest in the way they would respond.”
    There’s something fishy about this, something peculiarly unpleasant. Almost a politicians tick list given then backed up with a kind of veiled judgmentalism…not deliberate I’m sure.

    • milliganp says:

      I (yes me) can have a genuine, sincere faith in the real presence and be a significant failure at being a decent human being. The salvation of sinners is what Calvary is all about.

      • galerimo says:

        I like this immediate connection you make with Jesus’ death on the cross and faith in His Eucharistic presence.

        In the Old Testament, ‘ eating their flesh and drinking someone’s blood’ is an expression for killing an enemy. Like a vengeful curse you might put on your enemies.

        Job had spoken of his so-called friends eating his flesh – meaning they were attacking him.

        The Psalmist had spoken of his enemies eating his flesh.

        Jesus saying “Unless you eat my flesh and drink my blood” has almost exlusively had the interpretation of belief in the participation in the Eucharist.

        There is a good case for acknowledging how Jesus draws attention to the necessity of his suffering and death in this quote – something which appalled his closest followers.

        Setting aside what has come to be seen as a sort of mandate to “go to communion”.

        Its hard to think of myself as an enemy of Christ in that sense of eating him but in fact it was his terrible death, at the hands of all us sinners that brings us to salvation

        – out of our state of enmity with him and into His friendship.

  22. milliganp says:

    I was baptised in Corpus Christi church in Drumcondra, Dublin – a faily ‘ordinary’ church the size of a Cathederal because of the size of the parish it served. Every Sunday (back in the early 1960’s) several thousand people processed up and down the hiill outside my grandparents home – going to Sunday Mass. It was the time of infrequent communion (since no-one would receive unless they had been to confession on Saturday) and Mass could be over in 30 minutes.
    Above the high altar, enscrined on the arch, were Acquinas words “Adore te devote, latens deitas”.
    I struggle with my faith on a daily basis; after communion, I pick up my hymnbook and read the words of G. Manley Hopkins translation:-

    Godhead here in hiding whom I do adore
    Masked by these bare shadows, shape and nothing more.
    See, Lord, at thy service low lies here a heart
    Lost, all lost in wonder at the God thou art.

    Seeing, touching, tasting are in thee deceived;
    How says trusty hearing? that shall be believed;
    What God’s Son has told me, take for truth I do;
    Truth himself speaks truly or there’s nothing true.

    On the cross thy godhead made no sign to men;
    Here thy very manhood steals from human ken:
    Both are my confession, both are my belief,
    And I pray the prayer made by the dying thief.

    I am not like Thomas, wounds I cannot see,
    But I plainly call thee Lord and God as he:
    This faith each day deeper be my holding of,
    Daily make me harder hope and dearer love.

    The most important words for me are “What God’s Son has told me, take for truth I do;” I have to trust Christ made present, so imperfectly, in the church but particluarly the priest.

    • ignatius says:

      MilliganP writes:
      ” I have to trust Christ made present, so imperfectly, in the church but particularly the priest.”
      This is why Galerimo’s ‘woke’ list is so unpleasant. Its easy to target ‘the priest’, easy to blame him. Yet what the priest needs is our care and our help. Easy to pick away at behavioural traits, easy to point out the failure of the priest to be ‘universal daddy’. No, in fact the priest is flesh and blood with all his struggles and imperfections, trying within it all to yield up his soul to God in the every day. .Pity him, pity the poor priest who struggles to do the impossible. Try to help him as best we can. Make his burden light , bring him to Christ and in this way you shall yourself be blessed…never mind our pious but political lists, we need to go and be kind to the man.

  23. ignatius says:

    MilliganP writes: I struggle with my faith on a daily basis.
    I like the Aquinas quote very much. I wonder though, with our daily struggles how much is with our ‘faith’ and how much is just that plain old struggle many of us have with ‘ourselves” Because they are not the same thing. We mght adore the hidden truth and beauty of God as best we are capable and then deplore our lack; but our perceived ‘lack’ may well be our very best attempts. In other words, that which we are capable of we give and should not despise the giving just because it is that day our widows mite. What does anyone else think?

  24. Iona says:

    Ste. Therese of Lisieux (I think it was she) said “When I have nothing to offer God, I offer him that nothing”.

  25. David Smith says:

    ignatius ( https://secondsightblog.net/2021/08/17/the-mystery-of-a-mystery/#comment-64729 ) writes:

    // that which we are capable of we give and should not despise the giving just because it is that day our widows mite. What does anyone else think? //

    Why should people need to be told how to pray? Well, whatever the reasons, they do. There are probably books, articles, lectures, seminars, and videos for it. I suppose it’s of a piece with an evidently nearly universal human need to be told what to believe and a concomitant willingness to believe it. And maybe that’s made worse in this age by the modern mind’s being pulled in a thousand different directions at once and a consequent need for some simple way to make sense of the inevitable chaos. And maybe it’s got to do with the modern mind’s having become accustomed by watching television to ingesting an endless daily diet of dramas, which are basically little morality tales. As also is the omnipresent advertising and, with a diabolic intensity for a year and a half now, the blatant propaganda. It seems we can scarcely breathe now without first being instructed how to do it safely and responsibly.

    If I need to be told how to pray, I imagine that means that I need to be told what or whom it is I’m praying to. Catechesis is required: getting with the program is apparently what it’s all about. Church. Religion. A need for being told what to believe and how to act. Can’t this get out of hand?

  26. ignatius says:

    “Catechesis is required: getting with the program is apparently what it’s all about. Church. Religion. A need for being told what to believe and how to act. Can’t this get out of hand?”

    When you think about it most everything worth knowing involves our being taught how to act,do or think in a particular way. Why not receive direction on prayer? Certainly prayer is at first kind of ‘natural’, my grandson has his own ‘natural’ language which no one understands; prayer develops and the church has been at it for at least 2000 years and so has maybe learned a thing or two worth passing on??

  27. David Smith says:

    ignatius ( https://secondsightblog.net/2021/08/17/the-mystery-of-a-mystery/#comment-64734 ) writes:

    // prayer develops and the church has been at it for at least 2000 years and so has maybe learned a thing or two worth passing on?? //

    No doubt. I was just calling attention the unthinkingness of it all. People want to believe *something* and they’re eager to grab hold of whatever the rest are grabbing hold of. It’s warm and comfortable in a crowd. Hallelujah, I’m saved, just like you. Pass me the vaccine and tell me exactly how to inject it correctly. Perfectly normal. And, I suppose a psychiatrist would say, perfectly healthy, at least in the context of gaining emotional equilibrium. This sheep is at peace.

    Sorry. It’s just that at the moment all belief systems are looking suspiciously alike.

  28. pnyikos says:

    I’m glad this section is still going strong, because I have an explanation that is worded very differently than the usual ones, yet very close to the ones that have been dogma for centuries.
    Galerimo hinted at it but then clouded it with “it was evident through faith.”

    First, look at I Corinthians 15:35-50, especially v. 44: `It is sown a physical body, it is raised a spiritual body.’

    It is the spiritual body of Christ of which the Eucharist is part. Between the Resurrection and the Ascension, the spiritual body of Christ did things that the physical could not: pass through locked doors, and change appearance so that others, like the disciples at Emmaus, could not recognize him.

    How the Eucharist can become part of his spiritual body, we cannot know, but after all, it does become part of our physical bodies after a short while, so there is nothing self-contradictory about such an idea. And it seems that Christ’s spiritual body was already at work before his death, at the Last Supper.

    I appreciate that there are other interpretations of all the Biblical references to eating Christ’s body and drinking his blood, including various symbolic ones. Perhaps Catholic dogma, or my interpretation is right, or one of the many Protestant versions is the way to read it. My main point is that a literal reading is defensible in a way you may not have seen before.

  29. ignatius says:

    As I understand Catholic dogma it is the Risen Christ we meet in eucharist. Flesh/body refers to ‘the whole person’ So in a sense it can be argued that the risen Christ, jesus, possesses now a spiritual body..in other words a body made of spirit.

    • Quentin says:

      Ignatius, your description here sounds absolutely correct. I must think about it.

    • milliganp says:

      As I seem to remember it, Lucifer rebelled aganist God because God intended to raise a created material being to a level higher than the pure created spirits which were the angels. The essence of bodily resurrection is that we will have a fully material body but imortal and imbued with the Holy Spirit. This is not, in my view, a body made of spirit but filled with the spirit.

  30. Iona says:

    pnyikos says: Between the Resurrection and the Ascension, the spiritual body of Christ did things that the physical could not: pass through locked doors, and change appearance so that others, like the disciples at Emmaus, could not recognize him.
    Even before the crucifixion and resurrection, Jesus did things that are physically “impossible”. I am thinking of walking on water; and somehow melting through a crowd of people who were dragging him up a hill with the intention of throwing him off the top of it, and walking away unseen by any of them.

  31. David Smith says:

    milliganp ( https://secondsightblog.net/2021/08/17/the-mystery-of-a-mystery/#comment-64806 ):

    // The essence of bodily resurrection is that we will have a fully material body but imortal and imbued with the Holy Spirit. This is not, in my view, a body made of spirit but filled with the spirit. //

    There seems in that to be an implicit realization of an extremely important reality that can be easily overlooked in current secular thinking: a human being is only complete when fully integrated with the body he’s in. Thus, the science fiction notion that the contents of the brain alone could be recorded and transferred into another brain in another body is flawed. That may some day become possible, but what you’d end up with would be a freak, not an immortal human being.

    Sorry – sort of off topic.

    • milliganp says:

      Not off-topic at all. The essence of being human is that the body is the form of the soul. I read a lecture by Roger Scruton on the scientific and psychological theories of what is ‘mind’ and – if you remove the concept of soul you are inevitably in a science-fiction nightmare.

  32. ignatius says:

    MilliganP writes:
    ” The essence of being human is that the body is the form of the soul.”
    I think this was Cardinal Newman. Its a tantalising line but one which I never can pin down…care to elaborate?
    Also I agree that ‘a body made of spirit doesn’t quite cut it. But when the think about eucharist and the notion of substance and accidents, nor does it quite fail.
    Finally:
    “As I seem to remember it, Lucifer rebelled aganist God because God intended to raise a created material being to a level higher than the pure created spirits which were the angels.”
    Never heard this before, where did you get it from please, I’d like to follow the thought up.

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