Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Response to Baldie the Limey's Open Letter to Me: on the Eucharist

Baldie the Limey is a friend I have acquainted myself with over social media. He is Roman Catholic, and is looking at becoming a priest. I am Anglican, and also looking at becoming a priest. He recently published an open letter to me on his blog, asking me about my position concerning the Eucharist.

He's also into anime, which is totes legit. I don't think I've asked him yet, but I wouldn't be surprised if he's a fan of Blue Exorcist.


Now, on to the response...

Just to be clear, I am NOT a Sacramentarian. I do not believe that Christ is only "spiritually" (in the modern sense where "spiritual" means "non-physical") present in the Eucharist.

The bread and wine used in Communion, at the moment of Consecration, become the Body and Blood of our Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ.

It is really, truly the Body and Blood of Jesus.

It is not a mere memorial.

It is not merely a symbol of the Body and Blood.

I am a cannibal because at Mass I am truly eating the Flesh of my Saviour, Jesus Christ.

I say that because it seemed almost as if you thought I held a Sacramentarian view, although you never do actually claim that of me.

Now that that is cleared up, let us move on to my problems with Rome concerning the subject:

Unfortunately, as much as I love the Council of Trent, it did anathematize almost every position outside of Transubstantiation, including the closest one to my own:

"If any one saith, that, in the sacred and holy sacrament of the Eucharist, the substance of the bread and wine remains conjointly with the body and blood of our Lord Jesus Christ, and denieth that wonderful and singular conversion of the whole substance of the bread into the Body, and of the whole substance of the wine into the Blood-the species Only of the bread and wine remaining-which conversion indeed the Catholic Church most aptly calls Transubstantiation; let him be anathema."
--Council of Trent Session XIII, Canon 2

Now, this one is often called "Consubstantiation", Do I hold to Consubstantiation? No, because I don't commit myself to Aristotelian metaphysics. However, I do hold to the fact that the Consecrated bread and wine are the Body and Blood of Christ every bit as much as they are the bread and wine. Think of the Hypostatic Union: 100% God and 100% man. 100% bread/wine and 100% Body/Blood.

I wonder: am I anathematized for not holding to Aristotelian metaphysics, according to Trent?

Am I anathematized for not holding to Transubstantiation, according to Trent?

Now, as I understand it, according to Aristotelian metaphysics, the accidents of an object are not the object itself; only the substance of an object is (please correct me if I am wrong, Baldie). If the Consecrated Bread and Wine are only in accidents still such, how does this not commit the heresy of Monophysitism?

If I held to Aristotelian metaphysics, I would likely be a proponent of Consubstantiation. Not being committed to it, I am an advocate of merely Real Presence. It is truly both Body and Blood and bread and wine. One of my favorite Anglicans, both a priest and a poet, once said:

"He was the Word that spake it:
He took the bread and break it;
And what that Word did make it,
I do believe and take it."
--John Donne

Another problem I have is that Trent is not an Ecumenical Council. How could it be, when the Eastern Orthodox and Oriental Orthodox, as well as the Anglican Communion, did not weigh in on the matter? At the very most, we've only had seven Ecumenical Councils (all Ecumenical Councils pre-1054 Schism), but more realistically, we do need to understand that the Schism with the Oriental Orthodox needs to be reconciled as well. But let's just focus on the Great Schism for now at least.

Can an Ecumenical Council be had without the whole Church?

Does Rome decide if a Church Council is ecumenical?

Is Rome the decider of who is in and not in the One Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church?

If Rome considers these branches to be without valid Apostolic Succession, why? Hopefully, Rome does not commit the Donatist heresy in its reasoning.

Either way, I think we can both agree with this quote from the Archbishop of Canterbury, Richard Hooker, on the subject of the Eucharist:

"This bread hath in it more than the substance which our eyes behold, this cup hallowed with solemn benediction availeth to the endless life and welfare both of soul and body; in that it serveth as well for a medicine to heal our infirmities and purge our sins, as for a sacrifice of thanksgiving; with touching it sanctifieth, it enlighteneth with belief, it truly conformeth us into the image of Jesus Christ. What these elements are in themselves it skilleth not; it is enough, that to me which take them they are the Body and Blood of Christ; His promise in witness hereof sufficeth; His Word He knoweth which way to accomplish; why should any cogitation possess the mind of a faithful communicant but this, 'O my God, Thou art true; O my soul, thou art happy!'".

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