Corpus Christi and Transubstantiation!

Today’s Feast is, with last Sunday’s Solemnity of the Blessed Trinity, fundamentally central to our faith as Catholics. Belief in God being a community of three persons, yet one God is probably one of the first heavy theological mysteries we are exposed to as children. How many of us learned to make the Sign of the cross at a grandparent’s knee?
Then at the age of 7 or 8 years, we all received our First Holy Communion. Another mystery. This is the great mystery we celebrate today. We will carry the Body of Christ in public procession as a re-emphasis of our belief in the real presence of the risen Lord in the Eucharist.
I heard a man who is Jewish, a Shakespearean scholar and a very fine teacher, explain this mystery and it was, without a doubt, the best explanation of the Real Presence I have ever heard. Here it is feebly explained in human terms. Aren’t all our explanations of God’s mysteries feeble, indeed?
Everything that can be experienced by our senses is one of many physical attributes that something, anything has. The bread used at Mass, which we know is changed into the Body of Christ, has attributes in this way.
It is white.
It is soft.
It is round.
It is porous.
It has a certain taste.
It even has a certain smell.
All these attributes are particular to bread. That’s how our minds know we are dealing with bread. Our senses have taught us that when we have a coming together of all these attributes we know that it is bread. Philosophers call these properties, qualities, characteristics or attributes “accidents”. We taste, smell, see, feel. We can even hear a host being broken in half. In other words, whatever our senses perceive, even with the aid of those instruments which we are forever inventing to increase the reach of the senses like microscopes, amplifiers, etc., are accidents but they are not the thing itself. Philosophers call that thing itself, the “substance’ of the thing. While our senses perceive accidents (physical attributes) our senses cannot perceive the substance of something. Only one’s mind can know the substance of something.
This is true of bread, it is true of every created thing. Left to itself, the mind assumes that the substance is that which, in all its past experience, has been found to have that particular group of accidents. But in these two instances, the bread and wine of the Eucharist, the mind is not left to itself. By the revelation of Christ, and the motivation of the Holy Spirit, it knows that the substance has been changed. In the one case into the substance of his body, in the other into the substance of his blood. Our senses cannot tell a difference in the bread and wine. They are perceived, by our senses, to be the same before and after being consecrated. It is important to remember that our senses can only perceive “accidents” and not “substance”. The consecration, which happens at Mass, changes the substance. In its substance, after consecration, the bread and wine are the body and blood of Our Risen Lord.
Any and all explanations of the Mysteries of Our Faith, are human and therefore essentially feeble and hugely inadequate attempts to explain the inexplicable. This is one such attempt.
I owe special thanks to Dr. Gideon Rappaport, who with his genius as a teacher, has opened my mind to much: The Divine Comedy, Paradise Lost, Paradise Regained, the Shakespearean Comedies, Histories and Tragedies and last but not least of all, to “Transubstantiation”. Thank you Dr. Rap! God Bless You!