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Saturday, February 24, 2007

Fr. Dwight Longenecker is Wrong on Corporeal Presence

In an article I read on EWTN, Fr. Longenecker writes,
Likewise, the Church has always insisted—despite the difficulties—that the presence of Christ in the Blessed Sacrament is not simply spiritual and subjective. It is objective and corporeal. In some way it is physical. At the Fourth Lateran Council the Church explained this belief with the phrase "transubstantiation." As the Oxford Dominican, Fr. Herbert McCabe has said, "Transubstantiation is not a complete explanation of the mystery, but it is the best description of what we believe happens at the consecration.
The problem with this quotation is that his explanation of 'corporal' presence is the very thing Aquinas denied Transubstantiation to teach. In Quodlibetales, lib. III., ques. 1. art. 2. Aquinas affirms that 'God cannot cause that the same body should be locally in two places at the same time.' Aquinas writes, 'It is impossible that the Body of Christ should be made present under the Sacrament by a local motion, because if this were so, it would follow that the Body of Christ would cease to be in heaven whenever the Sacrament was celebrated.' (Contra Gentiles, lib. IV., cap. 63) And in the Summa Aquinas writes, 'In no way is the Body of Christ locally in this Sacrament.' (III., 57.1) The corporal presence of Christ was withdrawn from us, and according to Aquinas this was more profitable for us. We are in the world by a corporal presence but Christ is not in the Sacrament by a Corporal presence according to Aquinas. For Aquinas, the Sacrament is not seen in its proper form in this Sacrament and I am interested to know in what manner Fr. Longenecker believes in a corporal presence for the doctrine of Transubstantiation. It was sense is it physical? It was not so for Aquinas!

Therefore, for Andrewes to deny the corporal presence of Christ in the Sacrament while embracing the substantial presence of the whole Christ within the elements is nothing short of his being faithful to St. Thomas Aquinas' theology of Sacramental Presence. The modus of that presence does indeed differ. Andrewes does not deny the realness of the substantial presence of Christ in this sacrament, i.e., the receiving the humanity and the divinity of Christ in the elements, yet he keeps it in the place of the mystery of the Sacrament and does not venture to describe it beyond what the scriptures and the early Fathers stated in the first five centuries.

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    O God, most glorious, most bountiful, accept, we humbly beseech thee, our praises and thanksgivings for thy holy Catholic Church, the mother of us all who bear the name of Christ; for the faith which it hath conveyed in safety to our time, and the mercies by which it hath enlarged and comforted the souls of men; for the virtues which it hath established upon earth, and the holy lives by which it glorifieth both the world and thee; to whom, O blessed Trinity (+), be ascribed all honour, might, majesty and dominion, now and for ever. Amen.
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