Front Page Titles (by Subject) CHAPTER XVII.: ANSWERS TO CERTAIN OBJECTIONS BROUGHT AGAINST THE DOCTRINE OF THE BLESSED EUCHARIST. - The Triumph of the Cross
The Online Library of Liberty
A project of Liberty Fund, Inc.
Search this Title:
Also in the Library:
CHAPTER XVII.: ANSWERS TO CERTAIN OBJECTIONS BROUGHT AGAINST THE DOCTRINE OF THE BLESSED EUCHARIST. - Girolamo Savonarola, The Triumph of the Cross 
The Triumph of the Cross, trans. from the Italian, edited, with an Introduction by the Very Rev. Father John Procter, S.T.L. With a frontispiece portrait of the author (London: Sands & Co., 1901).
About Liberty Fund:
Liberty Fund, Inc. is a private, educational foundation established to encourage the study of the ideal of a society of free and responsible individuals.
The text is in the public domain.
Fair use statement:
This material is put online to further the educational goals of Liberty Fund, Inc. Unless otherwise stated in the Copyright Information section above, this material may be used freely for educational and academic purposes. It may not be used in any way for profit.
ANSWERS TO CERTAIN OBJECTIONS BROUGHT AGAINST THE DOCTRINE OF THE BLESSED EUCHARIST.
Many and great difficulties are wont to arise in man’s mind concerning the dogma of the Blessed Eucharist. We, therefore, deem it expedient, to devote some space to their consideration. When we declare that the whole Body of Christ is contained in a little bread, and all His Blood in a little wine; and that, at the same time, the whole Christ is in Heaven; it seems as if we were affirming an impossibility. For Christ can only be present in this Sacrament in one of two ways. Either, the bread is changed into the Body of Christ; and this appears to be out of the question. For a thing into which another thing is changed, has no existence before this change; it only begins to exist when this change has taken place. If, then, the bread be changed into the Body of Christ, His Body cannot have existed before the bread was changed into It; just as the serpent into which the rod of Aaron was changed had no existence previous to this miracle. Thus, the Body of Christ which is in the Blessed Eucharist, is not the Body which is in Heaven, but another Body newly produced. Or else, we may say that the Body of Christ which is in Heaven, comes by local movement into the Blessed Sacrament. But this seems, likewise, impossible. Firstly, because, unless His Body left Heaven altogether, it would have to be in two places at once. Secondly, because local movement cannot terminate in more than one place at the same time; and we know that many Hosts are consecrated at once. Thirdly, because one Body cannot be in more than one place at the same moment. How, also, can a full-grown Body be contained in a little Host, and all Its Blood in a small chalice? Again, it seems impossible that accidents can exist without their substance; the more so as we know, by experience, that the consecrated bread and wine do what accidents alone could not do—(e.g., nourish, warm, and strengthen the body)—and that the consecrated wine, if consumed to excess, would produce intoxication. Furthermore, the consecrated elements are subject to vicissitudes, such as burning, putrefaction, etc., which could not affect mere accidents. And, again, if the elements be divided into small particles, how can the Body of Christ be present in each fraction? Our answer to these objections is that which we have made before, viz., that the infinite power of God can do more than we can conceive; and that, what is impossible to nature and to man, is possible to Him. In the Blessed Eucharist there is nothing beyond the power of God. For we say that the Body and Blood of Christ are present in this Sacrament by conversion. And this is not impossible to God, although it is impossible to nature, which cannot change one thing into another thing already in existence. If the infinite power of God can create something out of nothing, can it not, much more, cause one substance to be transformed into another, and therefore the substance of bread and wine to become the substance of the Body and Blood of Christ?
Since, then, the Body of Christ is not present in the Blessed Eucharist by local movement, i.e., by descent from Heaven into the Host, but solely by conversion, we must admit that His presence in Heaven differs modally from His sacramental presence. In Heaven His Body, like other bodies, occupies space and is extended; but He is present in the Host, not by mode of extension, but in an indivisible manner, and in a mode so wonderful, that this whole Body is present in every fragment of the Host. This mode of existence is possible only to God, whose power exceeds the bounds of our intelligence. But, observe, that in the Blessed Eucharist the Body of Christ is present under the appearance of bread, and His Blood under that of wine; but as His Blood, His Soul, and his Divinity never leave His Body, and His Body never leaves His Blood, the whole Christ is, by natural concomitance, present in every particle and drop of both species. Christ, furthermore, is not present in this Sacrament as in a place. Therefore, although there are many Hosts on many altars, He is not in many places but in many Sacraments. We see this in our own case, for we know that our whole soul is in every part of our body, and yet we do not say that it is in different places; because the soul is not in the body as in a place, but as the form in its matter.
As God has created all things out of nothing by His own Power, without the aid of other causes, He can produce all natural effects without using secondary causes. Therefore, although, naturally speaking, substance upholds accidents, God can preserve accidents without the help of substance. Many philosophers have maintained that quantity can exist without substance; and we say that in the Blessed Eucharist, not quantity only, but all other accidents, do, by the power of God, exist without substance. Not only does God enable accidents to exist without substance; but He enables them to do, and to suffer, that which substance would do and suffer, were the accidents joined to substance, e.g., to nourish, to intoxicate, to putrefy, to burn, etc. These actions and sufferings do not extend to the Body of Christ, but only to the accidents. Thus when the Host is broken, the fracture does not affect the Body of Christ, which remains entire in each particle.1 Many other difficulties may be urged against the dogma of the Eucharist, but the solution we have given to the difficulties enumerated, will pave the way to the solution of all others. And it will be manifest that the Catholic Faith does not, in this doctrine, propose to our belief anything impossible to God.
[1 ] The reader will, naturally, recall the words of St. Thomas, in the Lauda Sion:—“Fracto demum Sacramento,Ne vacilles, sed memento,Tantum esse sub fragmento,Quantum toto tegitur,” etc.,
of which the late Father Aylward, O.P., has left the following translation:—“When the priest the Victim breaketh,See thy faith it nowise shaketh;Know that every fragment takethAll that ’neath the whole there lies;This in Him no fracture maketh,’Tis the figure only breaketh,Form or state, no change there takethPlace, in what it signifies.”—Editor.