Archive for the ‘Real Presence’ Category

Garry Wills on Augustine and the Real Presence

May 27, 2014

Garry Wills is the author of “Why I am a Catholic,” but also of “Why Priests?” and “Papal Sins: Structures of Deceit.”  His “Lincoln at Gettysburg” won a Pulitzer Prize.  He also wrote a biography of Augustine, St. Augustine (a Penguin Lives Biography).  So, it might be good for folks to pay attention when he says (Why Priests, p. 16):

Indeed, Eucharist (“Thanksgiving”) in its later sense, of sharing bread and wine as the body and blood of Christ, is never used in the New Testament, not even in the Letter to Hebrews, which alone calls Jesus a priest. Even when the term “Eucharist” came in, as with the letters of Ignatius of Antioch, it was still, as in Paul, simply a celebration of the people’s oneness at the “one altar.” That meaning for the “body of Christ” would persist as late as the fourth and fifth centuries, in Augustine’s denial of the real presence of Jesus in the elements of the meal.
What you see passes away, but what is invisibly symbolized does not pass away. It perdures. The visible is received, eaten, and digested. But can the body of Christ be digested? Can the church of Christ be digested? Can Christ’s limbs be digested? Of course not. [[Augustine, Sermon 227]]
If you want to know what is the body of Christ, hear what the Apostle [Paul] tells believers: “You are Christ’s body, and his limbs” [1 Cor 12.27]. If, then, you are Christ’s body and his limbs, it is your symbol that lies on the Lord’s altar–what you receive is a symbol of yourselves. When you say “Amen,” and you must be the body of Christ to make that “Amen” take effect. And why are you bread? Hear again the Apostle, speaking of this very symbol: “We are one bread, one body, many as we are” [1 Cor 10.17].[[Augustine, Sermon 272]]
Believers recognize the body of Christ when they take care to be the body of Christ. They should be the body of Christ if they want to draw life from the spirit of Christ. No life comes to the body of Christ but from the spirit of Christ.[[Augustine, In Joannem Tractatus 26.13]]
There are more quotations that could be added to the above, but those are certainly three of the key quotations that establish Wills point.

Hoffer – Real Presence and Transubstantiation

June 12, 2012

Paul Hoffer had posted some responses in our on-going dialog regarding Augustine and transubstantiation, which included the following kind of comment:

Before we begin addressing errors and omissions specific to Turretinfan’s commentary on Sermon 272, I would refer the reader to Part I where I have already addressed Mr. Fan’s apparent confusion between the term of “Real Presence” and the term “transubstantiation” in my commentary on his thoughts about Letter 36.


It was gratifying, therefore, to read the following from Fr. Dwight Longenecker:

The problem with this is that “the Real Presence” is a term that is also used by non-Catholics to refer to their beliefs about the Eucharist. I’ve heard Anglicans, Methodists and even a Baptist talk about “the Real Presence” at Holy Communion. They all mean something different by the same term.

This reflects a major problem in all theological and ecumenical discussion: people use the same terminology to describe totally different beliefs. The Catholic uses the term (or should) to refer to transubstantiation. The Anglican says he believes in “the Real Presence” and may be referring to consubstantiation (the belief that Christ is “with” or “beside” the consecrated bread and wine) or receptionism (Christ is received by the individual as he receives the bread and wine by faith) The term “Real Presence” used by a Baptist or Methodist may simply mean, “I feel close to Jesus when I go to communion.”

(source – emphasis added)

He links to a further entry, in which he provides a more detailed explanation:

So–like Ridley and Latimer before him– he used the term ‘real presence’ to sound as close to Catholicism as possible while in fact rejecting Catholic doctrine. Pusey believed the ‘real presence’ of Christ in the sacrament was only a spiritual and sacramental presence. In this way the Victorian Anglo-Catholic actually agreed with the reformer Ridley who wrote, “The blood of Christ is in the chalice… but by grace and in a sacrament…This presence of Christ is wholly spiritual.”

So why does it matter if the presence is only spiritual and sacramental? It matters because the whole work of Christ is more than spiritual. It is physical.

So 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 that explained that belief with the term 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.”

So what should Catholics do when confronted with this confusing term ‘real presence’? First of all Catholics should realise that it is not a Catholic term at all. It’s history is mostly Anglican, and as such it was always used as a way to adroitly sidestep the troublesome doctrine of transubstantiation; and as such it is not an accurate term to describe true Catholic Eucharistic doctrine.

So as Catholics, we must use clear language about the sacrament. We can affirm the ‘real’ presence of Christ which non-Catholics affirm in the fellowship of the church, in the preaching of the gospel and in the celebration of the Eucharist, but we must also affirm that the fullest sense of the ‘real presence’ is that which we worship in the Blessed Sacrament of the altar.

Although Paul VI used the term ‘real presence’ in Mysterium Fidei the whole thrust of the encyclical is to support and recommend the continued use of the term ‘transubstantiation’ as the Catholic terminology. With this in mind I suggest Catholics should avoid the ambiguous term ‘real presence’ and speak boldly of transubstantiation. Instead of ‘real presence’ we should also use the terminology used in the twelfth century when the doctrine of transubstantiation was being hammered out. Then there was no talk of a vaguely spiritual ‘real presence’, instead they referred to the ‘real body and real blood of Christ.’

Mr. Hoffer has a lot more to say in the post which the first snippet referenced. In that much larger segment, Hoffer provides some discussion regarding “real presence” and “transubstantiation.”  But, at most, the distinction between the two within modern Roman theology is that “transubstantiation” describes the change as a change, whereas “real presence” in modern Roman theology describes the result of that change. We might add that transubstantiation implies not only the “real presence” of the body, blood, soul, and divinity after the consecration but also the “real absence” of bread at that time – but some would say that the modern Roman “real presence” view includes that aspect as well.

As it relates to our discussion of Augustine, Mr. Hoffer’s nuance is one that is interesting.  It seems that Mr. Hoffer is not willing to defend the idea that Augustine held to transubstantiation, even under a different name.  Thus, he seems to have conceded the major point we have consistently alleged.

On the other hand, it seems that Mr. Hoffer believes that Augustine held to the modern Roman concept of “real presence,” which would require Augustine to believe that the body, blood, soul, and divinity of Christ are all “really” present under each species (both under the species that has the appearance of bread, and under the species that has the appearance of wine diluted with water).

Augustine, we contend, held to a divine, spiritual and sacramental (in the Augustinian sense, not the modern Roman sense) presence.  That kind of presence is real, yet it is not the modern Roman conception of “real presence,” but rather more like one of the Reformation conceptions of real presence, as Longenecker explains above.

So, at least a minor point of disagreement remains between us, namely whether Augustine held to a full-blown conception of modern Roman “real presence,” or whether Augustine merely held to something like the Reformation view of a divine, spiritual, and sacramental (in the Augustinian sense) presence. 


Rome Doesn’t Teach the Physical Presence?

March 10, 2012

Justin Taylor has re-posted an unhelpful portion of Chris Castaldo’s “Three Misnomers to Avoid.” Technically, I don’t think that the three items that Mr. Castaldo identifies would meet the definition of “misnomers,” just alleged mistakes. What are those mistakes?

1. “Catholics teach that Christ is “physically present” in the Mass.”

Incidentally, there is a misnomer in that sentence, namely the misnomer of referring those in the Roman communion as “Catholics.” The Roman church is not the universal (that’s what “Catholic” means) church of Christ. But that’s not what Mr. Castaldo has in mind. Mr. Castaldo actually tries to argue that Christ not physically present “in the Mass.”

There is not a teaching that Christ is present physically at the start of the Mass, but it is accurate to say that “physical presence” is the Roman teaching (though it is not the whole of the teaching). For example:

A third element, that has an increasingly natural and central place in World Youth Days and in the spirituality that arises from them, is adoration. I still look back to that unforgettable moment during my visit to the United Kingdom, when tens of thousands of predominantly young people in Hyde Park responded in eloquent silence to the Lord’s sacramental presence, in adoration. The same thing happened again on a smaller scale in Zagreb and then again in Madrid, after the thunderstorm which almost ruined the whole night vigil through the failure of the microphones. God is indeed ever-present. But again, the physical presence of the risen Christ is something different, something new. The risen Lord enters into our midst. And then we can do no other than say, with Saint Thomas: my Lord and my God! Adoration is primarily an act of faith – the act of faith as such. God is not just some possible or impossible hypothesis concerning the origin of all things. He is present. And if he is present, then I bow down before him. Then my intellect and will and heart open up towards him and from him. In the risen Christ, the incarnate God is present, who suffered for us because he loves us. We enter this certainty of God’s tangible love for us with love in our own hearts. This is adoration, and this then determines my life. Only thus can I celebrate the Eucharist correctly and receive the body of the Lord rightly.

Christmas Greetings to the Roman Curia, 22 December 2011 (linkvideo link)(emphasis added)

Notice that Benedict XVI (who is not just the current pope, but also a theologian within his church) treats the sacramental presence as a physical presence, and therefore distinguishable from the spiritual omnipresence of God.

Moreover, Benedict XVI’s view is not a mistake (or a “misnomer” if you prefer).  As CCC 1373 explains: “he is present . . . most especially in the Eucharistic species.”  CCC 1374 goes into more detail (emphasis added):

The mode of Christ’s presence under the Eucharistic species is unique. It raises the Eucharist above all the sacraments as “the perfection of the spiritual life and the end to which all the sacraments tend.” In the most blessed sacrament of the Eucharist “the body and blood, together with the soul and divinity, of our Lord Jesus Christ and, therefore, the whole Christ is truly, really, and substantially contained.” “This presence is called ‘real’ – by which is not intended to exclude the other types of presence as if they could not be ‘real’ too, but because it is presence in the fullest sense: that is to say, it is a substantial presence by which Christ, God and man, makes himself wholly and entirely present.”

Moreover, this presence is unique because it is bodily (i.e. physical) presence: “It is by the conversion of the bread and wine into Christ’s body and blood that Christ becomes present in this sacrament.” (CCC 1375)  The presence of Christ is not a visible presence: “Since Christ was about to take his departure from his own in his visible form, he wanted to give us his sacramental presence.” (CCC 1380)

Mr. Castaldo makes an argument:

When describing Jesus Christ as the Eucharist, Catholics will say that the Lord is “really,” “truly,” “wholly,” “continuously,” or “substantially” present, but not “physically.” To state the Jesus is “physically” present is to suggest that he is present “locally” (as he is now in heaven at the right hand of the Father). The Eucharistic presence of Christ, although understood as no less real, is sacramentally present in the transubstantiated host. From the Catechism of the Catholic Church:

1413 By the consecration the transubstantiation of the bread and wine into the Body and Blood of Christ is brought about. Under the consecrated species of bread and wine Christ himself, living and glorious, is present in a true, real, and substantial manner: his Body and his Blood, with his soul and his divinity (cf. Council of Trent: DS 1640; 1651).

The positive aspects of his comments are of course right: Rome teaches that Jesus is “really,” “truly,” “wholly,” “continuously,” and “substantially” present. But Mr. Castaldo wrongly reasons from the fact that “physical” is not used, to suppose that “physical presence” is denied. We have observed Benedict XVI using such an expression – but consider further: before the consecration, there is just bread and wine. After the consecration, there is no more bread and wine. What appears to be bread and wine according to all of science and reason is, Rome claims, the body, blood, soul, and divinity of Christ.

Moreover, that presence is “local” in the sense of being contained. As CCC 1367 explains: “in the Mass, the same Christ who offered himself once in a bloody manner on the altar of the cross is contained … .” That’s why the storage container for the consecrated hosts is called a “tabernacle.” It is because it provides a housing for what Rome falsely claims is Jesus himself.

Mr. Castaldo’s denial of the physical and local presence of Christ seems to run contrary to the teachings of Pope Paul VI:

This presence is called “real” not to exclude the idea that the others are “real” too, but rather to indicate presence par excellence, because it is substantial and through it Christ becomes present whole and entire, God and man. And so it would be wrong for anyone to try to explain this manner of presence by dreaming up a so-called “pneumatic” nature of the glorious body of Christ that would be present everywhere; or for anyone to limit it to symbolism, as if this most sacred Sacrament were to consist in nothing more than an efficacious sign “of the spiritual presence of Christ and of His intimate union with the faithful, the members of His Mystical Body.”

(Paul VI, Mysterium Fidei, 3 September 1965, section 39)

But I suspect that Mr. Castaldo’s argument comes (directly or indirectly) from Thomas Aquinas who himself took the position that Christ is not present “locally.”  But by that he did not deny that Christ’s presence is physical, as you can see:

… Christ’s body is in this sacrament not after the proper manner of dimensive quantity, but rather after the manner of substance. But every body occupying a place is in the place according to the manner of dimensive quantity, namely, inasmuch as it is commensurate with the place according to its dimensive quantity. Hence it remains that Christ’s body is not in this sacrament as in a place, but after the manner of substance, that is to say, in that way in which substance is contained by dimensions; because the substance of Christ’s body succeeds the substance of bread in this sacrament: hence as the substance of bread was not locally under its dimensions, but after the manner of substance, so neither is the substance of Christ’s body. Nevertheless the substance of Christ’s body is not the subject of those dimensions, as was the substance of the bread: and therefore the substance of the bread was there locally by reason of its dimensions, because it was compared with that place through the medium of its own dimensions; but the substance of Christ’s body is compared with that place through the medium of foreign dimensions, so that, on the contrary, the proper dimensions of Christ’s body are compared with that place through the medium of substance; which is contrary to the notion of a located body.

Hence in no way is Christ’s body locally in this sacrament.

Reply to Objection 1. Christ’s body is not in this sacrament definitively, because then it would be only on the particular altar where this sacrament is performed: whereas it is in heaven under its own species, and on many other altars under the sacramental species. Likewise it is evident that it is not in this sacrament circumscriptively, because it is not there according to the commensuration of its own quantity, as stated above. But that it is not outside the superficies of the sacrament, nor on any other part of the altar, is due not to its being there definitively or circumscriptively, but to its being there by consecration and conversion of the bread and wine, as stated above (1; 15, 2, sqq.).

Reply to Objection 2. The place in which Christ’s body is, is not empty; nor yet is it properly filled with the substance of Christ’s body, which is not there locally, as stated above; but it is filled with the sacramental species, which have to fill the place either because of the nature of dimensions, or at least miraculously, as they also subsist miraculously after the fashion of substance.

Reply to Objection 3. As stated above (Article 4), the accidents of Christ’s body are in this sacrament by real concomitance. And therefore those accidents of Christ’s body which are intrinsic to it are in this sacrament. But to be in a place is an accident when compared with the extrinsic container. And therefore it is not necessary for Christ to be in this sacrament as in a place.

(Summa Theologica, 3a, 76, 6)

Of course, Thomas’ views on this (see the rest of them) are not de fide for those in the Roman Catholics, but certainly are influential.  It’s not clear to me that Mr. Castaldo understands what Aquinas is saying about the body of Christ not being locally present, but to deny that the body is not physically present is not only inconsistent with Benedict XVI (as mentioned above) and rationally with the de fide pronouncements of Trent but also inconsistent with Aquinas himself:

Objection 2. Further, the form of Christ’s body is His soul: for it is said in De Anima ii, that the soul “is the act of a physical body which has life in potentiality”. But it cannot be said that the substantial form of the bread is changed into the soul. Therefore it appears that it remains after the consecration.

Reply to Objection 2. The soul is the form of the body, giving it the whole order of perfect being, i.e. being, corporeal being, and animated being, and so on. Therefore the form of the bread is changed into the form of Christ’s body, according as the latter gives corporeal being, but not according as it bestows animated being.

(Summa Theologica, 3a, 75, 6)

2. Re-Sacrifice?

The next alleged error is that “[Roman] Catholics teach that Christ is re-sacrificed at the Mass.” That accurately reflects the bizarre contemporary teaching that there is only one sacrifice and yet every mass is a sacrifice. But in the discussion of Purgatory, the Council of Trent did not hesitate to speak of the “sacrifices of the masses” (“missarum … sacrificia”) as being of assistance to those in Purgatory.

But whether or not Rome today maintains Trent or contradicts it, we may still object that the Mass amounts to a new sacrifice, inasmuch as the Mass purports to “re-present” (not represent) and perpetuate the sacrifice that took place on Calvary.

3. Multiple Deaths?
The final alleged mistake was: “[Roman] Catholics teach that Christ dies at the Mass.” It certainly is not (to my knowledge) de fide that Christ dies at each mass. However, that in itself is problematic for the person in the Roman communion. How can there be a sacrifice of the victim without the death of the victim? But that’s part of the objection, not part of the teaching to which we are responding, technically.


Augustine on the Presence of Christ

February 8, 2011

When people try to claim that Augustine held to the modern Roman view of transubstantiation, one particular problem for them may be in dealing with Augustine’s comments regarding the presence of Christ. The following are comments from Augustine that demonstrate that he did not hold to the idea of a bodily, carnal, fleshly, physical presence, but instead indicated that the only presence of Christ in his church during this age is divine and spiritual. As in my previous post, I have numbered the quotations for ease of reference.

1. NPNF1: Vol. VII, Tractate 50 on John (John 11:55-57), §§ 12-13

12. But what follows? “For the poor ye have always with you, but me ye will not have always.” We can certainly understand, “the poor ye have always;” what He has thus said is true. When were the poor wanting in the Church? “But me ye will not have always;” what does He mean by this? How are we to understand, “Me ye will not have always”? Don’t be alarmed: it was addressed to Judas. Why, then, did He not say, thou wilt have, but, ye will have? Because Judas is not here a unit. One wicked man represents the whole body of the wicked; in the same way as Peter, the whole body of the good, yea, the body of the Church, but in respect to the good. For if in Peter’s case there were no sacramental symbol of the Church, the Lord would not have said to him, “I will give unto thee the keys of the kingdom of heaven: whatsoever thou shalt loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven; and whatsoever thou shalt bind on earth shall be bound in heaven.” [Matt. xvi. 19.] If this was said only to Peter, it gives no ground of action to the Church. But if such is the case also in the Church, that what is bound on earth is bound in heaven, and what is loosed on earth is loosed in heaven,—for when the Church excommunicates, the excommunicated person is bound in heaven; when one is reconciled by the Church, the person so reconciled is loosed in heaven:—if such, then, is the case in the Church, Peter, in receiving the keys, represented the holy Church. If, then, in the person of Peter were represented the good in the Church, and in Judas’ person were represented the bad in the Church, then to these latter was it said, “But me ye will not have always.” But what means the “not always;” and what, the “always”? If thou art good, if thou belongest to the body represented by Peter, thou hast Christ both now and hereafter: now by faith, by sign, by the sacrament of baptism, by the bread and wine of the altar. Thou hast Christ now, but thou wilt have Him always; for when thou hast gone hence, thou wilt come to Him who said to the robber, “To-day shalt thou be with me in paradise.” [Luke xxiii. 43.] But if thou livest wickedly, thou mayest seem to have Christ now, because thou enterest the Church, signest thyself with the sign of Christ, art baptized with the baptism of Christ, minglest thyself with the members of Christ, and approachest His altar: now thou hast Christ, but by living wickedly thou wilt not have Him always.

13. It may be also understood in this way: “The poor ye will have always with you, but me ye will not have always.” The good may take it also as addressed to themselves, but not so as to be any source of anxiety; for He was speaking of His bodily presence. For in respect of His majesty, His providence, His ineffable and invisible grace, His own words are fulfilled, “Lo, I am with you alway, even to the end of the world.” [Matt. xxviii. 20.] But in respect of the flesh He assumed as the Word, in respect of that which He was as the son of the Virgin, of that wherein He was seized by the Jews, nailed to the tree, let down from the cross, enveloped in a shroud, laid in the sepulchre, and manifested in His resurrection, “ye will not have Him always.” And why? Because in respect of His bodily presence He associated for forty days with His disciples, and then, having brought them forth for the purpose of beholding and not of following Him, He ascended into heaven, [Acts i. 3, 9, 10.] and is no longer here. He is there, indeed, sitting at the right hand of the Father; and He is here also, having never withdrawn the presence of His glory. In other words, in respect of His divine presence we always have Christ; in respect of His presence in the flesh it was rightly said to the disciples, “Me ye will not have always.” In this respect the Church enjoyed His presence only for a few days: now it possesses Him by faith, without seeing Him with the eyes. In whichever way, then, it was said, “But me ye will not have always,” it can no longer, I suppose, after this twofold solution, remain as a subject of doubt.

2. NPNF1: Vol. VII, Tractates on John, Tractate 50, John 11:55-57, 12:1-11, §4.

Let them come to the church and hear where Christ is, and take Him. They may hear it from us, they may hear it from the gospel. He was slain by their forefathers, He was buried, He rose again, He was recognized by the disciples, He ascended before their eyes into heaven, and there sitteth at the right hand of the Father; and He who was judged is yet to come as Judge of all: let them hear, and hold fast. Do they reply, How shall I take hold of the absent? how shall I stretch up my hand into heaven, and take hold of one who is sitting there? Stretch up thy faith, and thou hast got hold. Thy forefathers held by the flesh, hold thou with the heart; for the absent Christ is also present. But for His presence, we ourselves were unable to hold Him.

3. NPNF1, Contra Faustus, Book 20, Chapter 13

How can Faustus think that we resemble the Manichæans in attaching sacredness to bread and wine, when they consider it sacrilege to taste wine? They acknowledge their god in the grape, but not in the cup; perhaps they are shocked at his being trampled on and bottled. It is not any bread and wine that we hold sacred as a natural production, as if Christ were confined in corn or in vines, as the Manichæans fancy, but what is truly consecrated as a symbol. What is not consecrated, though it is bread and wine, is only nourishment or refreshment, with no sacredness about it; although we bless and thank God for every gift, bodily as well as spiritual. According to your notion, Christ is confined in everything you eat, and is released by digestion from the additional confinement of your intestines. So, when you eat, your god suffers; and when you digest, you suffer from his recovery. When he fills you, your gain is his loss. This might be considered kindness on his part, because he suffers in you for your benefit, were it not that he gains freedom by escaping and leaving you empty. There is not the least resemblance between our reverence for the bread and wine, and your doctrines, which have no truth in them. To compare the two is even more foolish than to say, as some do, that in the bread and wine we worship Ceres and Bacchus. I refer to this now, to show where you got your silly idea that our fathers kept the Sabbath in honor of Saturn. For as there is no connection with the worship of the Pagan deities Ceres and Bacchus in our observance of the sacrament of the bread and wine, which you approve so highly that you wish to resemble us in it, so there was no subjection to Saturn in the case of our fathers, who observed the rest of the Sabbath in a manner suitable to prophetic times.

Alternative translation:

But I do not know why Faustus thinks that we practice the same religion with respect to the bread and the cup, since for Manicheans to taste wine is not religious but sacrilegious. For they recognize their God in the grape; they refuse to recognize him in the cup, as if he had caused them some offense by being crushed and bottled. But our bread and cup, not just any bread and cup, is made sacramental to us by a particular consecration; it was not naturally such, as Manichaeans say in their folly on account of Christ, who is supposedly bound in the ears of grain and branches. Hence, what is not consecrated, though it is bread and cup, is food for refreshment, not the sacrament of religion, apart from the fact that we bless and give thanks to the Lord for every gift of his, not only spiritual but also bodily.
But for you in your myth Christ is presented as bound in all foods, destined still to be bound in your stomach and to be released by your belches. For, even when you eat, you restore yourselves a loss to your God, and when you digest your food, he is restored at a loss to you. For, when he fills you, your intake squashes him. And this, of course, would be attributed to his mercy when he suffers something in you and for you, were it not that he again leaves you empty so that he may escape after being set free by you. How, then, can you set our bread and cup on a par with this and say that an error far removed from the truth is the same religious practice? For your are more foolish than some people who think that, on account of the bread and the cup, we worship Ceres and Liber.

I thought that I should mention this point so that you might notice the folly from which there comes that idea of yours that, on account of the Sabbath, our patriarchs were devoted to Saturn. For, just as we are far removed from Ceres and Liber, gods of the pagans, although we embrace in our rites the sacrament of the bread and the cup (which you praised in such a way that you wanted to be our equals in it), so our patriarchs were far removed from the chains of Saturn, although in accord with the time of prophecy they observed the sabbath rest.

(Works of Saint Augustine, A Translation for the 21st Century: New City Press)

4. Tractate 80 on John (John 15:1-3), At Section 3

“Now ye are clean through the word which I have spoken unto you. Why does He not say, Ye are clean through the baptism wherewith ye have been washed, but “through the word which I have spoken unto you,” save only that in the water also it is the word that cleanseth? Take away the word, and the water is neither more nor less than water. The word is added to the element, and there results the Sacrament, as if itself also a kind of visible word. For He had said also to the same effect, when washing the disciples’ feet, “He that is washed needeth not, save to wash his feet, but is clean every whit.” [Chap. xiii. 10.] And whence has water so great an efficacy, as in touching the body to cleanse the soul, save by the operation of the word; and that not because it is uttered, but because it is believed? For even in the word itself the passing sound is one thing, the abiding efficacy another. “This is the word of faith which we preach,” says the apostle, “that if thou shalt confess with thy mouth that Jesus is the Lord, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised Him from the dead, thou shalt be saved. For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness, and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.” [Rom. x. 10.] Accordingly, we read in the Acts of the Apostles, “Purifying their hearts by faith;” [Acts xv. 9.] and, says the blessed Peter in his epistle, “Even as baptism doth also now save us, not the putting away of the filth of the flesh, but the answer [1 Pet. iii. 21.] of a good conscience.” “This is the word of faith which we preach,” whereby baptism, doubtless, is also consecrated, in order to its possession of the power to cleanse. For Christ, who is the vine with us, and the husbandman with the Father, “loved the Church, and gave Himself for it.” And then read the apostle, and see what he adds: “That He might sanctify it, cleansing it with the washing of water by the word.” [Eph. v. 25, 26.] The cleansing, therefore, would on no account be attributed to the fleeting and perishable element, were it not for that which is added, “by the word.” This word of faith possesses such virtue in the Church of God, that through the medium of him who in faith presents, and blesses, and sprinkles it, He cleanseth even the tiny infant, although itself unable as yet with the heart to believe unto righteousness, and to make confession with the mouth unto salvation. All this is done by means of the word, whereof the Lord saith, “Now ye are clean through the word which I have spoken unto you.”

5a. John E. Rotelle, O.S.A., ed., The Works of Saint Augustine, Exposition of the Psalms, Part 3, Vol. 16, trans. Maria Boulding, O.S.B., Exposition 1 of Psalm 33, §10 (Hyde Park: New City Press, 2000), p. 21.

10. And he was carried in his own hands. How on earth are we to understand this, my brothers and sisters, how is it humanly possible? How can someone be carried in his own hands? A person can be carried in the hands of others, but not in his own. Well, we have no way of knowing what it literally means in David’s case; but we can make sense of it with regard to Christ. Christ was being carried in his own hands when he handed over his body, saying, This is my body (Mt 26:26); for he was holding that very body in his hands as he spoke. Such is the humility of our Lord Jesus Christ, and this humility is what he recommends to us most strongly.

5b. (but compare the added caveat in the second sermon) John E. Rotelle, O.S.A., ed., The Works of Saint Augustine, Exposition of the Psalms, Part 3, Vol. 16, trans. Maria Boulding, O.S.B., Exposition 2 of Psalm 33, §2 (Hyde Park: New City Press, 2000), p. 24.

In the light of this, what is the meaning of he affected? It means he was full of affection. What could ever be as full of affection as is the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ, who in consideration of our infirmity accepted temporal death amid such violence and degradation, to free us from everlasting death? He drummed because a drum can be made only by stretching a skin across a wooden frame, so David’s drumming was a prediction that Christ was to be crucified. He drummed on the doors into the city; and what else are the doors into the city but our hearts, which we had shut against Christ? But from the drum of his cross he opened the hearts of us mortals. He was carried in his own hands; how was this possible? Because when he entrusted to us his very body and blood, he took into his hands what the faithful know about, and so in a sense he was carrying himself when he said, This is my body.

6. John E. Rotelle, O.S.A., ed., The Works of Saint Augustine Part 3, Vol. 10, trans. Edmund Hill, O.P., Sermons (341-400) on Various Subjects, Sermon 354, §2 (Hyde Park: New City Press, 1995), p. 156.

Now many people receive the sacrament of his body; but not all who receive the sacrament are also going to have the place in his company promised to his members. Nearly all people indeed say the sacrament is his body, because all are feeding together in his pastures; but he is going to come and separate them, and place some on the right, some on the left. And each section is going to say, Lord, Lord, when did we see you and minister to you? or else Lord, when did we see you and not minister to you? Each section is going to say that; to one, all the same, he will say, Come, you blessed of my Father, take possession of the kingdom; to the other, Go into eternal fire, which has been prepared for the devil and his angels (Mt 25:31-41).

7. John E. Rotelle, O.S.A., ed., The Works of Saint Augustine Part 3, Vol. 7, trans. Edmund Hill, O.P., Sermons (230 – 272B) on Liturgical Seasons, Sermon 265A, §§6-7 (Hyde Park: New City Press, 1993), p. 244.

If that’s the only thing they are willing to hear, why don’t they pay attention to what he said himself on another occasion: I and the Father are one? And then they must consider why it was said: The Father is greater than I. As he was about to ascend, you see, to the Father, the disciples were saddened that he would be leaving them in his bodily form; and so he said to them, What I told you: I am going to the Father, has filled your hearts with sadness. If you loved me you would rejoice that I am going to the Father; because the Father is greater than I (Jn. 16:6; 14:28). That amounts to saying, “The reason I am withdrawing from your sight this form of a servant, in which the Father is greater than I, is so that you may be able spiritually to see the Lord, once the form of a servant has been removed from in front of your eyes of flesh.”
7. So on the one hand, because of the true form of a servant which he had taken, it was true what he said, The Father is greater than I, because obviously God is greater than man; and on the other hand, because of the true form of God in which he remained with the Father, it was true what he said, I and the Father are one. So he ascended to the Father insofar as he was a man, but he remained in the Father insofar as he was God, because he had come forth to us in the flesh without departing from the Father. What I am saying is, there ascended to the Father the Word which had become flesh to dwell among us (Jn 1:14). And he promised us his continued presence, saying, Behold I am with you all days, until the consummation of the age (Mt 28:20).

8. John E. Rotelle, O.S.A., ed., The Works of Saint Augustine Part 3, Vol. 10, trans. Edmund Hill, O.P., Sermons (341-400) on Various Subjects, Sermon 375C, §6 (Hyde Park: New City Press, 1995), p. 343.

What a splendid touch, what belief, what insistence! And this is what a woman did, worn out with loss of blood, like the Church afflicted and wounded in its martyrs by shedding of their blood, but full of the strength of faith. She had previously spent her fortune on doctors, that is on the gods of the nations, who had never been able to cure her; to this Church the Lord has presented not his bodily but his spiritual presence. So now this woman who’s touching and the Lord who’s being touched know each other. But in order that those who needed to know how to obtain salvation might be taught how to touch, he said, Who touched me? And the disciples answered, The crowds are jostling you, and you can say, Who touched me? As though you were in some lofty place where nobody can touch you, is that how you ask who touched you, while you are being jostled continuously by the crowds? The Lord said, Someone touched me (Lk 8:45-46). I felt one woman touching me more than the whole crowd jostling me. The crowd knows well enough how to jostle; if only it could learn how to touch!

9. John E. Rotelle, O.S.A., ed., The Works of Saint Augustine Part 3, Vol. 10, trans. Edmund Hill, O.P., Sermons (341-400) on Various Subjects, Sermon 361, §7 (Hyde Park: New City Press, 1995), p. 229.

So you are enduring a great storm; you don’t want to answer the one who is trying to corrupt you, because you want to be nice to him, since he’s offering you a drink; but the tidal wave of that craving is rearing up its crest, and threatening to engulf your heart like a boat. Christian, Christ is asleep in your boat; wake him up, he will command the storm, and everything will be calm. At that time, you see, when the disciples were being tossed about in the boat and Christ was asleep, they represented Christians being tossed about while their Christian faith is asleep. You can see, after all, what the apostle says: For Christ to dwell, he says, by faith in your hearts (Eph 3:19). As regards, you see, his presence in beauty and divinity, he is always with the Father; as regards his bodily presence, he is now about the heavens at the right hand of the Father; but as regards the presence of faith, he is in all Christians. And the reason, therefore, that you are being tossed about hither and thither is that Christ is asleep; that is, the reason you don’t overcome those cravings that are stirred up by the gusts of evil persuasion, is that faith is asleep.

10. John E. Rotelle, O.S.A., ed., The Works of Saint Augustine Part 3, Vol. 20, trans. Edmund Hill, O.P., Expositions of the Psalms (Volume 6), Exposition of Psalm 127, §8 (Hyde Park: New City Press, 2004), p. 105.

Now let each one of us discern what kind of fear he or she has. Is it the kind that charity casts out or the chaste fear that abides for ever, for eternity? Each of you must test it now. I will spell it out, and you test it. Our bridegroom has gone away. Question your conscience: Do you want him to come back, or would you prefer him to delay his return? Go on, ask yourselves, brothers and sisters! I have knocked at the doors of your hearts, but he alone hears the reply from within. The answers given by all your consciences cannot reach my ears, because I am only a man. But he, who is absent as far as bodily presence goes, is present in all the power and vigor of his majesty, and he has heard you. If we say, “Look, Christ is almost here! Tomorrow will be judgment day!” how few people will reply, “Good! Let him come!” Those who do react like that are the ones who love much, and if you then tell them, “Oh no; he has been delayed,” they will dread any delay, and their dread is chaste fear. And just as chaste fear dreads any delay in his coming, so, when he has come, will it dread his going away. But this fear is tranquil and unworried, another proof that it is chaste fear. We are not likely to be forsaken by him once he has found us, are we? Not anyone who believes in him. After all, he sought us before ever we began to seek him.

– TurretinFan

Augustine vs. Albrecht on the Bodily Presence – Round 2

April 23, 2009

This is video response to William Albrecht’s two videos ( video 1 and video 2 ) responding to previous videos of mine, responding to a still previous video of his.

I continue to point out Mr. Albrecht’s errors. I have 11 points:

1) The issue is bodily presence vs. spiritual presence (not real presence vs. bare symbolism).

2) The issue of the “authority of the Catholic Chruch” is a misleading red herring, because Augustine meant the universal church, not the Roman Catholic Church.

3) When Augustine speaks of “divine presence” that does not mean or imply (quite the contrary) a bodily presence, because a body is not part of the divine nature but the human nature of Christ.

4) Mr. Albrecht (not myself) is the one who seems to need to try to turn Augustine into a Roman Catholic. I just take Augustine as I find him.

5) Mr. Albrecht refuses to let the Westminster Confession speak for itself, even when it clearly and explicitly states that the position is a real, yet spiritual, presence.

6) Mr. Albrecht confuses the real Francis Turretin’s rejection of consubstantiation with a rejection of the spiritual presence (although Turretin actually affirms this, even in the snippets he quotes, if you listen carefully).

7) Mr. Albrecht errs in suggesting that the Latin word for Spiritual ever means or implies, in Augustine, “corporeal presence” – quite the opposite.

8) Mr. Albrecht still does not seem to “get” that statements like “after the consecreation the bread is [or becomes] the Body of Christ” is something that is consistent with not only the view of transubstantiation, but also with the Reformed view (real spiritual presence) and even the bare symbolic view (which is why I would never try to base my argument on such passages of Augustine if I were disputing this matter with a person who holds to the odd and incorrect position that Augustine held to a bare symbolic view).

9) Albrecht had said: “The great Augustine can no longer be twisted into a pretzel because TurretinFan has run out of ways to rip him apart. Perhaps he’ll resort to taking quotes away from him or mutilating what Augustine says, such as his boss Mr. [sic] White has done to advance his theological views in the past.” I note that although this is untrue and analogically inconsistent (the metaphors of “twist[ing] into a pretzel” and “rip[ping] apart” are incompatible physically), nevetheless the quotation provides an illustration of the fact that somewhere deep inside Albrecht recognizes that people can use figurative language, although he does not seem to want to let Christ and/or Augustine do so, when it is necessary to press them into service for his church.

10) Mr. Albrecht claims that there are “hundreds of thousands of denominations” – a number so wildly inflated it makes the usual, grossly inflated claim of 33,000 denominations seem almost truthful (for more on the 33,000 denominations myth, see the following website (link)).

11) Mr. Albrecht, in wrapping up, seems still to be a bit sore about his friend Mr. Steve Ray and himself getting busted for citing Pseudo-Athanasius as though it were Athanasius.


Augustine vs. Modern Catholicism

February 11, 2008

Augustine, as demonstrated in the video below had a view of the Real presence that was more similar to the Reformed (or Orthodox) view, than to the Lutheran or Roman Catholic view. Skip to 5 minutes, 30 seconds, for the relevant material. The first five and half minutes are interesting, but mostly relevant to the attacks on Dr. White posted on Youtube by GNRHead (William Albrecht).

You see, Augustine explained that it was foolishness to suppose that Christ was to be carnally consumed.

Thanks be to our Risen and Ascended Lord Jesus!


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