Wednesday, January 31, 2007


I abruptly ended the last post with a note about transubstantiation. I'm going to continue this topic in the current post before going back to the examination of the philosophical concept of form. The two topics are, of course, closely related.

With the mystery of the Eucharist we have two miracles occurring.

The first is that we have the accidents of the bread and the wine without any substance in which to inhere. An important point to grasp is that the perception of the accidents of bread and wine on the part of our senses is not an illusion. God is not deceiving us into thinking they are there when are not. On the contrary, they are there. The accidents of bread and wine really exist although now minus their substance.

The second miracle of the Eucharist is that the properties of Jesus' body and blood exist without our senses detecting them.

I'm using our discussion on form, substance and accidents to go into this topic because there is a misunderstanding that I have come across amongst devout Catholics.

It concerns the existence of the accidents of the bread and wine after the miraculous process of transubstantiation. Let me begin by saying that the word "accidents" tends to be avoided these days. With a modern audience the word is just as likely to evoke images of car smashes than anything else. The substitute put in it's place is usually the word "appearances."

Unfortunately "appearances" has it's own problem. The word "accidents" is a broader term covering more than just the appearances of a thing but also the properties that belong to it such as density and physical effects.

Now I have found that it isn't entirely uncommon to come across the idea that if a priest, hypothetically speaking, where to drink a very large amount of consecrated wine then he would not end up drunk on the pretext that it is the "blood of Christ." Indeed, it is the blood of Christ but we have here a perfect example of opposing one truth with another. The fact is, he would indeed become drunk. This also applies to people with an allergy to the gluten in bread. The consecrated host will have an effect on them because of the accidents proper to bread remain.

This goes to show how handy those philosophy concepts are.

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