Appreciation

Appreciation

Frank O'Connor

I was surprised to read the letter of Dr Frank Mobbs in the July  AD2000. It is incorrect to say that appreciation of the Eucharist is not enkindled by belief in the doctrine of transubstantiation, as explained by John Young in the May  AD2000.

The Catechism of the Council of Trent states that the "admirable change that takes place at the Consecration, the Holy Catholic Church most appropriately expresses by the word transubstantiation". As John Young points out, this word has been used many times in official Church teaching. Not insignificantly Archbishop Michael Sheehan in his book  Apologetics and Catholic Doctrine states that the solemn teaching of the Church is effected by transubstantiation. Surely any solemn teaching should not be discarded.

The same book by Archbishop Sheehan also gives the history of the word "transubstantiation", and an explanation of the terms substance and accidents, and how this understanding of matter is applied to the change of ordinary matter to the Real Presence, as in John Young's article.

I mention Archbishop Sheehan's book because this was once the standard text for senior high school students, and therefore understandable to many of them. Any lack of understanding by some is not a reason to discard an explanation. Even if it is not understood, it can be a source of wonder, and anything that draws our attention to the extraordinary gift of the Eucharist should not be ignored.

Also I am sure the vast majority of Catholics who attended schools before the vast changes to Catholic education after the Second Vatican Council would still be familiar with the word "transubstantiation" and be aware of what it implied with regard to the Blessed Eucharist.

The Catechism of the Council of Trent states that we must not curiously inquire how the change takes place. However transubstantiation is simply an attempt to explain what takes place. How any miracle takes place cannot be fully explained as it is the nature of a miracle. One can only say it is God's will.

Another aspect that Dr Mobbs wants to ignore is the miracle of how the accidents are retained by the power of God, while the substance is changed. This is why the changing of water into wine cannot be compared with the miracle of the Eucharist.

I said that I am surprised that Dr Mobbs would write such a letter. I am even more surprised by the arguments he gives for not using the word "transubstantiation", viz, that Christ, the synoptic gospels and St Paul did not use the term, and that it was not used in an agreed statement with the Anglicans. These arguments have absolutely no substance, and even transubstantiation would not change this.

Why should we not at least attempt to understand what cannot be understood? Are not attempts made to explain the Trinity of God however inadequate they may be? If we go no further than saying I believe in a certain doctrine, we could end up thinking that it is true only because we believe it.

FRANK O'CONNOR
Ashfield, NSW

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