John Young

Frank Mobbs (July AD2000), responding to my article in the May issue, finds it "difficult to see how anyone's appreciation of the Eucharist could be enkindled by belief in the doctrine of transubstantiation ...".

I find that statement amazing. There is an appalling casualness in the attitude of many Catholics to the Real Presence, and surveys have shown that many of them deny Christ's bodily presence. But no one can be casual about it who firmly holds the dogma of transubstantiation.

The importance of this sublime dogma should be clear from statements of the Church's Magisterium. As noted in my article, the Council of Trent insisted on it in the sixteenth century. Since then it has been repeatedly taught. Pius XII, in his encyclical Humani Generis, reaffirmed it, noting that setting it aside leads to Christ's Real Presence being "thus reduced to a kind of symbolic communication ..." (n. 26).

In 1965 Pope Paul VI strongly reiterated this dogma in his encyclical Mysterium Fidei, in face of increasing scepticism about it. He makes the very pertinent observation that, to avoid misunderstanding this mode of presence, "our minds must be docile and we must follow the voice of the Church through her teaching and prayer" (n. 46).

Frank Mobbs says the doctrine is not taught by Our Lord in the Gospels, nor by St Paul, and is unknown to the early Christian writers. He fails to distinguish between the implicit and explicit teaching of a doctrine.

Would he regard the dogma of the Immaculate Conception as not leading to an appreciation of Our Lady on the grounds that for many centuries it was but a theological opinion, and was only proclaimed as a dogma in 1854?

He "explains" that the promulgation of the doctrine of transubstantiation resulted from Catholic theologians in the Middle Ages having "an obsession with explaining the inexplicable". He claims the doctrine is "scarcely comprehensible though true".

In that case, should we relegate the dogma of the Blessed Trinity to a scarcely comprehensible doctrine that won't help our appreciation of God? It is far less comprehensible than that of transubstantiation.

If Frank responds to this letter I would like him to answer this question: Is the doctrine of transubstantiation an infallible teaching, the denial of which is heresy?

Melbourne, Vic.

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