- Faith, Metaphysics, and the Contemplation of Christ’s Corporeal Presence in the Eucharist: A Translation of St. Thomas Aquinas’ Seventh Quodlibetal Dispute, Q. 4, A. 1 with an Introductory Essay
- Antiphon: A Journal for Liturgical Renewal
- The Catholic University of America Press
- Volume 15, Number 2, 2011
- pp. 151-171
- View Citation
- Additional Information
Faith, Metaphysics, and the Contemplation of Christ’s Corporeal Presence in the Eucharist: A Translation of St. Thomas Aquinas’ Seventh Quodlibetal Dispute, Q. 4, A. 1 with an Introductory Essay Roger W. Nutt1* I. Introduction This translation and essay has two primary aims. First, and most importantly, a text of Thomas Aquinas on the thorny question of the presence of the “whole Christ” in the Eucharist is made available for the first time in English. This short article of a Quodlibetal question touches, in seed form, on nearly all the major points of St. Thomas’s profound doctrine of Christ’s presence in the Eucharist. There is no sense in which this text should be sought as a replacement for Aquinas ’ contemplations in his more mature and nuanced works on this topic, especially the fourth book of the Summa Contra Gentiles and questions 75–77 of the tertia pars of the Summa theologiae. Nevertheless , this text may indeed prove to be a valuable primer or companion for students of sacramental theology who find themselves daunted by the philosophical rigor underlying the material on the Real Presence in either of the two Summae. The second aim of this introductory essay is deeply related to content of the translation: namely, the essay provides a basic introduction to the metaphysical concepts that are needed to understand the deepest contours of the revealed mystery of the Real Presence. Only what is absolutely necessary has been detailed below, and references 1 * To John Lawrence Nelson on the occasion of his First Holy Communion Antiphon 15.2 (2011): 151-171 152 Roger W. Nutt to primary and secondary sources have been provided so that the reader can pursue these topics more fully if he or she wishes. One may wonder what, beyond the historical intrigue of studying the metaphysics of substance that undergird the doctrine of the Real Presence, is the value of re-examining the speculative inner-workings of the Angelic Doctor’s thought on the Eucharist? One answer to this question is that it is not difficult to find Catholic theologians today who simply deny the claim that a metaphysical understanding of reality is needed in order to grasp the doctrine of the Real Presence.� The headlong consideration of the Real Presence from a metaphysical standpoint is thus offered here as an apologia to contemporary Catholic theologians; an apologia that seeks to underscore the rich and organic relationship between metaphysical contemplation and the vision of the world contained in Divine Revelation. It is our hope that this translation and the philosophical introduction, presented in conjunction with the objections and contributions of several recent authors, will contribute in some way to a confident renewal in the metaphysical aspects of Eucharistic theology, and, by default, to a confident renewal in the place that Aquinas and his commentators can have in teaching us about the Eucharist. II. Change, Substance, Quantity, and Location: A Brief Philosophical Introduction The teaching of the Catholic Church on Christ’s presence in the Sacrament of the Eucharist is clear and unambiguous: Jesus, in a substantial manner, is present “body, blood, soul, and divinity” in every particle of every consecrated host and in every drop of consecrated wine. The change that brings about this presence of the “whole Christ” is called by the Church “transubstantiation.” 1. Transubstantiation As the name indicates “transubstantiation” is a change whose term is in the order of substance. To understand, therefore, the presence that is brought about as a result of this change, it is necessary to understand the meaning of substance and how substance is really distinct from accidental realities such as quantity and location. Every change that takes place in the natural order of things, whether it be a substantial change (when one thing becomes another thing) or an accidental change (when a thing is modified without ceasing to be what it is), is governed by certain necessary principles without which the change cannot take place. One of Aristotle’s preferred examples of change, in this case an accidental change, is the movement of the non-musical man from being “non-musical” to being a “musical 153 Faith, Metaphysics, and the Contemplation of Christ’s Corporeal...