Saturday, March 10, 2012

Rome Doesn't Teach the Physical Presence?

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 (link - video 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.



AStev said...

Thanks for taking the time to respond, and providing specific quotes where a physical presence is asserted.

Chris Castaldo said...

For all of its bold letters and superlatives, there is still no explicit evidence in this post to contradict the fact that official (de fide) Catholic doctrine nowhere defines the presence of Christ as “physically” present.

John Bugay said...

" explicit evidence..." "official (de fide) Catholic doctrine" ... Highlighting the very slippery nature [note, a pope can say "physical presence"] of what Roman Catholics say they believe, and what they really do believe. It really is a reprehensible, and reprehensibly dishonest, way to do business. And why individuals like you should both "know better", and be less willing to chastise Protestants for "not using proper terms" or "mischaracterizing Roman Catholic doctrine", and more willing to chastise Roman Catholics for being slippery and dishonest in their characterizations of their own doctrine.

Pete Holter said...

Pope Benedict XVI was speaking in Italian, and he actually said “the corporeal presence,” rather than “the physical presence” [Italian: “la presenza corporea”]. Pope Paul VI wrote that “Christ is present whole and entire in His physical ‘reality,’ corporeally present, although not in the manner in which bodies are in a place” [Latin: “totus et integer Christus adest in sua physica «realitate» etiam corporaliter praesens, licet non comodo quo corpora adsunt in loco”] (Mysterium Fidei, 46).

We believe that Jesus is bodily present in His physical reality.

With love in Christ,
Roman Catholic Pete

Bryan Cross said...

If by 'physical' one is talking about the *object* which is present, and thus in this case is saying that the body that was pierced on the cross and resurrected on the third day is present, then yes, that's what the Catholic Church believes and teaches regarding the Eucharist, and in that case TF is right. But if by 'physical' one is talking about the *mode* of presence, i.e. in the same mode in which other bodies are ordinarily present according to quantitative dimension, and thus in this case is saying that the body that was pierced on the cross and resurrected on the third day is present in that mode in the Eucharist, then no, that's not what the Catholic Church believes and teaches, and in that case Chris is right. That was the error of the Capharnaites, which I have discussed in comment #24 in the "Augustine on Adam's Body and Christ's Body" thread:

Chris Hansen said...

I fail to see how this distinction clarifies things. My Italian is not fluent so others with more facility in may add or correct me, but in my understanding corporea is equivalent to its English cognate, corporeal as you said, which means (according to Webster):

"having, consisting of, or relating to a physical material body"

To say something is corporeal is perhaps to say more than physical, but it is certainly not less than physical.

Pete Holter said...

Greetings in Christ, Chris!

As Bryan pointed out, we don’t necessarily have a problem with saying that Christ is physically present unless, for example, our understanding of “physical presence” leads us to answer, ‘Yes,’ to the following types of questions shared by Dr. Sproul: “Protestants have raised the question again and again, ‘If that’s really the body of Jesus Christ, and the priest breaks it, are we not ripping and tearing the body of Christ again?... Is not Christ’s body being mutilated again? Are we not inflicting torture and torment on the One Who has already finished His work of sacrifice?’ ”

With love in Christ,

Pete Holter said...

Hi again, Chris!

I just had another thought to share…

Here is something to consider about the use of “corporeal” vs. “physical” and about whether “corporeal” necessarily entails “physical.” In Mystici Corporis, Pius XII talks about those “failing to distinguish as they should the precise and proper meaning of the terms the physical body, the social body, and the Mystical Body” (Latin: corporis physici, moralis, mystici). So for a pope to assert a “corporeal presence” may not be the same as for him to assert a “physical presence.” But in this same encyclical, Pius XII says of Christ that “His physical Body (Latin: physico eius Corpore]… is hidden under the Eucharistic veils” (Mystici Corporis, 60). This would again suggest to me that it’s ok for Catholics to speak of a “physical presence.” If His physical body is there, it must be exerting at least some kind of a physical presence. :) At the same time, I’m not aware of our bishops referring to the presence itself as “physical.”

With love in Christ,

Bryan Peters said...

"...the way in which Christ becomes present in this Sacrament is through the conversion of the whole substance of the bread into His body and of the whole substance of the wine into His blood, a unique and truly wonderful conversion that the Catholic Church fittingly and properly calls transubstantiation. (51) As a result of transubstantiation, the species of bread and wine undoubtedly take on a new signification and a new finality, for they are no longer ordinary bread and wine but instead a sign of something sacred and a sign of spiritual food; but they take on this new signification, this new finality, precisely because they contain a new "reality" which we can rightly call ontological. For what now lies beneath the aforementioned species is not what was there before, but something completely different; and not just in the estimation of Church belief but in reality, since once the substance or nature of the bread and wine has been changed into the body and blood of Christ, nothing remains of the bread and the wine except for the species—beneath which Christ is present whole and entire in His physical "reality," corporeally present, although not in the manner in which bodies are in a place."
(Paul VI, Mysterium Fide,

Bryan Peters said...

...I'm a Reformed Protestant. I just wanted to point out that "physical" presence is the Roman teaching contra Mr. Castaldo's claims. However, I appreciate the general warning and certainly agree with the call to forsake Romanism.

EA said...

The teaching of the RCC is that Christ is bodily & physically present under the species of the Eucharist. The following is from the Catechsim of Trent for Parish Priests: "Christ Whole And Entire Is Present In The Eucharist

Here the pastor should explain that in this Sacrament are contained not only the true body of. Christ and all the constituents of a true body, such as bones and sinews, but also Christ whole and entire. He should point out that the word Christ designates the God-man, that is to say, one Person in whom are united the divine and human natures; that the Holy Eucharist, therefore, contains both, and whatever is included in the idea of both, the Divinity and humanity whole and entire, consisting of the soul, all the parts of the body and the blood,- all of which must be believed to be in this Sacrament. In heaven the whole humanity is united to the Divinity in one hypostasis, or Person; hence it would be impious, to suppose that the body of Christ, which is contained in the Sacrament, is separated from His Divinity."

Natamllc said...

Praise the Lord and glad you set the record a straight! Fruit doesn't fall to fall from its limb and glad to hear it!

Pete Holter said...

EA wrote, “The teaching of the RCC is that Christ is bodily & physically present under the species of the Eucharist.”

Bryan Peters wrote, “I’m a Reformed Protestant. I just wanted to point out that ‘physical’ presence is the Roman teaching…”

Greetings in Christ!

I think the use of “physical presence” is avoided by the Church because, although His physical body is present, it is a physical presence conditioned by its already existing as a uniquely substantial presence that is not physically discernible, and not subject to space and time or to the laws of physics. Material objects have material accidents that are physically discernible. But in the bodily presence of Christ in the Eucharist, the accidents of physicality are themselves in the physically indiscernible substance. “[F]or we walk by faith, not by sight” (2 Corinthians 5:7), “so that the promise by faith in Jesus Christ might be given to those who believe” (Galatians 3:22).

But please come into the Church and believe that He is physically present in the Eucharist. Although we might use different words, we’ll understand ourselves to be believing in the same reality. I don’t have a problem with saying that Jesus is physically present in the Eucharist. I’ve not heard the Church say it this way, but I’ve also not heard the Church tell anyone to not say it this way.

With love in Christ,

Pete Holter said...

Greetings in Christ, Natamllc!

Amen to the Scriptures!

“Let us then in everything believe God, and gainsay Him in nothing, though what is said seem to be contrary to our thoughts and senses, but let His word be of higher authority than both reasonings and sight. Thus let us do in the mysteries also, not looking at the things set before us, but keeping in mind His sayings.

“For His word cannot deceive, but our senses are easily beguiled. That has never failed, but this in most things goes wrong. Since then the word says, ‘This is My body’ (Matthew 26:26), let us both be persuaded and believe” (John Chrysostom, Homily 82 on Matthew).

With love in Christ,

EA said...

Hi Pete,

I didn't just write that the RCC teaches that Christ is physically present in the Eucharist, I quoted a document intended for use by parish priests to teach the laity just that.

Perhaps you could address what the Tridentine Fathers promulgated to the RCC priests.


Pete Holter said...

Perhaps you could address what the Tridentine Fathers promulgated to the RCC priests.

Good morning, EA!

The following article was helpful for me when I was coming back to the Church of our Lord:

With love in Christ,

RDuran said...

"The following article was helpful for me when I was coming back to the Church of our Lord:"

Such blatant eisegesis helps the discerning heart in easily dismissing the false teachings of Rome....

Natamllc said...


Mat_23:9 And call no man your father on earth, for you have one Father, who is in heaven.


And when writing to the Church of the Lord in Corinth, the Apostle Paul wrote this:

1Co 15:58 Therefore, my beloved brothers, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that in the Lord your labor is not in vain.

And when writing to the Church of the Lord, the Apostle Peter wrote this making a clear distinction about address God alone as "Father":

1Pe 1:14 As obedient children, do not be conformed to the passions of your former ignorance,
1Pe 1:15 but as he who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct,
1Pe 1:16 since it is written, "You shall be holy, for I am holy."
1Pe 1:17 And if you call on him as Father who judges impartially according to each one's deeds, conduct yourselves with fear throughout the time of your exile,
1Pe 1:18 knowing that you were ransomed from the futile ways inherited from your forefathers, not with perishable things such as silver or gold,
1Pe 1:19 but with the precious blood of Christ, like that of a lamb without blemish or spot.

So, why does the church you adhere too do contrary to the Scripture?

RDuran said...

Good afternoon, Natamlle. Just for the record I'm a Reformed Evangelical, not RC.

Natamllc said...

Yes, RD, that comment was for the purpose of clarifying that and for those who embrace his quoted post.

I am still waiting for a reply.

Philip Jude said...


Here is an excerpt from a tract you would do well to read.

The Apostles Show the Way

The New Testament is filled with examples of and references to spiritual father-son and father-child relationships. Many people are not aware just how common these are, so it is worth quoting some of them here.

Paul regularly referred to Timothy as his child: "Therefore I sent to you Timothy, my beloved and faithful child in the Lord, to remind you of my ways in Christ" (1 Cor. 4:17); "To Timothy, my true child in the faith: grace, mercy, and peace from God the Father and Christ Jesus our Lord" (1 Tim. 1:2); "To Timothy, my beloved child: Grace, mercy, and peace from God the Father and Christ Jesus our Lord" (2 Tim. 1:2).

He also referred to Timothy as his son: "This charge I commit to you, Timothy, my son, in accordance with the prophetic utterances which pointed to you, that inspired by them you may wage the good warfare" (1 Tim 1:18); "You then, my son, be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus" (2 Tim. 2:1); "But Timothy’s worth you know, how as a son with a father he has served with me in the gospel" (Phil. 2:22).

Paul also referred to other of his converts in this way: "To Titus, my true child in a common faith: grace and peace from God the Father and Christ Jesus our Savior" (Titus 1:4); "I appeal to you for my child, Onesimus, whose father I have become in my imprisonment" (Philem. 10). None of these men were Paul’s literal, biological sons. Rather, Paul is emphasizing his spiritual fatherhood with them.

Spiritual Fatherhood

Perhaps the most pointed New Testament reference to the theology of the spiritual fatherhood of priests is Paul’s statement, "I do not write this to make you ashamed, but to admonish you as my beloved children. For though you have countless guides in Christ, you do not have many fathers. For I became your father in Christ Jesus through the gospel" (1 Cor. 4:14–15).

Peter followed the same custom, referring to Mark as his son: "She who is at Babylon, who is likewise chosen, sends you greetings; and so does my son Mark" (1 Pet. 5:13). The apostles sometimes referred to entire churches under their care as their children. Paul writes, "Here for the third time I am ready to come to you. And I will not be a burden, for I seek not what is yours but you; for children ought not to lay up for their parents, but parents for their children" (2 Cor. 12:14); and, "My little children, with whom I am again in travail until Christ be formed in you!" (Gal. 4:19).

John said, "My little children, I am writing this to you so that you may not sin; but if any one does sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous" (1 John 2:1); "No greater joy can I have than this, to hear that my children follow the truth" (3 John 4). In fact, John also addresses men in his congregations as "fathers" (1 John 2:13–14).

By referring to these people as their spiritual sons and spiritual children, Peter, Paul, and John imply their own roles as spiritual fathers. Since the Bible frequently speaks of this spiritual fatherhood, we Catholics acknowledge it and follow the custom of the apostles by calling priests "father." Failure to acknowledge this is a failure to recognize and honor a great gift God has bestowed on the Church: the spiritual fatherhood of the priesthood.

Catholics know that as members of a parish, they have been committed to a priest’s spiritual care, thus they have great filial affection for priests and call them "father." Priests, in turn, follow the apostles’ biblical example by referring to members of their flock as "my son" or "my child" (cf. Gal. 4:19; 1 Tim. 1:18; 2 Tim. 2:1; Philem. 10; 1 Pet. 5:13; 1 John 2:1; 3 John 4).

Philip Jude said...

Never mind the fact that Jesus also commands His followers to abstain from calling men "teacher," yet Paul often refers to himself as such. Did the Spirit forget the instructions of the Son? You see, the Lord was not speaking literally. Imagine that!

turretinfan said...

"Never mind the fact that Jesus also commands His followers to abstain from calling men "teacher," yet Paul often refers to himself as such. Did the Spirit forget the instructions of the Son? You see, the Lord was not speaking literally. Imagine that!"

Mr. Jude. That only gets you half way. The other half is, "what did Jesus mean by his saying?" One answer could be, Jesus meant not to have teachers endowed with the kind of authority that the Roman bishop claims for himself.

Same thing for "call no man Father." One answer could be that Jesus meant we should not have someone that we treat the way that Roman Catholics treat their "Holy Father" in Rome.

In fact, of course, the kinds of abuses in 1st century Judea were probably far less grand than Rome's claims. But certainly if anyone could violate the spirit of what Jesus' words mean, then Rome is it. If Rome's treatment does not qualify, what possibly could?

The tract is not far off when it states: "He was using hyperbole (exaggeration to make a point) to show the scribes and Pharisees how sinful and proud they were for not looking humbly to God as the source of all authority and fatherhood and teaching, and instead setting themselves up as the ultimate authorities, father figures, and teachers. "

But which one of those scribes or Pharisees ever claimed to be the head of the whole church and father to all believers? Which one of those scribes or Pharisees ever claimed to teach infallibly? Their abuse pales in comparison to the abuse that Rome offers.