Expert Answer Forum
communion QUESTION from Matt Roche February 28, 2001 When the belief was held that there was a genuine transformation of the wafers and wine into the body and blood of Christ, what was the term for the process of the actual transformation?
ANSWER by Mrs. Suzanne Fortin, B.A. on March 2, 2001 Dear Matt,
The Church has always maintained, since apostolic times, that the bread and the wine become, in substance, the body and blood of Christ. The plain text of Scripture makes that clear. If you click here, you will be taken to the Corunum website which gives patristic evidence for this.
The term for the transformation is transubstantiation. The word was first used by Paschasius Radbertus in the ninth century. But even Radbertus went too far in trying to equate the host with the body of Jesus on earth. Scholastic theology, developed in the 11th and 12th centuries, provided the terminology for our present day doctrine of transubstantiation. It was made a dogma of the Church at the Council of Trent in the sixteenth century.
Although we have always believed the bread and the wine become the body and the blood of Jesus, we did not always know how this change came about. In fact, the Orthodox Church, which split in 1054 AD, reject the concept of transubstantiation, although they firmly believe the bread and the wine become the body and blood of Christ. They reject the use of metaphysics and scholastic theology to further doctrinal development. This goes to show that there was more than one opinion in the church as to the manner in which the transformation took place. For example, one theory was that there was a hypostatic union between Jesus Christ and the bread, so that they were both united, as God was united to man. (And logically speaking, you could say that the host really was God). However, this view was rejected in favour of the theory of transubstantiation.
Thank you for your question.
God Bless, Suzanne Fortin
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