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Saturday, April 2, 2011

The Eucharist and Metaphysical Being

The Eucharist and Metaphysical Being
By Jim J. McCrea

At Mass, bread and wine are changed into the body and blood of Jesus Christ, by the priest as an instrument of the Holy Spirit.

Neither bread nor wine remain, but the appearances of them do remain – their look, their feel, their taste, etc. remain.

That is the Eucharist, and it is *THE* mystery of the Faith.

If one claims to be Catholic, but does not believe it, he simply is not Catholic. It does not matter if he was baptized Catholic, attends Mass every Sunday, and believes everything else the Church teaches.

The Eucharist is the *heart* of the Catholic Faith.

If the Eucharist is neither bread nor wine, but merely appears as bread and wine, how far does this appearance go?

The answer is completely.

Not only does the Eucharist appear as bread and wine to the senses, but has absolutely the same physical effects as bread and wine on anything else.

Any possible scientific experiment would show that it is bread and wine.

The Sacred Host would nourish the body, as real bread would do, and the Precious Blood would inebriate if taken in sufficient quantities, as real wine would do.

Jesus Christ is present under the appearances of bread and/or wine as long as those appearances remain (as verified by St. Thomas Aquinas). So as soon as they corrupt, Jesus Christ is no longer present. The Sacred Species behave so much like bread and wine, that what they corrupt into is exactly what real bread and wine corrupt into.

Any way you can slice it physically or scientifically (and there are an infinite number of ways of slicing it), the result is physical bread and wine.

However, supernatural faith cuts through the subtlest and most sophisticated physical reasoning to see Jesus Christ contained within those appearances of bread and wine.

With that, the human intellect is elevated infinitely above what it is capable of naturally (faith being a supernatural illumination of the intellect, by God, to allow it to assent with certitude to the mysteries that God reveals).

How do we answer the objections of those who say that if something has every characteristic of a thing, that it must be that thing?

How do we answer those who say that if the Eucharist has all the physical characteristics of bread, it must be bread? We do this by distinguishing between *phenomena* and *being.*

Phenomenon is what appears to the senses and what has an effect on physical things as the physical sciences can determine it.

Being, on the other hand, is "that which is."

For something to act upon our senses or scientific instruments, it first must *exist* - that is, it first must have being, which is actuality existing outside of nothingness.

Something first exists and then it acts (in the order of operation, not time), in that action has a basis in a really existing thing.

As a result, there is a real distinction between being and action.

If this is true, then it is intrinsically possible to separate them.

This is exactly what happens with the Eucharist, as the being of it is one thing (Jesus Christ), and the physical action of it is another thing (bread).

This separation is effected by the omnipotence of God who causes the physical action or behavior of bread and wine without the underlying being of bread or wine.

Proper metaphysics is essential to the Catholic Faith (this is not the metaphysics of New Age).

Metaphysics is the science of being as being, or the science of the ultimate nature of reality.

This is necessary, because only upon a proper conception of reality can the Catholic Faith be based.

For example, if it is believed that everything is divine, then it makes no sense to say that the Father sent His Son into a sinful world to save it.

The metaphysician is a rare but vital part of the Catholic Faith.

The metaphysician ensures that our understanding of the foundational truths of reality are correct.

The 20th century Catholic philosopher Jacques Maritain maintained that a requirement for the metaphysician is that he have an "intuition of being as such" or alternatively, "a metaphysical intuition of being."

The intuition of being as such, is the ability to see past mere phenomena (or what appears to the senses or registers on scientific instruments) to perceive the being, or "that which is," that underlies phenomena - that is, to see the actuality of it that is opposed to nothingness - and to see this actuality *as such* with the intellect.

Superficially, that may seem obvious, but many famous philosophers throughout history did not possess this intuition. Neither Immanuel Kant nor John Locke possessed it. All that they affirmed in their investigations of reality were phenomena.

Not all philosophers have the intuition of being as such, for they do not attain to being as being with their philosophy. Not all who claim to be metaphysicians are such. Many of those are psychologists. They investigate reality on the basis of how the human mind associates and distinguishes different things. These do not reach being as such.

What are some of the fundamental principles of being?

One of these principles is the fact that being is *good,* *intelligible,* *unified,* and *beautiful;* and any evil, nonsense, disunity, or ugliness in something is but a lack of being that is due to that thing (for example, blindness as a physical evil is not a positive being, but is a lack of what is due - namely sight).

This affirms that anything that has being in a positive way is good and is created by a good God, but at the same time, explains the reality of evil in the universe.

Also, created being is *contingent.* It is not the nature of created being to exist on its own, so it must have its explanation in a being whose nature it is to exist on its own, which is God.

All true metaphysics leads to the supreme being, who is God.

True metaphysics is the natural foundation of the Catholic Faith.

Many people do not realize the fact that the great loss of the Faith that has occurred in our time has been chiefly caused by philosophical errors that have been passed down through the centuries - from famous thinkers such as Ockham, Descartes, Hume, Kant, Locke, and Mill.

A philosophical error known as *empiricism* has done much to undermine belief in the Real Presence of Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament.

Empiricism holds that physical objects are nothing but groupings of sense qualities, such as hardness, shape, color, etc. rather than those being *beings with* those sense qualities. If empiricism is true, then anything with the sense qualities of bread can only be bread (since a being is reduced to these sense qualities). But if there is an underlying being to these sense qualities, then Jesus Christ can exist as this being as the sense qualities of bread remain.

But for one who holds to empiricism, but who wishes to believe in the Real Presence, the best he can hold to is the idea that Jesus is somehow present in the bread as real bread remains, thus affirming the Lutheran error of *consubstantiation* (to which many Catholics unwittingly hold. A Catholic scientist can be subject to this error because he is liable to reduce physical things to their physical properties, due to his training, not realizing that there is metaphysical being underlying them).

To get people in society back to the Faith again, it is not sufficient to evangelize them with the truths of the Faith.

The erroneous notions of reality that they hold must be corrected first.

That is why a correct philosophy of being - or a correct metaphysics - must be given to them.

To evangelize people, we first have to deprogram them of what is false and reprogram them as to what is true concerning the nature of reality.