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Wednesday, June 18, 2014

How Can Jesus Fit Into the Little Host?

How Can Jesus Fit Into the Little Host?

By Jim J. McCrea

A mystery of the Catholic Faith is not something we can know nothing about. It is something we cannot know everything about.

It is common to believe that the Trinity is a mystery in the sense that it is humanly impossible to understand how there can be three persons in one God.

This, and this type of view on other mysteries of the Faith, give fodder for unbelievers to charge us with holding absurdities that undermine the rational thought processes of the human mind.

However, with many mysteries of the faith, it can be rationally explained how such can be so. I give Church accepted explanations here as to how God can be three persons in one and how Jesus can be fully God and fully man at the same time. This has been understood by theologians in the Church for centuries.

They are still mysteries because there is a depth of penetration into them that the human mind cannot achieve, but we can show that they are fully rational.

Here, I will propose such a type of explanation for the Eucharist. In the Eucharist, the entire Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity exist within the appearances of bread and wine, when that bread and wine have been changed into Jesus, by the priest (as an instrument of the Holy Spirit), at Mass.

To do this, we must introduce some concepts in metaphysics (the science of being as such).

Consider a material object, such as an automobile.

First of all, it has *matter.* Matter is what something is made of. Then it has *form.* Form is how the matter is constituted to make the thing what it is. A material thing is not merely its parts or its matter. A heap of automobile parts, with all of them present, is not yet an automobile. They must be assembled the right way, thus adding form.

Form is the arrangement, interconnectivity, and distribution of the parts or matter in three dimensional space.

Here we introduce a third component - that is *essence.* With proper form, essence emerges.

When form is added to the parts or the matter of an automobile, it then has an intelligibility or "automobileness," which is its essence, which comes out of the form.  As a result, our intellects can judge what it is.

Then there is a fourth metaphysical component, which is *existence,* which means that it has a reality outside of nothingness rather than being a mere concept or possibility.

So a material thing has a quadrupole of matter, form, essence, and existence.

It is important for the following argument, regarding Jesus in the Eucharist, that form and essence are distinct - they are not one and the same.

Form is a mere mechanical distribution of matter in three dimensional space, while essence is its intelligibility.

An analogy may help to understand this. Letters on a page are a mere presence or absence of pigment at specific locations on that page. That itself is not meaning, for by itself it is merely spatial arrangement. However, meaning emerges from that in the reading that pattern. There is an intelligibility as to what is being said.

Now with the Eucharist, Jesus is fully present in the form of bread - and is fully present in each and every particle broken off (that is why, at Mass, the priest must be careful that when the Host is broken, the particles are not lost, and that is why in the past, when there was proper reverence for the Eucharist, a paten was used to catch the particles when Holy Communion was given).

How, then, can His Body fit into that tiny appearance of bread?

We propose here that with Jesus' body, matter, essence, and existence are present, but without form. That is, His distribution in three dimensional space, which would give Him His size and shape, are omitted (by the power of God).

We are saying here that with matter, essence, and existence, with form missing, a physical being can still be fully what it is.

Form is constructive of a physical thing (in the ordinary order of things), but is not strictly necessary for its proper constitution. Form is the condition by which essence emerges, but it is essence that makes a thing what it is. God can omit form and sustain essence and a  physical being would be perfectly what it is.

That is what I propose happens in the Eucharist.

The matter, essence, and existence of the Body of Jesus are fully present under the appearances of bread and wine, and thus He is fully and completely present there, and without having form He has the Eucharistic appearances.

** End note 1 - I define form here in a very specific manner, as a merely mechanical distribution in three dimensional space. Traditional scholastic philosophy has used the term "form" to mean essence. It is important to look at the definition of terms used here for this argument.

**End note 2 - The quadrupole matter, form, essence, and existence can be used to understand different things in Catholic theology. For example, angels have essence and existence, but not matter and form (therefore, they are pure spirits). God has essence and existence without matter and form, and essence and existence are identical with Him (therefore, God is the infinite spirit).

Also see The Eucharist and Metaphysical Being

The explanation of another paradox: how the existence of evil is compatible with the infinite goodness and omnipotence of God here.