Covenantal Theology

Donald J. Keefe, S.J.

Volume III

A Historical Vindication of Covenantal Metaphysics


Volumes III and IV of Covenantal Theology continue to develop the radical criticism, proposed in volumes I and II, of Catholic systematic theology as it has existed since the Council of Chalcedon.  The criticism is focused upon that theology’s methodological dehistoricization of the Catholic tradition, an effect rendered inevitable by the dehistoricization of the Mission of the Son to give the Holy Spirit.  This basic error arises out of the uncritical supposition, effectively universal in Catholic theology since the twelfth century, that the Son sent by the Father is not Jesus the Lord but the eternal Son, sensu negante, understood as immanent in the Trinity, thus as nonhistorical.  The historicity of the Father’s mission of the Son is consequently precluded.

The evident corollary of this mistake is the dehistoricization, the nullifi-cation, of the economy of salvation.  Its implication is the Monarchian heresy, for the revelation of the Trinity is economic and therefore historical.  Obviously, there can be no knowledge of the Trinity as the substantial unity of Father, Son and Holy Spirit apart from its economic revelation by Jesus Christ the Lord.  The dehistoricization of the Mission of the Son is the reduction of the Son to the divine substance, the ‘monarchy,’ which Popes Zephyrinus and Callistus in the early third century vainly attempted to defend as orthodox against the insistence of Tertullian and Hippolytus upon distinguishing within the divine substance the Trinity of Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.

The Catholic Church’s Eucharistic liturgy mediates the historical revelation by Jesus the Christ that he is the Father’s Only-begotten Son, sent by the Father to give the Holy Spirit, consubstantial with the Father as his only-begotten Son, consubstantial with us as conceived by and born of the Virgin, Jesus the Christ was Named “one and the same Son” by Irenaeus at the end of the second century, and eight times was so Named by the Council of Chalcedon in the middle of the fifth century.  Jesus Christ the Lord is our sole access to the truth of the faith that the One God is Triune, comprising the Father as the Head of the Trinity, thereby the eternal source of his only-begotten Son and, through him, the eternal source of the Holy Spirit, the Gift whom he Sent his Son to give.

The dehistoricization of Jesus Christ entails ignorance of the Trinity, which in turn entails the removal of the Son from his immanence in the Trinity and his reduction to the Monarchian divine substance, the impersonal Deus Unus.  This “one God, the Ipsum esse subsistens, the divine Monas, the Absolute, is not the Trinity on other than the Sabellian terms which deny the Personal distinction of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.  Nonetheless, Ipsum esse subsistens has been the familiar prime analogate of Catholic systematic theology for centuries.

The vain attempts to return the “immanent Son” to history are a perennial reminder that Jesus Christ is the Lord of history; there is no other Lord, and no other history than that in which he is Eucharistically immanent as its Head and which, as Head, he transcends as its Beginning and its End.

Whatever be the source of the drive to dehistoricize the subject of the Incarnation since the last testimonies to the apostolic Christology by Athanasius and Gregory of Nazianzen toward the end of the fourth century, this project thereafter dominated systematic theology in the East.  It had been prevented from doing so in the West by Tertullian, whose Apologeticus affirmed the apostolic tradition that the One God is Triune, and that Jesus Christ is Lord.  This is neither more nor less than the apostolic faith, the doctrinal tradition defined and confirmed by the first four ecumenical Councils.  In the Orient, the dehistoricizing project was barred only by the four great Councils: Nicaea, I Constantinople, Ephesus and Chalcedon.  The recognition of their authority, which is simply that of the Church over her worship, required a conversion from the political theology instinctive to the pagan culture.  This conversion is from cosmology to history.  It specifies the Spirit Christology of Tertullian’s Apologeticus and of Origen’s Peri Archon (Περ ρχν).

In the West, Tertullian’s Apologeticus was unchallenged by the Gnosticism which threatened the existence of the Church in the Orient from the first century through the third, while the Spirit Christology of Origen’s masterwork formed the Alexandrine tradition in time to become defined at Nicaea.  The subject of the Nicene Creed is God the Father and, inseparably, the historical Jesus the Lord, his only-begotten Son, God from God, light from Light, true God from true God, consubstantial with the Father, by whom all things are made.

The docetic foundation of the refusal to accept the historicity of Jesus Christ the Lord is noted and condemned by the Gospel of John and by his First Letter, which are replete with references by Jesus the Lord to his mission from the Father; e.g., “And this is eternal life, that they may know thee, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou has sent.” (John 17:3. [RSV].  The First Letter of John begins with the solemn affirmation that Jesus is the Son of the Father (1 Jn. 1:1-4) and repeats this central theme over and again (1:7; 2:13-14; 2:22-24; 3:8; 3:23; 4:2; 4:10-14; 5:1-5; 5:10-12; 5:20.  This doctrine, simply the immanence of God in history, was challenged from the outset by the Gnostic movements which found no foothold in the West but were immediately attractive in the East, and were defeated only by the unflagging dedication of the Oriental bishops to the preaching of the apostolic tradition. 

The contemporary version of the Gnostic challenge to the historical faith of the Church travels as Modernity, as that "critical clean-up” of the doctrinal tradition recommended by Eric Voegelin bears witness; see Vol. I, Introduction, endnote 35; endnote 178, infra.

Ignoring the apostolic, liturgical, scriptural and magisterial testimony to the contrary, the bulk of contemporary theologians continue to take for granted that the subject of the Mission of the Son from the Father, and therefore the subject of the Logos sarx egeneto of Jn. 1:14, of Jesus’ self-emptying, κνωσις (kenōsis) in Phil. 2:6-7, and finally of the Nicene Creed’s σρκωθντa (sarkothenta), is not Jesus but the “immanent Son,” whose pre-existence consequently cannot be primordial, as Jesus’ pre-existence was clearly affirmed to be in Phil. 2:6-7, in Jn. 1:1 and 1:14.  Consequently, contemporary theology rejects out of hand the primordial pre-existence, i.e., “in the beginning,” of the human Son, the divine Word who is Jesus the Lord, but rather takes for granted the pre-existence of a supposedly Trinity-immanent divine Son, whose existence can only be ab aeterno, who is nonhistorical by definition, and of whom in consequence the Church’s historical tradition and worship knows and can know nothing.

The standard theological and exegetical reading of Jn. 1:1, “In the beginning was the Word,” supposes “the Beginning” to refer to the “immanent Word,” whose eternal nonhistoricity clearly bars that reading, long since condemned as Arian by the Council of Nicaea.  Paul explicitly identifies Jesus as “the Beginning” in Col. 1:18, as does John in Jn. 1:1, and again in the Apocalypse where, summarily, Jesus is Named “the Beginning and the End.”  The subject of I Jn., identified in the first verse as “That which was from the beginning” is identically the primordial Jesus the Lord who is identified in the first verse of the Gospel of John: “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God and the Word was God.”  There is no scriptural warrant for the dissociation of these texts.  The Gospel of John knows only the one Son, Jesus the Christ, the Word who was made flesh (κα λγος σρξ γεντο) by his obedience to his Mission from the Father into our fallen history.  Only a willful ignorance can read Jn. 1:14 as “the Word became man, or “the Word assumed flesh,” or “the Word assumed a human nature.”  

Nonetheless this time-honored nonsense infests the Catechism, as from 1970 it has infested I.C.E.L.’s Roman Missal, and continues to afflict the Roman Missal of 2011, whose translation of the Nicene-Constantinopoli­tan Creed refers the Lucan Annunciation of our Lady’s conception of her Lord to the third person of the Trinity instead of following the Greek text of Lk. 1:35, the Greek of the Creed itself (σαρκοθντα κ πνεματος γου κα Μαρας τς παρθενον κα νανθρωπσαντα) which refers very clearly to the primordial Spirit who is Jesus the Lord.  (see Vol. IV, endnote 184)

Even in its English deformations, the Nicene-Constantinopolitan Creed clearly identifies the Holy Spirit with the third Person of the Trinity, speaking of him after the Father and the Son, as proceeding from the Father and the Son, and as the inspiration of the prophets, the giver of life.  It is evident that the Holy Spirit’s salvific office in the economy of salvation is dependent upon the priority of the Mission of the Son to give the Holy Spirit.  It is then absurd to suppose in him a historicity prior to that of his source, Jesus the Christ, the Lord, sent by his Father to give the Spiritus Creator.  Nonetheless, these obviously mistaken misinterpretations of the historical apostolic tradition have long since become the default reading of the Trinity for most theologians.  Their flat unintelligibility is read into the RSV and even the new Roman Missal  Having paralyzed Catholic theology for nearly a millennium, they bid fair to keep on doing so. 

Only the primordial Jesus, the “one and the same Son” of the Father and of our Lady, can be the intelligible subject of Lk. 1:35, of Jn. 1:14, of 1 Jn.1-4, of Col. 1:18, of Phil. 2:7.  It is by Jesus’ fulfillment of his Mission that Paul in I Cor. 15:45 will speak of him as a “life-giving Spirit,” It is as risen and Eucharistically immanent in our fallen history that the Apocalypse, v. 22:13, will assert his Lordship of that history, by Naming him its Beginning and its End.  As risen to the right hand of the Father, yet as Eucharistically immanent in history, Jesus is its Redeemer, semper interpellans, transcending the fallenness of the historical creation as its Head, from whom the Spiritus Creator proceeds as the Gift of the risen Christ, whereby he makes all things new. 

The primordiality of Jesus’ pre-existence is presupposed by John’s repeated references to “the beginning,” the moment of creation (Gen. 1:1) and of the fall, for the devil sinned “from the beginning” (1 Jn. 3:8), with the consequent corruption of creation by which the universe, simply as fallen, is in the power of the evil one (1 Jn. 5:19; cf. Rom. 8:19-23).  In sum, Jesus Christ the Lord is the Son, immanent in the universe as the Head in whom it is created, and upon whose Fall his Mission to give the Holy Spirit, the Spiritus Creator, has become redemptive in order that it may be achieved.  Sent to give the Spirit, the Son’s mission to give the Holy Spirit is now the redemption of the fallen world from death, its last enemy;  He defeated by taking it upon himself, in order to restore all creation to the integrity it had in him, “in the Beginning” and which he retained, for as incarnate knew no sin , “For our sake He made him to be sin who knew no sin so that in him we might become the righteousness of God” (II Cor. 5:21).

The Nicene Creed, the Nicene-Constantinopolitan Creed, the Formula of Union of the Council of Ephesus, the Symbol of Chalcedon, and the articulations of the faith of the Catholic Church by every subsequent ecumenical council have a single subject, Jesus, the “one and the same Son” of the Father and of the Theotokos.  The Council of Nicaea teaches that Jesus is consubstantial with the Father by his subsistence in the same unique divine substance as the Father who subsists in the Trinity as the eternal source of its eternally free Tri-Unity.  The First Council of Constantinople repeats that doctrine.  The Formula of Union of the Council of Ephesus teaches that Mary is the Theotokos, and on that basis affirms that Jesus, her Son, is consubstantial with us.  The Council of Chalcedon confirms the doctrine of Ephesus that Jesus is consubstantial with the members of the same human substance, and links that doctrine to Irenaeus of Lyons who, more than two and a half centuries earlier, taught that Jesus the Lord is “the one and the same Son” of the Father and of our Lady.

The pages that follow explore the “great mystery,” the Pauline doctrine of the Jesus’ headship of the Church and thereby of all men, of all creation.  Implicit in I Cor. 6:12ff., that doctrine is first explicit in Cor. 11:3.  It is developed in Col. 1:15-20, in Eph. 1:10 and 5:21-33.  Those passages, particularly Col. 1:15-20, identify Jesus’ headship of humanity with his headship of the Church.  His headship is historical in the Event of his Mission from the Father, which terminates in his sacrificial institution of his union, that of the second Adam, with the second Eve in the One Flesh of the New Covenant.  His offering of the One Sacrifice reveals the meaning of his headship.  As Jesus is the Glory proceeding from the Father, the immanent Head of the Trinity, so he images the Father in possessing, as  his glory, the bridal Church who proceeds from him as from her Head.  Jesus headship of the bridal Church is in turn imaged by marital headship of husband, whose glory is his wife, who proceeds from him. 

To be the head is to be the source of the free unity of the substance in which the head is immanent, as the Father is the immanent Head of the Trinity, as the Son is the immanent head of the One Flesh whose free nuptial unity images the free unity of the Trinity, so the husband images the spousal headship of Jesus, his head in the sacramental marriage wherein the husband is the immanent head of the marital one flesh that images the New Covenant, the good creation restored in Christ. 

It is in restoring that free unity of the primordially Good Creation, through the offering of the One Sacrifice, that the one and the same Son images the Father, as the nuptial One Flesh images the Trinity, and as sacramental marriage images the Eucharistic One Flesh.  Further, from every head proceeds a personally consubstantial glory: the Son proceeds from the Father eternally as the Father’s glory; the Church proceeds forever from the Christ, as his glory; in salvation history, the woman proceeds from her head, her husband, as his glory.

Thereby it may be understood that Jesus, the human source of the free unity of our redeemed humanity, cannot but be Personally consubstantial “with us.”  His consubstantiality with us,  like  his consubstantiality with his Father, cannot be assigned merely to “his humanity,” as distinct from his divinity, for it is as Named, as Jesus, that the Nicene Creed teaches that he is the Only-begotten Son, consubstantial with his Father; it is as Named, as Jesus the Lord, the one and the same Son, that the Formula of Union and the Symbol of Chalcedon teach that Jesus is the Head of our human substance, the Personal source of our free created unity, thereby consubstantial with us as the Father, his Head, is consubstantial with Jesus and with the Holy Spirit whom the Father sent Jesus to give.

Our consubstantiality with Jesus, our head, also can only be personal, for we are created in him by our procession from him, the head of the Church, is the head of each member of the bridal Church.  Our participation in her Eucharistic worship of her Lord, her head, is our sole access to him.  Further, the free substantial humanity, the Church in which, as its head, he is immanent, was created in him “in the Beginning,” as the corollary of the Father‘s mission of Jesus the Bridegroom, whose glory, the bridal Church is the full Gift of the Holy Spirit, the Spiritus Creator whose mission from the Son is his outpouring upon the Church and, through her, upon the primordially unfilled universe, whose creation is the corollary of our creation in Christ.

Our universal personal consubstantiality with Jesus the Christ is the radical grace of our creation in him, a grace universally distributed, by which each of us, throughout our lives, are drawn to him: “trashy a Doe.”  For each of us this grace is the uniquely personal possession of the fullness of humanity, a humanly unsurpassable dignity.  In our fallen world, this dignity is sacramentally objective, historically factual, simply as the radical gratis Christi, gratis capitals.

As the uncreated eternal Persons of the Trinity proceed eternally from the Father as from their Head, so the members of the created human substance proceed historically from their head as created persons, each possessing the fullness of humanity, quite as the Son and the Spirit, proceeding from and Personally consubstantial with the Father, each not only possesses the fullness of divinity, but possesses it uniquely, i.e., Personally, as Named in the Church’s affirmation of the Mysterium fidei.  Our personal possession of the fullness of humanity also renders each of us a personal mystery, for neither can we be categorized; we also must be named to be known.  It is the ancient tradition that our naming is liturgical, baptismal, by a Christening, a naming, inseparable from our Naming of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit in the Church’s liturgy.

All this is the direct implication of the Nicene definition of the Personal consubstantiality, the homoousion, of the Son with the Father, a consubstantiality which, as Personal. can no more prescind from our Lord’s fully Personal humanity than from his fully Personal divinity.  In brief, the Council of Nicaea, the first and the greatest of the Church’s ecumenical councils, affirmed  the Personal divinity, the Personal consubstantiality with his Father, of Jesus the Lord.  The next three Councils do no more than spell out the immediate implication of the Nicene definition of the homoousion of the Jesus with the Father: viz., the divinity of the Holy Spirit, the Personal unity of Jesus the Lord, a definition whose defined corollary is Mary’s motherhood of God and, finally Jesus’ Personal consubstantiality with all those who are created in him who is their head and source, and for whose redemption he died, that they may be divinized.

The Catholic tradition knows one Son of the Father, Jesus the Lord, than whom there is no other “King of kings and Lord of lords.”  Jesus is our Lord precisely as the one and the same Son, sent by the Father to give the Spirit, by which mission Jesus, the Son, is our head, our Source, the Beginning, the Alpha and the Omega of the good creation, which is good only because in him, by him, and through him.

The consubstantiality of Jesus with the Father, defined at Nicaea, was immediately resisted on cosmological grounds, Arian and Semi-Arian, and continued so to be by conservative Oriental theologians for the sixty-six years from its proclamation in the Nicene Creed until its reaffirmation at I Constantinople – which is to say, for most the fourth century.  Only with the summoning of the First Council of Constantinople in 381 did this ideological resistance to ecclesial authority of the Nicene Creed subside.  It had lived solely by the intermittent political support, the inconstant Arianizing, of Emperor Constantine, and the whole-hearted support of the Arian Emperors Constantius and Valens.  That support ended with the death of Valens in 379.  Upon the death of Valens, the pro-Nicene Emperor Gratian appointed the pro-Nicene Spanish General, Theodosius, to replace him as Augustus and as the Emperor of the East.  Three years later, in 381, Theodosius summoned the First Council of Constantinople, which reaffirmed the universal liturgical-doctrinal authority of the Church and of her first ecumenical Council, the Council of Nicaea.  Until then, the great majority of the Oriental bishops, homoian, heteroousian, and homoiousian, were at best unwilling to accept the doctrinal indispensability of the Nicene Creed and, by immediate implication, were unwilling to accept the authority of the Church over the content of her faith.  Von Balthasar has named that metaphysical monisim ‘cosmology’ and a Procrustean bed to which the Catholic tradition cannot conform.  Thus warranted, that usage has been followed here. 

The confident, unflinching recognition and assertion by Athanasius of Alexandria of the supreme ecclesial authority of the Council of Nicaea, his reliance upon and support of the ecclesial authority of the Bishops of Rome, disturbed the complacent confidence of the bulk of the Orientals in the legitimacy of the Eusebian caesaropapism, but it left them finally unper­suaded.  Their naive politicization of the faith of the Church, their long submission of its content to imperial oversight, was deprived of the necessary imperial support with the proclamation of the Nicene-Constantinopolitan Creed by the second General Council.  From that point, the necessity to choose either the suppression of Catholic orthodoxy by its subordination to the secular interest of a potestas regalis, or the preservation of Catholic orthodoxy by ecclesial fidelity to the auctoritas sacerdotium as the sole alternative to its politicization, currently labeled “political correctness,” has become ever more evident. 

Surveying the impact of the imperial Arianism upon the Councils of Rimini and Seleucia in his De Synodis, Athanasius saw the alternative to fidelity to the Nicene affirmation of the homoousion of Jesus with the Father to be the radical Arians’ ‘hetero-ousian’ refusal of the any substantial relation of Jesus to the Father.  The Nicene faith proclaiming Jesus’ Personal consubstantiality, his homoousion with the Father, cannot but be absolute,  Nothing has changed since then: flat contradictories are not negotiable.

While the Nicene Creed asserts the homoousion of the Son but not of the Holy Spirit, its concluding phrase, “and the Holy Spirit,” includes the Holy Spirit within the Council’s statement of the Church’s Trinitarian faith.  Belief in the divinity of the Holy Spirit is explicit ab initio in the Catholic liturgy: in the sacraments, in the doxologies, in the sign of the Cross which begins and ends every prayer to the Father through the Son in the Holy Spirit.  This concluding phrase of the Nicene Creed is a clear affirmation of the divinity of the Holy Spirit; its corollary is the Holy Spirit’s Personal consubstantiality with the Father and the Son, as inseparable from his divinity.

The divinity of the Holy Spirit was defined at the First Council of Constantinople, against the “Spirit-Fighters” who had denied it, but the consubstantiality of the Spirit with the Father was not included in the Conciliar definition.  It had been resisted by the Cappadocian homoiousians from whose ranks the “Spirit-Fighters” had earlier emerged.  A dozen years after Athanasius’ Tome to the Antiochenes (362) had made the Personal consubstantiality of each of the divine Persons the touchstone of Catholic orthodoxy, Basil of Caesarea, in his De Spiritu Sancto, affirmed the divinity of the Holy Spirit, but avoided affirming its corollary, the Holy Spirit’s consubstantiality with the Father.  This ambiguity, rooted in a hesitation between belief in the Personal existence of the Holy Spirit, as opposed to identifying him with the impersonal divine substance, had pervaded the homoiousian theology from its origins in Basil of Ancyra’s quasi-council of 358.  He had called it in reaction to the homoian Arianism promulgated at the Second Council of Sirmium in 357.  Two years later, after the Council of Seleucia, Athanasius pointed out, in his De Synodis , the contradiction intrinsic to the homoiousion doctrine of a substantial similarity of the Son to the Father: homoios kata ousian.  In 381, Gregory of Nazianzen, while president of First Council of Constantinople, had eloquently urged a Conciliar declaration of the homoousion of the Spirit, but to no avail; his homoiousian opponents, led by Gregory of Nyssa (whose brother, Basil of Caesarea, had died on January first, 379) and Diodore of Tarsus, carried the day. 

Gregory of Nyssa’s defense of the homoiousian doctrine echoed and developed his brother Basil’s dissociation in his De Spiritu Sancto of the economic revelation of the Trinity by the Christ from the radical reality of the Godhead, an apophaticism lately taken up by Metropolitan John Zizioulas, of the ancient see of Pergamon in western Turkey.

In the next century, Cyril of Alexandria, who had succeeded his uncle, Theophilus, in the see of Alexandria, had been a proponent of the “Logos-sarx” Christology identification of the subject of the Incarnation, the Savior, the agent of our redemption, with the abstract “immanent Son,” rather than with the historical Jesus the Lord.  However, shocked by the impact of Nestorius’ denial, in 328, of the humanity of the Logos, thus of the divinity of Jesus, upon the Church’s Eucharistic worship, Cyril undertook to correct his own Christology in his “Three Dogmatic Letters” to Nestorius, the Bishop of Constantinople.  Thereafter he played the dominant role in the condemnation of Nestorius by the Council of Ephesus.  Five years later, after the condemnation of Nestorius, Cyril subscribed to the “Creed of Ephesus,” i.e., the Formula of Union, which taught that Mary is the Theotokos and, in consequence, that her Son, Jesus the Lord, is consubstantial with us.  This flat rejection of the Logos-sarx Christology infuriated his powerful subordinates in Alexandria, but he maintained his position until he died in 444.  His concession to the Antiochene insistence upon the full humanity was matched by the Antiochene upholding of the full divinity and Personal unity of Christ.  Cyril’s willingness to accept the “clothing” idiom of the Antiochenes, and his recognition of Mary as the Theotokos, persuaded the Antiochenes led by John of Antioch to accept the Formula of Union, the official dogmatic statement of that Council which affirmed, against Nestorius, as also against Cyril’s early Logos-sarx dehistoricization of the Johannine Logos, the dogmatic fact that Mary, the mother of Jesus, is the Mother of God and that Jesus, as her Son, is consubstantial with us.

The competing Antiochene theological tradition, initiated by Diodore, later (378) the bishop of Tarsus in the middle of the fourth century, when he had become convinced of the full, i.e., ensouled humanity of Jesus, but within the context of the Logos-sarx (Word-flesh) Christology.  The Logos-sarx vocabulary was and would continue to be standard in the Orient but Diodore’s stress on the full humanity (not the soulless “flesh”) of Christ would be labeled the ‘Logos-anthrōpos’ (Word-man) Christology.  Diodore seems not to have noticed the implicit dehistoricization by the Logos-sarx Christology of the subject of the incarnation, i.e., its reduction of Jesus to the eternal Son sensu negante, who assumed flesh; thus he could continue to use that language while, perhaps under the influence of the literalism of the Antiochene school of exegesis, insisting upon the full, consequently ensouled, therefore Personal humanity of Jesus.

This inconsistency issued in the insoluble “two sons” quandary.  Julian the Apostate Emperor, a competent Christian theologian despite his apostasy, had been pleased to point out to Diodore that there could be no relation between the absolute “immanent Son” and the full, personal humanity of Jesus.  However, Diodore refused to drop his Logos-sarx Christology; instead, he attacked Apollinarius’ radicalization of it, viz., his denial of a human soul in Jesus, and his consequent failure affirm Jesus’ full humanity, his “ensoulment,” but continued to do so within the context of his Logos-sarx Christology. 

By the fifth century, under the influence of the leading Antiochene theologian, Theodore of Mopsuestia, a friend of Diodore and the mentor of Nestorius, the diophysism implicit in Diodore’s assertion of Jesus’ “ensoulment” had been accepted.  The Antiochene Christology remained diophysite until diophysism and monophysism were alike condemned by the Councils of Ephesus and Chalcedon in the fifth century.

Despite its formal condemnation at Ephesus, diophysism continued to be upheld by the followers of Nestorius.  Their flight from persecution removed them further and further from the Greek Orient―in doctrine, in culture, and finally in geography.  Via the Silk Route, they established Nestorian communities in the heart of Asia.

The Nestorian heresy has found effective expression in contemporary Christologies whether “from above” or “from below” but in each case agreeing, now as then, in the one cosmological necessity, the rejection of the communication of idioms in Jesus by which he is the Lord and his mother the Theotokos.  Cyril, however mistaken his early subscription to the Logos-sarx Christology, recognized in 328 that the denial of the divinity of Jesus the Christ by Nestorius, the bishop of Constantinople, had unacceptable Eucharistic consequences.

Twenty years after the Council of Ephesus, the Symbol of the Council of Chalcedon, in affirming the affirming the same doctrine as the Formula of Union, proclaimed and repeated, over and again, Irenaeus’ brilliantly insightful naming of Jesus the “one and the same Son.”  The Symbol of Chalcedon is the definitive statement of the Christology of the preceding General Councils.  It made explicit what had been implicit in the Nicene definition of Jesus’ Personal consubstantiality with the Father, i.e., that the Personal unity of Jesus the Lord, at once human Son of Mary, the Theotokos, and the divine Son of the Father, requires his Personal consubstantiality with us as well as with the Father.  In affirming this, the Symbol confirmed the assertion of that consubstantiality in the Formula of Union, and tied it to the title given Jesus by Irenaeus two and a half centuries earlier.

It must follow that, as a matter of particular emphasis, inseparable from the apostolic faith that Jesus is Lord (I Cor. 12:3; Phil 2:11), the Church’s liturgical-doctrinal tradition knows no “immanent Trinity,” no “immanent Father,” no “immanent Son,” and no “immanent Spirit.”  The Trinitarian faith of the Church in the Trinity depends wholly upon the Father’s historical Mission of the one and the same historical Son, Jesus the Lord, to give the Spiritus Creator.  It is solely by Jesus’ Revelation of his Mission from the Father to give the Spirit that the Church knows all that she has taught of the Trinity, all that she believes.  No theology of the Trinity as “immanent,” i.e., no theology that abstracts from the revelation of the Trinity by Jesus, the one and the same Son, sent by the Father to give the Spirit, can be pertinent to the faith of the Church.  Inescapably, the abstract Son ceases to be a Person, with a Monarchian consequence avoidable only by refusing to identify with the Catholic tradition what is only a school loyalty.

Phil. 2:5-7 is explicit.  Jesus, not the ‘immanent Son,’ is the subject of the κνωσις, that Personal entry of the primordial Jesus into our fallenness for our redemption.  I Jn. 4:2 is yet more explicit, condemning the emergent docetic gnosticism which barred the affirmation that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh, i.e., has entered into the history of the fallen world.  There can be no doubt that the New Testament teaches that Jesus, the second Adam, the Son of Man, the man from heaven, the Joannine Word made flesh, the Beginning and the End, is the subject of the mission of the ‘one and the same Son’ from the Father.

Only the cosmological blinders which John the Evangelist condemned in his First Letter have prevented the theological “reception” of this central message of the New Testament.  Its revelation that Jesus, the only-begotten Son of the Father, was sent by him to give the Holy Spirit is a free truth, a grace ex nihilo sui et subjecti.  The Father’s Mission of his Son, Jesus the Lord, is not the product of a Trinity-immanent necessity; neither is it a manifestation of Plotinus’ pantheistic “bonum diffusivum sui.”  By his Mission of the Son, we know that the last of the Names of the Father is Love; he eternally generates the Son and through the Son, pours out the Spiritus Creator, by which Gift all things are made and, having fallen, are made new.

By the Son’s Gift of the Spirit we know that all creation is “in Christ,” that “in the Beginning was the Word” who, by reason of the sin of Adam, in obedience to his Mission from the Father, “became flesh,” having “emptied himself” of his primordial integrity.  The primordial glory which was his “in the Beginning,” inseparable from his Personal unity, from his headship of all creation, is veiled by his manifestation in our fallenness, his kenōsis, his divesting himself of that glory by becoming flesh, not by “assuming” the humanity which he possessed primordially in its fullness, and of which he is the head, the source, the creator.

Entering into our fallen mortality, conceived by and born of a woman, he became like us in all things save sin, accepting the “form of a slave.”  Enslaved like us for all his life by the fear of death (Heb. 2:14-18), he is the “suffering Servant” of the prophecy of Isaiah; he died for our salvation and the salvation of the world.  Taking the full penalty of Adam’s sin upon himself as our head, by his High Priestly offering of himself as the One Sacrifice to the Father, by which Offering he instituted the One Flesh of his primordial union with the primordial Church, he restored our free nuptial unity, his One Flesh with the bridal Church, restoring our freedom freely to believe in him, to hope in him, and thus to enter his Kingdom. 

As our head, consubstantial with us, he conquered death by his One Sacrifice, his institution of the Eucharistic Bread of Life and Cup of eternal Salvation by which he is the Lord of history, the Beginning and the End.  Rising from the dead, he ascended to the right hand of the Father, and will come again to judge the living and the dead, who are consubstantial with him.

Thus the only Trinity known to the Catholic Creeds is “economic,” which is to say, historical, known solely by the historical Revelation who is the Christ.  It is not in prejudice of the eternity of the Trinity that we know of that eternity, not by borrowings from incompatible cosmological speculation upon a nonhistorical. divinity, but from the Revelation who is the Christ our head, in irrevocably free nuptial union with his bridal Church.  We have no other access to the Trinity than Jesus’ revelation of his Mission by his Father to give the Spirit.  That Mission from the Father is of him whom Irenaeus, at the end of the second century, would name “the one and the same Son,” a title affirmed and seven times repeated, two and a half centuries later, in the Symbol of Chalcedon.  Jesus the Christ is the Son of the Father from eternity and the Son of the Theotokos in our fallen history.  The bedrock of the Church’s faith is the Personal historicity of the eternal Son of the Father, Christ the Lord.

The Catholic faith that Jesus is the Lord asserts an obvious cosmological impossibility.  The revelation that we have access to the Trinity by the Father’s mission of Christ the Son is an affront to our fallen rationality.  Having fallen from our own free unity in solidarity with the first Adam, we spontaneously submit all reality to our own immanently necessary quest for “necessary reasons,” and thereby dismiss as irrational whatever is alien to the uninhabitable “cosmos” that we uncritically suppose to be our human habitat.  It is from this despair of history that we are converted, drawn by God to recognize the “Splendor veritatis” who is the Son, Jesus the Lord.

Thus it is that the Revelation which the Catholic faith affirms to be historically objective, viz., the free Personal human immanence of God in history, has no antecedent necessity, hence no cosmological possibility, and can perceived by the sophisticated paganism of fallen rationality only as mere foolishness, incompatible with rationality as such.  Five centuries of struggle to construct a consciousness freed from the absurdities of the mythological tradition had done no more than replace the consolations of the mimesis, the myth whose poetic expression Plato condemned, with a pessimism unalleviated by any recognition of beauty, the free unity and truth, in history and in the world.  The mythos affirmed the human goal to be the attainment of  the one, the good, the beautiful, their enfleshment even in the fallen world: καλος κγαθος νρ.  With the “discovery of mind” and the consequent the rejection of the fatalism of the mimetic faith as irrational, and the corollary of this refusal, the postulate of a surrogate divinity – the cosmic Logos,–the novel rationalism sought, as the mythos had, to create the beautiful and the good and, for too brief a time, succeeded.  But “the glory that was Greece” and its analogues in the great pagan cultures, could be neither the goal nor the product of the cosmological quest for a rational universe, for the synthesis of the beautiful and the good is an expression of the universal intuition of the free unity of truth, whose freedom is as resistant to rationalization as was the fatalism of the mythos.

The men and women of the pagan cultures were not personally locked into the cosmological despair of the circumambient dualist philosophies.  Their universal spontaneous quest for the beautiful and the just was their openness to the “ancient beauty’ that is Christ, an openness manifest when the first Apostolic preaching began to enlighten the world,.  The first converts were not from sophisticated cynics such as those in Athens who dismissed with irony Paul’s preaching of the resurrection, but were drawn instead from the lower classes exemplified by the stubbornly Christian peasants whom another sophisticated pagan, Pliny the Younger, encountered while Proconsul of Bithynia, and some of whom he executed for the crime of faith in Christ.  Jesus’ Lordship, his Personal transcendence of history, is not rooted in the immanently necessary causes which are foundational for cosmological rationality.  It is in reliance upon this classic pessimism that Plato rejected the phenomenological intelligibility of history, Aristotle, his student and sometime disciple, dissenting from his master, could affirm history’s formal intelligibility only by its idealization, its submission to his deterministic act-potency analysis, paradoxically ignoring the phenomenological peculiarity and unpredictability proper to the material universe which so fascinated him.  In either case, whether phenomeno­logically or analytically conceived, the quest for an immanently necessary truth in history cannot but induce a despairing flight from history.  This historical pessimism is taken for granted by the pagan mythologies.  Their rationalization, whether the Buddhist denial of historical reality by monastic Buddhism, the Greek equivalent, the Eleatic reduction of reality to abstract unity, ever and again, the “discovery of mind” requires a flight from history, whose freedom cannot support the quest for a necessary unity.

Plato and Aristotle were agreed in viewing freedom as unintelligible, as mere randomness.  Fallen rationality, apart from revelation, can do other than seek for a necessary intelligibility and, over the two and a half millennia of that quest, has found none in history.  As has been earlier noted, that perennially unavailing ambition was foreclosed eighty years ago by Gödel’s publication of his incompleteness theorems.  Strangely, this has not inhibited that ambition: it finds contemporary expression in the Darwinian dogmatism now identified with scientific detachment, despite its incompatibility with the laws of thermodynamics.

Inasmuch as the truth of the Catholic faith is revealed in history as a gift of truth, its affirmation can only be free, a reception of the gift of the living Truth.  This reception is by a free conversion from the cosmological rationality which knows no historical truth and no freedom: the cosmological quest for truth, and the cosmological exercise of freedom, are expressions of the cosmological soteriology: they constitute a necessary flight from  history to a nonhistorical ideal, whose immanent necessity every historical utterance affronts.

In direct conversion from the historical pessimism that marks all paganism, as well as all secular institutions of the contemporary neo-paganism, Catholic soteriology requires a free personal entry into salvific historicity, thus into the personal exercise of responsibility, authority and dignity implicit in our creation in Christ and our consubstantiality with him.  Concretely, this free entry into freedom, into covenantal fidelity to the Church’s liturgy is personal participation in the historical mediation of the salvation worked by Christ’s institution of the New Covenant, Eucharistically represented.  Personal appropriation of our redemption in Christ is precisely entry into the Eucharistic worship of the Church, thereby into the history of salvation.

History has only this significance: apart from the free recognition of the immanence in history of Jesus, the Alpha and the Omega, the Lord of history, its Beginning and its End, history has no instrinsic significance, and we can give it none for, apart from that Eucharistic mediation of the grace of Christ, we remain within that irretrievably fragmenting context that Paul labeled “the flesh.”  As fallen, we are locked into its fatality, from which we can be freed only by entering into the freedom of Christ, whose historical mediation is by free participation in the sacramental worship of the Church.  We cannot free ourselves; neither can we be forced to be free. Freedom can only be received, as a gift, the Gift our Lord was sent to give, the Holy Spirit.

We have referred elsewhere to the “costs of cosmology.”  In the pages following it will become apparent that the price of theological indulgence in that monist metaphysical determinism, whether expressed in a monadic systematics, or in atomistic ‘historical-criticism’, is finally theological dissent from the faith of the Catholic Church, whose adequate theological expression, its personal free quaerens intellectum cannot be other than Eucharistically grounded and consequently cannot be other than historical.

As the Catholic Church has no other foundation than the Eucharistic sacrifice, so Catholic theology can have no other foundation than the Eucharistic institution of the New Covenant by the priestly offering in the Person of Christ of his One Sacrifice, by which humanity has been freed in sacramento from the fragmentation of the fall and, thereby, the universe redeemed.

To enter upon the systematic rejection of that transcendent Gift by its methodological submission to the fatalities of fallen reason is to have substituted an idolatry of method for the faith of the Church that Jesus is the Lord.

The concern of the present work is systematic: it intends a coherent exposition of the free unity of the analogia fidei, which is to say, of the truth of the Catholic faith that Jesus is the Lord.  This volume presents the contemporary historical evidence vindicating the conversion of theological metaphysics from cosmological determinism to the intrinsically graced and consequently free historicity for whose theological necessity the first and second volumes of this study have argued.  In brief, it will examine the negative impact upon Catholic theology of the identification, traditional well before Boethius and little reflected upon, of “intellectual substance” with “person” in the sense of an irreducibly simple, distinct and, as distinct, self-aware self.  This monist cosmological conception of the divine substance was dismissed by the Nicene definition of the consubstantiality of the Son with the Father, and its atomizing application to the human substance was similarly dismissed by the Chalcedonian definition of the consubstantiality of Jesus with all human persons (i.e., “with us”).  Notwithstanding the sesquimillenial dogmatic recognition of the consequent consubstantiality of all human persons with each other, this atomistic notion of the human substance: viz., as concretely identical with the human person, continues to dominate Catholic theology.

This time-honored identification of the human person with the human substance rests upon the yet more radical metaphysical assumption of the necessary unity of being and therefore of truth, a postulate built into the regnant theological metaphysics by way of the deterministic import of its hylemorphic and act-potency versions.  The consequence, as will be seen, is the insouciant rejection, as by St. Thomas, of the Conciliar definition at Ephesus of the Theotokos of our Lady, and a correlatively naïve rejection of the Conciliar definition at Chalcedon of the human consubstantiality of Christ our Lord with those for whom, in obedience to his Mission as their head, he died, to institute that New and Eternal Covenant which frees them, enables them to believe in him, to love him, to enter his Kingdom and so to share his joy.

In short, the communication of human and divine idioms that is explicit in the Church’s faith that Jesus Christ is Lord has been found incompatible with the theological community’s persistently uncritical enlistment in a cosmological metaphysics.  Inevitably, the Eucharistic Presence of the risen Christ as at once the High Priest and the Victim of the One Sacrifice (Heb. 2:17, 3:1) is similarly incompatible with that cosmological rationalization of the radical liturgical expression of the Catholic faith, the priestly offering of the One Sacrifice of the Mass in the Person of Jesus the Christ, at once High Priest and Victim of his One Sacrifice.

The theological critique inherent in the systematic interest of this volume focuses upon the anthropological corollary of the cosmological metaphysical monism: i.e., upon the assumption that each human person is a distinct intellectual substance, because this uncritical postulate has long distorted the meaning of our substantial imaging of the Triune God.[1]   It has troubled the patristic tradition from the time of the Apologists, and has dominated the theological tradition almost from its inception down to our own day.  However formulated, whether in Platonist, Aristotelian, Stoic, Augustinian or Thomist terms, this monist reliance upon our fallen “autonomous” rationality is inevitably dehistoricizing: it forces a flight from history, for the free, salvific, and finally sacramental unity of history is entirely incompatible with the determinist canons of the “autonomous” rationality underlying all cosmological metaphysics.

Further, the unvoiced postulate of the mono-personality of the human substance, universally accepted by the Fathers, by the monastic theologians, by the medieval systematists and now by their contemporary disciples, including the major defender of the indispensability of nuptial symbolism, Henri de Lubac, has deprived the One Flesh, the free, nuptial union of the second Adam and second Eve, the Head and the Body, the New Covenant, of metaphysical standing by reason of its a priori exclusion of the intrinsic freedom of its substantial unity and truth.

The concretely free, tri-personal, sacramentally and therefore historically objective, substantial, Trinity-imaging unity (Bridegroom, bride, covenant) of the New Creation in Christ, cannot be reconciled with the cosmological monism of substance that has controlled theological speculation from its origin in the late second century, for that monism is rests upon the unexamined supposition that truth of being, of the really real, is a necessary truth.  Given that determinist point d’appui, theology must abstract from the indeterminacy, the cosmological irrationality, the fatality, of free historical existence. The cosmological irrationality of all historical reality was first perceived in the West by Heraclitus; thereafter it was affirmed as a mythic fatality by Plato.  His pupil Aristotle reduced the mythic fatalism to an immanent necessity.  He was followed in this by the Stoics and the Neoplatonists.  It lives still in current discussions of the interrelation of nature and grace, reason and faith.  That abstraction from history, that idealism, is simply inescapable. speculative reason, insofar as monist, as determinist, must dehistoricize its subject matter or abandon its project.

This cosmologically necessary process of abstraction from history has challenged Catholic theology nearly from the outset.  Its first clear rejection may be that of the second-century Apologist, Theophilus, the Bishop of Antioch, whose Ad Autolycum (2, 15) first understood that the divine unity, the One God, must comprise the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, and so must be a trias (τρíaς) rather than a monas (μνας.)  The Stoic terminology which Theophilus used to explain his insight could not sustain that burden, but the insight proved indefeasible.  Translated a few years later by Tertullian in the Apologeticus as a substantial trinitas comprising tres Personae (the latter term rendered in Greek by Hippolytus as πρσοπα).  Their assertion of the Trinitarian substance of God was resisted at first by the conservative Roman heirarchy, Popes Zephyrinus and Callistus.  However, ca. 260, Pope Dionysius affirmed it for the Roman tradition in his confused correspondence with his Alexandrine namesake, Dionysius the Great.  It was formally proclaimed by the Nicene Creed’s inclusion of the Holy Spirit within the object of the Church’s faith (see 356, infra), but only with the Council of Chalcedon was the full implication of the Nicene doctrine of the homoousion of the Son with the Father recognized and affirmed.  Justin, the first of the Apologists, and after him, Athenagoras, Theophilus, Tertullian, Hippolytus, Irenaeus whose Adversus Haereses had been anticipated by Justin, and Origen, the first Christian systematic theologian, and still the greatest, all recognized that the New Testament’s “Logos” is a title of Jesus, but these Fathers are exceptions to the all but universal programmatic dehistoricization of the Christ into the immanent Logos, and the dehistoricization of the Trinity into immanence divinity, the docetic temptation first exploited by Marcion and taken up by the Gnosticism which nearly triumphed in the third century.  They had found in Christianity a wisdom transcending all the cosmological dualism―i.e., transcending Middle Platonism, transcending Gnosticism, transcending the Neoplatonic mix of Platonism and Aristotelianism.  Their theological apologetic focused upon the historical Logos, the Christ whom the Christian faith affirms to be the source of the free intelligibility of the universe, whose mysterium is personally appropriated by baptism into the faith that Jesus is the Lord.

Irenaeus’ historical Christology, focused upon Jesus the Christ as the “Second Adam,” whom he is the first to designate “one and the same Son,” was equivalently the Spirit Christology, affirmed by the Apostolic Fathers, by Justin, Tertullian, Hippolytus and Origen, as well as by the first four General Councils.  The Symbol of Chalcedon only continued the tradition whose most explicit statement is that of Irenaeus: Jesus is one and the same Son, of the Father and of the Virgin.

Despite the clear affirmation of the Spirit Christoloogy by Council of Chalcedon, the theological exegesis of the Johannine “Logos sarx egeneto” has continued to identify the subject of the Incarnation with the eternally preexisting “immanent” Logos of the Middle Platonic cosmology, who therefore must become the Christ, must become human, must become historical, if the immanent Word (Sermo, Verbum, Logos) is to be the Jesus whom the faith of the Church affirms to be the Lord.  This cosmological fixation has ignored and continues to ignore the historical sense, i.e., the past tense of: Jn. 1:14; Κα λγος σρχ γεντο (And the word was made flesh) which refers to a past event, that which Paul knew as the kenōsis, the self-emptying, of Jesus the Lord, with its inescapable implication of his pre-existence precisely as Jesus the Lord, “in the beginning.”

Clearly, “becoming,” like “beginning,” is incompatible with the pre-existence ab aeterno of the Only-Begotten Son of God; this was settled by the rejection of the Arian cosmology at Nicaea, for we cannot read the Nicene Creed in abstraction from its historical subject, Jesus the Christ.  The Arian cosmology focused upon an abstract―i.e., cosmological―point: i.e., the impossibility of plurality in the divine unity.  Faith in the divinity of human Person, Jesus the Lord, was consequently irrational, untenable.  However, the Nicene condemnation of Arius was not theological: Arius’ denial of the divinity of Jesus the Lord affronted the Church’s liturgical and therefore historical mediation of the truth that Jesus is the Lord.  The Conciliar riposte was liturgical, not theological, not speculative, but concretely historical, a dogmatic affirmation of the Mysterium fidei, of consubstantial Personal plurality within the one and the same divine and consequently Trinitarian substance: Jesus is homoousios with the Father, an affirmation with enormous implications, the first of which is that the subject of theology is this liturgically-mediated historical truth, the inexhaustible mystery of the historical faith that Jesus is Lord, sent by the Father to give the Spirit.

The cosmologically committed Eusebians and their allies, supported by Constantine and his heirs, fought this definition à outrance.  Within a decade the more prominent upholders of the homoousion of Jesus with the Father had lost their sees, leaving Athanasius nearly alone upon the field, but victorious nonetheless, for theological cosmology had died at Nicaea.  The obsequies would be conducted by the next two Councils, and the funeral celebrated at Chalcedon.

Every attempt rationally to account for the impossible transit of the immanent Son, the nonhistorical word, from Trinitarian immanence to historicity must fail and, within that failure, the theological identification of the Word with the Lord Jesus also must fail, for within that abstract context it is the eternally immanent Word, not the man Jesus, who then is Lord, who is the subject of Christology and thus is the nonhistorical Personal agent of our historical salvation.

When this cosmological identification of the nonhistorical Son as Lord is taken seriously by theologians, as it has been since the Eusebian submission of the faith to political negotiation, the task of Catholic theology, whose sole historical subject is the Church’s faith that Jesus, the “one and the same Son,” is the Lord, has been dismissed.  Its surrogate is the impossible project of reducing to “necessary reasons,” i.e., of rationalizing, of providing for the antecedent conditions of the possibility of the inexhaustible mystery of the union of divinity and humanity in the Person of Jesus the Lord.  This has since been the central project of Christological speculation, which continues undiscouraged by the formal rejection of its a priori dehistoricization of the Johannine Logos by the Councils of Nicaea, I Constantinople, Ephesus and Chalcedon.

Church Councils do not teach theology.  As the Fathers at Nicaea did not enter into a cosmological debate with Arius, as those at I Constantinople did not contend with Apollinarius or the Macedonians, so the Fathers who met at Ephesus and at Chalcedon did not convene to argue over the merits of monophysism versus diophysism.  They met to conclude a development of the Nicene affirmation of the Personal consubstantiality with the Father of the one and the same Son who is Jesus the Lord  It consisted in the correction of the theological assumption, by the Eutychians and the Nestorians, that the Nicene affirmation of the homoousion of the Son with the Father did not pertain to the Personal unity of their dehistoricized Logos, the “immanent Son,” but to Jesus the Lord.  The Nicene definition of the homoousion of the Son was not concerned with an “immanent Son” of whom the Catholic tradition knows nothing.  Rather, it was a statement of the faith of the Church in her Jesus Christ the Lord, which cannot and does not prescind from the Son’s humanity.  It is Jesus Christ who is the Lord  a matter settled dogmatically by the Ephesian entitlement of Mary as the Theotokos, which long since had been taken for granted in the worship of the Church.  Thus, the subject of the Nicene definition of the homoousion of the Son with the Father is Jesus the Christ, not the Word in conceptual disjunction from his humanity, for that is to ignore his Personal unity, which is to say, it is to ignore the communication in idioms which the Council of Nicaea was called to defend, and which it did defend, precisely by defining Jesus’ Personal homoousion with the Father.  It is inescapable that the Nicene affirmation of Jesus’ consubstantiality is proper to his indivisible Personal unity as at once fully divine and fully human.  Consequently it must apply to his humanity as well as to his divinity, for both are Personal in the Personal unity of Jesus the Lord: once again, the subject of the Nicene doctrine is Jesus, not an “immanent Word.”

Jesus’ Personal unity was insistently affirmed and reaffirmed at Chalcedon: he is the One and the same Son, who subsists at once in humanity, in the human substance which comprises all for whom Christ died, and in the , divine Substance the Trinity of Father, Son and Holy Spirit.  The Apostolic tradition, particularly evident in the Gospel of John and his Letters, and in Paul’s affirmation of Jesus’ kenōsis in his Letter to the Philippians, insists that Jesus’ full humanity is as indispensable to his Lordship as is his full Divinity, and includes his Personal unity in that insistence.  The consubstantiality with the Father of that Personal unity, of Jesus the Lord, the One and the same Son, was affirmed at Nicaea.  Once that Personal consubstantiality was understood to be essential to the Church’s faith in Jesus’ divinity, the cosmologically-induced confusion over the incompatibility of Jesus’ divinity with the supposedly monadic unity of God was eliminated: the divine Substance could not be the divine Monas, the absolute Self, as Arius and his allies had taught.  At Chalcedon, the Fathers proclaimed Jesus’ consubstantiality with those for whom, as their head, he died, as equally essential to the Church’s faith in his humanity.

This development at once of Christological and Trinitarian doctrine was complete with the Chalcedonian Symbol, despite the assertion by leading contemporary Catholic theologians that the Fathers at the Council of Nicaea understood homoousios in a sense quite different from that that of the Symbol of Chalcedon.  These theologians suppose the former sense to be historical in the Nicene affirmation of the revealed divinity of Jesus the Christ; thus they properly reject, on the doctrinal, i.e., historical ground of the Nicene Creed, the cosmologically conceived unity of divinity as the Absolute Monas: the divine Substance is not the cosmological Monas, but the historically revealed Trinitas. However, they suppose meaning of the homoousios used in the Symbol of Chalcedon to affirm the consubstantiality of Jesus the Christ “with us,” to be its abstract cosmological sense, which insists upon the monadic substantiality of each human person, and on that basis conclude, without scriptural or doctrinal warrant, that the Chalce­donian affirmation of his human consubstantiality is unintelligible: in short, they apply Arius’ argument against Jesus’ divinity to his humanity: both must be monadic. 

In this fashion, they insist upon the cosmological unity of man as that of a personal monas analogous to the divine Monas affirmed by Arius and rejected at Nicaea, thus a monas who exhausts the substance in which he subsists: this reduces humanity to a multiplicity of substantially immanent selves, whose human community is inexplicable and which they leave unexamined and unexplained.

This insistence upon applying a radically incoherent cosmological anthropology to the Lord in whom we are created and by whom we are redeemed is an obvious absurdity.  The nearly unanimous commitment of Catholic theologians to these pseudo-theological persuasions is explainable only as an obsolete scholasticism: an academic commitment to the monadic rationality which was definitively rejected at Nicaea, a school loyalty which cannot accept the communication of idioms in Jesus the Christ, the Lord, the One and the same Son.  The result is a dehistoricized metaphysics entailing a Monarchian rejection of the apostolic tradition across the board, but  traveling as systematic theology.  Its Christology has no historical subject, no past, no future and no theological relevance.

It is further evident that the freedom of the created, Trinity-imaging, covenantally-ordered metaphysical unity of the human substance cannot be put in question without also putting in question the freedom of the tri-Personal, substantial unity of the Triune God in whose image that substance is created.[2]  The unexamined cosmological postulate of a multiplicity of monadic human substances obviously excludes the substantial, metaphysical unity of the nuptial image of God, as taught in Gen 1:27, as re-affirmed by Karl Barth in the mid-twentieth century, and as resumed at the turn of the twenty-first century in John Paul II’s affirmation of our nuptial imaging of God, the final development of his “theology of the body.”

The  uncritical insistence upon the monism of human substantiality had also ruled out, a priori, the Personal unity of Jesus the Christ defined at Chalcedon: viz., defined as that of “one and the same Son” of the Father and of the Theotokos.[3]   It is clear that the Apostolic-liturgical affirmation of Mary’s motherhood of her Son is to be taken literally, which is to say, historically:  its literal truth, that she is the Mother of the Lord, is a liturgical affirmation of the Catholic faith; it is not subject to negotiation.  Any theological speculation which dismisses that historical truth as false to the cosmologically-assured incompatibility of the divine and the human is out of court: Catholicism is a historical faith in the historical revelation that is Personally concrete in Jesus, the one and the same Son of Mary and of the Father.  It is Jesus the Lord of whom the Catholic tradition speaks, and it speaks historically, not cosmologically.

It would be idle here further to detail the anti-Christian implications of the perennial mistake, the dehistoricizing of the Logos of Jn. 1:14, which has proceeded to dehistoricize the faith.  The earlier volumes of Covenantal Theology have been concerned inter alia with their exposition: we may suppose those preliminary discussions to have been sufficient to signal the paralyzing impact of this perduring error upon Catholic theology.

It has been the project of the first two volumes of this study to provide the metaphysical foundation for the freedom of historical objectivity as such by showing that the truth of the Catholic faith requires that the prime analogate of being, as the theological tradition has understood that term, be the uniquely Prime Event whose primacy can only be that of the historically immanent, history-transcending Eucharistic representation of the sacrificial institution of the New Covenant by Jesus the Christ.  It is uniquely by the Event of the offering of this One Sacrifice in the Person of Jesus the Lord who alone can offer it, that the fragmentation of our fallen time is healed, transformed into the history of salvation through the Eucharistic immanence of the risen Christ in history, whereby he is its Lord, its Alpha and its Omega.  Our fallen history thereby possesses a sacramental free unity, that of the Eucharistic One Flesh: that it has no necessary unity is well established: any quest for that necessary unity is a flight from history.

The immediate implication of the Eucharistic a priori of theology is that history can be understood to possess objective unity and truth only insofar as its unity is sacramentally signed and caused by the Eucharistic celebration of the One Sacrifice of Christ.  This much is inescapable, for history has no intrinsic significance other than that which is free, ex nihilo, incapable of inference from any status quo ante.  Only the historical objectivity, the historical event-realism, of the radically Eucharistic sacramental signing that is constitutive of the Church’s worship is thus free and thus historical in the sense of possessing the intrinsic significance.  The exegesis of Scripture as Scripture is possible only when its task of historical criticism is understood to rest upon the prime historicity of the Eucharistic Sacrifice which recapitulates and thereby redeems the entirety of historical reality―i.e., rendering it intrinsically intelligible because sacramentally significant and therefore freely coherent.

This recognition of history as intrinsically significant because signing an eschatological restoration of all things in Christ was the commonplace of the patristic and Carolingian periods; it overcame the anti-institutional influence of dévots of the “new (Eleatic) logic from the multitude of untutored dissenting preachers following the condemnation of Berengarius, down to Abelard and the Victorines, to triumph in Lateran IV’s affirmation of transubstantiation.

The medieval “reception of Aristotelianism,” with its postulated monism of substance, and the failure of the theologians of the thirteenth century to baptize that metaphysics by converting it to the free historicity of being, issued a century later in the rationalistic triumph of logic over metaphysics with the Nominalism that has been regarded as the “harvest”[4] but, more accurately, the “waning,”[5] of the Middle Ages.  Interest in metaphysics was thereafter peculiar to those theologians whose concern for sacramental realism was soteriological and historical instead of cosmological and, increasingly, juridical.

Henri de Lubac’s hesitation before the substantial metaphysical import of the nuptial symbolism, whose dogmatic indispensability he has nonetheless affirmed, is traceable to his uncritical application of the Thomist-Aristo­telian monadism of substance to the nuptial One Flesh, for that monadism bars any systematic, i.e., metaphysical theological recognition of the historically objective reality and truth of the free and yet obviously substantial unity of the New Covenant.  The application of this determinism reduces to mere metaphor the One Flesh, the New Creation in which terminates the Son’s obedience to the Father’s mission, i.e., his Gift of the Spiritus Creator to his bridal Church, by whose liturgical historicity the One Sacrifice of the Son is redemptively immanent in fallen history.

It would be beside the point to fault de Lubac for failing to arrive at a theological insight that could arise―and in fact has arisen here―only out of a sustained study of his theology.  Despite his signal contributions to systematic theology in Surnaturel and its sequel, Le mystère du surnaturel, de Lubac’s theological achievement was not neither speculative nor systematic.  He was a patristic scholar of unmatched theological erudition whose long labors were wholly in the service of the Church.  He left behind him a body of scholarly work that will illumine Catholic theology henceforth.  The unity of his thought is identically that of the patristic tradition to whose study he devoted his long life: the unity of the Eucharistic liturgy, the unity of history as free, the unity of the res Catholica, the unity of the One Flesh of Christ and his Church, unitas corporis.[6]  No one reading a dozen pages of any of his profound studies of the patristic exegesis can doubt the Eucharistic source of their unity.[7]  The present work has attempted to proceed under a comparable aegis, in that it intends and has undertaken to provide the meta-systematic elaboration of the Eucharistic unity and foundation of the theological enterprise as such.  This project, grounded in the Church’s worship, could not proceed in vacuo.  Instructed by de Lubac’s scholarship, it cannot avoid a critical examination of his thought and work.

The development of that criticism in this Volume III has been prompted, ironically, by an error belatedly noticed by the present author, which appears twice in the endnotes of, respectively, the second and the sixth chapters of the first and second volumes of Covenantal Theology.  The examination and correction of that error has required a re-examination and consequent discovery of the subtlety of the phenomenological analysis of sacramental realism by the Latin patristic tradition, as it is encapsulated in the sacramentum-res sacramenti paradigm of sacramental causality.  A careful re-exam­ination of the untroubled realism of the pre-Berengarian patristic tradition is the necessary preliminary to understanding its post-Berengarian development of the early medieval paradigm of sacramentum tantum, res et sacramentum, res tantum, whose significance has been largely lost in the cosmological confusion consequent upon the Reform. 

The pages following propose the single remedy for that confusion.  It cannot be other than the theological affirmation of and reliance upon the liturgical tradition, concretely historical in the Church’s indefeasible oral tradition, viz, her Eucharistic worship of Jesus Christ, her Lord.

Part One: The Substantial Unity of the Covenantal One Flesh

I. The Error Found in Two Endnotes in Covenantal Theology II

The proximate origin of this extended Appendix (Volume III) to the two earlier volumes of Covenantal Theology is a re-examination of de Lubac’s classic study, Corpus mysticum. L’Eucharistie et l’église au Moyen age: Étude historique. Deuxième édition. Col. Théologie, 3 (Paris: Aubier; Éditions Montaigne, 1949) [hereafter, Corpus mysticum].  It was prompted by the discovery of a literal misstatement appearing in two endnotes of the first and second editions of Covenantal Theology.  In these endnotes the present writer misread―anachronistically―a text in which St Thomas affirms a double Eucharistic res sacramenti.  This anachronism consists in attributing an approval by St. Thomas of a double res et sacramentum in the Eucharist.  This misreading would have the early St. Thomas, in his Commentary on the Sentences, identify the res et sacramentum of the Eucharist with the One Flesh, the nuptial union, of the Christ, the Head, with his ecclesial Body, the bridal Church.

In sum, this misreading would identify the medieval res et sacramentum with the Augustinian res sacramenti, i.e., with the Christus totus.  This is not what St. Thomas wrote in the passage cited.  However, whether he does in fact disagree with St. Augustine over the inclusion of the Church within the infallible effect ex opere operato of the Eucharistic signing, later designated the res et sacramentum, is another matter, to be taken up further on as this inquiry proceeds.

The first of the two endnotes of second volume of Covenantal Theology in which the misreading of St. Thomas occurs reads as follows:

Ch. V, endnote 21: Another variant of this error appears in St. Thomas’ Comment. in iv Libros Sententiarum IV, 12, (q. 1, art. 3) where, commenting upon Peter Lombard’s notion of the res et sacramenti, Thomas places a double res et sacramenti in the Eucharist, by which the Church as well as Christ is included in the res et sacramentum, but the Church is thus present by a concomitance which Thomas understands to be physical or organic, not free, covenantal and nuptial, which concludes to the Christomonism already noted.  The difficulty is avoided in the Summa Theologiae iiia, q. 73, by assigning the Church to the res tantum, but at the cost of losing the sacramentality of the Church.  See the discussion in Volume II, Chapter VI, note 139.

The reference in this endnote to “Peter Lombard’s notion of res et sacramenti” and to St. Thomas’ commentary upon it, contains two errata: both read “res et sacramenti,” (which does not exist) instead of the patristic “res sacramenti” with which both Peter Lombard, in this passage in his Four Books of the Sentences, and St. Thomas, in his Commentary on the Four Books of The Sentences, were concerned.  Their common context is the traditional Augustinian-patristic correlation of sacramentum and res sacramenti, in which res sacramenti includes the total salvific effect of the infallibly efficacious sacramentum, the sacramental signing, without the later medieval differentiation between the effect produced ex opere operato, the “res et sacramentum,” and the effect produced ex opere operantis, communicant’s free and therefore fallible participation in the Eucharistic liturgy: this is the “res tantum” of the later, post-Berengarian, medieval paradigm of sacramentum, res et sacramentum, res tantum.

Thus, the concern of Peter Lombard, and of St. Thomas’ commentary, is not, as this endnote proposed, for the later refinement, the “res et sacramentum,” which the early medieval paradigm of sacramental causality (sacramentum tantum, res et sacramentum, res tantum). distinguished from the “res tantum”  This is clear from their terminology itself, which concerns only the res sacramenti of the Eucharist.  This latter term invokes the earlier dialectical patristic paradigm, essentially Augustinian, historical and existential rather than analytic, which links the infallible efficacy of the sacramental sign, (sacramentum) to its indivisible total effect, at once historical and anagogical, the res sacramenti.  This analysis took for granted the free participation of the faithful in the Eucharistic liturgy.  Without ignoring the warning in I Cor. 11:27-30 against unworthy reception, the patristic paradigm was concerned for the efficacy of the Eucharistic signing, the cause of the Church and of the salvation mediated by her celebration of the One Sacrifice of Christ.

In the early twelfth century, in the wake of the Berengarian heresy and the controversy surrounding it, the patristic paradigm of sacramental realism, “sacramentum, res sacramenti,” was supplemented rather than replaced by the medieval paradigm, “sacramentum tantum, res et sacramentum, res tantum,”[8] a development marking the attainment of a level of analytical rigor which theretofore had been beside the point.  With Berengarius it became necessary to distinguish, with precision, the infallible from the fallible effects of the Eucharistic signing, for a failure so to do would not meet the challenge posed by Berengarius’ melding of the two historical effects of the sacramental signing into a single nonhistorical effect which could only be subjective.

As de Lubac has insisted, a price was paid for this clarity.  From within the problematic to which this later paradigm of Eucharistic signing responds, the earlier expression, “res sacramenti,” must in fact be seen to lack the analytic precision that had become necessary by reason of the confusion arising out of the eleventh-century Berengarian heresy.  Unfortunately, the conceptual differentiation and separation of the “res tantum” from the “res et sacramentum,” i.e., of fallible personal union with the risen Christ from the immediate and infallible effect of the sacramental signing, permitted or, better, suggested, even prompted, the rationalization and, inevitably, the dehistoricization of that final effect, the ultimate goal of sacramental worship, i.e., personal union in ecclesia with the risen Lord, by its conceptual isolation from the communal worship of the Church, and thereby its consequent openness to privatization, to dissociation from the Eucharistic worship by which the historical Church is historical.

By the fourteenth century, this dehistoricization had concluded to the Nominalist exaltation of “spiritual communion,” i.e., of the non-sacramental, and therefore dehistoricized, merely subjective, personal appropriation in voto of the grace of Eucharistic Communion.  The severance of salvation from its sacramental mediation is a fatal error which, if it did not begin there, at least had the way to it smoothed by this early twelfth-century speculative sophistication.  The dehistoricizing error, the reduction of worship to subjectivity, is certainly not inherent in the early medieval sacramental paradigm, but the distinctions it set between the sacramental sign, its immediate infallible effect, and its fallible effect, viz., its personal appropriation in Communion, permitted their rationalistic dissociation and thereby their dehistoricization.  On the other hand, already in third century Cyprian had been able to rationalize Tertullian’s sacramentum, res sacramenti correlation to the point of anticipating the Donatist heresy.  Rationalization and its corollary, dehistoricization, are ancient and permanent temptations, modalities of the .flight from history, the fear of freedom and free responsibility for the future, inherent in our fallen consciousness.

Continuing with the examination of the misinterpretation of St. Thomas in the aforementioned two endnotes of Covenantal Theology II, the second of them reads as follows:

Ch. VI, endnote 140:  We have seen (Chapter V, note 21) that in the Comment. in IV Libros Sententiarum iv, d. 12, St. Thomas includes the Church under the duplex res et sacramentum of the Eucharist, as had Augustine (cf. Gessel, op. cit., 153): in the Summa Theologiae, however, Thomas places the Church at the level of the res tantum sacramenti which is to remove from the Church its historical reality, that of the sacramental signing of the Kingdom; see S. T. iiia, q. 73, a. 6, c., citing Mag. IV Sent., dist. 8, cap. Nunc quid ibi, and cap. Cum Marthae (DS §*782-*784), of Innocent III.  See also q. 73, a. 1, ob. 2, where the same relegation of the Church to the res tantum sacramenti is asserted in obliquo and not rebutted in the responsum; the same assertion appears in q. 73, a. 3, c.

The second parenthetical reference is to Wilhelm Gessel’s Eucharistische Gemeinschaft bei Augustinus; ser. Cassiacum, Band XXI (Wurzburg: Augustinus Verlag, 1966).

In this second endnote, the confusion between “res sacramenti” and “res et sacramentum,” implicit in the first endnote, has become explicit.  Peter Lombard’s discussion of the res sacramenti, and St. Thomas’ commentary upon it, are there read as though they were discussions of the quite distinct notion of res et sacramentum.  This confusion is the basis for the conclusion, expressed in these two endnotes, that St. Thomas had simply relegated the Church to the standing of the res tantum sacramenti.  Although St. Thomas had in fact thus described the Church in his Commentary on the Sentences,[9] he did so in a context at once so ambiguous and yet so strategic as to require further examination for its resolution.

II. The Patristic Paradigm of Sacramental Efficacy versus the Medieval Paradigm

A. St. Thomas’ Early Eucharistic Theology: between the Augustinian-Patristic res sacramenti and the medieval res et sacramentum

Two texts in particular in St. Thomas’ Comm. in IV Libros Sententi­arum of Peter Lombard reveal his interest in and use of the older, patristic paradigm of sacramental causality: [10]

Quod sicut in hoc sacramento est duplex res sacramenti, scilicet Corpus Christi verum et mysticum; ita etiam fractio duo significat, scilicet ipsam divisionem corporis veri, quae facta est in passione, et haec significatio tangitur in Littera; et distributionem virtutis redemptionis Christi per diversa membra Ecclesiae; et hanc significationem tangit Dionysius in 3. cap. Eccl. Hierar.  Et secundumn hac accipitur significatio partium secundum diversum membrorum statum. Etc.  (Emphasis added.)

In IV Sent., iv, d. 12, q. 1, a. 3, ad 3.  The Latin text of the Sentences upon which St. Thomas here comments is set out in the text of endnote 10, infra.

(Corpus Christi verum) significat etiam quasi rem ultimam, Corpus Christi mysticum, scilicit Ecclesiam, qua propter distinctionem officiorum habet similitudinem cum toto corpore ratione distinctionis membrorum.  (Emphasis added.)

In IV Sent. iv, d. 8, q. 2, a. 1, ad 4, 3. 

The patristic sacramental paradigm, sacramentum, res sacramenti, inherited from the African tradition (i.e., Tertullian and Cyprian, developed by Augustine and by him passed on to the Fathers of the Latin West, had understood the direct effect of the Eucharistic signing to be a res gemina,[11] the “twin effect,” also named the duplex res sacramenti, of the sacramental signing: i.e., the Corpus Christi verum and the mystica eius caro: the bridal Church, One Flesh (una caro) with her Lord.  The res gemina of the pre-Berengarian Latin tradition, i.e, the patristic tradition which Peter Lombard summarized in his Sentences, and which depends very largely upon St. Augustine, corresponds to Augustine’s theological focus upon the fulfillment of Eucharistic worship, the eternal life in the “holy society by which we belong to God.”  The sancta societas, thus understood, can only be the One Flesh of Christ and his Church, the “whole Christ,” the final consequence of the Eucharistic offering of the One Sacrifice.  However, as in the text upon which St. Thomas here comments, that nuptial union, Augustine’s sancta societas, was often regarded as the Church in the anagogical fulfillment of her union with the Christ: unitas Ecclesiae in praedestinatis, vocatis, justificatis et glorificatis.[12] The patristic interest in the res sacramenti, as de Lubac has stressed, is focused upon the Church, and the Church as fulfilled, the Church as purified of all sin.  This is easily misunderstood, for the Fathers also knew the Church in history to be sinless; her union with her Lord does not wait upon the eschaton.[13] “Purified of all sin” describes the Church’s members, not the Church, whose procession from and Eucharistic union with her Head and Lord bespeaks her sinlessness.

Consequently, in the hands of the Master of the Sentences, the res gemina becomes the res et sacramentum of the medieval analysis, but with no intent to deny the anagogically-viewed sacramental realism of the patristic sacramentum―res sacramenti analysis.  Thus the Lombard’s emphasis upon the final effect of the Church’s worship is not the suppression of the historicity of the Eucharistic Event, whether looked upon as the conversion of the elements or as the offering of the One Sacrifice, but rather presupposes that Event to be the efficacious cause of the fulfilled Kingdom of God, the holy society, the anagogical One Flesh upon which the One Sacrifice is focused and which its offering institutes: the New Covenant as sacramentally represented and historically objective in the Eucharist.

Thus the patristic focus upon the final goal of the Church’s worship accounts for Peter Lombard’s transposition in the first passage from the Sentences[14],  commented upon by St. Thomas supra, of the patristic “mystica eius caro” to the standing of the medieval “res et non sacramentum” (i.e., the assignment of the Church to the res tantum sacramenti, commonly abbreviated to res tantum).  This transposition rests upon his acceptance of the patristic understanding the Church as anagogically fulfilled: i.e., as “unitas Ecclesiae in praedestinatis, vocatis, justificatis et glorificatis.”  When, further on in the passage cited, Peter Lombard transposes the patristic “gemina res sacramenti” to the medieval sacramental paradigm by his “gemina est res,” (see endnote 14), he contemplates no dissociation .  This anagogically-oriented reading of the “mystica eius caro” suggests, even prompts, but does not at all require, the removal of the Church from the infallible effect that is the res et sacramentum, and its allocation to the res tantum, as “non significans:” i.e., as the final effect, the anagogue, of the Eucharistic signing, which by definition cannot be a sign.  The Lombard’s conceptual dissociation of the Church from the medieval res et sacramentum rejected the emphasis of the patristic paradigm (sacramentum et res sacramenti) upon the anagogical Church, which within that context could never be dissociated from its historical cause, the Event-Presence of the High Priest offering himself as the Victim of the One Sacrifice, and therefore could never be dissociated from her own historical existence, in nuptial union with her Lord. 

However, the acceptance of the new tripartite medieval paradigm, with its analytic conceptualization of the tantum sacramentum, res et sacramentum, the patristic understanding of the Church triumphant as sacramentally signed and caused, thus as inseparable from her historical cause in the Eucharistic sacrifice, began to evanesce.  It became too easy to think of the Church as eschatological simply, as having no historical significance, which is to say, no historical objectivity: the way was opened to the nonhistorical ecclesiology of the Reform.

The patristic emphasis upon the Church “triumphant” is inherent in the patristic meditation on the Eucharist and is entirely consistent with the anagogical dimension of the Church’s sacramental worship and with her consequent historical visibility.  Augustine’s ecclesiology is clear, as is that of the Church Fathers who depend on him: the unity of the Church is at once historical and history-transcending, which is finally only to say that the Church’s historical worship, her historical objectivity, is sacramental, for it is Eucharistic: she has the historicity of her risen Bridegroom.  Saint Augustine’s commentary on I Cor. 12:27 could not be more to the point:

From Abel the just to the end of the world, for as long as men beget and are begotten, whoever of the just makes the passage through this life, all that now, that is, not in this place but in this life, whoever will be born in the future, constitute the one body of Christ, while they are each individually members of Christ.  So if all constitute the body, and are each individually members, there is of course a head, of which this is the body.  And he himself, it says, is the head of the body, the Church, the firstborn, himself holding the first place (Col. 1:18).  And because it is said of him also that he is always the head of every principality and power (Col. 2:10), this Church which is now on its pilgrimage is joined to that heavenly Church where we have the angels as fellow citizens, with whom we would be quite shameless in claiming equality after the resurrection of our bodies, unless Truth had promised us this, saying, They shall be equal to the angels of God (Lk. 20:36) and there is achieved one Church, the city of the great king (Mt. 5:35).

Sermo 341, 11 (PL 39:1499); see Latin text in endnote 25, infra; cf. Moriones, Enchiridion §1218. Tr. from Hill, TheWorks of Saint Augustine series, Part iii, vol. 9).

St. Thomas, using the medieval, post-Berengarian idiom current in the thirteenth century and thereafter,[15] identified the “twin effect” of the Eucharist as the “Corpus Christi verum” (i.e., the Real Presence) causing the “Corpus Christi mysticum” (the Church) by efficaciously signing her: Corpus Christi figurativum corporis mystici,[16] thus stating the interrelation and the relative priority of these inseparable effects of the sacramental signing, i.e., of the sacramentum tantum, the celebration of the Mass.

As already indicated, the interpretation of the patristic theological expression, “res gemina,” given in the two endnotes examined supra, is erroneous because, anachronistically, it identifies the existential-dialectical patristic Eucharistic paradigm, sacramentum, res sacramenti, with the early medieval paradigm, analytic rather than dialectic, objective rather than existential, of sacramentum tantum, res et sacramenti, res sacramenti tantum (res tantum).  This mistake opens the likelihood of imposing that analytical objectivity upon the patristic paradigm.

Here a caution must be interposed.  The medieval paradigm was a defensive response to Berengarius’ eleventh-century reduction of Eucharistic realism to Eucharistic symbolism or subjectivity, the theological response to which required the analytical distinction between the necessary and the free effects of the Eucharistic signing.  This defensive focus was a theological novelty: prior to Berengarius, there had been no attack upon the truth of the Eucharistic signing.  The Carolingians had been tempted by the “new logic” to question the patristic existentialism, but they were not tempted by heresy.

The new medieval paradigm recognizes that the existential thrust of the res gemina, i.e., the res sacramenti of the older patristic paradigm, is a joinder of (1) the infallible effect of the Eucharistic signing, and (2) the fallible (because received by a fallen communicant) effect of the same Eucharistic signing.  It in no sense contradicts the patristic paradigm,  However, its objective analysis of the effects of the Eucharistic signing made it likely that sacramental theologians tempted by the same binary logic which had led Berengarius into denying the historical truth of the Eucharistic signing, would themselves be tempted to distinguish the infallible effect of that signing from the fallible, by restricting the historical truth, and thus the historical efficacy of that signing, to its infallible, i.e., necessary effect, while denying that historical efficacy to the free effect, the recipient’s union with his Lord in ecclesia.  This was to reduce that effect to subjectivity, with the correlative dehistoricization of Eucharistic worship and of the Church caused by it.

In terms of our fallen historicity, the latter term of the medieval paradigm is best understood, not as the patristic theology had understood it, as the Church, particularly in her infallible anagogical perfection, but as the communicant’s fallible personal appropriation of the final goal of the One Sacrifice, the freely appropriated salvation of those for whom Jesus died.

Res gemina is a patristic term, antedating the Berengarian confusion, and thus it cannot be read to designate a joinder of the res et sacramentum with the res tantum of the later medieval paradigm.  The phenomenological interest of the patristic res sacramenti is not concerned for the analytical distinctions of the medieval theology: the patristic focus is not on the possibility of a sinful refusal to participate in the Church’s worship, but upon our personal participation in the worship itself, i.e., upon our existence in ecclesia, in Christo.  This distinction is of the first importance.

The Augustinian-patristic theological tradition, condensed in the sacramentum-res sacramenti account of liturgical experience in ecclesia, was untroubled by any Eucharistic heresy and uninterested in the defensive rational distinctions which the later paradigm placed within the factual unity of the Eucharistic res sacramenti in order adequately to reply to the novelty of a Eucharistic heresy.

Further, that medieval distinction between infallible and fallible effects of the sacramental signing is not what St. Thomas has in mind in the two endnotes under discussion: there, as is clear from his “duplex res sacramenti” language, his theological context is the patristic paradigm: sacramentum - res sacramenti. Therefore he is concerned for the Church, the “mystical body,” as the “quasi-ultimate” effect of the sacramental signing, i.e., of the sacramentum, whose first effect he understands to be the “Corpus Christi verum,” the Real Presence of the sacrificed and risen Lord.  The second effect, the Corpus Christi mysticum or Church, is inseparable within the res sacramenti from the first effect, the Eucharistic presence of the Christ: these twin effects are inseparable because they are irrevocably united in the transcendent freedom of their One Flesh, the New Covenant instituted, achieved, through the offering of the One Sacrifice by the second Adam for the second Eve.  While, as we shall see, St. Thomas, with the patristic tradition itself, fails to perceive the freedom of this nuptial union, preferring to regard it as organic or physical, failing to recognize its covenantal reality, he knows it to be real, but not to be free, whereas in fact its objective historical reality and its covenantal freedom are inseparable.

It is by reason of the freedom of their nuptial and covenantal union that the Corpus Christi verum and the Corpus Christi mysticum constitute a single effect, or res gemina sacramenti.  This patristic expression affirms their unity, their simultaneity: in short, the unitas corporis Christi that is the res gemina.[17]  It is evident that this unity, the res sacramenti, can only be the free nuptial unity, the covenant in One Flesh, of Christ and his bridal Church: i.e., the free covenantal unity of the second Adam and the second Eve, the Head and the Body, sponsus et sponsa,[18] the New Covenant instituted by the One Sacrifice, represented Eucharistically on the altars of the Church.[19]  The bridal Church has no other unity than her free union with her Lord.

The summary difference between the two Eucharistic paradigms (i.e., the patristic sacramentum, res sacramenti and the twelfth-century, medieval sacramentum tantum, res et sacramentum, res tantum, is thus easily stated.  The older or Augustinian-patristic paradigm of sacramental  realism, sacramentum, res sacramenti, looks to the necessary or infallible effect of the offering by the Corpus Christi verum of the Eucharistic Sacrifice: i.e., the Church, the second Eve, the Corpus Christi mysticum, the bridal Church, the Glory that proceeds from him as her Head, her source and the cause of her free unity, the unitas corporis Christi, in which she is One Flesh with her Lord, here and hereafter: historically and anagogically.

This unity is her covenantal, nuptially-ordered union with her Head in the One Flesh, the New Covenant, infallibly instituted by the One Sacrifice, offered on the cross and on the altars of the Church.  Further, without denying the objectivity and historicity of the Eucharistic mysterium, the Fathers tended to think of this union in eschatological or, better, in anagogical terms which focus upon the inseparable causal link between the sacramentum and its final full perfection, the union of all the faithful with their Lord in the Kingdom of God, the anagogical fulfillment of the One Flesh of Christ and the Church.  At the same time, this One Flesh is the effect of the full Gift of the Holy Spirit, for it is accomplished by the Jesus the Christ’s unqualified obedience to his Mission from the Father, his “obedience unto death,” as Paul emphasized in Phil. 2:8, “even death upon the cross,” that death which is his plenary giving of the Spirit, his One Sacrifice, offered daily upon the altars of the Church.

The Fathers have seen that this terminus of the Son’s Mission, the giving of this plenary Gift, can only be the eschatological fulfillment of the Eucharistic signing, which is to say, our plenary participation in the good creation, for their commentaries on Jn. 19:34-35 unanimously recognize in it the crowning work of the good creation prophesied in the creation of Adam and Eve as the nuptial image of God in Gen. 1:27, and by their creation in the One Flesh of Gen. 2:24, as fulfilled in the Christ’s sacrificial institution of his One Flesh with the Church, the New Covenant in his blood.

At least by implication, the death of Jesus on the cross is seen also as the Son’s imaging of the Father, in that from the second Adam, as her Head, proceeds the glory that is the Church in the substantial, Trinity-imaging covenantal union with him in One Flesh.

Magisterial recognition of this nuptial imaging of God would wait upon another day.  However, in this Eucharistic context, de Lubac speaks of the communication of idioms between the Church and her Lord within the unitas corporis, which can only image the Trinitarian communication of idioms, the homoousion, of the Father and the one and the same Son, Jesus the Christ.[20]

In Vol. I, Chapter Two it was asserted that the historical communication of idioms must be substantial, with the free substantial historicity of the New Covenant.[21]  The communication of idioms in Christ is foundational for the theological metaphysics set out in the preceding chapters.  The prime Event of history and the prime historical Substance, the New Covenant, coincide in the Eucharistic institution of the One Flesh, the New Covenant.  It is foundational for the Church’s sacramental doctrine, and for her doctrine of Christ, as de Lubac has lavishly shown.

This is certainly St. Augustine’s understanding of the Eucharistic duplex res sacramenti, the res gemina (sacramenti), the union of the Head and his ecclesial Body in One Flesh instituted by the One Sacrifice:

1:  Our Lord Jesus Christ, brothers, as far as I have been able to tune my mind to the sacred writings, can be understood and named in three ways, whether in the law and the prophets, or in the letters of the apostles, or through our confidence about his deeds, which we know about from the gospel.  The first way is: as God and according to the divine nature which is coequal and coeternal with the Father before he assumed flesh.  The next way is when, after assuming flesh, he is now understood from our reading to be God who is at the same time man, and man, who is at the same time God, according to that pre-eminence which is peculiar to him and in which he is not to be equated with other human beings, but is the mediator and the head of the Church.  The third way is: in some manner or other as the whole Christ in the fullness of the Church, that is as head and body, according to the completeness of a certain perfect man (Eph. 4:13), the man in whom we are each of us members.

This is what is preached to believers, and offered for their approval to the wise.  In the short time available we cannot recall or expound all the innumerable testimonies of scripture, by which we could prove these three aspects of Christ.  But on the other hand we cannot leave them all entirely unproved.  So let me remind you of some of the testimonies, to that the rest, which lack of time does not permit us to recall, you can go on to note and discover in the scriptures for yourselves. …

2. So as regards the first way of putting forward our Lord Jesus Christ the savior, the only Son of God, through whom all things were made, we have that text that is the most noble and glorious one in the gospel according to John: In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God; this was in the beginning with God.  All things were made through him and without him was made nothing.  What was med was in  him life, and the life was the light of men, and the light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not comprehend it (Jn 1:1-5).  These are wonderful and amazing words, and before they can be understood, they have to be wholeheaertedly embraced.

If food were set before your mouths, one of you would receive that part of the food, another this part; still the same food would reach you all, but not all the food would reach you all.  So too, a kind of food and drink consisting of words is now being set before your ears; and yet all of it does reach you all.  Or is it the case, perhaps, that while I am speaking, one of you takes one syllable for himself, another a second one?  If that’s how it is, I am going to utter as many words as I see people, so that at least one word may get to each of you.  And in fact it is easy to speak more words than there are people here, but all of them reach all of you.  So a human word does not have to be divided up by syllables for all to hear it; and is the Word of God to be cut up into slices, in order to be everywhere?  Can we suppose, brothers and sisters, that these spoken and passing words are comparable in any respect to that unchangeably abiding Word?  Or have I, by saying this, been comparing them?  But I only wanted to suggest to you in any way I could, that what God provides us with in material things can help you to believe what you  cannot yet see about spiritual words.

But now let us pass on to better things, because words are spoken, and fade away.  Think, among all spiritual thoughts, think of justice. Someone who stays in these western regions thinking of justice; someone staying in the east thinking of justice—how is it that the first one thinks of the whole of justice, and the second one also of the whole of it? I mean if you see justice, and do something according to it, you are doing it justly.  You see inwardly, act outwardly.  How can you see it inwardly, if nothing is present to you? Because you are staying in one area, the thought of someone somewhere else won’t reach that area.  But you, staying here, see the same thing in you mind as he does, though he is staying so far away, and the whole of it shines on you, the whole of it is seen by him; because things that are divine and immaterial are whole everywhere.  That being the case, believe that the word is wholly in the Father, wholly in the womb.  Yes, believe this about the Word of God, who is God with God.

The second way: Christ as God and man.

3. But now listen to the other proposition, the other way of proposing Christ which scripture proclaims.  What I’ve just been saying, you see, refers to before the taking of flesh. But now listen to what scripture goes on promptly to declare: The Word, it says, became flesh, and dwelt among us (Jn 1:1-3). He had said, you see, In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God; this was in the beginning with God; all things were made through him, and without him was made nothing (Jn 1:1-3). But he would have been declaring the divinity of the Word to us in vain, if he had kept quiet about the humanity of the Word.  In order, I mean, for me to see that, he deals with me down here; in order to refurbish my gaze for contemplating that, he himself comes to the aid of my weakness.  By receiving from human nature the same human nature, he became man.  He came with the packhorse of the flesh to the one who was lying wounded on the road, in order to give shape to our little faith and nurture it, and to clear our intellects from mist, so that they might see what he never lost as a result of what he took on.  He began to be man, indeed, but did not cease to be God.  So that is the presentation of our Lord Jesus Christ insofar as he is the mediator, insofar as he is the head of  the Church; that God is man, and man is God, since John says, and the Word became flesh, and dwelt among us.

11:  The third way is how the whole Christ is predicated with reference to the Church, that is as head and body.  For indeed head and body form one Christ.  Not that he is not complete without the body, but that he deigned to be complete also with us, though without us he is always complete and entire, not only insofar as he is the Word, the only-begotten Son equal to the Father, but also in the very man whom he took on, and with whom he is both God and man together.  All the same, brothers, how are we his body, and he one Christ with us?  Where do we find this, that head and body form one Christ that is the body together with the its head?  In Isaiah the bride is speaking with the bridegroom as if in the singular; certainly one and the same speaks, and behold what is said: As for a bridegroom he has bound a turban on my head, and as for a bride he has decked me out with ornaments (Is. 61:10).  “As bridegroom and bride; he calls one and the same bridegroom with reference to the head, bride with reference to the body.  They are seen as two, and are one”. (“Ut sponsus et sponsa: eumdem dicit sponsum secundum caput, sponsa secundum corpus.  Duo videntur, et unum est“).  Otherwise how are we members of Christ? With the apostle saying most clearly, You are the body and members of Christ (I Cor.: 12:17). (“Vos estis corpus Christi et membra“).  All of us are at once members of Christ and his body; not only those of us who are in this place, but throughout the whole world, and not only those of us who are alive at this time, but what shall I say?  From Abel the just to the end of the world, for as long as men beget and are begotten, whoever of the just makes the passage through this life, all that now, that is, not in this place but in this life, whoever will be born in the future, constitute the one body of Christ, while they are each individually members of Christ.  So if all constitute the body, and are each individually members, there is of course a head, of which this is the body.  And he himself, it says, is the head of the body, the Church, the firstborn, himself holding the first place (Col. 1:18).  And because it is said of him also that he is always the head of every principality and power (Col. 2:10), this Church which is now on its pilgrimage is joined to that heavenly Church where we have the angels as fellow citizens, with whom we would be quite shameless in claiming equality after the resurrection of our bodies, unless Truth had promised us this, saying, They shall be equal to the angels of God (LK. 20:36) and there is achieved one Church, the city of the great king (Mt. 5:35).

12.  Thus it is then that sometimes in the Scriptures Christ is presented in such a way that you are to understand him as the Word equal to the Father; in such a way sometimes that you are to understand him as the mediator, since the Word became flesh to dwell amongst us (Jn. 1:14); since that only-begotten Son, through whom all things were made (Jn. 1:3) did not consider it robbery to be equal to God, but emptied himself, taking the form of a servant, becoming obedient to the death, even death on the cross (Phil. 2:6-8).

Sometimes, though, in such a way that you are to understand the head and the body, with the apostle himself expounding as clearly as may be what was said about husband and wife in Genesis: They will be, it is said, two in one flesh (Gen 2:24).  Observe that it is he himself who speaks, lest we may seem to you to have dared to invent something of our own.  For they will be two, he said, in one flesh: (Gen 2:24) and he added, This is a great sacrament. And lest someone still suppose that this is something found in man and wife according to the natural copulation and corporal mixture of both sexes: Moreover I am saying that it refers, he said, to Christ and the Church.  (Gen 2:24; Eph. 5:31.32)  Consequently, therefore, what is said elsewhere―They will be two in one flesh: so they are no longer two, but one flesh.  (Mt. 19: 5.6) And as they are bridegroom and bride, so also are they head and body: because the man is the head of the woman.  Whether therefore I say head and body, or bridegroom and bride, you are to understand the same thing.  That is why the same apostle, while he was still Saul, heard: Saul, Saul, why do you persecute me? (Acts 9:4) for the body is joined to the head.  And when, as the preacher of Christ, he was suffering from another what he had done himself as a persecutor, that I may fill up, he said, in my flesh what is lacking from the afflictions of Christ (Col. 1:24) thus showing that what he was suffering pertained to the sufferings of Christ.  This cannot be understood of the Head, which now in heaven is not suffering any such thing, but the body, that is the Church, the body, which with its head is one Christ.

So present yourselves to such a head as a body worthy of him, to such a bridegroom as a worthy bride.  That head can only have a correspondingly worthy body; and such a great husband as that can only marry a correspondingly worthy wife.  To present himself, he says, with a glorious Church, not having stain or wrinkle, or any such thing (Eph. 5:27).  This is the bride of Christ, without stain or wrinkle.  Do you wish to have no stain? Do what is written: wash yourselves, be clean, remove the wicked schemes from your hearts (Is. 1:16).  Do you wish to have no wrinkle?  Stretch yourself on the cross.  You see, you do not only need to be washed, but also to be stretched, in order to be without stain or wrinkle; because by the washing sins are removed, while by the stretching a desire is created for the future life, which is what Christ was crucified for.  Listen to Paul himself, once he was washed: Not, he says, because of the works of justice which we have done, but according to his own mercy he has saved us, by the washing of rebirth (Tit. 3:5).  Listen to him as he is stretched: Forgetting, he says, what lies behind, stretched out to what lies ahead, according to intention I follow after to the palm of God’s calling from above in Christ Jesus (Phil. 3:13-14). [22]  

St. Augustine, Sermo 341, 1; 11-13.

The following opening lines of this excerpt from Ch. I of Sermo 341 have been read to warrant the ascription to Augustine of the error which Grillmeier has attributed to Hippolytus and which he thought to have appeared in a number of other places in his works:[23]  viz., a penchant for speaking of the Verbum as the nonhistorical or “immanent” Son, the suppoedly non-human submect of the Mission from the father, and thus the nonhuman subject of the “Logos sarx egeneto” of Jn. I:14:[24]

1:  Our Lord Jesus Christ, brothers, as far as I have been able to tune  my mind to the sacred writings, can be understood and named in three ways, whether in the law and the prophets, or in the letters of the apostles, or through our confidence about his deeds, which we know about from the gospel.  The first way is: as God and according to the divine nature which is coequal and coeternal with the Father before he assumed flesh. 

Such dehistoricizing of his text would do an injustice to the greatest of the Western Fathers.  In fact, this passage does not present an instance of what Grillmeier has termed a “two-stage Christology,” locked into the consequences of its uncritical postulate of a non-historical Mission of a non-human eternal Son,  Rather, while it is possible that this is an instance of what Crouzel has seen in Origen, the greatest of the Eastern Fathers, a “moment of reason.” in which case Augustine, like Origen, is musing on the condition of  possibility of that Event which he knew to have none, and upon whose historical reality both he and Origen had long since constructed their Christology and their Trinitarian theology, well in advance of  indulging in a “moment of reason,” it is far more likely that he is noting that the Scriptures affirm the full divinity of Jesus the Lord, for it is Jesus, not an “immanent Son, who is the sole subject of Sermo 341.

While these reflections are difficult to avoid, and particularly so in homilies to an untutored audience, in which the implication of an illustration of a given point is not to be pushed; so to read the final sentence of the excerpt supra would ignore Augustine's reliance upon the clear scriptural data of the concretely historical divinity of the Christ, the primordial Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End, the Bread from Heaven, the Jesus of Phil. 2:6-7, who did not think it robbery to claim equality with God, and whose kenōsis, equivalently the "logos sarx egeneto" of Jn. 1:14, is his obedience to his historical and therefore human mission from the Father.  Thus the Scriptures speak the obedience of Jesus the Lord's “to death upon the cross,” the Jesus who at the same time is the Son of Man, who will ascend to “where he was before” (Jn. 3:13, 31; 6: 58, 60, 62).  Augustine’s reference, in the excerpt supra, to the scriptural assertion of the divinity of Jesus hardly needs explanation or defense.

Similarly, his homiletic urging of his congregation to model themselves on Paul’s exhortation to rely upon the grace of Christ, forgetting what lies behind and looking only to God’s calling us into a stainless union with Christ cannot be read to mean anything less direct:

So present yourselves to such a head as a body worthy of him, to such a bridegroom as a worthy bride.  That head can only have a correspondingly worthy body; and such a great husband as that can only marry a correspondingly worthy wife.  To present himself, he says, with a glorious Church, not having stain or wrinkle, or any such thing (Eph. 5:27).  This is the bride of Christ, without stain or wrinkle.  Do you wish to have no stain? Do what is written: wash yourselves, be clean, remove the wicked schemes from your hearts (Is. 1:16).  Do you wish to have no wrinkle?  Stretch yourself on the cross.  You see, you do not only need to be washed, but also to be stretched, in order to be without stain or wrinkle; because by the washing sins are removed, while by the stretching a desire is created for the future life, which is what Christ was crucified for.  Listen to Paul himself, once he was washed: Not, he says, because of the works of justice which we have done, but according to his own mercy he has saved us, by the washing of rebirth (Titus 3:5).  Listen to him as he is stretched: Forgetting, he says, what lies behind, stretched out to what lies ahead, according to intention I follow after to the palm of God’s calling from above in Christ Jesus (Phil. 3:13-14)

Sermo 341, 13

Augustine uses the classical language in this account of the Incarnation; The Word is the spouse of the virgin; her womb is the thalamus, the bridal chamber, even the marriage bed, of the consummation of their marriage, their union in one flesh:

. . . et illius sponsi thalamus fuit uterus Virginis, quia in illo utero virginali conjuncti sunt duo, sponsus et sponsa, sponsus Verbum et sponsa caro; quia scriptum est, Et erunt duo in carne una (Gen. II, 24); et Dominus dicit in Evangelio, Igitur jam non duo, sed una caro (Matth. XIX, 6).

In Joann. Ep. Ad Parthos (P.L. 35:1979-2062) emphasis added..  The electronic edition of Augustine's eighty-three page treatise permits a precise citation of the excerpted text, but the present writer has no access to that edition..

Augustine's reading of the Gen. 2:24 and of Mt. 19:6 conforms to Lk 1:35, which is to say, it conforms to the ancient Spirit Christology, in which the Incarnation is by the power and overshadowing of the Virgin Mary by the "sponsus verbum," the primordial Jesus, the subject of his own Incarnation, who "becomes flesh" by his union with the Virgin Mary who, in history, is fallen: i.e., is caro but, like her Lord, is sinless. . This ancient exegesis, as old as Justin Martyr, will be defined at Ephesus and Chalcedon.

Augustine goes on to invoke Isaiah in confirmation of this exegesis:

Et Isaias optime meminit unum esse ipsos duos: loquitur enim ex persona Christi, et dicit, Sicut sponso imposuit mihi mitram, et sicut sponsam ornavit me ornamento (Isai. LXI, 10). Unus videtur loqui, et sponsum se fecit et sponsam se fecit; quia non duo, sed una caro: quia Verbum caro factum est, et habitavit in nobis. Illi carni adjungitur Ecclesia, et fit Christus totus, caput et corpus.


The same reliance upon Isaiah LXI appears in Sermo 341.  It is a classic statement of Augustine’s application of una caro to the Incarnation of Jesus the Christ who is never apart from his Bride, the second Eve, the Church, in such wise that he must be understood to be the Christus totus, for he cannot be separated from his nuptial relation to the Church: “illi carni adjungitur ecclesia.”  It is evident that here can be no historical-salvific One Flesh apart from the historical exercise of Jesus’ headship of the Church as her historical Bridegroom.  Jesus the Bridegroom cannot be replaced by the immanent Logos, to whom, as nonhistorical, the Pauline doctrine (I Cor. 11:3) of the Jesus the Christ’s historical headship of the bridal Church cannot apply.

The second sentence in the citation supra of Isaiah, "unus videtur loqui, etc." asserts a merger, an identity of the bridegroom with the bride: "One is seen to speak, who makes himself to be at once groom and bride, for they are not two but one flesh."  Augustine reads this as corroboration of his exegesis of Gen. 2:24, Mt. 19:6.  It may also contribute to his use of una persona to describe the nuptial "one flesh."

Earlier in Sermo 341, Augustine had already distinguished the Personal integrity of Jesus from the nuptial integrity of the Christus totus, which he  understood to be the nuptial union of the Jesus the Head with his bride, the Church.  Any application of nuptial symbolism to the Personal integrity of humanity and divinity in Jesus as though he were in se the Christus totus, would separate him from his primordial union with the second Eve, and would require a subsequent re-institution of their primordial unity in one flesh—quod est absurdum. It would entail the dualist, quasi-Nestorian Christology which is entirely incompatible with his exegesis of Lk 1:35 and of Eph. 5; here, as in the remainder of Ch. 12 and in Ch. 13 of Sermo 341, and which Augustine explicitly rejects in the Libellus Emendationis.[25], Augustine speaks historically, referring the “Una Caro” of Eph. 5 to the nuptial union of Christ and the Church.

Sometimes though, in such a way that you are to understand the head and the body, with the apostle himself expounding as clearly as may be what was said about husband and wife in Genesis: They will be, it is said, two in one flesh (Gen 2:24).  Notice his exposition, because I don't want to give the impression of having the nerve to say something I've cobbled up myself. For they will be two, he said, in one flesh; and he added, This is a great sacrament. And in case anyone should still think that this is something found in man and wife according to the natural joining of the sexes, and their bodily coming together,28 But I mean, he went on, in Christ and the Church.: Moreover I am saying that it refers, he said, to Christ and the Church (Eph. 5:31-32). So this is how we take as referring to Christ and the Church what is said elsewhere; They shall be two in one flesh; there are not now two, but there is one flesh Mt 19:5-6).29

And just as bridegroom and bride, so also head and body: because the head of the woman is the man (I Cor. 11:3). So whether I say head and body, or whether I say bridegroom and bride, you must understand the same thing.  And that is why the same apostle, while he was still Saul, heard t he words: Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting me? (Acts 9:4) because the body is joined to the head.  And when, as the preacher of Christ, he was now suffering from others what he had done himself as a persecutor, that I may fill up, he said, in my flesh what is lacking from the afflictions of Christ (Col. 1:24) thus showing that what he was suffering was part and parcel of the afflictions of Christ.  This cannot be understood of the head, which now in heaven is not suffering any such thing, but of the body, that is the Church, the body, which with its head is one Christ

Any conceptual dissociation of the nuptial unity of the second Adam and the second Eve, any rationalist isolation of the second Adam from the second Eve, whom God the Father had joined together in One Flesh by his Mission of his Son, lacks all foundation in the apostolic tradition, which affirms over and again that Jesus is the Son of God, sent by the Father, and that Mary is his virginal mother. The liturgical-doctrinal tradition in creeds and councils, is unanimous; the culminating doctrinal affirmation, the Symbol of Chalcedon, incorporates that tradition as the basis for all subsequent conciliar and doctrinal development. The patristic tradition, from Justin Martyr, Tertullian, Irenaeus, Origen in the second and third centuries, down to Ambrose in the fourth and Augustine in the fifth, is unanimous,

This unanimity does not bar theological error.  Augustine, in common with the patristic tradition generally, did not understand the union of Christ and the Church to be free, for there was no speculative preparation for the reality of the free substance that is the New Creation, the New Covenant.  Ignoring therefore the substantiality of the One Flesh, he attempted to find in the notion of "one person," una persona, a paradigm which might affirm the concrete reality of that nuptial unity and offer it a dignity beyond that which the cosmological meaning of "substance" would permit (the medieval acceptance of Boethius joinder of "substance" and "person" had not yet occurred).  The equation of intelligibility and necessity which dominated the patristic and Carolingian theology, and continues so to do in our own day.  This will become apparent as the examination of the difficulties inherent in the theology of Henri de Lubac, perhaps the greatest theologian of the past century, will demonstrate.

The failure to grasp the covenantal, bi-personal, nuptially ordered freedom of the union of Christ and the Church in One Flesh has had an unfortunate impact upon Catholic spirituality.  Although the freedom of this nuptial union is concrete and historically actual in the Eucharistic representation of the New Covenant by whose institution the Head has liberated a fallen creation from its fallen servitude, the Fathers, the Carolingians, and the medieval theologians whom de Lubac cites pay that nuptial freedom little attention, if in fact they recognize at all the parity of the wife’s freedom and dignity with that of her husband.  On this, see endnote 89.

In Sermo 341, we have seen Augustine careful to distinguish the Personal integrity of Jesus (equivalently, the Personal unity of the hypostatic union in him of the fullness of humanity and the fullness of divinity) from the integrity, i.e., the free, covenantal unity proper to the nuptial union in One Flesh of Jesus and the Church as entirely distinct from each other in their free union.  .

In such passages Augustine exhibits a confusion common to the Fathers: their full faith-acceptance of the communication of divine and human idioms in the Church’s confession that Jesus is Lord is in tension with the cosmological rationalism in which their culture is steeped.  The development of Christological doctrine is the triumph of the communication of idioms, inseparable from the radical affirmation of the faith that Jesus is Lord, over a cosmologized theology which ever seeks the dehistoricization of that historical Mysterium, to no avail.  This victory over cosmology is the work of the first four great Councils: it is definitive and conclusive at Chalcedon.  It is more than unfortunate that this, the apostolic tradition, has found little acceptance, in the past as in the present.

Inasmuch as, apart from his references to Christ as to the immanent Verbum in what amounts a “moment of reason,” Augustine speaks historically of the Jesus the Christ, this mistake burdens neither his Christology nor his Eucharistic realism although, in the fatigue of his latter years, in the context of a long dispute with the Pelagian Julian of Eclanum, he rediscovered the incompatibility of human freedom with the cosmological notion of God as Absolute, and concluded to a proto-Calvinist predestinationism entirely at odds with his doctrine of grace.  His early but comparable confusion of the Personal unity and integrity of Jesus the Christ with the substantial unity and integrity of the nuptial union in One Flesh of Christ and the Church has continued to trouble Catholic theology.  Henri de Lubac’s repeated references to the marriage of the Word (or Son) with humanity in the womb of the Virgin.[26]

We have already examined the strict association of Christology, Eucharistic doctrine, and the theology of history.  In the dissertation cited in Vol. I, Chapter III, endnote 37, Daniel Hauser has shown the contrast between the Lutheran and the Catholic versions of this association, as exemplified respectively by Gerhard Ebeling and Henri de Lubac, both of whom accept the association, but each  suo modo.  The Lutheran refusal of the historicity of the Eucharistic Sacrifice issues in a quasi-monophysite Christology given its furthest development in Paul Tillich’s notion of an “Essential God-Manhood,” to whose unity with “the divine center” Jesus must sacrifice his Personal alienation from that center, i.e., his historical human self who, simply as such, cannot be identified with “Essential God-Manhood,” and whose corollary is a notion of history from which God must be absent; here Luther meets Calvin.

Those who with Calvin suppose Augustine to have understood the unity of Jesus to consist in a moral union of a “homo assumptus” with the disincarnate Logos must also contend for a quasi-Nestorian interpretation of Augustine’s Eucharistic theology, and for his dismissal of any historical mediation of the risen Lord.  To have thus put Augustine’s Eucharistic realism in question is also to have to put in question his acceptance of the communication of idioms inseparable from faith in Jesus the Lord.  From this assumption follows Augustine’s supposed reduction of the event-character of the Incarnation to the subjectivity of a moral union, his rejection of the infallible historical efficacy of the words of Eucharistic institution, and his consequent despair of history as salvific, any of which errors must separate Augustine’s Christology from the orthodox tradition of the first four Councils.

This consequence may not trouble those Catholic church historians whose uncritical views of historical consciousness and historical method in any case requires that they sit loosely to the doctrinal tradition,  Thus poised for dissent, they find it difficult to affirm the historicity of the Eucharistic sacrifice, which failure cannot but conclude to a nonhistorical church, an institution indiscernible other than empirically, which accounts for the ongoing politicization and ensuing fragmentation of the Protestant churches.  In any case, the denial of Event of the One Sacrifice is the denial of the historical cause of the historical Catholic Church, for her reality is  that of her worship, the Eucharistic paradosis.   To that subject we now return.

As has been pointed out, the only distinction between the liturgical and the doctrinal tradition is that the former is oral and the latter, written  Within Catholicism: they are the concrete articulation of the intrinsic salvific significance of history which, so understood, has the sacramental objectivity of its unifying cause, the Eucharistic sacrifice.  In that communion, the Eucharistic offering of the One Sacrifice is the institution of the One Flesh of the New Covenant and thereby the cause of the Bridal Church, the historical Body of Christ through whom the grace of the risen Christ is mediated to her members, in whom are included sinners as well as the just.  This  nuptial Event is the infallible effect, the “res,” of the “res et sacramentum” of the patristic tradition running from Justin Martyr and Tertullian through Cyprian and Augustine to the fifth-century Latin Fathers and thereafter to the Carolingians and the early medieval cathedral schools.  The contrasting twelfth century medieval paradigm of sacramentum  tantum, res et sacramentum, res tantum is intelligible, as will be shown, only when, like its patristic antecedent, it is understood to identify the infallible effect (res et sacramentum) of the Eucharistic signing (sacramentum tantum) with the unitas corporis, the One Flesh of Christ and the Church, the unitas ecclesiae that is the res gemina sacramenti of the patristic paradigm of Eucharistic signing.

Once the unitas corporis mystica (i.e., the Church as caused by the One Sacrifice, is recognized to be the infallible effect of the Eucharistic signing, it is evident enough that the later (medieval) paradigm of the Church’s sacramental worship found it necessary to distinguish, within the unitas corporis, what earlier it had not been necessary to distinguish, the fallible effect of the Eucharistic signing, (the res tantum sacramenti), viz., the recipient’s personal appropriation of union in ecclesia with the risen Christ, from the infallible or necessary effect, upon which necessity Tertullian and the Latin Fathers after him had been so insistent as to lead Cyprian into an anticipation of the Donatist heresy, i.e., the errant supposition that a baptized sinner is an impossibility, a contradiction in terms. 

Thus the later, medieval, paradigm understands personal Eucharistic Communion with the risen Lord, the risen Head, Jesus the Christ, to be the res tantum sacramenti, an effect distinct from, but in free unity with, the res et sacramentum, to which it is related as effect to cause, and is thus not dissociated from the unity, unitas corporis Christi, who is the res et sacramentum of the Eucharist, viz., the Real Presence of the High Priest in the Beginning, the Event of his Offering of the One Sacrifice by which the Church, his Glory, proceeds from him as from her head, in the nuptial union with him that is his union in One Flesh with the bridal Church, the Bridegroom’s , the full outpouring of the Spiritus Creator upon the Bridal Church, and, through her, upon the fallen world..[27]  

However the “res tantum” designation can induce―and has induced – the conclusion that the imperceptibility of the communicant’s personal union with the risen Christ, whereby it is an effect that is “only” an effect—for as imperceptible it cannot be a sign—requires that it  be nonhistorical, a matter of personal subjectivity and no more.  This is of course false, for worship in the Church is historical per se: clearly it is impossible to dissociate the final fulfillment of that worship from its Eucharistic source and font.  Nonetheless, the rationalist dehistoricization of this historical paradigm of the Church’s worship conforms to an early quasi-nominalist temptation, an anti-sacramental animus latent in the ninth century and patent in the eleventh, when Berengarius fascination with the “new logic” .

We shall see that St. Thomas follows the later sacramental paradigm of sacramentum tantum, res et sacramentum, res tantum, whose use had been warranted early in the preceding century by theologians such as Alger of Liége who, ca. 1120, in De Sacramento corporis et sanguinis dominici, developed Guitmund’s affirmation of a “substantial change” of the Eucharistic elements into the “substantial presence” of the Body and Blood of Christ, anticipating St. Thomas’s development of a Eucharistic presence of Christ “per modum substantiae.”  Finally, about 1135, Gregory of Bergamo published his Tractatus de veritate corporis Christi, in which he further developed Alger’s emphasis upon the substantial Real Presence. 

This development of Eucharistic realism did not rest upon a speculative metaphysical foundation: fortunately none then existed in the West, a lack that made it possible for this vindication of Eucharistic realism to proceed under the sole aegis of the apostolic tradition, unburdened by the cosmological postulates of the “new logic” which had led astray such Carolingian theologians as Ratramnus of Corbie and Rhabanus Maurus, and would inform Berengarius’ denial of the historicity of the Eucharistic Words of Institution: requiring that “This is My Body affirm an impossible “This is That.”.

This theological defense of the presupposed realism of the Church’s Eucharistic worship, which focused upon the historical objectivity of its efficacy, was formalized early in the twelfth century by Anselm of Laon, the author of the medieval paradigm of sacramentum, res et sacramentum, rest tantum.  By the middle of the twelfth century that analysis of Eucharistic realism was sufficiently established for Peter Lombard to write it into his Sentences.  There he identified the Eucharistic res et sacramentum with the Real Presence of the sacrificed Jesus the Christ, usually as in association with the free, final effect of the sacramental signing, the res tantum which, as an effect only, and not a sign, is given ex opere operantis, i.e., when the recipient of Communion presents no obstacle to its grace, the complete fulfillment of the Church’s Eucharistic worship in the communicant’s personal union, historical because anagogical, in sacramento, in ecclesia, with the risen Christ in his Kingdom.

Unfortunately, if read literally, the Lombard’s identification of the res et sacramentum of the Eucharist with the Real Presence of the sacrificed Jesus the Christ is open to a restricted sensu negante reading, i.e., it can be read as an implicit denial of the Real Presence of Jesus the High Priest, offering himself as the Victim of the One Sacrifice.  This reading would entail the further implication of a dehistoricization of the Eucharistic worship, for it would then no longer be the Offering, in the Person of Christ, of his One Sacrifice, of which he is at once the High Priest and the Victim:  rather, the object of the Church’s worship would then be merely the Real Presence of Christ as the Victim which, no longer identified with Christ the High Priest, could not be Personal. 

This inadvertent error is due to the juridical character of the riposte of the eleventh and twelfth century theologians, notably Cardinal Humbertus of Silva Candida, to Berengarius’ denial of the Real Presence of the Body and the Blood of Christ.  The naïve but understandable supposition that it was sufficient to require of Berengarius that he explicitly affirm and justify the historical truth which he had explicitly denied, viz., the truth of the Words of Institution, “This is my body,” “This is my blood,” unfortunately ignored the correlative necessity of affirming what he had implicitly denied, the Eucharistic representation of the One Sacrifice.

Consequently, from this moment a latent dehistoricization of the Mass, a loss of theological attention to the Event of the One Sacrifice, entered into Catholic Eucharistic theology.  Its traditional focus upon the Eucharistic Real Presence became static by reason of a general inattention, a failure to recognize its Event-character, its historicity, that of the One Sacrifice, the offering by Christ, the High Priest, offering himself as the Victim of his One Sacrifice.  The discussion and final definition of the Real Presence, and the discussion and definition of the Sacrifice of the Mass  at different sessions of the Council of Trent, separated by eleven years, could only contribute to reifying the merely sequential distinction between these definitions of the foundational elements of the apostolic tradition, whose historical mediation is radically liturgical. 

This mistake was reinforced by the general failure of the patristic theology, and of the Carolingian and medieval theology as well, to distinguish the free and consequently historical reality of the One Flesh of Christ and the Church from the physical unity of an organism, an anatomical unity of head and body, whose reality was that of a thing, and object rather than an Event.

Consequently, it is more than important here to notice what is so easily missed.  After the perception of Berengarius’ denial of the Eucharistic veritas sacramenti, i.e., of the sacramentally and therefore historically efficacious sign-value of the Eucharistic Words of Institution, Eucharistic theology could not avoid a focus upon what Berengarius had denied―that which, by the middle of the twelfth century, would be termed the ‘transubstantiation’ of the elements into the Real Presence of the body and blood of Christ.  This was recognized to be indispensable to the “veritas” of the Eucharist, viz., indispensable to the efficacious significance, the object­tively historical truth, of the Words of Institution, and therefore indispens­able to the priestly offering in persona Christi of the One Sacrifice.  The obvious and immediate orthodox reaction to Berengarius’ rejection of the Real Presence was to affirm precisely only what he had denied: viz., the transubstantiation of the elements into the “Corpus Christi verum,” the Real Presence of Jesus the Christ, which the Latin patristic tradition had always understood to be sacrificial: i.e., the Eucharistic Real Presence of Jesus as at once the High Priest and the Victim of the One Sacrifice.  As will be seen, St. John Chrysostom, tutored by Theodore of Mopsuestia, had early in the fifth century reduced the Eucharistic Real Presence to that of the Victim, with a consequent attribution the High Priestly offering of the One Sacrifice to the risen, no longer corporeal and thus nonhistorical Son.

The famous document which the emissary of Gregory VII, Cardinal Hubert of Silva Candida, required Berengarius to sign typifies the defensive response of the Latin theologians to his heresy; as a literal contradiction of that heresy, it required of Berengarius a formal rejection of the words with which he had framed his rejection of the historical objectivity of the Real Presence as the effect of the Words of Institution.  Clearly enough, the orthodox reply could not rest content with that simplicity, but that it should thus begin is hardly surprising, and that it should proceed on the basis of that affirmation still less so.  Nonetheless, it was a seriously inadequate reply to Berengarius, whose heresy was a tout court denial of the historicity of the Eucharistic sacrifice: more was required to meet it than a defense of transubstantiation as the effect of the Words of Institution: it was also necessary to affirm that the Real Presence of the Corpus Christi verum is historical: the historical Event of the High Priest offering himself as the one Victim of his One Sacrifice: as the Body and the Blood of the Lamb of God.

Thus we find St. Thomas, when using the later medieval paradigm, identifying the Eucharistic res et sacramentum with the Corpus Christi verum although, when writing in the terms of the older or patristic monastic paradigm, he had spoken of the res sacramenti as the duplex res sacramenti, i.e., as the irrevocable union of the Corpus Christi verum with the Corpus Christi mysticum, the latter “figured”―efficaciously signed―by the former, a signing which is the Institution of the One Flesh, the New Covenant, precisely by the Offering of the One Sacrifice in the Person of the High Priest, Jesus the Christ, who alone can offer it.  However, St. Thomas here properly follows Peter Lombard: the Church is not in fact caused by the transubstantiation of the elements: she is caused by the Real Presence of the Corpus Christi verum, the High Priest offering himself as the Victim of the One Sacrifice.

De Lubac cites the causal nexus which we have seen St. Thomas, following a well-established patristic tradition, place between the Corpus Christi verum and the Corpus Christi mysticum:[28]

The true Body of Christ is figurative of the mystical body.

S. T. iiia, q. 82, a. 9, ad 2.

However, when deploying the later or medieval sacramental analysis, which had been perfected only in the early twelfth century in response to the Berengarian heresy, St. Thomas speaks ambiguously.  In the two passages from his Commentary on The Sentences cited in endnote 10, he accepts the Lombard’s dictum that the res tantum of the Eucharist is the Corpus Christi mysticum, i.e., the Church, thus failing to recognize that the Church is thus caused by the One Sacrifice as to be in strict union with the Corpus Christi verum in the Eucharistic res et sacramentum.  Here St. Thomas has in view the anagogical Church.  Later, in the Summa Theologiae, St. Thomas will identify the Eucharistic res tantum sacramenti with the personal free appropriation of the grace made available to the communicant by participation in the Church’s celebration of Jesus’ institution of the Eucharist at the Last Supper.  It is because this personal, sacramental and therefore at once historical and anagogical union of the communicant with the risen Lord has no historical, sacramental visibility other than the communicant’s participation in the sacramentum tantum, in contrast to the res et sacramentum, i.e., insofar as conceptually distinct from the infallible institution of the New Covenant, that the communicant’s union with the risen Lord is understood not to be a sign, but an effect only: that is, as dependent upon and caused by the Eucharistic signing, but not itself an efficacious sign: hence its medieval designation as the res tantum sacramenti; the patristic paradigm had included it in the res sacramenti as an effect of the Eucharistic sign, the sacramentum, the Offering of the One Sacrifice, whose efficacy is not open to question.

Clearly, the historical Church, whose historicity is precisely her Eucharistic worship, cannot be the res tantum of the Eucharist: i.e., the historical Church cannot be the invisible effect of her visible worship.  Here St. Thomas is influenced by the patristic tradition which, as de Lubac has copiously noted, focused upon the anagogical Church in her risen perfection: it is in that eschatological context only that she is the res tantum sacramenti, the final and complete effect of the Eucharistic signing, in which all her children are at one with her.  In departing from his earlier relegation of the Church to the res tantum Eucharistiae, and seeing in the res tantum the fallible because free effect that is the communicant’s union with the risen Christ, he preserved the historicity of the Church.  Unfortunately, as has been seen, the communicant’s reception of the Eucharist, thus conceptually isolated from the Event of the One Sacrifice, could then easily become dissociated from the liturgical reception of the Eucharist: this dissociation of liturgical worship from personal union with the risen Christ had already begun during the turmoil of the late eleventh and early twelfth centuries, following the Gregorian Reform, to which we shall return.

For St. Thomas, as for the patristic tradition, there was no question of the Eucharistic cause of the Church, even in his Commentary on the Sentences, where we have seen him relegate the Church to the standing of the res tantum sacramenti, for he knew that the Church cannot be dissociated historically from its historical cause, the Eucharistic Sacrifice.  We have seen that in the Summa Theologiae St. Thomas  drops the application of this res tantum designation of the Church in favor of identifying the res tantum with the “effectus huius sacramenti” in the sense of the communicant’s personal appropriation of Eucharistic Communion with the risen Lord.[29]  That understanding of the Eucharistic res tantum as the effect, ex opera operantis, of the communicant’s worship would leave the Eucharistic cause of the Church unaccounted for had not St. Thomas, following the patristic tradition, understood that it is the Real Presence of the Corpus Christi verum which causes the Church, and that it does so by a signing distinct from that of the sacramentum tantum, whose efficacy is directed to the transubstantiation of the elements, thus to the offering of the One Sacrifice which is inseparable from the Real Presence of Jesus the Lord as at once High Priest and Victim of the One Sacrifice.

This distinct signing of the Church by the Corpus Christi verum is intrinsic to the infallible Eucharistic effect, that of the res et sacramentum, and is that by which the res et sacramentum is not an effect merely, but includes also an efficacious sign.  It is in this context that St. Thomas describes the Real Presence of the Christ is “figurative” of the Church, and that he describes the Church as a “quasi res ultima.”  Here St. Thomas understands the res et sacramentum much as had the patristic tradition understood the res sacramenti, viz., as a “duplex res,” an effect which includes the Corpus Christi mysticum, the Church, because the infallibly efficacious signing by the sacramentum tantum of the Real Presence of the Corpus Christi verum includes the infallibly efficacious signing by which the Corpus Christi verum “figures” the Church, the Corpus Christi mysticum Christi who, One Flesh with her Lord, cannot be separated from his Eucharistic Presence, the One Sacrifice by which their One Flesh is instituted.

Thus, while it remains true that the Real Presence or Corpus Christi verum is the res et sacramentum, it is so as the sacramental sign that is the immediate and infallible source and cause of the source of the Church (as the Head is the source of his Glory) and as conjoined with her in a res gemina, i.e., the “twin effect,” of the Eucharistic signing, i.e., of the sacramentum tantum, the liturgical signing which effects the nuptial union in One Flesh of Christ the Head with the bridal Church who is his Glory, proceeding from him as from her head in her anagogical perfection, whose objective historicity is sacramental, inseparable from her Eucharistic worship.

Even so, one cannot simply identify the patristic duplex res sacramenti with the early medieval duplex res et sacramentum, for between the emphasis of the Fathers upon the final effect of Eucharistic signing―summarily, ecclesial union with our Lord in his Kingdom―, and the apologetic emphasis of the early medieval theologians upon the historical concreteness of the Eucharistic res et sacramentum, there had intervened the Berengarian challenge to Eucharistic realism.

The response to this challenge resulted in a radical change of theological perspective, to which we already have alluded and to which we shall presently return.  De Lubac has pointed to the pivotal role of Paschasius in anticipating this change of perspective.  In the ninth century, Paschasius had insisted upon the literal identification of the consecrated bread and wine with the sacrificial body of Jesus the Christ, in opposition to traditional Augustinians such as Ratramnus and Rhabanus Maurus who stressed rather the distinction between the consecrated species as signum, and that which they signed, the signatum that is the One Sacrifice.[30]  Paschasius, in stressing the literal sense of the Words of Institution, implicitly abandoned the phenomenological hermeneutic of Augustinianism and of the patristic tradition generally, in favor of the literal realism best represented among the Latin Fathers by Ambrose of Milan, whose literal realism was simply the hermeneutic of the liturgy itself, resting on the truth of the Eucharistic Words of Institution which affirm and by affirming cause the historical identity of the consecrated species with the Christ, as at once High Priest and Victim of the One Sacrifice.

Had he wished to deploy it: Ambrose was well acquainted with the allegorical hermeneutic of the Apologists and of Origen, clearly he did not.  His theological interest was liturgical, neither speculative nor systematic.  Viewed from that latter speculative viewpoint, his literal reading of the liturgy might be thought closer to the hermeneutic of Antioch than that of Alexandria, but this also would be to misread him: his evident sacramental realism never entailed a metaphysics, and certainly not that which, with Diodore, Theodore of Mopsuestia and John Chrysostom, had put in issue the Eucharistic communication of idioms and prompted the Nestorian heresy.

In the context of the twelfth century resistance to Berengarius’ symbolism, we must recognize not only a double effect in the Eucharistic res et sacramentum, but also the corollary of that double effect, viz., a doubly efficacious Eucharistic signing:.  The first efficacy of that signing is that of the sacramentum tantum, which is simply the Eucharistic rite as centered upon the Words of Institution, whose infallible effect is the transubstantiation of the elements into the body and the blood of Jesus the Christ, vi verborum.  The second efficacy is that of this objective Event, which is eo ipso the priestly offering of the One Sacrifice for, thus transubstantiated, the elements have become the Corpus Christi verum, the Real Presence of the Eucharistic Lord who, at once High Priest and Victim; is the Corpus Christi verum, who infallibly and efficaciously “figures” or “signifies”:―infallibly signs and causes―and thereby is in infallibly free union with, the corpus Mysticum.  It is thus that the second Adam is the head and source of and in union with, the second Eve who proceeds from him, freely to become “One Flesh” with him.

Berengarius’ rationalist attack upon transubstantiation presupposed his own dehistoricized notion of the Eucharistic Real Presence: his simple denial of the identity of the consecrated bread with the body of Christ, and of the consecrated wine with his blood, invited those who would counter it to accept without discussion his prior general dehistoricization of the Real Presence, in such wise that it became easy for the orthodox defenders of the faith to misunderstand the Real Presence as the Antiochenes had, as simply the presence of the humanity of Christ, thus of the Victim, not of the High Priest.  Thus dehistoricized, the Eucharistic Victim ceased to be the sacramentally objective Real Presence of Jesus the Christ, the one and the same Son as at once the High Priest offering himself to the Father as the Lamb of God, but rather, merely the presence of his humanity which, in the absence of the One Sacrifice, could no longer be historical: abstracted from the Personal Event-Presence of Jesus the Lord, it could not but become subjective.

Guitmund of Aversa was the first to label as “impanationist” the evident Eucharistic symbolism of the Berengarian heresy, a label tending to camouflage, under the veil of subsequent controversy, the radical consequences of any rejection of the communication of idioms in Christ, whether by in the West by Berengarius denial of Eucharistic realism in the West, by the Antiochenes six centuries earlier, or by the fastidious distaste for the sacrifice of the Mass characterizing current liturgical publication.

There had long been waiting in the wings a patristic forgetfullness of the communication of idioms, a hesitation before the implications of the Church’s faith, explicit in Phil. 2:7, that Jesus is the subject of the kenōsis, that he, the Lord, the Son of the Father and of Mary, is the sole agent of our salvation.  The Fathers were tempted to ascribe to Jesus’ human nature his Personal salvific agency, precisely insofar as historical, insofar as entailing his kenōsis, his historical immanence in our fallenness and thus all those dimensions of the Incarnation whose paradoxical incongruity Τertullian had seen to be at once incredible and yet inseparable from the faith that Jesus is the Lord.

The Fathers were still sufficiently immersed in the cosmology of the Greek philosophical tradition to be assured thereby that inasmuch as the cosmological God cannot die, the faith that Jesus Christ is Lord must be accommodated to the impossibility that it is as the divine Lord that Jesus died for our sins.  Even put thus bluntly, the false card dealt the medieval theologians by Berengarius was one long familiar to the patristic tradition: it remains familiar today.  An embarrassment with the communication of divine and human idioms in the Lord continually tempts theologians to submit the Church’s faith to what we have seen Voegelin refer as a “critical clean-up.”  This tends to interpret Paul’s reference to Jesus’ kenōsis as proper to his divinity, not to his Person.  However, Paul’s language does not permit this  dissociation.  Paul ascribes the kenōsis to “Christ Jesus,” which is to say, his doctrine of the kenōsis invokes the Personal Name of Jesus, and consequently the communication of idioms by which he is the Lord: Phil. 2: 5-11.

The subject of the kenōsis is therefore pre-existent Jesus Christ, whose pre-existence is Personal, and therefore primordial, that of his obedience to the Father’s mission to give the Spirit.  The kenōsis cannot be the primordial Jesus’ “emptying himself,” of his Personal divinity, the “forma Dei” that Phil 2:5 ascribes to ;him; rather it is of his primordial human integrity, his unfallenness, that he empties himself, in order to fulfill his redemptive mission as the head of our fallen humanity, as the sole source of its free unity, and thus the free unity of the good creation whose goodness, as we learn from Gen. 2, is its nuptial unity.  Thus he “became flesh,” entering into our fallenness, our dynamic of fragmentation unto the dust of death,  He annulled that fragmentation proper to the flesh by his institution of the free unity of the One Flesh of the New Covenant, that is, by his offering of the One Sacrifice, on the cross and on the altar.  The Fathers read Jn. 19:34 as the fulfillment of the prophecy given in Gen. 2:24.

His offering of the Eucharistic sacrifice, of which he is at once the High Priest and the victim is the infallible institution of the New Covenant, the One Flesh of Christ and his bridal Church, the New Creation.  Clearly, the res et sacramentum cannot but be at once a gemina res, a “twin effect,” the sacramental institution of the One Flesh that is itself the sacramental cause of the eschatological Kingdom of God and of the communicant’s Eucharistically-signed union with the risen Lord in the Kingdom, in the Church triumphant.

This personal union in the Church triumphant and fulfilled, the anagogical res tantum, as distinct from the infallible Eucharistic institution of the New Covenant, the res et sacramentum, is always a free effect insofar as it concerns the members of the historical Church who, in Augustine’s words, are always at once just and sinful.  Consequently their union with the risen Christ invokes the graced freedom of the communicant, and therefore is an effect which would be defeated by his sinful disposition, his rejection of that grace.  Obviously it is not possible to describe the sinless Church as a reality defeasible by human sin, for the ecclesial Body is within the infallible efficacy ex opere operato of the One Sacrifice, i.e., within the res et sacramentum of the Eucharistic signing.  Within the Eucharistic res et sacramentum, the Church is an effect distinct from the Real Presence of the Christ as at once the High Priest and the crucified Victim of his One Sacrifice, and yet indissociable from her risen Lord, for the res et sacramentum, the immediate and infallible effect of the One Sacrifice, is the union in One Flesh of the second Adam and the second Eve, as the Fathers have universally recognized.

It is evident that salvation in Christo can be imposed on no one.  The problem of relating infallibly efficacious sacramental signing to its free salvific effect in the individual Christian, which was resolved doctrinally by the condemnation of Donatism in the fifth century,[31] rose again in another guise during the Berengarian controversy, and required the methodologically articulated response which had not been given it by the Augustinian sacramentum-res sacramenti sacramental paradigm in use during the patristic period.  The early medieval restatement (sacramentum tantum, res et sacramentum, res tantum) of the sacramental efficacy which Berengarius had challenged, clearly distinguished, as the patristic sacramentum-res sacramenti had not, between the infallible efficacy of sacramental signing as, e.g., with respect to the Eucharistic institution of the New Covenant, and the fallibility of sacramental efficacy with respect to the personal freedom of the appropriation of the grace of Christ by the Eucharistic communicant.

This systematic statement of Eucharistic realism, viz., the sacramentum tantum, res et sacramentum, res tantum analysis of sacramental efficacy, was developed and in place within the first decade or nearly of the twelfth century.  The conceptual distinctions explicit in the new sacramental paradigm, however necessary their contribution to theological precision, had unfortunate latencies.  We have noted that they invited the reification and conceptual isolation of the metaphysically distinct effects of the Eucharistic signing, the res et sacramentum and res tantum, and the consequent dehistoricization of the latter, i.e., of the plenary eschatological realization in ecclesia of Eucharistic union with the risen Lord.  However, once the, the res tantum sacramenti had been rationally distinguished from its infallible ground, the Eucharistic res et sacramentum, this anagogical fulfillment of the Eucharistic sacrifice, the Church in her perfection, could easily became remote from the Church’s worship as a merely subjective reality, lacking objective historicity.  Thus lacking objectivity because dissociated from the Eucharistic signing by the inadvertent reification or objectivizing of the conceptual distinction between the twin effects of the Eucharistic signing, i.e., the res et sacramentum and the res tantum sacramenti, the latter could easily be misunderstood as salvation by faith alone.

It is evident that the res tantum sacramenti, the communicant’s fallible personal appropriation of the Church’s infallible union with the risen Christ, the final fruit and the goal of Eucharistic worship, cannot be identified with the Church for, infallibly instituted by the One Sacrifice, she is the precondition of all personal entry into her Eucharistic worship, which is to say, into the New Covenant constituted by her bridal union with her Lord.

The grace of the communicant’s personal union with Jesus the risen Lord is essentially ecclesial: it is eo ipso personal participation in the Eucharistic worship of the Church, and its anagogical dimension, membership in the fulfilled Kingdom of God, cannot be dissociated from the membership and worship in the Church, for the Church is strengthened and nourished by the communicant’s reception of the “bread of life and cup of everlasting salvation.”[32]  The personal freedom marking this association of res et sacramentum with its proper effect, the res tantum, is not centrifugal, as their conceptual distinction might imply; rather, it is centripetal, the personal and historical quest of the worshiper for yet further union, in ecclesia, with the One Flesh of Christ and his bridal Church.

Union with the risen Christ cannot but be union with the Church that is his nuptial body, the Bride who is One Flesh with him.  As de Lubac has remarked in the first page of the first chapter of Corpus mysticum, the Eucharistic interest during the patristic period tended to focus upon the Church as the body of Christ, rather than upon the Real Presence (the Corpus Christi verum) of the Christ, to the point of often seeming to ignore the Corpus Christi verum.[33]  This focus upon the communicant’s anagogical union with the risen Christ in ecclesia tended as well to regard the Church anagogically, i.e., as in her realized eschatological perfection, the Church of the justified.  Thus it is entirely proper and understandable that the anagogical patristic res sacramenti of the Eucharist should look to the res tantum rather than to the res et sacramentum of the medieval paradigm, but without that dehistoricization of their free unity which too often was associated with the medieval res tantum.

However, as de Lubac goes on to emphasize and extensively to document, this eschatological emphasis was not to the prejudice of the Real Presence of the risen Christ: rather, the Fathers understood the priestly-sacrificial body of Jesus and the ecclesial Body, the bridal Church to be inseparable, the totus Christus, but the phenomenological interest of the Augustinian quaerens intellectum, nearly all-pervasive in the patristic and monastic theology, could not but bear upon the worshiper’s personal union in ecclesia with the Eucharistic Lord, rather than upon the analysis of its condition of possibility and cause, the Eucharistic institution of the New Covenant, the One Flesh.  Thus, the patristic authors thought of the Eucharistic Lord and the Church as in their liturgical unity, whose expression is ecclesial: thus to stress the bridal Church as the Body of Christ is to affirm him as her Head, Una Caro with her.

The patristic inability to perceive the free metaphysical unity, i.e., the metaphysical weight, the substantiality, of the Una Caro, and the consequent propensity to mistake its free, covenantal, and nuptial unity for the necessary and monadic unity attributed to a physical or organic “body,” plays a role here as elsewhere.[34]  The determinist and inevitably monist intellectual legacy of Greek metaphysics has for most of two millennia blurred the theological recognition of the intrinsic freedom of the substantial free creation whose freedom is its nuptially-ordered imaging of God.  The truth of creation thus understood, precisely as free and therefore as historical, as possessing sacramental significance, cannot be subordinated to the necessitarian and monist postulates inherited from a pagan despair of historical rationality.

In principle, the Augustinian phenomenology of worship in the Church barred any submission of the historicity of that worship to the canons of formal logic.  Augustine’s response to the paradoxes he recognized―man as simul peccator et justus, the intus magister who is intimius intimo meo, the “two loves which have built two cities,” the “beauty ancient and forever new,” and many other comparable insights, was not a flight from history, but a vigorous defense of e.g., historical moral responsibility against Pelagius, of the historical realism of baptism and orders against the Donatists, and of the ultimate paradox of the Trinity against the paganism of fallen rationality itself.  At the same time, it may be said, with respect, that his reasoning had not caught up with these insights of genius.  The spontaneities of the ancient monist rationalism were native to him as to all men of his time; he did not escape their influence, nor did his followers.  His failure and theirs to recognize the free unity of substantial being, which is to say, the free unity of the good creation, was a failure, neither of faith nor of intelligence, but the product of a cosmologically-induced confusion.

One cannot fault a Parmenides or a Plato for failing to perceive the freedom of the historical world, for that percept could exist only in a free personal response to the historical revelation, expressing the free and personal reception of the gift of historical truth.  On the other hand, it is odd that the Catholic theological consciousness, formed by personal conversion to the revelation that is in Christ, should have been, and should yet remain, so cosmologically resistant to the revelation of the inherent free truth, finally to the beauty of the good creation, at one with its creation in Christ, “the ancient Beauty who is forever new.”

The theological interest of the twelfth-century sacramental paradigm of sacramentum tantum, res et sacramentum, res tantum, which stresses the free association of the Eucharistic res et sacramentum with its proper res tantum and, at the same time, stresses the analytic, conceptual distinction between them, is not to be identified simply with the interest of the earlier patristic paradigm, following Augustine, of sacramentum and res sacramenti.  We have seen that the later or medieval paradigm includes, even stresses, an apologetic, a defensive analysis of the Church’s Eucharistic realism in response to a heresy, while the patristic paradigm had served a meditation that knew no Eucharistic heresy, thus one to which a defensive analysis could only have been irrelevant.  Although Berengarius’ Eucharistic aberration heresy in fact latent in the Donatism of the fourth and fifth centuries in Africa, the Eucharistic implication of Donatism, i.e., that its realism was conditioned by the virtue of the celebrant priest or bishop, had remained undeveloped.  Cyprian’s error had made moral probity to be a necessary effect of baptism, but his rationalization of sacramental efficacy, like that of the Donatists after him, had never been applied to the Eucharistic signing.  During the first millennium, the interest of the Latin Fathers and monastic theologians was exegetical rather than systematic: it consisted largely in a meditation upon the Scriptures and upon the writings of the more illustrious of their predecessors, chiefly, as de Lubac has shown, Augustine and Origen.[35]

B. The Patristic-Augustinian sacramental paradigm of sacramentum, res sacramenti, and its medieval revision: sacramentum tantum, res et sacramentum, res tantum

The early patristic vocabulary of sacramentum, res sacramenti not only developed during a period untroubled by any Eucharistic heresy; further, its methodological presuppositions are those of a phenomenology of worship which so takes for granted the free integration of the communicant with the Church in which he worships that a failure of that worship lies entirely outside its interest.[36]  The patristic terminology of res gemina and duplex res sacramenti is intelligible only within this liturgical-phenomenological context, instinctive to Augustinian theology[37]  Augustine had inherited from Tertullian, by way of Cyprian, the holistic meaning of sacramentum as inseparable from its effect, the res sacramenti.  The Latin patristic tradition accepted this unity, the unity of the Mysterium fidei, as of course.  Because of their entirely concrete theological interest, phenomenological and meditative rather than discursive and analytic, an interest whose object is the consciousness informed by participation in Church’s worship, the Latin fathers after Augustine were concerned for and focused upon the goal of that worship, the union in ecclesia of the Eucharistic communicant with the risen Christ, whose Eucharistic Presence is the bread of life, the cup of everlasting salvation. In Ignatius Martyr’s famous summary, this is the “remedy that we should not die.”  The fatal consequences of a sinful dissociation from that one thing necessary―salvific union with Christ in the Church―were so obvious as to merit no attention, but yet more, they were irrelevant to the quaerens intellectum Mysterii[38] at the heart of Augustinian theology, then as now.  Within that patristic quaerens, Eucharistic Communion with the risen Lord is intrinsic to the duplex res sacramenti, at once historical and eschatological, the unity of the res sacramenti understood as the free nuptial unity of Christ and his Church, into whose life-giving mystery the communicant is the more deeply immersed with each reception of Communion, and the pleroma that is the Church yet more fully realized in history.

Within this patristic consciousness, theologically explicit in the sacramentum, res sacramenti paradigm, whose ratio is intent upon the transcendent yet historically objective efficacy of the Eucharistic mediation of personal salvation in ecclesia, there was no place for a consideration of a personal failure so to worship, and consequently no interest in the latent theological implications of a sinful refusal of that mediation.  This methodological disinterest betokened neither ignorance nor a state of denial, for in I Cor. 11:27-32, Paul had said all that could be said on the point.  There Paul insists that a sacrilegious reception of the Eucharist is a profanation, a blasphemy, that works a “judgment” upon the sinner.  This damnific effect is free, i.e., it is an effect ex opere operantis, quite as is the salvific effect of the worthy reception of the Eucharist.  However, although this effect cannot but be included within the Augustinian-patristic res sacramenti, simply as an effect of the sacramental signing, the Augustinian-patristic tradition ignores as theologically irrelevant such sacrilegious refusal freely to enter into the freedom mediated by the worship of the Church.  The patristic theology was intent upon the experienced reality of the Eucharistic worship itself, and was little or not at all interested in the consequences of its blasphemous profanation.  Sin as such is not a subject of theology, for it has no intrinsic meaning: it is a work of the flesh, not of the Spirit.  Such significance as it my come to have can only be sacramental, a graced repentance by which the sinner may return to the worship of the Church.

By the Carolingian period, all acquaintance with the classic Neoplatonic metaphysics of Plotinus and Porphyry, to an extent Christianized by Marius Victorinus, Augustine and Boethius, had been lost, along with its sources in Plato and Aristotle,[39]  Some acquaintance with Aristotelian logic (“dialectic”) survived, but its dissociation, as logic merely, from its hermeneutical foundation in Aristotle’s analytical act-potency metaphysics, is patent in the attempted analytic deployment of the “new logic” by Carolingians such as Ratramnus and, in the eleventh century, by Berengarius, in whose hands it reverted to the primitive “either-or” binary format of the Eleatic logic of Parmenides and his disciple Zeno.  Aristotle supposed his discovery of the intelligibility of contrariety as potentiality, inherent in his act-potency metaphysical analysis, to enable what Plato had denied, the metaphysical validity of literal language, i.e., language governed by its correlative, his act-potency analysis.  This had grounded the formal logic he had long since developed in the works collected in the Organon. 

There he had converted the binary dialectic inherited by Plato from the Eleatics to a novel discursive act-potency rationality that the hylemorphism of its subsequent Neoplatonic adaptation could not support.  Under Neoplatonic auspices, the Aristotelian logic, which was intended to supplant the binary “matter-form“ dialectic of Platonism, became itself similarly a grammar, a linguistic convention without metaphysical foundation: the “new logic” which Berengarius would exploit as though it were rationality itself.

Its impact upon the signum-signatum dialectic with which Ratramnus and his peers had struggled in the ninth century amounted to a dismissal of the Augustinian phenomenology in favor of a binary analytic criticism of the subject-predicate relation of the Eucharistic Words of Institution.  The liturgical meaning of those words, “This my body” – “This the cup of my blood” affirmed a change in the reality of the bread of the Offertory: it became the Body of the One Sacrifice, and a change in the reality of the wine into the Blood of the Covenant.  At the same  time, these “Words of Institution” affirmed an identity of the bread with the body of Christ, and of the wine with his blood.  The lack of any metaphysical learning in the theologians of the Carolingian renaissance put a strain on their sacramental realism which soon became acute.

In the Carolingian period, we do find some implicitly metaphysical references to the change of the elements from their standing as Offertory gifts to their sacrificial reality, the body and blood of the One Sacrifice, but only in a most general sense of the language already available.  Theological interest in the metaphysical sense of “transubstantiation” would wait upon the twelfth century.  But we already read of the Eucharistic metabolé in Irenaeus at the end of the second century; a generation earlier, Justin Martyr had written of a “transformation” of the bread and wine analogous to the Incarnation.[40]  The term or its equivalent (metapoiesis) was used by Gregory of Nazianzen, by John Chrysostom, and by John of Damascus.  This pattern of historical metaphysical theology—fides quaerens intellectum—links Justin to the Alexandrine tradition, where it was the usual apologetic device, used by Clement and Origen.  In the mid-fourth century, well before Augustine, the Euchologion of Serapion of Thmuis uses language similar to Augustine’s, an invocation (epiclesis) of the Logos in order that the elements become (genetai) the body and blood of Jesus the Christ.  By the end of the fifth century, Faustus of Riez would speak of a change of the “substance” of the Eucharistic elements, but it will be another seven centuries before the term is linked to accidents in a precise sense capable of being developed metaphysically to account for the immunity of the Real Presence to corruption.

Faustus’ homily summarizes the Eucharistic doctrine of the Latin Church near the close of the patristic period.  In the Eastern Church Cyril of Jerusalem had used similar language more than a century earlier.  Only with the Antiochenes is there any intimation of a decline from this realism in the East, and after the condemnation of Nestorius at Ephesus that also ended; Eucharistic heresies invariably dehistoricize their subject and quite obviously can have no future.  The last exponent of a Nestorian Christology is Theodoret, although his Eranistes is intent upon refuting the Monophysites rather than defending Nestorius. 

There was no departure from a normative Eucharistic realism in the West before Berengarius in the eleventh century.  Although the formula of Eucharistic realism which Cardinal Humbert of Sylva Candida, as the legate of Pope Nicholas II, ordered Berengarius to sign after the latter’s condemnation in 1059 by a Roman synod, asserted the substantial conversion of the Eucharistic elements (substantialiter converti), that phrase, merely a literal contradiction of a statement by Berengarius, affirms no more than Faustus had said, nor than Paschasius had taught contra the nascent symbolism of Ratramnus, which two centuries later Berengarius, as ignorant as Ratramnus of metaphysics, would develop into an explicit symbolism, a reduction of Eucharistic realism to subjectivity.

Thus the age of innocence ended with the challenge of Berengarius to the historical reality, the veritas, the res sacramenti, of the Church’s Eucharistic worship. By implication at least, he had reduced it to subjectivity.―[41]  He may be regarded as the first Catholic theologian to take an abstract, “objective” stance external to worship itself from which to understand it, in complete contrast to the Augustinian tradition, whose fides quaerens intellectum  presupposed the theologian’s commitment to the faith of the Church.  However, from Berengarius’ disinterested point d’appui, theology could no longer be a faith-driven inquiry: the quaerens intellectum which, having its source in the Catholic faith, had in Anselm’s classic formula focused theological inquiry upon the Mysterium fidei, the doctrinal tradition mediated by the Magisterium of the Church.  Thus conceived, the task of theology is grounded in personal participation in the faith and worship of the Church, thus in a liturgically-sustained inquiry into the truth that “Jesus Christ is Lord.”  Removed from that foundation, theology would become a presumptively disinterested quest for necessary reasons in response to what would soon become articulate in a rational quaerens, an inquiry no longer rising out of personal faith, as had the theological quaerens intellectum, but out of impersonal, disinerested doubt: “An verum sit?”―”Whether it be true?” Such questions were raised by the professional obligation of lawyers to harmonize discordant canons, and by similarly disinterested theological efforts to resolve doctrinal paradoxes: thus Abelard’s Sic et Non.  These were no longer historical questions, for the truth they sought was not the free truth mediated by the Catholic tradition but merely the dispassionate resolution of puzzlements arising out of often unexamined and tendentious postulates.

Berengarius was the first thus to prescind from the truth of the faith and to submit the realism of the Eucharistic liturgy to abstract and extra-ecclesial criteria whose application would inevitably reduce freedom to a subjective irrationality.[42]  It is his theological insolence, in the strict sense, that makes him important: he rejected the liturgical norm of historical truth and historical objectivity and, from that moment, history began to cease to be understood as a sacramental, i.e., as a liturgical and consequently Eucharistically-ordered reality.[43]  The defenders of the Eucharistic realism, as innocent as Berengarius of metaphysical sophistication, tended more and more to accept from him this false card, the novel deracinated logic of the new learning, that dehistoricized all it touched.  The recovery and reaffirmation of the Eucharistic order of history thereby became the premier task of Catholic theology across the board, and remains so today.

The immediate response to the impact of the Berengarian heresy was of course defensive.  From Lanfranc onward, the opponents of Berengarius upheld against him the historical realism of the Eucharistic worship and of the sacramental unity and efficacy of the Words of Institution whose significance Berengarius’ logical or “dialectic” analysis would disintegrate.  This defensive task appeared to require an analytical response to Berengarius’ analytic attack upon the free truth of the Eucharistic Words of Institution.  It also inspired a conservative Augustinian reaction stressing, as Augustine had, the contrast between the Eucharistic signum and signatum, but now this stress invoked a similarly ill-understood defensive rationalization of the phenomenological idiom of the patristic and monastic Eucharistic theology whose correspondingly binary dialectic, when submitted to a literal interpretation, could easily be reduced to a heretical dissociation of signum from signatum: i.e., of the Eucharistic sacramentum from its infallible effect, the res sacramenti.. Ratramnus’s fascination with the “new logic” had threatened to do so two centuries earlier.

Further, Augustine’s insistence upon locating the risen Christ, qua corporeal, at the right hand of the Father rendered paradoxical his equally insistent assertions that, with the words of consecration, the bread and wine of the Offertory become (“fieri”) the body and blood of the One Sacrifice and that Jesus the Christ is thus historically present in his concrete, Eucharistically-represented union in One Flesh with the historical Church.  This apparent removal of the bodily risen Christ from history played into the phenomenological distinction between signum and signatum which, in the Carolingian period, had threatened a dissociation of the historical objectivity of the Eucharistic signing from the historically objective efficacy of that signing: a pure eschatologism threatened to replace the anagogical dimension of Eucharistic realism.  Such dissociation of cause from effect is of course fatal to Eucharistic realism, denying as it does all historical objectivity to the Church’s worship, and thereby to the Church herself.

Augustine, not eschewing the paradox, rhetorically identifies the historical Church with the Personal immanence of the risen Christ in history, which is true enough in the hermeneutical context of their substantial unity in One Flesh, but which can be and has been heard to imply the nonhistoricity of the Church’s Eucharistic worship: i.e., heard as a denial of the objective truth of the Words of Institution.  Pierre Batiffol has remarked upon the consequent confusion.[44]  In fact, de Lubac is of the opinion that Berengarius thus understood Augustine.[45]. This may explain the Berengarius’ quasi-Eleatic binary “dialectical” analysis of the Words of Institution, an analysis which forced the defenders of Eucharistic realism to respond at an unwonted level of abstraction, one requiring the further development of the traditional sacramentally-grounded theological hermeneutic whose mature expression, sacramentum tantum, res et sacramentum, res tantum, was achieved early in the twelfth century at the School of Laon―but was not well understood.

This nonetheless remarkable achievement, the early-medieval revision of the Augustinian sacramentum - res sacramenti analysis, was indispensable to the defense of Eucharistic orthodoxy, not because the Augustinian-patristic analysis was in error, but because it had taken for granted what Berengarius denied, the Eucharistic res sacramenti understood as the unitas corporis, wherein the unity of the Church is utterly dependent upon her Eucharistic union with her Head.  The patristic tradition had had no interest in defending the historicity of the unitas corporis against Eucharistic heresy, for none then existed.  The age of Eucharistic heresy arrived with Berengarius’ perceived denial of the historical (which is to say, liturgical) truth of the Words of Institution, and so of their sacramental efficacy.

The shifts in Eucharistic terminology, which de Lubac has described, from the patristic period and through the early medieval period presuppose a metaphysical realism, but were unable to articulate it with sufficient precision until “substantialiter” was finally decided upon as the apt term by which to distinguish sacramental objectivity of the Christ’s Eucharistic presence from a mere symbolism on the one hand and from a quasi-Capharnaitic naiveté on the other.[46]

Thereafter, the theological focus upon resistance to Berengarius wrote finis to the patristic attribution to the Eucharistic res sacramenti of such terms as “spiritualis,” “mysticus,” “intelligibilis,” and the like (even Gottschalk’s “specialiter, naturaliter” distinction is heard no more), for these had been given a symbolist interpretation by Berengarius and his followers, whereas their original usage had been realistic and dynamic, referring to the virtus sacramenti, the sacramental efficacy whose finality was personal union with the risen Christ in the Church, rather than to the historical dimension of the res sacramenti, the objectively historical effect of the Eucharistic signing, viz., the infallible sacrificial presence of Christ in the Eucharist as at once High Priest and Victim of the One Sacrifice, a presence indissociable from the Church, hence from the unitas corporis Christi.

It was this “Real Presence” of the “Corpus Christi verum” which was now to be defended against Berengarius.  Expressions such as caro spiritualis, which had referred to this dynamic reality, viz., union with Christ in a Church understood to be herself fed and strengthened by that union, needed after Berengarius to be integrated into the idiom of the novel apologetic theology of the early Middle Ages, whose immediate task was to distinguish the infallible ecclesial effect of the One Sacrifice from the fallible personal effect: in brief, the union of the Church with her Lord in One Flesh is infallibly given, given indefeasibly, and hence indissociable from the Eucharistic Sacrifice as its immediate effect, as distinguished from the defeasible effect that is salvific personal salvific union with the Lord―defeasible by reason of the possibility of personal sinfullness in the communicant.  The theological elaboration of this distinction, heretofore unnecessary, abruptly become indispensable to dealing adequately with the Berengarian heresy.

However, this new apologetic interest had another consequence: it changed what may be designated the perspective, even the consciousness, of the theologian.  The older patristic perspective, focused upon the Church, and not so much the historical Church as the anagogical Church, sustained by her Eucharistic union with her risen Lord, was no longer a viable option. We have seen de Lubac, in the opening pages of his Corpus mysticum, stressing the focus of the Augustinian-patristic theology upon the final goal of the Church’s Eucharistic worship, that union with the risen Christ in the Church which Augustine has described in a famous passage:

Proinde verum sacrificium est omne opus, quod agitur, ut sancta societate inhaereamus Deo, relatum scilicet ad illum finem boni, quo veraciter beati esse possimus.

De civitate Dei x, 6.

This ultimate goal of all sacrifice and, à fortiori, of the Church’s Eucharistic sacrifice, is obviously all-important, for it is that to which all else in the liturgy is directed as means to an end.  This perspective is not simply eschatological, but it was also that, for the fulfillment of historical worship is union with the risen Christ, a union which, while it does not remove the communicant from the historical Church, nonetheless so preoccupies the theological attention of the Fathers as to make their reflection baffling to later generations whose theological preoccupation is nearly the reverse of the patristic interest.  While after Berengarius, the goal of Eucharistic worship remained as it  had been, union with the risen Lord, theological attention shifted to a defensive theological concentration upon the historical objectivity and efficacy of the Eucharistic signing, a subject that had scarcely arisen for the Fathers.

Apart from Augustine, Faustus of Riez, at the end of the fifth century, is nearly the only Latin witness to a patristic interest in what seven centuries later will be known as the transubstantiation of the bread and the wine, and his interest was no more defensive than had been Augustine’s; it was even idiosyncratic, for it never displaced Augustine’s “Spiritualiter intelligete.”  Suddenly, however, with Berengarius, that formerly idiosyncratic interest in the metaphysics of sacramental realism became normative for Eucharistic theology, while interest in the convergence of both dimensions of Eucharistic efficacy upon union with the risen Christ became almost peripheral.  For example, the Eucharistic res tantum begins to be understood as the res non contenta, i.e., an effect not contained “in” the transubstan­tiated species, because not a product of transubstantiation, and thus not of immediate interest.  What is not of immediate theological interest has a way of being neglected as unimportant simply because theologically uninteresting.  This disinterest cannot but be detrimental, even disastrous, to Eucharistic theology, as it is to the catechesis that reflects it.

The patristic theology had been intent upon the ultimate, complete accomplishment of the Eucharistic worship, that outpouring of the Spirit, that ultimate creative Gift, which Jesus, the Son of God, was sent to give and which is in his Gift alone.  This Gift is salvation pure and unalloyed, no longer veiled in sacramento, but manifest: it is membership in that “holy society,” the Church of the predestined, membership in which is “that final good, by which we may be truly blessed.”  This is personal membership in the Church as finally purified, finally realized and manifest as the glory of her Lord, as the Bride in splendor, in plenitudo, the Church triumphant, the Church eschatologically fulfilled.

Here the twin effects of the Eucharistic sacramentum, the res and the virtus, comprising the Mysterium, i.e., the reality of the One Sacrifice as source of all salvation, are inseparably at one in a union which de Lubac recognizes as also the res gemina of the Eucharist.  His own theology, informed by the patristic tradition to an extent unmatched by any other theologian, is impatient of any other interest.  While he acknowledges the necessity of the early medieval reaction against Berengarius, he regrets the subsequent theological neglect, humanly inseparable from that reaction, of the patristic concern for the one thing necessary, personal union in ecclesia with the risen Christ.  In his theology, this union, the gemina res, the Eucharistic res sacramenti, is given eschatologically, but as the res, the effect, of the historical sacramentum, the historical Eucharistic worship of the historical Church.  The res gemina, thus anagogically understood, is at once the consequence and the fulfillment of the Church’s worship of her Eucharistic Lord.

De Lubac’s theology is entirely consistent with that post-Berengarian apologetic interest whose programmatic statement is the tripartite medieval paradigm of sacramental realism: sacramentum tantum, res et sacramentum, res tantum.  While it is true that de Lubac places the res gemina in what this later paradigm terms the res tantum, he has refused a priori the dehistoricizing of the Eucharistic res tantum by its dissociation from the res et sacramentum, as if they were distinct as the nonhistorical is distinct from the historical.  That aberration is far from his understanding of the res gemina which, for him, is indissociable from the historicity of the res sacramenti. In fact, their unity is the basis of his exegesis, in which the historical unity of the Old Testament, the New Testament, and the Kingdom of God is Eucharistically underwritten―a doctrinal datum ignored by exegetes for decades, and now, under de Lubac’s influence, being rediscovered by them, or so one may hope.

De Lubac knows no nonhistorical Church, and no nonhistorical worship: he knows the historical Church to be unitary with and inseparable from her eschatological fulfillment.  Like the Fathers, he dwells upon that fulfillment, rather than upon an apologetic defense of her historicity.[47]  This defense was not a Eucharistic concern during the patristic period, and it is not his.  His disinterest in that apologetic is not an archaism: rather it is a disinterest in that theological objectification of the Eucharist, the loss of its Mysterium, of its free unity of veritas et virtus sacramenti, to which the defense of the historicity of the Eucharist has so often led.  Recovery from that loss can only be by way of the approfondissement of Eucharistic theology: in this he is the pioneer par excellence.

The post-patristic or early medieval, i.e., Carolingian Eucharistic theology is sharply distinguished from what went before―the patristic tradition―by the fascination with “dialectic,” the “new logic,” that had emerged with the Carolingian renaissance.  Its untutored application to the Eucharist in the ninth century prompted its bolder application by Berengarius in the eleventh, to the point of his finding himself under attack by his contemporaries, and increasingly under condemnation by the Church.  Whatever the merits and demerits of his Eucharistic theology, which de Lubac is unwilling to condemn out of hand, it foreshadowed a novel development in theology, that of systematic method.  In effect, the dialecticians, however ill informed their use of logic, had accepted its identification with rationality qua tale as beyond discussion, thus as a new criterion of truth: an Eleatic or binary rationality understood as the rigorous application of that primitive logical analysis. 

However, they knew of it only in its Neoplatonic format, thus as dissociated from the Aristotelian act-potency metaphysics that is alone consonant with this new hermeneutic, and consequently as precariously attuned to the binary Platonic hylemorphism which Aristotle had rejected.

When placed again under hylemorphic auspices, which deny the intrinsic intelligibility of material reality, the Aristotelian act-potency analysis of the intrinsic causes of material essences reverted to what “dialectic” had been for Plato, an analysis of concepts whose only intelligible unity was their finally ineffable reference to the nonhistorical absolute, which for Plato was the ideal coincidence of the Beautiful and the Good, the kalokagathon, the single object of the Platonic concept of the human quaerens or eros.

However, Plato’s metaphysics was mystical at its heart; radically dependent upon myth, while under Plotinus it had became locked into immanent necessity: thereby the Platonic kalakagathon was rationalized into the absolute One of Neoplatonism.  Logic again became binary, as it had been for the Eleatics: the analytic dissociation of all historical unity because irreducible to identity: the infima species has no historical realization.  Concrete discourse had been mere opinion for Plato, at best a “likely account;” under the new logic it became meaningless.

Nonetheless, this truncated logic had long since taken on theological standing.  Passed on to the Carolingians by Boethius, its transcendent reference to the One was interpreted as a reference to a dehistoricized notion of the One God of Christianity who, as thereby dehistoricized, was incapable of historical immanence.  It fascinated Carolingians such as John Scotus Eruigena, Ratramnus, and Rhabanus Maurus, whose Eucharistic application of it broke down the Augustinian signum – signatum analysis of sacramental causality to the point of  putting that free association of historical sign and effect in question and, as has been seen, of presenting an implicit threat to Eucharistic realism.

Its further disintegrating impact needed only the impetus provided by Berengarius’ application of it to the conceptual disintegration, not simply of the signum-signatum polarity, but of the concrete Eucharistic “Hoc est enim corpus meum,”  to demonstrate its radical incompatibility with the historical realism of Eucharistic orthodoxy.

Insofar as under that stimulus, the development of theological rationality during the twelfth century could only become became increasingly dissociated from the apostolic tradition; it accepted uncritically the legitimacy of the rationalist challenge, institutionalized as the “quaestio,” a term borrowed from the flush of juridical commentary prompted in the eleventh century at the University of Bologna by Justinian’s codification of the Roman law.  Under the inspiration and leadership of the great legal scholar Irnerius there arose at Bologna in the latter half of the eleventh century a school of commentators (glossators) upon the newly rediscovered text of the Roman law, later named “Corpus Juris Civilis,” which had been published by Emperor Justinian in the sixth century.  The rational criteria underlying the Quaestio easily supplanted those lacking in the binary dialectic, which had no interest in, or capacity for, the framing of syntheses.  The Quaestio however is precisely aimed at building a synthesis, whether of literally discordant laws, or of literally discordant Church teachings.  The forthcoming juridical and doctrinal syntheses supposed the Church’s doctrinal and moral tradition to have been formed under the same thirst for synthesis which drove the commentators.  The result was the juridicalization of the of Church governance and mission, with a notion of obedience to law as the central, in fact indispensable virtue.  This inherently unstable situation, in which the Church  theology ceased to be so much a quest for understanding as for conformity. In short, it became an deterministic apologetics, as de Lubac has seen.

There were of course stalwart and highly effective defenders of the ancient Eucharistic tradition: Paschasius, whose forthright Eucharistic orthodoxy, over against the rationalist dissociation of signum from signatum by Ratramnus, Rhabanus Maurus, Gottschalk, and perhaps John Scotus Eruigena, provided the foundation for the latter development of Eucharistic realism by Lanfranc, Guitmund of Aversa, Alger of Liège, and Gregory of Bergamo.  In their hands a realism of “substance” was effectively deployed against the burgeoning rationalism of the early Middle Ages prompted by Berengarius’ recourse to the “new logic,” deployed a millennium and a half earlier by Parmenides and the Eleatics.  During this period, in the wake of a revived interest in Roman law originating in the University of Bologna and continuing at Montpelier, the “sic et non” successfully applied to clarify the obscurities of the canonical collections by men such as Ivo of Chartres and Gratian, found its way into the theology faculties in the form of the “quaestio.”  This analytic device sought out the a priori intelligibility of not only the canon law but, notably in the hands of Abelard, also of the doctrinal tradition which, as the tradition of the free truth of the mystery of Christ, could have none.  The rationality underlying the quaestio was the product of a a quest, innocently innovated by Anselm of Bec, for the “necessary reasons” which he naively supposed to be the object of his fides quaerens intellectum The implication of this quaerens was determinist, with a consequent tendency to ignore the freedom of the Catholic tradition and, for that matter, of the legal tradition.  It was all too easy to identify the Anselmian fides quaerens intellectum with the quaestio of the commentators; by the fourteenth century this mistake would have had a destructive impact upon the freedom of the English common law tradition.  While St. Anselm’s famous and definitive definition of theology as the quest of faith for understanding does not, in fact cannot, entail this rationalization of the free truth of the faith, this was not then well understood in the twelfth century, even by St. Anselm.  The theological systematization of this rationalizing mentality would wait upon St. Thomas’ exploitation of the Aristotelian act-potency metaphysical analysis, by which he undertook to adapt to theological purposes the Aristotelian wedding of metaphysics to logic, lending the authority of a genius to that application.

By the sixteenth century this version of the systematization of theology had come to maturity in Cajetan’s exposition and exploitation of the rationalistic potentiality of the Thomist method.  De Lubac, in Surnaturel,[48] famously rejected this rationalization of theology.  He had published Corpus mysticum as the third volume in the collection, Théologie, in which his Surnaturel appears as the eighth volume.  His dismissal in that later work of a rationalized “pure nature,” as the polar counterpart of the rationalization of “grace,” is very clearly the product of his long study of the patristic meditation upon the liturgical experience of graced existence in ecclesia.  The recovery of that liturgically-grounded fides quaerens intellectum, with its implicit conversion of theological method to the freedom, the historicity of the Church’s worship, may well stand as his greatest contribution to the res Catholica.

C. The Augustinian-patristic duplex res sacramenti (the res gemina)

The early medieval revision of the sacramentum, res sacramenti of the older patristic theology involved no doctrinal innovation for, without any felt need for specification, the older language had included, within the res sacramenti, sensu aiente (i.e., in its full historical sense, as opposed to sensu negante, i.e., in its restricted and abstract sense), the fallible effect which the later terminology designated the res tantum.[49]  Augustine himself had been forced by the Donatist heresy to distinguish that which Cyprian and, fifty years after him, the Donatists, had failed to distinguish the infallible from the fallible effects of the Eucharistic signing.  He affirmed then in the sacramentum a double efficacy or signing, and so distinguished between two effects in the res sacramenti, the one necessary, the other free.[50]  This is precisely the distinction later drawn by the early medieval theologians between the res et sacramentum and the res tantum, but the relatively abstract, non-experiential, analytical distinction which Augustine’s refutation of Donatism had placed between the necessary and the free causality of the Eucharistic signing did not enter into the patristic discussion of the Eucharistic res sacramenti, which was intent upon the experience of existence in Christo, in ecclesia, rather than upon its analysis.  The Eucharistic application of Augustine’s response to the Donatist heresy waited upon the Berengarian challenge to the historical objectivity of the objective presence of Jesus the Christ in the consecrated bread and wine, a dehistoricization of the Eucharistic worship unthinkable in the patristic period.  For the Fathers, the effect of the Eucharistic signing was salvific; they were of course familiar with Paul’s warning in I Cor. 11 against unworthy reception, but their quaerens intellectum was understandably focused upon the effects of the worthy reception for which the Eucharist had been instituted.

When theologians lose sight of the free unity of the liturgical worship which they seek to understand, whether by the phenomenological, experiential or existential inquiry of the patristic sacramentum, res sacramenti analysis, or by its twelfth-century sacramentum tantum, res et sacramentum, res tantum analytic revision, is not kept in view, insoluble ambiguities arise by reason of the unreflective  imposition of a false determinism or necessitarian rationalism upon the factual free unity of sacramental worship.  The early medieval theologian’s response to the Berengarian analytic was unfortunately open to this error, by reason of its failure to grasp the intrinsic freedom of the nuptial substantiality of the Eucharistic One Flesh.  Their apologetic interest in defending the Eucharistic tradition required a systematization whose inevitably abstract language and deployment of formal logic could easily be taken as requiring a dehistoricization of the historical truth of the Church’s worship.  The likelihood of this dehistoricization was reinforced by the theological adaptation of the quaestio which, as borrowed from the then burgeoning analytic study of Roman law embodied in the Corpus Juris Civilis, could easily be mistaken for a valid expression of the fides quaerens intellectum: in fact, it was nearly inevitable that, once adopted by theologians as a heuristic device, the quaestio (summarily, as we have seen in the Epilogue, “An sit verum?”) be misunderstood to presuppose a causal explanation as the only appropriate response: Anselm’s Cur Deus Homo is the classic illustration of the response to a quaestio; Anselm provides just such an explanation for the Incarnation, arguing that only a propitiation for sin offered by someone at once divine and human might correspond to the infinite offense of sin to the divine majesty.  Thus it was that Catholic theology became an apologetics, as de Lubac has observed.  With the quaestio thus in place as a valid expression of the fides quaerens intellectum, it cannot but impose its own abstract criteriology upon the free truth of the Catholic tradition which, grounded in free gift of the free truth that is the Revelation, lacks the a priori causal explanation which the quaestio seeks.  Classic Christology remains locked in this false problematic: it still seeks the prior possibility of the Incarnation, which of course has none.

The patristic theology had assigned the Church a sacramental and therefore anagogical reality.  While the Fathers knew her to be caused, nourished and sustained by the Eucharist, at the same time they knew her to be a reality whose plenitude is manifest only in the eschaton.  This anagogical sense of the Church as at once objectively historical while oriented to a transhistorical fulfillment was continued by her medieval title, Corpus Christi mysticum.  Peter Lombard, when using the recently developed sacramentum tantum, res et sacramentum, res tantum sacramental analysis, summarized the patristic stress upon the anagogical aspect of the Church by assigning her, as Corpus Christi mysticum, the standing of the Eucharistic res tantum.  This ascription neither entailed nor envisaged a dehistoricization of the Church, for her sacramental historicity was unquestioned by the patristic tradition, nor was it put in issue by Peter Lombard whose Sentences intended a summary of that tradition.

However, under the influence of the “new logic,” when using the older or patristic sacramental paradigm, the Master of the Sentences understood the Church, insofar as within the res sacramenti, to be a res significata sed non contenta: i.e., an effect signed by the sacramentum but not “contained” within its effect, evidently because the Church is not the product of the transubstantiation of the elements and thus is “contained” within the consecrated species.  Peter Lombard’s “non contenta” specification is not patristic but medieval; it reflects the medieval focus on the res et sacramentum as simply the Corpus Christi verum, whose objective reality is the direct product of the transubstantiation of the elements, as the objective reality of the Church is not.  This designation of the Church as “non contenta” intimated an isolation of the Church from her source, the Corpus Christi verum, whose historical realism was the explicit concern of the medieval theology, and separation from which inevitably entailed the Church’s theological dissociation from her Eucharistic cause, the Corpus Christi verum, present as the High Priest and the Victim of the One Sacrifice.

This isolation of the Church from her Head logically entailed a consideration of the Church in abstraction from that by which she is in fact historical and theologically intelligible, and hence entailed her dehistoricization and consequently a misunderstanding of her reality as the second Eve, the Bride of the Christ, the second Adam, One Flesh with Him and inseparable from him.  Her reality began to be conceived in eschatological terms rather than analogical: i.e., her sacramental historicity was ignored.  Thus, her relegation to the res tantum Eucharistiae was no longer read as anagogical but as nonhistorical, without reference to the Eucharistic Sacrifice by which alone she is real and historical.  At the same time, her internal structure began to be accounted for in terms of the Aristotelian “perfect society,” Augustine’s “sancta societas” had been forgotten.

This dehistoricization of the Church entailed and coincided with the dehistoricization of the res tantum: the focusing of theological interest upon the transubstantiation of the elements and the objectivity of the Eucharistic Presence of the Christ had lost sight of the anagogical dimension of the Eucharistic signing: as non contenta, it was not of interest to medieval  Eucharistic theology.  We have seen that the imperceptibility of the communicant’s anagogical union with the Eucharistic Christ issued in the medieval theologians giving that full effect the Eucharistic worship a comparable standing of res tantum sacramenti, with the same latent inference of its nonhistoricity, its dissociation from the Corpus Christi verum.

Nearly a century before the publication of the Sentences, Berengarius’ rationalist bent had extrapolated from the anagogical fullness of sacramental efficacy what his contemporaries heard to be a heretical denial of the objectivity of the Eucharistic presence of Jesus the Christ.  Such dehistoricization of the free historicity of the Eucharistic worship is the perennial product of the rationalization of the Eucharistic res gemina or duplex res sacramenti, the One Flesh, whether by the rationalist reduction of its free covenantal unity, its nuptial order, into the unity of a physical or organic structure, or of its free nuptial unity into two distinct bodies, the Corpus Christi verum whose Eucharistic historicity is defended à outrance, while under that same focus the correlative Eucharistic realism and historicity of the Corpus mysticum is first ignored and then forgotten, to become a subject for sociological or juridical rather than theological inquiry.

This drive for theological rationalization is inherent in and fed by uncritical theological commitment to the determinist, monist notion of substance, and to its accompanying literalist hermeneutic of “pure reason,” whose legitimacy was then unquestioned and has long remained so.[51]  The rationalization of the Church’s worship―always its reductive submission to the canons of logical necessity and therefore its dehistoricization, for history is free by definition―proceeded thereafter to reify the conceptual but abstract, nonhistorical and unreal distinction placed by the new medieval sacramental analysis between the sacramentally worshiping and therefore historical Church, and the communicant’s participation in her worship.

Left in historical abeyance by reason of the imperceptibility of his personal union with the risen Lord, the communicant was thereby isolated from the historical Church in which, precisely, he is a member by baptism, even as a sinner.  Thus arises the notion that his communion with the Lord is or may be independent of his sacramental worship in ecclesia, viz., his communion may be a ‘spiritual communion,’ with the Platonic equation of “spirit” with the nonhistorical presupposed

The older, i.e., Augustinian-patristic, sacramental paradigm had simply included the communicant’s union with the risen Christ within the res sacramenti.  The dissociation of the sinner from the res tantum, understood as “effectus huius sacramenti,” by reason of the personal sin of the communicant, was not of theological interest, because not within the experience of worship in ecclesia upon which the Augustinian-patristic interest was focused.  However, the theological reaction to Berengarius’ perceived denial of Eucharistic realism had forced the early medieval theologians to distinguish between the Church as the infallible effect of the Eucharistic Sacrifice, and the individual’s personal union with Christ as a fallible effect.

The distinction, once made, took on a life of its own: the conceptual, abstractly-posed distinction between the  historical Church and those who worship in the Church became explicit: i.e., as between res et sacramentum and res tantum, and the implications of that abstract possibility began to be treated as concrete, as actuality: e.g., as “non contenta,” a label that would soon be applied to the Church herself, as not being the product of transubstantiation, thus not identified with the consecrated species, with the resulting dissociation of the Church from her Eucharistic source and cause which has been remarked.  In this scenario, the Church also was left without the sacramental significance which was hers only by her nuptial union with her Lord.  With that union disregarded, the Church, like those who baptized into her unity, and therefore who worship in her, lost her historicity.

However paradoxically, this unwonted degree of theological abstraction had become necessary in order to defend the freedom of personal worship, the freedom of the communicant’s integration into the Church and thereby the freedom of his union, mediated in ecclesia, with her Lord, the Eucharistic Christ. That such a systematic abstraction could not proceed without danger is manifest.  In Corpus mysticum, de Lubac has pointed to the disadvantages of the revision’s conceptual, not metaphysical, isolation of the ex opere operato effect from the effect ex opere operantis within the free historical unity of the Eucharistic worship.  While entirely consonant with the ancient liturgical and doctrinal tradition for as long as the historical unity―i.e., the free unity―of its conceptually dissociable elements was kept in view, the early medieval theologians’ safeguarding of that tradition by a reflexive analysis of sacramental efficacy could not be as clearly existential, as concretely historical, as had been the phenomenological sacramentum, res sacramenti analysis of the patristic theology.  The new, rationalizing analysis was ill at ease, incompatible in fact with the freedom of the Church’s historicity.

It would be too much to say the openness of the abstract or conceptual distinctions entailed in the new (medieval) sacramental paradigm,, under the further impetus of the thirteenth century “reception” of Aristotelianism, led to the rationalization and fragmentation of sacramental worship out of which arose the image of the lonely worshiper, alone before his God, for this notion had its inception a millennium earlier in the patristic commentary on The Song of Songs.[52]  Nonetheless, the image of the lonely worshiper is proper to  the dehistoricized worship of the Reformation, for the elimination of sacramental worship inherent in the sola fide, sola scriptura, sola gratia of the Reform’s rejection of sacramental, and particularly Eucharistic realism precisely requires the collapse of the historical objectivity of the res et sacramentum into a res tantum no longer possessing the historical foundation that its objectively historical ground in the infallible res et sacramentum of the Eucharist had given it in Catholic worship, whose free unity is again being subjected to a comparably shallow rationalist criteriology.

Catholic worship thus becomes subjective merely, without historical content or significance, for the sacramental and historical objectivity of personal union with the risen Lord rests finally upon the communicant’s free union with the historical and sacramental objectivity of the Church’s Eucharistic worship.  It is there that personal union with the risen Christ occurs; it is there, in personal participation in the unitas corporis, the Eucharistic One Flesh of Christ and his Church, that the communicant appropriates his own free, nuptially-ordered historicity, his imaging of God, his covenantal fidelity.  Lacking this Eucharistic source and sustenance, the One Sacrifice of the Mass, worship inevitably seeks a political realization and efficacy; the politicization of the faith proceeds faute de mieux.

1. The quasi res ultima, the historical Church

The Head and the Body

In the second of the texts from his Commentary on the Sentences quoted at the beginning of this appendix, St. Thomas describes the Church as the “quasi res ultima” of the signing effected by the Eucharistic presence of Jesus the High Priest and Victim, the Corpus Christi verum.  The Augustinian-patristic paradigm had seen in the Church, the Corpus Christi mysticum, the infallible effect of the Real Presence, the Corpus Christi verum, an effect at once distinct from and irreducible to its cause, the Corpus Christi verum, as an effect must be irreducible to its cause, and yet an effect indissociable from its cause, the Real Presence, the Corpus Christi verum, because efficaciously signed by it.

Thus the Fathers understood the Church to exist in free unity, unitas corporis, with the Corpus Christi verum: the free and substantial, Trinity-imagining, nuptial unity that is the res sacramenti.[53]  In this dynamic unity, this nuptial union, the Bride proceeds freely from her Head, her Bridegroom, her cause, freely responding to him in their free constitution of the substantial, covenantal, Trinity-imaging tri-unity of the covenantal One Flesh of Christ and his bridal Church  This, the substantial New Covenant that is neither simply the Christ nor simply the Church, nor simply their irrevocable free marital union, but that reality, the good creation, in which Jesus subsists as its head, the Church subsists as his Glory, i.e., as proceeding from him, and their nuptial covenant subsists, as proceeding from the Head through his Glory, the Church.  This is the trinitarian human substance that is created in Christ and is now redeemed, its primordial integrity restored, in sacramento, by his One Sacrifice, the outpouring of the Gift of the Spiritus Creator upon the Church and thereby upon all flesh.  By this Gift, this outpouring of the Spirit, the free unity, the integrity of the One Flesh (mia sarx - σρκα μαν), lost in the fall, is restored in the sacrificial institution of the Eucharistic One Flesh, into which New Creation all humanity is free to enter, gratia Christi.  It is within this covenantal and nuptial unity that the Church is in fact quasi res ultima, the infallible effect of the Eucharistic signing, distinct and yet inseparable from the Eucharistic Presence of her Lord.

However, it is all too clear that St. Thomas’ mature view of the head-body relation of Jesus to the Church is organic rather than nuptial: in a revealing passage from the Summa Theologiae, quoted by de Lubac, he says nothing of the union of Head and body in “one flesh:”[54]

Just as the whole Church is called one mystical body by reason of a similitude to the natural body of man. … (emphasis added).

S. T. iiia, q. 18, a. 1

It is evident that, when viewed as parts of an organism, “head” and “body” have a necessary relation to each other, that condemned in I Cor.  7:16, not the free nuptial relation of the “one flesh” (σρκα μαν ) of the prophecy in Gen. 2:24. Mk. 10:8, and Eph. 5:31, attributed in the next verse to the great mystery of the union of Jesus the Christ and his bridal Church.  Further, an ecclesial unity of a physical organism cannot provide the free, covenantal fidelity that unites the members of the bridal Church to each other, and through her, to her Head.

De Lubac cites this passage in the Summa in connection with another taken from Comm. in IV Sent., which we have already examined, in which St. Thomas, speaking of the Corpus Christi verum, has written:

It signs also a quasi-ultimate effect, the mystical body, that is to say, the Church, which because of the distinction of offices has a similarity with the whole body by reason of the distinction of members. (emphases added)

In IV Sent., d. 8, q. 2, a.1; see also S. T. IIIa, q. 82, a. 9, 2.

Of this passage de Lubac observes, “l’on peut discerner la trace de la double origine” (i.e., the ecclesial ”Corpus Christi mysticum” and the Eucharistic “corpus naturale”).

Clearly enough, in these passages St. Thomas does not understand the ecclesial body, although caused by the sacramental signing of her Head (whose Eucharistic Corpus Christi verum, as we have seen, he considers to be figurativum corporis mystici), to be in nuptial union with the Christ by reason of that “figuring.”  We have seen that, within the context of the early medieval sacramental paradigm, the “res ultima,” the final effect of the Eucharistic signing, can only be the Eucharistic res tantum.  It is not possible to determine from the expression “quasi rem ultimam” precisely what St. Thomas means in qualifying its ultimacy with the term by “quasi,” but the term clearly departs from the language of the excerpts from his Comm. in IV Sent. quoted in endnote 10.  It is quite possible that here St Thomas is writing within the context of the patristic paradigm of sacramentum, res sacramenti, not in that of the later analysis which sets off the res tantum from the res et sacramentum.  Much of de Lubac’s discussion of the Christ-Church relation, based on his exhaustive study of the Fathers, depends similarly upon their familiarity with the older sacramentum, res sacramenti analysis, which de Lubac himself generally prefers to the medieval analysis, while recognizing the justification for the development of the latter.[55]   In any case, St. Thomas here distinguishes the Church from the unqualified res ultima, the ultimate effect of the sacramental signing, the medieval sacramentum tantum.  Granting this, the only alternative is that he understands the Church, as “figured” or signed by the Corpus Christi verum, to be in unity with the Eucharistic Christ.  Elsewhere, he describes this unity as sponsal or nuptial.  However, there et passim he does not understand that unity it to be free and covenantal.[56]

St. Thomas did not in fact develop his early concrete recognition, under the aegis of the patristic sacramentum-res sacramenti paradigm, of the Eucharistic duplex res sacramenti or res gemina into an assertion, under the newer, medieval paradigm of sacramentum, res et sacramentum, res tantum, of a double res et sacramentum.  However, the early witnesses―patristic and early medieval―whose texts de Lubac has so carefully examined are unintelligible apart from their common assumption that the infallible effect of the Eucharistic signing, the res et sacramentum of the medieval paradigm, later designated the effect ex opere operato of the Eucharistic signing, is the One Flesh of the New Covenant, equivalent in its infallibility to the res sacramenti of the patristic theology. 

This conclusion is inescapable, for the tradition de Lubac examines is unanimous that (1) the New Covenant is instituted by the One Sacrifice of Christ, and (2) the Eucharist is the historical offering of that One Sacrifice.  However, as we shall see, the unanimity is implicit, for an overt recognition of these facts is uncommon among the patristic and early medieval texts that de Lubac’s study cites and which he discusses so carefully.

In the texts cited in endnote 10. St. Thomas apparently relegates the Church to the standing of the res tantum sacramenti.  This is neither the doctrine of Augustine nor of the patristic tradition dependent upon him, although by the middle of the twelfth century, Peter Lombard’s Sentences, upon which St. Thomas commented, had thus mistakenly summarized the Latin patristic, Carolingian, and early medieval―basically Augustinian―theology of the Eucharist by way of its unreflective transposition into the idiom of the medieval sacramerntum tantum, res et sacramentum, res tantum.  Yet we shall see that patristic theological tradition affirmed the nuptial and therefore implicitly covenantal ordo of the Head-Body relation of Christ to the Church.  The patristic-Carolingian res sacramenti is revealed, in the context of the Amalarian “three bodies” controversy, to be the “One Flesh” of Christ and the Church, which requires that this free because covenantal union be rather the Eucharistic res et sacramentum of the early medieval sacramental paradigm than its res tantum.  Yet the transposition of the phenomenological interest of the old patristic paradigm into the analytic interest of the medieval paradigm is a matter more complex than the Master of the  Sentences and his boldest commentator recognize it to be.  There can be no simple equation of any element of the one paradigm with any element of the other.  They serve the same fides quaerens intellectum, but are otherwise irreducibly distinct.

Augustine, following I Corinthians 11 and Ephesians 5, understood the One Sacrifice to institute the irrevocable union in One Flesh of the second Adam and the second Eve, the New Covenant.[57]  This union Augustine termed the “whole Christ,” the Christus totus, Jesus the Lord in his irrevocable nuptial union with the Church, who revealed himself to Paul on the road to Damascus.

The Augustinian ecclesiology requires that the Carolingian (Paschasius) “Corpus Christi mysticum”―which term de Lubac thinks to be original with Hesychius[58]―be the res, the infallible and immediate effect, ex opere operato  if one may so speak, of the Eucharistic sacramentum.  The early twelfth-century exploitation, in the time of Alger of Liége, of the sacramentum tantum, res et sacramentum, res tantum analysis to distinguish, within the earlier notion of the duplex res sacramenti, the Eucharistic real presence of the Christ from its immediate effect, i.e., the Church, is entirely consistent with the Augustinian Eucharistic theology, for Augustine insists upon the One-Flesh union of Christ and the Church as the immediate and infallible effect of the offering of the Eucharistic Sacrifice (thus, in the later analysis, the Church is within the effect ex opere operato of the sacramentum tantum, which is to say, it is integral with the res et sacramentum, but not as a product of transubstantiation: i.e., it is “non contenta” in the consecrated species).  In brief, the Church is “contained” the res et sacramentum only because she is One Flesh with her Lord, caused by him as her head and thus inseparable from him.

To suppose that there is implicit in this twelfth century development the relegation of the Church to the Eucharistic res tantum would be to suppose the sacramentum tantum, res et sacramentum, res tantum analysis to entail the denial of the radical datum of the faith, viz., the institution of the New Covenant by the One Sacrifice of the Christ, which is absurd.  From such a stance, the New Covenant would become a reality dependent upon the virtue of the worshiper, which again is nonsense.  Further, it would also dehistoricize that reality, the Church, the Corpus Christi mysticum for, understood as the Eucharistic res tantum, the Church could have no historical sign value, no sacramental visibility or actuality: it would cease to be the sacramental sign that the Church must be if she is to be historical, for she has the historicity of her worship, i.e. a sacramental and radically finally Eucharistic historicity.  We cannot really ascribe such sola fide subjectivity to the twelfth century custodians of the Augustinian tradition.

It is then inescapable that St. Thomas’ identification of the Eucharistic res tantum with the Corpus Christi mysticum, in the passage cited from his Commentary on the Sentences (cf. endnote 10), would deprive the Church of her inherent and constitutive free, nuptial relation to her Head, which relation constitutes the “whole Christ” of the Augustinian theology and which, according to Augustine, is the immediate effect of the Eucharistic consecration, indissociable from the offering of the One Sacrifice.  The relegation of the Church to the standing of the res tantum, i.e., to the effect ex opere operantis of the Eucharist, understands the Church, insofar as the Body of Christ, to be “Body,” not in the nuptial or bridal sense required by the explicitly marital symbolism of Col. 1:15ff., Eph. 5:21-33, and by Augustine’s Christus totus, i.e., as in the nuptial inseparability from the Eucharistic presence of the Corpus Christi verum by which she is One Flesh with him.  Rather, the Church so understood, merely as a intrinsically articulated society whose articulation suggests to St. Thomas an analogy with the articulation of a physical organism, in which each “member” is thus ordered for the benefit of the whole, much as we find “members” used by Paul in I Cor. 12 as the distinct but mutually supportive members of a physical organism, the “body” supported and defended (not caused) by their mutuality.

This Pauline analogy, if thus read in dissociation from the bridal sense of the Christ-Church union found in Ephesians 5 and stressed by St. Augustine, would suggest and in fact require an ecclesiology in which the Church is no longer caused by the Eucharist, as the second Eve proceeding from the side of the “sleeping” second Adam, but is merely the product, the effect, of the accumulation of her members.  This “gathered church” theology envisions a church whose nonhistorical standing, sola fide, latent in such a reading of Paul, is explicit in the Reform ecclesiology.  It is Catholic doctrine that the members of the Church are in fact “gathered,” but they are gathered by their baptism into the preexisting Church, the second Eve who, pace the careless language of the Lombard, is not “composed” by their gathering, but is rather the condition of its possibility.  The language of “composition” is intelligible only insofar as it points to the free, Eucharistic, and therefore ecclesial unity of the communicant with the risen Christ, and thereby with the members of the Church: a union ever more complete by reason of an ever more profound personal entry into the Church’s worship of her Eucharistic Lord.

However, the passages cited from St. Thomas’ Commentary on the Sentences in endnote 10 are not definitive for his ecclesiology, for as we have seen in the same commentary, St. Thomas understands this ecclesial “body,” the Corpus Christi mysticum, to be so only as is in some way comparable to the res tantum: i.e., “quasi rem ultimam,” of the Eucharistic sacrifice but not identical with it―this with the consequence that, if his identification of the Church with the res tantum sacramenti would put the Church in danger of becoming understood to be invisible and thus nonhistorical, the “quasi” must stand in the way of that inference.

St. Thomas’ language would leave the historical Church in a metaphysical limbo were we not to read his “quasi” as we have seen de Lubac read Paschasius‘ “solidius,” viz., as understanding the Church’s union with her Lord to be the infallible effect of the One Sacrifice, and thus understanding the Church to be the historical consequence ex opere operato of the sacrificial presence of the Eucharistic Christ, for the second Adam and the second Eve cannot be separated in the Eucharistic liturgy, inasmuch as that liturgy causes, institutes, their freely irrevocable unity in fallen history, which is simply that of the New Creation, the One Flesh of the New Covenant instituted on the cross.

De Lubac has been at pains to point out that the expression. “Corpus Christi verum,” with its emphasis upon the reality of Christ’s Eucharistic presence, represents a change from the traditional patristic language which had been forced by Berengarius’ denial of the historical reality, i.e., the “veritas,” of the Eucharistic presence of the Jesus the Christ.  Before Berengarius, “Corpus Christi verum” had referred to the Church, the bridal Body of whom Christ is the Head, rather than to the sacramental presence of Christ in the Eucharist.  After Berengarius it was necessary to stress that which, notoriously, he had denied, the objective reality, the veritas, of the Real Presence, the truth of whose affirmation by the Words of Instition had until that time had never been put in question.  Thus it was that “Corpus Christi verum” came to designate the Eucharistic Presence of the Christ, and the term “Corpus Christi mysticum” came to be a designation of the Church.  However, as will be seen, the patristic res sacramenti of the Eucharist was more than the veritas, the immediate effect of the sacramentum; it was also virtus, the salvific efficacy of the veritas sacramenti, an efficacy that could only be ecclesial and, because ecclesial, historical, and therefore anagogical as well.

In light of these considerations, it is likely that St. Thomas intended to accommodate the infallibility of the sacramental (“figurative”) causality of the Corpus Christi verum, as effecting the Corpus Christi mysticum, to an effect less ultimate than the res tantum and at the same time definitive: viz., infallible rather than fallible.  The then regnant sacramental analysis (sacramentum tantum, res et sacramentum, res tantum) did not appear to provide for that possibility, nor could it, unless and until the res et sacramentum was understood, as the earlier res sacramenti had been understood, to be not merely the product of transubstantiation, the Corpus Christi verum, but rather to designate the nuptial union of the Corpus Christi verum, i.e., Jesus Ch;rist, the High Priest Offering himself as the Victim of his One Sacrifice, instituting thereby the New Covenant,  his union in one Flesh with his bridal Church, as taught in Jn. 19:34-5, Col. 1:15ff., and Eph. 5:21-33―the union named the “whole Christ” by St. Augustine in Sermo 341 among many other places, and taken for granted by the patristic exegesis of those texts. .

St. Thomas, when commenting on statements in the Sentences in which the older language of sacramentum, res sacramenti occurs, therefore does not intend to designate by “quasi res ultima” the res tantum of the Eucharist. as a literal translation of the expression would suppose.  Rather, he understands the “quasi res ultima” to be the immediate and necessary effect of the Eucharistic presence of the Corpus Christi verum, the Christ, for he understands the Church to be signed by that Presence, thus to be an effect inseparable from the Eucharistic Presence of the Christ. This effect cannot have its cause in the free―and fallible―personal Communion of a worshiper; it is instituted, caused, by the sacrificial presence of Christ the Head as at once the High Priest and the Victim of the One Sacrifice.  The Church is therefore one of the two inseparable but irreducible elements of the “duplex” effect ex opere operato of the Eucharistic signing, which is to say, of the institution of the Eucharistic Sacrifice by Jesus at the Last Supper.

The universal patristic interpretation of Jn. 19:34 as the institution of the Church, viz., the second Eve’s proceeding from the side of the “sleeping” second Adam on the cross, underlies this recognition of the “duplex res sacramenti” in the Eucharist.[59]  This exegesis is certainly Augustine’s, but it does not originate with him: Tertullian had long since made it part of the African tradition, nor was it novel with him.

Clearly, the duplex res sacramenti cannot be read as though its meaning were controlled by the later analysis of sacramental causality set out in the tripartite paradigm of sacramentum tantum, res et sacramentum, res tantum.  The “quasi res ultima” of this text must be understood within the context of the older patristic paradigm of sacramentum, res sacramenti, which understands the Church, the “Corpus Christi mysticum,”[60] to be the correlative and immediate effect of the sacramental signing of the “Corpus Christi verum.”  This is true because the Words of Institution do not sign the Church, but only the “Corpus Christi verum,” the High Priest and the Victim of the One Sacrifice, whose Eucharistic presence is at one with but not identical with, the entirely dependent Eucharistic presence of the Church.  She, the second Eve, the ecclesial Body, is present only because of the causally prior presence of the Corpus Christi verum, the second Adam, the Head, the Bridegroom, from whom she proceeds as his Glory.  At the same time, by reason of the sacramental signing that is inseparable from his objective Eucharistic presence, she herself is infallibly, immediately, and objectively present as his Body, his Bride, his Glory, proceeding always from her Head and always in nuptial union with him.  Where the Bridegroom is, there also is the Bride, One Flesh with him.

To repeat: it is only as included within the reality designated by the older idiom of “duplex res sacramenti” that the meaning of “quasi res ultima” can be understood: there this expression designates the Church as signed and caused by the sacramental presence of her Head, quite as the Second Eve has her source in her Head, the second Adam, and as created feminine wisdom has her source in uncreated Wisdom.[61]

We have seen that within the context of this older, patristic sacramental theology, there is no place for distinguishing what the later theological language will call the res tantum sacramenti, and which St. Thomas will describe―when using the older idiom and at the same time recognizing as his own the post-Berengarian apologetic theological concern―as “effectus huius sacramenti:” i.e., as the effect of personal sacramental Communion in the duplex res sacramenti. Thus, without gainsaying the phenomenological theological interest underlying that older idiom, whose interest is focused exclusively upon personal communion with the risen Christ in the One Flesh (mia sarx; σρκα μαν) instituted by the Eucharistic offering of the One Sacrifice, unconcerned for the abstract and fatal latencies of the fatally fragmented sarx that is our solidarity with the first Adam’s refusal to worship, St. Thomas carefully distinguishes, within the duplex res sacramenti, the free effect of this worship, effectus huius sacramenti, which can only be personal union with the risen Christ, but he does so without further naming it.  Nor may one suppose that because that free effect of personal union with the risen Lord may be regarded in its eschatological dimension that it thereby coincides with the eschatological dimension of the Church; for the latter is a necessary effect of the Eucharistic signing, while the former is free effect of that signing and therefore is defeasible.

When later in the Summa Theologiae [62] St. Thomas specifically identifies the “effectus huius sacramenti” with the res tantum of the early medieval sacramentum tantum-res et sacramentum-res tantum analysis of Eucharistic causality, the distinction between the patristic res et sacramentum and the early medieval res tantum is that the latter is not the Augustinian expression of the full significance of existence in Christo, in ecclesia, but analytic, which is to say, it assumes the defeasibility of the communicant’s reception of Eucharstic communion, which is not understood as simply the communicant’s increased union with the risen Christ as the product of the communicant’s personal participation in the Church’s worship.

The patristic tradition was well aware of Paul’s warning against unworthy communion, but its sacramentum-res sacramenti paradigm was concerned for personal participation in the ecclesial celebration of the Eucharist, not for its blasphemous refusal.  The patristic paradigm, sacramentum, res sacramenti, was entirely unambiguous.  So much cannot be said for the medieval paradigm, whose analytic dimension presents a temptation, even an invitation, to the conceptual fragmentation of a paradigm which is a continuum.  This entails the dissociation of its elements, and its dehistoricization, for in this analytic context, any abstraction of the elements of the analysis from their historical unity reduces them to entia rationis; mere words.

Thus the res tantum of the Eucharist, as “effectus huius sacramenti,” is methodologically intelligible only when the elements of this newer medieval analysis are understood concretely and historically, in their free unity, rather than, as too easily occurs, as abstracted from the concrete dynamic unity of the Eucharistic worship.  At the same time, under this post-Berengarian medieval analysis, the free intelligibility, ex opere operantis, of the effectus huius sacramenti has become explicit, as it had not been under the older sacramentum, res sacramenti analysis. 

Nonetheless, de Lubac’s uneasiness with the new analysis is understandable, for the analytical clarity thus gained, the distinction between the infallible and the fallible effects of the Eucharistic signing, is purchased at the risk of losing the historical unity of the older analysis, which was concerned solely with the experience of worship in the Church, the experience in which the dichotomous fleshly experience of existence simul justus et peccator is not annulled but transcended by Eucharistic Communion in the One Flesh, wherein the anguish of fallen, fleshly existence is resolved in anagogic union with the risen One Flesh of the risen Christ in his Kingdom as signed in history by his Church which thereby exists in the salvation history whose Lord is its Beginning and its End.

Within the pre-Berengarian, liturgically-formed Augustinian-patristic consciousness, the worshiper cannot and does not distinguish his Eucharistic Communion with the risen Christ from his existence in ecclesia.  This unity, Communion in the unitas corporis, is indeed free.  Its prior condition of possibility, as with the reception of all the sacraments, is the infallibly instituted covenantal and nuptially-ordered unity of the risen Christ with his bridal Church.  The peril inherent in the medieval recourse to the tri-partite, post-Berengarian analysis is that the distinction between the three elements of this dense Eucharistic dialectic can so easily be understood to be their isolation from each other as thing from thing: i.e., their rationalization, their abstraction from their free historical unity, the unity of a free event, not of a thing. 

This temptation to rationalize freedom into necessity had also been a danger with the sacramentum - res sacramenti analysis: we know that Cyprian and the Donatists had rationalized its free unity into a denial of fallen freedom in the baptized and the ordained in such wise as to force the inference that a recipient of baptism, or an ordained cleric, could not sin, as a matter of definition: consequently the presence of sin in a baptized or ordained Christian was interpreted as the annulment of his baptism or orders.  The sin of the recipient subsequent to a purported baptism or ordination was held to have been proven his baptism and-or his ordination to have been a nullity. 

The reverse of that error would be to think of the effectus huius sacramenti as abstract and unspecified, as Paul in I Cor. 11:27-8 very clearly did not.  There can be no neutral “effectus,” no neutral consequence of the reception of the Eucharist: the communicant eats and drinks either to his salvation or to his damnation.  Yet it would be a gross error to equiparate these alternatives: the “effectus huius sacramenti” can only be salvation; damnation is the effect of sin, not the effect of a sacramental signing.

The misreading of the texts of St. Thomas cited in the endnotes quoted at the beginning of this Volume had understood him to identify the referent of the older duplex res sacramenti (the nuptial, covenantal union of Christ, the second Adam and his bridal Church who is the second Eve―concretely, the nuptially-ordered New Covenant)―with the referent of the res et sacramentum of the later sacramental analysis, inasmuch as it was clearly the immediate effect, hence the effect ex opere operato, of the offering of the Eucharistic sacrifice.

This interpretation was clearly mistaken, for in this text St. Thomas accepted, in fact endorsed, what Peter Lombard there taught in the passage commented upon, viz., that the Eucharistic res et sacramentum of the newer sacramental analysis is the Real Presence of the Christ, at once High Priest and Victim of that One Sacrifice, distinct, but not disjunct, from the Church that, as the immediate effect of the Real Presence of her Lord, is not isolated from him but rather is signed by him within the Eucharistic liturgy, and therefore cannot be isolated from him in Eucharistic theology.[63]

We have seen that when, in the Commentary on the Sentences, St. Thomas writes in the context of the newer or medieval sacramental paradigm, he appears, like the Master of the Sentences, to understand the Church to be final effect, ex opere operato, of the Eucharistic signing, viz., the res tantum.  Obviously, Peter Lombard had not understood this designation to be the dehistoricizing of the Church, nor had St. Thomas in his Commentary.  In both cases, this is the consequence of the influence upon their thought of the “duplex res sacramenti” of the Augustinian-patristic paradigm, in which the Church is understood as the unitas corporis, whose unity includes the Head and the members of the Body in the One Flesh. 

Nonetheless, this holistic viewpoint cannot be as simply maintained within the post-Berengarian medieval paradigm for, in distinguishing between the res et sacramentum and the res tantum as ex opere operato in the former, and ex opere operantis on the latter, the conceptual distinctions provided by the later paradigm’s defense of sacramental realism cannot but entail their theological distinction as well―a distinction which had been irrelevant to the experiential or phenomenological interest of the earlier patristic sacramentum–res sacramenti paradigm, but which had become central to the defense of that realism against its rejection by Berengarius. 

The legitimacy and the necessity of the early medieval analytical distinction between the infallible and the fallible effects of the Eucharistic signing must be accepted―as de Lubac has done, however regretfully.

However, the new defensive paradigm carried with it the danger of the theological, not merely conceptual, dissociation of the Eucharistic res et sacramentum from its anagogic fulfillment, the Kingdom of God, for that fulfillment, included within the anagogical dimension of the patristic res sacramenti, is infallibly given by the One Sacrifice; it does not wait upon our fallible use of our graced freedom to enter into eternal life.  Similarly the res tantum of the medieval paradigm cannot simply be identified with the res sacramenti of the patristic paradigm, for it is a fallible effect, as the patristic res sacramenti emphatically is not.  The final, anagogical effect of the Eucharistic signing, viz., the Kingdom, is efficaciously signed, infallibly―or, in the later idiom, ex opere operato, by the Eucharistic institution of the One Flesh.  The Spirit is fully given in the One Sacrifice, and the terminus of the Trinitarian Missions, the One Flesh, the New Covenant, the good creation in its unsullied plenitude and splendor, is irrevocably achieved.  This is objective, historical fact, whose objectivity and historicity is its infallibly effective Eucharistic signing.  One may not, consequently, suppose the eschatological effect of the Eucharistic signing to be ex opere operantis simply insofar as it is eschatological for, as the eschatological union of the Church with her Lord, it is very clearly an effect ex opere operato.  Similarly, one may not suppose the free effect of the Eucharistic signing, the communicant’s union with the Christ in ecclesia, to be simply eschatological insofar as free, for its freedom is sacramentally caused, and hence is irrevocably historical.

Therefore, unless the Church is herself to be dehistoricized―a dehistoricization that entails the dehistoricization of the Eucharistic worship and a correlative denial of the Eucharistic sacrifice―she must be recognized to be included within the res et sacramentum of the Eucharist as she was understood to be included in the duplex res sacramenti of the pre-medieval Augustinian theology, the res gemina, the One Flesh of the Christ, the Head, and the Church that is his body.  Neither is it possible to dissociate the res tantum sacramenti, as ex opere operantis, from the unqualified historicity of the Church’s worship; that would be to accept the Reform’s subjectiveunderstanding of salvation as by faith alone..

In the Summa Theologiae, St. Thomas thrice deploys the duplex res sacramenti account of the efficacy of the Eucharistic signing, using that expression, or its equivalent, in S. T. iiia, q. 60, a. 3, in q. 73, a. 3, and in q. 80, a. 4, sc: [64]

But to the contrary, in the sacrament of the altar there is a double signified effect, that is to say, the true and the mystical body of Christ, as Augustine says in the Book of the Opinions of Prosper.

S. T. iiia, q. 60, a. 3, sc.  The reference the “Book of the Opinions of  Prosper” (of Aquitaine) is to the latter’s summary of Augustine’s theology in the form of excerpts from his works; see Prosper’s Liber Sententiarum, ser. Corpus Christianorum, series Latina 68a, Prosperi Aquitani Opera, pars 2: Expositio Psalmorum; Liber sententiarum (Brepos: Turnholt, 1972).  The Corpus Christianorum edition  of Prosper’s Liber does not inform us of any text of St. Augustine supporting St. Thomas’ equation of  the duplex res with the  “Corpus Christi verum et mysticum.”  The editors of the Marietti edition (1948) of the Summa Theologiae append here a note (4) directing the reader to the canon Hoc est quod dicimus, de Consecr., dist. 2, and to Lanfranc’s De Corpore et Sanguine Domini, c. 14.

St. Thomas’ reply to the objections raised under this question:

I answer it should be said that in this sacrament there are two things to consider, that is, the sacramental sign, and the effect of the sacramental sign.  It has been said that the effect of the sacramental sign is the unity of the mystical body, without which there can be no salvation.

S. T. iiia, q. 73, a. 3, c.

The clear import of the two quotations supra is St. Thomas’ identification of the duplex res sacramenti with the union of the Corpus Christi verum and the Corpus Christi mysticum, wherein we have seen him speak of the former as “figurative” of the latter: i.e., as signing and thus causing the Church:

I answer that it must be said that in this sacrament, as in the others, that that which is the sacramentum is the sign of that which is the res sacramenti (the effect of the sacramentum).  Moreover the effect of this sign is double, as was said above 5): one effect in fact that is signified and contained, that is to say, Christ himself, and another effect that is signified and not contained, that is, the mystical body of Christ, which is the society of the saints.  Therefore whoever receives this sacrament by that very fact signifies himself to be united to Christ and to be incorporated in his members.  This in fact is done through faith informed (by charity), which no one with mortal sin has.  It is therefore evident that anyone in mortal sin who receives this sacrament commits a falsity in this sacramental signing.  And therefore he incurs sacrilege, as a violator of the sacramental sign. And because of that, he sins mortally.

5. S. T. iiia, Q. 60, a. 3, arg.  Sed contra, q. 73, a. 6.

S. T. iiia, q. 80, a. 4, c.

In the 1948 Marietti edition of the Summa Theologiae here used, a sixth editorial note. appended to the second objection posed to this article, defines “fidem informatum” in the usual sense of salvific faith,: i.e., faith informed by charity, as in contrast to “fides informis,” i.e., faith uninformed by charity, a faith that is not salvific: e.g., the faith proper to fallen angels, who “tremble and believe.”

On the first occasion in the Summa Theologiae in which he uses this Augustinian-patristic sacramental analysis (i.e., sacramentum, res sacramenti), St. Thomas refers explicitly to Augustine as its authority, perhaps because its language was no longer in common use in the latter thirteenth century.  This older understanding of Eucharistic realism is entirely assimilable to the analysis expressed in the later tripartite formula but, as we have seen, it is a different analysis, for it ignores the res tantum sacramenti of the later analysis by having included even the fallible dimension of that reality within the res sacramenti, the unitas corporis, not as though the worshiper’s Communion with the risen Christ were an infallible effect, but rather as a free effect that is concretely or phenomenologically or existentially inseparable from the unitas corporis.  As we have seen, this existential basis for theology is taken for granted in St. Anselm’s famous definition of theology as fides quaerens intellectum.  Theology is there understood, as it was by the Fathers, to be a committed enterprise, arising out of personal participation in the faith of the Church.  So it remains: theology is not “religious studies.”

St. Thomas has already stated the conformity of the later or medieval analysis with the earlier patristic analysis, in his Comm. in IV Sent., and does so again in the Summa Theologiae, Pars Tertia, q. 80, a. 4, c., by distinguishing, within the duplex res, its effect in “quicumque ergo hoc sacramentum sumit;” this effect, intrinsic to the “duplex res,” is then equivalently the personal “effectus huius sacramenti” which he identifies with the res tantum sacramenti of the later, medieval sacramental paradigm.  This free effect (ex opere operantis) of the Eucharistic signing is included within the older, patristic idiom of “duplex res sacramenti” for reasons we have already noted.  Put simply, the worshiper worships in the Church and as worshipping is within her free unity, thus freely inseparable from her.  Equivalently, this union with the risen Christ is effected by the Eucharistic signing: it is, precisely, “effectus huius sacramenti,” a phrase that became problematic when, as in the Sentences, we find “res significata” is replaced by “res contenta.”

The third of the passages cited supra (S. T. iiia, q. 80, a. 4, c.) in which St. Thomas uses the patristic sacramental analysis has been quoted at length in order, in the first place, to make it clear that, for St. Thomas, as for the patristic tradition,[65]Corpus Christi mysticum” and “societas sanctorum” refer to the historical Church, not merely the eschatological Church for, after describing the second element of the duplex res sacramenti as “significata et non contenta, scilicet Corpus Christi mysticum, quod est societas sanctorum,” he goes on to describe the effect of Eucharistic Communion as personal union with Christ and membership in the Church that is his Body, excepting those who receive Communion while in mortal sin, a reception consequently sacrilegious.  Clearly, the Church St. Thomas has here in view is the Church of sinners, the historical Church, participation in whose worship is the subject of the Augustinian phenomenological theology.  It is also the Church as built up, “gathered,” as the Didache has it,[66]  by the distribution of the verum Christi corpus to her members, a distribution whose ecclesial density prompted some of the Fathers to speak rather of the Church as the recipient of the Eucharistic nourishment, than of the individual members of the Church.  This usages witnesses to the unitas corporis mystici earlier noted.  The Church is prior to her members, but not indifferent to them, for their sacramental worship is her historical concreteness, while their personal historicity is actual in their worship, which is always in ecclesia, in sacramento.  It cannot be too often repeated that history is a sacramental reality, a theological category, whose unity is free simply because it is liturgical, and therefore is Eucharistically ordered.  Any other notion of the intrinsic intelligibility of history, such as current theological assertions of a “dialectic’ relation between fallen history and its eschatological realization, reduce that realization to another ineffable monadic resolution of the one and the many

b. Christus totus, Christus integer

In the opening pages of Corpus mysticum, de Lubac cited a number of early patristic sources witnessing to a common understanding that unitas corporis, unitas ecclesiae has its source in the Eucharist, the sacramentum unitatis.[67]  In the same context, he developed variations on theme of “communio sanctorum” as communion at once and equally in “holy things,” and in the “holy people.”  This led him further to develop, in the pages following, the Augustinian assertion of the unity of Eucharistic reception and of incorporation in the Church; the union that Augustine named the “whole Christ,” the Christus totus.[68]  It is curious that in these pages devoted to it, de Lubac should have ignored the one of the clearest statements of this extraordinarily influential Augustinian development of the Pauline nuptial symbolism: Sermo 341.

Within Eucharistic worship, sacramental and ecclesial Communion are quite evidently inseparable: hence the inseparability of the sacramental and the ecclesial bodies of Christ.  However this Communion with the risen Lord by participation in the Eucharistic worship of the Church is not generally understood by the Fathers to be a nuptial union in the full covenantal sense of the One Flesh: i.e., as invoking and expressing the freedom indispensable to both parties of the covenant.  Nonetheless, it is only when the freedom of the Eucharistic Communion with the risen Christ is stressed, and the intrinsic freedom of the Eucharistic community as well, that the communion of the worshiper with the risen Lord, with and in the Church, can be a free and personal participation in the One Flesh of the New Covenant, and thus an expression of the covenantal fidelity necessary to salvation.  It is only thus, as free because sustained by the nuptial order of the Eucharistic liturgy, that his worship can be his imaging of God.

It must be kept always in mind that there is no concrete unity intrinsic to history other than that of the One Flesh, sacramentally instituted―primarily in the Eucharist, and secondarily in marriage.  No alternative to the sacramental objectivity of historical unity has ever been discovered, and even the possibility of such an alternative objective unity in history has recently been foreclosed as barred by rationality itself.[69]  The intellectual quest by the pagan world, East and West, for such an intrinsic unity has been futile, leading only to a flight from history, whether to an historically ineffable ideal unity, or to the coercive imposition of an unity at once irrational and unfree upon a thereby non-covenantal and dehistoricized society.

The only objective unity in history is at once free and sacramental: viz., the Eucharistic representation of that free unity, the One Flesh of the second Adam and the second Eve, instituted by the Christ who, as the Head, the Lord of history and its redeemer, is the single source of the long-sought free unity of the Good Creation lost in the primordial Fall, and restored to the fallen, fleshly, disintegrating world solely by his death and resurrection, his “recapitulation of all things” through the sacrificial institution of the One Flesh.  This is the strict implication of the νακεφαλαισασθαι τ πντα ν τχριστῷ (anakephalaiōsasthai ta panta en tō Xristō) of Eph. 1:10.[70]

In brief, we are created in Christ the Head; we are fallen in the first Adam, but in the second or New Adam we have been recreated by the Gift of the Spirit of freedom, a freedom of the New Covenant whose order can only be nuptial.  To this nuptially-ordered freedom there is no alternative other than the despair that forms, frames, and imprisons the pagan world.  We are delivered from this otherwise universal despair by the revelation of the good creation whose goodness is its free unity, the unity of the Christus totus, the One Flesh, the appropriation of which is solely in sacramento, in ecclesia.

De Lubac’s preliminary references to the Christus totus are hardly clear: the chief referent is always the Church: but often there is evident a confusion in his thought between the free unity of the Church qua tale and the free unity of Christ and the Church in One Flesh or, minimally, a failure to distinguish between them.  Simply as a matter of logic, the nuptial unity of the second Adam and the second Eve cannot be identified with the unity of the Church that their One Flesh nonetheless betokens, for the nuptially-ordered  covenantal unity, the One Flesh of Bridegroom and the bride, is the causal presupposition of the intrinsic free unity of the bridal Church: i.e., the Bride is free only as in nuptial union with her Head, her Bridegroom.  It is this covenantal unity, the nuptial One Flesh of Christ and the Church, that Augustine had designated the Christus totus.  De Lubac recognizes the totus Christus to present, to the Carolingian theologians, a “perspective de totalité et d’unité,” but it is evidently a confused perspective: concerning it, they “scarcely experience any need to seek out formulae or qualifications to distinguish “body” from “body.”  Yet it is only by way of such distinctions that the “totus Christus” is intelligible as a free unity.[71]

Here it must be kept in view that in the first place, from the fifth century onward, the Latin patristic tradition is heavily influenced by the genius of Augustine, whose theological expression of his personal faith, of his personal conversion, is spontaneously phenomenological, in that he is concerned always with the truth, at once veritas and virtus, and the salvific efficacy, of personal experience of and personal participation in the worship in the Church, as that in and by which the dichotomies of our personal fragmentation, of our solidarity with the fall of the first Adam, “simul justus et peccator,” are transcended by our Eucharistic communion in the sancta societas, the nuptial union of Christ and the Church, wherein alone our existential restlessness is objectively resolved in what he has named the unitas corporis Christi, wherein we recognize that our “restlessness” is our fallen solidarity with the first Adam, healed but not removed by the second Adam’s sacrificial institution of the One Flesh, an eminently Pauline insight.

It follows that Augustine’s references to this experience of our integration in the “whole Christ” are not analytic.  He is not interested in the conceptual exposition of the unitas corporis Christi. Because our participation in its freedom cannot but be itself free, that unity is not open to such analysis, which always presupposes the abstract and therefore ideal unity of its object.  Because the concrete unity of personal existence in ecclesia exists only as free, as grace, as free assimilation to the unitas corporis Christi, it is the subject of theology, not its object.  The objective reality of personal communion in the unitas corporis Christi is presupposed rather than questioned.

As de Lubac has famously insisted, the Augustinian theology knows nothing of an ungraced (i.e., “natural”) reality.  Yet that theology knows a constant temptation, to which Augustine in his latter years showed himself not immune, to lapse into the sarkic mentality, whose quest for necessary reasons inevitably disintegrates all free unity by submitting it to the dynamic of fragmentation upon which our fallen reason is inexorably intent, seeking a necessary intelligibility, a rational synthesis of the fragmented universe which it cannot find.  This failing is of course entirely alien to his lifelong quest for the  “ancient beauty, forever new,” the Christ, the intus magister, intimius intimo meo.

The Church considered apart from her sponsal union with the Christ is not the Christus totus..  The Church; as the Bride, cannot be identified either with her Head, the Christ, or with their union in One Flesh. Their One Flesh is their free, nuptial unity, a covenantal unity of two free spouses, not therefore in the literal sense a unity whether of “One Body,” or of “One Person.”

The unity of the Church with Christ, as Head, is a scriptural datum.  Speaking to Paul on the road to Damascus, the risen Jesus the Christ identified himself with that community which, as Head, he had freed to be his bridal body, the Church who, in that freedom, is joined with him in the One Flesh that is the New Covenant, instituted by his One Sacrifice.  Nonetheless, the Fathers and the medieval theologians often read his “headship” in the merely organic terms of I Cor. 12:12ff. and Rom. 12:4ff, in which all the members of the ecclesial body, however disparate their ecclesial offices, have the same basic moral responsibility: i.e., the support of the Church.  At the same time, it is evident that the members cannot be understood to be the cause of the bridal Church, for the free unity, the free, nuptially-ordered Communion that the Church receives as proceeding from her nuptial Head, is the presupposition of the responsible, because free, ecclesial role of each of her members, a role that is in each case nuptially signed, for the covenantal fidelity of each member of the Church is a nuptially-ordered fidelity, a Communion in the Una Caro, the New Covenant, achieved in the offering of the One Sacrifice.  The members of the Church can and should contribute to the unity into which they are baptized, but the cannot cause it; obviously it preexists their baptism and their Communion in her with her Lord.

For example, De Lubac maintains (Corpus mysticum, at 127) that I Cor. 12:12ff. (with Rom. 12:4), rather than I Cor. 10-11, controls the Pauline meaning of “head.”  He believes I Cor. 12 to have been written by Paul “en approfondissement le vieil apologue de la tête et des membres” found in I Cor. 10-11 and in the parallel passage in Rom. 12:4.  In this, he is simply mistaken.

The context controlling the interpretation of I Cor. 10-11 is Paul’s explanation (I Cor. 11:3) of the Trinitarian foundation of the nuptially-ordered Head-Body relation, while the context controlling that of I Cor. 12 is entirely different, for there Paul sets out the responsibilities of each of the variously positioned members of the Church for the well-being of each other and of the whole Body, the Church, whom he has already affirmed, in the just-concluded discussion, to be the Bride, nuptially and therefore personally distinct from the Bridegroom, thus personally distinct from the Head who, as Head, obviously cannot be a member of the Church he heads, for he is the free source of her freedom.

The references to the “head” in I Cor. 12 are entirely metaphorical, as are the references there to the other bodily organs in relation to the head.  The ancillary organs of the body do not protect the Head who is Jesus the Christ: the reverse is true.  In I Cor. 12 and Rom. 12:4, Paul exhorts the members of the Church to recognize the obligations inherent in their covenantal fidelity, a fidelity whose order is nuptial.  Clearly, his exhortation is not addressed to the Christ, whether misunderstood to be a member of his Body, the Church, or to be in Personal identity with her.  It is past discussion that Jesus the Christ cannot be a member of the Church for whom he died or of the bridal Body with whom he is in nuptial union.

De Lubac’s discussion of the patristic tradition lacks clarity on this point.  One the one hand, he rejects the notion that the body of Christ is “from” the body that is the Church; yet he appears to regard the Christ-Church union as quasi-organic: e.g.:

Although, from a certain viewpoint, the Church can be one of the customarily numbered three bodies, she is not however in reality, by relation to the first two, an “other body.”  Thus envisaged, she is only “the other body,” “the remaining body,” that is to say, the remainder of the body, in contrast to the Head.  Were one to envisage her in her totality, that is to say, with her head, then she is herself the Body who, in the last analysis, contains in herself all the body of which on can say that they are of Christ.[72]  (emphasis added).

Thus, following his patristic sources, de Lubac refuses to separate the Church, as though a separate “corpus,” from what he understands to be the quasi-organic union of Christ and the Church in “The Body” for, clearly, here he understands the Church, in union with her Head, to form a “body,” not the covenantally-ordered una caro of their nuptial union.  It is on that basis that de Lubac understands the Church, in union with her head, to comprise in herself all that is “body” in relation to the Head.

While his final conclusion that the Church is “Body” by her relation to her Head is unquestionably correct, it is also insufficient, for her union with Christ the Head as his bridal Body is nuptial and therefore free and covenantal: but the union of Christ with the Church is not in that ecclesial Body, but in the nuptial One Flesh of the New Covenant and not, as de Lubac has it, in “One Body.”  Paul never speaks of that sponsal union as though it were an organism, a physical unity of head and body.  Paul speaks of the Church as a “corpus” only to describe her intrinsically free unity into which her members are baptized: this is that unity which is proper to the Church herself but which is hers only as received from her Head as his Bride.

Thus, her nuptial union with her Spouse is causally prior to and constitutive of her free intrinsic unity, the unity that connotes the moral freedom and moral responsibility of her members.  It is their fallen weakness, not hers, and, à fortiori, not that of her Head, that has prompted the moral exhortation that Paul has written into I Cor. 12 and 13.  That exhortation presupposes the Church’s nuptial relation to and personal distinction from her Spouse, her Head. This we know from I Cor. 11:3, wherein the Father, as Father, is the Head of the Son, and the Christ, as Bridegroom, is the Head of the bridal Church.  In Col. 1:15 Paul affirms the Bridegroom to be the Head of creation as well as of the Church.  The nuptial union of Christ and the Church, which is derived from, depends upon, and images the transcendentally free union of the Father and the Son, is covenantal because it is first nuptial, the free unity of Christ and his bridal Church: in short, it is the New Covenant in his Blood, instituted by the One Sacrifice.  This is the clear teaching 1 Cor. 11 and Eph. 5:21-33.

c. Eucharistic Causality in the Patristic-Monastic Tradition

In the opening paragraph of the first chapter of Corpus mysticum, de Lubac has finely written of the patristic and early medieval witnesses to the unity of Christ and the Church in the Pauline-Augustinian tradition, illustrating the theme by an examination of its signal Latin witnesses.[73]  A bit further on, he summarizes that tradition as follows:

Ainsi le sacramentum panis les conduit tout droit à l’unitas corporis26.  A leurs eux, l’Eucharistie est essentialement, comme elle l’était déja pour Paul et pour les Pères, mysterium unitatis27, elle est sacramentum conjunctionis, federationis, adunationis28.  Elle nous a été donnée “ad unitatem naturae nostrae”29.  N’est-ce pas la verité que nous inculquent plusieurs de ses rites et des termes qui les désignent?  Tel ce nom de “collecte” dont Amalaire nous avertit qu’il a été donné à la première oraison de la messe, “quia populus inchoatur colligare in unum”30.

26 Bède, In Lucam, 1, 6 (P. L., 92, 628 B), d’après Augustin, De consensu evangelistarum, 1, 3, c, 25, n. 72 (34, 1206). Amalaire, De ecclesiasticis officiis (le titre véritabile est: Liber officialis), 1, 3, c. 34 (105, 1153 D).

27 Ildefonse (P. L., 96, 170 B).  Haimon, Homilia 62 (118, 350 A).  Remi d’Auxerre, Expositio missae (c. 40 du Liber de divinis officiis, compilation mise sous le nom d’Alcuin; P. L., 101, 1260 C et D).  Cf. Hilaire, De trinitate, 1, 3, c. 24: “Sacramentum perfectae unitatis” (10, 246 B); Augustin, Epistula 185, n. 50 (33, 815).

28  Eutherius et Beatus, Ad Elipandum (en785) (P. L., 96, 41 D), Amalaire (105, 1131 B), Raban Maur, De clericorum institutione (107,320 B); In Numeros, I.  3: “De nostro populo, qui in sacramentis Christi confederatus est” (108, 744 B).  Hincmar, De cavendis vitiis, c. 10 (125, 924 B, 925 A). Jusqu’au XIIIe siècle inclus, de telles expressions seront courantes; c’est parce qu’elle est sacramentum unitatis, sacramentum communionis, que, aux yeux d’un certain nombre de théologiens, les schismatiques ne pourront avoir l’Eucharistie, se trouvant eux-mêmes hors de l’unité, hors de la communion.  Voir les textes cités par Landgraf dans Scholastik, 1940, pp. 210 et 211.  Cf, infra, conclusion.

29 Paschase Radbert, Liber de corpore et sanguine Domini, c. 10 (P. L., 120, 1305 C).

30 Ainsi le nom “collecte”. Amalaire, Eclogae de officio missa: “Prima oratio… dicitur collecta, quia populus inchoatur colligare in unum” (P. L., 106, 1327 D).  Remi d’Auxerre (101, 1249 D), etc.

De Lubac. Corpus mysticum, at 27.

Following the Institution Narratives in the Synoptics and First Corinthians, the patristic-monastic tradition teaches that the Christ’s One Sacrifice, offered on the cross and on the altar, institutes the New Covenant.  Further, given the universal patristic interpretation of Jn. 19:34 as the fulfillment of Gen. 2:24, there is no doubt of the patristic tradition’s identification of the New Covenant with the One Flesh of Christ and his Church, nor is it questioned that the patristic tradition understands this institution to be the immediate and infallible effect of the One Sacrifice: viz., the institution of the New Covenant is not dependent upon the virtue of its beneficiaries as though it were a grace given ex opere operantis, i.e., as though it were the res tantum sacramenti of the later theological parlance.  The patristic hermeneutic and the monastic lectio divina alike understood the Covenant to be instituted by Jesus the Christ, not by the piety or faith of the members of the Church.  Whatever else may be said of it, the infallible institution of the New Covenant by the One Sacrifice is for the patristic tradition what the medieval theology will call the res et sacramentum of the Eucharist.  As covenantal, this effect cannot but be the free unity, the nuptial One Flesh, of Christ and the Church, as Paul taught in Ephesians 5 and John taught in Jn. 19:34-35.[74]

While de Lubac is explicit that, for this tradition, personal Communion in the Church is at one with the worthy reception of Communion in the sacrificed Body of the Lamb of God, he is also clear that the early writers from Augustine onward did not elaborate a conceptual distinction between the two effects of the Eucharistic signing, viz., the institution of the Covenant and personal participation in the Eucharistic One Flesh, the unitas corporis.[75]  That task was left to those who, centuries later, were called upon to counter the Berengarian heresy.  Out of that controversy arose the doctrinal exposition of the efficacious signing by Eucharistic liturgy, as the comparable exposition of the Trinitarian faith had occurred in consequence of the Arian heresy.  With the Berengarian confusion, it became necessary to distinguish the elements of the sacramentum unitatis, equivalent, as we have seen, to the duplex res sacramenti, the res gemina, without which there is no salvation.

We have remarked that in de Lubac’s view this early medieval clarification entailed both profit and loss.  The profit was the effective safeguarding of the orthodox faith: i.e., of the Church’s worship in truth of the Truth incarnate.  The loss occasioned by that defensive necessity to narrow the range of the Eucharistic interest of the fides quaerens intellectum by focusing it upon the affirmation of the reality of what Berengarius had denied, viz., the objective sacramental immanence of the Eucharistic Lord, was a diminution of interest in and attention to the free unity of the Eucharistic worship that had until then been taken for granted by the Fathers in their multifold elaboration of the allegorical understanding of the Eucharistic mystery which is the object of that historical worship.

De Lubac has stressed that there can be no doubt of the simultaneity, in the minds of these writers, of the Eucharistic Real Presence of Jesus the Christ, at once as the High Priest offering himself, and as the Lamb of God, the Victim offered in his One Sacrifice, with the inseparable sacramental effect of that Offering, the free unity of the Church.  The Real Presence, thus sacrificially understood, and the Church are given together as cause and its immediate and inseparable effect  As we have seen, de Lubac insists that this effect is a “unitas corporis.”  Read literally, however, this a multi-valent term.

First, “unitas corporis,” abstractly considered, can refer to the Eucharistic Lord himself, in whom the unity of his divinity and his humanity is free because proper to, identical to, his free obedience to his historical mission from the Father, the obedience unto death of the Son who images his Father on the cross, precisely by becoming there the Head of a glory, the Church, of whose free unity he, is the source, precisely as her Head.

Secondly, by a comparable abstraction, ”unitas corporis” may refer also to the unity of the Church, the free moral unity intrinsic to the Body, the moral unity Paul treats in I Cor. 12:12 and Rom. 12:4ff.  That intrinsically free community, the bridal Church into whom her members are baptized and thereby gathered into her prior unity with her Lord, is the gift of Christ, the creative work, the historically concrete effect then, of his obedience “unto death, death on the cross,” and of the consequent outpouring from the Father through the Son of the Spirit he has lavished upon the Church, by which Gift she is freely his Bride, the Body whose distinction from him is actual and express in her worship of him as the Head from which she, as his glory, proceeds in the consummation of his One Sacrifice, in immediate free nuptial unity with him.

The patristic and early medieval emphasis upon the union of the Bridegroom and the Bride rather than upon the distinction of the spouses needs no justification: it is their union that is salvific, “the holy society by which we belong to God,”[76] without which, as St. Thomas has insisted, there is no salvation.  This “sancta societas” can only the New Covenant, instituted by the One Sacrifice.  For Augustine, and for the Latin tradition of which he is the major source, the nuptial union of Christ, the Bridegroom, with his bridal Church is not in question: following Paul, St. Augustine had insisted upon it.

Thus, finally, “unitas corporis,” as understood historically and concretely by the patristic and early medieval authors on whom de Lubac relies, refers concretely not to the Church simply, nor simply to the Christ who as Head is the source of her free unity, but to the duplex res sacramenti, the free nuptial unity, the One Flesh, of Christ and the Church, the “holy society” which cannot be identified with Christ, or with the Church, precisely because it is their nuptial union, the “whole Christ” of Augustine’s idiom.  After all, the Church receives her unity from her Spouse: her “unitas  corporis” cannot be other than a nuptial unity.  We have just seen St. Augustine identify this nuptial unity with the Eucharistic food and drink, an indispensable insight, for it provides the irrefutable answer to the meaning of the unitas corporis: it can only be the Eucharistic unity of the One Flesh: the concretely historical nuptial union of the Corpus Christi verum and Corpus Christi mysticum in una caro, the integrating cause of the free unity of the ecclesial body.  It is also clear that this is the Augustinian-patristic duplex res sacramenti, res gemina, the sacramental representation of the full Gift of the Spirit, the One Sacrifice, offered identically, inseparably, upon the cross and upon the altar.  .

D. The passage from patristic and monastic theology to the medieval Eucharistic paradigm: sacramentum tantum, res et sacramentum, res tantum

De Lubac has summarized the apologetic task confronting the early medieval theology in terms of developing a new “concordisme,” here translated as “attempt to harmonize.”[77]

More laborious would be the accomplishment of this new attempt to harmonize by the perfect unification of the last two terms of each series: the caro spiritualis―become meanwhile according to some persons caro mystica―and the corpus-Ecclesia―itself in process of becoming with some others Corpus Christi mysticum.  If the former caro spiritualis, before giving place to a caro materialis, had formerly merged without too much difficulty with the Corpus Christi mysticum of Rhabanus Maurus and Paschasius Radbertus, now it was no longer the same: the new acceptation of caro spiritualis did not coincide so easily with the Corpus Christi mysticum in its new meaning.  Being no longer simply the Eucharist, by that fact the “spiritual flesh” of the Christ was thereby no longer the Church.

The unification was nevertheless attempted.  It was accomplished, not without some fumbling, within the framework of the sacramental theory that distin­guished within the mystery of the Eucharist a triple element: sacramentum-tantum, res-et-sacramentum, res-tantum.  The theory was of Augustinian inspiration, although it did not respond exactly to the habitual language of St. Augustine.1  If its conceptuality, of a rather academic flavor, contrasted vividly with the fluid thought of St. Augustine, it nonetheless permitted—and this was a great advantage—dissipating the equivocation burdening the two expressions, sacramentum and res sacramenti, and of escaping thereby contradictory interpretations, alike untenable, of the texts in which the great Doctor used those terms.

1 For him, the res sacramenti is still most often the res gesta (or gerenda) of which the rite is the memorial (or the heralding symbol, the anticipation).  In the case of the Christian sacrament, it is a matter of that res gesta which is the death and resurrection of the Christ; the daily sacrifice of the Church is the sacrament of that reality that was the sacrifice of Calvary. Cf. De civ. dei 10, c. 20 (P.L. 41, 298); Contra Faustum, 1, 19, c. 13-14 (42, 255); Sermo 22 (38, 1246); Epist. 55, n. 1 (33, 305); Enchiridion c. 42 (33, 253), etc.  However, In Joannem, tract. 26 (35, 1614); Sermo 227 (37, 110), etc.  Cf. Pseudo-Bède, In Joannem; “tanta rei sacramentum” (P.L. 72, 719A); it is the passion that is here in view.  See above, ch. ii.

Corpus mysticum, at 189.[78]

The antecedents of this quest for a “new effort to harmonize” the meaning of “caro spiritualis” with that of “corpus-ecclesia” (Corpus Christi mysticum) should be understood.  In the preceding chapter of his Corpus mysticum, entitled “Caro spiritualis,” Lubac has traced these terms to their source in the patristic discernment, within the res sacramenti, of a distinction between a veritas and a virtus.  However, before proceeding to develop this distinction, he distinguishes the meanings which the patristic tradition has given to corpus and to caro, i.e., to “body,” and to “flesh.”

De tout temps, on l’a vu, caro s’était dit de l’Eucharistie plus spécifiquement que corpus.  La chose se conçoit aisement, puisque corpus avait en outre, depuis saint Paul, un emploi dogmatique de premier plan auquel caro ne pouvait prétendre.1  Il y a, en effet, dans l’acception courante du mot “corps” un idée de totalité à la fois unifée et diversifée qui est essentielle à la conception paulinienne de l’Église.  “Corps”, c’est organisme, c’est échange entre des membres aux fonctions variées et conspirantes, et c’est aussi plénitude.  Les théologiens du XIIIe siècle ne manqueront pas d’observer que, à ne considérer l’Eucharistie qu’en elle-meme, indépendemment de sa signification, il conviendrait davantage de l’appeler caro Christi2.

1 Cependant, Grégoire d’Elvire, Tractratus 9: “Caro Christi, quod est ecclesia” (B. W., p. 99).  Mais si l’Église est dite chair du Christ, c’est plutôt comme son épouse que comme son corps; c’est ce que marque, par example, la formule suivante de Godescalc, De corpore et sanguine domini: “Deus homo, Verbum caro, dat Ecclesiae suae sponsae suae, carni scilicet suae, manducandum carnem suam” (Lambot, p. 335.)

2 Ainsi la Somme d’Alexandre, IVa, qu. 10, m. 4, a. 2. cf. m. 3, a. 3.

Corpus mysticum, 139.

The distinction which de Lubac has here drawn between the Church as body and the Church as bride is doubtless patristic, but it does not conform to Augustine’s language in Sermo 341:11 (endnote 25) where we read:

Verumtamen, fratres, quomodo corpus eius nos sumus, et nobiscum unus Christus?  Ubi invenimus hoc, quia unus Christus est caput et corpus, id est, corpus cum capite suo?  Sponsa cum sponsus sua quasi singulariter loquitur apud Isaiam: certe unus idemque loquitur; et videte quid ait: Velut sponso alligavit mihi mitram, et velut sponsam induit me ornamento (Is. 61, 10).  Ut sponsus et sponsa: eumdem dicit sponsum secundum caput, sponsam secundum corpus (emphasis added).

Nonetheless, here de Lubac has in mind, as with Gottschalk and, much earlier, with Ambrose, the first Adam’s rejoicing in the presence of his bride: “Here is bone of my bones, flesh of my flesh,” conjoined to the Johannine preference, already noted, for speaking of the Eucharistic sacrifice as “caro” rather than “corpus,” as in the Synoptic and Pauline Institution Narratives.  The resultant stress is upon the Eucharistic dependence of the bridal Church upon her Head.  De Lubac then details, with a wealth of citation, the complexus of meanings assigned to “flesh” in the Scripture and in the patristic scriptural commentary, finding that underlying its deprecatory signification―viz., that which cannot possess the kingdom of God―there is a more positive signification, the Eucharistic caro spiritualis, which is not simply the “Real Presence:”

elle insiste avant tous sur la vertu vivifiante de l’Eucharistie, vertu liée en fait à la foi et aux dispositions du communiant.

Corpus mysticum, 141.

The effect of the virtus of the Eucharistic res sacramenti then approximates the later res tantum sacramenti, the free effect which the sacrament has upon the worthy recipient, that which St. Thomas will distinguish as “effectus huius sacramenti.” But this personal reception is never to be privatized: it is a reception in ecclesia and otherwise is impossible.  The patristic tradition well knows and continually stresses, as does de Lubac, that this personal reception of the Eucharist effects the further radication of the communicant with and in the Church.  However, that tradition, as de Lubac presents it, perhaps insufficiently stresses that it is not that further incorporation in the Church that is salvific, but only the simultaneous union of the communicant with the risen Christ in and by the Church’s union in One Flesh with her Lord: to be in ecclesia is to be in Christo: the final goal of Eucharistic worship is the communicant’s integration into the Christus totus, the One Flesh, the New Covenant, the “holy society by which we belong to God.”  It is this dynamism toward further incorporation into the One Flesh that is the virtus of Eucharistic reception: there can be no other.  There is of course an implicit recognition of this fact in the distinction de Lubac here spells out between caro spiritualis, understood as the virtus sacramenti, and caro spiritualis understood as that union to which the virtus is directed: e.g., quoting Paschasius, “Caro carni spiritualiter conviscerata.”  Read in terms of de Lubac’s explanation of the meaning of “caro spiritualis,” the quasi-visceral union, which this clause understands the communicant to seek, is not with the Church, but with the goal of the Eucharistic virtus; this can only be the communicant’s union with the risen Christ in his Kingdom.  It is this union that is the effectus huius sacramenti, viz., communion in the One Flesh of Christ and his bridal Church, the principle and the goal of all Eucharistic communion.  Summarily, this is entry into the “holy society by which we belong to God,” the res sacramenti that is the “whole Christ.”  We have seen de Lubac describe Augustine’s understanding of the res sacramenti as the representation of the Passion simply.  However this is hardly what Augustine affirms in Sermo 341: there the offering of the One Sacrifice terminates in the “One Flesh” union of Christ and the Church: this with explicit reference to Ephesians 5, and thereby to Gen 2:24.  The Fathers will not have failed to apply the “mysterion touto mega” of Eph. 5:32 to the Mysterium of the Eucharistic una caro, given their very clear reading of Jn. 19:34-35 as the fulfillment of the prophecy in Gen 2:24.

However, it then becomes impossible to follow de Lubac’s distinction between the dogmatic weight which Paul and the biblical tradition after him assigned to “corpus,” as opposed to what he thinks to be the relative doctrinal insignificance of Paul’s Eucharistic use of “flesh.”  The relation which the Pauline Gospel places between our fallen and disintegrating “flesh,” and its recapitulation and liberation from ultimate disintegration, i.e., from the “dust” of death, through the sacrificial institution of the New Covenant by the Head, to the free unity of the One Flesh, is of the highest dogmatic significance.  Apart from the salvific correlation of the free unity of the “One Flesh” to the necessary disunity of the fallen “flesh,” the doctrine of Original Sin and Fall is unintelligible.  It is true that the authors whom de Lubac cites in such profusion appear not to have been much intent upon this institution of the New Covenant in set terms, but their universal interpretation of Jn. 19:34 as the fulfillment of Gen 2:24 testifies to their entire familiarity with the significance of Eph. 5:22-33.  It does appear that, for reasons we have indicated, they were baffled by the covenantal freedom of the irrevocable and thereby substantial unity in the One Flesh of Christ and the Church, but this is very far from their having ignored its reality or its importance.

The change in language which de Lubac has instanced responds to the perception of a change in the task of theology.  Throughout the patristic and monastic periods, theology had been a free and untroubled meditative exploration of the inexhaustible mystery mediated by the Eucharistic liturgical tradition in which the Old and the New Testaments as integrated int the single object of contemplation, the Mysterium fidei.  With the Berengarian revolt, the task of theology became one of apologetics: the defense of the Eucharistic community, of the Church, whose enemy was discovered to be within the gates.  The new language is also indispensable to the resolution of the novel threat to the unity of the whole Christ which, two centuries earlier had been thought, mistakenly, to be threatened by Amalarius’ account of the Pauline uses of “body of Christ.”

Amalarius, without objection from his critics, had assimilated the nuptial unity of the Una Caro to the physical unity of the corpus Christi; he took for granted the inclusion of Christ the Head within the supposedly organic unity of the ecclesial body, as had many of the Fathers, as did the Carolingians of his time, as has the theological tradition generally apart from Augustine.  Amalarius thereby suppressed the freedom of the nuptial unity of head and body, of Christ and the Church.  Because the One Flesh was thus read as “one body,” the unitas corporis, which Amalarius well understood to transcend all distinction within the “triforme corpus Christi,” was inexplicable within the context of the “three bodies,” regardless of whether one agrees with Amalarius over his notion of a triforme corpus Christi or with a critic of it such as Paschasius.[79]

The result was a gradual dropping of the third “body,” and a simplification of the remaining two: the first as identified with the historical Jesus, the second with the sacramental Christ, the Corpus Christi verum of the One Sacrifice, a merger that entailed also dropping Jerome’s references to the pejorative sense of “flesh,”[80] for the two “bodies” whose isolation from the third, the ecclesial body, de Lubac thinks to have begun with Paschasius, had presented a problem of harmonization complicating the primary problem of the unity intended by unitas corporis.  Jerome stressed the two opposed significations of “flesh:” i.e., that which cannot enter the Kingdom of Heaven, as against that flesh in which Jesus is incarnate, to our salvation.  Despite their evident differences over the meaning of “flesh,” at least in emphasis, de Lubac had earlier attributed to Augustine and Jerome a single point of view, a harmonized usage of “flesh,” which found expression in a distinction between the Eucharistic “caro spiritualis,” and “caro carnalis,” the latter in the unqualified sense of sarx in its pejorative Pauline usage, as designating the fallen condition of man in his world.  However, this harmonization gave way, under the influence of St. Ambrose, to a simple non-pejorative application, hardly Jerome’s, of “caro spiritualis” to the historical Jesus, understood at once as historical, as risen, and as Eucharistically represented.  Long before Paschasius, Jerome’s two ways of speaking of the “flesh” had been assimilated to the two ways in which Augustine spoke of “corpus,” i.e., as historical and visible on the one hand and as sacramentally represented on the other.

From this intermediate “concordisme” the need arose for yet another harmonization: i.e., between Ambrose’s notion of the risen and history-transcending Christ, and Augustine’s quite different view of Christ’s risen corporeality.  Augustine considered “body” to designate visibility and localization; thus he understood “body” to connote empirical availability as a matter of definition, whether it be historical or risen, with the immediate implication of the empirical absence of the Risen Christ from fallen history by the fact of his Resurrection: as risen, he is empirically available, i.e., visible, concretely located, only in heaven, seated at the Father’s right hand.  Thus is to be explained Augustine’s stress on understanding the Eucharistic reality “spiritualiter.”  As we shall see, he considers the alternative―“corporaliter”―to import a naïve, quasi-Capharnaitic conception of the Eucharistic presence of the risen Christ.

De Lubac thinks Augustine’s consequent difficulties with the Eucharistic Real Presence to have led him to a “symbolisme ecclesiastique,” citing in support of this conclusion a passage wherein Augustine interprets the evangelical promise of the Christ to remain with his disciples until the end of the world as fulfilled in the historical Church, with which our Lord had identified himself to Paul.[81]

We have seen that this literal identification of Christ with the historical Church is common in Augustine’s works.  When properly understood as a substantial identity, that of the One Flesh, it raises no problem, quite as the substantial identity, the homoousion, of Father, Son, and Holy Spirit raises no problem.  The definition, in the Formula of Union and the Symbol of-Chalcedon, of the consubstantiality of the One and the same Son with us―“consubstantialem nobis”―is, inter alia, the definition of his consubstantiality with his bridal Body.  The patristic stress on the final effect of the Eucharistic causality is summed up by Peter Lombard as the “Res autem significata et non contenta,” i.e., the ”unitas Ecclesiae in praedestinatis, vocatis, justificatis, et glorificatis.”  This ecclesial plenitude is not given in fallen history, but it cannot be dissociated from its historical cause, the One Flesh instituted by the One Sacrifice.

Were Augustine’s commonplace assertions of the identity of Christ with his Church read literally as a personal identity, ignoring the clear distinction Augustine makes between the Head, the Body, and their unity in One Flesh, they would of course undercut the Augustine’s stress on the nuptial union of Christ and the Church, for thereby that free and covenantal union would become simply nominal, lacking historical concreteness or significance.  It would be regarded as eschatological merely, lacking all historical ground: of it nothing beyond identity could be said.  This would force a reversion to a Calvinist “dialectic,” which supposes a polar tension\ between a totally corrupt historical condition of human fragmentation, and its eschatological redemption.  Thus understood, the tension is insurmountable in history because without objective historical foundation and resolution.  Consequent­ly, it can be understood to be resolved only in the eschaton by the divine potentia absoluta: i.e., by “forensic grace,’ which is to say, resolved juridically, by a divine command lacking all intrinsic intelligibility, a mere “decree.”  The “dialectic” postulated lacks historical ground as a matter of definition.  It is therefore an ideal construct, an ens rationis, of no theological interest.

Karl Rahner, who also denies the historical mediation of divine grace, has consequently understood the union of divinity and humanity in Jesus as a comparably nonhistorical “dialectical analogy” rather than as the Personal unity defined at Chalcedon; John Zizioulas’ interpretation of the relation of Christ to the Church as similarly “dialectical” rests upon the same dehistoricization, i.e., desacramentalization, of the liturgical tradition.  Thereby the nuptial symbolism that specifies the Catholic tradition of the Sacrifice of the Mass, the One Flesh of Christ and the Church, is undone, the union of  Christ and the Church in their nuptial One Flesh having been denied or precluded, it must follow that their union is eschatological only.  However, the sacramental nexus between the historical and the eschatological having been denied, nothing historical can be said of the eschaton: its ineffability forbids that it even be affirmed.  The inevitability of this consequence has been worked out by the nonhistorical pagan religious traditions entirely too often and too unanimously to be  overcome by any fancied dialectic.

Zizioulas’ rejection of the historically objective Eucharistic representation of the One Sacrifice places him, as it places Rahner, in the Protestant tradition, close to Calvinism.  The Christ-Church dialectic with which Zizioulas would replace nuptial symbolism resembles Rahner’s “dialectical analogy,” precisely in having no historical―i.e., sacramentally objective―ground, for both “dialectics” deny their sole possible historical basis, the sacramental reality of the Event of the institution of the New Covenant, the Eucharistic representation of the One Sacrifice.  Their reliance on a nonhistorical dialectic therefore rejects the instrinsic intelligibility of history, and proceeds to the dehistoricization of the liturgical tradition.  It must follow, as the Reform has discovered, that faith in the product of that despair of history, that flight from history, lacks all historical content and referent. Rahner’s inability to find a historical foundation for subjective self-aware­ness in the Trinitarian Persons (Trinity, at 19 et passim) relies upon the same anti-sacramental postulate: the unity of the “one flesh” is metaphorical, not metaphysical; thus the nuptial imaging of God cannot possess theological significance.  Zizioulas’ refusal of the significance of the economic revelation of the Trinity is of the same genre.

Augustine very clearly did not accept a dehistoricization of the Eucharistic celebration of the One Sacrifice.  Reliance upon the nuptial unity of the Christus totus is a constant in his theology, as we have seen and shall see.  It is further evident that, at his every celebration of the Mass, Augustine repeated the Words of Institution: “This is my body, which is given for you.”  Although as de Lubac points out, some of his followers diluted their Eucharistic realism in reliance upon Augustine’s exegesis of Jn. 6:53-56 as referring to the ecclesial body, Augustine can hardly be supposed to have confused the bridal Church, whom he knew always to be in union with her Head, with the sacrificed body that is “given for you,” nor is he likely to have supposed the historical Church, fed and sustained by the Bread of Life, to be self-sufficient.  Augustine certainly insisted upon a rigorous interpretation of the unity of the One Flesh, but he knew it to be a nuptial unity, the fulfillment of Gen. 2:24, wherein the first Adam celebrates the free complementarity of the woman taken from his side; it is only after their fall that he deprecates her presence. 

In Augustine’s time, there was no philosophical language by which this free nuptial unity might be expressed and, while Augustine failed to recognize the application to the Bridegroom and Bride in their One Flesh of his hard-won understanding of the interrelation of the Persons of the Trinity, it would go far beyond his mind to suppose the “una Persona” by which he described that union to be the reduction of the Bride to the Self of the Bridegroom, or the personal nullification of the Mother of God by her “Fiat,” or of the second Eve, by her Sacrifice of Praise.  Augustine makes this too evident for controversy:

18. Haec ex persona sui corporis Christus dicit, quod est Ecclesia. Haec ex persona dicit infirmitatis carnis peccati, quam transfiguravit in eam quam sumpsit ex Virgine, similitudinem carnis peccati. Haec Sponsus ex persona sponsae loquitur, quia univit eam sibi quodam modo.

Epistula 140, c. 18 (P.L. 33:0545; emphasis added).

The “univit eam sibi quodam modo” of this quotation points up Augustine’s puzzlement over the further characterization of this union of the Sponsus and sponsa in One Flesh; no word appeared adequate to it.  None can be, until the union is recognized to be on the level of substance: the One Flesh of the second Adam and the second Eve is the substantial trinitarian Image of the Triune God.  It had not occurred to Augustine, as it had occurred to no philosopher or theologian before him, that the human substance could be freely unified as nuptial or, more generally, that reality could be at once substantial and free.  This insight waited upon the conversion of the classic cosmological metaphysics to the historical truth of Christian revelation which began at Nicaea and reached its final statement at Chalcedon.

Therefore, here once more we encounter the hermeneutical obstacle to theology perennially posed by the common patristic failure to appreciate either the substantiality or the freedom of the sponsal unity of Christ and the Church, of the Head and the Body.  The consequence was the implicit Christomonism consequent upon the patristic interpretation of their nuptial One Flesh as the unity of a body or of a person.  As a result, and despite the emphasis which Augustine, following Eph. 5, placed on nuptial union of Christ and the Church, and the consequent personal distinction and polarity between them as Bridegroom and Bride, his rhetoric made it all too easy simply to identify Christ with the Church and the Church with Christ. 

As earlier noted, Batiffol has pointed to the confusion caused by this reduction of Augustine’s Christus totus to a Christomonism on the one hand, or on the other, to a “symbolisme ecclésiastique,” as de Lubac has named it, insofar as it may be thought to rest upon Augustine’s insistence that the risen and still visible body of Jesus must be located in Heaven and consequently not on earth.  De Lubac has acknowledged the equation of “corporeal” and ‘visible’ in the Fathers dependent upon Augustine;[82] Batiffol has pointed to an excerpt from the doctrine of the Council of Trent as the dogmatic resolution of this “confusion.”

Le Sauveur ne laisse pas d’être à la droite du Père dan le ciel  « iuxta modum existendi naturalem » pendant quíl est « multis aliis in locis sacramentaliter praesens sua substantia », mode d’existence que nous concevons que Dieu peut réaliser, mais que nous pouvons à peine exprimer, « existendi ratione, quam etsi verbis exprimere vix possumus, possibilem tamen esse Deo cogitatione per fidem illustrata assequi possumus » (DS *1636; †874).[83]

Batiffol attributes this language to the cited chapter of the Council of Trent: in full, Cap. 1. "De reali praesentia d. n. i. Christi in ss. Eucharistiae sacramento," of which it is an accurate French translation, interrupted by two verbatim Latin excerpts from the Conciliar text.  Unfortunately, Batiffol badly confused the translation by referring it, via endnote 83, to page 447 of his Études d'Histoire II, L’Eucharistie.  It does not appear there or elsewhere in Volume II of the tenth and final edition of Études d'Histoire.  The confusion would have been avoided had Batiffol simply presented the Latin text of the Conciliar chapter, followed by its French translation.  It is likely that, a most careful scholar, he had intended to do so, but simply forgot.  If so, it was a protracted forgetting, for page 447 in the posthumously published tenth edition (1930), duplicates the text of the seventh edition, published in 1920.  No damage was done; the confusion is of minor moment, dwelt on here to fend off its troubling the prospective reader of this work

 There appears no reason to believe that Augustine thought otherwise than did the Tridentine authors of Cap. 1. "De reali praesentia d. n. i. Christi in ss. Eucharistiae sacramento,"  However, Protestant scholars contemporary with Batiffol (Gore, Schweitzer,Pusey, Harnack, Loofs),  held firmly to the rather odd notion that his injunction, spiritualiter intelligete, is an appeal to justification sola fide, rather than to the meta-empirical but objectively historical Eucharistic immanence of the risen Lord.  Such a symbolist reading of that tag must fly in the face of very clear evidence of that which Camelot’s study of Augustine’s Eucharistic doctrine has named “son réalisme vigoureux”.

Ambrose, inspired by Greek theology, and familiar with the Greek metaphysical tradition affirming the transcendence of the ideal over the historical order of reality, easily understood Christ’s humanity to be thus transfigured by the Resurrection as to remove all its carnal subordination to the dimensions of fallen space and time: Augustine’s association of “location” with corporeality does not entail the subordination of the risen Christ to fallen space and time which Ambrose had rejected.  Augustine’s supposition that the risen Christ is be seated at the right hand of the Father does not place him at some measurable distance from the here and now of the fallen world. The entire compatibility of the “corporeal” Jesus with his Eucharistic historicity is stated by Augustine in a single compelling sentence:

Ferebatur enim, Christus in manibus suis quando commendans ipsum corpus suum, ait: Hoc est corpus meum

Enarr. In Ps. 33, s. 1, 10; (P. L. 35: 3906); Moriones, 592).

Thus, as with Ambrose’s Eucharistic realism, Augustine’s literal identification of the consecrated species with the Christ’s body and the blood, was untroubled by his attribution of locality to the risen Christ.  The localization of Christ in space and time before his Resurrection pertained to his kenōsis, his having “become flesh” but, Jerome knew that by his Resurrection, Jesus ceased to be “flesh” in the sense of subjection to the conditions of fallen materiality.  Rather, he became a life-giving Spirit, without ceasing to be fully human, possessing a transfigured but still concretely physical humanity: it is thus, as Eucharistically immanent in fallen history, that he is the Lord of history, its Beginning and its End, not as subject to its fallenness, but as redeeming it by his recapitulation of it, his restoration of its free unity and free significance, in sacramento, in ecclesia, in Christo.

The Carolingian theologians were incapable of the rational harmonization of these literally conflicting views of the presence of Christ in the Eucharist.  The absence of the visible body of the risen Jesus from history appeared to exclude his objective Eucharistic immanence in history.  There is ample evidence that Augustine’s understanding of corporeality as empirical per se, and his consequent conviction of the equally empirical localization of Jesus before and after the Resurrection, was read as in tension with his unquestioned Eucharistic realism.  This felt tension rested upon inadequate hermeneutical foundation available to the Carolingian theologians whose naïve entry into speculative theological inquiry was guided only by the Aristotelian logic passed on by Boethius, with the consequent tendency to revert to the binary Eleatic logic which we have examined in Vol. II, Ch. 6 of the present study.  The Carolingians’ inevitably literalist reading of Augustine’s phenomenological language could not discover the free coherence of dialectically-poised polarities of his Eucharistic doctrine.  Thus his injunction, “spiritualiter intelligete” was read by Ratramnus as requiring so sharp a distinction between the Eucharistic signum and signatum as effectively to preclude their historical interrelation as cause and effect.

We will return to this issue further on: it enough here to recall that whenever Augustine found his Platonism becoming an obstacle to his Catholicism, he kept the faith and dropped the Platonism.[84]  In any case, this tension did not lead the Fathers after him to a liturgical impasse: rather, they met a felt need to harmonize the unquestioned authority of Augustine, Jerome, Ambrose, and Hesychius by a return to the older terminology which had named as “spiritual” the mysterious reality of the Eucharist, whether viewed as food, as sacrifice, as presence, or as the object of faith.  This traditional usage corresponded at once to the “spiritualiter intelligete” of Augustine, and to Jerome’s stress upon the distinction between the flesh of Christ by whose sacrifice we are redeemed, as opposed to that unredeemed flesh which, as such, cannot enter the Kingdom of Heaven, while in the language of Ambrose and Hesychius, “spiritual,” in the sense of “mysticus,” presented no difficulty for, in this harmonization, “spirituale” was understood to be equivalent to supernatural, mystical, miraculous; thus corpus spirituale corresponded both to the “veritas” or historicity, and to the “virtus,” the eschatological efficacy, of the Eucharistic mystery.  The subjects of this attribution of “spiritual” thus included the historical Event of the Eucharistic offering in the Person of the High Priest, of his One Sacrifice of his Body and his Blood, whose historically objective Real Presence is effected in the transubstantiation of the Church’s offering by the Words of Institution.  This mysterious change of the reality of the bread and wine of the Offertory to the Corpus Christi verum of the Christ was also named “spiritualis.”  The “corpus spirituale” of the Eucharistic Lord was, as “spirituale,” beyond the range of our sense knowledge, but was the concretely objective presence of the “corpus Christi” for all that.

It should be noticed that while “veritas” and “virtus” here refer to the historicity and the efficacy of the One Sacrifice, the Words of Institution are understood narrowly to be focused upon Real Presence of the Corpus Christi verum, the corpus spirituale.  This is not yet their dehistoricization, but that is clearly latent.

At the same time, however, as de Lubac has emphasized, the acceptance of “corpus spirituale” as a designation of the Eucharistic Christ included an equally universal rejection of any labeling of the Eucharistic presence of the Lord as “corporalis” or “corporaliter;” similarly, while the consecrated host is “caro,” it is not “carnalis:” that terminology is reserved for objects of sensible knowledge and does not bear on the Eucharistic reality, the body of the One Sacrifice.[85]

Supposing with de Lubac that -

Being no longer simply the Eucharist, by that fact the “spiritual flesh” of the Christ was thereby no longer the Church―the caro spiritualis must find its referent somewhere between the sacramental reality of the body that is the Church and the sacramental efficacy of the Eucharist, the union of the communicant with his risen Lord.[86]

Within the patristic sacramentum-res sacramenti paradigm, this posed no problem, for that union was simply in ecclesia; it benefited the Church as well as the communicant, inseparably.  However, within the newer paradigm forced by the Berengarian challenge to Eucharistic realism, the caro spiritualis became the res tantum sacramenti and thus an effect conceptually dissociable from the Church, as it had not been when understood, in terms of the older Eucharistic paradigm, to be a virtus within the res sacramenti.  At the same time, it became possible under the newer paradigm to find in the new usage of “spiritual flesh” simply the familiar “caro una” and thus refer it to the Eucharistic institution of  the nuptial union of Christ and the Church in the “One Flesh,” the “great mystery” of Eph. 5:32.[87]  This agrees well with the familiar and traditional language of “duplex res sacramenti” and “res gemina.”[88]  However, as we have seen in the excerpt supra, de Lubac’s description of the Augustinian res sacramenti as the sacramental representation of the salvific res gesta, the sacrifice of Jesus the Christ on Calvary, does not explicitly include the institution of the New Covenant: i.e., of the One Flesh, by which institution the res gesta of the cross is, precisely, salvific.  As earlier remarked, it is difficult to accommodate to the language of Sermo 341, quoted above, a narrowly literal reading of de Lubac’s description of Augustine’s understanding of the sacramental significance of the Eucharistic sacrifice, for Augustine surely recognized that the One Sacrifice causes the One Flesh, the Whole Christ, in whose Name the risen Lord spoke to Paul on the road to Damascus (Acts 9:4-5; cf. Acts 22:8, 26;15).

However, this failure to recognize, in the Eucharistic institution of the New Covenant on the cross and on the altar, the nuptially-ordered freedom intrinsic to and inseparable from the One Flesh of Christ and the Church which constitutes it, became the commonplace of patristic, monastic and medieval theology.  The cause of this inadvertence appears to be a still-insufficiently converted cosmological imagination, specified by the metaphysical monism alluded to at the beginning of this Appendix and, also, by a certain quasi-Platonic fastidiousness over the sacramentality of the nuptial union: e.g., for St. Thomas, marriage is the least spiritual of the sacraments, because the most physical.[89]  Under such auspices, it became difficult to recognize in the marital “one flesh” the Magnum Mysterium of Eph. 5:32.

Those Carolingian theologians who, with Paschasius, rejected Amalarius’ explanation of the “triforme corpus” which the latter supposed to be symbolized in the Mass by the fractio panis, were still faced with the problem of giving theological expression to the unity of the Body, the Church whose celebration of her Lord’s One Sacrifice is her reality; they consequently failed to understand the intrinsic freedom that is the gift of Christ to his bridal Church as her Bridegroom.  The Bridegroom and the bride are clearly distinct, and yet their unity is the immediate, concrete and historical effect, the single and unique Mysterium fidei, of the Eucharistic sacrifice.  “Dialectical’ solutions do not serve the need for this historical unity, a unity corresponding to the historicity of the Eucharistic worship.  For this, only the free, covenantal and sacramental unity of the Eucharistic One Flesh suffices, and does so only when this is specifically understood to be the res et sacramentum of the Eucharist, the New Covenant instituted by the One Sacrifice. As Paschasius taught:

And thus witnessed the holy Cyprian, that neither should there be water in the chalice without the blood, nor the blood without the water, because by the water is signified the people washed by the water of baptism, and by the blood of Christ (is signified) that by which he redeemed us: and by this it is understood that Christ and the Church form one body.  Thus neither is Christ without the Church the pontifex in eternity, nor is the Church without Christ offered to God the Father.  These indeed are mysteries in which the truth of the flesh and the blood is not of anyone other than the Christ, but in mystery and in figure.[90]

De Lubac notes that union of head and the body is in “one flesh,” while the union of members is in “one body.”  Referring to these expressions as “métaphores pauliniennes,” he observes:

Nevertheless, the two Pauline metaphors of the union of Christ and the Church in one flesh, and of the union of the members of the Christ in one body, did not coincide.[91]

This quandary, arising out of a supposed failure of synthetic unity in Paul’s thought, troubled de Lubac’s theology thenceforth.  It is not clear that he ever discovered its resolution to lie in the distinction between the irreducibly distinct yet entirely reconciled meanings which Paul assigned on the one hand to the covenantal-nuptial unity of the “one flesh,” emphasized in I Cor. 6, 7 and 11, and given a final expression Ephesians 5, and, on the other, that which he assigned to the consequently free unity of the members of the “body” emphasized in I Cor. 12-13 and in Rom. 12:4, viz., the bridal Church of whom Christ is the Head because he is her Spouse, in covenantal-nuptial union with her.  The Church as “body” is clearly not the “one flesh” of her free, covenantal union with her Lord, although we have just seen Paschasius’ confusion on this same point.  It is in this nuptial union with her Lord that the Church is his bride, his body, his glory, for she proceeds from him as from her Head; by that procession she is immaculate, and by that freedom from all taint of sin she is free to be one flesh with him.  De Lubac finds a resolution, indeed, but as achieved in the medieval res tantum sacramenti:

But with Peter Lombard, who follows soon after Peter of Troyes, all division is brusquely suppressed.  The effect of the mystery appeared to be single, the virtus is identified with the res.  As had everyone, Peter Lombard juxtaposed the two symbolisms of the species: nourishment of the interior man, the effecting of ecclesial unity.  But, in the unity of the members of the Church gathered in one body, or in the unitas fidelium, he did not hesitate to see the mystica caro Christi in which consists the final effect or reality of the sacrament.  Res-et-non-sacramentum, mystica ejus caro.  The terminology is thus unified.  Mystica caro and Corpus Christi mysticum come to be interchangeable.  The first expression will efficaciously break the way to the second. [92]

We have seen that this identification of the Corpus Christi mysticum with the res tantum et non sacramentum (res tantum), affirmed by St. Thomas as well as by Peter Lombard, can be read to reduce the Church to a fallible effect of the Eucharistic signing.  We have also indicated that it need not be so read, and should not be, whether with respect to Peter Lombard or to St. Thomas.  The Eucharistic res sacramenti reaches its full effect eschatologically, but does so only in consequence of the infallible efficacy of the Eucharistic signing, the achievement in history of the res sacramenti, the Eucharistic union in One Flesh of Christ and the Church, is historical and, as historical, is anagogical, simply because it is sacramental: a concretely historical sign effectively signifying its effect, whose fullness can only be eschatological, but which is linked to its sacramental signing as effect is linked to cause.

This causal sequence inseparably links the Church of the eschaton to the Church of our fallen history: the unitas ecclesiae is sacramentally objective in history, and only thereby has a history-transcending anagogical significance and efficacy, that of her eschatological union with the risen Lord―the union by participation in which all personal union with the Lord is given.  This is only to insist that, in the later medieval idiom, the res tantum is the effect of the res et sacramentum or, in the earlier patristic idiom, that in the res sacramenti of the Eucharist, all union with the risen Lord is in ecclesiae: only thereby is our personal union with the risen Christ possible.  The theological analysis of the freedom of personal union with Christ should not be allowed to mask the sacramental historicity of that union, as too often occurs, when the res tantum is denied historicity simply because it is not itself a sign: the res tantum is always the effect of the historical res et sacramentum, and so is itself ineluctably historical, even as anagogically fulfilled.

1. Amalarius’ triforme corpus Christi

By the end of the patristic age and the emergence, with the Carolingians, of the monastic theology anticipating the early medieval period, the theological usage of “corpus” had become ambiguous if not equivocal.

Augustine’s phenomenological approach to Eucharistic theology, reinforced by his supposition that the risen Christ is sensibly or empirically “located” in heaven and ‘not here,’ led to his placing a distinction between the consecrated species and the risen Christ summed up in his “spiritualiter intelligete”; Ambrose, on the contrary, understood the transcendence of the risen Christ to be entirely compatible with the literal identification of the consecrated species with the risen Lord.  This emphasis upon the literal truth of the Words of Institution, “This is my body,” “This is my blood,” could not but appeal to a liturgist such as Amalarius, whose “three bodies” language was predicated upon the literal identity of the consecrated species with the risen Christ.  Hence his puzzlement over the “fractio panis” during the Communion rite of the Mass, wherein the host was broken into three pieces, one to be placed in the chalice, one to be consumed by the celebrant, and one to be preserved for later distribution to the sick.  However, the influence of Ambrose upon liturgists, by way of his De mysteriis and De sacramentis, was matched by the influence of Augustine among the theologians; he had been the dominant theological authority during the patristic period, and remained so during the ninth century, and down to the latter half of the thirteenth.  It is not surprising that ninth-century theologians such as Florus and Paschasius should find Amalarius’ literalism not to their taste.

Amalarius’ study of the Pauline use of “body” had found expression in his analysis of the “fractio panis” into what he described as the “triforme corpus Christi.[93] An approximate translation of the crucial passage reads as follows:

The body of Christ, that is, of those who have tasted death and whose who will die, is “triforme”: viz.; the first (“form” of that body) is the holy and immaculate body assumed of the virgin Mary; the second is the body which walks on the earth; the third is that which lies in the tomb.  By the offered particle which is immersed in the chalice is shown the body of Christ who is risen from the dead; (by the particle) eaten by the priest or the people (is shown) that body which still walks on the earth; (that part) left on the altar shows the body which is lying in the tomb (see endnote 93 for Amalarius’ Latin text.)

De Lubac summarizes the history of Florus’ attack upon Amalarius’ text:

In this text, Florus thought to have discovered the heel of Achilles.  He focused upon it with a persistent fury and he achieved his end.  Already in 835 he had written to the bishops assembled at Thionville denouncing the allegorism of Amalarius.13 That effort does not appear then to have produced any effect.  However in September, 838, at the Council of Quierzy, following upon a fiery indictment, he had obtained the condemnation of the corpus triforme.14  Nonetheless, despite his’ indignation, despite the sentence at Quierzy, despite the successful intervention in the quarrel by Agobard personally, and then by his second successor at the See of Lyon, Remi,15 the authority of Amalarius was never seriously weakened, due at once to the scientific value of his work and to the taste of that epoch for symbolism.  The victory of the purism of Lyon was without a future.  The corpus triforme would know a long success.―However, as often happens in such cases, while the formula continued to be repeated, little by little its meaning was changed.  It might be interesting to follow these vicissitudes: first to determine the original sense of the expression, that which Amalarius himself attached to it.  It has had for several the effect of a hieroglyphic, and not all the historians who have occupied themselves with it have understood it alike.

13 He concluded: “Claudendus est plane juxta legis praeceptum bos cornipeda et os eius sempiterni freno silentii constringendum, imo… divinarum sententiarum lapidibus obruendus!”  (.P. L. 119, 76 b-C).  “According to the clear precept of the law (of the council) the hoofed ox is to be lamed and his mouth eternally constrained by a bridle of silence, indeed by divine sentence he should be overwhelmed with stones!”

14 M.G.H., Concilia, t. II, pp. 768-778.  This is the beginning of the discourse that forms, in P. L. 119, the Adversus Amalarium III (col. 94-96).  No source is known for the decision of the council apart from Florus’ recital of it (M.G.H. ibid., pp. 778-782); this is the first part of the Adversus Amalarius II in P. L. 119, 80-85.  One is justified in thinking that his objectivity is much more perfect than that upon which he prided himself in his discourse.  Cf. 82C: “Deliberatum est doctrinum hanc esse omnino damnabilem, et ab omnibus catholicae fidei cultoribus funditus respuendam.”  I.e., “It was decided that this doctrine is entirely damnable, and is fundamentally to be rejected (literally, vomited or spit out from the depths of one’s being) by all who hold to the Catholic faith.”

15 Liber de tribus epistolis, c. 40 (P. L., 121, 1054).  This treatise may well be by Florus, who survived Amalarius and never disarmed.

Corpus mysticum, at 299ff.  Tr. by present writer underlined.

De Lubac then proceeds, in the chapter following this passage, to outline the prevailing and mutually exclusive interpretations of Amalarius’ text, the first of which understands the second and third “parts” of the “triforme corpus” to be concerned for the Real Presence, and the second, his own preference, which reads them as referring to the ecclesial Body.  De Lubac’s defense of the latter interpretation does not mask the union, in Amalarius’ one “triforme corpus,” of the risen Christ and the Church, a union that is in fact the One Flesh instituted on the cross.  However, neither does de Lubac’s interpretation recognize the free unity of the union of Christ and the Church.  Like Amalarius, he speaks rather of the physical unity of a “corpus,” albeit “triforme.”  This is not the free unity, the nuptial One Flesh, of Augustine’s Christus totus.

Contemporary scholarly interpretations of the “triforme corpus” were thus divided between those which refer the second term to the body that is the Church, and those which refer it to the sacrificed and risen body of Christ, which hung upon the cross.[94]  De Lubac has chosen the first option: he believes that Amalarius posed his statements in the context of the Pauline usage of the “body of Christ.”  In that idiom, “body,“ when used without qualification, means the bridal body of Christ, the Church.  Thus, in de Lubac’s interpretation, Amalarius identified the first of the “triforme” aspects of the “body of Christ” with the risen body of Christ, which he had taken from the Virgin Mary. i.e., the “body” which hung on the cross and is now raised to the right hand of the Father.  The two remaining parts of the fractured host signify, respectively, “forms” of the unqualified or ecclesial body: i.e., the Church “militant” on earth, and the Church of the dead, irrespective of whether in purgatory or in heaven.[95]

De Lubac’s interpretation of Amalarius’ “triforme corpus Christi” is entirely consistent with its identification with the One Flesh of the New Covenant.  In fact, it requires that identification, for the covenantal distinction between Christ and the Church in the freedom of their nuptial union is not otherwise maintained.  Here again we encounter the patristic difficulty of accounting for the free unity of that nuptial union―which was recognized by the unanimous patristic exegesis of Jn. 19:34― in terms which would not by implication deny its freedom, a denial that would undercut the New Covenant itself.  The still-cosmological imagination of the Fathers could articulate only a monadic image of substantial unity: thus, the reduction of free, historical unity either to organic or to personal unity and, by implication, of freedom to necessity―an implication liturgically and therefore metaphysically unacceptable to them.

This is the only possible resolution of the theological problem raised for the Carolingians by the distinctions Amalarius made: that is, it would affirm what Florus and his sympathizers heard Amalarius’ “triforme corpus Chris ti” to have been denied, the unity of the unitas corporis, a unity that can only be the One Flesh of Christ and the Church.  In this free and nuptially-ordered unity, (1) the verum corpus Christi, the sacrificed and risen body of Jesus the Christ, the Head, is in nuptial union with (2) the ecclesial body, his bridal Church, which proceeds from him as  the second Eve from the second Adam, in (3) their covenantal union in One Flesh.  It is from this stance that Amalarius’ proposal, first published in 813, may be seen to have posed the hermeneutical issue for all subsequent Eucharistic theology: the problem of how to speak accurately of this unity of the Head and the Body in terms which respect at once its unity and its covenantal freedom, the freedom that is constitutive of the New Covenant, instituted by the One Sacrifice.

During the ninth century, Amalarius was seen by those loyal to the Augustinian tradition, notably by Florus but also by Paschasius Radbertus, to have divided the unitas corporis theretofore taken for granted by Augustinian sacramental doctrine as the Eucharistic res sacramenti.  For Florus, a highly traditional Augustinian, the concrete event-unity of the Eucharistic realism, of the res sacramenti that would later, under further analysis, be divided between res et sacramentum and res tantum, was indiscussible, and Amalarius’ supposed willingness to fragment it and differentiate the fragments was therefore simply unacceptable.

But even in those traditional quarters in which Amalarius’ view was rejected, controversy over the relation of the Eucharistic “body” to the risen “body” had already arisen.  Augustine’s phenomenological approach to the Eucharist had distinguished the efficacious sign from the effect of the sign while at the same time stressing, even delighting in, the paradoxical unity of Christ and the Church.  Much of the tension between Paschasius and Ratramnus is traceable to the tendency among the Augustinian theologians intrigued by the “new dialectic” to rationalize Augustine to the point of a near-dehistoricization of the Eucharistic res sacramenti.  Thus, Laidrad of Lyons, Florus’ mentor, has been charged with teaching a merely virtual presence of Christ in the Eucharist, analogous to the presence of the Spirit in the baptismal water.[96]  Augustinians such as Ratramnus and Rhabanus Maurus, under the rationalist influence of the “new logic,” were beginning so to stress the distinction between the sign and the effect of the sign, i.e., between the consecrated species and their effect understood as Augustine had understood it, i.e., as the Church in nuptial union with her Lord, as to threaten to dissolve the free unity asserted of them by the very Words of Institution.

In this Carolingian tendency to the dehistoricization of sacramental causality we hear an echo of the either-or rationalism of Cyprian’s exaggerated sacramental realism which concluded to a denial of the possibility of grave sin in a baptized Christian.  Augustine also had learned from the Latin tradition of Tertullian’s “sacramentum,” the inseparable unity of sacramental sign and sacramental effect; however, in his dispute with the Donatists, he developed an interpretation of the sacramentum that we would now term phenomenological.  While he had read Porphyry’s rendition of Plotinus in the Enneads and was influenced by it, Augustine never internalized the Neoplatonic binary adaptation of Aristotelian logic and the consequent rigorous submission of reality to immanent necessity.  In this he may seem to have followed Plato rather than Plotinus, although Augustine does not speak in terms of a Platonic fatalism.  For him, the intrinsic irrationality of man’s fallen condition, concretely experienced in the “two loves that build two cities”―loves whose inner tension is experienced as historically transcended only in ecclesia―, and of existence in ecclesia as “simul justus et peccator,” are given only when standing in the liturgical presence of the risen Christ, Redeemer and Judge.  These lived tensions, native to and inseparable from historical existence as such, also define existence in ecclesia, but in that experience their historical meaning is revealed in the transcendence of the fatal disunity of sarx (σρξ) by the free unity of the mia sarx (σρκα μαν) instituted by the One Sacrifice.  The ecclesial experience of existence as simul justus et peccator cannot be stated in the clinical language of literal statements, but only in the conversion of the Platonic dialectic which, as converted, finds its resolution, not in a myth-inspired flight from history to the ideal, but in the sacramental unification, the recapitulation of all things, by the One Flesh of the Eucharistic sacrifice, personal participation in which is the sacramentally objective restoration of the personal unity lost in the fall.  Thus the historical pessimism of the Platonic tradition is transcended by the anagogical historicity of sacramental worship, wherein the ancient pagan téleion is replaced by the res sacramenti of the Eucharist, the Church triumphant.[97]

Literal language, for the Augustinian, bears solely upon the fragmentation of the broken world and is therefore broken language: if taken literally, it would normalize, institutionalize, that fallenness, that radical insignificance of fallen existence.  Augustine therefore is very far from rationalizing historical reality: his admonition, ‘Spiritualiter intelligete,” reduces it neither to illusion nor to necessity.  The objective free unity of  truth and being is a sacramental unity, rooted in the nuptial freedom of the One Flesh, and emphatically not in the logical devices of a mind locked in its own immanence.  Thus Augustine postulated the necessity of illumination, precisely as the free offer, universally given, of an escape from that fatal immanence.  This offer: alone permits conversion to the freedom of the Good News; it is not other than the trahi a Deo, a universal grace given man by his creation in Christ, the radical gratia Christi.

Consequently, although his mentor Ambrose had stressed the literal identity of the consecrated species, the sign (signum), with the effect of the sign (signatum), the risen Jesus, the Christ, as at once the Victim and the High Priest of the One Sacrifice, Augustine’s phenomenological approach to the signum-signatum distinction recognized their dialectical tension or non-identity in the liturgical affirmation of their spiritual identity.  Cyprian’s literal reading of the unity of the sacramentum and the res sacramenti was driven by the naïve conviction that their unity was their identity: that the res sacramenti was sanctification, to the extent that a baptized sinner must be a contradiction in terms.

The Donatist institutionalization into a heresy, an informed rejection of the Catholic tradition, of what in Cyprian had been merely a mistaken interpretation of that tradition, left Augustine with the task of defending the literal realism of infallible sacramental efficacy, while defending the paradoxical freedom of baptized and ordained existence in the Church.  This led him to recognize the double efficacy of sacramental signing: it is precisely under that signing, in the ecclesial worship to which it is the point of entry, that the baptized knows himself to be continually the object of divine mercy, one of that world of men for whom Christ died and yet, at the same time, to be a sinner, unworthy of the divine mercy, the salvific Mission of the Christ.  Thus within the res sacramenti, there is no necessary salvation: we remain, in Billot’s famous phrase, ”beggars for the beatific vision.”

It may be thought that Augustine left unresolved a problem arising out of his failure to affirm what Ambrose had so readily taught, the coincidence of the risen Lord’s immanence in and transcendence of history in the Eucharistic offering of his One Sacrifice.  We have already pointed to the “transportation problem” implicit in Augustine’s occasionally quite literal reading of the Johannine “He is risen: he is not here” and the impanationist implications of that stance, which continue to trouble students of Augustine’s Eucharistic theology.  On the other hand, there is no difficulty in assimilating the distinction, upon which Augustine insists, between the Eucharistic and the risen Lord if it be kept in mind that, as de Lubac stresses in the opening pages of Corpus mysticum, the entire Latin tradition followed Augustine in affirming, over and again, the concretely historical Eucharistic Presence of Jesus the Christ, while affirming at the same time that his Presence is a mystery, a veiled or spiritual reality, while the corporeal Presence of Christ at the right hand of the Father, the unveiled Presence of Light from Light, is not so to be named.

For Augustine, the corpus spirituale of the Eucharistic Real Presence is beyond our comprehension: it is to be adored, not investigated as though a reality accessible to the quest of fallen minds for ‘necessary reasons.’  The difference between Ambrose and Augustine is the latter’s phenomenological emphasis upon the experience of worship in the Church: it is an experience of the mysterium, of the veiling of the Glory of the Lord.  Ambrose, the author of the De sacramentis and the De mysteriis, familiar with Origen and the Greek theological tradition, is hardly in denial of the Eucharistic mystery, but his liturgical emphasis upon the literal truth of the “This is my Body” is rather an affirmation of the doctrinal tradition than the expression of his experience of the Eucharistic mystery.  These two interests are not in conflict, but in the absence of a theologically adequate metaphysics, grounded in the primacy of the Eucharistic Event, they can easily be made to seem so.  However, it is not true that Augustine’s persuasion that the risen Christ is thus located at the right hand of the Father as to be “corporeally (i.e., empirically) absent from history should stand in the way of his Eucharistic realism; in fact it did not do so.  Taken at the letter, the “symbolisme écclésiastique” by which de Lubac has described Augustine’s Eucharistic doctrine flies in the face of the latter’s “Spiritualiter intelligete” which, while denying the empirical presence of the risen Christ in the Eucharist, insists upon the historical objectivity of that Presence, vi verborum.

It is quite clear that Augustine’s Eucharistic realism did not wait upon the resolution of a “transportation problem;” such doubts as may arise from a supposed dichotomy between his realistic and his allegedly symbolist Eucharistic statements[98] are easily resolved by the application of the Head-Body dialectic inherent in the sacramental paradigm which, in the early twelfth century, was the crowning achievement of Augustinian sacramentalism―but only when its historicity is systematically maintained in the face of all the temptations posed by a still-cosmological imagination to dissociate the free unity of its elements in the name of “necessary reasons.”

The resolution of the finally systematic rather than doctrinal issue posed by the mutual irreducibility of the phenomenological realism of Augustine’s Eucharistic phenomenology and Ambrose’s liturgical literalism had to wait upon the emergence of a properly theological hermeneutics: none then existed, beyond that provided by the Eucharistic liturgy itself, whose Truth was normative for each.[99]

It cannot be too often affirmed that it is out of this liturgical mediation of the Truth of the faith that the theological quaerens at once arises and to which it is directed, as question to answer, for theological questions are not directed to theologians, and cannot be answered by them.  Then as now, the Catholic fides quaerens intellectum is indissociable from the liturgy, for there, at the Eucharistic heart at once of the liturgy and of the Church, the mystery is concretely mediated: given, as a perennial personal invitation, “ancient and forever new,” to the mind of the worshiper, and there only does the faithful quaerens intellectum find at once its object and its sustenance.

2. The “new logic” and the Carolingian Controversy

Thus it was that Paschasius’ rejection of Amalarius’ analysis of the “three bodies” of Christ did not entail a refusal to face the theological problem that Amalarius had raised, if only inadvertently.  Paschasius even accepted the then unavoidable idiom of the “three bodies” to state his own resolution of the unity of the Eucharist.  Like Florus, he stood in the Augustinian tradition.  The final product of the theological statement of the Augustinian sacramental doctrine, viz., the distinction between sign and signified set out in the classic early medieval analysis of sacramentum tantum, res et sacramentum, res tantum, would not appear for more than two centuries  after Paschasius, when, to meet the symbolist challenge of the Berengarian heresy, the full explication of the double sacramental efficacy was achieved and with it, an account of the necessarily double sacramental signing―ex opere operato and ex opere operantis, as a still later theology would describe those irreducibly distinct effects of sacramental signing, whose doctrinal indispensability Augustine the bishop had been the first in the Latin tradition at once to recognize and to defend.

In any case, whether Amalarius’ proposal of a “triforme corpus” intended by that expression the “body” that is the Church, or the “body” that is the priest and victim of the Eucharistic sacrifice, or simply presupposed―as is more likely―their unity, the unitas corporis Christi, the One Flesh of the Head and the Body―that Una Caro which Augustine named the Christus totus[100] but which the Latin Fathers had often referred to as a body, the Carolingian theologians responded to the perceived challenge of Amalarius’ “triforme corpus” by recourse to Augustine, who had so stressed the ecclesial dimension of the Eucharistic res sacramenti as to take for granted the realism of the Eucharistic offering of the One Sacrifice in order to concentrate upon its salvific effect, personal Communion in ecclesia with the sacrificed and risen Lord.  It is this Communion, at once with the risen Christ, the Church, and the members of the Church, that is the final product of the Words of Institution―the effectus huius sacramenti, in the words of St. Thomas―assimilation to the Christus totus, whose unity Augustine, following Paul, understood to be nuptial, that of the Head who is the Bridegroom with the Body who is the Bride, the sancta societas (qua) inhaereamus Deo.

De Lubac has shown the “three bodies” question to have been inherited from Augustine’s own speculation upon the relation of Christ as Head to his Body, the Church.[101]  With Florus’ indictment of Amalarius’ obscure venture as a division of the unity of the body of Christ, a debate had begun which soon engaged most of the major figures active during the Carolingian period.  It called forth what Vernet has pointed to as the first technical treatise on the Eucharist, Paschasius Radbertus’ Liber de corpore et sanguine Domini;[102]  upon which pivoted most of the Eucharistic discussion over the next two centuries.

Here it is appropriate further to examine the evidence, made available by de Lubac’s research, for the assertion of the present study that the patristic and early medieval theological deployment of the nuptial “one flesh” symbolism can alone unify the “three bodies” of Amalarius’ liturgically-inspired inquiry.  The unity of the “three bodies,” from the inception of their distinction by Amalarius in the early ninth century, has provided the radical hermeneutical problematic for Eucharistic theology: viz., the Eucharistic meanings to be assigned to “corpus” (body), to “caro” (flesh), and to “una caro” (one flesh).  It should be noted at the outset that Amalarius’ liturgically-oriented explanation of the fractio panis of the Mass did not directly bear upon the Pauline-Augustinian Head-Body union.  While Florus bitterly criticized Amalarius’ analysis for having divided that free unity, de Lubac has indicated that the nuptial symbolism supporting that free unity was not contrary to the “triforme corpus” analysis that Amalarius deployed in his interpretation of the fractio panis of the Mass.  As de Lubac observes:

While he (Florus) speaks of the Church whose unity the Christ wished to seal by his death, or of the ineffable mystery of unity that was prefigured in Adam and Eve, without question he says nothing that Amalarius would not have been as well disposed to admit as he, and in this sense his words are fruitless, but they are not irrelevant [103] (emphasis added).

We shall shortly see Paschasius dismissing the Amalarian problematic in order to assert the union of the sacrificial body of Christ, the Head, the second Adam, with the Body that is the Church, the second Eve, in their One Flesh.  De Lubac thinks that this is not what Amalarius intended to discuss, although he would not have objected to it.  Nonetheless any discussion of the Amalarian “three bodies” of the Eucharistic celebration raises a question of the unity of their subject that must finally come to terms with the unity of the sacrificed Body of Christ the Head and the bridal ecclesial Body, whose free unity with her head is the product of his One Sacrifice: this is of course the covenantal union in which Christ and the Church are One Flesh (emphatically not “One Body,” nor “One Person”).  For Augustine’s understanding of it, see his Sermo 341.[104]

De Lubac has devoted Part II of his classic Corpus mysticum[105] to an exposition of the development, at once of doctrine and of symbolism, undergone over the centuries by Amalarius’ “triforme corpus.”  As has been seen he believes this evidence to show that Amalarius’ “triforme corpus” had the unity of the Church in view, not that of the “sacramental body” as Florus had supposed.  Amalarius would then have been was speaking of the Church’s union, caused by the Eucharistic consecration, with the risen Christ, as that effect within the res sacramenti of the Eucharist that the later language will qualify as ex opere operato, or infallibly given.

It would therefore not be to go beyond Amalarius’ liturgical concern for the “triforme corpus,” but only beyond the Carolingian riposte to it, to assert that the “three bodies” should be understood to be (1) the sacrificial body of the Head, i.e., of the Christ as Priest and Victim, (2) the body of the Church who proceeds from him as the second Eve from her head, the second Adam, as his glory, and (3) the One Flesh of their free and nuptial unity, the New Covenant instituted on the cross and on the altar by that outpouring of the Spirit which the Son was sent to give.

The free, covenantal, nuptially-ordered unity which Paul ascribes to the interrelation of Christ and his Church, seeing in that interrelation the fulfillment of the “one Flesh” of Gen 2:24 is still little understood today.  We have pointed to the likely reason for this incomprehension at the beginning of this Appendix: a failure to grasp the free substantial unity of the One Flesh, for this requires an intellectual conversion to the substantial standing of the free, sacramentally-signed unity of the recapitulated New Being, whose newness is that of her Head, the “ancient beauty” which Augustine feared he had come to love too late.  Most probably for this reason, the Pauline “One Flesh” has been understood by many of the Fathers, by St. Thomas, and by such recent interpreters of Augustine as Stanley Grabowski,[106] to possess only that non-covenantal organic unity of a living body, whose head and members cannot be understood to possess the free, covenantal and nuptially-ordered unity of the second Adam and the second Eve proper to Head and Body as invoked by Paul in Eph. 5 and developed by St. Augustine in many places.  Neither can the Church, in such a context, possess the intrinsic free unity of worship indissociable from the sinless second Eve.[107]

We have noted that de Lubac believes Amalarius to have posed his account of the “three bodies” within the context of the Pauline usage of the “body of Christ.”  In Pauline usage, the term “body,“ when used without qualification, meant the bridal body of Christ the Head: i.e., the ecclesial Body, the Church.  In the course of his famous commentary upon the “fractio panis,” the breaking of the consecrated Host into three parts by the celebrant during the Communion of the Mass, Amalarius identified the first of these aspects of the “body of Christ” with the risen body of Christ, which he had taken from the Virgin Mary―i.e., the body which hung on the cross, and is now raised to the right hand of the Father.  The two remaining parts of the host he referred, respectively, to the unqualified body: the Church “militant” on earth, and to the Church of the dead, irrespective of whether in purgatory or in heaven.

These explanations uniformly ignore the nuptial union of Christ and the bridal Church in One Flesh.  However de Lubac, in discussing the viewpoint of Paschasius, an opponent and near-contemporary of Amalarius, points out that Paschasius own explanation of the “three bodies” identified their final unity with the una caro of Christ and the Church.  De Lubac does not agree with Paschasius’ inclusion of the “One Flesh” in the “triforme corpus” of Amalarius; he believes it to be compatible with Amalarius’ viewpoint, but not to be included within the problem presupposed by Amalarius’ analysis of the “three bodies.”[108]

By the end of the eleventh century, the original Augustinian problematic had nearly vanished under the entirely alien “dialectic” imposed upon theological speculation and controversy by the challenge of the Berengarian heresy, which had read literally and analytically the signum-signatum tension that had surfaced in Laidrad’s work, written a generation before Florus’s attack upon Amalarius.  From the moment of the emergence of this “new dialectic,” during the Carolingian period, Aristotelianism was in the air; two centuries later, it would be seen to be indispensable for dealing with Berengarius, because his assault upon Carolingian orthodoxy had relied upon a sub-Aristotelian version of the “new dialectic” to ground a destructive critique of Eucharistic realism.  Berengarius’ challenge to Eucharistic orthodoxy rested upon the supposedly inexorable criteriology of Aristotelian logic, ill understood because received from Boethius as entirely divorced from its metaphysical foundation in the act-potency analysis of substance-accident, matter-form, but which was identified with rationality as such by its philosophical fautores, under whose exploitation it could not but return, as with Berengarius, to its binary Eleatic format.

Those early medieval defenders of the doctrinal tradition who rose to meet that challenge found themselves forced to deal with its instrument, the “new logic” or “new dialectic” which henceforth was at once suspect of heresy, as in the hands of an Abelard, and yet an acquaintance with which became increasingly necessary for participation in the new analytic intellectuality, before which the subtlety of the Augustinian phenomenology of worship, viz.,  as the Eucharistic recapitulation of a fallen and broken creation, gave way.  The increasingly abstract deployment of a rationality implicitly autonomous and self-sustaining sought to defeat the Berengarian denial of Eucharistic realism by an appeal to “necessary reasons” for an apodictic proof of that realism, as by St. Anselm and the Victorines.  This effort found its mature expression  more than a century later in St. Thomas’ application of the Aristotelian act-potency metaphysical analysis to the resolution of the theological “quaestiones” of the new apologetic theology  The necessitarian latencies of the act-potency analysis were canonized at the end of the fifteenth century by Cajetan’s De nominum analogia.[109]

Paradoxically, it was at this time, in the early twelfth century, that, under another Anselm, the School of Laon developed the final, revised expression of the Augustinian sacramental realism.  By the middle of that century, that synthesis had been itself misunderstood, and fell into disuse.  Only the quasi-magisterial standing of Peter Lombard’s Sentences preserved a theological acquaintance with it, but it underwent no further development.  Instead, under the impact of a triumphant Aristotelianism, the Augustinian phenomenology of worship began to undergo the rationalization that led from St. Bonaventure’s reluctant deployment of an Aristotelian vocabulary to Duns Scotus’ abandonment of illumination, and finally to the Nominalist rejection of metaphysics as such, whereby faith in sacramental realism become a blind obedience of the mind, a sacrificium intellectus, instead of the free appropriation of the Eucharistic mystery Fathers had known it to be.

3. Excursus: Recapitulation as the historical-redemptive correlative of sarx (σρξ) and mia sarx (σρκα μαν))

Prior to the renewal of theological anthropology by John Paul II at the beginning of his pontificate, it was little remarked that the terms “flesh” and “one flesh” have an intrinsic relation: that between the necessary disunity of our existence in fallenness, and the restoration by the Head of the free nuptial unity, proper to the Good Creation, that is the work of redemption.  “Sarx” is quite simply the product of the Fall of man and with him, the Fall of the Good Creation: it designates the fragmentation and fallenness of man in his world.  As the Original Sin issued in death, so the “flesh,” sarx, is that disintegrating condition of fallen humanity that proceeds inexorably in each of us and in all of us toward the finality of utter dissolution that is the “dust” of death.  In this Pauline perspective, death then is the sign of sin, and the sign of death is the flesh.  This doctrine still stands in need of development, although its major themes were supplied by John Paul II in his early lectures, in Veritatis splendor, in Evangelium vitae and, during the last year of his long pontificate, in the Letter to the Bishops of the Catholic Church on the Collaboration of men and women in the Church and in the World, which the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith published on May 31, 2004.

All that we can know of the nature of original sin must be derived from reflection upon the redemption worked by Christ.  Our involuntary solidarity in the sin of the first Adam is perceptible and thereby comprehensible only in terms of our free solidarity in the redemption worked by the second Adam.  To ignore our solidarity with the second Adam is to naturalize the Fall.  Our imprisonment by sin, by the fear of death which Paul so stressed, is precisely our necessary, non-covenantal, solidarity in the determinacy of death, a solidarity in sarx which, as fallen from our first moment we have no freedom to avoid, insofar as left to our own devices,.  Fallenness, sarx, has no intrinsic remedy: it is fatality simply, tragedy without catharsis.  Our restoration to integrity is a work of creation, not of mere change: it requires the Son’s outpouring, mediante ecclesia, of the creative Spirit, Spiritus Creator, upon the fallen and disintegrating universe.

Secondly: our solidarity in sin makes no sense except insofar as it is related to the guilt of the prospective head of humanity, the fallen Adam, whose sin was his refusal to accept the primordial offer to him “in the Beginning” of the authority of headship, in the meaning of that term as it is revealed by Christ: viz., to be a head is to be the source of a free substantial unity.  It is the office of a Head to provide the free unity of the community of which he is the head: absent that provision, the community concerned can have no unity: it has only a necessary disunity.[110]  Only the institution of the free, nuptially-ordered unity of the One Flesh on the altar and the cross, a work of creation by the Mission of the Spirit from the Father through the Son, could remedy the first Adam’s primordial refusal of the imaging of God, which is identically the refusal to be free, that is the Original Sin: Adam and Eve refused the uniquely free order of their nuptial union, and with that, the creation whose free unity was dependent upon its source in a Head was without that Headship, and fell into the inexorable process of disintegration that is sarx, the fallen, fleshly dynamics of death.

Paul famously described our redemption as “recapitulation:” (anakephalaiosis, the substantive of the “anakephalaiōsasthai ta panta” (ἀνακεφαλώσασθαι τπντα)  of Eph. 1:10).  The term was taken up in the late second century by Irenaeus, whose Christological summary thus uses “recapitulation” to name the redemptive deed of Christ upon the cross.  However, often the meaning currently assigned the term by theologians is merely nominal, as designating a facile generalization or summing-up.  This reduces it to the banality of a merely pragmatic or forensic term.  In fact, however, “recapitulation” invokes precisely the headship of Christ who, as the new Adam, the new Head, is the source of the free unity of the nuptial One Flesh, the Eucharistic One Flesh, the gratia capitis of which, as precisely as Head, Jesus the Christ is the source.[111]  The Pauline analogy is explicitly Trinitarian: as the Father is the Head because He is the source of the free unity of the Trinity, so the Christ is the Head as the source of the free unity of the One Flesh, the created and historical image of the Trinity whose secondary image, as John Paul has stressed, is sacramental marriage, the public and inevitably political sacrament whose impact upon a fallen world is irresistible ex opere operato: it underlies the rule of law of all free society, and thus all social freedom, whether religious, political, economic, or cultural.[112]

From an examination of the recapitulation of the fallen world and fallen man by Christ, it is evident that the sin of the first Adam could only be his refusal to be the head of the free humanity that would have been constituted by his nuptial union with Eve.  This refusal, most subtly detailed in the opening verses of Gen 3, involves the prospective Body as well as the prospective Head.  In responding to the subtlety of the Serpent, Eve implicitly dissociates herself from Adam’s headship, choosing another and false freedom entirely other from that of which he should have been the source, as Jesus the Head is the source of that restored freedom by which we are freed to be free.  The first Adam, by acquiescing in the first Eve’s disavowal of his authority, disavows nuptial union with her, thus refusing the office of Head, as she correspondingly refuses the union with him by which she should freely have been his bridal body, one flesh with him.

Their choice had as its immediate consequence the disintegration of their world and with it, their humanity.  Their “flesh,” no longer the free unity of the nuptial “one flesh,” thereby became “flesh” absolutely, “dust,” because devoid of the intrinsic free unity, the free intelligibility of the good creation.  Once this free unity had been refused, the refusal was of unity as such―for the unity of creation, even as fallen, is incapable of subsumption to the necessary unity invoked by fallen reason.  Thus with sin, death entered the world, for by the sinful refusal of free, nuptial unity, life was intrinsically transformed into the necessary dynamic of dissolution whose telos is death, the absolute disintegration signified by the “dust” from which we are made, and to which we must return.  The created universe, devoid of intrinsic unity, was left without meaning, having neither beginning nor end; it exists in entropic disintegration.. 

The possibility of the Original Sin, Karl Barth’s “impossible possibility,” was negatively latent in creation, for freedom can only be a gift, freely to be appropriated by a humanity with no unity whatever of its own: thus the: “from dust you are” of Gen 3:19.  The actualization of this refusal of free unity, viz., of integrity, is the Fall.  Its restoration, its redemption, was achieved by the second Adam on the cross, whereon his One Sacrifice instituted the New Covenant, the One Flesh of Christ and the Church, freely to be appropriated by a fallen humanity in and through her sacramental worship, which in sum is covenantal, nuptially-ordered fidelity.  The redemptive restoration of the One Flesh by the institution of the New Covenant through the One Sacrifice is the rest*oration of that free order by which the whole creation is good and beautiful: its free unity is precisely its goodness and its beauty.

This is ancient doctrine: revealed in the Pauline Gospel, its exploitation after Irenaeus was primarily by Augustine, but his explicit recognition of the nuptial and therefore by implication the covenantal unity in One Flesh of Christ and the Church has been much neglected and, where recognized, much distorted by reason of a fallen, ‘sarkic’ misunderstanding of our free, sacramentally achieved solidarity in its freedom and its unity.  So necessary is the mutual freedom of the second Eve and the second Adam in the New Covenant that its institution required of her a finite freedom as sinless as her Lord’s: his union with her would otherwise have been despotic, an imposition rather than a sacrificial fidelity to the Mission whose terminus is that sacrificial outpouring of the Spirit by which we are redeemed.  To ignore the covenantal integrity of the One Flesh of the New Covenant is to reduce it to a dualistic master-slave relationship, precisely that coercive order of existence from which conversion is demanded by the New Covenant itself.

E. The patristic-monastic confusion over the “unitas corporis”

We have seen that there had arisen in the patristic and Carolingian ecclesiology a confusion over the relation of “head” to “body,” a confusion evidently fostered by Paul’s inclusion of the “head” within the “parts” of the “one body” in I Cor. 12.  Paul addressed this chapter specifically to the members of the Church as “parts” of the ecclesial “body,” in that Paul urges the members to be devoted to the good of the whole “body” rather than merely to their own private concerns:

As it is, there are many parts but one body.  The eye cannot say to the head, “I have no need of you,” nor again, the head to the feet, “I have no need of you.”  On the contrary, the parts of the body which seem to be the weaker are indispensable, and those parts of the body which we think less honorable we invest with greater honor, and our unpresentable parts are treated with greater modesty, which our more presentable parts do not require.  But God has so arranged the body, giving the greater honor to the inferior part, that there may be no discord within the body, but that the members may have the same care for each other.  If one member suffers, all suffer together; if one member is honored, all rejoice together.

Now you are the body of Christ, and individu ally members of it (sic). And God has appointed in the Church first apostles, second prophets, third teachers, then workers of miracles, then healers, helpers, administrators, speakers in various kinds of tongues.  Are all apostles? Are all prophets?  Are all teachers? Do all work miracles? Do all possess gifts of healing?  Do all speak with tongues?  Do all interpret?  But earnestly desire the higher gifts.

I Cor. 12:12-31 (RSV)

From its beginning to its end, the exhortation comprising I Cor. 12 cannot be understood to have been directed to Jesus the Christ, the Head of the Church, as though he were one of the members whom Paul addresses, finally urging that each member “earnestly desire the higher gifts.”  Paul concludes this exhortation to ecclesial unity, a unity which can only be free, thus moral and so covenantal, with the famous paean comprising I Cor. 13, pointing to charity as the highest gift, the gift without which the others are useless.

Clearly, Paul is not urging virtue upon his Lord, as though a “member of the body,” although there is a reference to the “head” as among the “many parts” of the “body;” viz., “The eye cannot say to the head, etc.”  Further, here the reference of the head is not to a person, as it is in I Cor. 11 (i.e., the Father is the head of Christ, Christ the Head of every man, and the husband of the wife, but rather is listed among the subordinate parts of a body, along with the eye, the feet, the hands.  Nevertheless, as we shall see, and notwithstanding its evident absurdity, the notion that the Head who is Christ is a “part” of the “body” and that the Church’s Head is a “part“ of her Body became widespread among the Fathers.  In this common reading of the “one flesh” as a physical association of head to body, the Fathers and early medieval theologians simply ignored the nuptial emphasis of head and body in Augustine’s Sermo 341, itself a summary of repeated passages in the Enarrationes in Psalmos and elsewhere; see endnote 81, infra.

The surface explanation for this lapse is simple enough: the unity of the ecclesial body was early so associated with the unity of the One Flesh, viz., with the nuptial unity of the “whole Christ,” that it was easy for the Fathers to look to I Cor. 12:12 and Rom. 12:4 which do not deal with the transcendent New Covenant, the nuptial unity of the One Flesh of Christ and his Church, but with the free and therefore moral unity of the members of the Church within the Church.  This latter unity which, although moral, the Fathers nonetheless regarded as organic, having read Paul’s use of a Stoic metaphor in these passages rather too literally.  Thus, as we have seen, the Fathers commonly dealt with the Head-Body union of the Bridegroom and the Bride as though it were the organic unity of a physical body, not the free, covenantal, nuptial union in One Flesh of Christ and the Church instituted by his One Sacrifice.

This confusion was perhaps facilitated by what appears to have been a fastidiousness, not so much over the use of nuptial symbolism, as over its covenantal implication.  The Fathers tended still to understand marriage in patriarchal, quasi-dualist terms: i.e., the wife was seen to be subject to the husband, unilaterally.[113]  This lingering misogyny is a relic of the widespread Platonism of the Hellenistic world, but theologically it is better understood simply as an insufficient conversion of the patristic and medieval imagination from the pagan paradigm of femininity as a principle of resistance to the  to the nuptial imagery of the Eucharistic liturgy.  We find the same mistake in St. Thomas, who steadfastly ignores, even in his Commentary on Ephesians, the free because covenantal complementarity of the union in One Flesh of Christ and the Church.  It is most probable that the common patristic and medieval predilection for interpreting the One Flesh as the non-covenantal, even organic, unity of “one body” or “one person” may be thus explained.  The Fathers, as well as the monastic and medieval theologians, did not at all reject the nuptial symbolism, but they very often minimized or at least hesitated before its covenantal significance, its connotation of mutuality in freedom.  This is another heritage from the Platonic-Aristotelian background of patristic and medieval speculation: the uncritical assumption that the truth, unity, and goodness of being must be intrinsically necessary, and cannot be intrinsically free: here the ancient pagan confusion of freedom with irrationality is evident.

The revelation of creation as perfected in the free nuptial unity of Adam and Eve, a creation which only then is “very good,” is prophesied in Gen. 2; we have seen that the Fathers commonly understand that prophecy to have been fulfilled by the sacrificial institution of the New Covenant, the One Flesh of Christ and the Church.  Augustine went so far as to refer to this nuptial unity as “the whole Christ,” the “complete Christ,” language which, given the prevalent cosmological postulates of the patristic, medieval, and also most modern theological speculation, could only be taken either as the assimilation of the person of the second Eve to the Person of the Christ―the attribution to this unity of “una persona” was a patristic and medieval commonplace―or, as with de Lubac, taken to be quasi-metaphorical, in the sense of an assertion of an intrinsic, mysterious, but less than substantial metaphysical unity.

Thus there existed perennially a confusion over the meaning of the unitas corporis Christi, leading to a neglect of the covenantal meaning of that term and thus a failure to grasp the free and therefore covenantal reciprocity of the sponsal unity of Christ and the Church in One Flesh.  This confusion goes far to explain the tendency among the Fathers, including Augustine, and among the early medieval theologians, to envision the unity of the One Flesh as that of “one person.”  We find this in St. Augustine, as also much later in Peter Lombard and St. Thomas.  But it had other effects as well: the interpretation of that sponsal unity as personal rather than as nuptial implied a Christomonist merger of the Church into the Christ as integrating parts of a single organism, the Body of Christ.[114]  Add to this the unreflective cosmological equation of person with intellectual substance, a commonplace passed on to the Western theological tradition by Boethius: thus guided, a theologian intent upon upholding the historical unity of Christ and his Bridal Church could scarcely avoid thinking this unity to be substantial and therefore that of one Person.  Those who used this terminology were not Christo-monists, but the path to such a mistake was clearly open.

Hence thus may be understood the common misinterpretation of the Pauline nuptial symbolism that would make the Head to be a part of the Body, and the Church therefore a part of the Body as well.  This mistake is at one with the misinterpretation of the “Saul, Saul, why do you persecute me?” addressed to St. Paul’s in his encounter with the risen Christ on the road to Damascus, wherein Jesus identifies himself with the Church whom Saul is persecuting.  Very clearly, Paul is not the source of this mistake:

Rather, speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ, from whom the whole body, joined and knit together by every joint with which it is supplied, when each part is working properly, makes bodily growth and upbuilds itself in love.

Eph. 4:15-16  (RSV)

In this passage, the head-body distinction and the Church whose members are thereby the members of her Head is explicit.  In the next chapter of Ephesians (5:21-33), it is further clear that the Head-Body relation is sponsal, that of bridegroom and bride.  The meditation which culminates in the insight of Eph. 5:21-33 into the One Flesh of Christ and the Church has its inception in I Cor. 6:13-20, where a man’s unhallowed sarkic union in “one body” with a prostitute is contrasted with the “one flesh” of the Good Creation that is the free order of nuptial union in the image of God, a freedom instituted on the cross, where the fallen disunity of the “flesh” is “recapitulated,” restored to the free unity intended for it “in the beginning,” which is to say, “in Christ.” (Col. 1:16).[115]  This passage in I Cor. 6:13-20 is central to the Pauline interpretation, in Eph. 5:21ff., of the One Flesh of Gen 2:24.

I Corinthians 6:13-20

13: The body is not meant for immorality, but for the Lord, and the Lord for the body

Τ δ σμα ο τ πορνεα λλ τ κυρίῳ, κα κριος τ σωματι.

14: And God raised the Lord and will also raise us up by his power.

δ θες κα τν κριον γυρειρεν κα μς ξεγερε δι τς δυνμεως ατο.

15: Do you not know that your bodies are members of Christ? Shall I therefore take the members of Christ and make them members of a prostitute? Never!

Οκ οδατε τι τσματαμν μλη Χριστο στιν; ρας ον τ μλη το Χριστο ποισω πρνες μλη.  μ γενοιτο.

16: Do you not know that he who joins himself to a prostitute becomes on body with her?  For, as it is written, “The two shall become one.”

[] οκ οδατε τι κολλμενος τ πρνε ν σμ στιν;  σονται γρ, φησν, ο δο ες σρκα μαν.

17: But he who is united to the Lord becomes one spirit with him

δε κολλμενος τ κυρον ν πνεμα στιν.

18. Shun immorality. Every other sin which a man commits is outside the body; but the immoral man sins against his own body.

Φεγετε τν πορνεαν. Πν μρτημα ἐὰν ποισ νθροπος κτς το σματς στιν.  δ πορνεων ες διον σμα μρτανει.

19: Do you not know that your body is a temple of Holy Spirit within you, which you have from God? You are not your own.

οκ οδατε τι τ σμα μν νας το ν μν γιου πνεματος στιν ο χετε π θεο κα οκ στ αυτν.

20: you were bought with a price.  So glorify God in your body.

γορσθητε γρ τιμς δοξσατε δ τν θεν ν τ σνατι μν.

The English text is taken from RSV;; the Greek is taken from Nestle-Aland, 28th edition, 2012. 

This is Paul‘s summary at once of his anthropology and of his moral doctrine, the covenantal fidelity that is the corollary of our creation in Christ,.  It follows that the nuptial interpretation of Eph. 4:15 is of the first importance. 

(11) And his gifts were that some should be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, some  pastors and teachers, (12) to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ (13) until we all attain to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to mature manhood, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ; (14) so that we may no longer be children, tossed to and fro and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by the cunning of men, by their craftiness in deceitful wiles.

(15) Rather, speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ, from whom the whole body, joined and knit together by every joint with which it is supplied, when each part is working properly, makes bodily growth and upbuilds itself in love.

A failure to understand this verse as the invocation of that nuptially ordered covenantal fidelity can only proceed to a devolution of doctrine, a failure to appropriate the Truth of the Church’s worship of her head.  Eph. 4:15, with its intricate preface (vv. 1-14) has drawn that line which distinguishes the followers of Christ from the fatal alternative: “you must no longer live as the Gentiles do, in the futility of their minds.” The conversion to Christ which Paul here invokes has its culmination in Eph. 5:21-33, in which the full meaning of our fidelity to Christ is summed up in his fidelity to the Church  in their One Flesh.

Therefore Eph. 4:15 is intelligible only as spoken of the Head, whose covenantal union in One Flesh with the bridal Church, his Body, instituted by his One Sacrifice, frees the Church, enables her freely to exist in nuptial union with him, the source of her free existence, whereby precisely as her Head he speaks, not for her but for her union with him, the nuptially-ordered Good Creation, the substantial One Flesh of which he is the source.  His exercise of Headship is his offering of the One Sacrifice ; in this he Images the Father, the Head of the Trinity, whose image is the substantial New Covenant, the Good Creation, restored in Christ to its primordial integrity..

The Father precisely as Head is the source from whom the Son proceeds.  It is through the Son that the Father is the source, the Head, of the Spirit.  The Father’s sending of the Son to give the Spirit terminates in the fullness of life that is the gift of gifts, the New Covenant instituted by the One Sacrifice.  This terminus of the Mission of the Son to give the Spirit is the free substantial unity of Head and Body, Bridegroom and Bride in One Flesh, the Image of the Trinity.  Clearly the Image must itself be trinitarian: it is evident a posteriori that the free immanence of the Triune God in the Good Creation cannot but be Trinitarian, and the Good Creation that is good by reason of the divine free immanence within it and ordering it, could not freely image its source were it not the free unity, the substantial unity, that is the One Flesh, for there is no other created free unity than this and those which, in ecclesia, are radically dependent upon it because freely ordered to it by their liturgical participation in it.

The Church’s voice is her worship of her Lord, her sacrifice of praise: she has no other voice than this, and therefore cannot speak for their One Flesh, as does her Head, just as the Son who can do nothing on his own cannot speak for the Trinity.  Only the head can speak for that of which he is the head, and he cannot speak as other than the head.  The utterance of the Father’s Word is the Mission of the Son and through the Son of the Spirit: by these Missions the Trinity is revealed; the utterance of the Son is the Gift of the Spirit, the Spiritus Creator whose procession from the Father through the Son issues in the Good Creation, but only through the Son’s obedience to the Father, his acceptance of that office of Headship whose ultimate expression is his sacrificial death upon the cross in the institution of the New Covenant.

To forget the office of headship is to meld the free order of the Trinity into a monadic identity, and so to undo the freedom by which the Good Creation is good, for its goodness is its Trinitarian imaging in the freedom for which Christ has made it free.  This created freedom cannot but be nuptially ordered: there is no other created freedom, no other freedom in all creation, than this nuptially ordered unity, freely appropriated in the worship of the Church.

It must be stressed that the problem posed by the puzzlement of Amalarius and later theologians over the Pauline head-body-flesh language is resolved only in that free covenantal union in One Flesh of the sacrificed second Adam with his glory, the second Eve who proceeds from him as from her source: this resolution, at least intimated by Paschasius, as de Lubac witnesses in his commentary on Paschasius’ Eucharistic doctrine quoted above, is entirely without prejudice to the stress, emphasized by de Lubac, of the Johannine Eucharistic doctrine upon the Eucharistic Jesus as the Bread from Heaven, Communion in whose risen flesh is the one source of life eternal, for his flesh, as risen, is One Flesh with his bridal Church in the sacrament of the altar.  At this point, it is necessary further to examine de Lubac’s view of this matter:

The author (again Abelardian) of the Ysagoge in theologiam and Othon de Lucques adopt a solution a little more complex.  Even before coming to the central element of the mystery, i.e., the res et sacramentum, they already introduce the Church as the body of Christ, à propos of the symbolism of the species, and only then do they make mention of the virtus or the efficacia sacramenti, which they confuse with the spiritual flesh of Christ.  However, while they perceive especially in the corpus-ecclesia the unity of the members of Christ among themselves, the spiritualis caro is in their eyes the unity of each communicant―each member of Christ―with the Head.

In these last two examples―and one might cite many others―the Johannine line has already approached the Pauline line, thanks to the explanation of the doctrine contained in the discourse on the Bread of Life by the doctrine contained in the discourse after the Supper. The union of Christ and the faithful, become a “union of head and members” (citing sources), admits at least an allusion to the idea of the “body of many members in union”.  The allusion is found reinforced in the texts―also very numerous―where the subject who receives the sacrament is no longer the individual soul, even as a member, but the Church herself.  “Sacrifices by which the Church is marvelously fed and nourished”―“The life of the Church, the flesh of the Savior”.  For, from the moment at which the Church is a social reality, there is a manifest correspondence between her life and her unity: is it not the union of her members, a union strengthened by the sacrament, that measures the intensity of her life?  Nevertheless, the two Pauline metaphors of the union of the Christ and of his Church in one sole flesh, and the union of the members of the Christ in one sole body, do not converge.  The double symbolism of the species, joined to the natural opposition of meaning between “flesh” and “body,” maintain a separation between the Eucharistic line of St. Paul and that of St. John.  Although approaching each other, they remain parallel rather than convergent.  As Gandolph of Bologna will say a little later, the effect of the Eucharist is a “twin effect.” [116]

This expression “twin effect,” literally, res gemina, of the Eucharist is used here in a sense quite different from that we have earlier examined.  There it had designated the simultaneity of the infallibly efficacious representation of the Christ and the Church, inseparably, in the res sacramenti of the Eucharist: viz., the Eucharistic una caro.  Here the “twin effect” refers to the causal relation between the res et sacramentum and the res tantum, between the Eucharist and its anagogical fulfillment.  As de Lubac makes clear further on the “twin effect” is achieved in the eschatological union of the risen Christ and the fulfilled Church, the manifest glory of the Christ, in which case we have returned to the original meaning, the Eucharistic una caro.[117]  The achievement is of course Eucharistic, the final or ultimate effect of the offering of the One Sacrifice and its institution of the New Covenant.  However, these distinct theological references, the former historical, the latter eschatological, reflect the difference between the apologetic thrust of the early medieval theology, over against the anagogical patristic emphasis upon what the medieval theologians would refer to as the res tantum sacramenti.  These usages are not in conflict; while they pertain to quite different points of view, quite distinct emphases, they speak of the one Gift of the Spiritus Creator, which is historical only as sacramental and history-transcending.  On the other hand, de Lubac’s failure to recognize that the Pauline “one flesh” is precisely the synthesis of Christ the head with his bridal Body, the Church, stems not from any écartement between the Johannine and Pauline Eucharistic doctrines, but from his own commitment to a metaphysics which cannot reconcile freedom with substantial unity.

We have earlier pointed to the development of the meaning of caro spiritualis in its final “concordisme” after Berengarius by way of its assimilation to the sacramentum tantum, res et sacramentum, res tantum sacramental paradigm: thereby it becomes the res tantum of the Eucharist, the communicant’s union in ecclesia with the risen Lord.  We have noted that in the earlier, patristic sacramentum-res sacramenti paradigm, the caro spiritualis, thus understood, is identically the communicant’s more profound incorporation in the Church, and the Church’s growth by that incorporation (adunatio) of her members through their Eucharistic communion with her Head.  The medieval reply to the Berengarian heresy required that what had been implicit in the patristic paradigm of sacramentum-res sacramenti be given the explicit expression it finds in the medieval paradigm, which distinguishes between the infallible effect of the Eucharistic signing and the fallible effect, and therefore required medieval theologians conceptually to distinguish what is not distinct phenomenologically or experientially, viz., the worshiper and the Church in which his worship is actual.

However in this passage, salva reverentia, a basic confusion enters the discussion; it is consequent upon de Lubac’s failure, which is the failure generally of the patristic and medieval theologians, adequately to grasp the sacramentally-realistic and therefore substantial and metaphysically objective import of Paul’s insight into the nuptial symbolism of Gen. 2:24 as fulfilled in the second Adam‘s sacrificial institution of the One Flesh of his Covenantal union with the second Eve.  That passage in Genesis refers to the covenantally free, nuptial unity by which the work of the sixth day is good and very good: the metaphysically substantial standing of the One Flesh cannot be put in issue without rejecting the Yahwist doctrine of the good creation as well as its Elohist parallel in Gen. 1:24.

There can be no question of the distinction between this free, nuptial union of the bridal Church with her Bridegroom-Head and the internal, organic unity of the one (ecclesial) Body, the Bride of Christ whose free unity is given her by her Head, the Jesus who most certainly, contra the Fathers whom de Lubac cites, is not “adunatum ad” the Church.  That expression is proper to the Christian who by his baptism becomes a member of the Church whose existence is prior to his membership.  It cannot be applied to Jesus, the Head of the Church.  As her source, his union with her is not with a preexisting reality, but with a personal reality whose existence is her procession from him.  It has been sufficiently emphasized that he does not enter into an organic or physical composition with her, as though as Head he were an organ of the ecclesial body.

The intrinsic, free, and therefore nuptially-ordered covenantal community of the members of the ecclesial body is given them by their baptism into the Body, who is thus free by her procession from her Head.  His relation to her is the Image of the free relation of the Father to the Son, viz., it is an analogy of the Trinitarian relation of the Head, the Father, to his Glory, his Son.  Therefore, as is evident in I Cor. 11:3, the nature of the relation of Christ to the Church of whom he is the Head is governed by the free, substantial Unity of the Trinitarian Relations: the Image of which Jesus is the Head is itself a free substantial unity, a single substance, the One Flesh of the New Covenant.  Consequently the Trinity-imaging unity of the One Flesh cannot be other than the substantial, free unity of the Bridegroom, the Bride, and their nuptial union in One Flesh.  In their free and substantial unity, these three constitute the substantial Image of the substantial Triune God: the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.  Finally, the members of the ecclesial, bridal Body “for freedom are made free” by their baptism into this Body, this bridal Church, and thus into the One Flesh of her constitutive union with her Lord.  By their baptism they enter into the nuptial unity of the Church’s worship, their freedom is given concretely historical expression by their sacramental signing, as masculine or as feminine persons, of the Trinity.  This free and sacramental signing is their covenantal fidelity.

In the quotation supra, de Lubac believes to have discovered, within the Pauline “line” of Eucharistic doctrine, a lack of synthesis between Paul’s emphasis upon the quasi-organic unity of the members of the Church in one (ecclesial) Body, and his stress upon the nuptial union of the Church with her spouse in One Flesh; he then passes on to assert a comparable “écartement” or failure of synthesis, between the Pauline “line” and the Johannine “line” of Eucharistic doctrine.  De Lubac identifies the former “line” with Paul’s finding in the Eucharist the cause of the unity of the Church (una caro); he identifies the latter or Johannine “line” with the Evangelist’s finding in the “panis vitae” the principle at once of the deification of the communicant and of the growth of the Church.

While de Lubac maintains that the connotations of “flesh” (caro) preclude that term’s denotation of an organism,[118] elsewhere, in describing Augustine’s passing from the “metaphor” of head-body to the “metaphor” of bridegroom-bride,[119] he quite clearly fails to see what Augustine took for granted, i.e., that these two “metaphors” have the same referent, viz., the One Flesh, Una Caro, of Christ and the Church.  We have seen Augustine insist on the identity of head-body and bridegroom-bride in Sermo 341, where he uses these polarities as interchangeable expressions of the same nuptial union of the second Adam and second Eve in One Flesh.

De Lubac maintains that this supposed failure of synthesis with a consequent confusion, between the Pauline emphasis upon the ecclesial Body (Corpus Christi mysticum), and the Johannine emphasis upon the Eucharistic nourishment of the communicant and so of the Church (caro spiritualis), marks theological development up to the Sentences of Peter Lombard, whom we have seen identify the Church as the res tantum sacramenti: he then cannot avoid placing the “effectus huius sacramenti,” i.e., the communicant’s union with Christ, at the same level.  Clearly enough, they are within the same patristic res sacramenti; with an equal clarity, placing the Church in the medieval res tantum risks depriving her of her sacramental historicity.  Only when the Eucharistic res tantum is seen as the final and complete effectus huius sacramenti. applicable to the individual worshiper precisely as worshiping in ecclesia, is this risk obviated.

De Lubac finds an Augustinian foundation underlying this “amalgam” of Corpus Christi mysticum and caro spiritualis: Augustine often speaks of Eucharistic communion as receiving the body that is the Church.  We have seen that for de Lubac, the meaning of the “head - body” union is governed by I Cor. 12, not by I Cor. 7, 11 and Eph. 5: consequently, finally and despite himself, he must look upon the One Flesh of the Head and Body as an organic unity, and not as the nuptial unity it is for Paul and Augustine.  In fact, these Pauline “metaphors” both have the same substantial, intrinsically and freely intelligible reality in view, the nuptial union of the second Adam and the second Eve, the New Covenant.  As the good creation, its substantiality is beyond question, but it is a substantiality unrecognized by the patristic tradition, and by de Lubac himself: a free substance was evidently unthinkable.

F. The free covenantal unity of the Eucharistic One Flesh

De Lubac’s frequent relegation to metaphorical standing of expressions such as res gemina, and notably, the Pauline nuptial imagery, is not to be read as a refusal to grant them an intrinsic or metaphysical significance and weight; he has insisted, almost alone, upon the doctrinal indispensability of the nuptial symbolism underwritten by the One Flesh of the Church’s Eucharistic worship.[120]  As has been said heretofore, his hesitation before the substantial standing of the One Flesh of Christ and the Church rests upon an uncritical subscription to the Aristotelian and Thomist identification of material “substance” with the physical unity of a body.  Obviously, this bars his understanding of the Una Caro as a substantial unity although, since he identifies the union of Christ and the Church as the radical Mysterium, its metaphysical standing is obvious.  A further complication appears in the commonplace failure of medieval metaphysics to recognize the application of the intrinsic freedom of the Trinity to that which is created in its image, the proleptic “one flesh” of Adam and Eve, the Image of the Trinity that, as its image, cannot but be substantial: its free unity is in fact the terminus of the Missions of the Son and the Holy Spirit.

Thus, immediately following the long quotation supra, de Lubac finds, in a final, anagogically-oriented synthesis, the Johannine Eucharistic doctrine to be at one with the Pauline doctrine, with particular reference to their common  use of nuptial symbolism:

Thanks to this Bread of Life promised in the sixth chapter of St John, the “unus panis, unum corpus” of the first Epistle to the Corinthians is realized.  For the spiritual life is a social unity:

Virtus enim ipsa quae ibi intelligitur, unitas est, ut redacti in corpus ejus, effecti membra ejus, simus quod accipimus.

The principle of this life is not other than the Spirit of the Christ, which is a Spirit of unity, in such wise that to live in the body of Christ is to be fed by his Spirit.  Is not this once again the teaching of the farewell discourse of Saint John?  Beginning with the allegory of the vine and finishing with the priestly prayer, nothing could better suggest that the intimacy of the communicant with the Christ is an increase in the dimensions of the Church.  In that, there is no concordism.  Commented by St. Paul, Saint John says it as well by himself, if it is true that the allegory of the vine and the whole of the recital of this evening meal (soirée) are not less Eucharistic than the foretelling of the Bread of Life.  Had not St. Paul, for his part, also recalled the manna, the “spiritual food,” of the Hebrews in the desert?  And does not this offer yet another basis for the convergence of the two points of view when, with respect to another “great mystery” it evokes the union of the Christ and the Church, a union so intimate that the one and the other form only one flesh?  Unus panis, una caro

This last trait should be striking, the more so in that St. John, he also, showed in his fashion―on Calvary, at the site of the first paradise―the wedding of Christ and his Church: the new Adam and the new Eve.  One might observe again, exploiting the Pauline symbolism of the “one bread,” that in the making of the dough, water plays an indispensable binding role: aquae coagulum; was not this water that of baptism, which actually begins the work of unity that the Eucharist is to deepen?  From the time of St. Irenaeus, the teaching of Saint Paul had begun to receive this colorful but authentic commentary, and St. Augustine liked to imbue the minds of neophytes with it. “All are made to be one bread, the dominical bread”.  The correspondence of symbols does not cease there.  For this water of baptism, was not it again St. John who showed it flowing with the blood―symbol of the Eucharist―from the side of Jesus, opened by the spear? “That is drunk which flowed from the side of Christ”.  The liturgies did not fail to recall it at the moment at which the priest adds water to the wine in the chalice.  But, did not this mystical mixture symbolize at the same time, as Saint Cyprian had explained at length, the necessary union of Christ and the Christian people, ransomed by the Passion of Christ in the sacrifice of the Church?  Who separates water, denies the union of Christ and the Church.  Since both were necessary at Calvary, to form the Church, the blood and the water remained together equally necessary to effect our salvation.  From that proceeds the necessity of the water and of the wine for the sacrament, a necessity underlined in turn by the more recent liturgical prayers.[121]

Augustine had developed the doctrinal foundation of nuptial symbolism t in his Sermo 341 and in many other places.  De Lubac has himself asserted it to be indispensable to Catholic worship, as it could not be had he supposed it to possess a merely extrinsic metaphorical significance.[122]   Augustine has written:

Et quomodo sponsus et sponsa, sic caput et corpus: quia caput mulieris vir. Sive ergo dicam caput et corpus, sive dicam sponsus et sponsa; unum intelligete.

Sermo 341, 12,

This is amply clear, insofar as it goes, but it provides no clarification of the “unum” which it affirms, and which Augustine will refer to as “una persona” which makes little sense.   Neither do the Fathers appear to have been able to distinguish clearly the entirely distinct meanings of the Pauline “métaphores” which designate on the one hand (1) the covenantal unity of Christ and his Church as the nuptial “One Flesh” instituted on the cross: that is, as the free, covenantal union of Christ and the Church (the New Covenant) and, on the other hand (2) the Church as the bridal body whose members are freely unified by reason of their free participation in ecclesia in the metaphysically prior One Flesh, the product of the outpouring of the Spirit upon the Bridal Church into which they are baptized.

While as we have seen de Lubac’s repeated references to the Pauline language as metaphorical does not carry in French the stress upon extrinsic denomination that the English ‘metaphor’ bears, they do tend to dismiss without discussion the substantial metaphysical import of Paul’s use of “mia sarx” to denote the free unity of the substance whose source is the Head.  For Paul, the foundation of the free unity of the Head and the Body in One Flesh is very clearly the free substantial unity of the Trinity, whose source is the Head, the Father, from whom proceed the only-begotten Son and, through the Son, the Holy Spirit that is their subsistent Love, the Spirit that is the irreducibly, personally distinct, subsistent free Unity of the Father and the Son.[123]  The Trinitarian Missions of the Son and the Spirit terminate in the One Flesh that is the substantial Image of the divine Substance, the Trinity.  The One Flesh, as the Image of the Trinity, must possess an analogously trinitarian order, that of the procession of the second Eve from her Head, the second Adam and from him, through her, the procession of distinctly subsisting love that is their irrevocable nuptial covenant, by which they are One Flesh.

1. Augustine and Eucharistic Symbolism

Clearly, only the concrete, substantial unity of the free, Trinity-imaging One Flesh can justify Augustine’s Eucharistic doctrine.  Apart from the recognition of that free, nuptial, Trinity-imaging substantiality, Augustine’s Eucharistic doctrine  is easily regarded as defeated by the semantic obscurities to which de Lubac, Batiffol, and Camelot, among many other patristic scholars, have referred.[124]  These critics are not on that account to be thought in sympathy with the allegation by major Church historians, and exploited by a host of sub-theological contemporary liturgists, of a Christomonism in Augustine’s Eucharistic theology to the point, in at least one contemporary instance, of finding there a symbolist departure from the Catholic doctrinal tradition.[125]

Johannes Betz’ denial of Augustine’s Eucharistic orthodoxy reduces it to a symbolism, a departure from the tradition of the Catholic Church.[126]  He is convinced that Augustine did not understand the Eucharistic consecration to effect the historically objective Real Presence of the Body and Blood of Christ.  He argues that Augustine’s use of “fieri” to designate the effect of the Eucharistic consecration does not entail or require the explicitly metaphysical change found in the “deutlichere, speziellere Wandlungstermini.”  We have noted Pierre Batiffol’s critical remarks upon Augustine’s failure to use such terms as metabolé, metapoiesis, transubstantiatio and conversio to denote the transubstantiation of the elements.  In Augustine’s defense it first should be pointed out that those terms are analytic; and do not respond to Augustine’s phenomenological interest in the Eucharist.  His assertion of the change of the elements into the body and the blood of Jesus the Christ employs the concretely historical term, “fieri,” to denote a concrete event: the prime Event of the Eucharistic Sacrifice.[127]  The “more specialized” terms which Betz considers to have a metaphysical import lacking to “fieri” are in fact abstract and refer not to the prime Event but to its direct implication: the Event-Presence at once of the sacrificing High Priest and of the Victim of the One Sacrifice offered in his Person.  It should be remembered that “real presence” does not of itself denote that Event, as Luther well knew, having condemned the sesquimillenial Eucharistic offering of the Sacrifice of the Mass as a “Babylonian Captivity” while insisting, against Karlstadt, Zwingli, and the Sacramentarians, upon the “real presence” of Christ in the Eucharist.  His static understanding of the real presence is underlined by his effort to explain it in terms of ubiquity, his cosmological label for the eternal divine omnipresence.

Betz’ criticism of the inadequacy of “fieri” fails to note the clear metaphysical import of “fieri” in John 1:14, whose Latin rendition, “Verbum caro factum est, et inhabitavit in nobis” denotes the Event of the kenōtic immanence of Jesus Christ in fallen human history.  The same usage occurs in Jn. 1:12, wherein those who believe in Jesus’ Name may become (genesthai) the children of God: “filios Dei fieri.”  It is idle to deny the metaphysical import of this New Testament usage of the “fieri,” and equally idle to condemn its use by Augustine, and not only by him.  It is here worth noting that the fourth-century Euchologion or Sacramentary of Serapion of Thmuis, an ally of Athanasius against the Arians, uses “genetai,” i.e., “becomes,” to describe the transubstantiation of the elements’ Cyril of Jerusalem used “metaballesthai” to the same effect[128].  Similarly, Betz fails to note the use of the “fiat mihi” in Mary’s consent to the Event of her conception of her Lord, whereby she “became” the Mother of God:

πς σται τοτο, πε νδρα ο γινσκω . . . . δο δολη κυρου.   γνοιτ μοι κατ τ ῥῆμ σου. (LK. 1:34, 37-38)

Nestlé-Aland, Novum Testamentum Graece et Latine, 28th ed., 2012 [hereafter, Nestlé-Αland], pp. 179-80.

Quomodo fiet istud, quoniam virum non cognosco?  . . . . Ecce ancilla Domini: fiat mihi secundum verbum tuum.


It is beyond discussion that Mary’s conception of her Lord, her becoming the Mother of God, is a metaphysical event, an objective change.

Here we are already on Eucharistic ground, for it is quite impossible to understand Mary’s motherhod of Jesus apart from the transubstantiation of her gift of her fecundity, concretely, of her ovum, into the Body and Blood of Jesus the Christ, for she conceived, not his humanity, but his Person, the “one and the same Son:” only thus is she the Theotokos.  As we shall see, the close association of the Incarnation with the Eucharistic liturgy is ancient patristic doctrine: Justin was familiar with it in the second century(Apol. 1, 66).  It is in fact incontest­able.  Every theological effort to explain Our Lady’s motherhood of Jesus as an assumption of “flesh” in her by the non-historical Logos – i.e., “flesh” in the cosmologized sense of an impersonal human nature, inevitably an abstraction, for its individuation can only be personal, apart from which individuation the Christ would not possess the fullness of humanity  has failed.  As earlier observed, Mary’s conception of her Lord is the prolepsis of Jesus’ sacrificial institution of the New Covenant at the Last Supper; Mary’s “fiat mihi” is the antetype of the Church’s Eucharistic offering of her gifts, also as the second Eve, that they may become the Real Presence of Jesus Christ the High Priest offering himself as the Victim of his One Sacrifice.  It is in her Eucharistic celebration that the Church is manifest as the second Eve, becoming One Flesh with her Lord, as Mary, by her offering, became One Flesh with her Lord, her Son.  This event, in which the second Eve is One Flesh with her Lord, is single: as  there is One Flesh, there is one Bridegroom and one bride: their union is one Event, his transubstantiation of her gift by which she, proceeding from him in immaculate integrity, is at once his mother and his bride.  .

Betz finds further indication of Eucharistic symbolism in Augustine’s preference for speaking of the consecration in terms of the “mystical word and the Holy Spirit.”  This charge intimates Augustine’s use of a consecratory epiclesis of the Spirit.

Er spricht aber von der Konsekration der Elemente durch das mystische Wort un den Heiligen Geist.

De trinitate 3, 4, 10.

The Latin text of this passage reads as follows:  .

10. Si ergo apostolus Paulus, quamuis adhuc portaret sarcinam corporis quod corrumpitur et aggrauat animam, quamuis adhuc ex parte atque in aenigmate ideret, optans dissolui et esse cum Christo, et in semetipso ingemiscens, adoptionem exspectans redemptionem corporis sui, potuit tamen significando praedicare dominum Jesum Christum, aliter per linguam suam, aliter per epistolam, aliter per sacramentum corporis et sanguinis ejus; nec linguam quippe eius, nec membranas et atramentum nec significantes sonos lingua editos nec signa litterarum conscripta pelliculis corpus Christi et sanguinem dicimus; sed illud tantum quod ex fructibus terrae acceptum et prece mystica consecratum rite sumimus ad salutem spiritalem in memoriam pro nobis dominicae passionis, quod cum per manus hominum ad illam uisibilem speciem perducatur non sanctificatur ut sit tam magnum sacramentum, nisi operante inuisibiliter spiritu dei, cum haec omnia quae per corporales motus in illo opere fiunt deus operetur mouens primitus inuisibilia ministrorum siue animas hominum, siue occultorum spirituum sibi subditas seruitutes; quid mirum si etiam in creatura coeli et terrae, maris et aeris, facit deus quae uult sensibilia atque uisibilia ad se ipsum in eis sicut oportere ipse nouit significandum et demonstrandum, non ipsa sua qua est apparente substantia quae omnino incommutabilis est omnibusque spiritibus quos creauit, interius secretiusque sublimior?

a. The emergence and progress of Eucharistic symbolism.

We are here concerned for Eucharistic symbolism as a Christian heresy; in that sense, it was unknown before Berengarius, whose untutored application of binary logic to the Eucharistic Words of Institution amounted to an a priori denial of their truth and so of their sacramental efficacy.  A consistent use of that logic would have forestalled his own argumentation, as similarly constituted by sentences whose respective subjects and predicates must either identify or exclude each other, their association being mere tautology in the one case, and flat nonsense in the other.  In the event, Berengarius was charged with “impanationism,” the heretical assertion of a Eucharistic presence of Christ independent of any change in the Eucharistic elements, in such wise that the presence of the Christ could not be a historical presence, an objective and therefore public event, the offering of the One Sacrifice.  With this, the Eucharist lost historical objectivity, to became the ritual expression of a subjective piety.  Eucharistic symbolism, however conceived or labeled, is always the corollary of the denial of the historical objectivity of the Eucharistic offering of the One Sacrifice.  Summarily, symbolism is the alternative to the sacramental realism of the Catholic liturgy, which rests upon the priestly offering of the One Sacrifice: this is the linch-pin of Catholicism, as Luther well knew.

From the first century, the objective historicity of Jesus the Lord has been under attack.  The pagan/gnostic critique of the historical unity of God and man in Christ could not but bear as well upon his Eucharistic historicity.  The rational impossibility of a divine immanence in history is basic to pagan liturgies, and has a variety of technical expressions in the philosophical speculations of the more advanced pagan cultures.  These philosophies, the “plunder of the Egyptians,” are monist in their supposition of the radical unity of substantial being, and dualist in their recognition that this unity is contradicted in history by a “meontic” principle of duality and change that bars the realization of the divine attributes of unity, goodness, truth, and beauty in history.

This anti-historical rationale characterizes all attacks upon Catholic sacramental realism, of which Eucharistic sacrifice is the effective expression, the root cause of the historical Church.  Its rejection by the Reform requires a nonhistorical worship by a nonhistorical church, which is to say, a church whose nonhistorical purity would be sullied by any tinge of historicity: the theologians of the Reform suppose Catholic sacramental realism to be the product of a ‘fall’ of the nonhistorical church into the confusions of historicity.[129]  Schillebeeckx would postpone this “fall” to the Middle Ages.

The contemporary modalities of Eucharistic symbolism are variations upon the Protestant denial of the historical mediation of the grace of the risen Lord and the consequent reduction of that grace to nonhistoricity via justification sola fide. These modalities differ only in the degree to which the immanent logic of this dehistoricization is accepted and affirmed.  The concrete historical content of the New Testament inhibits this rationalization to the extent that some elements of that content are held as matters of faith: Luther’s rejection of Zwingli’s radical dehistoricization of the Eucharist is an evident example of this inhibition.  Unfortunately, over the course of time it is more and more regarded as irrational.

i. Symbolism in the Insititutio Generalis Missalis Romani

Sacrosanctum Concilium is the first of the documents of the Second Vatican Council to be promulgated, and in some ways the most important, for its text underlies most of the changes which the Catholic Church has since undergone.  Chief among these is a confusion over the Real Presence of Jesus the Christ in the Eucharistic celebration of the One Sacrifice:

To accomplish so great a work Christ is always present in his Church, especially in her liturgical celebrations.  He is present in the Sacrifice of the Mass not only in the person of his minister, “the same now offering, through the ministry of priests, who formerly offered himself on the cross,”20 but especially in the Eucharistic species.  By his power he is present in the sacraments so what when anyone baptizes it is really Christ himself who baptizes21  He is present in his word since it is he himself who speaks when the holy scriptures are read in the Church.  Lastly, he is present when the Church prays and sings, for he has promised “where two or three are gathered together in my name there am I in  the midst of them.”  (Mt. 18:20)

20. Council of Trent, Session 22, Doctrine on the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, ch. 2.

21. Cf. St. Augustine, Tractatus in Joannem, vi, ch. 1, n. 7.

Sacrosanctum Concilium, Ch. I, § 7.

Read within the context provided by the entire document, and by those later promulgated by the Council, it is quite evident that this language is at one with Council’s concern for Eucharistic orthodoxy, and that at the same time recognizes a need felt among the bishops to mitigate in some fashion the Tridentine stress upon those doctrines which the Reform had rejected, notable among which is of course the Real Presence as the direct implication of the Sacrifice of the Mass.  These had been the subject of an extensive ecumenical discussion which the Conciliar fathers wished to encourage without any departure from the Tridentine definitions.  This will have contributed, as will appear, to Sacrosanctum Concilium’s affirmation of a variety of liturgical-sacramental “presences” of Christ, viz., in the celebrant, in the Eucharistic species, in the preaching of the word, in baptism.  No attempt is made to integrate them, although “especially in the Eucharistic species” provides the principle of that integration.  The concluding paragraphs of §7 make this explicit:

Christ indeed always associates the Church with Himself in this great work wherein God is perfectly glorified and men are sanctified. The Church is His beloved Bride who calls to her Lord, and through Him offers worship to the Eternal Father.

Rightly, then, the liturgy is considered as an exercise of the priestly office of Jesus Christ.  In the liturgy the sanctification of the man is signified by signs perceptible to the senses, and is effected in a way which corresponds with each of these signs, the communication of whose meaning to the congregation in order that they may appropriate that truth is the purpose of the liturgy.  In sum, the Church’s public worship, radically the Eucharistic liturgy, is performed by the Mystical Body of Jesus Christ, that is, by the members of his Church, the Bride who offers her worship to the Father through the authority of those ordained to offer the One Sacrifice of Christ in his Name, in his Person.

From this it follows that every liturgical celebration, because it is an action of Christ the priest and of His Body which is the Church, is a sacred action surpassing all others; no other action of the Church can equal its efficacy by the same title and to the same degree.

Pius XII had introduced the theme of a plurality of Eucharistic presences in the encyclical Mediator Dei (November, 1947).  Paul VI repeated this theme in Mysterium Fidei (September, 1965), published two years after Sacrosanctum Concilium was promulgated, and three months before the close of the Second Vatican Council.  Mysterium Fidei was written inter alia to condemn the theologies which would exchange the doctrine of objective Eucharistic transubstantiation for the entirely subjective changes then being labeled “transignification” and “transfinalization.” These terms named symbolist departures from Eucharistic realism; their subjectivity could not sustain the historical objectivity, the Event, of the Eucharistic Sacrifice.

In Mysterium Fidei the Pope elaborated upon the language of Sacrosanctum Concilium §7, first by designating the subsidiary Eucharistic presences as “real,” thus more clearly associating them with the Real Presence of Christ as High Priest and Victim of the One Sacrifice, and then by carefully placing the several liturgical “real presences” of Christ within the context of their relation to and dependence upon the uniquely substantial Real Presence, i.e., the Event of the  priestly offering of the One Sacrifice:

ii. Christ is Sacramentally Present in the Sacrifice of the Mass

34. The few things that We have touched upon concerning the Sacrifice of the Mass encourage Us to say something about the Sacrament of the Eucharist, since both Sacrifice and Sacrament pertain to the same mystery and cannot be separated from each other. The Lord is immolated in an unbloody (incruente) way in the Sacrifice of the Mass and He represents the sacrifice of the Cross and applies its salvific power at the moment when he becomes sacramentally present—through the words of consecration—as the spiritual food of the faithful, under the appearances of bread and wine.

1The multiple Eucharistic Presences of the Christ

35. All of us realize that there is more than one way in which Christ is present in His Church. We want to go into this very joyful subject, which the Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy presented briefly, (30) at somewhat greater length. Christ is present in His Church when she prays, since He is the one who “prays for us and prays in us and to whom we pray: He prays for us as our priest, He prays in us as our head, He is prayed to by us as our God” (31); and He is the one who has promised, “Where two or three are gathered together in my name, I am there in the midst of them.” (32) He is present in the Church as she performs her works of mercy, not just because whatever good we do to one of His least brethren we do to Christ Himself, (33)but also because Christ is the one who performs these works through the Church and who continually helps men with His divine love. He is present in the Church as she moves along on her pilgrimage with a longing to reach the portals of eternal life, for He is the one who dwells in our hearts through faith, (34) and who instills charity in them through the Holy Spirit whom He gives to us. (35)

36. In still another very genuine way, He is present in the Church as she preaches, since the Gospel which she proclaims is the word of God, and it is only in the name of Christ, the Incarnate Word of God, and by His authority and with His help that it is preached, so that there might be “one flock resting secure in one shepherd.” (36)

37. He is present in His Church as she rules and governs the People of God, since her sacred power comes from Christ and since Christ, the “Shepherd of Shepherds,” (37) is present in the bishops who exercise that power, in keeping with the promise He made to the Apostles.

38. Moreover, Christ is present in His Church in a still more sublime manner as she offers the Sacrifice of the Mass in His name; He is present in her as she administers the sacraments. On the matter of Christ’s presence in the offering of the Sacrifice of the Mass, We would like very much to call what St. John Chrysostom, overcome with awe, had to say in such accurate and eloquent words: “I wish to add something that is clearly awe-inspiring, but do not be surprised or upset. What is this? It is the same offering, no matter who offers it, be it Peter or Paul. It is the same one that Christ gave to His disciples and the same one that priests now perform: the latter is in no way inferior to the former, for it is not men who sanctify the latter, but He who sanctified the former. For just as the words which God spoke are the same as those that the priest now pronounces, so too the offering is the same.” (38) No one is unaware that the sacraments are the actions of Christ who administers them through men. And so the sacraments are holy in themselves and they pour grace into the soul by the power of Christ, when they touch the body.

The Highest Kind of Presence.

These various ways in which Christ is present fill the mind with astonishment and offer the Church a mystery for her contemplation. But there is another way in which Christ is present in His Church, a way that surpasses all the others. It is His presence in the Sacrament of the Eucharist, which is, for this reason, “a more consoling source of devotion, a lovelier object of contemplation and holier in what it contains” (39) than all the other sacraments; for it contains Christ Himself and it is “a kind of consummation of the spiritual life, and in a sense the goal of all the sacraments.” (40)

39. 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. (41) 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.” (42)

In order that they should achieve a deeper understanding of the mystery of the Eucharist, the faithful should be instructed in the principal ways in which the Lord is present to his Church in liturgical celebrations.

He is always present in a body of the faithful gathered in his name (cf. Mt. 18:20).  He is present, too, in his Word, for it is he who speaks when the Scriptures are read in the Church.

In the sacrifice of the Eucharist he is present both in the person of the minister, “the same now offering through the ministry of the priest who formerly offered himself on the cross,” and above all under the species of the Eucharist.  For in this sacrament Christ is present in a unique way, whole and entire, God and man, substantially and permanently.  This presence of Christ under the species is called ‘real’ not in an exclusive sense, as if the other kinds of presence were not real, but par excellence.”

The Congregation of Rites published Eucharisticum Mysterium in May, 1967, a year and a half after the close of the Council, using language very similar to that of Mysterium Fidei to stress the ancillary character of those insubstantial Eucharistic “real presences” of Christ which had been proposed in Sacrosanctum Concilium, ¶7, and whose reality had been clarified by Mysterium Fidei, including that “presence” referred to in Mt. 18:20.  Their reality was again affirmed to be dependent upon “liturgical celebrations,” and again their subordination to and dependence upon the offering of the Eucharistic sacrifice is evident.[130]

i. The Different Modalities of the Christ’s Eucharistic Presence

In order that they should achieve a deeper understanding of the mystery of the Eucharist, the faithful should be instructed in the principal ways in which the Lord is present to his Church in liturgical celebrations.

He is always present in a body of the faithful gathered in his name (cf. Mt. 18:20).  He is present, too, in his Word, for it is he who speaks when the Scriptures are read in the Church.

In the sacrifice of the Eucharist he is present both in the person of the minister, “the same now offering through the ministry of the priest who formerly offered himself on the cross,” and above all under the species of the Eucharist.  For in this sacrament Christ is present in a unique way, whole and entire, God and man, substantially and permanently.  This presence of Christ under the species is called ‘real’ not in an exclusive sense, as if the other kinds of presence were not real, but par excellence.”

Paul VI, Eucharisticum Mysterium, §9

Henri de Lubac has summarized this Eucharistic doctrine with his usual precision :

“Communicare,” “participare,” ”consortes et socios esse”: le sens complexe de ces formules, constatons-nous une dernière fois, se calque exactement sur la sens complexe du mot “corpus.”  Elles aussi, au fond, désignent moins deux objets successifs que, à la fois, deux choses que n’en font qu’une.  Car le corps du Christ qu’est l’Èglise n’est point autre qu ce corps et ce sang du mystère. (emphasis added

The Venerable Bede had made the same point:

Ne quisquam se Christum agnovisse arbitretur, si ejus corporis particeps non est, id est, Ecclesiae.

In Lucae Evang. Cap. xxiii

The dependence of Eucharisticum Mysterium upon Mysterium Fidei is evident: e.g.,

This (sacrificial) presence is called “real”—by which it is not intended to exclude all 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, the God-Man, is wholly and entirely present.(41) [Conc. of Trent, Decree on the Eucharist, Ch. 3.] It would therefore be wrong to explain this presence by having recourse to the “spiritual” nature, as it is called, of the glorified Body of Christ, which is present everywhere, or by reducing it to a kind of symbolism, as if this most august Sacrament consisted of nothing else than an efficacious sign, “of the spiritual presence of Christ and of His intimate union with the faithful, members of His Mystical Body.

Paul VI, Mysterium Fidei, 39.

Paul VI wrote Mysterium Fidei (1965) simply to reaffirm Eucharistic orthodoxy against theological currents which had understood Vatican II to have severed the post-Conciliar Church from its past: from that dissident stance, the Church’s Eucharistic tradition, her historical worship in truth, was now to be submitted to the criterion of a consciousness informed by a modernity unavailable to those centuries in which the doctrinal tradition had taken its shape, but which would henceforth be the touchstone by which the authenticity of the Church’s radically liturgical and Eucharistic mediation of the truth of Christ must be judged.  Until 1975, this attempt to reform the Church’s worship by its submission to a criterion transcending her Eucharistic union with her Lord had been by way of theological dissent: this was to change.

The first intimation of a quasi-official subscription to Eucharistic symbolism appears in the Introduction of the G.I.R.M. of 1975; it was faithfully copied into the 5th edition (2000) of the Institutio Generalis Missalis Romani.  Three years later, in 2003, the U.S.C.C.B. published a “study translation” of the Institutio Generalis Missalis Romani, now commonly known as the “new G.I.R.M.”:  The pertinent text is as follows:

The older Missal (promulgated by Pius V in 1570), belongs to the difficult period of attacks against Catholic teaching on the sacrificial nature of the Mass, the ministerial priesthood, and the real and permanent presence of Christ under the Eucharistic elements. Saint Pius V was therefore especially concerned with preserving the relatively recent developments in the Church’s tradition then unjustly being assailed, and introduced only very slight changes into the sacred rites.

G.I.R.M. 2000, §7, copied from G.I.R.M. 1975, Introduction, §7 (emphasis added).

One must ask, with regard to the aforesaid “relatively recent develop­ments in the Church’s tradition” further described as “then (in the late sixteenth century) unjustly being assailed,” precisely what moment it is to which these “developments” are “relative.”  Clearly, insofar as they are “recent developments”, their relation can be only to a previously achieved state of the Church’s tradition, a state prior then to the moment in which these developments were “then being unjustly assailed.”

Both of these editions of the G.I.R.M. specify these developments as (1) the sacrifice of the Mass, (2) the sacrificing priesthood, and (3) the Real Presence, observing that these elements of the Eucharistic worship of the Church were at the time of the publication of the “older Missal” under attack by Protestant theologians―an attack which had been familiar since Berengarius’ revolt in the eleventh century. A dozen years John XXIII announced his intention to convene an ecumenical council, Pius XII had reaffirmed the constant Catholic tradition:

2. But what is more, the divine Redeemer has so willed it that the priestly life begun with the supplication and sacrifice of His mortal body should continue without intermission down the ages in His Mystical Body which is the Church.  That is why He established a visible priesthood to offer everywhere the clean oblation [4] which would enable men from East to West, freed from the shackles of sin, to offer God that unconstrained and voluntary homage which their conscience dictates.

4  Cf.  Mal. 1 :11.

Pius XII, Mediator Dei, ¶2.

It is evident that nothing taught at Vatican II warrants the notion that the worship of the primitive Church was not Eucharistic from the first Pentecost:

And they devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching, to the breaking of the bread, and to prayers.

Acts 2:41. (RSV)

It is further noteworthy that the authors of the G.I.R.M., under the same subheading: “A Witness to the Unbroken Tradition,” in the paragraph (No. 9) invoking the patristic tradition, did not mention the earliest witnesses to the central element of that unbroken tradition, viz., the Eucharistic sacrifice, and to its corollary, the apostolic succession of the bishops to offer that sacrifice.  Clement of Rome had witnessed to both before the end of the first century; Ignatius Martyr had done the same at the beginning of the second century, and Justin Martyr, in the middle of that second century, had also witnessed to precisely these matters, as had Irenaeus at its close.  This patristic witness was given by a Pope and two martyrs within a century of the martyrdom of St. Peter and fourteen centuries prior to the Council of Trent.  It is unconscionable to ignore them when appealing to the patristic tradition to support the “unbroken tradition.”  The tradition is indeed unbroken: as liturgical, as Eucharistic, as divinely instituted, it could not be otherwise.

The G.I.R.M.s’ entirely gratuitous attribution of relative novelty to the Eucharistic doctrinal tradition, viz., to the Sacrifice of the Mass, to the Real Presence of Christ in the consecrated elements, and to the sacrament of Orders by which the bishops and priests have for nearly two millennia succeeded to the apostolic authority to offer the Eucharistic Sacrifice in the Person of Christ, implies that a yet older, more venerable tradition underlies the Church’s Eucharistic worship of her risen Lord, a tradition then of non-sacramental worship from which the tradition of Eucharistic worship emerged, and which consequently must transcend its product, the Sacrifice of the Mass, as cause transcends effect.

Both the 1975 and the 2000 editions of the G.I.R.M. agree in asserting this evolutionary understanding of the Church’s Eucharistic worship.  By implication, both editions deny the Eucharistic cause of the Church, for in the scenario envisioned, the Church is the cause of the emerging Eucharistic worship, rather than being the effect of the Apostles’ exercise of the Eucharistic office given them at the Last Supper, which was their prime responsibility, and is the prime responsibility of the episcopal successors to the Apostolic office.  The kindest explanation of this travesty is an ill-informed ecumenical sensitivity infecting its authors; it need not be the most likely.

The decade prior to the issue of the 3rd edition of the G.I.R.M. (the “study translation” published by the U.S.C.C.B. in 2003) witnessed the waning, for good and sufficient reason, of the traditional Catholic interest in a systematic theology governed by the immanent necessities of one or another metaphysical monism, in favor of a turn to the fresh air of the positive sciences, notably exegesis, church history, and sociology, all under the influence of an ill-defined historical consciousness whose possessors came routinely to suppose the humanism and historicism of the Enlightenment to be indispensable to intellectual honesty.  In the words of one of them, exegetical method must be “presuppositionless.”  Inasmuch as taking this ambition seriously would preclude such presuppositions as the principle of contradiction, we may suppose that the suppositions to be exorcised are those embodied in the Catholic tradition, there evidently being none other threatening academic integrity.

A long-standing humanistic anxiety has required that adherence to the Catholic doctrinal tradition be foresworn as a contamination of the mind.  This anxiety in turn was discovered by the Reform to demand the a priori commitment to the pagan persuasion of the intrinsic meaninglessness, the insignificance, of history.  In consequence of an effectively unanimous academic enlistment in what Von Balthasar has labeled an anti-Romische Affekt, the theological vocation which, under Catholic auspices, had been a free, because graced, quaerens intellectum, underwent a sea-change, to become a querulous quaerens potestatem. a quest for the power to impose inevitably arbitrary interpretations upon otherwise meaningless concatenations of phenomena produced by a value-free exegesis in order that they might have a the unity of a “narrative” corresponding to what Plato labeled ‘a likely account:,” in sum, an abstract continuity of discourse possessing no intrinsic significance.

The application of this pagan insight to history had puzzled the Greeks, whose historians display an unwonted curiosity about the past which the historical pessimism, inherent in all paganism and canonized by the Platonic tradition, is unable to warrant.  Historical reality had been disdained as irrational by Plato and his disciples: by reason of its lack of intrinsically intelligible causes;  history ceased to be an object of theoretical inquiry, nor could Aristotle’s riposte, the act-potency rationalization of historical existence, justify any such curiosity about history as Herodotus and Thucidides had displayed, and as Aristotle would later display in the empirical studies which chiefly occupied his latter years.

The same dilemma doomed the Enlightenment’s secularization of history: Hume’s four-volume History of England was no more focused upon the intrinsic significance of that history than had been the “whig interpretation of history” which he intended to dethrone.  Hume, the quintessence of enlightened scholarship, was loyal to the Cartesian ab extra mathematic­cization of truth rather than to a quest for the instrinsic signifycance of history,  for in his view it could have none. This required that he lump even his own History of England under those works not worth reading.  His famous put-down of confident non-empirical learning is a study in self-contradiction:

When we run over libraries, persuaded of these principles, what havoc must we make? If we take in our hand any volume; of divinity or school metaphysics, for instance; let us ask, Does it contain any abstract reasoning concerning quantity or number? No. Does it contain any experimental reasoning concerning matter of fact and existence? No.  Commit it then to the flames: for it can contain nothing but sophistry and illusion.

An Enquiry Concerning Human Understanding, Part III, Of the academical or sceptical Philosophy, para. 11.

It may be said with some confidence that the book in which this statement appears does not satisfy the criteria asserted as prerequisite to their existence, nor could they, without entering upon an infinite recession avoidable only by begging the question posed.  The concession to “experimental reasoning concerning matter of fact and existence” is no more than a the warrant for the de gustibus view of historical scholarship which it embodies; any alternative basis for its synthesis would savor of “divinity or school metaphysics.”

On both counts, whether as fostering the religious corruption of the intelligence, or as insisting upon the objective, intrinsic significance of history, Catholic sacramental realism found itself under the gun, and not least from within the Catholic community.  We have noted the observation of one major Catholic theologian that while there may be unchanging elements in the Church, this would have to be proven to the modern mind.[131]   Hume exemplifies at once the ‘modern mind’ and the absurdity of finding in that secular rationality the criterion of what the Church may reasonably teach.

As it turned out, insofar as the historical Church is concerned the modern mind was and remains  not much interested.  Under the auspices of the secularized notion of academic freedom promulgated by the American Association of University Professors as indispensable to intellectual honesty, the Catholic academy gradually subscribed to the ancient axiom that the road is better than the inn: the scholarly quest for truth bars its historical possession.  Under this dogmatic agnosticism, personal commitment must be reduced to politics, to the quaerens potestatem of the modern university, with the consequence that the co-existence in the same mind of subscription to the historical Catholic faith and commitment to rigorous scholarly inquiry as understood by the A.A.U.P. can scarcely avoid schizophrenia.

It appears that the authors of all three editions of the G.I.R.M. were under this positivist influence in their insertion of an evolutionary Eucharistic worship into their texts.  Either because the dogmatic presuppositions of the Eucharistic worship were first solemnly defined by the Council of Trent against the Reformers (emphatically, they were not “proposed” as the G.I.R.M. proposes), or because the theological defense of the ancient tradition against Berengarius which in the twelfth century issued in a doctrine of Eucharistic transubstantiation as the inexorable implication of the Eucharistic Words of Institution had been given doctrinal standing only at the Fourth Lateran Council in 1215, the inference was drawn that the Catholic tradition was articulate only as thus solemnly proclaimed.  From the ninth century, the theologians’ search for the necessary reasons they thought to underlie the truth of the Catholic faith had prepared the way for this sancta simplicitas by suggesting that the rationality of the Catholic faith requires its reduction to prior causal principles: taken seriously, this quest refuses the free historicity of the faith that Jesus is the Lord―which knows no abstract statement and therefore no necessary causes.

It seems that the authors of all the editions of the G.I.R.M. supposed that only solemn dogmatic definitions can authentically utter the faith of the Catholic faith, and this in such wise that prior to their promulgation their content had not entered into the Church’s worship in truth.  This has the logical consequence that any doctrinal statement must be relatively novel, i.e., relative to the presumptively inarticulate status quo ante of the faith of the Catholic Church and so of the Catholic faithful which, from the stance of the G.I.R.M., has become remarkably similar to that of the nonhistorical and the nonhistorical church of the Reformers.

The casual presumption by the authors of the G.I.R.M. of an inarticulate but liturgically mediated faith is obvious nonsense: the Church’s worship of her Lord is her Eucharistic celebration of the One Sacrifice of Jesus the Lord.  This celebration has never needed definition, for its oral tradition underlies all doctrinal definition: it transcends all doctrine, as it is itself incapable of being transcended by the doctrinal tradition of which it is the source.

The G.I.R.M. attribution of novelty to these central doctrines is thus patently false: the sacrifice of the Mass is a scriptural datum, affirmed as of course by Clement of Rome in Ad Corinth. §44. 1,4, by Ignatius Martyr, whose Letters to the Churches are an eloquent and extended testimony to the inseparability of the Eucharistic sacrifice, the hierarchy, and the Church; by Justin Martyr’s exposition of that Eucharistic orthodoxy in his Dialiogue with Trypho: in sum, by the entire the patristic tradition: it was first challenged by Berengarius in the eleventh century.  Luther’s early polemic/against Eucharistic orthodoxy, The Babylonian Captivity, recognized that his denial of the Sacrifice of the Mass contradicted fifteen centuries of tradition.  This is not the place to detail the patristic sources: a passing acquaintance with the first volume of Msgr. Jurgen’s The Faith of the Early Fathers would have revealed the absurdity of the G.I.R.M. assertion that the Tridentine defense of the Church’s Eucharistic doctrine was a defense of “recent developments.”  The theological riposte in the eleventh and twelfth century theologians to the Berengarian heresy was a defense of the ancient faith which the Fathers at Trent only re-affirmed.

The symbolist implication of this attribution of “development” to the liturgical proclamation of the ancient Faith that Jesus is the Lord is evident: it echoes the standard Protestant ecclesiology.[132]  The G.I.R.M. application of this Protestant ecclesiology supposes that the Church’s liturgy also undergoes the same development: it also must have “become episcopal” in flat denial of the Apostolic succession and of all that depends upon it: viz., the Eucharistic worship of the Church.

It is manifest that the Catholic Church and her Eucharistic worship are not the product of such a process, for the Catholic tradition is Eucharistic from the outset: were it not, the Church would not exist, for her source is the Eucharistic Sacrifice, whereby she is One Flesh with her Lord, proceeding from him as from her Head: absent his institution of the Eucharist, it could not exist, for the offering of his One Sacrifice has no surrogates.

There is of course a development of doctrine within the Eucharistic tradition, for in that worship the Mystery it mediates is “forever ancient and forever new,” forever transcending its reception by the believer, but the Mystery, the immanence of the risen Christ as High Priest and the One Sacrifice in his bridal Church, is objectively proclaimed as factual, as historically actual in the Sacrifice of the Mass.  The Catholic tradition is in fact the Catholic worship, whose Eucharistic heart is the priestly offering of the One Sacrifice in the Name of Jesus the Lord, whose Sacrifice it is, as its High Priest, and as its Victim.  The Eucharistic liturgy is the source of the Catholic Church, of Catholic doctrine, of Catholic moral practice.  It is divinely instituted.  To suggest that the Eucharistic Sacrifice is a product of development is to have departed from the Catholic tradition.

By supposing the Eucharistic tradition to consist in “recent developments in the Church’s tradition,” the Introduction to the G.I.R.M. must also suppose the Church to be a “gathered” church, one whose source is not the Eucharist, and whose unity is nonhistorical, thus subjective.  This assumption devolves to an ecclesiology of the baptized whose “assembly” constitutes the Church.  But Catholic Church preexists the assembly of the baptized, all of whose members are baptized in order that they may then enter into the preexistent Church, solely that they may participate in the fullness of her Eucharistic worship, and responsibly undertake the historical mission which that historical worship sustains.

Six years after the publication of the 3rd  edition of the G.I.R.M., and fifteen years after his publication of The Eucharist, Edward Schillebeeckx published his own comparably symbolist assault upon the Eucharistic tradition.[133]  There he condemned the offering of the Sacrifice of the Mass in the Person of Christ as a medieval deformation of the ancient faith, an imposition of an elitist hierarchical governance upon a church whose unstructured freedom of worship it had violated.  Further to this end, In order to support of his denial of the authenticity of the Catholic Eucharistic worship, Schillebeeckx chose to omit the crucial elements of Clement’s Letter to the Corinthians, and to postpone the accepted dating of Ignatius Martyr’s Letters to the Churches (ca. 110 AD) to the close of the second century, inasmuch as their early dating did not offer a sufficient time for the predicated evolution of their doctrinal content, particularly with respect to Ignatius’ clear and repeated testimony, as the bishop of the ancient see of Antioch, where Christians were first so named, where Paul appears to have learned his Eucharistic doctrine, to the existence of a hierarchical Eucharistic ministry in the first century

Schillebeeckx’ ‘in house’ critique of the priesthood and, necessarily, of the Eucharistic tradition by which the Catholic Church exists, had the usual succès d’éstime, confirming a generation of fashionable theologians in their felt need to free the Catholic tradition of its more alarming affirmations.  Schillebeeckx’ Eucharist, and six years later, his Ministry, inspired a rash of analogous publication of works that have had their impact upon the Church’s sacramental worship not least by way of inspiring some astonishingly ill-informed Pastoral Letters, as will be seen.[134]

Much of their confusion arises out of the affirmation of a variety of Eucharistic presences of the Christ which occurs in all editions of the G.I.R.M.  This affirmation, when read literally, in abstraction from the liturgical and Eucharistic context wherein the magisterial documents of Vatican II expressly placed it, can easily be understood to reduce the Eucharistic Real Presence of Christ as at once the High Priest and the Victim of the On Sacrifice to an instance of an independent category of “real presence.”

Section 7 of the 1975 edition of the G.I.R.M. reads as follows

7.  At Mass or the Lord’s Supper, the people of God are called together into unity, with a priest presiding and acting in the person of Christ, to celebrate the memorial of the Lord or eucharistic sacrifice.  (See the decree on the ministry and life of priests, no. 5; SC art. 33.)   For at the celebration of Mass, which perpetuates the sacrifice of the cross, [see DMS, chapter 1: Denz-Schön, 1740; see SPF, no. 24: AAS 60 (1968), p. 442], Christ is really present to the assembly gathered in his name; he is present in the person of the minister, in his own word, and indeed substantially and permanently under the Eucharistic elements. [See Sacrosanctum Concilium, art. 7; see Mysterium Fidei: AAS 57 (1965), p. 764; see Euchisticum Mysterium, no. 9: AAS 59 (1967), p. 547].

The G.I.R.M. published in 2000 copied this language from the 1975edition, but with a single drastic change.  The 1975 edition reads “Christ is really present to the assembly” has been changed to “Christ is really present in the assembly.”  The former affirmation is Catholic, consistent with the presence of the Bridegroom to his Bridal Church in their One Flesh.  The latter expression merges the Bridegroom and the Bride into a chimera, thus accepting a nonhistorical, quasi-Barthian resolution of the Calvinist “dialectical” dichotomization of history and eschaton.  In this, the “new G.I.R.M.” follows Karl Rahner’s “dialectical analogy” (cf. endnote 204) and Zizioulas’ invocation of a “Corporate Christ” (cf. endnote 249).

27   At Mass or the Lord’s Supper, the people of God are called together into unity, with a priest presiding and acting in the person of Christ, to celebrate the memorial of the Lord or eucharistic sacrifice. (See Presbyterorum Ordinis, no. 5; see Sacrosanctum Concilium, art. 33). For this reason Christ’s promise applies supremely to such a local gathering together of the Church: “Where two or three come together in my name, there am I in their midst” (Matthew 18:20). For at the celebration of Mass, which perpetuates the sacrifice of the cross, [see DMS, chapter 1: Denz-Schön, 1740; see SPF, no. 24: AAS 60 (1968), p. 442], Christ is really present in the assembly gathered in his name; he is present in the person of the minister, in his own word, and indeed substantially and permanently under the Eucharistic elements. [See SC, art. 7; see MF: AAS 57 (1965), p. 764; see EuchMyst, no. 9: AAS 59 (1967), p. 547].

G.I.R.M. 2000, Chapter Two: Structure, elements and parts of the Mass. I. General Structure of the Mass.

Before proceeding further, the contrast here between the capitalization of “Lord’s Supper,” a not noticeably Catholic idiom, together with the coinci­dent failure to capitalize “eucharistic sacrifice,” manifests a certain “ecumenical” fastidiousness before the constitutive Event by which the Church and her worship exist.  This squeamishness is very clearly out of place in a “General Instruction” focused upon that One Sacrifice. While any liturgical or theological emphasis upon the Sacrifice of the Mass had been avoided, even deplored, by the ecumenical enthusiasms of the post-conciliar decade, such cringing before the temper of the times is even more than unseemly here.  The failure to capitalize “Eucharist” can only be deliberate: “Eucharist” is capitalized in the official translations of Mysterium Fidei and of Eucharisticum Mysterium, as well as in most English dictionaries: it use needs no defense and requires no apology.

The assertion that Christ is “really present” in the Church is found in many magisterial documents, most recently, as noted, in Mysterium fidei and in Eucharisticum Mysterium, where it carries no symbolist connotation, for those documents are integral with those in which the Church has affirmed her source to be in the Eucharistic representation of the One Sacrifice of her Head, from whom she proceeds as the Bride from the Bridegroom (emphatically, Christ did not “give birth to [genuit] the Church: such a reading of Jn. 19:34 has no ground in the Catholic tradition).  However it is by no means clear that in affirming the presence of the Christ “in the assembly gathered in his name,” the “new G.I.R.M.” recognizes the Eucharistic ecclesiology of Mysterium fidei as its own.  The Catholic Church is not adequately described as  “the assembly gathered in his name” unless it is clear that the unity implicit in their “gathering” is the causally prior free unity of the Church into which they are baptized.  The unbaptized have no unity of their own which might be thought to serve to constitute the Church.  Facile reference to the Church as an “assembly” has unmistakably Calvinist overtones entirely false to the historical reality of the Church, and consequently to the reality of the Eucharist as the cause and source of the Church.

The orthodox intent of this language in the G.I.R.M.s would be easier to accept were it not for the symbolist assertion of a Eucharist development copied in G.I.R.M. 2000, §7, from G.I.R.M. 1975, Introduction, §7, and had not at least three local ordinaries within the last twenty years published pastoral letters teaching a symbolist Eucharistic doctrine: Bishop Tafoya, of Pueblo, Colorado, Cardinal Mahony of Los Angeles, and Bishop Robert Lynch, of St. Petersburg, Florida.  Each of these pastoral letters asserts the liturgical priority of the presence of Christ in the community by way of baptism over the Eucharistic Presence of the Jesus as the High Priest and the Victim of the One Sacrifice, fearing that a liturgical stress upon the latter would distract the faithful from this supposedly primary presence of Christ in the baptized community.  In all these letters, and most explicitly in those of Cardinal Mahony, we find the “gathered church’ ecclesiology developed.  Once again, baptism becomes the foundational sacrament, the cause of the Church.  The defined doctrines of the Eucharistic One Sacrifice and of ordination to offer in the Person of Christ give way to this entirely Protestant anti-sacramentalism, this ignominious retreat from Eucharistic realism.

Bishop Tafoya, the local ordinary of Pueblo, Colorado, has issued a Pastoral Letter, “Liturgy: Time of Sacred Encounter: A pastoral reflection on the Eucharist” (1991) from whose first page the symbolist tone of his reflection is evident:

To the Christians of the First Century the presence of Jesus was not so much localized in the elements of bread and cup as it was in this very assembly of believers who “remembered” and “embodied” him.

Clearly, the Bishop of Pueblo is not at peace with the sacrifice of the Mass, nor for that matter with the overwhelming Scriptural evidence for it―which is from “the first century” nor has he read the First Letter of Clement (95 AD) its first patristic witness;.  He is equally unfamiliar with the Seven Letters to the Churches of Ignatius Martyr, the second Bishop of Antioch, who died in the Coliseum about 110 and who, in his Letters famously taught the Eucharistic species to be the entirely “localized” “medicine of immortality;” “the remedy that we should not die.”

These witnesses, the earliest we have, know nothing of any “embodiment” of Christ by the “assembly.” Clement rebukes the Corinthian ‘assembly’ for having expelled those men who had been ordained to offer the “sacrifices” and had worthily done so, as we shall see.  Ignatius’ Eucharistic doctrine has been found similarly difficult to revise: he is concerned for the unity of the Eucharistic worship, which he links, over and again, to the offering of the One Sacrifice by the local bishop, or by one of the priests whom hethe bishop has ordained to do so.  Both Clement and Ignatius focus their  Eucharistic doctrine on the sacrifice of the Mass, offered solely by those consecrated and ordained to offer it.  In this very early stress upon the apostolic succession they are at one with the accounts of the Last Supper in the Synoptics and I Corinthians, with which the sixth chapter of the Gospel of John is entirely in harmony.

Bishop Tafoya’s next sentence infers from the foregoing unconcern for the “localized” Eucharistic Presence of the Christ, what he is pleased to designate “the primacy of the assembly.”  For neither of this affirmations is any documentation offered, nor could there be.  Bishop Tafoya’s Pastoral Letter relies heavily upon the Eucharistic theology and ecclesiology of the late Tad Guzie, which is no more than a restatement of Zwingli’s.

The paragraph immediately following the except supra reads:

The postures and gestures of the eucharistic prayer are changing as they have so often in the past.  As our experience changes, so must our understanding.  As our understanding changes, so will the ritual expression of our experience.

The naively charming circularity of this rationale cannot but carry the day: viz., our continually changing experience (of what?), with its corollary, our continually changing understanding (of what?), with its corollary, our continually changing ritual expression (of what?), with its corollary, our continually changing experience, and so on and so on,, is foreordained, inexorable:

As the communal nature of the eucharistic prayer and its focus on thanksgiving becomes apparent to our assemblies, the posture of standing rather than kneeling will be experienced more frequently.  Kneeling has always been recognized as a posture for private prayer; one that suggests begging forgiveness or interceding for help.  However, scripture confirms standing as a position of praise and thanksgiving.  Since Jesus, himself a Jew, was so very sensitive to Jewish ritual, it is probable that he prayed in this position as he gathered with the disciples for public prayer in the Temple.  Kneeling was introduced as a common form of posture during prayer by monks who dedicated themselves to penitential prayer and fasting.

But we must reject out of hand the application of this invocation of inevitability to Bishop Toyota’s notion of liturgical renewal as dependent upon the experience of the assembly whose voice he presumes to be.  In the first place, the focus of the Catholic Mass is not upon the assembly, as his Letter supposes.  It is upon the offering of the One Sacrifice by which we are redeemed.  It is by reason of the reality of the priestly offering of the sacrifice of the Mass in the Person of Christ, the one High Priest, that the Mass is a thanksgiving which, as ecclesial, is communal, with or without a congregation.  The One Sacrifice is the cause of the Church, which is not, as the trendy idiom of the Letter would have it, of “the assembly.” a term applicable to any group of people gathered for any purpose whatever.  Its application to the Church immediately invokes the “gathered church” of the Reform, whose cause is not t he Eucharist.

The Catholic Church is caused by her Eucharistic worship of her Lord.  Her objective reality and intrinsic intelligibility do not arise out of whatever is “becoming apparent to our assemblies.”  Bishop Tafoya’s Letter’s appeal to the “assembly” to certify the authenticity of the Church’s worship in truth amounts to an abdication by the local ordinary of his central responsibility―but it is evident that Bishop Tafoya does not understand his primary episcopal responsibility to be for the truth of the Church’s worship, whose full expression is the sacrifice of the Mass.  As a result, his concern for the appropriate “posture” for thanksgiving is not that which is appropriate to the Eucharistic Presence of the Christ, the Lord, who died for us and rose again for our salvation. Rather, his Letter’s admonitory reference to a more frequent “experience of standing rather than kneeling” as more appropriate to a growing recognition of “the communal nature of eucharistic prayer (sic)” has so melded Christ and the Church as to render both unrecognizable.

The Letter’s further observations continue this support the practice of standing during the Canon, which Bishop Tafoya intends to implement, despite the indult sought by and granted to the U.S. episcopacy permitting American Catholics to continue their practice of kneeling during the entire Canon.  The Letter goes on to say:

Today as we prepare for the revision of the Sacramentary, the question of posture is once again under serious discussion.

But this discussion is evidently not one from which laity who wish to continue to kneel during the Canon, in accordance with the indult granted them to do so, any contribution is accepted or acceptable, for we read:

During this time of discussion, we have begun to experience a true sense of DISUNITY during the prayer that is meant to be the very core of our Christian UNITY.  (CSL #26) Hence, to strengthen our unity as a diocesan church, the following directive is to be observed. (original emphasis)

Directive for the Diocese of Pueblo

The assembly is to be encouraged to STAND during the proclamation of the Eucharistic Prayer, namely from the preface through the final doxology.  A deep bow, as a sign of reverence and adoration is to be shown after the consecration of each of the elements of bread and wine. (original emphasis)

Following this prescription which, not incidentally, annuls §21 of the General Instruction on the Roman Missal, viz., “unless impeded by lack of space, density of the crowd or other reasonable cause, they should kneel for the Consecration,”  Bishop Tafoya’s “General Reflection” continues with the assertion that the Eucharistic prayer is primarily a prayer of thanks and praise.  Once again, although this notion is a central item in the liberal theological wish list, it is simply false as a matter of Catholic doctrine.  Taken at the letter, it would reduce the Catholic Eucharist to the sola fide dimensions proper to the Lutheran Reformation by omitting the constituting element of the Eucharist, the priestly offering in persona Christi of Christ’s One Sacrifice, a consequence entirely consistent with the doctrine taught in the earlier chapters of the Letter.

But we are not to read it thus literally, for at the conclusion of a discussion of “building liturgical bridges” the “General Reflection,” goes on to say:

Finally, we join our sacrifice to that of Christ by offering ourselves and surrendering to God’s will so that we can return to our daily routines confident that we can handle any situation when we work “through Him, with Him, and in Him.”  Eucharistic praying is not just offering the sacrificial victim, critically important as that is, but it also involves the offering of one’s life as a response to God’s saving grace.  Such self-offering must be deliberate.

This sole concession to Eucharistic realism serves only to introduce another theme: “The Dysfunctional Eucharist:”

To use modern terminology, the eucharistic prayer is dysfunctional in many of our churches today.  The eucharist is confected, but lives are not transformed.  New wording of the texts and the introduction of ritual adaptations will not, of themselves, lead to recovery of the prayer’s meaning.  It is only when the assembly is led into conscious action by the dynamic proclamation of the presider that the doxology can conclude with a full hearted “Amen” in response to the presence of Christ in the eucharistic species.

In the first place, this language is overwrought.  Equally so is that of the pages following, in which the ritual significance of the greeting of peace, the breaking of the consecrated bread, the agnus Dei and the distribution of Eucharistic communion under both species[135]  are dealt with as “dysfunctional” unless somehow rendered into politically powerful devices of social transformation and unification.  The implication of these disjointed pages is that insofar as a religious transformation of the lives of the faithful by reason of their worship is not empirically verifiable, and insofar as their Eucharistic unity is not a comparably tangible reality, there is effected in them no sacramental transformation or unity, and thereby the Eucharistic worship is perceptibly “dysfunctional.”  Consequently, the infallible sacramental efficacy of the Eucharistic Sacrifice is ignored.  In fact, we have seen Bishop Tafoya’s Letter denying it outright:

It is only when the assembly is led into conscious action by the dynamic proclamation of the presider that the doxology can conclude with a full hearted “Amen” in response to the presence of Christ in the eucharistic species.

The supposition of Bishop Tafoya’s Letter that the Eucharistic consecration awaits upon “the dynamic proclamation of the presider,” is pure Protes­antism; in this scenario, it is not the bread and wine of the Offertory that become the body and blood of Christ, the High Priest and the Victim of the One Sacrifice, but the congregation, as “led into conscious action” by the rhetoric of the “presider.”  The identification of the “presider” with a priest ordained to offer the One Sacrifice in persona Christi has long vanished from the Bishop’s perspective, or, rather, from that of the anonymity who wrote the Letter for him, for it is unlikely that he understood a line of it.

The Letter amounts not only to a condescension, even an insolence, to the people in the pews that is at best unattractive in a pastoral document, for it is a denial of their Catholic faith in the sacrifice of the Mass..  Unfortunately its Protestant posture is commonly assumed in liturgical exhortation as part and parcel of the politicization of the Catholic liturgy by ordinaries forgetful or even ignorant of the liturgy’s inherently sacramental efficacy which, as sacramental, is also inherent in the everyday public praxis of the faith by the laity.  Only as thus mediated by the laity has the Catholic liturgy an effective public expression.  Between the sacramental efficacy of the publicly celebrated liturgy and its political impact lies the exercise of free and personal exercise of public responsibility for the common good by the laity.  This exercise has a political impact: its radical expression is the nuptial fidelity of the laity, their living out of their liturgically informed and sanctified lives.  Insofar as this fidelity informs their political decisions, it makes them to be exercises of personal responsibility which, fed and sustained by participation in the liturgy, are not themselves liturgical and  therefore are not under the liturgical authority of the ordinary which, as liturgical, has no political dimension whatsoever.

The Letter’s quest for an inevitably political “function” as the appropriate anodyne for the “dysfunctional” Eucharist immediately raises the impossible because false question of what the empirical and tangible criteria of a properly “functional” Eucharist might be.  Were that gambit accepted, a course must be found between the Scylla of charismatic enthusiasm and the Charybdis of politicized faith.  Such prospects for that transit as are offered by the pastoral Letter’s liturgical renewal of clericalism, juridicalism and triumphalism in support of a radical misconception of the Catholic liturgy cannot inspire much confidence.

In 2003, a dozen years after the publication of Liturgy: Time of Sacred Encounter: A pastoral reflection on the Eucharist (1991), Bishop Tafoya felt called upon to amend its regulations.  In a Lenten letter of that year read in all his parishes, Bishop Tafoya wrote as follows:

As we are about to begin Lent, I wish to revisit the posture for the Eucharistic Prayer within the Diocese of Pueblo. Years ago, when I made the ‘suggestion’ that we stand during the Eucharistic Prayer the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops had not yet determined a posture for the Church in the United States of America.

Recently, the Conference of Catholic Bishops has determined that after the ‘Holy Holy’ to after the ‘Great Amen’ the faithful would kneel. Therefore I am rescinding my previous ‘suggestion’.

In addition, the General Instruction of the Roman Missal has designated the posture of standing during the Communion Rite. This means that the faithful stand when the reception of the Communion of the Faithful begins and remain standing while all in the assembly receive Communion. When the presider has returned to his chair after Communion, the faithful may kneel or sit at this time. The appropriate posture for receiving Communion is to stand.

Beginning on the First Sunday of Lent, March 8 and 9, 2003, the faithful of this diocese shall follow these regulations. This is being done so that our diocese will be in unity with the rest of the United States Church and in communion with Rome and the new document, General Instruction of the Roman Missal. (2002).

It is hardly necessary to note that the “new G.I.R.M.” of 2003 has not required that “the faithful stand when the reception of the Communion of the Faithful begins and remain standing while all in the assembly receive Communion.”  The “new G.I.R.M.,” §3, contains the following language:

But it is up to the Conference of Bishops to adapt the gestures and posture in the Order of the Mass to the customs and reasonable traditions of the people according to the norm of law.54 The Conference, however, must make sure that such adaptations correspond to the meaning and character of each part of the celebration. Where it is the custom that the people remain kneeling from the end of the Sanctus until the end of the Eucharistic Prayer, this is laudably retained.

54 See ibidem, art. 40; see Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments, Inst. Varietates Legitimae, 25 January 1994, n. 41: AAS, 87 (1995), p. 304.

“Study Translation” of the INSTITUTIO GENERALIS MISSALIS ROMANI., Prepared by the NCCB Secretariat for the Liturgy. 2003.

This “study translation” of the I.G.M.R. of 2000 would not have been available to Bishop Tafoya at the time of writing, but he would have attended the meeting of the National Conference in which the bishops firmly rejected the arguments of leading liturgists against that document’s approval of the kneeling posture during the Communion rite.[136]  He would in any event found no basis for his exercise of authority over their posture during the Mass : that authority is clearly reserved to the bishops’ national conferences.

But enough and more than enough of his excellency Bishop Tafoya of Pueblo.  We turn to more recent and detailed expressions of the same Eucharistic symbolism, published by the Cardinal Archbishop of Los Angeles.

Cardinal Mahoney published his interpretation of Eucharistic doctrine, together with the ecclesiology that is its corollary, in two pastoral letters: “Gather Faithfully Together” A Guide for Sunday Mass (1997) and “As I Have Done for You:” A Pastoral Letter on Ministry (2000).[137]

Like Bishop Tafoya’s “Liturgy: Time of Sacred Encounter,” Cardinal Mahony’s “Gather Faithfully Together” is unconcerned for the realism of the Church’s Eucharistic worship, and is similarly intent upon enhancing the psycho-sociological and finally political impact of the Eucharistic ritual in order to bring about or reinforce what its author perceives to be lacking: viz., an adequate ritual expression of community solidarity, capable in principle of being empirically verified.  For example:

My hope is that we can fulfill this mandate in our Archdiocese by a singular and concentrated effort to strengthen Sunday Liturgy.  Lacking that effort, we have no center, no identity as the Body of Christ.

“Gather Faithfully Together,” at 4.

The latter sentence in this quotation from the Letter is literally false; whatever rhetorical value the statement may be thought to possess, the Letter’s assertion that the reality of the Church waits upon the “strengthening of the Sunday liturgy” is simply not true.  The merely practical, psycho-sociological emphasis of the Letter entirely misconceives the sacramental efficacy of the Eucharistic rite, viz., of the sacramentum tantum, the sacramental sign which is only a sign, and this only in its graced, causal relation to its effect.  The efficacy of the sacramentum tantum is not empirical in any sense; it is not open to pragmatic evaluation, enhancement or strengthening.  It falls under no empirical criteria, and is not verifiable by whatever scrutiny.  This should be obvious.  However, the effective politicization of the liturgy is the inerrant index of a denial of sacramental realism, which is to say, of sacramental efficacy.  Under this deviant notion of liturgical reform, the Church’s worship of Truth incarnate ceases: its only objective efficacy is pragmatic, a quest for political control.  We will see further indications of this transformation of the liturgy in the examination of Bishop Lynch’s pastoral letter/

The Cardinal’s Letter goes on to quote the late Archbishop Romero with approval:

Moments before his death, he talked about Eucharist as the vital center of all that the Church does.  His martyrdom itself seems to be in these words:

This holy Mass, this Eucharist, is clearly an act of faith.

“Gather Faithfully Together,” p. 5

In the first place, while the Eucharist is certainly “the vital center of all that the Church does;” the Catholic Church’s quarrel with the Reform was precisely over the latter’s affirmation, condemned at the Council of Trent, and not to be attributed to Archbishop Romero without further proof than the Letter is able to offer, that the sacramental and objectively historical Event of the Sacrifice of the Mass, the Eucharist, should be regarded as “clearly an act of faith.”  So to understand it is pure-quill symbolism, a radical denial of the concretely historical objectivity of the Eucharistic Sacrifice.

It should be obvious that the res et sacramentum of the Catholic Mass, the infallible effect ex opere operato of the Eucharistic rite, viz., the nuptial New Covenant instituted by the priestly offering of the Eucharistic Sacrifice, is not an act of faith, nor is it a function or effect of anyone’s faith.  This is the clear implication of the fourth and fifth century condemnations of Donatism; it is the presupposition of the patristic meditation upon the Eucharist, and is explicitly taught in the Tridentine condemnations of the errors of the Reform’s dehistoricization of the Eucharist by the denial of the transubstantiation vi verborum of the Eucharistic elements, and of the Sacrifice of the Mass.  It is passing strange that an archdiocesan pastoral letter should be so blithely dismissive of defined doctrine.

To celebrate Sunday Eucharist the followers of Jesus risked their lives in some times and places.  Such was the gathering, such was the praise of God given there, such was the need to assemble the Church and make the Eucharist!  In our day, the obstacles are perhaps greater than hostile emperors.  What will it take to reclaim this day and its holiness?

“Gather Faithfully Together”, 7

In fact, this language is incomprehensible in any other context than that of a sola fide celebration of the Lord’s Supper, à la Luther.  It suffices to observe that a church which needs to assemble, and “make the Eucharist,” is not the Catholic Church, whose unity does not wait upon our assembling, and whose Eucharist is instituted not by the Church but by the One Sacrifice of Jesus the Christ as Eucharistically represented in the Sacrifice of the Mass.

If the Catholic Eucharist can be said to be “made” in any sense, it is only in the sense of being confected, not by the assembled congregation, but by the priest acting in the Person of Christ, the Head and the source of the Church.  To blur, to meld, finally to identify, the roles of priest and congregation in the offering of the Eucharistic sacrifice is to cease to speak of the Catholic liturgy, which presupposes an essential difference between the liturgical offices of the clergy and the laity.  To ignore the hierarchical order  of Catholic worship is to enter upon its dehistoricization, which is to say, its reduction to subjectivity, to symbolism.  In his A Pastoral Letter on Ministry (2000), the Cardinal asserts blandly that

Although the notion of the priesthood of the community is older than the concept of an ordained ministerial priesthood (1 Peter 2:5-9), the Church very early recognized the consecrated ministry of those who are called uniquely to the service of God’s priestly people.

“As I Have Done for You,” p. 27.

I Peter 2: 4-9, reads as follows:

Come to him, to that living stone, rejected by men but in God’s sight chosen and precious; and like living stones yourselves built into a spiritual house, to be a holy priesthood, to offer spiritual sacrifices acceptale to God through Jesus Christ.  For it stands in Scripture:

“Behold I am laying in Zion a stone,

a cornerstone chosen and precious

and he who believes in him will not

                                    be put to shame.”

  To you therefore who believe, he is precious, but for those who do not believe,

              The very stone which the builders rejected

                             Become the head of the corner”

                             “a stone that will make men stumble,

                             a rock that will make them fall”

for they stumble because they disobey the word, as they were destined to do. (RSV)

In the first place, 1 Peter 2:5-9 says nothing whatever about the priority of the priesthood of the community vis à vis the ordained priesthood.  The summons to become a holy priesthood built up of stones into the building, the Church, whose cornerstone is Jesus the Lord, is addressed to all who read the letter, the Christians of northern Syria, whom he urges continually in his letters to strengthen their faith in Jesus Christ, to accept willing, even joyfully, the pagan (gentile) persecution for their faith, modeling themselves upon Jesus’ willingness to endure the suffering by which we are redeemed.

To read I Peter as Cardinal Mahony’s pastoral Letter “As I Have Done for You,” reads it is sheer and deliberate eisegesis; and provides a fair index of that Letter’s agenda, viz. the implementation of an ecclesiology income­patible with the Eucharistic realism upon which the Catholic Church is founded.  The Cardinal begins this pastoral with a contrast between a St. Leo’s parish as it existed in 1955 and that same parish as he hoped to see it exist five years after publishing the pastoral.  The latter St. Leo’s parish has been enlightened:

First it must be recognized that lay ministry rooted in the priesthood of the baptized is not a stopgap measure.  Even if seminaries were once again filled to overflowing and convents packed with Sisters, there would still remain the need for cultivating, developing and sustaining the full flourishing of ministries that we have witnessed in the Church since the Second Vatican Council.  In the wake of the Council, we have arrived at a clearer recognition that it is in the nature of the church to be endowed with many gifts, and that these gifts are the basis for the vocations to the priesthood, the diaconate, and the religious life, as well as for the many ministries rooted in the call of baptism.

Ibid., at 15-16.

The Cardinal has his own view of the shortage of vocations to the priesthood:

What some refer to as the “vocations crisis” is, rather, one of the many fruits of the Second Vatican Council, a sign of God’s deep love for the Church, and an invitation to a more creative and effective ordering of gifts and energies in the Body of Christ.  This is a time of great challenge and opportunity in the Church, not least of all because the gifts of the lay faithful have been flourishing in unprecedented numbers and in unforeseen ways.

Conciliar Orientations

Following the Second Vatican Council there has been a rediscovery in Catholic theology of baptism as the foundational sacrament of ministry, and a clear recognition that ministry is not just for the ordained.

Ibid., at 18.

The Introduction to the first volume of Covenantal Theology deals at some length with this dissenting “Catholic theology,” whose ecclesiology would substitute baptism for the Eucharist as the cause of the Church.  This view of baptism as the basic or central sacrament is proper to Protestantism, not Catholicism.  The church thus in view knows no priestly offering of the Eucharistic Sacrifice in the Person of Christ.  It is not accidental that the Letter’s dithyramb over the prospective efficacy of “ministry” at the St. Leo’s parish of 2005 entirely ignores this constitutive priestly office when speaking of the ordained ministry.  It cannot have escaped the Cardinal’s notice that Vatican  II’s Dogmatic Constitution on the Church was emphatic on the point.  In fact, neither is the Cardinal much concerned over the failure of his clergy to attract vocations to the priesthood:  A page or two earlier he concluded a paragraph detailing a convocation of the archdiocesan clergy with these words, as requiring no commentary:

A further tension remains.  While most priests claim to be happy and fulfilled in their ministry, they give little evidence of enthusiasm for promoting priestly vocations.

Ibid, at 25.

In their display of unconcern for priestly vocations, the clergy of Los Angeles merely reflect the attitude of their archbishop and cannot but manifest its corollary, their own demoralization.

In 1955 the priests serving in a parishes such as the Letter imagines St. Leo’s to be, together with the priests of the other parishes of the Los Angeles archdiocese, routinely recruited altar boys in their hundreds to serve the Church’s liturgy.  It is from them that the archdiocese of Los Angeles, and the other dioceses and archdioceses across the nation, drew many and probably most of their priestly vocations.  Many of the others were grad­uates of the magnificent pre-Conciliar Catholic grammar and secondary school system wherein religious men and women of many congregations had vied with the diocesan religious and clergy in turning out, generation after generation, graduates whose literacy and familiarity with the Catholic tradition could be taken for granted, and many of whom had been sufficiently inspired by the role models encountered during their years in Catholic schools to decide to follow them, emulating their decades of devoted service to the Church.

In those years the graduates of the Catholic secondary schools routinely possessed a level of literacy unmatched by the bulk of our Catholic college graduates today, and a knowledge of the Catholic tradition which is today dismissed by the Directors of Religious Education who, having been taught for a quarter century by Thomas Groome, and themselves teaching under the powerful persuasion of Groome’s loyal disciples in the Catholic Education Association, regard acquaintance with the Church’s doctrinal and moral tradition as simply beside the point. 

But the Cardinal’s Letter displays no interest in that travesty, nor does he offer any reason to hope that the disastrous consequences of this post-Conciliar pseudo-catechesis are not manifest in the Archdiocese of Los Angeles.  Central to that catechesis is its deprecation of the priesthood and of sacramental realism generally.  Its practitioners will feel entirely at home in the Archdiocese of Los Angeles as Cardinal Mahony visualizes it. 

When local ordinaries delight in the clericalization of the laity and correspondingly deprecate the indispensability of the sacrificial office of the ordained priesthood, preferring to regard the dwindling numbers of his clergy as the work of divine Providence rather than of their own patent irresponsibility, and go so far as to inculcate this viewpoint in the laity by way of their pastoral letters, the current minuscule number of priestly vocations may be expected to persist indefinitely and most certainly in Los Angeles for as long as Cardinal Mahony is its local ordinary.  It is to be hoped that his successor will disappoint them.

The notion that baptism is foundational for “ministry“―a sublimely misleading label for the total clericalization of the laity and the correlative dismissal of any intrinsic distinction between the sacraments of baptism and orders―may stand as the leitmotiv of Cardinal Mahony’s equation of liturgical renewal with departure from the Catholic Eucharistic tradition.  This evident emphasis of Cardinal Mahony’s two Letters is a subscription to the Protestant ecclesiology of a developing church, one whose original situation knew nothing of the succession of bishops to the Apostolic authority to offer the One Sacrifice in the Person of Christ, but which somehow, whether by corruption or by an immanently necessary evolution, emerged from that originally nonhierarchical, non-sacramental, romantic indiscernibility into the effectively Protestant situation in which the Cardinal understands the post-Conciliar Church to exist. It is one in which baptism is held foundational for its mission, which is to say, for its existence.  We have already pointed out that this evolutionary view of the Catholic Eucharist entails as a matter of necessity a dehistoricized church and a dehistoricized Eucharist. Cardinal Mahony’s view of the ordained priesthood makes that ordained office to be a derivative of the office of priesthood of the baptized: in effect, it is reduced to a matter of lay preaching.  This view simply dismisses the doctrinal tradition of the universal Church, a dismissal apparent in his distaste for its one cause: the priestly offering of the One Sacrifice in persona Christi.  E.g.:

Our understanding of the ordained priesthood has changed and is still changing. But certain key terms have been used over time to try to pinpoint the priestly role.

The term in persona Christi (in the person of Christ) has been used to show that it is really Christ who acts in the Eucharist and in the sacraments. No personal power or gift of holiness on the part of the minister can assure this, even though the priest’s gifts must be put at the service of Christ and the Spirit to add a fitting witness to the sacramental action. The priest can never stand in as a substitute for Christ, nor ever represent all that Christ truly is.

The term in persona Christi capitis (in the person of Christ the head) has been used to indicate that the priest acts in the person of the Church and of Christ the head of the Church. Affirming that the priest acts in persona Christi capitis relates priestly ministry to the whole Body, head and members, and emphasizes the priest’s collaborative role, the need to work with other ministries, and the need to draw into the unity of the Gospel and the Church community all the gifts and ministries that come from Christ and his Spirit. As head of the community, the priest addresses challenging prophetic words to the community, exercises pastoral ministry of oversight and direction of the charisms of the community, and presides sacramentally as the instrument of Christ’s action in the sacraments. But, in headship, the ordained minister is in the Church, is not above the Church, or apart from the Church. The Church is the primary subject of liturgical and sacramental activity. The whole Church celebrates the sacraments—head and members.

“As I Have Done for You,” 25-26.

The first sentence here is a recital of the Cardinal’s theological confusion; it intimates a corresponding dogmatic confusion, a magisterial vacillation which resists clarification.  His Eminence apparently has never read Presbyterorum Ordinis, which vigorously reaffirms the ancient doctrine.

The second sentence quoted is either meaningless or false.  Read as a report of how “in Persona Christi Capitis” has been used, it is irrelevant except insofar as that usage is authentically Catholic, which “As I Have Done for You” does not dare to deny.  In fact, the “in Persona Christi” has been used authentically in the documents of the Second Vatican Council:

2. The office of priests, since it is connected with the episcopal order, also, in its own degree, shares the authority by which Christ builds up, sanctifies and rules his Body. Wherefore the priesthood, while indeed it presupposes the sacraments of Christian initiation, is conferred by that special sacrament; through it priests, by the anointing of the Holy Spirit, are signed with a special character and are conformed to Christ the Priest in such a way that they can act in the person of Christ the Head.(10)

Presbyterorum Ordinis, Chapter 1, 2.

This pellucidly clear Conciliar affirmation is immediately followed by a statement of the relevance to the Church of the priestly action in the Person of Christ the Head; : It completely denies what Cardinal Mahony has asserted in his Letter.  :Presbyterorum Ordinis teaches that:

In the measure in which they participate in the office of the apostles, God gives priests a special grace to be ministers of Christ among the people. They perform the sacred duty of preaching the Gospel, so that the offering of the people can be made acceptable and sanctified by the Holy Spirit.(11) Through the apostolic proclamation of the Gospel, the People of God are called together and assembled. All belonging to this people, since they have been sanctified by the Holy Spirit, can offer themselves as “a sacrifice, living, holy, pleasing to God” (Rom. 12:1). Through the ministry of the priests, the spiritual sacrifice of the faithful is made perfect in union with the sacrifice of Christ.

Loc. cit.

The meaning of the priest’s authority to act in the Person of Christ the Head is further spelled out in another Conciliar document:

10. Christ the Lord, High Priest taken from among men,(100) made the new people “a kingdom and priests to God the Father”.(101) The baptized, by regeneration and the anointing of the Holy Spirit, are consecrated as a spiritual house and a holy priesthood, in order that through all those works which are those of the Christian man they may offer spiritual sacrifices and proclaim the power of Him who has called them out of darkness into His marvelous light.(102) Therefore all the disciples of Christ, persevering in prayer and praising God,(103) should present themselves as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God.(104) Everywhere on earth they must bear witness to Christ and give an answer to those who seek an account of that hope of eternal life which is in them.(105)

Though they differ from one another in essence and not only in degree, the common priesthood of the faithful and the ministerial or hierarchical priesthood are nonetheless interrelated: each of them in its own special way is a participation in the one priesthood of Christ.(2) The ministerial priest, by the sacred power he enjoys, teaches and rules the priestly people; acting in the person of Christ, he makes present the Eucharistic sacrifice, and offers it to God in the name of all the people. But the faithful, in virtue of their royal priesthood, join in the offering of the Eucharist.(3) They likewise exercise that priesthood in receiving the sacraments, in prayer and thanksgiving, in the witness of a holy life, and by self-denial and active charity.

Lumen gentium, ch. 2, 10.

Cardinal Mahony’s mistaken interpretation of “in persona Christi Capitis” serves as the introduction to a paragraph crammed with doctrinal error.  Its teaching is clearly false to the Catholic doctrinal tradition.  It must be noted at the outset that neither “Gather Faithfully Together” nor “As I Have Done for You” ever associates the office of the ordained priest with the offering the Sacrifice of the Mass.  In the concluding paragraph of “Gather Faithfully Together,” the necessity for the Sacrifice of the Mass is extolled, but there is no mention of its priestly offering in the Person of Christ, the High Priest and the Victim of his One Sacrifice.  The word “sacrifice” does not appear in “As I Have Done for You.”  This is not oversight.  The only “sacrifice of the Mass” possible to the Cardinal’s ecclesiology is that of the laity, the “sacrifice of praise” whose sole value however is its liturgical conjunction with the offering of the One Sacrifice in persona Christi.  Without the latter, we have no access to the Kingdom of God, as the second paragraph of the passage excerpted supra from Presbyterorum ordinis makes entirely clear.

As to specifics: in the first place, the Letter’s assertion that “our understanding of the priesthood has changed” is simply false. Vatican II’s Dogmatic Constitution on the Church, Lumen Gentium, and its Decree on the Ministry and Life of Priests, Presbyterorum  Ordinis, both reaffirm the ancient doctrinal tradition, upon which any contemporary Catholic theology of the priesthood must be grounded and with which it must be in conformity if it is to be Catholic.  The suggestion, which we have seen made by Archbishops Murphy of Seattle and Pilarczyk of Cincinnati, that the doctrine of the priesthood is controlled by a local ordinary’s theological dissent to the Catholic tradition, has no place to stand, whether in their own misled archdioceses, or in the Archdiocese of Los Angeles for which Cardinal Mahony wrote his pastoral Letters. 

Pastoral letters are published by a local ordinary in the exercise of his liturgical authority precisely as the local ordinary, for he has no other.  Consequently they are addressed to the Catholic people of the diocese or archdiocese in which his local liturgical authority is exercised, and more broadly to the Church as a whole.  The Letter’s use of the collective, “our,” to address the Catholic people of the Archdiocese of Los Angeles is therefore an invocation of the faith of the Church, the sensus fidelium, and thus an invocation of the participation of the Catholic people of Los Angeles in the faith of the Roman Catholic Church.

Pastoral letters which dissent from the sensus fidelium cannot be regarded as an exercise of episcopal authority: rather they express an episcopal irresponsibility.  The episcopal authority is liturgical: it depends totally upon the institution of the Catholic liturgy by Christ our Lord, and upon the bishops’ apostolic succession to the authority given the Apostles at the Last Supper.  The undercutting of the radically Eucharistic liturgy of the Church by a bishop totally dependent upon it is no novelty.  Most of the bishops in England at the time of the Reformation had learned some time since to look to the King as the source of their authority; the outstanding exception to this betrayal was Cardinal Fisher, for which treason he was hanged, drawn and quartered.  After the Restoration these bishops looked to the Parliament for that warrant, and still do.  Those Catholic bishops in the United States who are thus inclined have lately learned to look to one of the political parties.  The avowedly pastoral letters which the U.S.N.C.C.B was wont to issue were of this ilk: i.e., exercises of a political responsibility which bishops as bishops not only do not possess, but from whose assumption they are barred by their liturgical responsibility, entirely immiscible with political responsi­blity,  These mass display of irresponsibility are cloaked with solemnity, but only to mask their futility.  Their public impact is minuscule: they .provide ephemeral occupation for the media, the academy and the entertainment industry, but have no discernible political impact other than the confusion of the Catholic laity which has of late learned to doubt the competence of the episcopacy to meet the responsibilities of their proper office, and have no reason to trust their judgment in those matters left to the laity by Vatican II.

For the rest, there is no doubt that “The whole Church celebrates the sacraments―head and members”. This has never been in issue, but it is true only insofar as it is recognized that the Church is hierarchically ordered, and that the liturgical authority of the celebrating priest or bishop is essentially distinct from that of the universal priesthood of the laity, for he acts in the Person of Christ, not as a delegate or representative or functionary of “the assembly.” 

The Protestant churches, which are Protestant simply by their denial of the Sacrifice of the Mass, deny thereby the existence of that hierarchical order.  So also does the passage of the Cardinal’s Letter quoted above, for it refuses the distinctions which the Catholic Eucharistic doctrine requires.  At bottom, this Letter agrees with the Protestant Reformation in denying the priestly authority to offer of the One Sacrifice in the Person of Christ, who is Eucharistically present in the Mass as the High Priest and the Victim of the One Sacrifice. 

Within the hierarchically-ordered Eucharistic liturgy, there is a clear distinction, not in degree but in kind, between the liturgical authority of the priest and the liturgical authority of the laity, quite as there is between the authority of the man and the authority of the woman in marriage.  The former distinction is indispensable to the Church’s celebration of the Eucharist, as the latter is to the celebration of marriage: both celebrations are hierarchically ordered.  The Cardinal’s reliance upon the currently popular dissenting supposition that the priest exercises his liturgical office not so much in persona Christi as in persona Capitis either dismisses or, at least as likely, is ignorant of the nuptial denotation of Christ’s headship of the Church.  Jesus is the head of the Church, the second Eve, precisely as her Bridegroom, the second Adam,, and can no more be identified with the Church than the Bridegroom can be identified with the Bride.  The priestly offering of the One Sacrifice, whether in Persona Christi or in Persona Christi Capitis, institutes the One Flesh of the New Covenant, the nuptial union of the Bridegroom with the Bridal Church who, in that union, proceeds from him and in union with him, is the New Creation, the New Covenant.

A variety of dissenting feminist theologians have devoted decades to the proliferation of the confusion to which Cardinal Mahony’s “As I Have Done for You” so clearly subscribes, specifically in promoting the distinction it would inculcate between the priest’s acting in persona Christi and his acting in persona Capitis.  The Cardinal has been persuaded that when Jesus acts as the head of the Church he acts and speaks in the person of the Church: thus the priest, when acting in persona Christi Capitis, is held to speak and act in the person of the Church and, when acting in persona Christi, he acts and speaks in the Person of Christ. 

It should be evident to his Eminence that this view of liturgical renewal relies upon a division of the Personal unity of Christ, which is absurd.  But for its adepts it has the supposed advantage of eliminating what they adamantinely reject, the priestly offering of the Sacrifice of the Mass, which can be offered only in the Name of Jesus the Lord: it is offered for the Church, not by her.  Thus any priest who acts in persona Christi Capitis acts in the Person of the head of the Church, quite as he does when acting in persona Christi, for it is as the head of the Church that Jesus the Lord offers the One Sacrifice.  A notion of liturgical renewal which would contravene the crucial distinction between Jesus the Head and the bridal Church who is his body obviously has no place in a pastoral letter because it has no place in the Catholic liturgy that grounds the Cardinal’s authority to publish pastoral letters.

The ordained priest’s offering of the One Sacrifice in the Person of Christ the Head is indispensable to and constitutive for the celebration of the Eucharist.  In his celebration of the Mass, the priest of course does not, as the Letter has it, “act sacramentally as the instrument of Christ’s action;” he acts in the very Person of Christ, who obviously is not an instrument of his own action.  To act in the Person of Christ is identically to act in the Person of Christ the Head of the Church.  Once again, and emphatically, this is not to act in the person of the bridal Church, for Christ the Head is not to be identified with his bridal Church, but rather he is One Flesh with her, irreducibly distinct from her as the Bridegroom is distinct from his Bride.  Jesus’ headship is a topic much in need of theological discussion and development: steps to that end have been taken in the present work.[138]  We have here to do with the centrality of nuptial symbolism to the Eucharistic offering of the One Sacrifice, thus with its centrality to the New Covenant instituted by Jesus the Christ, the Head, upon the cross.  It is a pity that the nuptial symbolism of the Mass is so alien to Cardinal Mahony’s view of liturgical renewal, for that project cannot proceed unless continually clarified by continual reference to the unity of Christ and the Church in One Flesh.

Thirdly, the Cardinal’s evident fear of an overweening priesthood has led him into another serious error with respect to the sacrament of Orders: we cite his words again::

The term in persona Christi (in the person of Christ) has been used to show that it is really Christ who acts in the Eucharist and in the sacraments. No personal power or gift of holiness on the part of the minister can assure this, even though the priest’s gifts must be put at the service of Christ and the Spirit to add a fitting witness to the sacramental action. The priest can never stand in as a substitute for Christ, nor ever represent all that Christ truly is.

“As I Have Done for You,” 25-26.

This language is confused and, as with this Letter generally, often obscure, but it can more easily read as a denial than an affirmation of the sufficiency of a priest’s ordination to assure the objective efficacy of his offering of the One Sacrifice in persona Christi.  While the Cardinal would doubtless disapprove the celebration of the Mass in the absence of a congregation, the presence of one is not essential to the priestly offering of the One Sacrifice.  The celebration of the Eucharist by a priest without a congregation is entirely valid and efficacious, as was taught at Vatican II, in Presbyterorum Ordinis, §13.  It follows that no celebration of the Mass can be a “private” celebration, for the Mass is essentially the Offering of the One Sacrifice for all mankind, for all those for whom Christ died precisely as their head, their source.  It is by the One Sacrifice, offered by the one High Priest on the cross and on the altar, that humanity is redeemed and the universe restored.  It is then evident that the celebration of the Mass: has a radically ecclesial efficacy.  Any denial of the authority of an ordained priest to offer the Sacrifice of the Mass, as though it depended upon extrinsic factors, such as those bearing upon his association with a congregation, is false to the earliest level of the doctrinal tradition.  In and by the celebration of the Mass, the Church proceeds from the High Priest as from her Head: she has no other cause, no other source.  Because the priest in his celebration of the Mass acts always in the Person of the Head, he does not act as a member of the Church.  He acts in the Person of the Christ whose One Sacrifice causes the Church.  This is inescapable, however incompatible it may be with Cardinal Mahony’s version of liturgical renewal.

It should be further obvious that the doctrinal tradition has never supported the absurdity that, by acting in persona Christi, the priest “becomes” Jesus the Lord.  What the Cardinal may mean by denying that the priest can “stand in as a substitute for Christ” is too obscure for discussion here.  Insofar as that expression does not intend to deny the authority of the ordained priest to offer the One Sacrifice in the Person of Jesus Christ, at once the High Priest and the Victim, it may stand.  What it might mean within that orthodox context is of no pressing doctrinal or theological concern; it is enough that in offering the Sacrifice of the Mass, the celebrating priest or bishop offers the One Sacrifice of Christ, and does so in his Person, for it cannot otherwise be offered.

However, the Cardinal goes on expressly to deny that the priest can “ever represent all that Christ truly is.”  Once again, he is speaking of the priest in the concrete context of the Catholic Eucharistic liturgy, in which the priest offers the One Sacrifice in the Person of Christ.  It cannot be questioned that Jesus and his Person are identical: his reality is his Person, precisely “all that Christ truly is.”  The priest, offering the One Sacrifice in persona Christi, offers Jesus the Christ’s full expression of his Personal authority and responsibility, for it is in this Offering that the Christ, the Son, fulfills his Mission from the Father, whereby he reveals the Father and himself as the Son of the Father by his sacrificial redemption of the fallen world.  Any language denying or intimating a denial that the celebrating priest adequately represents Jesus’ offering of the One Sacrifice by offering it in his Person is indefensible because false to the apostolic liturgical-doctrinal tradition.  At best, it is quite evident that the Cardinal’s grasp of the apostolic tradition is unsure: it will be equally so for those who, reading his Letters, are asked to share the confusion they would inculcate.

But once again, enough.  We now pass on to Bishop Lynch, whose recent pastoral letter, “Concerning Eucharistic Adoration, Exposition and Benediction,” (2001) is a prototypical instance of the doctrinal impact of the affirmation, by both editions of the G.I.R.M, of a multiplicity of Eucharistic “real presences.”  His Pastoral Letter warns his diocese at some length against the danger that Eucharistic exposition might detract from the recognition of the prior presence of Christ in the congregation, and further spells out in detail the elements he deems essential to the liturgical expression of a proper reverence for that Protestantized congregational presence:

Important as private prayer is, it should always lead the individual back to the Lord who is present in the celebration of the Eucharist and in the midst of his people. Christ present in the Eucharist presupposes his presence in the assembly gathered for common prayer, his presence in the word, his presence in the minister, and his presence in the sharing of the eucharistic bread and cup.  Therefore, private devotion and adoration of the reserved Blessed Sacrament should lead the faithful to a fuller appreciation of the communal dimension of the Mass. (added emphasis added)

Bishop Lynch shares Bishop Tafoya’s and Cardinal Mahony’s dissenting and quite untutored postulate that the Eucharistic transubstantiation bears upon the congregation, not the bread and wine of the Offertory.  He supposes that the multitudinous Eucharistic presences recited in the G.I.R.M. are in sum more “real” than that achieved by the consecration of the bread and wine, to the point that they are in fact the “presupposition” of that consecration.  This is of course his purely arbitrary diktat, with no warrant whatever. But such ukases are the familiar discourse of Bishop Lynch; they specified his triumphant tour as the General Secretary of the U.S.C.C.

After proclaiming the reduction of the Eucharistic Presence to a by-product of the quite metaphorical presence of Christ in the Congregation, Bishop Lynch passes on to the implications of his fiat: his “Conclusion” informs us that

Although exposition of the Blessed Sacrament may help foster devotion to Christ’s presence in the Eucharist, a parish’s first priority is well-planned and well-celebrated Masses.  Parishes seeking to inaugurate or restore eucharistic devotions should reflect on their practices during the communion rite and their commitment of time and money (stewardship) to social services. Are they as respectful and reverent toward Christ’s presence in the gathered Body, the Church, as they are to the presence of Christ in the Sacrament? Is the fuller expression of the Eucharist under the forms of bread and wine being offered to the faithful at all Masses? Does the eucharistic bread look like bread? Does the parish carefully prepare enough communion for the gathered assembly instead of routinely going to the tabernacle? Does the eucharistic procession take its own time or is the focus to try to get through the communion rite as efficiently and expediently as possible? Do the echaristic ministers reflect the parish, i.e., inclusive of age, ethnicity, and gender? Have the eucharistic ministers been properly trained and is their formation ongoing? Is the Eucharist being brought to members of the parish who cannot gather on Sunday because of sickness or advanced age? When these issues have been addressed, then the deeper understanding of communion that Christ intended in the Eucharist will be achieved.

Bishop Lynch’s fear that the resources expended on Eucharistic exposition will interfere with “well planned and celebrated Masses” and depreciate the congregation’s “commitment of time and money (stewardship) to social services” relies heavily upon the view of liturgical renewal we have seen developed by Cardinal Mahony’s “Gather Faithfully Together” of four years earlier: we note once again the fastidious refusal to capitalize “Eucharist.”  The standards for “well-planned and well-celebrated Masses” which Bishop Lynch’s Pastoral Letter establishes in the parishes under his jurisdiction are intended continually to challenge the legitimacy of any pastor’s institution of Eucharistic adoration.  The bishops’ check sheet for such celebration identifies aspirations with obligations, a device long popular with autocrats.[139]  The assignment of impossible responsibilities is the a priori establishment of a hermeneutic of suspicion aimed at any independent exercise of responsibility by a pastor―in this case, any pastor who recognizes the value of the scheduled exposition of the Blessed Sacrament.

Thus Bishop Lynch’s pastoral letter deploys the tactics made familiar by his governance of the old United States Catholic Conference (U.S.C.C.), of which he was the Associate General Secretary for five years, from 1984 to 1989, and the General Secretary for the next six years, from 1989 to 1995, when Cardinal Bernardin arranged his appointment as the bishop of St. Petersburg.  The U.S.C.C. was from 1966 the staff organization for the National Conference of Catholic Bishops (N.C.C.B.).  In principle, the U.S.C.C. was subordinate to the N.C.C.B, but this subordination was confused from the outset by the assigning of distinct responsibilities for social policy to the U.S.C.C., with the result that, in the view of the U.S.C.C., the authority of the bishops of the N.C.C.B. was limited a priori to those responsibilities which did not fall under that heading.  This insolence was underwritten by the careful failure of Cardinal Bernardin and his minions to recognize specific responsibilities in the N.C.C.B.

This classic bureaucratic maneuver left to the bishops comprising the National Conference only what was indelegable: their liturgical respon­sibility for the Church’s worship in truth.  However, because this worship is sacramental, it is public, concretely historical, and effective ex opere operato, i.e., irrespective of the political passions of the local ordinary.  Unfortunately, bishops’ radically liturgical responsibilities could scarcely be exercised without trespass on those “social” responsibilities whose delega­tion to their theoretically subordinate staff they had consented and even approved, if only by their silence.

The delegation was of course a nullity: the bishops had no responsibility for, or authority over, “social responsibilities” to delegate, and their properly episcopal liturgical authority is incapable of delegation.  The inherent irres­ponsibility and insubordination of a staff organization whose existence was predicated upon episcopal irresponsibility seems to have troubled no one in the N.C.C.B./U.S.S.C.

Nonetheless, despite this episcopal faineance, the accumulated incongruities soon became evident.  The creation of the office of General Secretary as head of the dual U.S.C.C./N.C.C.B. sufficiently indicates the bureaucratic imposition of order upon that incoherent conglomerate, and the correlative relativization of the authority of the bishops comprising the N.C.C.B,, who soon became accustomed to seeking U.S.C.C. approval even of their own appointment of the chairmen of their own committees.

During Lynch’s ascendancy the bureaucracy studiously obstructed the U.S. bishops’ discussion of the episcopal responsibilities for which their semi-annual meetings as the N.C.C.B. were intended: this by the simple device of by presenting them beforehand with a social-work agenda of indisputable political correctness, laced with heavily political overtones having nothing to do with the bishops’ pressing responsibility for dealing with the manifold liturgical crises then as now facing the Church.  Thus, portentous documents on the economy, on the rights of women, on warfare, on health, issued as though the unanimous policy statements of a faceless American episcopacy, each of whose members was persuaded that dissent from the received opinion constituted an unthinkable breaking of the ranks.

Thus domesticated, muzzled, rendered impotent by the U.S.C.C./ N.C.C.B bureaucracy, the American bishops remained immobile until at last informed by John Paul II that the U.S. episcopal conference, the U.S.C.C./ N.C.C.B., had no ecclesial authority unless its unanimity were real.[140]  As led by Cardinal Bernardin, the U.S.C.C./N.C.C.B had never known a free unanimity, and has known none since.  The consequence of John Paul II’s Apostolos Suos has been a gradual recovery by the bishops of the personal authority they had so servilely abdicated.[141]  The recovery has been very gradual: Bishop Fabian Bruskewitz’ refusal to apply in his diocese the absurd diktat of the Dallas Conference of the U.S.C.C.B (2002) is regarded by the bulk of his fellow bishops as bad form, although the recent presiden­tial election has revealed that for many in their flocks, abortion is not bad form. After all, the USCCB advice to the electorate issued in 2008 had found the intrinsic evil of abortion to be negotiable.  Enough said.

Bishop Lynch’s bureaucratic regimentation of the U.S.C.C./N.C.C.B, at one with his pastoral attempt to regiment his own pastors, is merely the corollary of that politicization of liturgy which is itself the inevitable consequence of a loss of faith in its intrinsic sacramental efficacy.  After all, the “assembly” must assemble to some purpose.  When it is no longer to participate in the sacramentally efficacious worship of the risen Lord in his Eucharistic immanence in this fallen world, some other agenda must be confected, some other communion concocted, some other efficacy manifested.  It is only in this context that Bishop Lynch’s Pastoral Letter is comprehensible.  Its suppression of the personal authority and the free responsibility of his pastors and, through their suppression, the suppression of the responsible freedom of the laity as well, makes perfect sense, but not in the context of the Eucharistic worship of the Catholic Church, which is entirely liberating.

Unfortunately, Cardinal Mahony, Bishop Toyota and Bishop Lynch can find warrant in official Church documents for their fastidious avoidance of the res Catholica.

In 1965, in Mysterium fidei, §§36-39, Pope Paul VI, elaborating upon Sacrosanctum Concilium §7, had carefully placed the several “real presences” of Christ described in that document within the context of their relation to and dependence upon the uniquely substantial Real Presence, i.e., the Event of the  priestly offering of the One Sacrifice: Paul VI concluded in the following language:

This presence is called “real”—by which it is not intended to exclude all 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, the God-Man, is wholly and entirely present.(41) [=Conc. of Trent, Decree on the Eucharist, Ch. 3.] It would therefore be wrong to explain this presence by having recourse to the “spiritual” nature, as it is called, of the glorified Body of Christ, which is present everywhere, or by reducing it to a kind of symbolism, as if this most august Sacrament consisted of nothing else than an efficacious sign, “of the spiritual presence of Christ and of His intimate union with the faithful, members of His Mystical Body.

Mysterium Fidei ¶39.

While the “new G.I.R.M” refers to very similar language in ¶9 of Eucharisticum Mysterium, the Congregation of Rites there uses that language to point out the ancillary character of those “presences” of Christ, including that “presence” referred to in Mt. 18:20,: they are all in function of “liturgical celebrations;” in which context their subordination to and dependence upon the offering of the Eucharistic sacrifice is evident.  It is unfortunate that the “new G.I.R.M.” suggests that the “presence” of Christ is rather “in the assembly” than “to the assembly,” a notion radically inconsistent with the doctrine of Euchristiam Mysterium, where we read:

9. The Different Modes of Christ’s Presence

In order that they should achieve a deeper understanding of the mystery of the Eucharist, the faithful should be instructed in the principal ways in which the Lord is present to His Church in liturgical celebrations.43

He is always present in a body of the faithful gathered in His name (cf. Matt. 18:20). He is present too in His Word, for it is He who speaks when the Scriptures are read in the Church.

In the sacrifice of the Eucharist He is present both in the person of the minister, “the same now offering through the ministry of the priest who formerly offered himself on the Cross,”44 and above all under the species of the Eucharist.45 For in this sacrament Christ is present in a unique way, whole and entire, God and man, substantially and permanently. This presence of Christ under the species “is called ‘real’ not in an exclusive sense, as if the other kinds of presence were not real, but ‘par excellence’.”46

43 Cf. Vat II Const. on Liturgy, Sacrosanctum Concilium, n. 7-AAS 56 (1964), pp. 100-101.

44 Council of Trent, Session XXII, Decree on the Mass, Chap. II- Denz. 940 (1743).

45 Cf. Vat. II Const. on Liturgy, Sacrosanctum Concilium, n. 7-AAS 56 (1964), pp. 100-101.

46 Paul VI, Encyc. Lett. Mysterium Fidei-AAS 57 (1965), p. 764.

Eucharisticum Mysterium, ¶9, Instruction on Eucharistic Worship, Sacred Congregation of Rites, May 25, 1967.

The “new G.I.R.M.” refers also to Sacrosanctum Concilium (SC), Ch. 1, §7, where as we have noted, a comparable statement of the priority of the Eucharistic sacrifice is found:

7. To accomplish so great a work, Christ is always present in his Church, especially in her liturgical celebrations. He is present in the sacrifice of the Mass, not only in the person of his minister, “the same now offering, through the ministry of priests, who formerly offered himself on the cross”(8), but especially under the Eucharistic species. By his power he is present in the sacraments, so that when a man baptizes it is really Christ himself who baptizes(9). He is present in his Word, since it is he himself who speaks when the holy Scriptures are read in the Church. He is present, lastly, when the Church prays and sings, for he promised: “Where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them” (Mt. 18:20) .

It is clear that magisterial references to multiple Eucharistic “presences” of the Christ must be read within the context of those numerous passages in Sacrosanctum Concilium, as in the other Conciliar and magisterial documents, which affirm the radical priority, over all elements of the Church’s worship, of the priestly offering in persona Christi of the Eucharistic Sacrifice.  Jesus the Christ is present to the Eucharistic community only Eucharistically: these other insubstantial “presences” cannot be added to that transcendent Presence, nor can they be distinguished from the Eucharistic presence in any concrete sense, for they have no independent objective reality.  Once removed from their dependent relation to the sacrificial and substantial presence of the risen Christ in the Eucharistic liturgy, they have no reality whatever.  Within the celebration of the Eucharist, they have no objectivity; the “presence” then ascribed to them is subjective and non-historical, an expression of personal piety, not a product of the transubstantiation of the elements, of the High Priestly offering of the One Sacrifice.

The alternative to the recognition of the priority of the sacrifice of the Mass over all other “real” presences of the Christ is the rejection of the Eucharistic sacrifice, for it is absurd to suppose that the “presence” of Christ assigned, e.g., to the congregation, or to the homilist, is that of the High Priest offering the One Sacrifice.  His “Real Presence” is the Event of his offering to the Father of the One Sacrifice, of which he is as at once the High Priest and the Victim.  This Event-Presence of Jesus the Lord in the Mass is historically efficacious in the institution of the New Covenant, the One Flesh of Christ and the Church whereby the fallen universe of broken space and time is redeemed, made new.  Entry into this  redeemed history is by the liturgical appropriation of its salvific significance by participation in the worship of the Church.  Consequently, relative to this Real Presence, all the other liturgical “presences” of Christ are insubstantial: their only reality is that of the Eucharistic Sacrifice.

When Sacrosanctum Concilium’s §7 is read to teach―as a number of pastoral letters issued over the past decade in the U.S. have read it―that the several “real presences” of the risen Christ in the Mass are all at the same level, the Council is thereby understood to have abandoned the Catholic Eucharist in favor of its Lutheran counterfeit, a prospect not in view then or since apart from an influential handful of dissident liturgists.  Cardinal Mahony’s unfortunate 1997 Pastoral Letter on liturgical renewal manifested and promoted this “liturgically correct“ confusion and, as has been seen, other U.S. bishops have since shared it.

Such Eucharistic “real presences” lack historical objectivity; consequently, reference to their reality can only be metaphorical.  Objective historical presence is possible only to an objective historical reality.  At the close of the Second Vatican Council it was being urged by Catholic theologians that the Church’s unity is due to the “abiding presence of the Holy Spirit.”[142]  This is false to the Catholic liturgical and doctrinal tradition, for the Spirit is not incarnate, and has no Personal historicity other than that which is dependent upon his Mission through the Son.  Absent the Eucharistic historicity of the risen Christ, there is no presence of the Spirit in the world, and the Church’s worship ceases to be historically efficacious, and historically objective: Inasmuch as the Church’s historicity is that of her worship, the Church also disappears from historical objectivity, to become the subjective “church” of the Protestant Reformation.

The Spirit’s effects are, in sum, the Good Creation, but the Spirit’s efficacy is not by way of his Personal historical immanence, for he has none.  The historicity of his Mission is the Personal historicity, the Eucharistic immanence of the  “one and the same Son,” of the Son through whose One Sacrifice the Spirit is sent, poured out upon the Church and, through her, upon the whole of creation.

In the opening decades of the third millennium, as in the closing decades of the second, a romanticism has descended upon the Western world, a misanthropic distrust of historical institution as such, and most particularly of the Church of sinners.  Carl Armbruster’s article, cited supra, is a fair expression of that malaise, which can impose any interpretation whatever on the work of the Spirit, as warranting, e.g., the theological dissent it embodies, by its rejection of the Catholic past.,[143] , the historical Church whose Mission is historical only by the historicity of Jesus the Christ, the One and the same Son, a historicity that is his One Sacrifice as Eucharistically represented: apart from that representation his death upon the cross would be without the transcendent historical significance that is his as the Lord of history, by which Lordship history is salvific.  The primitive faith that Jesus is the Lord is uttered in the Eucharistic worship of the Church, and is inseparable from that worship.  His Lordship of salvation history, of history as objective, is Eucharistic: it is only as the Eucharistic Lord that Jesus is the Alpha and Omega, the Beginning and the End: his death on the cross would otherwise be an element of the fallen temporality which it would not have transcended and could not have redeemed.

Nonetheless, the inability of the cosmologically oriented methodology of the great majority of Catholic theologians over the past century and more has produced a theological consensus, taught for generations in the seminaries, that reduces the priestly offering of the sacrifice of the Mass to Calvinist dimensions: Christ is present only in his humanity and thus present only as sacrificed; consequently Christ is not understood to be present as the High Priest offering himself as the Victim of that sacrifice: this despite the explicit doctrine of the Council of Trent and the Second Vatican Council that the priestly offering of the One Sacrifice is made in the Person of Jesus the Christ, the Lord, whom Chalcedon, following Irenaeus two and a half centuries earlier, eight times affirmed to be “the one and the same Son.”  There can be no question that the Catholic Eucharistic liturgy is the Offering in the Person of Christ of his One Sacrifice: the doctrine of the Real Presence is ancillary to and controlled by this Event, by which Jesus the Lord is immanent in fallen space and time as its risen Lord, its head, the source of its free truth, its beauty, thus as its creator, but he is thus Personally present at once as the High Priest, offering himself as the Victim of his One Sacrifice, and consequently his Personal Real Presence is as the Victim whom he Personally offers to the Father in the One Sacrifice which, objectively because in sacramento, redeems and restores the whole of creation, making all things new.  The cosmological bowdlerization of this foundational, constitutive Event in terms of ‘liturgical renewal’ has been the tragedy of our times.  It is providential that Pope Benedict XVI has understood the necessity of the “reform of the reform” of the liturgy.

b. Johannes Betz: ”Real Presence” as “Aktualpräsenz”

In the first volume of a dense study published before the Second Vatican Council, Johannes Betz, a dogmatic historian of the first rank, proposed what he has designated the Actualpräsenz of Christ in the Eucharist: this view of the Eucharistic Presence of Jesus the Lord he regards as a return to the original patristic understanding of the Eucharistic presence of Christ as dynamic rather than static.[144]

Unfortunately, Betz’ understands the Eucharistic Aktualpräsenz as that of Christ solely as the passive Victim of the One Sacrifice, and explicitly not as the High Priest who offers himself as that Victim.  This eliminates the Event-character of the Eucharistic Presence, and must conclude to a nonhistorical symbolist theology of the Eucharist.

Betz developed his theory of a Eucharistic Aktualpräsenz well prior to Vatican II, at a time when the Tridentine definition of the Eucharistic Real Presence was thought by a number of European theologians to have been heavily influenced by the Thomist-Aristotelian metaphysics,[145] leading to the conclusion that the Tridentine Fathers had in view an Aristotelian conception of Real Presence which, as “substantial,” could hardly be other than static: “substantialist” was then on the way to becoming an epithet in the Catholic theological circles influenced by Rahner and Lonergan.  We here prescind from discussing the value of this reading of Trent, for it is obvious that the Fathers at Trent understood Christ’s Eucharistic Presence to be historical, i.e., as an intrinsically free event, inasmuch as they identified it with the Event of the One Sacrifice, stressing that the Christ is present in the Eucharist at once and inseparably as the High Priest of the One Sacrifice, and as the Victim whom the High Priest offers in the One Sacrifice.

There can be no question of a Tridentine definition―or supposition―of a ‘static’ Real Presence, for the primary emphasis of the Council was to re-affirm what the Reform denied: the historicity or event-character of the Sacrifice of the Mass.  It was in this adversarial and consequently historical context that the Fathers at Trent taught that the Eucharistic Real Presence is the historical Event of the Offering of the One Sacrifice.  The Tridentine doctrine of the “Real Presence” is therefore simply the corollary, the immediate implication, of the historicity, the Event, of the One Sacrifice: there can be no justification for looking elsewhere for its meaning.

The not uncommon supposition in medieval and baroque theology that the Real Presence, as the “product of transubstantiation,” is merely the humanity, the body and the blood of the Christ and consequently, that only the body and the  blood of the Victim are received in communion, but not the Person who is at once the High Priest and the Victim of his One Sacrifice, is an evident reflection of medieval reaction to the heresy of Berengarius of Tours, who had denied the objective truth of the Eucharistic Words of Institution: “This is my body;” “This is the chalice of my blood.”

The theological defense of Eucharistic realism against Berengarius’ reduction of it to a subjectivism, the work notably of Lanfranc and Guitmund of Aversa in the eleventh century, and of Alger of Liége and Gregory of Bergamo in the twelfth, developed the “substantial” (i.e., objective) character of the Real Presence, but in a context so linked to Berengarius’ heresy as to focus interest so particularly upon the substantial change of the Eucharistic elements (labeled “transubstantiation” by the middle of the twelfth century), upon their becoming what Berengarius had denied, the body and blood of Christ, as to neglect the identity of the Jesus the High Priest with the Jesus the Lamb of God, the Victim of his One Sacrifice, the Bread from heaven.  This neglect continued through the twentieth century.  The Eucharistic tractates of that time taught the doctrine of the Council of Trent, but as mediated by authorities such as St. Robert Bellarmine in the seventeenth century, Franzelin in the nineteenth, and Louis Billot, Maurice de La Taille, and Abbot Anscar Vonier in the early twentieth, who had begun to rediscover the Nominalist objection to the supposed “repetition” by the priest-celebrant of the Eucharist, of the sacrifice of the cross.

The sophisticated development of history as governed by the Eucharistic unity of the two Covenants, which dominated the patristic exegesis, had been put in issue during the Carolingian period by a fascination with the “new dialectic,” exploited by Ratramnus and Rhabanus Maur, which had begun to undercut the sacramental foundation of the Augustinian theology of history that underlay his admonition, “spiritualiter intelligete,” by which alone is the Real Presence intelligible as the sacrificial institution of the Eucharistic union in One Flesh of Christ and his bridal Church.  Berengarius’ heresy was the full flowering of this atomization of discursive language, and thereby of the free unities of history, all of which are at bottom sacramental.  This dissent to reality, the quest for necessary reasons which troubled theology from the twelfth century, is always an analytical disintegration of the object of inquiry, a quest for the atom, the indivisible, which does not exist in history.  This servile modality of the theological quaerens intellectum, the submission of the truths of the faith to the immanent fragmentation native to fallen rationality, and to the spontaneous dehistoricization of its subject native to the cosmological imagination, continually tempts theology, as it tempts all efforts to learn and understand, for our quest of truth is not a necessity of thought, but a gift.  Therefore it is free, and seeks a truth that is equally gift, and equally free..

Thus burdened by an imagination which cannot accept, i.e., cannot imagine, the Personal unity of the Lord as the indivisible Personal unity in him of humanity and divinity, theologians proceed to dehistoricize that Personal unity in order that it be imaginable, non-mysterious.  Thereby we hear that it is the non-human, nonhistorical “eternal Son” who is the agent of our salvation, using his assumed humanity only as an instrument, and consequently acting as God, not as a man.  The Corpus Christi verum, which for the Fathers labeled the sacrifice of Christ, has been transformed by a fatally flawed cosmological theology into a radically passive, thus nonhistorical, victim of a nonhistorical sacrifice.

This scenario, wherein Jesus is neither a human person (thus not the Son of Mary) nor the divine Son of the Father (and thus not “the one and the same Son” of the Council of Chalcedon) is the hallmark of a time-honored and pervasive theological confusion in the Latin Church, originating in the defensive reaction to Berengarius’ denial of the truth of the words of Eucharistic institution, and enhanced by a comparably defensive reaction to the Reformers’ denial of the sacrifice of the Mass.  Betz has found the same Eucharistic confusion flourishing a millennium earlier in the Antiochene tradition represented by John Chrysostom and his contemporary, Theodore of Mopsuestia.  In the sixteenth-century Reformation as in the diophysite confusion typifying the Antiochene tradition in the fifth century, the sacrifice of the Mass gave way to the monadist demands of a cosmologized Christology, whose subject, the dehistoricized, non-human Logos who, as reduced to the standing of an abstract divine Person, became the Absolute, incapable of relation, thus incapable of historicity.

Persuaded by this rationale, the theologians of the Reform and, a millennium earlier, those of the Antiochene tradition represented severally by John Chrysostom, Theodore of Mopsuestia and, a generation later, Theodore’s disciple, Nestorius, reduced the One Sacrifice of Christ to the unrepeatable event of Jesus’ crucifixion.  From which cosmologically-controlled inference the objectively historical Event of the Eucharistic representation of the One Sacrifice becomes impossible.  Consequently, that representation was reduced by both traditions to a subjective anamnesis of the Crucifixion as an event of the irretrievable past.  In this all-too-common error, the One Sacrifice is understood not to entail the historical immanence of the risen Lord, and so does not transcend the dualities, the fragmentation, of our fallen history.  Rather, the opposite is held to be true.  The One Sacrifice belongs to the past, and the past to the “philologists” who, as Lonergan famously observed, have deprived the theologians of their sources.

As governed by this cosmological, pseudo-theological rationale, the Mass ceases to be the offering of the One Sacrifice in the Person and with the authority of the risen Lord, the High Priest of the One Sacrifice. The institution of the Eucharistic Sacrifice by our Lord at the Last Supper is obviously prior to his death upon the cross, and cannot be understood as a repetition of that event without falsifying the Words of Institution spoken by Christ, as in the current (2011) consecration narrative: "Take this all of you, and eat of it, For this is my Body which will be given up for you."  The textus receptus of the Order of the Mass needs more work.  The New Testament Institution Narratives are all in the present tense.

The Council of Trent refused that Protestant proposition by defining the Mass as the unbloody Offering of the One Sacrifice, distinguished it modally, not historically, from the sacrificial death of Jesus on the cross.  No other interpretation of the words of Jesus at the Last Supper, instituting the Eucharistic representation of his One Sacrifice, is possible.  The Tridentine definition of the Eucharistic Sacrifice is loyal to its Institution by Jesus the Christ.  This, the truth of the faith that Jesus Christ is Lord, transcends any rationale.  Its free liturgical mediation is a flat rejection of the cosmological appeal to immanent necessities.  The faith of the Church is the worship in truth of Truth himself, the radical mystery of Jesus Christ the Lord, who thereby, as the  object of the Catholic faith, is the historically objective norma normans et non normata of Catholic theology.  But to the sarkic mind, this affirmation must be tested―by the sarkic mind―which, locked into its immanent neccessity, must deny any free unity in history, and searches in vain for any other. .

No doubt, in the centuries following the Council of Trent, a good many Catholic theologians had inferred, from the temporal priority of the Tridentine Canons defining the Real Presence to those defining the Sacrifice of the Mass, an actual and even causal priority in the Real Presence, justifying a theological emphasis on the Real Presence in such wise as to leave in the background the Conciliar definition of the historical identity of the One Sacrifice and the Real Presence, even to the point of attempting to deduce the Sacrifice of the Mass from the a consequently abstract definition of the Real Presence.

This reverses their causal priority for, in fact, as a matter of faith, it is in his High Priestly Offering of his One Sacrifice that Christ is Present on the altar.  The theological focus upon the Real Presence as that of the transubstantiated bread and wine of the Offertory, over against Berengarius’ denial of that transubstantiation, began to identify the Real Presence with the Sacrificed body and blood of Jesus the Lord, in an implicit dissociation from the High Priestly offering of that One Sacrifice, which had long been attributed by the dominant Christological theology, in the East as in the West, not to the Person of Jesus, but to the “immanent Logos.”

This diophysite dissociation of the Christ from his humanity developed a deformed Eucharistic doctrine and spirituality, apparent  in Theodore of Mopsuestia’s application of the Aristotelian cosmological analysis to the Incarnation, whose subject he understood in common with the Alexandrines to be the nonhistorical Logos, the eternal divine Son who, as absolute, could not be identified with the human Jesus.  This Christological error had the Eucharistic consequence that the body and blood of the merely human Jesus, Eucharistically represented, could have no salvific efficacy.  Cyril’s recog­nition of this diophysite consequence led to the condemnation of Theodore’s disciple, Nestorius, by the Council of Ephesus, together with the condem­nation of that Christological diophysism by the proclamation that the Virgin Mary is the Mother of God.  However, Cyril himself, who maintained the subject of the Incarnation to be the non-human or immanent Logos, would have been hard put to identify the Eucharistic presence with Jesus the High Priest, the agent of our salvation.  He perceived the error of the Nestorian diophysism, but was blind to same error, inherent in his own monophysism.  His affirmation of the Theotokos was the product of his faith in Jesus the Lord.  It could not be sustained by what had been his own Christology prior to 428, when he encountered the Eucharistic heresy inherent in Nestorius’ diophysism.

The same reversal of liturgical priorities by which the theological focus was upon the Victim of the One Sacrifice rather than upon Jesus’ High Priestly offering of himself as the Victim of his One Sacrifice could not but endanger the theological recognition of the event-character, the Eucharistic Offering, of the One Sacrifice in persona Christi,, and thus of its historicity, a consequence aided by a diophysite predilection for Aristotelian analyses among the Antiochenes in fifth century and by the Thomism dominant in Western theology from the High Middle Ages. However, this mistake cannot be attributed to the Conciliar Fathers at Trent, who taught doctrine, not theology.[146]

The supposed priority of the Real Presence over the Sacrifice of the Mass finds no support in respective Tridentine Canons on the Real Presence and on the Sacrifice of the Mass.[147]  Despite the eleven years separating the treatment in the Council’s XIIIe Session on the Real Presence from the treatment in Council’s XXIIe Session on the Sacrifice of the Mass, Canon 2 of the latter Session, “Sacrificium visibile esse propitiatorium pro vivis et defunctis” affirmed the historical unity of the Sacrifice on the cross with the Eucharistic Sacrifice, defining these to differ only in the mode of offering, as between cruente and incruente: bloody and not bloody: they do not differ as events. In the Eucharistic celebration, there is One Sacrifice, one Event, one dynamic Event-Presence, and these coincide.[148]

Betz, to the contrary, citing John Chrysostom, that the liturgical actualization of the Eucharist is the anamnesis of the sacrificial death of Jesus on the cross.  Of itself, this contention raises no problem: the Mass is at once memorial, sacrifice, thanksgiving and celebration.  Jesus’ command to the Apostles, “Do this in memory of me” cannot but be decisive.  However, the Catholic tradition identifies that anamnesis with the historical Event, the objective Eucharistic representation, of the One Sacrifice, with which the anamnesis coincides and is identified.  To say so much is clearly to reject outright the authenticity of the “historical criticism” brought to bear upon the Eucharist by contemporary Catholic liturgical scholarship, much of it relying upon Betz’ assessment of the Antiochene tradition prior to the Council of Ephesus.

The intrinsically free intelligibility of history is the common doctrine of the historical Church.  History is thus free only as Eucharistically ordered, as given its free unity, by the immanence within it of the Event of the One Sacrifice by which all creation, including its temporality, is redeemed.  There is no other freedom in the fallen world than this, as the pagan traditions knew, and as the Protestant rejection of the Eucharistic sacrifice was forced to rediscover: the soteriological flight from history is a cosmological constant which has no place in the Catholic tradition, and none in Catholic theology.

Personal existence in the Eucharistic reality of historical freedom is achieved by baptism into the freedom of the Church’s Eucharistic worship: personal participation in that worship is personal entry into salvific historicity, and thus into the covenantal fidelity that is our sacramental imaging of God.  By entry into that worship in truth of Truth, the sinner is able to recognize, whether immediately or over time, at once his alienation from the Truth he worships, and his desire for it: he discovers himself to be riven by two loves, to be at once justified by Christ, freed by Christ, drawn by the beauty that is the freedom of truth, and yet tempted continually by the infidelity, the degradation, that is his fallen solidarity with the first Adam, by his graced solidarity with the second Adam, enabled to resist that innate temptation in the here and the now of his existence in ecclesia.  Only in that worship can he come to know himself, only there does his own condition of radical indigence become apparent to him, and only there is its remedy made known to him: participation in the Eucharistic celebration of the new creation, the New Covenant, the One Flesh of the risen Lord and his bridal Church.

This personal appropriation of the freedom of salvation history, of free and responsible existence in ecclesia, has its concretely historical foundation in the Eucharistic representation of the One Sacrifice, the Event by which Jesus is the beginning and the end, the Alpha and the Omega of history as fallen in the first Adam and redeemed in Jesus Christ, the second Adam.  The Church thus viewed history as the liturgically-sustained realm of free and hence of moral existence in ecclesia, in Christo from her first century.  The recognition that history possesses an intrinsic salvific significance, entailing a personal moral responsibility, a fidelity, to a covenant with God, first appears in the Pentateuch; there also appears, in Genesis, the reality of original sin as the degradation of the good creation, but not its utter condemnation: Gen. 3:15 witnesses to the ancient Hebrew conviction of the permanent love of the Lord for his chosen people.  The Church’s faith that Jesus is the Lord, the Christ, is intelligible only as fulfilling the historical Jewish tradition of hope and faith in a salvation achieved only by the Lord.

During the latter half of the twentieth century, the Enlightenment version of history became normative in the Catholic academy, by way of the academic excommunication of those who dissent from its secular orthodoxies.  This notion of history as intrinsically secular, devoid of any intrinsic significance and, a fortiori, of the intrinsically salvific significance defended by Augustine’s City of God and written into the legal codes of the Western civilization thereafter, reached its classic if not final expression in the publication of Voltaire’s Essai sur les moeurs in 1756.  There Voltaire challenged the intrinsic significance, the legitimacy, of historical institutions as such by accounting for their reality much as Darwin was to do a century later: they were the product of “natural causes,“ reductively, to mere chance: Darwin’s dogmatic evolutionism would have served his purpose well.  Voltaire focused his critique upon the historical institutions of the time, and particularly those of the Catholic Church, as the Renaissance humanists had done before him. His anti-Catholic invective, summed up in “Écrasez l’infame,” still informs the contemporary secularism, as illustrated by the European Council’s drive to establish, contra the policies of the Catholic nations of the European Union, a universal right to abortion.

It is evident that the secular reading of history as meaningless can have no historical foundation.  Consequently, as with any ideology, its standing is merely that of an axiom, an ens rationis, as freely to be denied as affirmed.  It can be denied, as here, on religious and consequently historical grounds: similarly, it can be affirmed as the corollary of a secular faith, finally a nihilism whose only historical expression is a foredoomed struggle for the power by which an arbitrary unity may be imposed ab extra upon an intrinsically fractured, fungible and meaningless temporality.  The fascination this historicism has for scholars lies in its capacity rationally to disintegrate everything it addresses in order to create from shards a more satisfactory reality: the utopianism of the secular academy is the  obverse, the counterpart, of its nihilism.

Those who have internalized this axiomatic historicism as “historical consciousness,” thus as intuitively clear and beyond discussion, may then proceed to its apply its a priori determinism to the free historical objectivity of the Eucharistic liturgical tradition, with the fore-ordained conclusion that the tradition is irrational insofar as its freedom is irreducible to the logical necessity which the historical consciousness identifies with causal necessity, with the correlative denial of any intrinsically free intelligibility in history.  This consequence is inescapable, however unaware of that are its ‘historically conscious’ adepts.

Inasmuch as the Gödel’s incompleteness theorems have some time since eliminated the possibility of a rational comprehension without remainder of any non-trivial historical reality, the axiomatic quest for the immanently necessary unity of history is foreclosed, for it has none.  The only unity history has is free; it has its sole foundation in the institution of the One Flesh, the New Covenant, by the One Sacrifice.  In dismissing that intrinsically free unity as impossible, Enlightened historical scholarship proceeds to disintegrate all intrinsically free historical structure, thereby endorsing the classic pagan soteriology, the flight from the irrationality of history.  We have been here before.  It is more than curious that the academic adepts of this historical criticism have remained so long so blind to its impact upon their own endeavors which, as historical, cannot be supposed to possess intrinsic significance, as their authors cannot.  If it be granted that the historicist axiom is intuitively clear and consequently indiscussible, it is thereby rendered indefensible as well.  The lever sought by Archimides is always unavailable: to affirm a stance outside of and transcending history is to affirm the absurd.

Betz’ version of the Eucharistic anamnesis as Aktualpräsenz supposes it to be the liturgical memory of the whole sweep of Heilsgeschichte, centered indeed upon the history of Jesus from his Incarnation to his Ascension, but with no recognition that this history possesses salvific significance only by reason of the Eucharistic immanence within it of Jesus precisely as the High Priest offering the One Sacrifice, apart from whose Eucharistic immanence in history as its head, as the Lord of history, history remains irremediably fallen, lacking free unity and consequently all unity whatsoever: it is only as the Eucharistic Lord that Christ is immanent in history as its Lord, the Beginning and the End.

Nonetheless, Catholic historians have learned, have even been forced by a consciousness (here labeled ‘sarkic’ because it seeks to normalize the fallen condition of all humanity (sarx) as an immanent necessity) to accept sarkic disintegration of history as prerequisite to their discipline.  By implication, the secularized historian has the task of rendering his subject intelligible by imposing upon its fragmentation, its radical discontinuity, a rationally justifiable unity, which is to say, one which will pass editorial scrutiny.  The criteria for this approval can only be political for, with the quest for the intrinsic truth, the free significance, of historical events methodologically foreclosed, it is impossible to be interested in them: only the quest for power over them remains.  It is not a pretty sight.

Betz’ examination of the liturgical tradition is of this sort: he seeks to correct it by a procedure which dehistoricizes it by eliminating the Event, the Eucharistic Sacrifice, by which alone it is historically objective and intelligible.  This tactic immediately raises the cosmological quandary of ‘the one and the many:’ it imposes upon the theologian the task of providing an a priori account of the unity of his subject, which unity can only be extrinsically imposed as a plausible re-assembly of the disparate fragments discovered by his historical research.  Thus we find the exponents of the classic Christologies struggling in vain to account for the immanence of a dehistoricized Logos in the human Person of Jesus the Lord; similarly, Betz and those like him are unable to account for the historicity of the Sacrifice of the Mass: the defined doctrine that it is offered in the Person of Jesus the Lord flies in the face of  the classic Thomist Christology’s refusal of the Personal unity of Jesus the Lord as defined at Chalcedon.  The Eucharistic corollary of that cosmological Christology is a refusal to accept the historicity of the Sacrifice of the Mass.  It is held to be offered not by Jesus but by the abstract, nonhistorical Logos, the agent of our redemption according to the Thomist Christology, who does not act in history.[149]  When this subjective scenario replaces the objective Offering of the Sacrifice of the Mass, those who accept it have left the historical Church by their denial of the historicity her worship.

In despite of such vagaries, the oral liturgical tradition of the Eucharistic recitation of the Words of Institution is decisive of this point: at the Last Supper, Jesus told the Apostles, “Do this in memory of me.”  He did not tell them, “Remember this of me.”  The Catholic Eucharistic anamnesis centers upon the Event of the High Priest’s Offering of himself as the Victim of the One Sacrifice, the sacramental institution of the One Flesh, as Euchar­istically represented by a bishop or a priest who by ordination stands within the Apostolic Succession to the authority to offer it in the Person of the Lord Jesus the Lord, whose Sacrifice it is..  Apart from the historical immanence of the Eucharistic Lord of history the anamnesis would have no Heilsge­schichte to remember.  The Apostles’ fragmentary recollection of the past would be subject to the dynamic of disintegration attending all that is flesh.  As it is, the books constituting the New Testament have the intrinsically free unity of the Eucharistic anamnesis of the Offering of the One Sacrifice which is their source and their sole authentic exegesis.  Enlightened exegetes find this confidence in the free unity of Scripture unintelligible, but have been unable to propose a substitute.  The notion of ‘narrative,’ the ex parte reintegration of the biblical text fragmented by historical criticism, is the unpersuasive product of a finally arbitrary project.

As has been noted, Johannes Betz’ Aktualpräsenz theology relies particularly upon the Fathers within the Antiochene tradition as represented by John Chrysostom, whose faith in the Lordship of Jesus the Christ sustained their insistence upon his full humanity, an emphasis which, pursued in the context of the cosmological presuppositions then dominating theology, could not avoid the diophysite expression that issued in the Nestorian heresy.  However, the Antiochene stress upon the full humanity of the Christ was expressly vindicated at the Councils of Ephesus and Chalcedon; the latter Council made its own the doctrine of Irenaeus who at the end of the second century taught that Jesus is “one and the same Son,” of the Father from eternity, and of the Virgin Theotokos in our fallen history.  This is simply the apostolic tradition, whose ‘Spirit’ Christology upheld the full divinity, the full humanity and the full unity of Jesus the Christ, quite as had Tertullian more than a century before its proclamation at Nicaea.

Eustathius, the Bishop of Antioch, one of the most important cities in the Greek Orient, was brought to that see from Beroea by the anti-Arian advisor of Constantine, Ossius of Cordova, because of Eustathius’ stalwart opposition to the burgeoning Arian heresy while the bishop of Beroea.  A senior member of the cluster of conservative bishops who defeated the allies of Arius at the Council of Nicaea, he may have been the first to perceive that the Nicene Creed’s assertion of the Personal consubstantiality of Jesus Christ the Lord with the Father requires that, as the Lord, Jesus be fully human as well as fully divine.  It is in any case certain that he was the first to perceive that the condemned Arianism had denied the full humanity of Jesus, on the theory that the finite human soul is a principle of sin and consequently must be replaced in Jesus by the created by sinless Arian logos.

This conviction of the full, finally Personal humanity of Jesus identifies the Antiochene tradition.  Its stress upon the humanity of Christ, which as complete must be free, has a radically liturgical, i.e., apostolic foundation, the Naming of Jesus the Lord.  Its rationalization began in the mid-fourth century with Diodore and John Chrysostom.  Its systematic dehistoricization by Theodore of Mopsuestia and his disciple, Nestorius, could only betray that apostolic recognition of Jesus Personal humanity, the corollary of his Naming by the apostles.  The Antiochene Christological speculation, in the line from Diodore, Chrysostom, Theodore of Mopsuestia, Nestorius and finally, to Theodoret of Cyr, had been unable to provide a coherent account of the unity of the full humanity and the full divinity of the one Lord Jesus, largely because the distinction between a concrete human substance and a concrete human person, although asserted by Tertullian (duae substantiae, una Persona), was unknown to the Greek tradition apart from Origen, who was little understood until, a year before the Council of Antioch, Athanasius of Alexandria’s Tome to the Antiochenes validated the distinction, long since set out in Origen’s Peri Archon, between ousia (substance) and hypostasis (subsistence).

The speculative puzzlement arising out of the Antiochene emphasis upon the full humanity of Jesus always presented a temptation to deny the Personal unity in Jesus the Christ of Personal fullness of divinity and the Personal fullness of humanity. Origen’s affirmation of their historical Event-synthesis in the primordial Henōsis who is Named Jesus the Lord, had been lost to sight under the influence of the doctrinaire subordinationism of Eusebius of Caesarea, the greatest scholar in the Orient and supposedly the authoritative interpreter of Origen.  Eusebius’ subordinationism entailed a denial of the divinity of Jesus.  He did not think clearly enough to be an Arian, but from Council of Nicaea until his death he was a close ally of their leader, his namesake of Nicomedia, and provided the Oriental bishops with a cosmological rationale for their political rejection of the Nicene Creed.  Diodore accepted this rationale, whose rejection of the Creed required the displacement of Jesus by the pre-human Logos as the subject of the Incarnation.  The impossibility of any relation of the Logos thus conceived to the economy of salvation dominated Christian theology from the middle of the fourth century.  The consequent ignorance of the apostolic-liturgical foundation of their stress upon the humanity of Christ amounted to a relapse by the Antiochene theologians into a cosmological denial of the communication of divine and human idioms (Names) in Jesus Christ the Lord.

We have seen that it is on this account that the apostate Emperor Julian charged Diodore’s diophysite Christology with proposing a “two sons” doctrine.  A century earlier, Dionysius of Alexandria, by reason of a similar confusion, was accused of making the Lord to be a creature, a man.  The theologians of the Alexandrine tradition made this their standard objection to the diophysite Antiochene Christology.  From the latter fourth century Alexandrine theologians were comparably tempted by Apollinarius’ monophysite melding of the humanity and divinity of Christ into a single nature, at once divine and human, understood as a single subject, by giving the eternal divine Logos the role of the Stoic hegemonikon, or governing principle, of Jesus.

This monophysite error, although condemned by the First Council of Constantinople, was inherent in Cyril of Alexandria’s Christology; he insisted upon identifying the non-historical, non-human Logos as the subject of the thereby impossible Incarnation.  This emphasis upon the Logos as the subject of the Incarnation imperilled the function and thus the reality of the human soul of Jesus― as the Antiochenes were not slow to point out.

Both the monophysites and the diophysites identified the fully human, i.e., ensouled, human nature with a concrete human person; both refused to accept its evident implication, the Personal unity of the “one and the same Son,” which Irenaeus was the first clearly to affirm at the close of the second century, and which Chalcedon would eight times affirm in the middle of the fifth century.

Jesus the Christ’s human consubstantiality with us is implicit in the Personal consubstantiality of the Father with the Son as defined at Nicaea.  The Councils of Ephesus and Chalcedon, in affirming the consubstantiality of the Son with us, only stated its corollary, the indispensable and indefeasible doctrine of the full humanity as well as the full divinity of Jesus the Lord.  What the Nicene Creed taught of him is taught of his Person, at once human and divine.  Thus his divine consubstantiality with the Father must entail his consubstantiality with his mother, the Theotokos and, consequently, with us.  The Council of Nicaea, like every Council since, was called to defend the faith that Jesus Christ is Lord.  Its affirmations are liturgical, not theological.  They transcend theology as the faith transcends the questioning, the quaerens intellectum , which proceed from it.  In affirming the Personal consubstantiality (homoousios) of the Son with the Father, the Council of Nicaea laid the foundation for the affirmation of his consubstantiality with us by the Ephesian Formula of Union, and two decades later by the Symbol of Chalcedon.  The very Name, Jesus the Lord, denotes his subsistence in the human substance quite as it does his subsistence in the Trinity.  As has been seen, this recognition of his Personal humanity, rooted in the apostolic tradition, is much resisted, for it overthrows the time-honored Aristotelian-Thomist identification of the human substance with the human person, together with its implication, disintegration of the historical unity of humanity into a population of human monads, each substantially distinct from the others, and consequently incapable of communication with them.

Adhering to the Thomist tradition, Bernard Lonergan and Louis Bouyer insist upon this notion of human intellectual substance.  Despite its creation in Christ and in the image of the Trinity, the human substance, in their Thomist view, is thus monadic as to permit no consubstantiality of Jesus the Lord “with us.” : Greek Orthodox theology, insofar as represented by John Meyendorff, agrees.[150]

It is finally impossible for a bishop or priest, whether within the Antiochene tradition or the Alexandrine, entirely to separate his homiletics from his theology.  As the latter is more firmly held, it tends to intrude upon the realm of doctrine, perhaps subtly at first but, in the end, factually.  The Antiochene and the Alexandrine theological traditions both accepted as foundational the impossible problem of relating the supposedly nonhistorical divine Logos to “flesh,” which both traditions understood abstractly as human nature: both  theologies of course failed, and the more doctrinaire proponents of each tradition began to permit their theological predilections to govern the content of their preaching.

Johannes Betz relies heavily upon St. John Chrysostom’s homilies for support of his notion of a Eucharistic anamnesis which, as Aktualpräsenz, bears upon the whole Heilsgeschichte rather than upon the unique Event that is the source of its free intelligible unity, the Eucharistic immanence in fallen history of Jesus the Lord.

Some of St. John Chrysostom’s Christological expressions are clearly diophysite, to the point of threatening the unity of the Christ:

These words do not signify the agony alone, but also the two wills that are in opposition to each other, one (will) of the Son and one of the Father.  This is made clear when He says, “Not as I will, but as You will” (Mt. 26:39).  But they (the Alexandrine theologians) never admit this, and are always quoting us as saying, “I and the Father are one (Jn. 10:30).  They assert that what was said about the power was said about the will; and they say that Father and Son have but one will.  If then there is but one will of Father and Son, how is it that He says, “Only not as I will, but as You will?”  Were this saying to be attributed to the Divinity it would result in a certain contradiction and it would give birth to numerous absurdities.  But if it is attributed to the flesh, the words will have such consistency that no complaint will be possible.

St. John Chrysostom, Homilies against the anomoians and on the consubstantiality of the Father and the Son, 7, 2, 6; tr. W. A. Jurgens, Early Fathers ii, §1133, at 95.

The diophysite resolution of the dilemma Chrysostom here poses arises out of his failure, and not only his, to recognize that the Personal consubstantiality of the Father and the Son, defined at Nicaea, and the consequent consubstantiality of the Spirit, recognized after I Constantinople to be implicit in that Council’s proclamation of theSpirit’s divinity, require that the single substantial will of the One God, the Trinity, be possessed fully, and uniquely, i.e., relationally, irreducibly, Personally and freely, by each of the consubstantial Trinitarian Persons, the Father, the Son, and the HolySpirit, in whose ordered Trinitarian unity there is no hierarchical subordination: each Person possesses the fullness of divinity.  The Personal freedom of the one and the same Son is revealed in his free obedience to his Mission from the Father, and that of the Spirit is revealed by his free obedience to his irreducibly distinct Mission from the Father through the Son.

The uncritical and finally cosmological supposition that the divine transcendence of history must be by way of remoteness from history, underlies both the Nestorian and the Monophysite heresies, both of which entail a rejection of the communication of idioms, the former by denying the historical immanence of the Son, the latter by accepting the Son’s historicity but in terms of his submission to the immanent necessities of physis.  In neither case is Jesus Christ the Lord of history.

Chrysostom, no heretic, links his diophysite Christology to an inadequate understanding of the homoousion of the Son with the Father as defined at Nicaea.  He does not understand that the divinity of the Son, i.e., his homoousion with the Father, is Personal: summarily, Chrysostom does not understand that Jesus is not consubstantial with the divine Substance, i.e., with the Trinity, but rather is consubstantial with the Father and with the Spirit in the dynamic unity of their free Trinitarian perichoresis.

The Council of Ephesus, in declaring Mary to be the historical mother of the Jesus the Lord, and thereby to be the Theotokos, rejected the Antiochene error and provided its concrete doctrinal correction.  The human Son of Mary, bearing the human Name of Jesus given him by the Angel of the Annunciation, is God.  The full implication of the definition of Mary as Theotokos would be set out in the Ephesian-Chalcedonian  doctrine of the double consubstantiality of Jesus the Lord, who subsists as the one and the same Son, therefore Personally, in the free unity that is the divine Substance, the Trinity, and thereby is consubstantial with the divine Persons of the Father and the Spirit, and subsists also, as the same one Son, in the free unity of the human substance, and thereby is consubstantial with all human persons.  As the one and the same Son, his subsistence is single, that of his Person, in whom Personal divinity and Personal humanity subsist  Personally without diminishing their irreducibility.

The Antiochene tendency to dissociate the “flesh” of the Logos from his Person, which may have found support in Origen’s intimation―for it was no more―of a mediante anima Christology, would be foreclosed by the condemnation of Nestorius at the Council of Ephesus, and by the vindication there of Mary’s right to the title of Theotokos as spelled out three years later in the definitive Formula of Union.  Twenty years after Ephesus, the Chalcedonian Symbol emphatically reaffirmed the Church’s faith that Jesus is the Lord, already explicit in the Ephesian ascription of the Theotokos to Mary, and the correlative affirmation of her Son’s consubstanthiality with the human persons for whom he died.  The Symbol of the Council of Chalcedon, by linking the doctrine of Ephesus to the assertion and the seven-fold repetition of Irenaeus’ doctrine of the Personal unity of “one and the same Son” of the Father and of our Lady, affirms thereby the Church’s faith that Jesus is the Lord.

St. John Chrysostom, writing a half-century earlier, also affirms the Personal unity of the Son, if only in obliquo:

In the Passion the Evangelists ascribe to Christ much that is human, thereby showing the reality of the Incarnation (τς οκονομίας).  Matthew guarantees this by the agony and the confusion and the prespiration, John by sorrow.  For if Christ had not been of our nature, He would not have been overpowered by grief, once and again a second time.

Ibid., Greek inserts and tr. from Jurgens, op. cit., II, §1167, at 108.

Christ says, “If anyone sees Me, he sees the Father (Jn. 14:9).”  If He were of another essence (τέρας οσίας) He would not say this.  But if I may make use of an argument of the crasser sort, no one who is ignorant of gold is able to discover the essence (jsiV) of gold in silver.  For the nature (την οσίαν) of one thing is not manifest in another.

Ibid.; Greek inserts and tr. from Jurgens, op. cit. II, §1168, at 109.

St. John Chrysostom stands at a mid-point between the dropping of the Logos-sarx Christology by Diodore in the mid-fourth century, and the condemnation at the Council of Ephesus in 431 of Nestorius’ rationalization of the alternative Logos-anthrōpos polarity into a denial of the unity it was intended to defend.  It is apparent in the passages quoted supra that Chrysostom held to the communication of idioms in Jesus the Christ.  However, the basic expression of the communication of idioms is liturgical, which is to say, Eucharistic; Jesus’ Lordship is his sacrificial institution of the New Covenant as represented in the Mass.  The diophysite Christology of the Antiochene tradition was not at ease with the communication of idioms, as the monophysite Christology of the Alexandrines was not, but both intended fidelity to the worship of the Church.  So much may be said even of Nestorius and Eutyches who, in the passion of controversy, could lose sight of the mystery of Christ.

The Symbol of Chalcedon simply dismissed the quandary imposed by the Antiochene diophysism which Nestorius had been unable rationally to resolve, and dismissed as well the comparably irresoluble dilemma imposed by the late Alexandrine monophysism which had confused Cyril’s Christology, but not his faith in the Eucharistic Lord, whereby he saw what Nestorius had not seen, that a diophysite Eucharist is impossible.

Chalcedon affirmed, contra both of the competing theological schools, that Jesus the Lord’s transcendence of history, as its Lord, is “one and the same” with his free immanence in it: viz., with his concretely human historicity, the Son of Man, the Son of Mary. whose post-Ascension historical concreteness is sacramental, i.e., his Eucharistic Lordship of history.  Chalcedon taught, in short, that Jesus the Christ, the Lord, is Lord by his homoousion  with the Father and “with us.“  It must be kept in view that Chalcedon was concerned for the historical Jesus the Christ, whose historicity then as now is Risen: his Eucharistic immanence in history as its Lord.

The foundation of the salvific transcendence of history by the Son who is its Eucharistic Lord can only be the fulfillment of his Mission, at once on the cross and in the Eucharistic Sacrifice, the one Event of the institution of the One Flesh of the New Covenant.  The Eucharistic transcendence of history per modum substantiae is the Lordly immanence of the risen Jesus the Christ in fallen time and space, not subject to its immanent dynamism of disintegration, but recapitulating it precisely as the Caput, the Head, the Beginning and the End, victorious over sin and death, and thus the source of the free unity of the good creation, liberating our fallen time and space in signo, bestowing upon it the free, sacramental significance of salvation, the One Flesh of the New Creation, of the Kingdom of God.

However, prior to the Council of Ephesus the Antiochenes appear not always to have been of this view.  In our time, Johannes Betz’ Aktualpräsenz Eucharistic doctrine is comparably diophysite. Relying upon Chrysostom’s having succumbed to the temptation of a proto-Nestorian separation of the supposedly non-historical Logos from the historical Jesus with whom the Logos is no longer Personally to be identified, Betz’ Aktualpräsenz reading of the Eucharistic anamnesis is unconcerned for the Eucharistic Sacrifice of Jesus the High Priest, arguing that the Arian heresy’s displacement of the human soul of Christ by a less than divine logos has somehow made the traditional emphasis upon Jesus’ offering of his One Sacrifice an embarrassment to St. John Chrysostom.  Betz’ reading of the Greek patristic tradition as represented by Chrysostom is set out in a definitive passage, here excerpted from the Schlusswort or conclusion of Betz’ first volume:

Denn als Arius die frühalexandrinische αρχιερεùς λóγος-Ιdee zur Begründung seiner häretischen Christologie benützte, verlegt man Jesu Hohepriestertum in das Erlösungwerk des Menschen Jesus.  Als dann gar die jetzige und erneute himmlische Hohepriestertätigkeit Jesu von Johannes Chrystostomus geleugnet wurd, schob sich die vergegenwärtigende Anamnesis des geschichtlichen Heilswerkes von selbst in den Vordergrund.

Mit Anamnesis ist die Zentralidee gennant, die das Wesen Abendmahls am genauesten trifft.  Jesus selbst hatte in seinem Stiftungswort sein Sakrament unter diesen Begriff gestellt, die griechischen Theologen haben im Anschluss daran ihre Eucharistielehre gestaltet

Betz., Eucharistie I, at 344.

In short, Betz has grounded his Aktualpräsenz doctrine in the postulate that Jesus’ Hohepriestertätigkeit, his Offering of the One Sacrifice, is not the object of the Anamnesis as understood by St. John Chrysostom, and does not enter into the Eucharistic worship.  In Betz’ view, Jesus, as the divine High Priest, is risen, and is not here.  He is not the object of the Eucharistic anamnesis, which is historical. “Do this in memory of me” consequently refers only to Jesus as the victim of the One Sacrifice, but not Jesus the Lord, not Jesus the High Priest, who offered himself on the altar and on the cross in the One Sacrifice for our redemption and who, as risen, intercedes for us as the High Priest.

Betz’ interpretation of Chrysostom’s theology of the Eucharist is clearly diophysite.  Whether it can be reconciled with J. N. D. Kelly’s summation of Chrysostom’s homiletics on the Eucharistic sacrifice is discussible:

Chrysostom develops Cyril’s (of Jerusalem) teaching, referring4 to “the holy and most awesome sacrifice’ (τν φρικωδεσττην . . .θυσαν) and to the Lord sacrificed and lying there, and the priest  bending over the sacrifice and interceding’.5  He makes the important point6 that the sacrifice now offered on the altar is identical with the one which the Lord himself offered at the Last Supper.  He emphasizes this doctrine of the uniqueness of the sacrifice in commenting7 on the statement in Hebrews that Christ offered Himself once: ‘Do we not offer sacrifice daily?  We do indeed, but as a memorial of His death, and this oblation is single, not manifold.  But how can it be one and not many?  Because it has been offered once and for all, as was the ancient sacrifice in the holy of holies.  This is the figure of the ancient sacrifice, as indeed it is of this one, for it is the same Jesus Christ we offer always, not now one victim and later another.  The victim is always the same, so the sacrifice is one.  Are we going to say that, because Christ is offered in many places, that there are many Christs?  Of course not.  It is one and the same Christ everywhere; He is here in His entirety and there in His entirety, one unique body.  Just as He is one body, not many bodies, although offered in many places, so the sacrifice is one and the same.  Our high priest is the very same Christ who has offered the sacrifice which cleanses us.  The victim Who was offered then, Who cannot be consumed, is the self-same victim we offer now.  What we do is a memorial of what was done then. . . . We do not offer a different sacrifice, but always the same one, or rather we accomplish the memorial of it.’  Christ ‘offered sacrifice once for all, and thenceforth sat down’, and the whole action of the Eucharist takes place in the heavenly, spiritual sphere;1 the earthly celebration is a showing forth of it on the terrestrial plane.

4. De sacerdot. 6, 4.

5. Ib., 3, 4.

6. In 2 Tim., hom. 2, 4.

7. In Hebr. hom. 17, 3.

1.In Hebr. hom. 13, 1; 14, 1.

J. N. D. Kelly, Early Christian Doctrines [hereafter, Doctrines], 451-2 (emphasis added).

Underlying this aberrant Antiochene theology of the Eucharist is the supposition that the Eucharistic representation of the One Sacrifice could only be a repetition: “Christ ‘offered sacrifice once for all, and thenceforth sat down, and the whole action of the Eucharist takes place in the heavenly, spiritual sphere; the earthly celebration is a showing forth of it on the terrestrial plane.”  The basis for this assumption is the unexamined cosmological postulate that the past is incapable of sacramental representation, by which supposition the entirety of the historical Catholic tradition―liturgical, doctrinal, moral―would be undercut, as the Reform has seen.  Thus, the liturgical “showing forth” or anamnesis, of a nonhistorical, “heavenly” action cannot but be subjective, for the objective “action of the Eucharist takes place in the heavenly, spiritual sphere.”

All this is a sub-theological musing predicated upon Theodore of Mopsuestia’s Aristotelianizing of the Antiochene tradition; it has no place in the liturgical tradition, the concretely historical paradosis, whose most ancient statement is by Paul:

23γ γρ παρλαβον (π το  κυρον), κα παρδοκα μν, τι κριος °ησοσ ν τ νυκτ παρεδδοτο λαβεν ρτον 24 κα εχαριστσας κλασεν κα επεν. τοτ μο στιν τ σμα τ πρ μν. τοτο ποιετε εσ τν μν νμνεσιν. 25 σατως κα τ ποτριον μετ τ δειπνσαι, λγων. τοτο τ ποτριον καιν διαθκη στν ν τ μ αματι. τοτο ποιετε, σκις  ἐὰν πνητε, σκις ἐὰν πνητε, ες τν μν νμνεσιν.  26 σκις γρ ἐὰνσθητε τν ρτον τοτον κα τ ποτριον πνητε, τν θνατον το κριου καταγγλλετε, χρι ο λθ.

I Cor. 11: 23-26 ; Nestlé (2012), 540.

The Revised Standard Version reads this passage as follows:

For I received from the Lord what I also delivered to you, that the Lord Jesus on the night when he was betrayed took bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it, and said “This is my body which is for you.  Do this in remembrance of me.”  In the same way also the cup, after supper, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood.  Do this, as oftern as you drink it, in remembrance of me.”  For as often as you eat this bread and drink this cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until he comes.

Inasmuch as the Eucharistic Sacrifice is the sacrament, the infallibly effective sign, of the One Sacrifice by which the one and the same Son achieved the goal of his Mission from the Father, viz., the restoration of our freedom to return to the Father through Jesus Christ our Lord, by reason of the Spirit he poured out upon his bridal Church and, through her, upon those for whom he died, there can be no objection to understanding the risen Lord’s stance at the right hand of the Father as “semper interpellans” precisely in the context of his obedience to his Mission.  This is to say, he is “always interceding” as the Eucharistic Lord of history, in whose Person his One Sacrifice is daily offered in the Mass.  Jesus’ redemptive Lordship of history is integral with the priestly offering of his One Sacrifice in his Name and Person.  Were it not so offered, Jesus as risen would not be immanent in our fallen history, which would remain as the Reform has taught, i.e., intrinsically corrupt, possessing neither unity nor goodness nor intelligibility, for those are the gift of the head by reason of his Eucharistic immanence in history as its Lord, as the source of its free and sacramentally objective salvific meaning. This meaning is established Eucharistically by Jesus the Lord’s offering of the One Sacrifice, “The New Covenant in my blood.” Without the Eucharistic immanence of the Christ, history is without significance, without recourse, as every pagan soteriology has taken for granted, and is a matter of faith for the churches of the Reform..

The influence of the diophysite Christology upon Chrysostom’s Eucharistic theology is tangible in Kelly’s summation: the One Sacrifice was offered once and for all by the now risen and absent Lord, the Lord whose will as risen is not distinct from the will of the Father, in contrast to the human will of Jesus which, as human is distinct from the will of the Father.  We see here that misreading of the Son’s homoousion with the Father, which understands it as substantial rather than as  Personal, from which  the inference of a dehumanization of the Logos by his Resurrection is difficult to avoid, as is the correlative de-divinization of the Eucharistic High Priest, Jesus the Lord.  This view of the Resurrection as the dehistoricization of the Logos reflects the pagan cosmological conviction of the transcendence of the divine by the absence of the divine from the historical order.  Thus, during the historical absence of the Logos, “We do not offer a different sacrifice, but always the same one, or rather we accomplish a memorial of it.”  ‘The victim who was offered then . . . is the self-same victim we offer now’.

However, the “we offer now;” language of the latter excerpt supra is repeated elsewhere:

The oblation is the same even if some common person1 offer it, even if Paul offer it, even if Peter offer it.  It is the same which Christ gave to His disciples, and which now the priests do.  The latter oblation is not inferior to the former, because it is not men who sanctify it but the same [Christ] who sanctified the former.  For just as the words which God spoke are the same as those which now the priest says, so to is the oblation the same, and the Baptism, as that which he gave.

This too therefore is His Body, as well as that.  Anyone who thinks that the one is inferior to the other does not know that Christ is present even now and that even now he is working.

1.It is clear a few words further on that Chrysostom has no thought of the sacrifice being offered by anyone who is not a priest.  His common person or chance individual is simply the ordinary unlauded parish priest.  Such a priest’s Mass is the same as that of St. Peter or St. Paul, and indeed, the same as that of Christ himself, for Christ is the high priest of every Mass.

John Chrysostom, In 2 Tim,, hom. 2, 4; tr. and note by Jurgens, Early Fathers II §1207, at 122-23.

This language makes it quite clear, as Msgr. Jurgens has noted, that Chrysostom identifies the Eucharistic sacrifice with the One Sacrifice offered by the Christ at the Last Supper and on the cross.  Jesus is the one High Priest, he is the one Victim, of the One Sacrifice.  Chrysostom’s anamnesis is of that One Sacrifice.  His faith, as it finds expression in this Eucharistic homily, is not diophysite: its spontaneous expression is entirely in conformity with the ancient worship of the ancient Church. At bottom, it is the Eucharistic theology he learned from Theodore that fails, not his faith.

Chrysostom understands the risen Christ as “semper interpellans” at the right hand of the Father.  The question may then arise as to whether on the one hand he understands the High Priest’s absence from history as a local absence somewhat in the manner of Augustine, and thus as entirely consistent with what Augustine terms a “spiritual” presence, an objective event-presence that is given with the bread and the wine becoming, vi verborum, his body and his blood or, on the other hand, does Chrysostom understand the Eucharistic presence as Nestorius will, viz., as merely that of the man Jesus, sensu negante, the merely human victim of the one Sacrifice who has become personally distinct from the now-risen High Priest who offered it once and for all?  The question has been answered with full clarity in the passage quoted supra. It is evident that the response to this question is conclusive of Chrysostom’s understanding of the office of the priest-celebrant: he offers the one and the same Sacrifice in the person and with the authority of the risen Christ?

Chrysostom understands the anamnesis to be single because of the single victim of the One Sacrifice, the Christ.  While the repeated “we offer” in J. N. D. Kelly’s summary of Chrysostom’s Eucharistic doctrine is ambiguous, as open to an anamnesis by one not ordained as to one offered by an priest ordained to that office, there is no evident place in the Betz’ Aktualpräsenz interpretation of Chrysostom’s Eucharistic doctrine for a priest who would offer the One Sacrifice in the Person of the High Priest, for in that reading the One Sacrifice is only memorialized, not offered in the terrestrial order of historical Eucharistic worship―which is to say, objectively and historically.  Betz’ inference finds further corroboration in J. N. D. Kelly’s commentary on St. John Chrysostom’s younger friend, Theodore of Mopsuestia, who had studied under Chrysostom, and who became Nestorius’ theologian:

Theodore taught that the sacrifice of the new covenant was a memorial of the one true oblation, an image or representation of the eternal liturgy which is celebrated in heaven, where Christ, our high-priest and intercessor, now fulfills His ministry.

J. N. D. Kelly, Doctrines, at 152, citing Hom. Cat. 15, 15 f.

This is very much Betz’s interpretation of Chrysostom’s Eucharistic doctrine. Theodore, Chrysostom’s contemporary, would have handed it on to Nestorius who, as Archbishop of Constantinople, taught an emphatically diophysite Christology, to the point of persecuting those of his subordinate clergy who in their homilies referred to Mary as the Theotokos.  The Eucharistic implication of this Christology drew the attention of Cyril of Alexandria and led to its condemnation at the Council of Ephesus.  It should be noted that Theodore of Mopsuestia identified of the Father with the divine Substance, and consequently was a Trinitarian modalist as well as a Christological diophysite.  These errors appear to have been induced by Theodore’s systematic deployment of the Aristotelian monism associated with the literalist exegesis of the Antiochene tradition.  However, Theodore lived and died in communion with the Church, his death occurring in 328, three years before the Council of Ephesus, five years before Cyril’s Laetentur Coeli and the Formula of Union.

There is little trace of Aristotle in Chrysostom’s thought: his interest in systematic issues was negligible.  As the official homilist for a dozen years in Antioch, and then as the Archbishop of Constantinople for another half dozen, he taught the faith, not theology.  It is by his preaching that he is one of the great Doctors of the Church.  Among his many and eminent virtues, perhaps not the least is his perhaps prescient disinterest in the systematics of his time.  While his acceptance of Theodore’s Eucharistic theology, with its implicit dehistoricization of the Eucharistic sacrifice, cannot be ignored, the celebration of the Mass as Chrysostom understood it requires ordination to the sacrificial priesthood: in the absence of the Eucharistic offering of the One Sacrifice the priest’s recitation of the words of consecration amount to no more than the expression of a subjective anamnesis, i.e., of the faith of the congregation who memorializes the Sacrifice on the cross.  We have seen that St. John Chrysostom did not thus view the priestly offering of the Mass.  Apart from the enthusiastic reception of his work by the contemporary liturgists, there is no reason to suppose that Johannes Betz does either, but the inference of a nonhistorical symbolism from his Aktualpräsenz doctrine is immediate nonetheless.  The loss of the Eucharistic communication of idioms in Jesus the Lord would  make him to be no longer the Lord.

Betz has imposed a systematic clarity upon Chrysostom’s understanding of the Eucharist that can only distort it: Chrysostom was not a systematist, and the imposition upon him of the implications of his understanding of the Eucharistic anamnesis is an anachronistic enterprise.  Were the Antiochene anamnesis as preached by Chrysostom reducible to Betz’ Aktualpräsenz, it would be rather cosmic than historical, for it would presuppose the existence of a salvation history without a unifying event distinct from its creation, which can be a creation in Christ only if the Christ is the Jesus who is the Lord, the Head, at once its Beginning and its End, thus transcendent to history precisely by his free Eucharistic immanence within it as its Redeemer, its Head, the source of its free and salvific unity.

The Aktualpräsenz of Jesus as the Victim, but not as the High Priest offering the One Sacrifice, is merely passive, and thus not an event; further, his presence as passive would then not be that of the Lord, the Head, and consequently could not be redemptive.  Finally, the Eucharistic anamnesis of sacrifice of Jesus, thus understood as passive merely, cannot be that of the Lord of history, for as passive, Jesus is not the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End.  Those titles belong to Jesus as the head of all creation, who stands revealed as it head upon the cross and at the altar in his High-Priestly offering to the Father of the One Sacrifice of his Body and his Blood.  These offices, that of the High Priest and the Victim of the One Sacrifice, are inseparable in the historical realism of the Church’s Eucharistic worship.  The interpretation of the Antiochene Eucharistic anamnesis as an Aktualpräsenz thus leaves the Mass without an Offering to be represented by the celebrant in persona Christi; thereby the infallible effect ex opere operato of the Eucharistic signing in the Catholic Mass is simply denied.

Betz’ emphasis upon the Mission of the Christ as terminating in creation is justified, but only within the context of the Son’s Mission to give the Holy Spirit, the Spiritus Creator, which Gift terminates in the sacramental objectivity of the Good Creation.  That outpouring of the Spirit is achieved historically by the Eucharistic offering of the One Sacrifice, and not otherwise: given the defined unity of the Sacrifice of the Mass and the Sacrifice on the cross, the universal, i.e., creative impact of the Eucharistic celebration is inseparable from the Eucharistic sacrifice, as effect from cause.  The alternative is the positing of a Mission of the Spirit independent of the historical Mission of the Son: this of course is Protestantism, a dehistoricization of the Eucharist whose consequence is a radical dehistoricization of the created order and a rejection of its inherent value and significance, which can only be free, and only gift. This disconnect between the Mission of the Son and the Mission of the Spirit is also implicit in the Orthodox disconnect between the eternal Trinity and the historical Missions: see the remarks of Cardinal Kasper quoted at 628, infra.  Creation, as we learn from Paul, is creation in Christ, in the Beginning who is the Christ, Jesus the Lord.

The objectivity of creation, as the terminus of the Mission of Christ, is somewhat dilute in Betz’ statement:

Durch die Aktualpräesenz, die sie zum beherrschenden Motive ihrer Abendmahlslehre erhoben, rückten sie das entscheidende gottlich Tun and den Platz, der ihm gebührt; damit schufen sie eine wohltuende theozentrische und heilsgeschichtlich orientierte Eucharistieauffassung.  Indem se auch das Geschen an den Elementen unter die Aktualpräsenz einbezogen und es als Inkarnationsanamnese faßten, erklãrten sie auch den Wandlungsvorgang mit einer erstlinig nicht der Physik oder Metaphysik entnommenen, sondern mit einer genuin theologischen Kategorie; denn die Aktualprãsenz ist eine heilsgeschichtliche Kategorie.

Betz. Eucharistie I‘, at  345-46.

Unfortunately, for the reasons here argued, the Aktualpräsenz is not the historical Event of the Offering of the One Sacrifice: consequently it cannot be labeled as Betz would have it, “eine heilsgeschichtliche Kategorie” for it is lacks precisely the public, historical objectivity, the Event of the Offering of the One Sacrifice, that is constitutive of the historical realism, the “Heilsgeschichtlichkeit,” of the Church’s worship.  In short, the Aktual­präsenz cannot be identified with the Event of the High Priestly Offering of the One Sacrifice.  It is not “die jetzige und erneute himmlische Hohe­priestertätigkeit Jesu.”  Betz’ rejection of Metaphysik may be a rejection of the cosmological metaphysics which von Balthasar has condemned for its imposition of immanent necessity upon the freedom of the economy of salvation: the correction of this mistake is long overdue in Catholic theology, but it not achieved by the rejection of the Eucharistic High Priesthood, and the One Sacrifice, of Jesus the Lord, without which there is no historical economy of salvation, for it is only by his Eucharistic immanence in history that history is salvific.

To refuse the historical objectivity, the Event-character, of the Eucharistic Sacrifice, which is not empirical, as proper to a Physik, but is precisely historical, precisely Heilsgeschichte, is to refuse the free liturgical integration of an otherwise disintegrating spatio-temporal cosmological sequence: it is to prefer the fallenness of the flesh to its redemption by the sacrificial institution of the Eucharistic One Flesh.

The alternative to the metaphysical reality of sacramental efficacy is the sacramental symbolism which the Reform has chosen in its rejection of the sacrifice of the Mass.  This can hardly be what Betz has in view, for he condemns its supposed appearance in Augustine’s Eucharistic doctrine: nonetheless, because the Actualpräsenz is not the history-transcending, historically-immanent Event of the High-Priestly offering of the One Sacrifice, it is not the Eucharistic institution of the covenantal One Flesh of Christ and the Church, for this “actual presence” is thought of as a dynamism only, in a sense indistinguishable from the ‘dynamism’ of Christ’s gift of the Spirit in Baptism, a gift whose objectivity presuppose the objectivity of the Eucharistic representation of the One Sacrifice, by which alone that gift is given, poured out upon the bridal Church.

Inasmuch as Baptism effects no change, no “transubstantiation,” of the water, the efficacy of the Eucharistic Words of Institution, as thus analogized by Betz’ notion of an Aktualpräsenz to the efficacy of the Baptismal formula, can cause only a similarly transitory, “dynamic” Eucharistic “presence” of the Christ.  This reduction of the efficacy of the Eucharistic signing to an epiclesis of the Spirit, which includes no representation of the One Sacrifice, does not permit the efficacious signing of the Event-Presence of Christ in the Eucharist as at once of the High Priest and the of Victim of his One Sacrifice: by this alone is the Spirit given, for his Mission is dependent upon Mission of the Son, as the Gift he was sent to give.  The “Aktualpräsenz” doctrine on the other hand supposes the Spirit to be present and salvifically effective apart from the historically objective Eucharistic immanence of the Son―which is to reverse their Trinitarian ordo as set out in the Baptismal formula: “in the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.” We have pointed to the anti-sacramental impact of this reversal of the liturgical signing, whether by the theologians of the Reform, or those whose opposition to the Filioque has led them to dissociate the Missions of the Son and the Spirit from their eternal ground.

The formula of Baptism in the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, is common to the Reform and to Orthodoxy, as it is to Catholicism.  It recites the order of the Trinitarian Mission of the Son from the Father and of the Spirit from the Father through the Son, and thereby states the order of the Trinitarian perichoresis, viz., the eternal procession of the Son from the Father, and of the Spirit from the Father through the Son: otherwise there could be no return to the Father through the Son in the Spirit: we could not speak of the Personal distinction between the Son and the Spirit, the τξις, the order of their Trinitarian Mission from the Father, and the Baptismal formula would be meaningless.  The Baptismal formula is integral to the Church’s worship in truth: it is not theologically negotiable.

The generality of those who have understood the Eucharistic liturgy as efficacious in the fashion of the “Aktualpräsenz” theology have grounded it in the post-Resurrection meals of the risen Christ with his disciples.  Joachim Jeremias has defended this view; it is indispensable to the Lutheran denial of the Sacrifice of the Mass.  It supposes the Catholic Eucharistic liturgy and doctrine to be a departure from the original apostolic worship of the risen Lord who, as risen, is absent from the fallen world and from fallen history, and the Catholic Eucharistic realism therefore to be the product of a “fall of the Church,” a devolution of her nonhistorical worship into a corrupt Frühkatholizismus whose corruption is the sacramental realism, the historical efficacy, of Catholic liturgical worship.  The critical examination of this supposed devolution has long been the preoccupation of Protestant exegesis, and now has been taken up by Catholic scholars laboring under the impression that the offering of the Sacrifice of the Mass in the Person of Christ is an ecumenical and consequently theological embarrassment.  However, the symbolist rejection of sacramental realism has consequences all too evident in the continuing disintegration of the Protestant tradition.  A purely eschatological Christianity is by definition indiscernible; its public expression bereft of sacramental realism and efficacy, can only be political.

As has been seen, the symbolist supposition that the Catholic Eucharist is a product of evolution has affected Catholic theology over the decades since the Second Vatican Council to the point of having informed both of the post-Conciliar editions of the Insititutio Generalis Missalis Romani, as well as a number of diocesan and archdiocesan Pastoral Letters.  During the same period the European ventures in the “theology of future hope” were transformed into a “theology of politics” and then into a “liberation theology” which saw in the Marxist doctrine of class struggle a criterion for judging the authenticity of the mission of the Church.  This was no novelty; one or another triumphalist humanism has undertaken that role since the second century, as Origen’s Contra Celsum testifies.[151]

There is no reason to suppose that Betz would approve a politicization of the Church’s worship, but his Aktualpräsenz doctrine is nonetheless quite open to it, by reason of its denial of what Trent has defined, the historical identity of the Eucharistic Sacrifice and the Sacrifice on the cross.  This denial is ineluctably symbolist in its consequences, one of which is the need to account for the Eucharistic memorial as a product of a development, for it is severed by its historicity from its supposedly nonhistorical source, Jesus’ command to his disciples, “do this in memory of me,” as the conclusion of his High-Priestly Offering of his One Sacrifice at the Last Supper.  This consequence has been accepted by Alexander Gerken and Robert J. Daly, S.,J., who have examined the Catholic Eucharistic liturgical tradition in quest of a prior cause of its freely instituted unity, but without success.  Contemporary “historical consciousness” suffers from an inability to imagine historical reality as possessing a freely intelligible significance, and few of its adepts seem aware of the futility of seeking a necessary historical intelligibility. The impact of Gödel’s incompleteness theorems upon historical criticism as such is not much discussed by its professed practitioners.

Although the patristic sources upon which Betz relies for his Aktualpräsenz revision of the Eucharistic tradition predate the Council of Ephesus and so would include Augustine, he has chosen to concentrate upon the Greek rather than the Latin patristic tradition.  He clearly does not associate the supposed orthodoxy of his Aktualpräsenz revision of the Eucharistic tradition with the symbolism he has thought to discover in Augustine.  He criticizes Augustine’s Eucharistic doctrine as a departure from Eucharistic realism, hence as a symbolism, an approximation of the Reform’s reduction of Eucharistic realism to justification “by faith alone” which is to say, to subjectivity.  Augustine’s “symbolism” would thus be a denial of the objective efficacy of the Eucharistic signing of the One Sacrifice, the Event by which we are redeemed.  This dehistoricization of the Church’s Eucharistic worship, explicit in the rejection of the sacrifice of the Mass, would commit Augustine to the privatization of the Church’s sacramental worship as such, to its removal from all objective public expression.  We have defended Augustine’s Eucharistic orthodoxy elsewhere and at length: here we would emphasize Betz’ rejection of the subjectivism which he thinks to have found in Augustine.  Betz’ Eucharistic faith is not in issue: the discussion here concluded bears upon the errors in his Eucharistic theology.

III. The Eucharistic Ground of the Catholic Tradition

A. Summary

The authentic Catholic faith is found in the historical Church’s continual oral tradition of teaching and Scripture as these overlap and reinforce each other in her liturgical worship. In this ecclesial tradition the primacy belongs to the liturgy, to the Eucharistic cause of the Church: see I Cor. 10:17, 11:23-26. Doctrine is necessarily secondary to liturgy, the Church’s sacramental worship in truth, whose efficacy is ex opere operato―God’s work, not man’s. [152]

The last two centuries of Church historical scholarship have proposed a variety of interconnected questions: What books are in Scripture? How are these determined? How are they interpreted? What is, in fact, the tradition to which they bear witness? To what extent are these books supplementary, to what extent are they independent of each other at the various periods of Church history? Finally, what doctrinal or magisterial authority is exercised by the Church and what is its ground? (one should be alert to the circularity which can easily enter into this question). Here, we are mainly concerned with question of relation of scripture and tradition, rather than with the canon and with exegesis, although these also fall within the purview of tradition.

Actively viewed, tradition is the handing over (tradere, παραδίδωμι), in the sense of an authoritative delivery of an unwritten doctrine  Viewed passively, it is the doctrine thus handed down.  Since it is the authoritative character of the delivery which has been emphasized from the beginning, the stress of the term has come to lie upon the origin of the body of Church doctrine as committed to the Church by Jesus through his Apostles, whether the doctrine be written or as unwritten.  It must be understood that the foundational paradosis (παράδοσις) is liturgical, finally Eucharistic.

Generally, the specifically unwritten teaching came to be specified by another term, kerygma, although even the kerygma is known only as written, as is evident from the instances of it found in the apostolic preaching in Acts, and the summary statement in I Cor. 15:3b-8.

Contemporary Church historical scholarship has not developed the Eucharistic ground of this unwritten “handing over”; nonetheless, as we shall see, the “tradition” of the Catholic Church, unwritten, scriptural, and doctrinal, is explainable only as identical to the Church’s liturgy, committed to the Apostles by Christ at the Last Supper, and for that reason bearing apostolic authority.[153]

The reality of the tradition insofar as doctrinal (the teaching of Church at end of first century) also raises the problems of (a) the interrelation of ecclesial doctrine with the Scripture (the Old Testament and the emergent New Testament) and (b) the mediation of this doctrine by other means than Scripture alone.  This mediation, which includes the Church’s preaching, is the tradition, paradosis, (παράδοσις).  We have seen that the Latin verb, tradere, translates the Greek παραδίδωμι.  In I Cor 11:23-26 Paul uses this verb three times.  First, he uses it to designate the Eucharistic rite which previously had been handed on to him, probably at Syrian Antioch, and which he now hands on to the readers of his Letter.  Secondly, Paul uses paradidomi to refer to Judas’ betrayal of our Lord: ἐν τῆ νυκτί παρεδίδοτο, by which phrase he also denotes the handing over of Jesus by his Father to his executioners: the Latin of Nestle’s edition[iii] makes this reference explicit in v. 24, where the Greek τὸ ὑπὲρ ὑμῶν (huper umon = for you) is rendered as quod pro vobis (tradetur).  Hence, Paul uses forms of παραδίδωμι (paradidomi) rendered by the Latin tradere, to signify, not only this “handing over” of Jesus by the Father, as well as Jesus’ betrayal by Judas and generally by those for whom our Lord died, but also to name the liturgical ἀναάμνησις (anamnesis), the sacramental representation, of this One Sacrifice, the παράδοσις, paradosis or traditio (handing over) by the Father of Christ the Son, obedient unto death upon the cross for the redemption of the world.  For Paul, these uses of ἀναάμνησις and παράδοσις refer to a single event: the Eucharistic παράδοσιος or Sacrifice, which is numerically identical with that One Sacrifice and which had its culmination on the Cross.[154]

This unity of the One Sacrifice, on the cross and on the altar, is affirmed in the Words of Institution, the Eucharistic paradosis uttered by the Christ at the Last Supper, “This is my Body, given for you; this is my Blood, poured out for you.”  The truth of these Eucharistic Words of Institution is indistinguishable from the truth that Jesus is the Lord: the Church’s worship in truth is single, because it is Eucharistic, the representative anamnesis of the event of the cross.

Thus, for Paul, the “tradition,” the “handing over”, is basically liturgical, in a complex sense.  At bottom, and concretely, that which is “handed over” as the “tradition” is the Eucharistic liturgy which represents sacramentally the unique historical deed in which Jesus, the Lord, is “handed over” by the Father to his executioners, and sacrifices himself in obedience to the Father, who sent him to give the Spirit by which all things are made new.  The Eucharistic tradition, the Eucharistic liturgy, is the foundation, the constitutive source, of the Church’s worship in truth.  From the outset, it has connoted and caused the preaching―originally apostolic―of the faith that the Eucharistic Jesus is the Lord.

This apostolic affirmation of Jesus’ Lordship, the central doctrine of the faith, itself centers upon and is sustained by the Eucharistic anamnesis, the liturgical memorial, of the historical Event of the One Sacrifice of Christ.  For it must be recognized that the preaching of the apostles was not self-sustaining: the radical and nuclear expression of the apostolic memory of the Lord is the apostolic celebration of the Eucharistic anamnesis of the One Sacrifice of Christ, as anticipated in the many sacrifices of the Old Testament (cf. the Letter to the Hebrews), as fulfilled upon the cross, as instituted at the Last Supper by the one High Priest.

This anamnesis, this radically liturgical memory of the Lord, is elaborated in the apostolic preaching, and summarized in the books of the New Testament.  It follows that the objective, historical truth of the New Testament, as of the apostolic preaching which preceded and normed its formulation, is grounded in the apostolic Eucharistic anamnesis, the objective historical Event of the Eucharistic representation of Christ’s One Sacrifice.  For, in the Eucharistic anamnesis, the entire historical Truth that is the Christ is historically actual, historically immanent within and by the Church’s worship.[155]

The Eucharistic anamnesis is consequently the unshakable, infallible ground of the doctrinal elaboration of the faith, which affirms and guards the truth of that preaching, and like the preaching which grounds it proximately, is heard and understood only in the historical context of the Eucharistic liturgy from which everything in the Church takes its origin.[156]

The anamnesis is also the formally unifying cause of the Catholic Bible, and is the free, liturgical union of the Old Testament and the New.  Later theology will see this relation of the Old and New Testaments in terms of the ordered unity of the Eucharistic liturgy, in which the Old Testament has the single significance of being the significant cause, the sacramentum tantum, of the New, and the New Testament itself as the res et sacramentum of the final effect, the res tantum of the Eucharist, the Kingdom of God.[157]

B. The Integrating Elements of the Eucharistic Liturgy

The Scripture and the liturgical-doctrinal-moral tradition are therefore mutually implicit, mutually indefectible, by reason of their Eucharistic ground and their consequent liturgical unity, which as Eucharistic is indissoluble.  They are given together wherever the Gospel is preached and heard as an integrating element of the Church’s Eucharistic liturgy.  It is for this reason that the Eucharistic liturgy is basic, radical, fundamental: all else in the Church depends upon it, as the documents of Vatican II have many times and in many places said.

1.The One Sacrifice: The source of the unity of the Eucharist

The unity of the Eucharistic tradition is given, as has been seen, ex opere operato: it is not dependent upon the Church, but upon her institution by the Christ.  This unity is the prius, the a priori datum, controlling any doctrinal elaboration of the mystery of the Eucharist such as took place at the Council of Trent, over a period of eighteen years.  During this time, challenges from the Reformers, notably Luther, Calvin, and Zwingli, were met by solemn reaffirmations of the doctrines which these men had put in issue.  These reaffirmations centered upon the Sacrifice of the Mass, which had been famously condemned by Luther at the outset of his reforming career as a fifteen-century-long “Babylonian captivity.”  Integral to this condemnation is a rejection of the capacity of history to mediate the salvation worked by Christ, and a consequent reassessment of our personal historical existence itself, which was seen by Luther and the Reform generally to be no longer capable of morally significant actions.

It is perhaps idle to look for priority as between Luther’s conviction of the total corruption of historical existence, and of the impossibility of the priestly offering of the One Sacrifice in the person of Christ.  It is enough to note that the Lutheran understanding of the Mass required its dehistoricization: no free, historical event could mediate the Real Presence of the risen Christ, whether it be named transubstantiation or sacrifice.[158]  The Church was dehistoricized by the same principle: salvation or justification was by a faith itself dehistoricized, incapable of a publicly reliable utterance, whether doctrinal or sacramental.  Sola scriptura replaced the doctrinal tradition.

Calvin and Zwingli accepted the Lutheran condemnation of the Sacrifice of the Mass, and carried its dehistoricizing logic further than had Luther. We cannot and need not here enter into the complexities of their interpretations of the Reform.  It suffices that they agreed and still agree upon a rejection of the sacramental mediation of salvation by free historical events, i.e., by the sacramental symbols of Catholic worship as focused upon the Sacrifice of the Mass.

2. Transubstantiation

The Fathers of the Council of Trent underwrote the strict association of the Sacrifice of the Mass with Eucharistic transubstantiation by taking up the Protestant challenges to the Sacrifice of the Mass in another session eleven years later, in which Council of Trent taught that the event of the transubstantiation of the bread and wine is the event of the offering, in the Person of Christ, of his One Sacrifice. (CCC 1410-1411; DS §§*1739-*1741; §§*1751-*1759).

The identity of the Sacrifice of the Mass with the One Sacrifice offered on the cross is explicitly affirmed by that Council:

As the Apostle testifies, there was no perfection under the former covenant because of the insufficiency of the Levitical priesthood.  It was, therefore, necessary (according to the merciful ordination of God the Father,) that another priest arise after the order of Melchizedek (cf. Gen. 14. 18; Ps. 110 [109] 4; Heb. 7:11) our Lord Jesus Christ who could make perfect all who were to be sanctified (cf. Heb, 10.14) and bring them to fulfillment.

He, then, our Lord and God, was once and for all to offer Himself to God the Father by His death on the altar of the cross, to accomplish for them an everlasting redemption.  But, because His priesthood was not to end with His death (cf. Heb, 7.24, 27), at the Last Supper, “on the night when he was betrayed” (I Cor. 11.23), in order to leave to His beloved Spouse the Church a visible sacrifice (as the nature of man demands) by which the Bloody sacrifice which He was once for all to accomplish on the cross would be represented, its memory perpetuated until the end of the world and its salutary power applied for the forgiveness of the sins which we daily commit―: declaring himself constituted “a priest for ever after the order of Melchizedek” (Ps. 110 [109] 4) He offered His Body and Blood under the species of bread and wine to God the Father, and, under the same signs gave them to partake of to the disciples (whom He then established as priests of the New Covenant) and ordered them and their successors in the priesthood to offer, saying: “Do this as a memorial of me”, etc. (LK. 22.19; I Cor. 11.24) as the Catholic Church has always understood and taught.

For, after He celebrated the old Pasch, which the multitude of the children of Israel offered to celebrate the memory of the departure from Egypt (cf. Ex. 12.1ff.) Christ instituted a new Pasch, namely Himself, to be offered by the Church through her priests under visible signs in order to celebrate the memory of His passage from this world to the Father when by the shedding of His Blood He redeemed us, “delivered us from the dominion of darkness and transferred us to His Kingdom” (cf. Col, 1.13).[159]  (emphases added)

There can be no doubt that Trent affirmed that the Event by which the Person of our Lord, his Body and Blood, his humanity and his divinity, comes to be present on the altar is identically the Event of the transubstantiation of the Eucharistic elements, and identically the Event of the Offering of his One Sacrifice.  Trent knows no temporal sequence of transubstantiation, Real Presence, and Sacrifice:  the Fathers at Trent taught the Eucharist to be the sacramental representation of the One Sacrifice on the cross, which representation includes within the unity of its efficacious signing the transubstantiation of the bread and wine of the offertory, the Real Presence of Christ as Priest and Victim, and the Offering of the One Sacrifice by which the One Flesh of Christ and the Church, the New Covenant, is instituted.

3.The Real Presence

The Council of Trent reaffirmed first the Real Presence of Christ in the Eucharist.  It is not infrequently said that this reaffirmation was directed at Zwingli, who had totally subjectivized the Presence of Christ at the Last Supper, rather than at Luther, who maintained a Real Presence against the other Reformers, including Calvin, sufficiently objective to bar the “virtual presence” doctrine of Calvin, and to permit the sinner to receive Christ’s Body at the Lord’s Supper.[160]  This Catholic concession to Luther is ecumenically pleasing, but is quite mistaken, for the Real Presence taught at Trent is a dynamic event-presence, a historical presence mediated by the Event of the transubstantiation of the elements, which is the Real Presence of Christ as at once the High Priest offering the New Pasch, and the Christ as the Victim offered.  This Catholic faith is in the historical Real Presence of the sacrificed and sacrificing Christ, and emphatically not in the nonhistorical, nonsacrificial “Real Presence” of Lutheranism.  The Real Presence which the Catholic Church identifies with the One Sacrifice offered in the Mass cannot be identified with the Lutheran “Real Presence,” if only because the latter rests upon Luther’s denial of the Sacrifice of the Mass.  The recognition of this distinction is simply a matter of honesty and candor.

However, that mistake has its uses here and now, for it permits us to emphasize what is easily missed, that the Catholic doctrine of the Real Presence is indissociable from the Catholic doctrines of the transubstantiation of the Eucharistic elements into the sacrificial Body and Blood of Jesus the Christ, and of the priestly offering of the Sacrifice of the Mass in the person of Christ.  We have spoken of the integrity of the Eucharistic tradition: that integrity reaches the whole of the Eucharistic doctrine, for the Eucharistic Lord is single, as his sacrificial immanence among us is mediated by a single Event.

4. The Priesthood, Ordination to Offer The One Sacrifice in Persona Christi

In the session following that in which the doctrine of the Eucharistic sacrifice was laid down, Trent also took up the Protestant challenge to the priesthood, reaffirming the doctrine already asserted in Cap. 1 of the Session Twenty-one’s “Doctrina de ss. Missae sacrificio” (DS §*1740), viz., the hierarchical priesthood was instituted as a true sacrament by our Lord at the Last Supper, and that the power of consecrating and offering his Body and Blood, and of forgiving sins in his name, over and above, and distinct from, the office and ministry of preaching, was given to the Apostles and their successors in the priesthood.  The close association of ordination to the Catholic priesthood with the authority to offer Christ’s One Sacrifice in the Mass is stressed in the Tridentine canons because it had been specifically denied by the Reform, as had been most of the elements of the Church’s sacramental worship.  The Council also asserts, inter alia, the permanent character of the priesthood, and its distinction from the priesthood of the laity given by baptism.

5.The Eucharistic Institution of the New Covenant

Another dimension of the Eucharistic sacrifice must be mentioned here: its institution of the New Covenant.  It is Pauline doctrine that the New Covenant is the cause of the Church; I Cor. 10:17 reads: “Because there is one bread, we who are many are one body, for we all partake of the one bread.”[161]  This causality is that by which Christ, the Head, is the source of his glory, the Church which proceeds from him in free union with him, his bride, his ecclesial Body.  The allusions in I Corinthians to the holiness of marriage and to the sacrilege of πορνεα, to the assimilation of the headship of the husband over his wife to an analogy of the headship of God over Christ and of Christ over the Church, parallel the meditation in Romans upon the Christ as the second or last Adam, the source of the second Eve.  In Ephesians 5 this meditation reaches its full expression in the assimilation of the “one flesh” of the Jahwist creation account to the union of the Christ the Head with his bridal Church, instituted by his One Sacrifice.  In this passage, and in the hymn in the first chapter of Colossians, Christ’s sacrificial headship is given cosmic range, becoming the primordial deed of the Trinitarian creation, the Father’s sending of the Son to give the Spiritus Creator.

a. The One Flesh: sancta societate inhaereamus Deo

To understand more fully the recapitulatory significance of Christ’s One Sacrifice, it is necessary to appreciate the free unity of the One Flesh, the New Creation, the New Covenant, which as Head he instituted by his death upon the cross.  That it has that covenantal order is stated explicitly in the Words of Institution in all four Institution Narratives: “This is the Blood of the (new) covenant.”  An unfortunate separation of eleven years between the sessions of the Council of Trent in which the Eucharistic sacrifice and the Eucharistic transubstantiation, respectively, were treated, led in subsequent theology to the isolation, even the dissociation, of One Sacrifice from the historical-liturgical presence of Christ in the Mass, and to a consequent failure to appreciate their factual integrity.[162]  The older theology knew better; the greatest doctor of the western Church, whose thought nourished Catholic theology for a thousand years before the controversies of the Reformation, and whose genius should instruct us here, has written:

Thus a true sacrifice is offered in every act which is designed to unite us to God in a holy fellowship (sancta societate), that is, which is directed to that final Good which makes possible our felicity. This is the sacrifice of Christians, who are ‘many, making up one body in Christ.’ This is the sacrifice which the Church continually celebrates in the sacrament of the altar, a sacrament well known to the faithful where it is shown to the Church that she herself is offered in the offering which she presents to God.[163]

So understood, sacrifice is specified by its purpose, the effecting, the instituting, of the sancta societas, by whose reality we may reach our final and blessed end of union with God.  What this society may be is next to be understood, and again Augustine teaches us: it is the “whole Christ,” Christus totus, integer, plenitudo Christi, the covenantal, marital union of Christ with his Church.[164] The Second Vatican Council included Augustine’s language in Presbyterorum Ordinis:

However, the Lord also appointed certain men as ministers, in order that they might be united in one body in which “all the members have not the same function” (Rom. 12:4)  These men are to hold in the community of the faithful the sacred power of Order, that of offering sacrifice and forgiving sins, and were to exercise the priestly office publicly on behalf of men in the name of Christ. . . .

. . . ….Through the ministry of priests the spiritual sacrifice of the faithful is completed in union with the sacrifice of Christ the only mediator, which in the Eucharist is offered through the priests’ hands in the name of the whole Church in an unbloody and sacramental manner until the Lord himself come.12  The ministry of priests is directed to this and finds its consummation in it.  For their ministration, which begins with the announcement of the Gospel, draws its force and power from the sacrifice of Christ and tends to this, that “the whole redeemed city, that is, the whole congregation and community of the saints, should be offered as a universal sacrifice to God through the High Priest who offered himself in his passion for us that we might be the body of so great a head.”

§5: . . . . Therefore the eucharistic celebration is the center of the assembly of the faithful over which the priest presides.  Hence priests teach the faithful to offer the divine victim to God the Father in the sacrifice of the Mass and with the victim to make an offering of their whole life[165] emphases added)/ [166]

12 Cf. I Cor. 11:26.

i). The Nuptial Symbolism of the Eucharistic Sacrifice

More recently, the nuptial order of the New Covenant, established by the One Sacrifice, has been reaffirmed by Pope John Paul II.[167]  Here, in this free unity, in this One Flesh, the gift of the Head to the Body in and by which the Body comes to be, converge all the themes with which we are concerned.  The Good Creation is good because signed with the free order of the marital image of the Triune God by its Creation in Christ. The nuptially-ordered Covenant of the New Adam with the New Eve, the Church; Christ the High Priest, whose absolute obedience to the Father is his Sacrifice, his irrevocable self-donation to and for the Church which thereby is his Body, his Bride, and finally, the Holy Society by which we may belong to God understood as the Christus totus, the marital One Flesh of Christ with his Church, the New Covenant in his Blood.

The sacramental and historical significance and the sacramental efficacy, of this nuptial symbolism must be appreciated, not only because it is at the very heart of the economy of salvation, but because of its political impact, the creation, sustaining and fostering of a free, nuptially-ordered society.  By the sacramentally-mediated grace of Christ, we are baptized into the free unity of his body, the Church, whose freedom and unity are hers only by her union with her Lord, and are ours only insofar as we enter into that ecclesial worship by which she is the Body of Christ, One Flesh with him.  By that entry, our existence becomes truly historical and truly public because truly free: so to exist, in ecclesia, is to be engaged in a continual exercise of nuptially-ordered freedom, authority, responsibility, and personal dignity.  Its radical sacramental expression is of course the Sacrifice of the Mass, the institution of the New Covenant, but its political expression, the hierarchical auctoritas sacrata exercized by the common priesthood of the laity, an authority effective ex opera operato in sacramental marriage, is the continual realization of effective limit upon the otherwise unlimited potestas regalis, whose most memorable exponent is certainly Henry VIII, whose ‘separation of Church and state” had been anticipated by Nominalists such as John of Jandun and notably Marsilius of Padua two centuries earlier.

Marriage has ever been seen as a surd by utopian thinkers from Plato’s Republic down to the plethora of schemes for a social reconstruction whose sine quo non was the deconstruction of marriage lent a certain color to American society in the early nineteenth century.  The most notable and enduring of them is the Mormon community which established its center on the shores of Utah’s Great Salt Lake, but less ambitious projects, such as the Oneida Community, exhibited an analogous impatience with the irrationality of traditional marriage.

It is primarily by sacramental marriage, or its Protestant variants, that the recognition of the Covenantal freedom, authority, responsibility and personal dignity of men and women is mediated to the world irrevocably, ex opera operato.  Its presence is dynamic, a liturgical and hence communal public praxis by a married couple of their free responsibility for each other and for their children that begins to permeate society wherever found, converting it, however slowly, to that same free exercise of public responsibility that is existence in Christo, in ecclesia. It is only thus, as exercising her sacramentally-grounded freedom, authority, and responsibility, that the Church may be understood to be in relation to the state, as one of the “two by which the world is ruled.”[168]  By the infallibly effective means of her sacramental worship, the members of the Catholic Church and of those baptized into her community engage in an exercise of covenantal freedom, authority, responsibility and dignity―in a word, of fidelity―which connotes a continual refusal of the idolatry of power endemic to the monadic, non-covenantal understanding of society that is the single alternative to the covenantal, nuptially ordered civil community which the Catholic worship institutes, sustains, and defends.

This exercise of nuptially-ordered fidelity inserts into the body politic a leaven which no despotism can suppress, and whose innate attraction is subversive of all the rationalist and utopian degradations of historical human dignity.  The Western rule of law has no other ground than this nuptially-ordered and sacramentally-sustained free, nuptially-ordered exercise of responsibility, authority, and human dignity, a ground that is uniquely sufficient and thereby indispensable.  Free societies remain free only as efficaciously realizing that freedom in covenantal worship.  The free societies of the West have their origin in the sacramental imaging of God, an imaging whose free unity or order is nuptial: the order of the One Flesh of Christ and his Church, the only free society known to man, and that knowledge is only by revelation, the free gift of the free truth of human existence, appropriated in nuptially-ordered covenantal fidelity.

This section may be summed up by observing that as the unity of the liturgy is nuptial and therefore free, so also is the unity of the Church.  Any liturgical departure from that unity will inevitably reflect a basic denial of the offering, in the Person of Christ, of Eucharistic Sacrifice, which institutes the New Covenant, the free unity of the One Flesh, and thereby is the cause of the Church, the second Eve who exists only in that unity with her Lord.  The denial of the Eucharistic offering in persona Christi of the One Sacrifice proceeds with the same inevitability to the dehistoricization of the Real Presence, and so of the transubstantiation of the Church’s offering of bread and wine, with a consequent dismissal of the sacramental mediation of the grace of Christ.  The history of the fragmentation of the Reformation churches within the century between Luther’s challenge and the Socinian Unitarianism, provides the sufficient proof of the Eucharistic Sacrifice as the free cause of the free unity of the Church.  When the historicity of the Eucharist, i.e., the historicity of the Sacrificial institution of the Christus totus, the One Flesh of Christ and his Church, is rejected, so also is the historical freedom and its historical unity of the Church.

IV. Dissent to and Disintegration of the Eucharistic Liturgy

A. Sacramental Symbolism, from the Eleventh Century

The historical record offers no support for the commonplace symbolist interpretation of Augustine’s theology, which is sufficiently refuted by his long struggle with the Donatist heresy, whose anti-sacramental implications he was at pains to refute with a precision until then unknown to the Latin tradition and little developed in the Greek: it underlies the medieval ex opera operato – ex opera operantis distinction between the infallible and the free efficacy of the sacramental signing.  In brief, Augustine was very clearly no symbolist.  His theology is a phenomenology of worship in the Church; from this experience in ecclesia of the human condition as at once fallen and redeemed―simul peccator et justus―and the simultaneity of the “two cities” that are the product of the “two loves” consequent upon that fissure of the fallen consciousness, he derived a theology of history inseparable from the Catholic faith in the historical, liturgical, sacramental mediation of the grace of Christ.

Once disjunct from that sacramental realism, once alienated from participation in the central Event of Catholic worship, the One Sacrifice of the Mass, communal worship of the risen Lord encounters an impossible dilemma: as communal, that worship must have a communal and therefore public expression, but a non-historical liturgy can permit none: justification by faith alone can have nothing to say whether as doctrine or moral law.  It is obvious that no religious community can survive the strict application of sola fide, sola scriptura: even the preaching communicates no public truth.

As a result, there has been a universally experienced tension between the Reformer’s denial of the sacramental mediation of the grace of the risen Christ, and the continuing felt need for some public, i.e., liturgical, expression of the faith.  This tension is felt throughout those Christian communities which by their rejection of the Eucharistic representation of the One Sacrifice refuse sacramental realism as such.  It becomes evident that the rationale justifying the rejection of the Eucharistic Sacrifice must put in issue the objective efficacy of Baptism as well. The anti-sacramental rationale has as its telos a radical secularity and the consequent reduction of sacramental efficacy to a political efficacy:  once thus politicized, the Church’s worship is soon seen to require a radical secularization as well.  The current rhetoric of the theoreticians of the European Union provides a rather vivid illustration of this inexorable consequence.

This tension between the requirements of public worship of Jesus the Lord and the finally cosmological objections to the historical objectivity of his Lordship first appeared in the Docetism of the first century, as is evident in the Gospel and Letters of John the Evangelist.  It was basic to the Gnosticism of the second and third centuries, and appeared again in the Donatism of the early fourth century, whose anti-sacramental inferences from the African emphasis upon the infallible efficacy of sacramental signing (Tertullian, Cyprian, Augustine) were countered in the fifth century by Augustine’s distinction between the necessary effect of sacramental signing, and the free appropriation of that effect by the individual Christian.  Five centuries later, the application to the realistic Augustinian sacramental signing of the rediscovered Neoplatonic “dialectic” by Carolingian theologians such as Ratramnus and  Rhabanus Maurus had begun to question the free unity of the sacramentum - res sacramenti, cause-effect polarity intrinsic to the efficacy of that signing.  The “new” logic renewed an ancient cosmologically-driven quest for understanding by way of discovering antecedently necessary causes for the truth of any affirmation.  The determinist a priori of this quest necessarily reduced the free truth of the liturgy to irrationality.  Thirteen centuries earlier Parmenides’ disciple, Zeno, had discovered the sole alternative to his master’s ideal monism: the ideal disunity of reality.  This binary, either-or critique was latent in the Carolingian rationalism which, locked in the same rationalist dilemma, must proceed similarly.  Two centuries later Berengarius would use the same ‘dialectical’ analysis to disintegrate the Eucharistic Words of Institution and thereby to conclude to an impanationist Eucharistic heresy, reductively a symbolism by its denial of the truth of the sacramental signing, the uttering of the Words of Institution over the bread and wine of the Offertory.  His reasoning was exquisitely simple, viz., “This is my body” cannot be true, for it is said of bread, not of body.

The dogmatic formulation of the orthodox reply to the Berengarian symbolism, from Lanfranc to the Fourth Lateran Council, required most of two centuries. The theological work was complete early in the twelfth century.[169] It issued in two distinct achievements: the use of “substance” to describe the character of the change of the Eucharistic elements into the body and the blood of Jesus the Christ, and consequently the reality of the risen Christ’s Real Presence under the signs of bread and wine.  Secondly, because Berengarius’ symbolism had reduced the efficacy of the Eucharistic signing to subjectivity, it had become necessary to render explicit what in patristic sacramental paradigm of sacramentum – res sacramenti, had been implicit: viz., that the infallible historical objectivity of sacramental efficacy did not foreclose the personal freedom of the worshiper to worship in truth, and that this freedom, which is actual in our fallen history of salvation includes a freedom to reject the freedom which our Lord died that we might possess, for freedom cannot be imposed.

Thus it was seen to be necessary at once to stress what Berengarius had denied, the infallible historical objectivity of the sacramental signing, and also the freedom of the personal appropriation of the salvation mediated by that worship.  This required that a distinction be made between the infallible effect of the Words of Institution, i.e., the objective offering of the One Sacrifice, and the fallible personal appropriation of the benefits of that offering.  Thus the free infallibility of the cause-effect unity of sacramental efficacy, as expressed by the sacramentum – res sacramenti paradigm of the Augustinian-patristric tradition, underwent a change.  In order to stress what had been implicit in that polarity, i.e., the free appropriation of  sacramental efficacy, it was necessary that the patristic paradigm, which under Augustinian influence had stressed the universal salvific efficacy of the Eucharistic worship, should become quasi-analytic.  It had become necessary to separate conceptually the cause from the effect, and distinguished within that single efficacy between the infallible effect that is also a sign, and that final effect which is the full accomplished result of the sacramental signing, viz., personal union with the risen Christ.

Thus the patristic paradigm, sacramentum – res sacramenti, (sign – infallible effect of the sign) was not discarded but supplemented by the medieval theological paradigm, sacramentum tantum, res et sacramentum, res tantum.  (the sign only, the infallible effect which is also a sign, and the effect only)

The complexities attending this change of theological language are explored elsewhere in this volume.  It is enough here to point out that this truly brilliant analytic statement of sacramental efficacy, the work of Anselm of Laon at the Cathedral School of that city, was achieved during the same period as that in which the theology of transubstantiation was developed.  Together, they are indispensable to Catholic theology, whose foundation is the liturgical mediation of the One Sacrifice by which we are redeemed and, with us, the whole of the creation that is in Christ, the head.

While this work was being done, during the latter half of the eleventh century and the first half of the twelfth, attacks upon Eucharistic realism and sacramental realism were gaining strength: their affinities with the Reform’s anti-sacramentalism are not far to seek.  Their anti-sacramental motif, insofar as articulate, depended upon Berengarius’ heretical teaching, in association with the nihilist Catharism which also appeared in Europe in the early decades of the eleventh century.  This proto-romanticism was bruited about by lay-preaching movements following upon the tidal social impact of the eleventh-century Gregorian Reform, whose dissolution of the feudal merger of ecclesial authority and royal power could not but undercut the stability of European society, in which religious and political unity were hardly distinct.  Gregory VII’s re-assertion of ecclesial authority in rejecting the lay investiture of bishops and abbots which had long been exercised by the feudal barons, and which presupposed the submission of the higher clergy to their overlords as vassals of greater or lesser consequence, undercut the feudal system generally in Continental Europe.  With it, there began the disintegration of the feudal order, whose fatal weakness was its monist merger of moral and political authority, and its consequent incapacity for change: a monadic unity can only cease to be.

Intolerable as the lay investiture of the higher clergy had become, it was consistent with the subordination of those barons to the moral and doctrinal authority of the papacy.  This formal subordination of the emperor to the moral authority of the papacy―the auctoritas sacrata pontificum―was essential to the unity of the Christendom which Charlemagne had founded and for political authority over which he sought papal sanction, however ambiguous his crowning by Pope Stephen.  However, the doctrinal basis for this authority, rooted in Augustine’s doctrine of the “two cities” and restated in a late fifth-century letter in which Pope Gelasius I corrected the misimpression of the Byzantine Emperor Anastasius I, that he possessed an ecclesial authority over the papacy, had been forgotten in the turmoil of the collapse of the Roman Empire in that same fifth century.

The Gelasian doctrine of the free compatibility of the moral authority of the Church, viz., the auctoritas sacrata pontificum, with the imperial potestas regalis, was in tension with the standing practice of a quasi-sacramental coronation of monarchs, and particularly of the Emperor, whose consequently religious standing could be understood to be his simply as the monarch, independent of any relation to the papacy.  The ancient joinder of all authority―legislative, judicial, military and religious―in the monarch had confused Constantine at the Council of Nicaea early in the fourth century, nor had he been discouraged from regarding himself as the “bishop of those outside,” by bishops such as Eusebius of Caesarea, nor even by the Pope, Sylvester I.  Charlemagne’s restoration five centuries later of a measure of the pax romana was not informed by the insight of Gelasius I into the indispensability to a free Christendom of the positive interelation of the moral auctoritas sacrata pontificum and the political potestas regalis.   Here it may be remarked that the tension between ecclesial authority and royal power, the subjects of Gelasius’ “There are two by which the world is governed,” are not “two powers:” It was not Emperor Anastasius’ threat to dominate the Italian peninsula to which Gelasius objected, but his interference with the governance of the Church.  Thus, although the Roman law made little or no distinction between authority and power, Gelasius clearly wrote in another context, that of the interrelation of civil government and the Church’s sacramental and therefore public worship. Their overlap, their tension, is a constant in Augustine’s theology of history, wherein the eschatological triumph of one or the other of the “two cities” is  the telos of all human striving.  Gelasius was an Augustinian: Anastasius was a caesaropapist by instinct: there was no Greek tradition to the contrary, as Justinian would soon demonstrate.

While Charlemagne and his heirs intended the construction of a Christian empire out of the fragments of the western Roman Empire, they understood its unity in terms of a melding of the ecclesial institutions with those of the Empire, inevitably blurring the irreducible distinction which Gelasius had set between them.  This confusion was further confounded by the existence of the papal governance of large areas of the Italian peninsula and Sicily, which by way of papal treaties with Pepin and Charlemagne had become the Papal States―territories secured by those treaties to the papal governance, which by then had become effectively indispensable to the public peace for, since the collapse of the Roman Empire in the fifth century, the Papacy had been the only effective governing authority in and around the Italian peninsula.

This situation required an incongruous papal exercise of a potestas regalis then regarded as inherent in the exercise of the auctoritas sacrata pontificum simply because practically inseparable from it.  This situation could only cause a standing confusion between the Gelasian irreducibles, the moral authority of the Pope and the political power of the government, by whose  free unity Gelasius had seen the world to be ruled: neither could afford to transcend the other, still less to be identified with it, but the Papacy would require centuries again to arrive at this recognition.

George Weigel has persuasively argued that the papal confusion of the auctoritas sacrata pontificum with the potestas regalis ceased only with the reign of John Paul II.[170]  Because this distinction rests finally upon Pauline-Augustinian insight into the free unity of history as salvific, with its dialectic of the “flesh and spirit,” of “two loves which build two cities,“ it is unlikely to be perceptible to those who would impose a necessary unity on history rather than appropriate its intrinsic freedom, particularly inasmuch as this free unity of the human society can be given no secular explanation: its appropriation is finally in function of personal participation in the worship of the Church, and of the nuptially-normed and therefore sacramentally grounded social order inseparable from that worship.

By the eleventh century the distinction between the Pope’s moral authority, his auctoritas sacerdotum, and the Emperor’s political governance of the empire, his potestas regalis, given its classic statement by Pope Gelasius in the last decade of the fifth century, had been forgotten; unknown to the Merovingian kings since the coronation of Clovis in 500 AD, it was similarly unknown to the Carolingians, and to their early medieval successors in interest.  Insofar as an untutored public was concerned, authority was the coercive exercise of power, whether by the popes in their governance of the Papal States or by their feudal and imperial counterparts.  This supposition was buttressed by a general substitution of juridical for theological categories: Justinian’s codification of Roman law at Constantinople had been studied at Bologna from the tenth century; in the twelfth a French translation would be made and studied at the newly-founded school of law at Montpellier in southern France.  This study was continued at Oxford from its founding in the early thirteenth century, where it entered into the Common Law by way of Bracton.  Already in the twelfth century a maieutic device familiar to Roman law, the “Quaestio,” would begin to inform a nascent theological method.[171]  Its cosmological presuppositions passed unchallenged: the Princeps as the transcendent source of law was replaced by a transcendent source of theology, the “necessary  reasons” whose Diktat was comparably absolute, and equally irresponsible.

Signal among the consequences of the collapse of the Roman empire was a general loss of interest in metaphysics and a correlative loss of interest in the transempirical significance of the physical world   The metaphysical expression of learned curiosity, which throughout the classical period survived its systematizations, was replaced by an increasingly abstract juridical conceptuality, whose categories were soon taken to be substantive, i.e., theological.  The confusion of theological categories with those of law reinforced the feudal equation of the Church’s magisterial office with a quasi-legislature whose enactments invoked obedience, rather than an understanding of and assent to their intrinsic truth and unity.  Thus we find in Abelard’s Sic et Non a collection of apparently discordant doctrinal statements with no attempt at their theological resolution, quite as the scholars of the law were publishing collections of discordant canons.  The crude analytical rationality, the “dialectic” or “new logic” deployed by Berengarius to disintegrate the Eucharistic Words of Institution into discordant concepts, now underwrote also the disintegration of the Catholic tradition as such.  When the Parmenidean identification of the unity of truth with the unity of the concept is given its head, the disintegration of reality and of truth cannot but proceed indefinitely in its quest for the indivisible ultima species, equivalently the despairing pagan flight from history which possesses no indivisible unity, whether empirical or ideal.

The reaffirmation and implementation by Gregory VII of the Gelasian distinction between the moral authority of the Church and the political power of civil government, by invalidating their long-standing feudal merger and thereby undercutting the old order, could not but prompt a search for a new order free of the coerced unity and ideal immobility which marked feudal society, as it had marked all pagan societies.  The educated men of the time, clerics for the most part, had little acquaintance with the new theological speculation; the orthodox authorities distrusted the novel “dialectic’ which they had seen used destructively by Berengarius, and which would be used in much the same way by the disciples of Abelard.  St. Peter Damian and St. Bernard typify this conservative animadversion.  Fortunately, as we have seen, other theologians, equally opposed to Berengarius, were intent upon a reasoned refutation of his heresy, and had began to construct a theology of Eucharistic realism which would be foundational for the development of Eucharistic doctrine taught by the Fourth Lateran Council.

It is more than likely that the Eleatic binary rationalism which had inspired Berengarius and his followers had a yet further impact in the novel situation following the destabilization of the feudal order.  According to this “either-or” conceptualism, the alternative to the identification of the ecclesial and the political governance of the world must be their mutual exclusion in a manner anticipating the mutual exclusion of the Cartesian “clear and distinct ideas” and, currently, the “wall of separation” invoked by the Supreme Court in the Everson decision of 1947.  When pushed, this rationale is fatal to all free institution, for reality is seen to consist of necessary unities each of which is what it is by its absolute dissociation from all that it is not, and whose verbal association is only nominal and thus inescapably arbitrary: an expression of opinion and no more.

This vast simplification, whose roots are Heraclidean and whose systematization Platonic, has no small appeal; it is reinvented over and again.  Particularly it appeals in societies whose free unity, whose consensus on the public decencies, is in disarray: then the eloquent presentation of a sancta simplicitas is most likely to persuade those who have lost their moral bearings.  Unfortunately, under this rationale freedom is understood as personal dissociation from all that might impede personal autonomy: in moral terms,.  Freedom in exercise is then simple irresponsibility; J. S. Mill’s On Liberty is its classic statement.  This is freedom from all historical responsibility, from all positive relation to anything of significance.  It understands: men to live in a world of things, of objects, but not of subjects.  Thus conceived as personal autonomy, freedom is a flight from the universal exercise of a truly historical responsibility, for responsible freedom is exercised communally, in a free community whose freedom can only be sacramentally sustained.  The sole alternative is freedom as autonomy, as a flight from history and from historical self-awareness: in brief, freedom as nihilism.  Its exercise is of course radically anti-institutional: the only politics possible is that of protest; anything more is an expression if not an exercise of personal responsibility for the future.[172]

Consequently, the Gregorian rejection of the long feudal merger of ecclesial and political governance led to a common critique, an antipathy to government as such.  Each rule now must justify its concrete application, a Rahnerian theme used to warrant the student protests of the latter decades of the twentieth century and the second of the twenty-first, whose “I don’t see why not” has echoes in every age.  Thus, if by papal edict an unworthy emperor can lose his authority because of its misuse, so also can an unworthy bishop lose his authority by its misuse.  Implicit in this critique is the assumption that both authorities are exercised coercively, as inhibitions upon personal freedom: thus Church doctrine and civil law stand under the same critique.

This assumption had solid grounds.  The political authority of the Popes over the papal states had been and long remained all too easy to confuse with their doctrinal authority, in such wise that manifest injustices committed under the former heading were easily read into the magisterial proclamation of the doctrinal and moral traditions, the more easily in that both were perceived in the same juridical contest, which is to say, as commands, thus as restrictions upon freedom as personal autonomy, inhibitions on the exercise of personal irresponsibility.

The exercise of moral freedom had long been misunderstood, as by Aristotle’s Nichomachean Ethics and the Stoic natural law, as a centripetal conformity to the nonhistorical cosmological rationality, i.e., as conformity to essentially timeless norms: moderation, nature, law, whether viewed as natural or divine, all universal and unchangeable.  Morality amounted to passive submission to a permanent status quo, a cosmos whose inhabitability was its immunity to history and to change: finally, its immunity to freedom.  With the crumbling of the old order, its morality of submission and conformity became untenable.  Unfortunately, within the cosmological rationality of the time, the sole alternative to personal servility was personal autonomy, a flight from all induced order, whether ecclesial or political: freedom became a centrifugal flight from history, an “abolition of man.”[173]

The majority of the feudal society, serfs and servants, the working class, had long been unaccustomed to any exercise of personal authority and responsibility transcending the domestic management of their families and homes and, at the artisan level, of their crafts.  The latter were being affected by the rise of a monetary economy whereby the artisans were developing or being co-opted into a mercantile class, to whom literacy was a necessity: a learned laity was emerging, but a laity whose learning was not theological, and whose rationality, insofar as learned, conformed to the “new logic” of a Berengarius, the binary, proto-nominalist disintegration of truth and being which could only reinforce the interpretation of the new freedom as anarchy.

The popes of the eleventh century, down to Gregory VII, ruled over a Church troubled by schismatic contestants for the papacy, by bishops whose selection and investiture by feudal lords had made them vassals of their lords rather than servants of their Church, and whose neglect of their episcopal responsibilities had too often left their dioceses to the doubtful competence of vicars drawn from the lower clergy who lacked the then necessary social standing to exercise the authority delegated them.  The quality of parochial preaching of course declined with the decline of episcopal residence, i.e., the residence of the local ordinary in his diocese instead of a vicar appointed him, and thereby the decline of effective episcopal oversight.  The evangelical counsels were widely ignored by the clergy, many were ignorant of the doctrinal and moral traditions of their faith to the point of at least material heresy: simony was common among them, and the problem of clerical concubinage had become sufficiently acute as to draw the attention of a succession of provincial and Roman councils.

The monastic orders had undergone a comparable deviation from lived fidelity to their original rule, devoting their energies instead, as at Cluny, to an elaborate liturgy rather than to the less refined tasks of the evangelization and catechesis of the surrounding population, while more and more leaving the manual labor integral to the monastic vocation to a laity whose association with the monastery was to provide the necessary labor.  For the men, this comprised tilling its fields, tending its cattle and harvesting its crops; for the women, cooking, baking, housekeeping, weaving, sewing: the domestic occupations apart from which convents and monasteries could not exist.  The Cistercian reform of the Benedictine order at the end of the eleventh century bears a sufficient witness to the feudal sclerosis and consequent corruption of the ancient monastic institutions.  Unfortunately, well before the Reformation, the Cistercian reformers had themselves fallen prey to comparable lapses from their rule.

The result of these greater and lesser infidelities of the Church’s servants was a wide-spread resentment of ecclesial authority, whether as magisterial or as temporal  The consequent unrest inevitably found its leaders among those of the clergy and laity in whom literacy, ability, and conviction of the need for ecclesial and civil reform had met.  Most of them were loyal to the Church, but all agreed upon the need for reform both of the Church and of the civil governance, and the distinction between the reformer and the rebel was hardly clear in the minds of those thus designated, nor in the minds of the authorities, lay and clerical, whose uncritical conservatism was met by a similarly unexamined dissatisfaction with and disaffection for the status quo.

This widespread unrest found expression in a variety of lay preaching movements, whose common theme was a return to authentic Catholicism, to a Christianity envisioned as in some manner incorrupt, unsullied by contamination from the world.  This was easily assimilated to the romantic quest for an unstructured religion, reductively dualist.  A ‘hermeneutic of suspicion’ was being born, appeasable only by the destruction of its object: the only universally encountered and immediately identifiable object of that global distrust was the Church.  Unlike the municipal political institutions, it was omnipresent, a single object upon which to focus a critique which soon became ferocious.

It must be remembered that ecclesial reform as a return to origins is a universal goal, inseparable from the worship of the Church of sinners, Ecclesia semper reformanda, at first an expression of loyalty to the Reformation, has lately been found as inseparable from the Catholic faith in Jesus the Lord, and inseparable from fidelity to him by a people irremedially fallen, simul peccastor et justus, until Christ shall come again.  The recognition of reform as the renewal of fidelity is apparent in the earliest levels of the New Testament; it is the commonplace of Deuteronomy.  Existence in the Church is identical with existence as a sinner whose awareness of his sin is at once with his participation in the worship of the ecclesia semper reformanda.  The need for ecclesial as well as personal reform is permanent.  The perception of the need, and insistence upon it, is at one with the Catholic faith that Jesus is the Lord, under whose judgement we stand.

This permanent interest in the reform of the Church has a corollary too little remarked: i.e., that the reformation of the Church, and of the civil society its faith informs, has its ground in the Eucharistic liturgy.  It does not rest upon utopian percepts, upon the experience of injustice and of affronts to one’s dignity, and so on.  These can afford no concrete criterion for reform.  There is no source of the free unity that is the goal of all true reform other than the Eucharistic worship of the Church.  Only in the nuptial order of that worship is the personal dignity and responsibility of every human being recognized, affirmed and sustained, precisely as nuptially normed and fulfilled.  Apart from this criterion of personal and ecclesial reform, our fallen reasoning falls back into ideological soteriologies, flights from history which, finding historical existence insupportable, seek salvation from it in ultimately totalitarian surrogates for the good creation, the longing for which is indelible among us, and is routinely betrayed by schemes for self-salvation.  Within the Church’s communion, the nuptial unity and order of the good creation are a standing reproach to the infidelities that afflict us all, that continually mask the beauty of the bride of Christ, but which can never destroy it nor entirely conceal it; .

Insofar as the quest for ecclesial reform, however pervaded with doctrinal error, was not experienced as a refusal of the Church’s worship, it remained within the wide range of Catholic unity: as John Paul II observed, dissent is only dissent; while it can provides no basis for authentic reform, its latent heresy need not find overt expression: it can and generally does arise out of ignorance.  However, throughout the latter half of the eleventh century the Church’s worship had been under doctrinal attack: Berengarius, the head of the Cathedral school of Tours, which Alcuin had once governed, was so fascinated by the rationalization of the real by the binary “new logic” as to apply it to the free truth of the Eucharistic Words of Institution, “This is my body,” “This is my blood,” whose truth he consequently denied on the exceeding simple ground that a “this” cannot be a “that” distinct from and other than itself.  By the middle of the eleventh century, Berengarius had forced a defensive posture upon Catholic theologians, to the point of requiring them to amend the Augustinian paradigm of sacramental efficacy, sacramentum – res sacramenti, in order to counter the first Eucharistic heresy the Church had known.  Berengarius’ substitution of a symbolist subjectivity for the historical objectivity of Catholic Eucharistic realism anticipated the anti-sacramentalism characterizing the Protestant Reformation.

In the end, the significant minority of those seeking reform, i.e., those who had so interiorized the feudal meld of ecclesial and political governance as to reject governance as a single evil, drew from that supposition a false dualist asceticism, a false preaching of flight from the historical order to a vaguely non-historical, unrealizable goal, generally a rationalized poverty, and thus undertook a false destructive reform, one entailing a rejection of the historical Church’s sacramental mediation of the grace of Christ.  Were this minority to be effective it required a persuasive justification, leadership and organization.  The justification was provided by Berengarius’ rejection of the Eucharistic realism that grounds the sacramental realism of the Church and thus the objective historicity of the Church.  Once thus perceived as nonhistorical, the Church’s worship provided no justification for the existence of the historical institutions attending the Church sacramental liturgy and historical mission.  In the argot of the sixties, ‘unjust institutions’ comprised whatever social entity could not prove it necessity.  Forty years later, this indictment has come to include the legal recognition of marriage insofar as heterosexual and free, and hence incapable of justification by the canons of “reason.”

The need of this minority for leadership and organization was met by the coincidental resurgence of an ancient Gnosticism, the Catharism which began to appear early in Europe in the early decades of the eleventh century, effectively contemporaneous with the Berengarian heresy and with the Gregorian Reform.  By the twelfth century it had adopted, paradoxically, the hierarchical organization of the Church, and was well on the way to converting the inhabitants of southern France, then the most populous and wealthy part of that nation.[174]  

The medieval Manichees, as the Catharists have been named,[175] were a development of a third-century oriental dualism transmitted from East to West by way of the Balkans; its eleventh-century reviviscence in Europe was coincident with the social, political and religious instability induced by the Gregorian Reform.  There were many versions of this dualistic religion: e.g., the Bulgari (Bougres), Patareni, and Albigensii (people of Albi, in southern France). The last of these groups, so styled whether because of the number of converts to Catharism among the population of Albi, or by reason of the condemnation of Catharism by a provincial synod held there, has come to label the Catharist movement en gros.

Elements of it had been present in Aquitaine from the first decades of the eleventh century.  Their insurgence there was protected by Duke William IX of Toulouse who, if not a convert, was certainly sympathetic to Catharism.  By the late twelfth and early thirteenth century, the Albigensian Cathars had many members in the area around Toulouse.  They were led by their elite practitioners, the perfecti or bonhommes, who reached this status by way of a long catechumenate and the reception of a quasi-sacrament called the consolamentum; the remainder, constituting a small but activist element of the total population of the Aquitaine, were credentes or auditores who received consolamentum only on their deathbeds.  The Catharists held matter to be the principle of evil; in consequence, they were bitterly anti-Catholic, anti-sacramental, anti-clerical and anti-nuptial: some of them were allies of Berengarius, recognizing in his denial of sacramental realism an affinity with their own views.  They preached a radical asceticism, a rejection of the involvement in history inherent in the ownership and use of material goods, and of course bitterly opposed the Church’s historical optimism, whose foundation was her sacramental worship, the heart of which is the sacrifice of the Mass, as instanced by the Catharist assault upon the Church in the Netherlands, the present Holland and Northern Belgium, at the turn of the twelfth century.  Led by a lay preacher, Tachelm, it was directed to an open profanation of the Eucharist.  St. Norbert and his Norbertines successfully opposed it, reconverting the people it had led into this sacrilege.

Although condemned by the provincial council of Toulouse in 1019, the Albigensians retained the support of the bulk of the wealthy nobility of a wealthy Languedoc, and of course flourished.  In the next century, from about 1015, they were aided by the anti-sacramentalism preached by a dissident priest, Peter de Bruys, who had been a pupil of Abelard.  His followers were known as Petrobrusians.[176]  After de Bruys was killed in 1031, evidently by a mob of those he had outraged, a similar group in southern France, the “Henricians,” were led by Henry of Le Mans.  Henry and his followers were opposed by St. Bernard of Clairvaux, among others, and were finally exterminated by the Albigensian crusade.  Until then, their anti-institutionalism made them the natural allies of the anti-sacramentalist Berengarian heretics and more radically, of the Cathars.

The Catharism campaign against the Catholic Church was expressed in much the same terms as those voiced by the early lay preachers, but resting upon an entirely different religious foundation, that of their metaphysical dualism, which regarded physical existence as inherently evil.  At bottom the Catharist gnosis found its typical expression in the condemnation of marriage and, more specifically of the sexual reproduction implicit in marriage, and also because marriage is the clear expression of personal commitment to the historical optimism of Roman Catholicism, whose liturgy celebration of the sacramental and salvific significance of the historical order is particularly explicit and publicly effective in the sacrament of marriage.  This sacramental existence and practice of married couples is of course flatly and effectively opposed to the comparably programmatic Catharist commitment to flight from the physicality of historical existence as evil per se.

The Catharist antagonism to the sacramental significance of masculine and feminine existence found its way into a variety of proto-Reformation movements, all of which rejected the sacramental mediation of the grace of Christ.  Catharism was a radically alienated and alienating movement, spontaneously allied to every revolt against institutional establishment and authority, and particularly to those attacking the historical Catholic Church.  The basically pagan soteriology of Catharism looked to the abolition of the historical creation, which its adepts saw to be totally corrupt, and could not but focus upon the Church as its great enemy, for the Church celebrated what Catharism loathed, the good creation which is in Christ.

By the last decades of the twelfth century, a significant segment of Catholic population of Languedoc had become Cathars: the proportion of converts to the general population is disputed: In a recent study, Lutz Kälber has put it at under twenty percent, which is still a shocking proportion.[177]  The reasons for conversion of this considerable fraction of the people of Languedoc are hardly clear.  Cultural division between the north and the south of France played some role in it.  The “langue de oc” dialect (OccitanAquitaine), in which “oc” (derived from the Latin demonstrative pronoun “hoc”) was equivalently “yes,” then commonly spoken in southern France, was not easily intelligible in Paris, whose French dialect, the “langue d’oïle” in which “oui” (derived from the Latin demonstrative pronoun “ille’) expressed “yes,” was similarly incomprehensible in the south. This linguistic separation imported a cultural dissociation which inevitably found political expression.  The very wealthy and powerful Counts of Toulouse had come to exercise a quasi-royal authority over southern France, and had developed a correlative independence of the French monarchy centered in Paris, while the local episcopacy, anticipating the Gallicanism of a later age, assumed a comparable independence of Roman authority which their flocks could not but reflect.  It may be supposed that the anti-institutional rhetoric of the Catharist leadership found an audience already thus receptive to what H. U. von Balthasar has termed an anti-Roman Affekt as to have found support for it in the local hierarchy, and most certainly in the local aristocracy.

With his election to the papacy in 1198, Innocent III immediately undertook to resolve the Catharist problem, the first wide-spread heresy Christendom had known since the decline of Arianism in the sixth century.  The Pope send his legate, Pierre Castelnau, accompanied by other Cistercians, to effect the re-conversion of a population formerly Catholic but by then largely infected by Catharist sympathies.  His efforts were to little avail.  He found it necessary to replace a number of Languedoc bishops, and to excommunicate the more prominent converts to Catharism, but with an equal lack of effect.  Finally, in 1208, after a decade of failure to counter the Catharist heresy, Innocent III sent Castelnau to Count Raymond VI, to inform him of his excommunication for failing to cooperate in the Pope’s decade-long effort to suppress the Catharist heresy.  However, the Count had nothing to fear from papal sanction: his people, whether Catharist or Catholic, were no longer obedient to Rome and their loyalty to him was not predicated upon his fealty to the Pope.  On the day following a stormy interview with Raymond VI, Castelnau was murdered by one of the Count’s courtiers.  The Count’s reply to Innocent’s pastoral mission amounted to a thrown gauntlet.

The following year, Innocent III issued the Bull initiating the Albigensian Crusade, calling upon the French king and his nobles to suppress the heresy by force of arms, and ensuring their cooperation by granting to the victors the estates of their defeated opponents in Languedoc.

The Albigensian Crusade lasted for twenty years.  It ended with the decisive defeat of the Catharist forces, but at an enormous cost in lives, and with the devastation of Languedoc, which never regained its former prosperity or cultural standing.  In 1229, at the end of hostilities, Innocent III established the Inquisition to discover and suppress such Catharist opposition as remained.  Under its supervision by the newly-formed Order of Preachers (Dominicans), Catharism ceased to have an effective presence in the territories it had once controlled, although it was extirpated only in the fourteenth century.

The more usual expressions of popular political and religious alienation associated with the Gregorian Reform had been those of literate laymen who undertook the neglected task of preaching and whose preaching was imbued with protest against the misuse of political and religious authority over their lives: this emphasis was soon abetted, even to the point of identity, by an anti-institutional re-interpretation of Christianity.  The lay preaching was no longer merely against the misuse of authority, whether ecclesial or political, but against the exercise, and even the existence, of ecclesial authority as such.  The lay preaching envisaged Christianity as ideally freed from the authority of the Church as well as from that the feudal society, in this echoing themes insistently and eloquently preached by the Catharist leadership, whose goal however was not laity’s romantically-envisioned reformation of Christianity and civil society by the elimination of their injustices, but the abolition of both.

The quasi-permanent lineaments of this vision of a Christianity reformed by the rejection of its structures of oppression, i.e., dogma, canon and moral law, priesthood, and sacraments, were traced during the latter decades of the twelfth century by Joachim di Fiore, a Cistercian monk whose theology looked to the emergence of an unstructured version of Christianity, the Kingdom of the Holy Spirit, which Joachim understood to transcend both the age of Old Testament, in which the Father ruled by Law, imposed by fear, and the age of the Son, his New Covenant and his Church.  The third and final age is that of the Kingdom of the Holy Spirit, who will rule by a love proceeding from but transcending the Gospel of Christ, and which will have no need of the magisterial, legislative, and pastoral institutions of the Church.  These Joachim regarded as disciplinary, finally coercive: his recognition of sacramental realism and efficacy of Catholic worship was minimal.  He maintained that insofar as the integrating elements of the Church’s worship bear upon doctrine and morals, they will have somehow have been transcended in a final union of the Latin and Greek Churches, to which the Jews will be converted.  Joachim surmised that this apocalyptic event would occur around 1260.

Joachim was at first a lay preacher, therefore teaching without ecclesial authority; when objections to this irregularity arose, he became a Cistercian monk, was ordained a priest, and lived an exemplary life as a Cistercian until his death in 1202.  He was particularly intent upon evangelical poverty, and was much honored and respected.  Without question he intended loyalty to the Church, having submitted his three major works to Innocent III, although he died before any decision upon them was made.  Only in 1250 did the doubts arise which led to the Papal condemnation of his doctrine in 1256.

However, his works were seized upon by radical enthusiasts, notably the Joachimite party of the Spiritual Franciscans, whose doctrinaire exaltation of  poverty as a universal solvent of historical institutions understood Joachim’s “Eternal Gospel” to be fulfilled in their own agenda.  Some contemporary authors have regarded Joachim’s speculations as grounding twentieth century totalitarianism.[178] The Joachimites sought the eradication of the Church as an obstacle to a dehistoricized society in which all historical institution is condemned a priori.  The inherent evil of the “unjust structures” which in the sixties and seventies of the twentieth century were identified with the institutions of Western civilization as such, is rediscovered by every ideological fixation on the one thing necessary, the abstract goal transcendent to and alienated from whatever is historical  It changes its name, but not its animosity which, since the first century, has been focused upon the historical liturgy and the historical faith of the historical Roman Catholic Church.

Inasmuch as the concrete, pastoral exercise of the Church’s authority is at bottom sacramental and magisterial, therefore intrinsically institutional.  The rejection of ecclesial authority cannot but look to a romanticized and finally politicized religion, a church devoid of historical institution, alien to the exercise of pastoral authority by bishops and lower clergy, lacking sacramental worship, consequently lacking the liturgical mediation of the doctrinal and moral tradition .  The Church’s apostolic tradition is viewed by the current anti-clericals as imposing unwarranted and therefore arbitrary limits upon a personal freedom increasingly identified with autonomy―which is to say, with personal irresponsibility.  This equation of freedom with irresponsibility could not but conclude to a Christianity without ecclesiastical establishment―lacking not only doctrinal and moral authority, but lacking also the clergy, parish churches, diocesan cathedrals, schools, colleges and universities: in sum, the lay and clerical staff essential to the mission of the universal Church.  The rejection of the ecclesial establishment in the name of poverty insofar as physical, as the possession and control of property, had by the end of the eleventh century come to be perceived as the corollary of  freedom from an ecclesial authority already heavily politicized and to that extent coercive.

Under these anti-institutional auspices, preaching could not but become a lay activity, which is to say, an office undertaken by men whose education permitted them to read the Scriptures, but few of whom were otherwise learned.  They preached what they knew, supplemented by what they felt, and so tended to focus upon a personal interpretation of Scripture, and upon an advocacy of poverty, the latter to a considerable extent in reaction to the abuse of wealth by the clergy and the religious orders.  The arrogance of the feudal prince-bishops, the corruption of monasteries and convents, the concubinage, simony and general incompetence of many of the parish clergy, the so-called “mass priests,” the lavishly ornamented liturgical celebration such as that for which the Abbey of Cluny had become famous, and such other exhibitions of what the newly emancipated laity saw as ecclesial indiscipline and self-indulgence as were at hand, ensured that there be no lack of targets for their homiletic condemnation.

The lay emphasis on poverty as a fundamental virtue, even the fundamental Christian virtue, could and did lead to its perception as an absolute, a sine qua non, an abstract, non-historical and asymptotically remote goal continually to be sought in its purity at whatever cost.  This absolutism specified some of the more fervent of the party of the so-called Spirituals among the Frairs Minor, during the century of turmoil following the death of their founder.  St. Francis was for all his life a lay preacher: he made poverty to be the particular characteristic of his Order, most of whose members in its early years were laymen. The Spiritual Franciscans stressed the anti-institutional reading of monastic poverty, whose implementation could only destroy their order.  They were checked by Bonaventure in the latter half of the thirteenth century, but were not banned from the Order until the next century.  It is evident that an absolutizing of poverty was contrary the missionary and therefore historical vision of St. Francis and of those who followed him, wishing to serve the Church by imitating the humility and poverty of Jesus their Lord: they did not envisage a political movement, still less an ideology.

The Gregorian Reform’s re-assertion of the ascendancy of the moral authority of the Church (auctoritas sacrata pontificum) over the otherwise untempered coercive political dominion (potestas regalis) of the Emperor and his barons, had an intrinsically counter-institutional effect at the socio-political level, i.e., upon the feudal vision of social unity  Its social impact was largely upon the peasant class, whose status in the eleventh century was little better than that of serfs, a condition countenanced by a feudalized Church, the implicitly vassal status of whose clergy made them complicit in the coercive feudal ordering of society.  The laity, including members of the artisan and the growing commercial middle class as well as the peasantry, could not be expected to make distinctions between lay and clerical overlords, or between the moral authority of the clergy and the coercive power of the feudal aristocracy, given that, in the higher ecclesial echelons, the two were so often joined in the same man, a bishop or archbishop of noble family who also was little given to drawing fine distinctions between the authority of his episcopal office and his allegiance to his feudal standing as at once a feudal overlord by birth, and a vassal of a greater feudal overlord.

The Gregorian emancipation of the Church from subordination to the potestas regalis, her liberation from feudal oversight, had challenged the feudal institutions at their heart.  Thereafter they could no longer be self-sustaining, unquestioned as inherent in the order of the world.  When a pope could dissolve them with a word, and had threatened to do so to the point of forcing an imperial obeisance to him, the principle of feudal fealty, allegiance of the vassal to his overlord, had been irretrievably qualified by Gregory VII’s assertion of the higher obligation of fidelity to the Church: the ecclesial and the feudal fidelities were now distinct, and their relation could not but be in issue.

Both fidelities were moral, and therefore in principle free, but only the ecclesial was in principle liberating, while the feudal system presupposed a subject class, without political authority.  Assertions of such authority were impossible to the lower classes; as lowly born, they were incapable of exercising feudal responsibility, and thus of taking the vassal’s oath of fealty to his lord.  Their legal rights amounted to the protection of their security, their remaining as they were.  The actual refusals of feudal responsibility were breaches of the feudal oath binding vassal to overlord, and amounted to acts of war against that overlord.  Only the stronger barons were capable of this refusal, and the degree of their capability amounted to the degree of their irresponsibility: an irresponsibility unlike that of the peasant passivity before authority in being an active quest for greater power, whether the better to resist the power of an overlord, or to establish personal power over him.

The latter ambition had to an extent been tempered by the attribution of a sacral character to the feudal fealties, but only to a limited extent: while the feudal monarch of a Catholic people could not risk an excommunication which would free his vassals of their oath of fealty, the violations of their feudal oaths by the lesser nobility did not attract that degree of papal attention.  Internecine warfare had been commonplace between feudal principalities; their political unity was little more than that which could be provided by force majeure.  The anarchy pervading England in the middle of the twelfth century, when the possession of the crown had long been contested, offers a vivid illustration of this weakness.

The political and diplomatic impact of the Gregorian reform upon the feudal governance of Europe is easy to exaggerate: for example, it had very little immediate effect outside continental Europe, due largely to the highly unified feudalism imposed on the English society by the Norman kings, and especially by Henry II, although by the thirteenth century English feudalism also had begun to give way before economic changes which rendered the customs of feudal vassalage obsolete. 

It is more difficult to exaggerate its impact upon a peasant class whose members, largely by reason of the Gregorian reform but also by economic changes enhancing the value of a peasant’s labor, no longer accepted their servile condition as an irrefragable fact of life.  The peasants became restive, not so much in that they envisioned a stable political freedom as that they had come to identify their participation in the social order with servility, and so rejected social order as such: they were not in principle anarchical, but having known political and ecclesial institution only as imposed and in principle as coercive, once conscious of the possibility of the dissolution of this coercion, they were instinctively anti-institutional.  In those cases wherein their reaction against the abuse of clerical authority in the Church alienated them from her liturgy, their animus could not but focus upon her Eucharistic realism, i.e., on the priestly offering of the Eucharistic sacrifice and upon the Real Presence of Christ in the Eucharist, the full expression of ecclesial authority.

In secular matters, their rejection of the authority of civil government soon became anarchical.  The Peasant Revolt and the Lollard rebellion in fourteenth century England are speaking instances of a militant rejection of still-feudal conceptions of an imposed social order.

Other factors contributed to the overt expression of this alienation: the recent emergence of a mercantile class had already shaken the feudal stabilities by increasing the value of land and of labor: the peasant was no longer regarded as merely an adjunct of the soil he tilled: larger horizons beckoned, for the feudal stability was undercut by a competition for the peasants’ labor, the emergence of economic opportunity and the correlative emergence of an awareness of personal dignity.  The inhibitions which the feudal social order had imposed on the lower classes became unenforceable and economically irrelevant.

Another and more powerful factor was also becoming effective in awakening a consciousness of personal dignity among the lay members of early medieval society: a novel appreciation of sacramental marriage as incapable of coercion.  The patristic theology had recognized that the validity of the marriage required the free consent of the wife as well as of the husband, but this pertained to her free entry into the married state, wherein her exercise of her free responsibility was not understood to cease.  The heritage of the Roman law was effective in the theology of marriage: as the wife was assimilated to the juridical persona of her husband, so also for the theology of marriage.

While the theologians would continue for some centuries to regard marriage as the least of the sacraments,[179] and the Common and Civil Law was at least as reluctant to give legal standing to women, in the eleventh and twelfth centuries the pastoral clergy were giving marriage an increased attention, which could not but entail a recognition of the dignity of women.  The ancient patriarchal subordination of women to their nearest male relatives, characteristic of paganism and also of the feudal law, was inconsistent with the full personal freedom essential whether to entry into sacramental marriage or to living in nuptial fidelity.  The recognition of the dignity of women could not but entail a re-examination of the dignity of men: both were properly measured only by the sacramental fidelity and consequent sanctity of marriage.  A new anthropology was developing, however slowly.  The recognition that a coerced marriage is no marriage is at one with the recognition of an equal and correlative dignity in the spouses, and of the free exercise of personal responsibility in marriage which was as novel for the husbands as for the wives.

Here the reality of adult responsibility, of adult dignity as masculine and as feminine, began to be internalized in its exercise.  Marriage transcends all political inhibition, for it is itself the most radical exercise of a public authority: that authority cannot be coercive and remain nuptial.  At its root, sacramental marriage is the public personal exercise of the authority of personal participation in the Church’s highly public sacramental worship of her Lord.  The marriage of baptized adults submits to no coercion; it can neither be forced nor forbidden.  While in principle the man and the woman administer the sacrament to each other, Church would resist the privatization of marriage, for marriage has not only has the intrinsically public character of a sacrament, as a participation in the public worship of the Church, but it is also a public exercise of personal responsibility in the public order.  As such,

it is a leaven of free order in a transpolitical society which, apart from that leaven, knows no freedom which is not adverse to order, and knows no order that is consistent with freedom.

The socio-political impact of marriage thus understood is incalculable: it is the one inviolable free institution.  No political ideology can co-exist with it, for it presupposes the covenantal, Trinity-imaging view of authority.  This view of authority is foundational for the free and irrevocable exercise of nuptial authority which constitutes a marriage.  As a public praxis of personal authority, marriage is inescapably an assertion of personal political freedom, of personal political authority by the man and by the woman.  This plenary exercise of free responsibility exists only as proper to both.  Its objectivity cannot be challenged, hence the ideological efforts to extirpate sacramental marriage as something alien to a properly ordered political community―which is to say, proper to a coercively unified people whose personal freedom is read as centrifugal, as disorderly, irrational and finally criminal.

Although the displacement of the monadic patriarchal paradigm of authority by the sacramental historicity of its free nuptial reality, marriage  would wait nearly a millennium for theological recognition, it was pastorally recognized as liturgical worship from the outset, and that recognition over the centuries of the collapse and restoration of the Western civilization established its free, customary, public decencies, as from Giotto onward it illumined the art of late Middle Ages and of the Renaissance.

Integral to the development of canon law, marriage thereby soon became integral to the rule of law in the Western world: in England the Church’s jurists would from around the fourteenth century temper the rationalized rigors of the Common Law with the principles of equity, although by then the Common Law had itself anticipated much of these, since they were inseparable from the customary civil practices of the Christian communities from which the Common Law had emerged.  Only with Henry VIII did sacramental marriage cease in England to transcend the potestas regalis, and thus cease to be sacrosanct in law.

After him, with the increasing refusal of sacramental realism by Western intellectuals, the rule of law, i.e., that “higher law” by which legal systems exist to protect the freedom of the free society, began to lack foundation.  The new jurisprudence from Marsilius of Padua onward rested again upon the possession of force majeure by the civil government.  Jeremy Bentham and John Austin were its apostles in England: their path had been cleared and charted by the Nominalism of William of Ockham, John of Jandun, John Wycliff and Henry VIII. 

In 1958 Granville Williams brought the ultimate expression of this reduction of law to coercion from a no longer merry England to a United States wherein the rule of law had long been under assault by the students of the pragmatic jurisprudence taught by a Boston brahmin, Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr., while a member of the Harvard law faculty, and implemented by him for thirty years as an Associate Justice of the Supreme Court. 

Under Granville William’s guidance, the crime of abortion, whose criminality had long been recognized by the common-law and by every State jurisdiction to be a crime, was discovered by a demoralized Supreme Court to be worthy of protection by the Constitution.  In the decades since the Roe v. Wade decision in 1973, secular jurisconsults have been intent upon abortion’s obvious implication, the disestablishment of what remains of marriage.  Several professedly-Catholic moralists have supported this project.[180]  Once again, this recourse to rationalization, to the reduction of historical freedom to immanent necessity, is inescapable once the sacramental foundation of freedom is refused.  Inevitable also is the decay of the rule of law as the bulwark of a free society whose freedom is at one with thefree consensus of its members in the praxis of personal historical responsibility, a praxis that as free is nuptially ordered, and can alone ground the rule of law characteristic of and indispensable to a free society.

The feudal system had no remedy for the burgeoning awareness of its obsolescence.  Its rigidly authoritarian and inherently coercive understanding of authority as patriarchal was incapable of reform.  At bottom, the feudal order was static: “may no new thing arise” was its watchword.[181]  The Gregorian Reform was that “new thing;” its assertion of the independence of the Church from all political oversight inserted an irreversible dynamic of the public exercise of religious freedom into the feudal world.  The ground of this freedom is the Eucharistic liturgy, whose celebration of the sacrificial institution of the New Covenant is the indefeasible desacralization of the suppressive pieties of the feudal order, summed up in the keeping of one’s place, existing in a servile state while zealously guarding that coercive social order.

The reform of the Church is of course possible only by the fact of her divine institution, her Eucharistic liturgy.  Nonetheless, four centuries of failed attempts at disentangling the Church’s from essentially feudal customs and preoccupations would pass between the Gregorian Reform and that promulgation of effective reform measures by the Council of Trent.  Even then, a loyal implementation of the Conciliar edicts required a strength of character rare among the bishops charged with that implementation: St. Charles Borromeo, who took the Tridentine reforms seriously, had few admirers in the sixteenth century, and few imitarors since.

Among unanticipated consequences of the Gregorian Reform was an “Anti-Roman Affekt” among the clergy, the monastic communities, and the emerging middle class, which mirrored the antipathy of much of the lay preaching to the authority of the Church.  Many bishops, and not only in Languedoc, were more comfortable with a familiar obeisance to their feudal lords than with obedience to a distant Pope.

Inasmuch as the Church’s authority is sacramental and therefore inherently historical, its institutional exercise includes an authoritative preaching of the revelation given in Jesus the Christ.  With the denial of the sacramental mediation of salvation, a doctrine of predestination was waiting in the wings: Wycliff’s anti-sacramentalism would give it voice well before Calvin.  The Church’s magisterial authority was challenged by charismatic homilists who usurped the teaching authority of the Church’s priestly ministry, as the hearing of their sermons was beginning to the replace lay participation in the Church’s Eucharistic liturgy.

Given the sacramental worship of the Church, a worship in truth of Him who is the Truth, the universal Logos, it must follow that the authentic Catholic interpretation of Scripture can only be ecclesial, i.e., liturgical: the preaching of the faith and the interpretation of the Scripture coincide.   However, the pervasive atmosphere of revolt against authority as such included the usurpation of the Church’s teaching authority.  With Wycliffe’s dismissal of the ancient doctrinal and moral traditions of the Church, and of the civil institutions they had informed, the preaching of the morality inherent in the freedom of the faith was displaced by the preaching of the new autonomy, the new irresponsibility which could abide no authority.  This preaching needed no ecclesial warrant: the principle of sola scriptura had came into its own with its corollary, the private interpretation of Scripture, and the privatization of the faith, whose corollary is an ineffable sola fide..

Such unqualified dissent could not of course endure: we have seen it driven to imitate the ecclesial institution which had been the object of its bitter criticism: so also for the autonomous interpretation of Scripture.  By the end of the Middle Ages it was mitigated by the rise of a new authority, that of a dissenting humanistic biblical scholarship.  The  magisterial authority of the Church’s bishops was displaced by the academic authority of biblical scholars such as Wycliff, later of Luther and Calvin.  Their universal rejection of Eucharistic realism, particularly as inherent in the sacrifice of the Mass, in favor of a subjective Eucharistic symbolism, was implicit in the radical historical pessimism which was finally the single alternative to Eucharistic realism.  Vehemently preached, this pessimism belied the ancient Catholic confidence in the realism of the Church’s sacramental worship.

These and similar threats to the Church and her sacramental worship were for the moment checked by the Fourth Lateran Council, but while the thirteenth century may well be celebrated by Catholics as “the greatest of centuries,” it ended in a failure of the intellectual confidence which had marked its theology, particularly the Thomist synthesis which may stand as the supreme expression of that intellectual optimism.

The next two centuries witnessed a steady decline from the high point of ecclesial confidence represented by the Fourth Lateran Council, and from the theological confidence most evident in the work of St. Thomas Aquinas.  By the end of the thirteenth century his reliance upon Aristotle had been condemned, albeit ineffectually, by the University of Paris; by the beginning of the next century Duns Scotus’ theological synthesis would drastically limit what the human mind could know of God.  A few decades later the brilliant attack by William of Ockham, a Franciscan monk, upon the failures of the traditional monist metaphysical reasoning captivated the theological faculties north of the Alps, but made a coherent theological defense of sacramental realism impossible.  Under this Nominalist aegis, deprived of its inherent quaerens intellectum, the Catholic faith could only be an obedience, a sacrificium intellectus.

Catholics were beginning to hear and speak of “spiritual,” i.e., subjective, communion as a surrogate for sacramental Communion, seeing in that immediate personal devotion to the Eucharistic Lord an adequate substitute for the Eucharistic mediation of that Presence, with the added advantage of its independence of all priestly ministry of the Eucharist. 

The subjectivism inherent in Eucharistic symbolism was becoming familiar and acceptable in the guise of a piety.  This implied a privatization of the Church’s worship, such as the “fuga mundi” (‘flight from the world’) which Thomas à Kempis urges in his Imitation of Christ.  At the same time there was a recurrence, particularly stressed by John of Ruysbroek, of a nuptial spirituality in which the soul of the worshiper is assumed without discussion to be the bride of Christ.  This is inescapably a spirituality of immediacy, impatient of the sacramental mediation of the risen Christ by the Church’s manifestly public liturgical worship. 

The stress placed by the Ruysbroek’s devotio moderna upon personal union with Christ in Eucharistic worship melded easily with “spiritual communion;” and a consequently diminished interest in the ecclesial mediation of the risen Lord.  Rather, there arose an enthusiasm for a preached spirituality.  The greatest preacher of his age, Gerhard de Groote, the founder of the Brothers of the Common Life, a man of unimpeachable orthodoxy and sanctity, displayed no interest in ordination to the priesthood.  Ordination to the diaconate was ordination to preach, and he looked for no more, whether before or after his conversion to the extraordinarily austere practice of his faith which marked his latter years.  He died in 1381 at the age of forty-two of a disease caught while serving the poor and the sick.  During those years he was much influenced by Ruysbroek’s spirituality of immediacy, of union with God independent of any sacramental mediation of gratia Christi.  De Groote’s preaching beca,e the major inspiration of the devotio moderna.  Its stress upon immediate union with the risen Christ was laced with a vigorous condemnation of the sinful lives of the clergy, diocesan and regular.  His followers understandably distanced themselves from the religious orders whose laxity and corruption de Groote had condemned: they took no religious vows but undertook to live private lives of personal humility and poverty, patterned on the practices of the primitive Church as set out in the Acts of the Apostles.  Inevitably, their intensely personal spirituality distanced them from participation in the community Church’s liturgical worship.

De Groote had studied widely and well: he was intent upon the re-establishment of  learning in a Netherlands which had become steeped in ignorance  To this end, his followers founded a flourishing educational establishment which filled Germany and the Netherlands with its schools, which started out intent on providing a solid elementary education, but from that beginning the educational mission of the Brethren developed to include institutions of advanced humanistic learning, including theology: Gabriel Biel was one of their students.  As the educational goal of the schools of the Brethren looked to the imparting of a well instructed humanism, so the theological curriculum was also imbued with humanism.  Humanistic theology became more and more autonomous: rejecting “Scholasticism” entailed a concentration upon scriptural scholarship as its adequate reform of the Nominalist scholasticism which had begun to dominate and to render sterile the academic theology of the late fourteenth century.  In the fifteenth it had achieved that dominance. Under it, Catholic theology began to die.  The nominalist impact upon doctrinal and moral theology was disastrous.  The Nominalist refusal of metaphysics led to an abstract conceptual speculation increasingly remote from historical reality.  Its thrust was inherently anti-intellectual, and students of theology whom the Brethren’s schools had introduced to the new humanistic learning looked beyond the aridity of that scholasticism to the humanistic study of scripture, a study governed not by the ecclesial tradition as all theology had been prior to the Nominalist revolution, but by a solid Latin literary training, sometimes, if not often, enhanced by Greek and Hebrew scholarship. 

Under this humanist, proto-secular influence, the private interpretation of scripture had become normal, and with it a disdain for the Nominalist “scholasticism” and for the Catholic doctrinal and moral tradition which that “scholasticism” had stultified and, in the minds many of the humanist scholars, with which it was identified.  From the outset the adepts of the “new learning” expressed an increasingly overt contempt for the res Catholica.  This contempt had been festering since the coincidence in the eleventh century of the Berengarian heresy, the rise of lay preaching, and the resurgence, in the Netherlands, in Germany, and especially in southern France and northern Italy, of the ancient dualist heresy, traveling as Catharism―the name denotes a purification and connotes a radical flight from history, and a radical opposition to the Church’s celebration of salvific history. 

We have seen that the Cathars soon found alliances among the Berengarians, the Petrobrusians, the Henricians, the Waldensians, and later among the Lollards, who were unified in a single increasingly militant rejection of Catholicism.

Infused with the “new learning,” theology became vituperative, imbued with an invective mined from the Latin literature then being intensively explored: not all of it was edifying.  The objects of this attack were at first the institutional Church and particularly the clergy, many of whom merited it, but from the eleventh century it also focused upon the Mass.  Opposition to the Church’s sacramental liturgy, particularly to the Eucharistic realism at the center of that liturgy, was instinctive to the Cathars, and it had begun to contaminate the clergy.  Cathars. welcomed by the nobility of southern France early in the eleventh century, had found ready support among the middle class, and many converts.  The bishops of Languedoc, accustomed to subordination to the nobility, provided ineffective opposition.

For all its loathing of “scholasticism,” the “new learning” of the humanists was in full agreement with the Nominalist substitution of grammar for metaphysics, with that tendency to lend a sacramental significance to literature as such.  This was not novel with Erasmus, for we find it as early as Origen, but with Erasmus it would underwrite the sola scriptura dogmatism of the new learning.  Nominalism had effectively overturned the still-cosmological metaphysics of the High Middle Ages by cutting language off from its traditional anchor in historical objectivity, thus opening a path for a biblical exegesis which immediately dehistoricized the “literal sense” of scripture by identifying it with the product of an at  best disinterested philological examination of a text which on Nominalist grounds could have no intrinsic intelligibility.  Whatever significance was assigned to the text had to be supplied by the exegete’s grammatical and literary skills.  Obviously this view of exegesis was consistent with the private interpretation of Scripture, but it was an interpretation uniquely warranted by the humanistic scholarship of the exegete, whose application of that learning to the biblical text was routinely spiced by a bitter execration of the Church’s traditional exegesis, which the humanists gladly mistook for that of the Schoolmen’s tedious logic-chopping. 

Erasmus’ translation of the Greek New Testament offers a ready illustration of this hermeneutic.[182]  The same humanistic animus characterizes the theology of Luther and Calvin: like Erasmus, both had abjured not only the metaphysical interest inseparable from the sacramental realism of Catholic worship, but also the Catholic emphasis upon the historical truth of Scripture: i.e., the historically-grounded “senses of Scripture,” which had occupied the Church Fathers from the second century.  In this the Reformers accepted as of course the Nominalist evacuation of intrinsic significance from history as such, quite as had the untutored dissenters of the eleventh century who read into scripture what they wanted it to mean. 

The Church’s liturgical exegesis, the homiletics which took for granted the intrinsic significance of scripture, a meaning at once doctrinal and moral, which had for centuries informed the patristic lectio divina, was now rejected out of hand, along with the validity of the liturgy which grounded it.  The revolt against the ecclesial tradition is always liturgical before it is doctrinal or moral, for the Catholic ecclesial tradition is identically the liturgy.  Common to all the manifestations of this revolt is a Eucharistic symbolism which denies all historical mediation of the salvation given us by the One Sacrifice of Jesus the Lord: 

Absent that celebration of the historical because Eucharistically signed immanence of the risen Lord, his incarnation could have no impact on the world of men; thus the Lord Jesus’ becoming flesh was futile, annulled by the flesh as fleshly.  In consequence of this dehistoricization of the Catholic Church’s liturgical, doctrinal and moral tradition, we are left in our sins, apart from the Eucharistic institution of the “One Flesh” now celebrated by the marriages of the laity, supported by a pastoral clergy newly awakened to its importance.

1. The Eucharistic Theology of William of Ockham (1288-1347)

Ockham’s systematic Nominalism is the quintessential expression of an ancient tradition.  The binary, ‘either-or’ Eleatic rationality rediscovered by Carolingians such as Ratramnus and Rhabanus Maurus, exploited by Berengarius two centuries later, and then toyed with by Abelard, was given a systematic development by William of Ockham. [183]  It entailed the nullification, the utter devaluation, of the finite world as the necessary implication of understanding Being as an absolute Unity, whether as God or cosmos.

The Eleatics had grasped this point six centuries before the birth of Christ.  Parmenides affirmed the absolute unity of being as necessarily true, and accepted the consequent denial of the significance of our experience of the world’s dynamic multiplicity.  The defensive ‘paradoxes’ of his disciple Zeno were framed to exploit the absurdities entailed in what Parmenides supposed to be the sole alternative to absolute unity of being, its absolute disunity.  This “either-or” or binary logic is the product of the truly ferocious univocity inherent in any absolutizing of reality or of thought, for it can then tolerate no analogy.  Correspondingly, the rejection of analogous predication, as by Ockham’s predecessor in interest, Duns Scotus, rests upon a dehistoricizing of being and thought, the transformation of the historical quaerens intellectum into a flight from history whose goal cannot but be the extinction of the quest by its absorption or dissolution into the Absolute.  Nominalism is the embodiment of this quest.

The fragmenting impact of Zeno’s binary logic led Plato to the mathematicization of the fragmented world, the imposition of an extrinsic rational order upon the otherwise irrational experience of historical existence.  His disciple, Aristotle, retained in his Metaphysics the Eleatic postulate of the intrinsically necessary unity of being, but the genius of Aristotle had postulated the indefinite or potential divisibility of the finite world, rejecting thereby the  Platonic postulate of an absolute division, an absolute multiplicity, and thus the radical disunity of the finite world, no fragment of which could possess an inherent unity.

Thus while in Aristotelianism reality was still intelligible only as necessarily ordered, Aristotle’s act-potency metaphysics―summarily, the possibility of change inherent in every material entity―validated the literal truth of the language in universal use, the truth of whose spontaneous joinder of subject and predicate in its affirmations and negations Plato had relativized, reduced to mere opinion.  True knowledge of the material world had been excluded by Plato’s matter-form (hylemorphic) analysis of the matter and form constituting its fragments.  With hyle (matter) and morphe (form) understood in binary terms, i.e., as mutually exclusive principles of multiplcicity and of unity, incapable of meaningful integration, Plato’s hylemorphism eliminated the intrinsic intelligibility of the physical universe, i.e., of history, and in consequence the humanly ineluctable quest for truth required a flight from history to the world of Forms, the exemplars of the historical entities whose materiality contradicted the unity, the truth, the beauty of the encountered world.  Thus Plato’s hylemorphism, his matter-form analysis of material being, could not accept any intrinsic significance in the physical reality whose irrationality contaminate s he world in which men live.

Aristotele’s act–potency metaphysics re-integrated the physical universe whose integrity Plato’s hylemorphic application of the Eleatic logic had refused, and underwrote also the literal truth of the language which appropriated and expressed its intrinsic act-potency intelligibility and unity.  This integration and metaphysical validation of the literal truth of ordinary language amounted also to the discovery of logic as the implication of the act-potency metaphysical analysis.  Logic then would become the criteriological principle of the intrinsically necessary intelligibility of a literal statement, a criterion which could be effective only for as long as the act-potency metaphysics was sub-understood by the logician: i.e., for as long as the subject and predicate of the literal affirmation or negation were recognized to be related to each other in an act-potency metaphysical unity.

The Aristotelian metaphysical foundation of the literal truth of discourse could not survive the Neoplatonic melding if Aristotelian logic with the Platonic hylemorphism.  Within this incongruous application of logically-ordered discourse to a metaphysics whose matter-form polarities were incapable of rational resolution, the logically ordered truth of literal affirmation and negation lacked metaphysical foundation, for the Platonic matter-form analysis could not support literal statements of metaphysical truth: the act-potency continuum of predicate and subject in literally true affirmations was no longer recognized by logicians.

Neoplatonism was a late arrival in the Mediterranean world: its influence was interrupted by the collapse of the Roman Empire, and by the centuries of cultural decay which followed.  Particularly, the quest for truth and rationality which had led Plato to find the ultimate source of intelligibility in supernal Forms, and which had led Aristotle to find it in an “agent intellect,“ was displaced by a juridical interest: the categories of law had become more meaningful than those of philosophy.  Thus the Neoplatonic dissociation of logic from metaphysics became the more effective.

With this dissociation in place, logic became subordinate to grammar rather than, as before, governing it as the expression of the underlying immanent necessities of the act-potency metaphysics of Aristotelianism.  The result was a “new logic,” the so-called “dialectic” which emerged in the ninth-century rediscovery by Carolingian theologians of the Eleatic-Platonic fragmentation of the historical world into entities and concepts each mutually exclusive of all others in a “great chain of being” whose unity could only be a pantheism.  This latency was explored by John Scotus Eriugena in a brilliant Christological synthesis which remained unappreciated until adapted by William of St. Thierry three centuries later.  Apart from such conversion to the Catholic tradition, the Neoplatonic atomization of reality and of language raised the “problem of the one and the many” which again became inexorable.  Lacking any metaphysical interest, the binary propensities of logically-ordered discourse soon became evident.

Under this Eleatic aegis the more cosmologically-minded Carolingians began the analytic dissociation of the free unity of the Eucharistic signum and signatum , but not without opposition from Augustinian loyalists, notably such as those whose final fruit was the Berengarian reduction of Eucharistic realism to subjectivity. 

Thereafter the primary task of Catholic theologians became the vindication of the realism of the Church’s Eucharistic worship, a task which required the construction of a theological metaphysics, for the vindication in view could be neither empirical nor ideal.  The theological construction of metaphysics was impeded to the point of futility by the unexamined cosmological postulates which Catholic theology had inherited from Plato and Aristotle, chief among them the necessary unity of being and therefore of truth.

Catholic theology cannot but be a free inquiry into the free truth of the Revelation in Christ.  That inquiry is entirely incompatible with, and cannot but be defeated by, the cosmological rationality whose highest development was that of St. Thomas’ adaptation of Aristotelianism to theological purposes.  The fourteenth century witnessed to its failure; unfortunately, the cosmological postulates of the failed metaphysical theologies survived in Ockham’s effort to protect the dignity of God from what he thought to be an indignity, the theological ascription to God of theologically-confected “divine ideas.”

Ockham’s Nominalist rejection of metaphysics in theology amounted to a rejection of the traditional Augustinian theology of history as intrinsically significant, and the substitution for it of a grammar, a nonhistorical hermeneutic governed by an abstract logic, whose criterion of theological truth was the Absolute, the One God, to whom the Father was subsumed.  As had Parmenides, Ockham presupposed the absolute unity of being as divine, as the One God of a Neoplatonizing theology those temptation had been a Parmenidean reduction of all distinctions into that ultimate Unity.  The One God, considered as absolute, could not but be unqualified omnipotence, the potentia absoluta which left no remainder.  No relative unity could co-exist with God so understood: no relative truth, no relative goodness, no relative causality.  The One God must  be conceived as the sole agent; no secondary causality, no secondary agency, is intelligible.  In brief, God as absolute majesty, omnipotence, authority and truth can have no analogues.  There can exist no finite unity, or truth, or beauty which would not relativize God the Absolute.

The perceived existence of finite beings can then be only by an entirely arbitrary divine condescension, which Ockham names the potentia ordinata, which cannot but be intrinsically unintelligible.  Inasmuch as the economy of salvation exists only by the concession of the divine potentia absoluta, the distinction between the potentia absoluta and the potentia divina is a matter of faith.  Inasmuch as he was also a Catholic theologian, Ockham affirmed the reality of the Christian economy of salvation: he contravened no truth of the Catholic faith.  To save its truth, he posed, as has been seen, over against the divine potentia absoluta, a potentia ordinata by which God concedes a nominal but still extrinsic unity, goodness and truth to the historical order.  However the potentia ordinata concedes no relative or secondary causality.  This denial of secondary causality entails a denial of personal moral responsibility.  Thus the absolute predestination of every human being to salvation or damnation without reference to historical conduct became inescapable, although that view of predestination does not enter significantly into Ockham’s theology.

Equally inescapable is the rejection of sacramental causality: this is at one with the comparable rejection of the intrinsic significance of finite reality.  Again, Ockham did not go so far.  Similarly, there can be no presence of the divine, of the absolute, in history: the finite realities of the historical order are simply incapable of any mediation of the divine: finitum non capax infiniti (the finite cannot mediate the infinite).  Further, one must not presume upon the concessions granted by the potentia ordinata: God remains the potentia absoluta, and cannot conceivably be determined by his condescension to the economy of salvation as potentia ordinata.  God as absolute neither is nor can be “bound” by any finite reality.  Here we have the ground of that element of Calvin’s theology designated (by Lutheran critics) the “extra Calvinisticum,” Calvin’s insistence upon the inability of the Church, her sacraments, the economy in short, to bind the One God, the Absolute.  Calvin suppressed the Socinian heresy.  but Unitarianism was waiting in the wings.

Finally, it must follow that inasmuch as the finite realities we encounter have no intrinsic significance, their evaluation by ourselves has a merely functional or operational value.  However, even in a world which of itself has no truth to be asserted, provision must be made for the fact that still one must converse, must still speak of a world in some sense ordered, possessed at least of a surface intelligibility.  Ockham provided for this human necessity by the  attribution of common names to common phenomena, clearly a work of cultures, not of individuals who, in learning languages, learn the names by which their world has meaning and so is discussable.  The naming is of course fictive, but that need not preclude the writing of such books as Ockham’s brilliant Summa Logicae,  a summary of his Nominalism.

It must be remembered that Nominalism understands the transcendence of this world by the One God to be His absence from it.  The divine subjection of the universe to his unqualified omnipotence establishes no relation of God to the creation.  Ockham’s philosophy presupposes the Deus Unus of the medieval cosmological theology, whose absolute omnipotence is also an absolute Self-immanence.  The medieval theologians had understood the Deus Unus, the Creator, to be incapable of extrinsic relation.  They knew a nominal compatibility of the Deus Unus with the Trinity of Persons, but within the economy, the medieval notion of the Deus Unus stood, and still stands, in the way of an acknowledgement of the Personal unity of the Jesus Christ, the Son.  Ockham’s Trinitarian doctrine is similarly abstract; the Persons are eternal simply: hence the insoluble problem posed by the Incarnation of the Son.  The divine stance, as absolute, to the world is that of an agent to the object upon which he acts but to which his action neither establishes nor can establish an intrinsic relation, for the object has no intrinsic actuality to which a relation could refer.  Justin Martyr had dealt with this defect in his Christology simply by ignoring it; his Christ is entirely historical.  Thirteen centuries later, Ockham failed to ignore the same problem and, in trying to deal with it found in Jesus the Christ a surd he could not resolve.

Ockham, as a Christian, recognized that the Deus Unus is the Trinity: consequently he transferred the attributes of the Personal divinity of the Nominalist One God to God the Father, but still understood in Nominalist terms: i.e., as nonhistorical.  Consequently, the Father’s absolute, nonhistorical and entirely immanent omnipotence cannot be fulfilled, as the Catholic faith assumes, in his sending of the Son to give the Spirit, simply because Ockham’s reduction of divinity to omnipotence must be conceived in nonhistorical terms, i.e., as immanent. Its exercise cannot terminate transitively, i.e.,  in finitude.

It is evident that the divine omnipotence, thus viewed, cannot be regarded as benevolent, despite Ockham’s attempted mitigation of this deficiency―in view of the economy of salvation―by positing a factual divinely-imposed limit upon God’s full exercise of his omnipotence, but the mitigation is only extrinsic:  nothing is changed by this concession, neither in the world nor in God, for God cannot deny himself.

Ockham was primarily a logician, concerned rather with terms than with essences; following Scotus, he supposed that we have an intuitive knowledge of singulars, and opposed the metaphysics of Thomas and Duns Scotus, although in some respects, such as in upholding the univocity of “being,” he is a follower of Duns Scotus.  Evaluations of his “Nominalism” differ; whether as the “harvest” or the “autumn” of the medieval quest for theological synthesis.[184] It is quite clear that the Nominalist theology cannot deal adequately with sacramental realism; its rationale is basic to the Eucharistic symbolism that is the inescapable consequence of the Reformation denial of Jesus the Christ’s institution of the sacrifice of the Mass, upon which Catholic sacramental realism is grounded.

For the purposes of Eucharistic theology, the themes of Ockham’s system which are of chief interest are his atomistic isolation of singular things from each other, by the denial of any intrinsic connection between them, together with his more fundamental denial of the secondary causality by which finite things are concretely related.  Ockham is thereby forced to rely entirely upon the omnipotence of God as the sole principle of explanation, which is to say, the sole criterion of theological reasoning. [185]

This explanation, as dependent upon the divine will, is therefore entirely abstract.  It abolishes whatever intrinsic intelligibility things may be thought to possess.  Created reality is as it is solely by the omnipotent will of God; no other explanation has validity.  Therefore there is no sacramental caus­ality, and Ockham’s theology of the sacraments is entirely occasionalist, as that of Duns Scotus had been, with the addition of the empiricism that specifies Nominalism: viz., a satisfaction with merely verbal accounts whose legitimacy is their noncontradictory character, beyond which the quaerens intellectum must cease to inquire, which inhibition is explicit in “Ockham’s razor:” This maxim, entia non multiplicanda sunt sine necessitate (entities [i.e., beings] are not to be multiplied without necessity). abolishes the free intelligibility of creation which, as free can only be intrinsic.  It reduces to an intellectual servility the classic (Anselmian) understanding of theology as fides quaerens intellectum, and similarly transforms the human imaging of God to a comparable personal irresponsibility: the passivity that befits a “creature” in the presence of the Absolute.   Ockham’s logic is the cosmological rationality we have criticized in St. Thomas, whose view of morality also is conformist and whose understanding of creation supposes it to be ungraced, as not invoking the divine Missions.  Hence he supposes the “Creator” to be the absolute Deus Unus, i.e., to be  monadic.  This postulate, provides a basis for the Nominalist extrapolation of a divinity whose transcendence is his immanence, his necessary absence from history instead of his revealed free immanence in it.  It is obvious that God so understood cannot create.

With and following Duns Scotus, Ockham prefers to suppose the non-impossibility of the simultaneous existence of two substances in the consecrated host; this postulate gives the more honor to the omnipotence of God.  Thomas considered such a coexistence intrinsically contradictory, but no question of intrinsic possibility or intelligibility exists for Ockham; such a question would be metaphysical and he refuses its legitimacy, for it supposes a knowledge which reaches to unities beyond that of singular existing things, which Ocham does not admit.  For Ockham, possibility is established by the inability to demonstrate empirically the impossibility of an affirmation.  The reliance is thus upon empirical experience, and upon logic; in the latter study Ockham made real advances upon the thirteenth century.

It is also evident that Ocham’s notion of substance has nothing to do with Thomas’s notion; for Ockham, substance is either extended matter, or immaterial spirit; the reality of immaterial “spirit” is taken to be established by faith.  And faith, on this voluntaristic account, amounts to assent to what is taught authoritatively by the Church.

a. Ockham and Transubstantiation

For Thomas, “transubstantiation” had involved an intrinsic relation or causal nexus between the sign and the signified.  Consequently Thomas attempted to provide a metaphysical account of the intrinsic causes or conditions of intrinsic possibility of the truth of the Words of Institution: “This is my Body,” which he reads as affirming this nexus.

Scotus, to a lesser degree, also appears to maintain an intrinsic nexus, since he insists that the term of the conversion of the elements (the bread and wine) is not nothingness, but the Body of Christ, and so refuses any explanation which involves the annihilation of the bread and the substitution for it of the Body of Christ.

Ockham however does accept the annihilation of the bread, and supposes the mere succession to it of the Body of Christ to be sufficient to support the doctrine (normative if not yet solemnly defined) of transubstantiation.

Thus he supports the doctrine by showing that it is not intrinsically contradictory, in that one cannot empirically refute the annihilation-succession schema.  But “companation” is equally possible: that fact that one is true and not the other is by the will of God (potentia Dei ordinata) revealed to him by the teaching of the Church.

Ockham argues that transubstantiation requires two incompatible terms: these cannot be ens and ens, nor non ens and non ens; consequently, they must be ens and non ens.  Therefore, given the doctrine of transubstantiation, the ens of the bread is reduced by the words of consecration to the non ens of a purely conceptual possibility.  In this fashion, the Scotist postulate of a transitus in the bread or wine from an esse hic (being here) to a non-esse hic (not being here) is read as a purely logical sequence, one providing no ontological sequence or link between the substance of the bread and the Body of Christ.  As a result, the remaining “species” or empirical appearance of the bread is entirely without sign value.  Ockham ignores the possibility of such a link, due as it appears to his merely empirical reading of logically correct language.

Ockham considers that the Body of Christ is the formal term of the Eucharistic transubstantiation, while Christ’s blood, soul, & divinity are present per accidens.  The manner in which he conceives of the possibility of Christ’s bodily presence requires an examination of his notion of quantity.

For Ockham, quantity is a connotative term, not an absolute term.  Thus, quantity is logically (i.e., conceptually), but not really (i.e., empirically), different from substance.  It is not permitted to infer from the logical difference, a real distinction between the denotations of the terms, for each denotes the same material singular existing thing.  Otherwise put, Ockham maintans that there is no empirical difference between what is referred to by the term ‘substance,’ and that which is referred to by the term ‘quantity.’

For him, material substance is quantified by the first cause, God who by his potentia absoluta,can create or effect a non-quantified material substance, which then behaves exactly like an immaterial or spiritual substance.

God can do this because although the merely logical distinction between quantity and substance does not-establish or in itself constitute a real altereity or distinction between the denotations of these terms, nevertheless for Ockham it implies that their real separation from each other is not an impossibility: i.e., their terminological distinction sufficiently establishes the non-contradiction of their “absolute” separation.  In brief, whatever is logically possible is also really possible, by appeal to the absolute power of God, and the test of logical possibility is finally terminological, or nominal.

The non-quantified material substance thus provided has clear antecedents in the “spiritual matter” of such Franciscan-Augustinian entities as the Bonaventurian angel. The Augustinian-Franciscan tradition had for long objected to the notion of a nonmaterial individuation, even for spiritual substances, and Ockham is well within that tradition.  Such a nonextended material substance is present definitive (sometimes spelled diffinitive) as opppsed to a presence circumscriptive, i.e., a presence in physical contact with its environment, as would be the case were it extended.  This “spiritualizing” of material reality is the Ockhamist version of the Thomist presence per modum substantiae.

For Thomas, quantity is the same as divisibility; for Scotus and for Ockham, it is to have “parts outside of parts.”  For Thomas and for Scotus, quantity is really distinct from substance; for Thomas particularly, quantity, as the most fundamental of material accidents, is the “subject of inhesion” of all the qualitative accidents (i.e., “species”) of the bread after transubstantiation.  This postulate assures that only the accident of quantity is without a “subject of inhesion” or substance and consequently it is quantity alone that needs to be upheld by divine omnipotence in the event of the transubstantiation of the bread and wine of the offertory.

Further, for Thomas and for Scotus, Christ is present in the Eucharist with his quantity, although for Scotus, the quantified Christ is present diffinitive, i.e., without extension.  As has been seen, this term is also used by Ockham, but its meaning is changed by Ockham’s identification of quantity and material substance.  This accounts for his invocation of the potentia absoluta divina to actualize the otherwise nominal or terminological distinction between the two, and thereby to effect what otherwise would be paradoxical:, viz., an immaterial material substance, but one whose presence, as diffinitive, is without extension.

It is this unextended Body of Christ, conceived in terms reminiscent of the Bonaventurean angel, whose presence in the Eucharist is thereby thought of as diffinitive by Ockham.  There is no change in the totality of Christ, (his Personal unity of humanity and divinity (which is not to be identified with the Augustinian Christus totus, the One Flesh of Christ and the Church).  The unextended Christ is thereby made present in the Eucharistic conversion, by something which would be analogous to local motion, were that not barred by his lack of extension.  This is in effect the “spiritualization” of the Eucharistic presence.  It is not far from the Lutheran understanding of the Eucharistic presence as effective by faith alone, which Luther’s Nominalism permitted.

Because the substance of Christ is present in the Eucharist, by Ockham’s principles the Eucharistic presence should be visible, for material singulars are known directly, i.e., intuitively, not mediately, through their impact upon the sensoria (the physical senses), and through the consequent production of phantasms, which, when illumined by the activity of the mind, become intelligible and then known, as in St. Thomas’s account of sense knowledge.

Thus, Ockham’s epistemology holds that the knowledge of material things is immediate, a matter of intuition.  Material singulars, and all existents insofar as they are known at all, are known by an intellectual intuition, entirely independent of circumscriptive (physical) contact with the reality known.  This is close to Duns Scotus’ intuition of the haecceitas of the material entity, a knowledge which as intuitive cannot be categorized.  Ordinarily, knowledge of the material entity occurs through the secondary causality of the object known, although God can, as primary cause, dispense with such secondary causality and cause to be known existents which in fact do not exist.  In the case of the Eucharist, the reverse occurs: it is by God’s ordination that Christ is not known in the Eucharist, although in principle He is knowable there, because He exists there.

On Ockham’s principles it becomes impossible to distinguish between a sacramental and a “spiritual” reception of the Eucharist: i.e., a reception in voto: viz. the “spiritual” reception earlier discussed..  This result of throwing the reality of the reception in the direction of a function of the dispositions of the recipient and so puts in question the need for priestly consecration of the elements.  The piety of the via moderna, then in vogue, had an anti-intellectual and anti-institutional cast with a close affinity to Ockham’s view of the Eucharist.  Its Nominalism influenced Luther’s theology.

2. The Proto-Reformers, John Wycliff and John Hus

England had been little affected by the Gregorian Reform whose repercussions had so disturbed continental Europe, although from the time of Anselm of Bec’s reluctant acceptance of the office of Archbishop of Canterbury in the last decade of the eleventh century down to the murder of Archbishop Thomas à Becket in that cathedral by the servants of Henry II, the investiture controversy between crown and crozier was as evident in England as it had been in the continental versions of feudalism.[186]  Neither had England been troubled by the Catharism which in the twelfth and thirteenth century had pervaded southern France and parts of what are now Holland and Belgium.  Until the latter fourteenth-century England had in fact known no heresy.

However, the impact upon English society of the Hundred Years War with France had been disastrous for England as well as for France.  Many of the returning English soldiers took easily to banditry, while the quality of the parish clergy had become such as to be an object of public ridicule.  As the trial of Joan of Arc witnessed, some of the higher clergy had become mere secular servants of the Crown: a few of them had married.  The monasteries and convents reflected this general decline in clerical morality and morale.  As the Church’s pastors ceased to merit the respect ordinarily given them, their conduct undercut their personal religious authority, it could not but undercut also the authority of the Church.

Earlier in the fourteenth century, the Averrhoist philosopher Marsilius of Padua had offered what would become the standard academic resolution of the long-standing conflict between royal prerogative and episcopal authority.  He simply subordinated the Church to the temporal or political authority, a resolution which Ockham and John of Jandun, among others, also advocated, and which could only add to the unrest of that troubled century.[187]  There is a correspondence between the political subordination of the Church to civil government and the refusal of sacramental realism which reduces sacramental efficacy to political efficacy.  This would be played out during Wycliff’s career. Yet worse, in mid-century the bubonic plague, the “black death,” had broken out in continental Europe and inevitably also in England: it would depopulate Europe by a third.  The resulting scarcity of labor in England as elsewhere increased its value, with a consequent tension between the desire of the laboring class for prosperity, and of the propertied class for an economic stability threatened by an increase in the cost of labor.

Thus there had arisen in England in the last decades of the fourteenth century the same surging lower-class resentment of the political and ecclesial authority as risen earlier on the continent, and the rise of a similar distrust of authority as such, thus of the political and religious institutions in England.  The resentment would find its justification and its the leader in John Wycliff, a brilliant professor of theology at Oxford, at once a theologian, a scriptural scholar, and a man learned in canon and common law.  The anti-sacramental influence of Marsilius of Padua’s radical populism is evident in Wycliff’s theology as in his jurisprudence.

Wycliff was born about 1324 of a prosperous familty: he entered Oxford University, where he earned a baccalaureate in theology and was ordained.  He became the master of his college (Balliol) and was given a local parish whose care permitted him to remain in Oxford, where he went on to take a master’s degree and a doctorate in theology.

His theology was strongly influenced by Ockham, an influence especially evident in his supposition that acceptance of the authority of the Church’s doctrinal tradition requires a sacrificium intellectus, i.e., an obedience to a diktat rather than understanding of a doctrine.  He was thus led to reject the authority of the ecclesial magisterium in favor of the authority of scripture alone: he tested the truth of the Church’s doctrinal tradition  by submitting it to his own biblical scholarship, by which test he could not but find it wanting.  This viewpoint immediately undercut the authority of the historical Church: in fact, it undercut the authenticity of every historical institution.

In particular Wycliff denied the sacramental realism upon which the Church is founded, rejecting priestly and episcopal ordination, Eucharistic transubstantiation, the sacrifice of the Mass, auricular confession, clerical celibacy, and the value of prayer for the dead.  He taught the universal priesthood of the baptized, and for the ultimate authority of Scripture, over the crown as well as the Church.  He denied membership in the Church to the eternally damned.  Inasmuch as in history the eternally damned are not concretely distinguishable from the eternally elect, Wycliff cannot admit a visible Church, although he did not understand the Church to be merely eschatological, for he considered it to include historical members, however indiscernible their election may be.  He denied all ecclesial authority apart from that of Christ himself, as uttered in Scripture and, of course, interpreted by his own objective scholarship.  In this connection, Wycliff also denied authority in sinners, whether priests and royal officials.  He followed Marsilius, Ockham, John of Jan dun and the Guidelines generally in opposing the ownership of property by Church: he concluded, as earlier had the Spiritual Franciscans, to the Church’s disestablishment by way of denying the legitimacy of its ownership of temporal goods.  He taught that, in principle, church property insofar as temporal belongs to the crown.  He upheld the crown against the papacy in re the feudal tax levied by the papacy since the early thirteenth century when King John I had made England a papal fief to save his throne.  On the same grounds, Wycliff attacked indulgences, as connoting an authority over temporal goods.

Finally, about 1380, Wycliff organized bands of preachers (Lollards) for the preaching of these doctrines: at first, they were priests, later on he admitted laity to the preaching office.  Thus arose the Lollard heresy which in various ways prefaced the Reformation, although there is nothing in Lollardy that Marsilius had not been condemned for urging in his Defensor Pacis, wherein he developed the rationale for a single law and a single source of law, the will of the people.  This anticipation of Rousseau was a secularism outré, a universal solvent of historical institutions as such.  Marsilius is not usually listed among the Proto-Reformers, but his anticipation of the Reformation’s antisacramentalism and historical pessimism is evident.

Wycliff’s doctrines were condemned after the Peasant’s Revolt in 1381, and his Lollards were excommunicated.  He himself was never excommunicated; he continued to teach and preach his antisacramentalism until his death in 1384.  His doctrine traveled to Bohemia (Czechoslovakia) by way of the connection effected between the two nations by the marriage of the English King Richard II to Anne of Bohemia, the daughter of Bohemian King Wenceslas IV, who at the time ruled most of continental Europe; the marriage opened Bohemia to English traders.

By the end of the next century more texts of Wyclif are said to have existed in Bohemia than in England.  Thus Wycliff’s rejection of the doctrinal authority of the Church by the submission of her authority to a learned reading of Scripture, and his corresponding undercutting of the political authority of the crown by the same device, came to influence John Hus and, through him finally to challenge the authority of the Council of Constance, which had met to resolve the Great Schism that had occupied nearly forty years of the fifteenth century.

John Hus, fifty years younger than Wycliff, was born in Bohemia, in 1378, eight years before the forty-year “Great Schism” began.  In 1415’ he was executed as a heretic by the Council of Constance, three years before it brought the Schism to its end.  Hus’ antisacramentalism, like Wycliff’s has roots in the anti-institutionalism of the Cathars, and in their influence upon the early lay preaching whose antisacramentalism resonates with that of the Cathars.  Further developed by the dissident groups led by men such as Peter de Bruys, by the Waldensians and the “Spiritual” Franciscans, the anti-sacramental dissent was inherently a politics, a “hermeneutic of suspicion,” a refusal of legitimacy to any institution of authority.  Nonetheless, the proximate origin of Hus’ doctrine is Wycliff’s calculated rejection of sacramental worship as such, with a particular focus upon the Lollard rejection of Eucharistic realism, and the consequent and inexorable reduction of liturgy to politics. a doctrine which Hus adapted to his own antisacramentalism and applied in his own political radicalism. 

Hus was born to a peasant family in Husinetz, the small Bohemian town from which he took his name.  He was early attracted to the priesthood; travelling to Prague in his youth, he supported himself as a university scholar by singing and serving the liturgy in the churches there.  His character was outstanding, as also was the diligence shown in his studies at the University of Prague, where he earned the Master’s degree in theology, was ordained, and began to preach the reform of the Church with great enthusiasm and effect.

The corrupt Bohemian Church was uninterested in the reform movements which were led in that country by the Carthusians and the Augustinian Canons.  Preaching Church reform as Wycliff had understood it, Hus spread the Lollard heresy, particularly in upholding the authority of Scripture over the Church, and in denying the authority of a sinful pope.

Hus twice became rector of the University of Prague; he was a preacher of great eloquence and conviction.  Unfortunately, he was entirely committed to Wycliff’s heresy, and obstinately resisted all efforts by his archbishop to make him comply with a directive by Innocent VIII actively to oppose the spread of Wycliff’s heresy.  Hus had been Wycliff’s powerful defender and advocate in the University, and was responsible for much of Wycliff’s influence there.  He continued to defend Wycliff to the point of protesting anti-Wycliff measures by popes previous to Pope John XXII.  Finally, in 1410, the Archbishop of Prague excommunicated him for continuing to adhere to Wycliff’s heresy.  Hus ignored the excommunication, and continued to advocate Wycliff’s doctrines; thus in 1411 the Archbishop published throughout Prague his sentence of 1410 excommunicating Hus.

Hus continued as before, but now also undertook to condemn and vigorously oppose the Bulls in which John XXII proclaimed an indulgence for a crusade he had ordered.  Hus aroused the university and the local people against the indulgence so effectively as to prompt the Vatican to reaffirm his excommunication of 1410, and to place his residence under interdict: later the Pope ordered him to be imprisoned.  To avoid this, Hus left Prague for Asti in southern Bohemia, where he wrote his major work, De ecclesia. Returning to Prague, he posted another Wycliff-inspired treatise, De sex erroribus, on the door of the Bethlehem chapel, where he had been accustomed to preach.  Jean Gerson, then Professor of Theology and Chancellor of the Cathedral of Notre Dame and of the University of Paris, drew from De ecclesia and De sex erroribus a sufficient evidence of heresy to prompt his warning the new Archbishop of Prague, Konrad von Vechta, of the heretical stance of Hus’ theology.

Later in November of the same year, 1414, the Council of Constance assembled.  Under the urging of King Sigismund of Hungary, and provided with the King’s safe-conduct, Hus chose to appear before that body and defend his doctrine.  However, there he was again condemned.  Refusing to recant, he was burned at the stake by the authority of the Council on June 6 of that year, in violation of the safe-conduct given him by King Sigismund. 

His death gave rise to a continuing controversy: he is still honored by the people of Czechoslovakia as a martyr.  Of his courage, even his audacity, there can be no question, nor can his honesty been put in question.  His fault, or, rather, his fatal error, was the politicization of doctrine inseparable from his Wycliffian Nominalism.  The imprisonment and execution of Hus by the order of the Council was an exercise of the same politicization of doctrine.  Church Councils, as such, have no political authority whatever; they had none then, which did not prevent their exercise of it, then and later, under the color of law.

3. The Theology of Gabriel Biel (ca. 1410-1495)

Biel was born in Speyer in the Rhineland.  He helped found the University of Tübingen in 1477, after having entered the Brothers of Common Life in 1468 at the age of 58.  He taught at Tübingen from 1484 until his retirement in 1491; he died in 1495.  He compiled Ockham’s doctrine in a commentary on Peter Lombard’s Four books of the Sentences.  He is frequently cited at the Council of Trent, where he is referred to as the Doctor Catholicus.  He is also the author of a work of fundamental importance upon the Mass, Canonis Missae Expositio in 1488, three quarters of which was borrowed from the sermons that Master Egeling Becker had preached some thirty years earlier. [188]

a. Biel’s Soteriology

Biel’s soteriology was of the Christus Victor type, in which the salvific imitation of Christ is interpreted as an active obedience.  Christ’s life thus provided the viator with energy and knowledge to escape the prison whose gates had had been opened by the life and death of Christ.  Biel considered the life of Christ, which he conceived as an active obedience to the Father, to be more effective in the work of our salvation than his death, understood as a merely passive obedience.  For Biel, suffering pervaded the life of Christ; his death was incidental to the obedience demanded of him as Son.

However, Christ’s work of obedience can be frustrated by the disobedience of the viator.  While Biel probably avoids, and certainly intended to avoid, the Pelagianism with which he is reproached by Luther’s early Disputation against Scholastic Theology [1517], he does fall into the Semipelagianism condemned at II Orange, for he also understands the initium salutis to be ungraced.  This Latin term, “the beginning of salvation,” is associated with a fifth century heresy of some monastic communities, the so-called Masillenses, later named Semipelagians, located in the region of present-day Marseilles, who had argued that the first act of personal conversion or repentance leading to salvation must come from man, without grace.  Augustine had denied this, citing Christ’s “without me you can do nothing” and his doctrine was upheld, a century after his death, at the II Council of Orange, in 529.  The spiritual consequences of the Pelagian and Semipelagian heresies are the same: they derive from supposing the existence of an ungraced historical humanity.

b. Biel’s Eucharistic Theology

Biel’s Eucharistic theology envisages two offerings: the cross, and the sacrifice of the Mass.  The latter does not repeat, but re-presents the former.  However, he offers no explanation of their identity, and considers the Eucharist to be of far less efficacy for our redemption than the cross, thus implicitly distinguishing between them as events whose relation could only be a repetition of the sacrifice of the cross by the sacrifice of the Eucharist, although this requires reversing their temporal sequence.

Biel warns about curiosity in regard to the quantity and the presence of Christ in the Eucharist.  He affirms the commonly accepted doctrine of transubstantiation as one of the credibilia, but does so on the grounds of God’s omnipotence and trustworthiness, for he subscribes to the typically Nominalist protest against the intrusion of metaphysics into the content of the doctrinal tradition, especially in his popular sermons and writing.

Luther, who follows him in regard to transubstantiation and the rejection of metaphysics, will accept transubstantiation only as a non-credibilium, a matter of metaphysical theology, not of faith.

Biel uses “credibilia” to designate the elements of the Catholic creed, to deny which is to enter upon heresy.  He supposes, in common with the Nominalism of his time, and with contemporary theologians such as Edward Schillebeeckx, that the doctrine of transubstantiation is meaningless apart from its insertion into the framework of some particular metaphysics, which his Nominalism has disapproved a priori.

As a Nominalist, Biel of course rejects all metaphysics, and therefore supposes transubstantiation, which affirms the metaphysical reality of the Real Presence, to be an enlistment in some metaphysical system which may be freely rejected: e.g., Thomism.

If Biel’s Nominalist supposition were true, all sacramental realism would be thus dependent upon holding a given philosophical position, and thus would no longer be a matter of faith.  However and in fact, as John Paul II has made clear in Veritatis Splendor, although the Church does not teach metaphysics, this does not prevent her doctrine from having metaphysical implications.  The historical realism of the Church’s Eucharistic worship is not governed or controlled by any metaphysical system.  Rather, the realism of the Eucharistic liturgy is the transcendent criterion, the norma normans et non normata, of all such metaphysical systems.  The faith of the Church is doctrine, not theology: it transcends theology as the knowledge that is faith transcends and grounds the questioning which proceeds from faith: fides quaerens intellectum.  While the questioning may be and usually is put in terms of a metaphysical system, the question is only a question; it has no doctrinal value and the metaphysics which the question assumes cannot be read into the magisterium’s response to the question.

Biel sees the establishment of sacraments as already a condescension to the fragility of carnal men.  By these visible means, God disposes man for the knowledge and possession of invisible grace.  The Mass is a special instance of this condescension.  Christ’s Passion is the source the efficacy of all the sacraments, but the Eucharist is particularly connected with the cross, as can be seen in the words of consecration over the Cup: Hic est enim Calix Sanguinis Mei, Novi et Aeterni Testamenti, a sacrifice which is validated and made unchangeable by Christ’s Death.

Biel insists that the Mass is not a re-iteration of the cross; he uses instead the Thomist term, repraesentatio.  He considers the Mass to be a true sacrifice, having the same Victim as the cross.  In the repraesentatio, the Church partakes of the benefits acquired once and for all by Christ on the cross.  The distinction drawn is in some ways similar to the cruente, incruente (bloody, unbloody) distinction which the Council of Trent set between the Sacrifice on the cross and its Eucharistic representation, but this would be in tension with his supposition of a greater salvific effect in the cross than in its Eucharistic representation.[189]

Biel sees the entire Eucharistic liturgy as a repraesentatio (consecration, oblation, communion).  He attempts to clarify the relation of the two offerings (of the cross, of the altar) by quoting Augustine’s observation  that we call the original and its image with the same name:

Just as when we see a painting or a mural, we say, that is Cicero, that is Sallustius…

De diversis quaestinibus ad Simplicianum, Liber secundus, In caeteras quaestiones quinque vel sex a Simpliciano propositas ex libris Regum. (P. L. 40:0143).

This language anticipates the Tridentine stress upon the identity of the Eucharistic sacrifice with the sacrifice of the Cross: differing only in their mode of offering, they are the same One Sacrifice.  This corresponds to Augustine’s insistence that the Mass is not a mere memorial or a merely psychological representation of a past event, for a real participation of the inheritance we possess in Christ is disclosed in the testament signed by the blood of Christ. [190]

Biel holds that transubstantiation effects the Real Presence of the same victim in the Mass as on the cross, so that communion with Christ, whereby one is incorporated into the Mystical Body, can take place.  In this, he finds no difference between Scotus and Ockham, both of whom he intends to follow: a degree of escapism has been perceived in this position.

But as to the question of whether the Real Presence is quantified, Biel follows Ockham rather than Scotus: the Real Presence is not quantified, a conclusion consistent with Nominalism.  Nonetheless, the Real Presence is of the historical Body of Christ, present definitive (diffinitive) on the altar and circumscriptive in Heaven.  Biel wishes to avoid the “spiritualizing” (reducing it to subjectivity) of the Real Presence that is associated with the early Berengarius; he wishes as well to avoid the hyperrealism attributed to the later, post-Humbertus of Candida Sylva inversion of Berengarius’s doctrine.  He rejects Berengarius’s subjectivist in signo tantum (in sign only) dismission of Eucharistic realism with very sharp language.

Eucharistic communion is in the inheritance, which is also in the Church triumphant (heavenly Church). Mass is chiefly for participants in this Communion, but it is not offered wholly for them.  Its ‘fruits’ can be applied to those present, to those for whom it is specially celebrated, including the dead.  Biel is chiefly interested in the unity of the consecration, the offering and the communion in the Eucharistic liturgy; it is communion, together with faith and Baptism, which make one a Christian.

i. A Criticism of Biel’s Eucharistic Theology

Biel distinguishes easily enough between the two sacrifices, on the cross; and on the altar, but their unity is not clear.  His  account of it is not sufficiently clarified to avoid the inference of re-iteration or repetition.  Thus it is necessary to emphasize that for Biel, the sacrifice of the Mass remains a second sacrifice, proffered ad provocandam dei misericordiam (as invoking the mercy of God) and only temporally related to the sacrifice of Christ on the cross.  In the same Nominalist vein, Biel speaks of “similar” rather than “same” effects of the Mass and of the cross, contra the Council of Trent, whose language is “ratione diversa sola offerendi” (i.e., as between cruente and incruente, or bloody as opposed to unbloody). (DS §1743)  The Lutheran historian of doctrine, Heiko Obermann, thinks Biel to be close, apart from polemics, to Luther’s insistence on a concrete real presence in the 1529 Marburg colloquy.

4. The Eucharistic Doctrine of Martin Luther (1483-1546)

a. Luther’s intellectual background

Luther acquired his Nominalism, to which he freely admitted, from his student years at Erfurt, upon which John of Wesel had left an imprint, and for whose theological faculty Gabriel Biel, “the last of the scholastics,” provided the standard of Catholic orthodoxy.  It is against Biel’s Nominalist version of scholastic theology that Luther would later rebel, while at the same time retaining many of its emphases (e.g., the value of preaching over the sacramental ministry, a “spiritualizing” or reduction to subjectivity, of sacramental worship, a confusion over the relation of the Eucharistic sacrifice to the “once and for all” sacrifice of the cross).  Perhaps it is the near-Pelagianism of Gabriel’s Nominalist theology which had the most serious effect upon Luther’s own theological development, for it is this which seems to have caused him the most intense personal suffering: it placed the burden of salvation upon man rather than upon God, a conclusion intolerable to any Christian spirituality.

Biel’s Commentary on the Sentences, published posthumously at Tübingen in 1501, was at any rate the familiar text of Luther’s theological formation, and anyone reading that work cannot but be struck by its resonance with the fundamental concerns of Luther’s later doctrine.  Biel’s Nominalism combined an intellectual pessimism, arising out of a despair of metaphysical (transempirical) knowledge, with a voluntarist and rationalist optimism which approximated semi-Pelagianism.  This attitude had been common in the late 14th and early 15th century schools, and although by Luther’s time its starveling religious character had prompted a kind of romantic reaction, it was still prevalent at the University of Erfurt in Luther’s day.

Around 1510, Luther turned from this voluntarist optimism to a pessimism regarding the salutary freedom of the will which amounted to a rationalized notion of the Augustinian theology of the Fall; he concluded to the “total corruption” of the human condition and, in this context, refused Biel’s view that the initium salutis was a work of ungraced freedom.  While continuing to suppose with Biel that our freedom is ungraced, he restricted its efficacy to nonsalvific actions―the doctrine of the “servile will.” The human will is thus “servile” in the sense that it is submitted in a deterministic fashion to the omnipotence of God[191]  In Luther’s view, the will is either given a salutary ‘forensic’ i.e., external grace, or it is not.  If graced, it is submitted to the inexorable mercy of God; if it is not graced, it remains in sin, bound to its own corruption and impotence.  This view of the interrelation of divine omnipotence and human freedom, which finds the latter extinguished by the majesty of God, is very much that of the Jansenists of a century later, who also rationalized Augustine, although rather under the influence of Calvin than that of Luther.

Luther had been taught by Nominalists such as John of Wesel that there is no essential difference between “spiritual” and sacramental Eucharistic communion; both are thought to give the same res sacramenti, but the former requires no priest.  During the latter middle ages, this sort of Eucharistic piety (e.g., a “gazing on” the elevated Host, rather than receiving it) had led to infrequent communion, and to a dislocation of communion from the Mass.  Despite such aberrations, the Mass was still very much the center of worship for the medieval Church.[192]   It is true that Luther turned in disgust from the Nominalist version of piety; nonetheless, his Eucharistic theology reflects his underlying Nominalism.

b. Luther’s general theological stance

Conceding the hazards of such sketches, an overview of Luther’s theology does reveal some architectural features which serve as criteria or normative principles for the entire schema.  Primary is his notion of fallenness; it is in the first place an experiential notion, one verified in every human being’s spiritual existence: this is the experience which Catholic theology calls concupiscence.  The Catholic doctrinal tradition considers concupiscence a consequence of Original Sin, one which amounts to a continuing temptation to actual sin, but this is held to be in itself the experience of fallenness rather than of sinfulness.  Luther refuses this distinction, which is not itself a matter of experience; for him the universality of the experience of “sin” is proof that our intrinsic sinfulness is beyond the reach of God’s grace, at least as concerns his potentia ordinata, for the experience of “sin” is not removed by penitence, penance, or absolution: consequently these are condemned by him as “works,” incapable of any salvific efficacy.   For Luther, the Fall has utterly vitiated all historical use of freedom.  Salvation is indeed given, but ab extra; it is given in the gift of faith in the forgiveness of our sins by the one sacrifice of the cross.  This faith is is ineffable no historical expression of its intrinsic truth is possible.  The realm of fallen history is the realm of ambiguity; to forget this is to lapse into reliance upon “works.”

Luther’s Christology is Chalcedonian, although with Nominalist overtones; e.g., he has a strong Incarnatio propter peccatum, sensu negante emphasis (“sensu negante” is the “exclusive sense” of “propter peccatum,” as contrasted to sensu aiente, its “inclusive sense.”  Thus, an Incarnation propter peccatum, sensu negante, denotes the Mission of the Son understood as given only on account of sin, whereas the suffix sensu aiente would not limit the ‘motive’ for the Mission of the Son to redemption from sin.  In either usage it remains true that Jesus “became flesh” to redeem us from our sins.  The basic question raised is whether in the absence of the Fall the Mission of the Son would have taken place.  The affirmative view is that of Duns Scotus, who in this rejects the view of St Thomas, although St. Thomas’ preference for the sensu negante reading of the Son’s Mission is not stated apodictically.

This common (medieval and later) sensu negante understanding of Jesus’ Mission insists that the Incarnation took place solely to redeem mankind from sin, and consequently denies that any grace is gratia Christi which would be prior to the Incarnation.  Thus Mary’s Immaculate Conception―prerequisite to her unqualified, because sinless, freedom to conceive our Lord―could then not be gratia Christ, which is absurd.  Duns Scotus was the first major theologian to have noticed this absurdity, inherent in the propter peccatum, sensu negante explanation of the “motive” for the Incarnation.

As has been seen, Luther’s theology of grace is linked to his theology of the fall: all grace is given extrinsically, i.e., forensically, and the gift does not alter the intrinsic sinfulness of the person to whom it is given.  As extrinsic, all grace reaches us by the preaching of the Word, and through the three sacraments: Baptism, Eucharist, and Penance.  It is by these that salvation is ‘individualized’ and made personally effective.  This effect is the work of the Holy Spirit.  The soteriological emphasis is upon the Word: sometimes Luther will say that there is one Sacrament, the Word, of which there are three sacramental signs.  Luther’s explanation of sacramental causality has a tendency to reduce the sacrament to an explanation of faith ex auditu, (from hearing it [preached]) so that each sacrament tends to be a special instance of preaching.  The logical thrust of this viewpoint is summed up in sola fide, but Luther never lets logic have its way; for him, Scripture has the last word.  As the Word of God, it is exempt from fallenness, however fallen we may be who hear it.

c. Sacramental Implications of Luther’s doctrine of the Fall

Whether Luther’s understanding of the fall owes more to Ockham’s denial of intrinsic (metaphysical) causality, or to Augustine’s use of the already-existing notion of the massa damnata[193] need not delay us.  It is enough that its impact upon the traditional understanding of the sacraments as signs be recognized.  Luther’s notion of the servile will requires the rejection of any salvific or damnific significance intrinsic to historical human activity, and consequently demands the denial of any causal connection, instrumental or otherwise, between what is done in fallen history and the eschatological reality, the Risen Christ in his Kingdom.  Luther understands that the eschatological reality, the physical Body of Christ, is truly, really present in the Eucharist, but his Presence is independent of any human instrumental agency: it is totally, exclusively, the deed of Christ.  In sum, Luther dismisses sacramental efficacy outright, which entails a kind of annihilation of human historicity in the order of worship.  Given this conviction, its logic concludes to a complete passivity in worship.  It is again possible that regarding the causality of grace as always creative (i.e., Christ’s gift of the Spiritus Creator) might furnish a common ground for a re-examination of the sixteenth-century debate between Luther and the Catholic Church.  In any event, it is to be remembered that Luther’s faith lives on Scripture, not on reason.  For him, the Eucharistic presence is vi verborum.  This is the consequence of divine institution or fiat, but it is factual, and consequently something like instrumental causality continues to exist in his doctrine.  If this hint of instrumental causality were to be pushed, however, it would undercut Luther’s doctrine without remainder.

d. Luther’s sacramental theology

Luther developed his sacramental theology, which is equivalent to his sacramental doctrine, in controversies prior to his developed Eucharistic theology, chiefly concerned with Penance, where the emphasis is upon the non-causality of priestly absolution, in the fashion already prepared by the Nominalist theology.

The same theme is carried over in relation to Baptism and the Eucharist.  In both of these sacraments, the sacramental deed, and its sacramental efficacy, is simply Christ’s through the Spirit: otherwise some instrumental significance must be lent to human deeds in history, such as the priest’s recital of the words of consecration in the Mass.  In Luther’s thought, the function of the minister of the sacraments is entirely extrinsic, and amounts to the preaching or proclamation of the deed of Christ.  In this preaching, the minister is the executor of the faith of the community; he is called and ordained to this task by the congregation of the priesthood of the believers, and consequently his priesthood is of the same order as theirs.  All this is anticipated in the Nominalist rejection of instrumental causality.  When this refusal is applied to the sacraments, their objective efficacy is independent of their minister, and is ascribed entirely and simply to Christ: the alternative, from Luther’s view, is synergism, a blasphemous arrogation to a man of coequality with Christ.  Sacraments then become a sort of visible Word, preached rather than confected.  There is then no question of a “priestly miracle.” This theology is not simply Lutheran; the Swiss Reformers push its logic further than Luther does.

e. Luther’s Eucharistic Doctrine

Luther’s view of the Eucharist is in general agreement with Zwingli’s (and later, with Calvin’s) only in that (1) the Eucharist is instituted by Christ, (2) there is no transubstantiation, (3) there is no propitiatory sacrifice in the Mass, and (4) the chalice should not be denied the laity.  Luther’s disagreement over the Eucharist with the other Reformers is over the mode of Real Presence, a Presence which they all in some sort respect. One of Luther’s primary doctrines was from the beginning that of salvation (he prefers to speak of “justification”) by faith alone.  Strictly applied, this is fatal to sacramental realism in that it is not the sacrament but faith in the sacrament which justifies.  This is primarily a faith in the Word by which the grace of this faith is made available.  The sacrament is then an effective sign if you believe, but not otherwise.  However, inasmuch as this belief, a matter of faith, is ineffable, incapable of articulation, it cannot be an effective sign; it does not transcend the radical ambiguity of fallen existence.

This failure underlies a fundamental Lutheran premise, or least one hardily maintained: viz., that manducatio impiorum (eating (i.e., reception), by which a sinner (an unbeliever) receives the real Body and Blood of Christ in the Eucharist, but not its grace.  This sounds very much like the inference drawn from a Catholic opus operatum doctrine of sacramental causality.  It cannot be reconciled logically with justification by faith alone, as Zwingli, Bucer and, later, Calvin were alert to point out.

i. Luther’s Insistence upon the Objectivity of the Real Presence

This emphasis developed during Luther’s confrontation with the “sacramentarians” or Schwärmerei (fanatics), and especially with Karlstadt (Andrew Bodenstein of that city), who denied an objective Real Presence; against this view, Luther held that for the necessary comfort and assurance of sinners, something more than a subjective communion must be given in the Eucharist: this he held to be the literal import of the Words of Institution, This is my Body. 

This led him to a doctrine of what has been termed “consubstantiation” (not Luther’s term), the simultaneous presence in the Eucharist of the “earthly body” and the “heavenly body.”  Thus, Luther affirmed the sacramental unity of the sign and the Body, in which the sign (the bread) in union with the Body together stand for the Body of Christ, without reference to or dependence upon anything done by the words of the priest, or by the faith of the recipient, in the sense of producing a result which would be the transubstantiation of the elements.  Such a “result” would fall under the condemnation of “works:’ i.e., it would be a quasi-blasphemous human effort at self-salvation.  For Luther, Christ alone causes our salvation, and thus he alone causes the Real Presence: he does this through the recitation of his own Words of Institution, which Luther understands as a divine command, effective for all time, as was the command given Adam and Eve to increase and multiply.

Luther’s explanation of the coexistence of the sign (bread) and the Body relies upon Ockham’s esse diffinitive, wherein a miraculous exercise of divine power, a corporeal entity is present without its dimensions and hence without reference to a place, and so without the possibility of local motion.  This presence diffinitive rather than circumscriptive, is instanced by Christ’s passing through the walls of the closed room after his Resurrection.  Luther developed his theory of a real presence by way of “ubiquismus” (everywhereness, i.e., omnipresence) in later controversy with the Sacramentarians and the Swiss. When they held the real presence of Christ in the Eucharist to require local motion he explained it rather by an extension of the communicatio idiomatum (communication of idioms between the human and the divine natures in the Person of Christ), arguing that the omnipresence proper to Jesus divine nature should attributed to His humanity, in such was that the bodily presence of Jesus in the Eucharist was by reason of his divine ubiquity or omnipresence: hence, “ubiquismus.”

This is an illegitimate use of the communication of idioms, which can only support attributions which are historical, not abstract: i.e., “God died on the cross,” but not “divinity died on the cross.”  Luther argued that this “ubiquism” was a common patristic datum, one going back to Origen’s use of the image of an incandescent piece of iron to ‘explain’ the simultaneity of the divine and the human in Christ―(Origen felt no need to explain the radical mystery of faith).  Luther thus accounted for the presumed simultaneity of the consecrated bread and the Body of Christ in the Eucharist.  There are traces of ubiquismus in the twelfth century theology of Hugh of St. Victor.[194]

According to Luther’s reasoning in On the Babylonian Captivity, as the divinity of Christ is not under the accidents of his humanity, so the presence of Christ in the Eucharist is not under the accidents of the bread.  He reasons here by analogy between the “hypostatic union” of the Logos with the human nature in Christ, and the simultaneity of the presumed two “substances”, bread and the Body of Christ, in the Eucharist.  However, it is the existence of such an analogy which is in issue; to maintain it, his opponents argue, is to employ a Monophysite Christology which is then extended to the Eucharistic presence.  It is possible that the discussion might now be taken up again with a greater likelihood of profit; for example, the affinity between the Lutheran ubiquism and the early medieval excogitation of a Eucharistic presence per modum substantiae is worth exploring further, as is the manner in which gratia Christi is to be understood as pervasive of all times and places by reason of the Pauline and Johnnine doctrine of creation in Christ, and the sixteenth century debate thereby transcended.  Further, despite Luther’s dissolution on Nominalist grounds of the sign-signified polarity in the Eucharist, by way of the Monophysitical merger of the bread and the Body of Christ, there is a strong Lutheran investment in the meal symbolism of the Eucharist or Lord’s Supper, which again affords a common ground for ecumenical discussion.

At bottom, however, a fundamental disagreement with the Catholic Eucharistic doctrine remains, and it does have to do with the dismissal of the sign-signified polarity in the sacraments.  If Luther’s view of the fall is taken with full seriousness, there can be no such causality as the Catholic doctrine attaches to the sacramental sign, for only the Christ is truly a historical agent, and all other historical-salvific agency is absorbed in, rendered insignificant and so nullified, by his One Sacrifice.  This, it seems, is the heart of the ecumenical tension between Catholic and Lutheran Christianity.

The question of a Monophysite doctrine of the Eucharist is thus of a more than pedantic interest, and the technical issue is worth some attention.  The alleged Monophysite error is that of confusing the attributes and so of providing an inadequate response to the classic problem of the communicatio idiomatum: the Monophysites gave too easy an answer, and did so on the basis of a presumed unity of nature rather than of Person in the Christ; this permitted the ascription or attribution of a divine attribute to human nature.  But the communication is within the Person of Christ, not between his natures, which the doctrine of ubiquism forgets.  The main interest of Luther’s Christology is in upholding the unity of Christ against the Swiss denial or dilution of that unity. Like the 4th and 5th century Alexandrines, Luther is open to exaggeration in this direction.[195]

ii. Luther’s relation of Eucharist to Baptism

The impact of ssalvation sola fide in Luther’s theology is considerable; it is as opposed to a sola ecclesia on the Catholic side, given the necessary nuances to both of these tags.  Obviously, either is subject to exaggeration, as witness Leonard Feeney’s reading of extra ecclesiam nulla salus a half-century ago or the de-kerygmatizing of radical Bultmannians such as Fritz Buri.[196]  As the former aberration is not Catholic, so the latter is not Lutheran; both arise from the rationalizing of axioms whose meaning is not to be delivered by such simplicities. [197] However, between the two axioms there is a tension approaching contradiction, and that tension becomes most explicit when the two “great sacraments” are referred to each other.

f. The ecclesiological implications of Luther’s Eucharistic doctrine

The absorption of the Christian’s historicity by that of Christ concludes to the identification of Christ with his Body in such a univocal fashion as to exclude the marital significance of the Head-Body relation: for Luther, the notion of Church as Sponsa Christi (Bride of Christ) is radically in conflict with his understanding of the Christian’s unity with Christ, a unity by which the Christian is homo sine nomine, sine specie, sine differentia (a man without name, without qualification, without difference) a unity divorced from any external expression by which it might be distinguished from its absence: nulli prorsus uni externo operi sumus alligati (“we are bound to no external work whatever.”[198]  Consequently Christ’s sacrifice is dissociated from the nuptial sacramental symbolism , with the result that the polarity by which the One Sacrifice by which we are redeemed is at once related to and distinguished from the Church’s sacrificium laudis simply lapses, and with it, the objective historicity of the mystery of the unity of Christ and the Church.  That unity becomes simply eschatological, subsumed to justification by faith alone.  This faith has no authentic public ecclesial expression, whether as doctrine or morality: no fallen language or action mediates the truth of Christ.

g. A Summary account of Luther’s Eucharistic doctrine

Luther’s interpretation of the doctrine of the Fall entails a rejection of all salvific agency in history, and consequently, a rejection of the sacramental principle in which the intrinsic freedom of historical worship has effective salvific significance.  In brief, Luther understands historical actions, events and structures to be opaque to the grace of Christ and consequently unable to mediate it.  His emphasis on the Eucharistic presence vi verborum, and upon the manducatio impiorum are in evident tension with this interpretation of the Fall, and with the sola fide interpretation of worship which it requires.

The tension between the historical objectivity of Christian worship, and the finally cosmological objections to that objectivity, surfaced in Luther’s theology at the time of his confrontation with a former ally, Karlstadt (Andreas Bodenstein), whose earlier association with the Anabaptist movement was reflected in his adoption of a radically dehistoricizing theological hermeneutic, a function of the historical pessimism, the refusal to admit the possibility of the historical mediation of salvation, which marks the Protestant Reform in all its expressions.  This denial of sacramental realism had already led Luther, as it had the Anabaptists, as it had led Berengarius five centuries earlier, to reject the historically objective presence of Christ in the Eucharist: he refused to understand the Eucharistic presence as a historical Event, whether the objective representation of the Event of the One Sacrifice, or transubstantiation of the Eucharistic elements of bread and wine.  Nonetheless, and despite the controversy caused by his departure from the purity of justification by faith alone, Luther held and continued to hold that, for the necessary comfort and assurance of sinners, something more than a subjective communion must be given in the Eucharist: this he justified, on scriptural grounds, as the inescapable literal import of the Words of Institution, This is my Body.  However, he was unable to provide it: his effort to account for a real presence of Christ in the Eucharist by his attribution of the supposed omnipresence of God to the Christ, or to his humanity, was justly described as monophysite, a misuse of the communication of idioms.  His denial of transubstantiation together with his affirmation of an objective real presence could only result in the version of impanation which his opponents labeled “companation:” i.e, the simultaneous presence of the Christ in association with unchanged elements of bread and wine  At bottom, inasmuch as the Eucharistic change was not in the elements; nor in Jesus the Christ, it could only be a subjective change in the recipient, but this Luther refused to accept.

Thus Luther’s version of Eucharistic symbolism is ambiguous.  As had the Proto-Reformers Wycliff and Hus, he rejected the sacrifice of the Mass, but he refused the full dehistorization of the Eucharist which that refusal logically entailed: thus his insistence on a “real presence” which upon examination, was impanationist and inevitably subjective, but he could not admit it to be so.  He Eucharistic doctrine was sufficiently realist to make him hesitate before so radical a subjectivizing (“spiritualization”) of the presence of Christ in the Eucharist as Karlstadt and Zwingli proposed.  On the other hand, he was unable to explain the objecitivity of the Eucharistic “real presence” upon which he insisted: for him it was not an intrinsically significant and thus concretely historical public event.  His rejection of the objective historicity of Eucharistic offering of the One Sacrifice\ could not but entail the rejection of the objective change of the bread and wine of the Offertory into the body and blood of Christ.  His Nominalism was doctrinal: his rejection of theological metaphysics was more than a matter of theological method: for him it barred the historical immanence of the risen Lord.

The historicity of the Real Presence depends upon the historicity of the Eucharistic Sacrifice as its corollary, for the Eucharistic Sacrifice is the concrete historical objectivity, i.e., the Event, by which the Real Presence is Real: it has no other reality than that of the One Sacrifice.  Deprived of the Event, of the Eucharistic Sacrifice,, the Eucharistic presence of Chjrist is without historical objectivity, and must be subsumed to justification by faith alone, whose symbolist implication Luther could neither accept nor avoid. .

Consequently he doggedly held to a real, non-symbolic reception of the body and blood of Christ by the communicant, and in doing so renewed a medieval controversy over whether sinners did in fact receive the body and blood of Christ: On this issue of the “manducatio impiorum:” i.e., over whether a sinful recipient of the Eucharist nonetheless receives the full reality of the body and blood of Christ, Luther followed Paul in I Cor. 11: 27-29: a sinful Eucharistic reception of the body and blood of Christ incurs the judgment of God on the recipient.  On this point Luther found himself also pitted against Zwingli, the leader of the Swiss reformers, and against the yet more radical “Sacramentarians.”  A dozen years later, Calvin also would oppose Luther’s insistence upon an objective Eucharistic real presence.

It must be kept in view that the Lutheran version of “Real Presence” is itself ambiguous and on this account is often supposed by Catholics to be the equivalent of the Real Presence of Christ in Catholic Eucharist, which it clearly is not, for that Real Presence which the Church worships is an Event-Presence, that of Christ’s offering of his One Sacrifice.  Therefore, on the one hand, Luther’s version of the Eucharistic presence of Christ cannot be an event, for the reasons already spelled out: historical acts, events, structures, fall under the ban of total corruption: they are reducible to “works.”  On the other hand, if the “Real Presence” which Luther required is not an occurrence, an event, if it does not happen, but simply exists, its manner of existence, its “objectivity,” cannot be historical.  It is then subjective, identical with justification sola fide―the inference that Luther could not accept.

h. Luther’s dehistoricization of the Eucharist

The primacy of faith as the condition of salvation focuses salvation upon the hearing of the preached Word; at root, it is a trusting self-abandonment to the one thing necessary, the salvation worked by Jesus.  All reform, all proper worship, is a return to this baptismal faith, by which we, who are fallen, totally corrupt, and thus peccatores (sinners) simply, accept the gift of extrinsic or forensic (juridical) justification (by divine decree) in Christ, a justification which becomes intrinsically effective only in the eschaton.  Upon faith follows eschatological membership in the Body of Christ, the nonhistorical ecclesia of those who have the gift of faith.  These are the objectively justified, simul peccatores et justi (at once sinners [historically considered] and justified (eschatologically considered).  This is the Lutheran dialectic of a radically ambiguous historical existence, precisely as fallen.

This extrinsic justification has no necessary or indispensable or even authentic historical expression.  Given the ineradicable ambiguity of history, faith is fundamentally suprahistorical, as the ecclesia is.  The center of this Lutheran Church is the sacrament of Baptism; from this sacrament the Church takes its character, for worship and Church are mutually explicatory.  Luther is on occasion very close to reducing all worship to faith: salvation sola fide can go very far.  Inseparable from this baptismal emphasis is the refusal of the sacrament of orders as the condition of a valid celebration of the Eucharist.  When the Church has Baptism as its principle of explanation, there can be no priesthood beyond that of the baptized.

When on the contrary one looks to a sola ecclesia theology, the center or focal point of salvation is the Eucharistic Lord, whose one sacrifice is the cause of the Church, into which one is baptized: baptism does not cause the Church.  The emphasis then of all worship is Eucharistic rather than baptismal, for the Eucharist is now the prius of all theologizing, as Baptism is from the Lutheran viewpoint>  For Catholics, salvation is not understood in sola fide terms, but rather as continually further incorporation into the unity of the Body of Christ by means of the Eucharistic worship of the Church.  Granted the distortions to which this understanding is as open as any other, it nevertheless requires what the Lutheran theology refuses, a visible, historical, and publicly reliable expression of salvation, rather than a distrust of such expression.  In the end, the Catholic doctrine requires a theology of salvation history which goes very far, even to the point of identifying the axis of all historical dynamism with the Eucharistic worship, as the locus of the Truth by whose immanence time is qualified by freedom, to become the history of salvation.  History has no other free intelligibility than this, a fact demonstrated by the failure of all philosophies of history to reconcile the unity of history with its freedom.

5. The Eucharistic Doctrine of Jean Calvin (1509-‘64)

The major source for all of Calvin’s theology is his Institutes of the Christian Religion, first published in 1536 when Calvin was only twenty-seven, and which he revised and augmented continually until its final Latin edition of 1559 (Fr., 1560).[199]  His Eucharistic doctrine is set out in Book IV, Ch. 17-18.

Jean Calvin was born about a quarter of a century later than Luther, and survived him by nearly twenty years.  If he is to be included within the first generation of the Reformers, it should be kept in view that the Reformation had been underway nearly fifteen years before he became identified with it, and that it had already assumed, in the persons of Luther and Zwingli, a dialectical character, in the sense of holding doctrinal themes which are in evident contradiction, an irrationality which Calvin’s theology could not but recognize, accept, and attempt to resolve.

a. Calvin’s theological system

Although reckoned to be the most systematic thinker among the Reformers, Calvin, like Luther, valued conformity to the scriptural Word above systematic coherence.  A variety of attempts to reduce his theology to the systematic implications of a single principle, such as predestination, have not succeeded.  In the first place, Calvin was the foremost scriptural scholar among the Reformers; at home with biblical Hebrew and Greek, he displayed an extraordinary knowledge of the Old Testament.  He was also well-read in the Church Fathers, particularly in John Chrysostom and, later, in Augustine, with whose doctrine he considered his own to be in substantial agreement.

Calvin accepts, as does Luther, Augustine’s doctrine of the absolute dependence of man upon grace as the consequence of the Fall.  However he reads this doctrine within the context of the Scotist-Nominalist emphasis upon the divine omnipotence, the consequent Nominalist absolutizing of that omnipotence, with consequent denials of secondary causality, of all meta-empirical, i.e., intrinsic, truth or unity in history, and of any divine and salvific immanence in history.  This denial controls Calvin’s understanding of the economy of salvation; he holds it to be eschatological simply, i.e., sensu negante.  Thus Calvin pushes the Nominalist logic further than Luther, which means, in the end, that he must read Scripture differently for, like Luther, he accepts the normative truth of Scripture

In systematic issues Calvin, like Luther, was a follower of Scotus and of Ockham.  His doctrine of the distinction between divine predestination and divine foreknowledge is recognizably grounded in the Scotist distinctio formalis ex natura rei.  His notions of the Fall and of extrinsic grace, like Luther’s, reflect his dependence upon Nominalist principles, notably the rejection of all metaphysics and the consequent rejection of the intrinsic intelligibility of the historical order.  Where Ockham concludes to this unintelligibility as implicit in the absolute reality of God, Calvin, in agreement with Luther, look upon it as the product of the fall of man.  In either case, it excludes a priori any sacramental mediation of salvation.

The final implication of such a dismissal of the intrinsic significance of history is a quasi-Buddhist nihilism, although none of the Reformers pushed it so far; its furthest extrapolation, Calvin’s doctrine of predestination ante praevisa merita, is hardly original with Calvin, for Origen proposed a universal predestination to salvation (apokatastasis); the aged Augustine, in the course of his bitter debate with the Pelagian Bishop, Julian of Eclanum, affirmed a predestination doctrine in terms later rejected by the II Council of Orange, which upheld Augustine’s rejection of John Cassian’s proposal of the possibility of an ungraced initium fidei.[200]  Four centuries later, one of the Carolingian theologians, Gottschalk of Orbais, a disciple of Augustine, developed a doctrine of ‘double predestination’ (to salvation or to eternal damnation) which was contested by Hincmar of Rheims and Rhabanus Maurus among other contemporaries.  In 849 a provincial council of Mainz condemned Gottschalk’s predestination doctrine as heresy.

From its outset, speculation on predestination proceeded under largely cosmological auspices ignoring the economy of salvation; like Ockham, Calvin, invoked the majesty of God the Father in terms of the cosmological Deus Unus rather than of his mission of the Son to give the Holy Spirit.  Consequently he understood creation to have been produced by the extrinsic agency of the Deus Unus whose transcendence of the historical order of creation is by way of his absolute Personal immanence, i.e., his alienation from all creation.  Calvin therefore understands creation to be ungraced, as natura pura in the pessimistic sense of a massa damnata.  Predestination must then refer to the divine bestowal or non-bestowal of an extrinsic grace of salavation upon human beings in this intrinsically ungraced creation.  The rationalized, nonhistorical Deus Unus, possessed of a rationalized nonhistorical omnipotence and omniscience, rules his creation ab extra, by inscrutable―i.e., arbitary―divine decrees.  As nonhistorical exercises of divine omniscience and omnipotence, God’s decrees are absolute. Although effective in history because they bear upon historical human beings, the divine decrees are incapable being conditioned or qualified by historical considerations of merit or demerit, of guilt or innocence.  Becaise the are nonhistorical and consequently immutable, they cannot but be immune to and so to transcend such considerations.

Grace, insofar as discussed in this context, is clearly not understood to be gratia Christi, for the grace of Christ is at once intrinsic, personal, and universal: finally it is our creation in Christ, fulfilled by our baptism into his death and resurrection, and into the Church he instituted by his One Sacrifice.  The Protestant speculation upon the salvation of the massa damnata  must identify grace with a divine decree of predestination to salvation: this forensic view of grace is typical of Calvinism, but it is quite similar to the Lutheran soteriology, for that also knows no historical grace.

Within a cosmological context, predestination may be to a universal salvation, as Origen proposed, or to a personal eternal salvation, or to a personal eternal damnation.  Calvin’s doctrine of universal predestination to eternal damnation is more radical: it is the corollary of the alienation of the absolute Deus Unus from all that is not himself, and is inexorable apart from an entirely arbitrary decree of predestination to salvation, which can only be personal, whether of individuals or groups.  A decree predestining all mankind to salvation would undercut Calvin’s description of humanity as a massa damnata.  Further, such a decree could hardly be distinguished from a divine Self-denial, a departure from Personal immanence.  In any event, Calvin will have no part of it: he has written:

. . . . there is an universal call, by which God, through the external preaching of the word, invites all men alike, even those for whom he designs the call to be a savor of death, and the ground of a severer condemnation. Besides this there is a special call which, for the most part, God bestows on believers only, when by the internal illumination of the Spirit he causes the word preached to take deep root in their hearts. Sometimes, however, he communicates it also to those whom he enlightens only for a time, and whom afterwards, in just punishment for their ingratitude, he abandons and smites with greater blindness.

Institutes 3.24.8

During the patristic period, and into the medieval, the damnation of the unbaptized was presumed: we find this already in Justin Martyr’s Dialogue with Trypho, and we have seen that even Augustine, in his old age, taught a strict predestinationism, rejected by his disciples and by the Church at the Second Council of Orange, in 529.  The “double predestineation, either to salvation or damnation, taught by Gottschalk of Orbais, had been condemned in 849

A Christian influence thus far influenced speculation on predestination as to require the salvation of some men, but with the implication of the damnation of all the others.  Although the Christian tradition contemplates and perhaps insists upon the damnation of some human beings, for it is difficult to understand in any other sense Jesus’ remark that it would be better for his betrayer not to have been born.  Nonetheless, the doctrinal tradition also insists upon the universal application of the victory of Jesus the Lord over sin, death and damnation, although it is also true that the currently regnant theology of grace is still inadequate to that tradition.  In his Dare we Hope "that all men be saved"? : with a short discourse on hell /"? H. U. von Balthasar has raised a question which puts in issue the condemnations of Judas recited in Mt. 26:24, ;in Jn. 17:12, in Acts 1:20, and Ps 109:7

Insofar as cosmologically informed speculation on predestination is concerned, it is in any event taken for granted that the grace of predestination to salvation is not universally distributed: it is given sporadically, arbitrarily.  To quail before or to refuse this conclusion savors of lèse majesté, an affront to the divine dignity, the divine freedom, the divine transcendence.

The theme of a sporadic distribution of grace was proper to the patristic tradition: Augustine’s treatment of predestination took it for granted, although it is inconsistent with his emphasis upon illumination, upon the trahi a Deo and upon the intus Magister, which are gifts ad salutem, hence grace, and nonetheless can hardly be less than universally distributed.  The supposition of a less than universal distribution of the graces necessary for salvation was passed on to the medieval theologians: in St. Thomas’ theology, grace became a metaphysical accidens, although we have seen St. Thomas adopt the Augustinian trahi a Deo―which Augustine had linked to the intus magister―in order to account for the damnation of infidels who, in the problem posed, were by their definition as infidels understood to be universally guilty of refusing the universally offered grace of conversion. 

Clearly, justice required that the universality of the possibility of the refusal of the grace of conversion required the universality of the offer, which could not then be a metaphysical accidens, for these are not universally given except insofar as “proper” to human nature: e.g., as faculties of intellect and will.  Simply because it is universally distributed, the reality of the grace of Christ must be substantial as opposed to accidental, and therefore a matter of creation ex nihilo, creation in Christ, the work of the Spiritus Creator whom Christ the Son was sent to give.  When taken seriously, this inexorable inference requires a reconideration of the Thomist theology of grace, and therefore of theological metaphysics. [201]

The consequences of having postulated a cosmological Deus Unus, an abstract absolute Self whose attributes are radically incompatible with the Christian economy of salvation, have long since been evident.  Abstract justice and abstract benevolence have no historical content as a matter of definition.  Their application proceeds to dehistoricize the economy of salvation.  As in all such cosmological speculation, the Trinity is not invoked and in fact cannot be invoked: the absolute divinity cannot but be monadic, understood as an abstract Self whose rationalized transcendence is radically opposed to any finite exercise of personal moral responsibility.

The Jesuits and Dominicans fought each other to a standstill on this issue.  Their dispute de auxiliis remains unresolved.  It is in the first place incapable of resolution, and in the second, it is of no theological interest.  The Church knows no cosmological divinity, and theologians who insist on cosmologizing her doctrinal and moral tradition in the service of that abstraction waste the time and finally the patience of all concerned.  Insofar as the Church’s faith in Jesus the Lord is concerned, the divine transcendence, dignity, omnipotence, omniscience, foreknowledge, mercy, justice, universal salvific will, and whatever other attributes of the One God may be in view, are not abstract but historically concrete in the Father’s sending of the Son to give the Spirit, which Missions terminate in that outpouring of the Spiritus Creator by which exists the nuptially-ordered Good Creation, fallen in the first Adam, redeemed by the second Adam, and in him, as its head, restored to its free unity and integrity, in sacramento.  This last is not a deprecative term: it designates the historicity of the economy of salvation, which is concrete and historical, not merely eschatological, as the Reform would have it.  The historically actual economy is historically mediated in and by the historical worship of the historical Church, which is radically Eucharistic.  A theological inquiry into the divine predestination that ignores the Trinitarian Missions of the Son and the Spirit by which the divine predestination is actual and in which its meaning is revealed, is quite beside the point.

b. Calvin’s Eucharistic diophysitism

It has been remarked that much of Luther’s theology relies upon a quasi-Monophysite identification of the sign and the signified, i.e., of Jesus’ humanity and divinity, whether in Christology or in the Eucharist.  This is illustrated particularly by his recourse to the divine ubiquity to account for the Real Presence, which his literal exegesis of the Institution Narratives required him to insist upon.  Calvin can be contrasted with Luther in this connection, in Christology as in Eucharist: between the humanity and divinity of Jesus there is a distinction which is not transcended in history, whether as Real Presence or as Personal unity.  The contrast with Luther’s doctrine is of some value, for Calvin assumed a quasi-Nestorian dissociation of the sign and the signified, which is to say, of the historical humanity and the divinity of Christ.  However, their contrast should not be pushed too far: each stance arises out the dehistoricizing cosmological postulates of the patristic tradition and of medieval theology, and neither can support a sacramental realism.

Thus, quite as Origen’s descriptive, non-metaphysical (i.e., nominal or descriptive: metaphorical rather than metaphysical) likening of the union in Jesus of the divine Logos with humanity, to the union in incandescent iron of fire and iron, could and did give rise to both Monophysite and a Nestorian interpretations of that image, so the similar Nominalist refusal of a metaphysical understanding of Eucharistic Presence, and its resulting deployment of metaphor, can give rise to either a Monophysite or a Nestorian interpretation of the Eucharist.

For example, the Nominalist elimination of secondary causality with its concomitant denial of any causal link between the Eucharistic bread and the presence of Christ can conclude to their absolute dissociation, à la Zwingli.  On the contrary if, with Luther, one insists upon a Real Presence of Christ in the Eucharist, the Nominalist distrust of intrinsic causality and so of metaphysical analysis can easily merge the empirical presence of the Eucharistic bread with the non-dimensional presence (diffinitive) of the Christ.  In this latter Lutheran doctrine, the bread no longer signifies, but is identified with, the Christ: Luther’s Nominalist exegesis of “This is my body” understands them as identifying a material substance, the bread, with a quasi-immaterial one, the Christ, and forces Luther’s “companation” doctrine.

But in Calvin’s theology reading of the Institution narrative, there is no such identification.  His thought, like Augustine’s, is phenomenological or experiential, but he passes beyond the liturgically-grounded dialectic of the Augustinian phenomenology of worship (experience in ecclesia of personal existence as at once just and sinful) to its rationalization into a dichotomous (“dialectical”) frame of reference in which the sign and the signified have no intelligible relation to each other.  Having rejected any trans-empirical unity intrinsic to historical reality, he could do nothing else: for Calvin as for Ockham, substance is most literally “indivisum in se, divisum ab omni alio.”

With Augustine, Calvin held that true knowledge of God and of man is utterly dependent upon Revelation but, against Augustine, he also held that the Revelation reveals not only the complete sovereignty of God but also the total corruption of fallen man: historical existence is fallen in the sense of indefeasibly alienated from God.  As did Luther, Calvin assumed that fallen man is in fact left to himself in history, without intrinsically, i.e., historically, effective grace.  All grace must be “forensic,” a divine decree extrinsic to history, incapable of historical mediation, and therefore extrinsic to the person benefited, as would be a judicial acquittal of a guilty defendant in a criminal case, which does not touch his moral standing.

The postulate of justification by faith alone, which opens the Institutes, is fundamental for Calvin’s theology as for Luther’s, and amounts to a flat rejection of Augustine’s understanding of history as intrinsically significant of salvation by the grace of Christ, which Augustine knew to be historically mediated in the historical worship of the historical Church.  In sum, Augustine knew history to possess sacramental significance, which the Reformation denied and continues to deny.

Calvin maintained that there is between God and historical man only a void, which Christ’s Spirit alone can bridge, although the bridge can have no historical reality.  Thereby he merged Augustine’s doctrine that “without grace you can do nothing,” with the Reformation dogma of the total corruption of the fallen historical order.  This latter doctrine cannot be ascribed to Augustine, whose maxim, Nemo habet de suo nisi mendacium et peccatum