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Aristotle's Meditation

Decent Essays
Transubstantiation
On the night of Jesus’s betrayal he sat down at the table with the twelve apostles to celebrate Passover in remembrance of the Israelites being freed from slavery in Egypt.
“While they were eating, Jesus took bread, said the blessing, broke it, and giving it to his disciples said, ‘Take and eat; this is my body.’ Then he took a cup, gave thanks, and gave it to them, saying, ‘Drink from it, all of you, for this is my blood of the covenant, which will be shed on behalf of many for the forgiveness of sins” (New American Bible, Mt 26.26-28).
Jesus’s words referring to the bread and wine as his own body and blood ignited the million-dollar question that has persisted among theologians for centuries. Is the bread and wine consecrated during the Eucharistic rite merely a symbolic representation of Jesus’s flesh and blood, or does the matter itself undergo a substantial change into his body and blood? Well before Jesus’s time, Aristotle posed a theory in which all matter is comprised of its substance and its accidents. Unfortunately, most of Aristotle’s work was either lost or prohibited to be taught at universities because educators felt it to be contradictory to religious beliefs (Martos 61). However, scholar Thomas Aquinas used Aristotle’s theory as his foundation for illuminating the concept of transubstantiation as a way to resolve the Real Presence conflicts between theologians during the Medieval Period.
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135:6]. Because he willed to be present, though under the figure of bread and wine, it must be believed that after the consecration these are entirely nothing other than the flesh and blood of Christ. Whence [Jesus] spoke the very Truth to the disciples, saying “This is my flesh for the life of the world” [Jn 6:52]. And, speaking more marvelously, [this flesh in the Eucharist] is none other than that which was born from Mary, suffered on the cross, and resurrected from the tomb” (Prusak, “Explaining Eucharistic ‘Real Presence’”…show more content…
Thomas Aquinas, in an attempt to put this conflict to bed, sheds light on how this transubstantiation could be possible. In examining the resurrection of Jesus, he connects the reunion of Christ’s spiritual and physical body to this conversion of substance on the altar. Moreover, he illustrates that although this body of Jesus was immaculate and immortal, it still contained the characteristic properties of a living person. Thus, Aquinas states that this physical, tangible form of Jesus’s body after the resurrection is precisely why it is possible to eat and drink his body and blood in the Sacrament of the Eucharist (Prusak, “Explaining Eucharistic ‘Real Presence’” 247-248).
Analogous to Ratramnus’s dispute over the simultaneous presence of the body in heaven and on earth, Aquinas proposed that Christ’s body being present in the Eucharist is not a result of him physically traveling from heaven to earth (Prusak, “Explaining Eucharistic ‘Real Presence’” 247-248). Instead, he stresses that the only possibility for Christ to be present during this Sacrament is if such conversion takes place. He clarifies that although Jesus is not present physically or accidentally, we still receive him in spiritual form (Prusak, “Explaining Eucharistic ‘Real Presence’”
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