The Real Presence: Not Physical
Regarding Michael Murads letter titled Are Catholics Cannibals? (Scene 1, Take 2) and your reply (Jul.-Aug.) concerning Msgr. Francis Mannion's column in Our Sunday Visitor: Without the intention to defend Msgr. Mannion in other matters, I believe he is correct in saying that the presence of the Lord in the holy Eucharist is not physical. One must be very careful in the use of terms in theology. The Church has never used the adjective physical in describing the Lords presence under the species of bread and wine. Rather, she has always used the terms real and substantial.
Websters New Collegiate Dictionary defines physical as having material existence; perceptible esp. through the senses and subject to the laws of nature. Clearly Our Lords presence under the species does not fall under these conditions. If it did, He would be extended in space with parts outside of parts. To break the sacred Host into parts would divide His Body, which is absurd, since He is fully present in each perceptible fraction of the fractured Host. Nor is the presence of the Lord perceptible to the senses; its recognition requires faith.
St. Thomas, who is still an expert in these matters, writes: the body of Christ is not in this sacrament according to its own mode of dimensional quantity, but rather by means of substance . In no way is the body if Christ in this sacrament by location (S.T. III, a.5). Were Christ present physically, He would be present by the mutually exclusive locations of the various parts of His body.
To say that Christ is not present physically in the Eucharist in no way denies the objective reality of His presence. But let us stick to the consecrated terminology of the Church.
Rev. Gerald A. Buckley, O.P.
Our Lady of the Mountain Catholic Church
THE EDITOR REPLIES:
Oh yes, the Church has used the adjective physical. In his encyclical Mysterium Fidei (On the Holy Eucharist), Pope Paul VI says that after the change of the substance or nature of the bread and wine into the Body and Blood of Christ, nothing remains of the bread and wine but the appearances under which Christ, whole and entire, in His physical reality, is bodily present (italics added). Paul VI says Christs presence is called real because it is presence in the fullest sense and that His presence surpasses the laws of nature and constitutes the greatest miracle of its kind .
Did Judas Avoid Hell?
Apropos of Michael Murads letter (Jul.-Aug.) regarding Msgr. M. Francis Mannions regular Q&A column in Our Sunday Visitor: A recent issue of the Visitor came my way somehow. In that issue (July 16) Msgr. Mannion was asked whether its possible that Judas did not go to Hell, and Mannion answered that it is indeed possible, adding: To say that Judas sin could not be forgiven is to say that the power of Satan is greater than that of Jesus, that Jesus resurrection had limited power to redeem and was not able to grasp the soul of Judas. In truth, Jesus death and resurrection overpower the worst evil of which human beings are capable.
I found Mannions answer lacking. Scripture tells us that Judas used his free will to hang himself. Now, its possible that between the time Judas put the rope around his neck and the time he lost consciousness, he called on the name of the Lord and asked for forgiveness. But Mannion did not mention any need for repentance, so his answer seemed to minimize, even excuse, Judass sin.
Since my family started to recite the Chaplet of the Divine Mercy and the Holy Rosary every day, I have experienced a very powerful desire to defend the teachings of the Catholic Church. I have e-mailed Msgr. Mannion, but he has yet to respond, so I ask that you publish my concern.
Manuel N. Crisol
Woodmere, New York