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Questions from our readers… — 1 Comment

  1. Nice response Br. Guy! Another angle I share with people about transubstantiation is to make a distinction between “the language” of the reality versus the “the best language we have” of the reality. In John Paul II’s Encyclical Ecclesia de Eucharistia, (http://www.vatican.va/holy_father/special_features/encyclicals/documents/hf_jp-ii_enc_20030417_ecclesia_eucharistia_en.html) the Pope affirmed (in paragraph 15) the language of transubstantiation, but also calls to mind that this reality is a great mystery that goes beyond human understanding. In that tension, we are confronted with the limitations of human language as we struggle to explain an unexplainable reality. Yet, the curiosity of the human heart strives to understand these mysteries and put words to this reality. Therefore, transubstantiation is the language of the Eucharist in that it is the “best language” we have to understand the Sacrament, but it is language that has its limits and does not discard language that could both deepen our understanding of transubstantiation and give clearer vision of the “whats” and “hows” of the Eucharist.

    To explain this from the perspective of my priesthood – Do I believe Jesus is present in the Eucharist? Yes. Do I believe the language of transubstantiation is the best language to define this reality? Yes. Do I pretend to know exactly how this happens when I extend my hands over the gifts and speak the words of institution? No. As a priest, am I open to new language to explaining the mystery of the Eucharist? Yes. Does this openness make me question that Christ is present in the Eucharist. Not one bit.

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