The puzzlement professed by Eamonn McCann in his column of June 19th over the two theological terms ‘Real Presence’ and ‘Transubstantiation’ could easily be dissipated for him, if only he were to permit himself to see each term, (carefully crafted to best serve its purpose), as referring to two aspects of the one thing, namely the mystery of the Eucharist.
The term ‘Real Presence’ confines itself to giving an answer to the question ‘What?’. What happens - by means of its being brought about in a valid Eucharistic ceremony?
The other term, ‘Transubstantiation’ implies not just a description of the reality that happens in such a ceremony but goes further to describe - insofar as that is possible - how the ‘What’ of the ceremony happens. Looking for answers to ’What’ and ‘How’ questions about the same entity deepens our understanding of it.
In the case of the Eucharist, the force and the inestimable value of its benefit to us who receive It properly are a third aspect. These were clearly summarised and proclaimed in the motto above the altar at the closing ceremony of the Eucharistic Congress, namely “Become What You Receive”.
When a believer, by the grace of faith, voluntarily accepts these two primary and complementary aspects of the Eucharist, and gains such benefit from its third aspect, religion is then much more of a potent force for change at a higher level than the physical ‘quick fix’ from a glass of Glenfiddich which Eamonn professes himself to value more highly than Christian Revelation.
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