Words of Wisdom

Anthony Colima

Eucharistic Heresies Revisited

We mistakenly think that once heresies are exposed and proscribed by the teaching authority of the Church that the matter is finished. Not so. Heresies are similar to bacilli that keep mutating with every antidote. Just as the never-ending battle against hostile bugs continues, so too the battle against error in matters of religion continues.

It will be this way until the end of time as we know it. The `good fight' of which the Benjaminite St. Paul spoke, continues. It is renewed with each new generation. It is like the ring of ripples in a pond - each ring representing a generation; each outer ring representing the current expanding extension of error.

Should it surprise us that the very heart and center of Christianity would be the target of all those whose efforts are directed to the destruction of that one true bond between man and God, between the creature and the Creator?

The actual point of contact most intimate between God and man takes place in this great mystery of the Holy Eucharist. This union is as real as life itself. It cannot, therefore, become the subject of fanciful exaggeration or deliberate distortion. If the Holy Eucharist is, It can only be in that way in which God established It.

In the present economy of salvation, there is no salvation without Jesus Christ. And, this `Jesus' is not the `Jesus' of Martin Luther and his Lutheran followers; it is not the `Jesus' of the followers of Calvin, Zwingle, Teilhard de Chardin nor Taize nor Wojtyla.

Salvation is only in that plain and simple presentation of Jesus as found in the Holy Scriptures - Old and New - and as it comes down to us through the careful and faithful teaching authority of His Church.

Most doctrines of the Church undergo a threefold phase of evolution. The first phase is that of peaceful possession - tranquil and uncontested. The second phase is that of more or less violent denial. Finally, the third phase which if the painfully procured peace after the elimination of error through dogmatic definition.

We of the present generation face the compounded controversy of Modernism which arrogantly challenges the official teaching authority of Christ's Church by simply usurping that authority by sheer brazenness. Rightly did the saintly Pope Pius X refer to Modernism as the `cesspool of all heresies.' The atheism of Modernism cloaks itself with the respectable mantle of religion and thus deceives the unwary. What better way to destroy faith than with the appearance of faith?

This is why the Church condemns all heretics and heretical sects as being the work of Christ's adversary the Devil. This is quite a different view than that of Karol Wojtyla who claims that the Holy Spirit inspires all false religions. But of course, he can only say this when he has reduced all religion to the same subjective level where there are as many opinions as there are heads. When religion is reduced to personal opinion, it is no longer religion in the strict sense of the word. And these are times when we ought to be speaking seriously about serious matters. More likely than not, it was meant to be a cynical exaggeration to say that a famous rabbi declared that he could say all that could be said about God while standing on one leg - all the rest being nothing more than opinion. Just how long a rabbi can stand on one leg depends upon the rabbi - one would suppose. Perhaps a rabbi could be so bold. But a successful businessman would not try to tell you all there is to know about business while standing on one leg.

During the time, or phase, of the Fathers of the Church (until the XI century), there was no direct attack on the belief in the Eucharist. Actually, the Docetists, the Gnostics, and the Manicheans should have come to a denial of the Sacrament in virtue of their principles. St. Irenaeus shows the Gnostics that it is a contradiction on their part to consider matter as evil and yet to celebrate the Eucharist: "Either they should change their doctrine or they should cease offering the things they name."

Nestorius admitted the reality of the Eucharist. But, like the Antiocheans, he denied transubstantiation and taught `impanation' or simple `coexistence' with the bread in conformity with his Christology according to which the divinity and humanity of Christ exist side by side.

There was a controversy concerning the traditional doctrine of the Eucharist within the Church during the Carolingian epoch. It was occasioned by a work of Paschasius Radbert of Corbie, France, and dedicated to Charles the Bald. The work treated of the Body of the Lord (De corpore et sanguine Domini). This work was composed by Warinus Placidus, the first abbot of Neu-Corvey. This abbey was founded on the Weser. He had been asked to provide a basis for the instruction of the Saxons. The book represented a remarkable work for this epoch. Nevertheless, it caused a great scandal, because it insisted on the perfect identity of the body born of Mary and the sacramental body. The two bodies are identical, but it is manifest that they are not so except in their substance and not according to their accidents.

The distinction between accident and substance was not very common yet. These concepts became more clearly understood only after the Berangerian controversy and were not formally established by Archbishop Guimond d'Aversa (circa 1073) in his work directed against Béranger: "De corporis et sanguinis Christi veritate in Eucharistia." Paschasius found among his adversaries Rabanus Maurus, the Archbishop of Mainz, Haymo, Bishop of Halberstadt, Scotus Eruginus, court theologian of Charles the Bald in Paris, and the monk Ratramne of Neu-Corvy. Interesting to note is the fact that Paschasius was able to refer his realistic language back to St. Ambrose (De myst. IX, 53) and that his adversaries based their spiritualistic terminology on the authority of St. Augustine.

This polemic entered a dangerous state with the affair of Béranger of Tours (died 1088). He was the head of the school of Tours and an adversary of Lanfrance du Bec, who himself supported the position of Paschasius regarding the doctrine of the Eucharist. Béranger fought this tendency and went so far as a symbolic conception of the body of the Lord. He had to answer his errors before the council of Rome (1050), and the councils of Paris and Tours. Finally, he had to submit at Rome under Pope Nicholas II (1059) to a formula rigorously realistic prepared by Cardinal Humbert. Later, under Pope Gregory VII (1079), he had to make another profession of faith in a more mitigated redaction: The bread and wine are changed into the body and blood of the Lord (substantially changed):

"I, Berangerius, in my heart believe and with my lips confess that through the mystery of the sacred prayer and the words of our Redeemer the bread and wine which are placed on the altar are substantially changed into the true and proper and living flesh and blood of Jesus Christ, our Lord, and that after consecration it is the true body of Christ which was born of the Virgin and which, offered for the salvation of the world, was suspended on the Cross, which was poured out from His side not only through the sign and power of the sacrament, but in its property of nature and in truth of substance, as here briefly in a few words is contained and I have read and you understand. Thus, I believe, nor will I teach contrary to this belief. So help me God and these holy Gospels of God." (Denz.355).

During this time, there were many works written on the body and blood of the Lord in which were treated the relationships between the historical body, the celestial body and the sacramental body of Christ and where the doctrine of transubstantiation was examined for the first time. Some authors thought it would be possible to admit that the appearances or species made up a part of the corporeality so much so that the Lord could be tangible and could be received and touched by the senses of the faithful. However, this theory did not have any significant partisans. The Catholic doctrine found its short and official formulation at the Fourth Council of the Lateran in the word "transubstantiation" coined by Hildebert of Lavardin:

"One indeed is the universal Church of the faithful, outside which no one at all is saved, in which the priest himself is the sacrifice, Jesus Christ, whose body and blood are truly contained in the sacrament of the altar under the species of bread and wine; the bread (changed) into His body by the divine power of transubstantiation, and the wine into the blood, so that to accomplish the mystery of unity we ourselves receive from His (nature) what He Himself received from ours. And surely no one can accomplish this sacrament except a priest who has been rightly ordained according to the keys of the Church which Jesus Christ Himself conceded to the Apostles and their successors. But the sacrament of baptism (which at the invocation of God and the indivisible Trinity, namely, of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, is solemnized in water) rightly conferred by anyone in the form of the Church is useful unto salvation for little ones and for adults. And if, after the reception of baptism, anyone shall have lapsed into sin, through true penance he can always be restored. Moreover, not only virgins and the continent but also married persons pleasing to God through right faith and good work merit to arrive at a blessed eternity." (Denz. 430).

The Protestant Reformers (Renewers) preserved the Last Supper, but they came up with entirely different concepts on the Real Presence.

Zwingle and his followers, among whom must be counted Carlstadt, Butzer and colampade, admitted pure symbolism: the bread and the wine "signify" the body and blood of our Lord and are only the "signs" of His body and blood. According to Carlstadt, our Lord showed Himself when He said: This is my body. The Last Supper is a pure commemoration of the death of the Lord.

Luther took the opposite view. He admitted the Real Presence while rejecting transubstantiation and admitting an `impanation' as already expressed in the time of Béranger, according to whom the body of the Lord would be present in and with the bread.

Calvin maintained a middle view. According to him, at the moment when the faithful receive communion, they receive the celestial and glorified Christ as a fortifying virtue which gives them the Holy Spirit from on high. He therefore admits a dynamic presence.

Mélanchton also tended towards the Lutheran concept and that of the reformed. Later, Frederick-William III attempted to complete this by founding the `Prussian union'.

Today, it is almost impossible to find any trace of these ancient differences that were so bitterly fought.

Protestants seem to be in agreement among themselves now.

The Catholic reaction against Protestant heresy was expressed at the Council of Trent.

The Real Presence is a doctrine of faith. The first canon of the Council of Trent states:

"If anyone denies that in the sacrament of the most holy Eucharist there are truly, really, and substantially contained the body and blood together with the soul and divinity of our Lord Jesus Christ, and therefore the whole Christ, but shall say that He is in it as by a sign or figure, or force, let him be anathema."

(Sess. 13,can. 1).

Whenever you hear the clergy or followers of the Wojtylian Church speak of `signs' and `figures' and `symbolism' regarding the sacraments, especially of the Sacrament of the Holy Eucharist, know and be certain that you are hearing the words of Modernist heretics. Know also, that if you frequent the churches occupied by these heretics, you are not only being deprived of genuine sacraments, but that you are also guilty of heresy by your continued association with them.

You should ask your clergyman if he believes in the doctrine of transubstantiation. If he attempts to ignore the question, persist. It is your duty to yourself and to your children to be in the true Church. If your clergyman attempts to avoid a direct answer by appealing to similar-sounding words like `transignification' you will be certain that he is a heretic. The term transubstantiation has been canonized by the Roman Catholic Church as expressing a concept of what happens in this august mystery. We know this happens, but we do not understand the `how' of it. It is, therefore, the great mystery of faith because such things do not occur in nature as we know it.

Only those need to find a different word to express an idea which denies a doctrine of the Roman Catholic Church. But, anyone denying a doctrine of the Roman Catholic Church which cannot err in matters of faith or morals is called a `heretic.' And heretics cannot be members of the Roman Catholic Church. All those clergymen of whatever rank who reject the teaching of the infallible Council of Trent where the fullness of the Church's teaching authority was exercised are, simply stated, heretics.

We are re-living those terrible times when heresies sprung up like mushrooms after a rain. Among such all-pervasive heresies was Arianism which denied the divinity of Jesus Christ as the incarnate Son of God.

Arius was a priest of Alexandria and it was from him that this heresy took its name, Arianism. A theological debate had been agitating Christendom for many years. True, no unambiguous and generally acceptable answer had yet been given to the question: "Is God the Son the perfect equal of God the Father?" To answer the question in the negative would be to deny that Jesus Christ was the Son of God. Arius did just that. He maintained that the Son of God is not of one nature or substance with the Father, not equal to Him in dignity nor coeternal. Arius was rebuked by his Bishop, Alexander, and his position was refuted by Alexander's successor, Athanasius. It was also condemned by the Council of Nicaea. Yet, Arius succeeded in winning strong and widespread support. Many Catholic bishops were put to death or deposed and their sees given to Arians. Athanasius was banished five different times. Pope Liberius was exiled. Western bishops repudiated Athanasius at the Councils of Arles, Milan, and Rimini. The Arians held the see of Constantinople for forty years, and Catholics possessed not a single one of the hundred churches there.

St. Jerome, describing the condition of Christendom in the year 359 wrote: "The whole world groaned and marveled at finding itself Arian."

We may safely say, without fear of equivocation, that in our times that the condition of Christendom is such that the whole world groans and marvels at finding itself Modernist.

The words of Pope St. Pius X ought to awaken the dormant faith in many today:

"The office divinely committed to Us of feeding the Lord's flock has especially this duty assigned to it by Christ, namely, to guard with the greatest vigilance the deposit of the faith delivered to the saints, rejecting the profane novelties of words and oppositions of knowledge falsely so called. There has never been a time when this watchfulness of the supreme pastor was not necessary to the Catholic body; for, owing to the efforts of the enemy of the human race, there have never been lacking `men speaking perverse things' (Acts XX,30), `vain talkers and seducers' (Titus I, 10), `erring and driving into error' (2 Tim.III,13). Still it must be confessed that the number of the enemies of the cross of Christ has in these last days increased exceedingly, who are striving by arts entirely new and full of subtlety to destroy the vital energy of the Church and, if they can, to overthrow utterly Christ's kingdom itself. Wherefore, We may no longer be silent, lest We should seem to fail in Our most sacred duty, and lest the kindness that, in the hope of wiser counsels, We have hitherto shown them, should be attributed to forgetfulness of Our office.

That we make no delay in this matter is rendered necessary especially by the fact that the partisans of error are to be sought not only among the Church's open enemies; they lie hid, a thing to be deeply deplored and feared, in her very bosom and heart, and are the more mischievous, the less conspicuously they appear. We allude, Venerable Brethren, to many who belong to the Catholic laity, nay, and this is far more lamentable, to the ranks of the priesthood itself, who, feigning a love for the Church, lacking the firm protection of philosophy and theology, nay more, thoroughly imbued with the poisonous doctrines taught by the enemies of the Church, and lost to all sense of modesty, vaunt themselves as reformers of the Church; and, forming more boldly into line of attack, assail all that is most sacred in the work of Christ, not sparing even the person of the Divine Redeemer, Whom with sacrilegious daring, they reduce to a simple, mere man.

Though they express astonishment themselves, no one can justly be surprised that We number such men among the enemies of the Church, if, leaving out of consideration the internal disposition of soul, of which God alone is the judge, he is acquainted with their tenets, their manner of speech, their conduct. Nor indeed will he err in accounting them the most pernicious of all the adversaries of the Church. For, as We have said, they put their designs for her ruin into operation not from without but from within; hence, the danger is present almost in the very veins and heart of the Church, whose injury is the more certain, the more intimate is their knowledge of her. Moreover, they lay the axe not to the branches and shoots, but to the very root, that is, to the faith and its deepest fibers. And having struck at this root of immortality, they proceed to disseminate poison through the whole tree, so that there is no part of Catholic truth from which they hold their hand, none that they do not strive to corrupt. Further, none is more skillful, none more astute than they in the employment of a thousand noxious arts; for they double the parts of rationalist and Catholic, and this so craftily that they easily lead the unwary into error; and since audacity is their chief characteristic, there is no conclusion of any kind from which they shrink or which they do not thrust forward with pertinacity and assurance. To this must be added the fact which indeed is well calculated to deceive souls, that they lead a life of the greatest activity, of assiduous and ardent application to every branch of learning, and that they possess as a rule a reputation for the strictest morality. Finally, and this almost destroys all hope of cure, their very doctrines have given such a bent to their minds that they disdain all authority and brook no restraint; and relying upon a false conscience they attempt to ascribe to a love of truth that which is in reality the result of pride and obstinacy.

Once indeed We had hopes of recalling them to a better sense, and to this end We first of all showed them kindness as Our children, then We treated them with severity, and at last We have had recourse though with great reluctance to public reproof. But, you know Venerable Brethren, how fruitless has been Our action. They bowed their head for a moment, but it was soon uplifted more arrogantly than ever. If it were a matter which concerned them alone, We might perhaps have overlooked it; but the security of the Catholic name is at stake. Wherefore, as to maintain it longer would be a crime, we must now break silence, in order to expose before the whole Church in their true colors those men who have assumed this bad disguise." (From the Encyclical letter of St. Pope Pius X "Pascendi", 8 September 1907).

The poison of error has spread throughout the entire Mystical Body of Jesus Christ. But, just as a branch severed from the tree, although lifeless, continues to show the external similarity to the tree from which it has been severed, so too, there are many who continue to call themselves `Catholic' and to maintain in differing degrees some of the visible appearance of the true Church. As St. Jerome wrote in the fourth century when the world `groaned and marveled to find itself Arian,' the world groans and marvels to find itself in the stranglehold of antichristian Modernism. Lacking the churches our ancestors and parents built and which were inspired by the faith, were constructed as an expression of the faith, and used prior to the Modernist take-over for the faith, those who labor in season and out of season, in good report and bad report, ever preaching sound doctrine to which the Modernist heretics close their ears, the conviction that fidelity to the true and unadulterated faith and practice of the Church is the only valid point of departure for re-building a lost faith becomes the supernatural source of courage against all odds.

This great saintly Pope, courageous successor of St. Peter and devout Franciscan Tertiary, St. Pius X, has given us the weapons wherewith to combat the insidious enemies of the Church from within and from without. All we need is a bit of that same courageous conviction.

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