Thursday, June 10, 2010

Jesuit On Holy Orders, Transubstantiation And The Year Of The Priest

The Year of the Priest ends this week. Suitably enough, it ends in the week that began with the Feast of Corpus Christi which is one where the Eucharist gets focus. One of the heresies common among Catholics - I've even heard it from priests - is that the supreme significance of priesthood is that from Ordination on, the priest has the power to change bread and wine into the body and blood of the Lord. It was put that starkly by one commentator responding to my recent blog on the Real Presence of Christ in the celebration of the Eucharist.

From the Catechism of the Catholic Church

1336 The first announcement of the Eucharist divided the disciples, just as the announcement of the Passion scandalized them: "This is a hard saying; who can listen to it?" The Eucharist and the Cross are stumbling blocks. It is the same mystery and it never ceases to be an occasion of division. "Will you also go away?": the Lord's question echoes through the ages, as a loving invitation to discover that only he has "the words of eternal life" and that to receive in faith the gift of his Eucharist is to receive the Lord himself.

The institution of the Eucharist

1337 The Lord, having loved those who were his own, loved them to the end. Knowing that the hour had come to leave this world and return to the Father, in the course of a meal he washed their feet and gave them the commandment of love. In order to leave them a pledge of this love, in order never to depart from his own and to make them sharers in his Passover, he instituted the Eucharist as the memorial of his death and Resurrection, and commanded his apostles to celebrate it until his return; "thereby he constituted them priests of the New Testament."
Link (here)



P. Sullivan said...

Sounds like Fr. Kelly is making up his own rule book.

Anonymous said...

Did you read the whole column or just read and cut-and-paste the first paragraph? The Jesuit author makes it clear that he is not denying the doctrine of the real presence, as you intimate; he is denying the notion that the priest's power to confect the eucharist is his own power. Rather, it is Christ's power operative instrumentally through the agency of the priest. The author is analyzing whether it is accurate to say "priests have the power" to confect the eucharist. He concludes it is not accurate because it is not their power. The eucharist really does become the real presence of Christ, but not by the power of the priest -- by the power of Christ through the priest. Did you even read the column?

Anonymous said...

To my understanding the notion of a particular priest as a special agent of Christ was just not there in the early church, even though the belief in Jesus´ real presence in the bread and wine was. I would be interested in knowing how such an assignment of agency, exclusively to some Christians, came about.