Re: Mithra

From: Iain Strachan <>
Date: Wed Apr 06 2005 - 03:41:26 EDT

Dick wrote:

> Please excuse my gross oversimplifications. However, I find it hard to
> conceive where in the digestive processes wine might acquire the properties
> of the Diety, ....

I'm not a catholic myself, so not an expert on this subject, but I remember
having a long discussion with a Catholic at university about the doctrine of
transubstantiation, and I think that if you're looking at "digestive
processes", then you're missing the point. As far as I'm aware, in the
Eucharist service a prayer is said to bring the Holy Spirit down on the
bread and wine, and a bell is rung, and at that point Catholics believe that
a miracle happens and they acquire the properties of the Deity. However, as
far as the chemical composition is concerned, no change is believed to take
place. This was explained to me as "accidence" as opposed to "substance",
which implied more than just the material properties. So in "substance" it
becomes the body of Christ, but in "brute material" it is unchanged. So as I
understand it Transubstantiation happens *before* you take the bread and
wine and what your digestive juices do with it is irrelevant.

I think this way of talking about it makes the process little different from
what happens, e.g. in the Anglican service when one of the prayers is that
the bread and wine may be for us the Body and Blood of Christ.

I must relate an incident that happened to me in a Catholic church in
Freiburg, Germany that tangientially relates to this. I was on a wine
tasting holidy in Germany with my German evening class. One woman on the
holiday was a devout Catholic and wanted to attend mass and wanted someone
to go with her. She knew I was a Christian and not a Catholic. During
communion, of course, I did not go up to the altar, out of respect for her
beliefs. Instead, naturally I prayed, or rather meditated and brought a
picture to mind of what it was actually like at the Last Supper. I remember
imagining a picture of Christ taking the bread in his hands, saying "This is
my Body", and gently tearing it apart and offering it to the disciples
saying quite simply "It's for you".

For me, this was an immensely powerful and moving experience, and I was left
with the strong feeling that, despite the fact I hadn't physically partaken
of the Communion, that none the less, I had, in some strong spiritual sense,
shared it with all these people. So I would say that "in substance" (in the
same sense of substance as in the word transubstantiation), I had indeed
shared in the body of Christ even though I hadn't even touched the bread.

The woman I was with was upset that "I have invited you into my church, and
I can't even offer you a meal". I replied "but you have".

Received on Wed Apr 6 03:43:47 2005

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