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§ 130. Lanfranc and the Triumph of Transubstantiation.

The chief opponent of Berengar was his former friend, Lanfranc, a native of Pavia (b. 1005), prior of the Convent of Bet in Normandy (1045), afterwards archbishop of Canterbury (1070–1089), and in both positions the predecessor of the more distinguished Anselm.745745    He was the first of the Norman line of English archbishops, and the chief adviser of William the Conqueror in the conquest of England. See Freeman, History of the Norman Conquest, vols. III. and IV.; and R.C. Jenkins, Diocesan History of Canterbury (London, 1880), p. 78 sqq. He was, next to Berengar, the greatest dialectician of his age, but used dialectics only in support of church authority and tradition, and thus prepared the way for orthodox scholasticism. He assailed Berengar in a treatise of twenty-three chapters on the eucharist, written after 1063, in epistolary form, and advocated the doctrine of transubstantiation (without using the term) with its consequences.746746    On the different editions and the date of the book (between 1063 and 1069), see Sudendorf p. 39 sqq. He describes the change as a miraculous and incomprehensible change of the substance of bread and wine into the very body and blood of Christ.747747    De Corp. et Sang. Dom., c. 18 (in Migne, T. 150, col. 430): ”Credimus terrenas substantias, quae in mensa Dominica per sacerdale mysterium divinitus sanctificantur, ineffabiliter, incomprehensibiliter, mirabiliter, operante superna potentia, converti in essentiam Dominici corporis, reservatis ipsarum rerum speciebus, et quibusdam aliis qualitatibus, ne percipientes cruda et cruenta horrerent, et ut credentes fidei praemia ampliora perciperent, ipso tamen Dominico corpore existente in coelestibus ad dexteram Patris, immortali, inviolato, integro, incontaminato, illaeso: ut vere dici posset, et ipsum corpus, quod de Virgine sumptum est, nos sumere, et tamen non ipsum.’’ He also teaches (what Radbert had not done expressly) that even unworthy communicants (indigne sumentes) receive the same sacramental substance as believers, though with opposite effect.748748    Cap 20 (col. 436): ”Est quidem et peccatori bus et indigne sumentibus vera Christi caro, verusque sanguis, sed essentia, non salubri efficentia.”

Among the less distinguished writers on the Eucharist must be mentioned Adelmann, Durandus, and Guitmund, who defended the catholic doctrine against Berengar. Guitmund (a pupil of Lanfranc, and archbishop of Aversa in Apulia) reports that the Berengarians differed, some holding only a symbolical presence, others (with Berengar) a real, but latent presence, or a sort of impanation, but all denied a change of substance. This change he regards as the main thing which nourishes piety. “What can be more salutary,” he asks,” than such a faith? Purely receiving into itself the pure and simple Christ alone, in the consciousness of possessing so glorious a gift, it guards with the greater vigilance against sin; it glows with a more earnest longing after all righteousness; it strives every day to escape from the world ... and to embrace in unclouded vision the fountain of life itself.”749749    Neander, III. 529 sq., from Guitmund’s De Corp. et Sang. Christi veritate in eucharistia. It was written about 1076, according to Sudendorf, p. 52 sqq.

From this time on, transubstantiation may be regarded as a dogma of the Latin church. It was defended by the orthodox schoolmen, and oecumenically sanctioned under Pope Innocent III. in 1215.

With the triumph of transubstantiation is closely connected the withdrawal of the communion cup from the laity, which gradually spread in the twelfth century,750750    In place of the older custom of administering the bread dipped in wine, especially to infants and sick persons. In the Greek church, where infant communion still prevails, both elements are delivered in a golden spoon; but the priest receives each element separately as in the Roman church. and the adoration of the presence of Christ in the consecrated elements, which dates from the eleventh century, was enjoined by Honorius III. in 1217, and gave rise to the Corpus Christi festival appointed by Urban IV., in 1264. The withdrawal of the cup had its origin partly in considerations of expediency, but chiefly in the superstitious solicitude to guard against profanation by spilling the blood of Christ. The schoolmen defended the practice by the doctrine that the whole Christ is present in either kind.751751    Anselm was the first to teach ”in utraque, specie totum Christum sumi.“ See J. J. de Lith, De Adoratione Panis consecrati, et Interdictione sacri Calicis in Eucharistia, 1753; Spittler, Gesch. des Kelchs im Abendmahl, 1780; Gieseler, I. 480 sqq., notes. It strengthened the power of the priesthood at the expense of the rights of the laity and in plain violation of the command of Christ: “Drink ye all of it” (Matt. 26:27).

The doctrine of transubstantiation is the most characteristic tenet of the Catholic Church of the middle age, and its modern successor, the Roman Church. It reflects a magical supernaturalism which puts the severest tax upon the intellect, and requires it to contradict the unanimous testimony of our senses of sight, touch and taste. It furnishes the doctrinal basis for the daily sacrifice of the mass and the power of the priesthood with its awful claim to create and to offer the very body and blood of the Saviour of the world. For if the self-same body of Christ which suffered on the cross, is truly present and eaten in the eucharist, it must also be the self-same sacrifice of Calvary which is repeated in the mass; and a true sacrifice requires a true priest, who offers it on the altar. Priest, sacrifice, and altar form an inseparable trio; a literal conception of one requires a literal conception of the other two, and a spiritual conception of one necessarily leads to a spiritual conception of all.


A few additional remarks must conclude this subject, so that we need not return to it in the next volume.

1. The scholastic terms transsubstantiatio, transsubstantiare (in Greek metousivwsi”, Engl. transubstantiation, Germ. Wesensverwand-lung), signify a change of one substance into another, and were introduced in the eleventh and twelfth centuries. The phrase substantialiter converti was used by the Roman Synod of 1079 (see p. 559). Transsubstantiatio occurs first in Peter Damiani (d. 1072) in his Expos. can. Missae (published by Angelo Mai in “Script. Vet. Nova Coll.” VI. 215), and then in the sermons of Hildebert, archbishop of Tours (d. 1134); the verb transsubstantiare first in Stephanus, Bishop of Autun (1113–1129), Tract. de Sacr. Altaris, c. 14 (“panem, quem accepi, in corpus meum transsubstantiavi”), and then officially in the fourth Lateran Council, 1215. See Gieseler, II. ii. 434 sq. (fourth Germ. ed.). Similar terms, as mutatio, transmutatio, transformatio, conversio, transitio, had been in use before. The corresponding Greek noun metousivwsi” was formally accepted by the Oriental Church in the Orthodox Confession of Peter Mogilas, 1643, and later documents, yet with the remark that the word is not to be taken as a definition of the manner in which the bread and wine are changed into the body and blood of Christ. See Schaff’s Creeds of Christendom, II. 382, 427, 431, 495, 497 sq. Similar expressions, such as metabolhv, metabavllein, metapoiei’n, had been employed by the Greek fathers, especially by Cyril of Jerusalem, Chrysostom, and John of Damascus. The last is the chief authority quoted in the Russian Catechism (see Schaff, l.c. II. 498).

All these terms attempt to explain the inexplicable and to rationalize the irrational—the contradiction between substance and accidents, between reality and appearance. Transubstantiation is devotion turned into rhetoric, and rhetoric turned into irrational logic.

2. The doctrine of transubstantiation was first strongly expressed in the confessions of two Roman Synods of 1059 and 1079, which Berengar was forced to accept against his conscience; see p. 557 and 559. It was oecumenically sanctioned for the whole Latin church by the fourth Lateran Council under Pope Innocent III., a.d. 1215, in the creed of the Synod, cap. 1: “Corpus et sanguis [Christi] in sacramento altaris sub speciebus panis et vini veraciter continentur, TRANSSUBSTAN-TIATIS PANE IN CORPUS ET VINO IN SANGUINEM, POTESTATE DIVINA, ut ad perficiendum mysterium unitatis accipiamus ipsi de suo, quod accepit ipse de nostro. Et hoc utique sacramentum nemo potest conficere, nisi sacerdos, qui fuerit rite ordinatus secundum claves Ecclesiae, quas ipse concessit Apostolis et eorum successoribus lesus Christus.”

The Council of Trent, in the thirteenth session, 1551, reaffirmed the doctrine against the Protestants in these words: “that, by the consecration of the bread and of the wine, a conversion is made of the whole substance of the bread into the substance of the body of Christ our Lord (conversionem fieri totius substantiae panis in substantiam corporis Christi Domini), and of the whole substance of the wine into the substance of his blood; which conversion is by the holy Catholic Church suitably and properly called Transubstantiation.” The same synod sanctioned the adoration of the sacrament (i.e. Christ on the altar under the figure of the elements), and anathematizes those who deny this doctrine and practice. See Schaff, Creeds of Christendom, II. 130–139.

3. Thomas Aquinas, the prince of scholastic divines, has given the clearest poetic expression to the dogma of transubstantiation in the following stanzas of his famous hymn, “Lauda Sion Salvatorem,” for the Corpus Christi Festival:

“Dogma datur Christianis,

Quod in carnem transit panis,

Et vinum in sanguinem.

Quod non capis, quod non

Animosa firmat fides

Praeter rerum ordinem.

“Hear what holy Church maintaineth,

That the bread its substance changeth

Into Flesh, the wine to Blood.

Doth it pass thy comprehending?

Faith, the law of sight transcending,

Leaps to things not understood.

“Sub diversis speciebus,

Signis tantum et non rebus,

Latent res eximiae.

Caro cibus, sanguis potus,

Manet tamen Christus totus,

Sub utraque specie.

Here, in outward signs, are hidden

Priceless things, to sense forbidden;

Signs, not things, are all we see:

Flesh from bread, and Blood from wine:

Yet is Christ, in either sign,

All entire, confess’d to be.

“A sumente non concisus,

Non confractus, non divisus,

Integer accipitur.

Sumit unus, sumunt mille,

Quantum isti, tantum ille,

Nec sumitus consumitur.

They, too, who of Him partake,

Sever not, nor rend, nor break,

But entire, their Lord receive.

Whether one or thousands eat,

All receive the self-same meat,

Nor the less for others leave.

“Sumunt boni, sumunt mali,

Sorte tamen inaequali

Vitae vel interitus.

Mors est malis, vita bonis:

Vide, paris sumptionis

Quam sit dispar exitus.”

Both the wicked and the good

Eat of this celestial Food;

But with ends how opposite!

Here ’tis life, and there tis death;

The same yet issuing to each

In a difference infinite.”

See the Thes. Hymnol. of Daniel, II. 97–100, who calls St. Thomas “summus laudator venerabilis sacramenti,” and quotes the interesting, but opposite judgments of Möhler and Luther. The translation is by Edward Caswall (Hymns and Poems, 2nd ed., 1873, and previously in Lyra Catholica, Lond., 1849, p. 238). The translation of the last two stanzas is not as felicitous as that of the other two. The following version preserves the double rhyme of the original:

“Eaten, but without incision,”

“Here alike the good and evil,

Broken, but without division,

High and low in social level,

Each the whole of Christ receives:

Take the Feast for woe or weal:

Thousands take what each is taking,

Wonder! from the self-same eating,

Each one breaks what all are breaking,

Good and bad their bliss are meeting

None a lessened body leaves.

Or their doom herein they seal.”

4. The doctrine of transubstantiation has always been regarded by Protestants as one of the fundamental errors and grossest superstitions of Romanism. But we must not forget the underlying truth which gives tenacity to error. A doctrine cannot be wholly false, which has been believed for centuries not only by the Greek and Latin churches alike, but as regards the chief point, namely, the real presence of the very body and blood of Christ—also by the Lutheran and a considerable portion of the Anglican communions, and which still nourishes the piety of innumerable guests at the Lord’s table. The mysterious discourse of our Saviour in the synagogue of Capernaum after the miraculous feeding of the multitude, expresses the great truth which is materialized and carnalized in transubstantiation. Christ is in the deepest spiritual sense the bread of life from heaven which gives nourishment to believers, and in the holy communion we receive the actual benefit of his broken body and shed blood, which are truly present in their power; for his sacrifice, though offered but once, is of perpetual force to all who accept it in faith. The literal miracle of the feeding of the five thousand is spiritually carried on in the vital union of Christ and the believer, and culminates in the sacramental feast. Our Lord thus explains the symbolic significance of that miracle in the strongest language; but he expressly excludes the carnal, Capernaitic conception, and furnishes the key for the true understanding, in the sentence: “It is the spirit that quickeneth; the flesh profiteth nothing: the words that I have spoken unto you are spirit, and are life” (John 6:63).

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