But I did bring up a point that is not addressed. Is or is not "accidents" a part of RC dogma? Trent purposely avoided it. As I pointed out, this is a positive thing. It seems to be just a phraseology of theologians and not of official RC dogma. If not, then I certainly did not sin. But it is curious in the Orthodox Faith forum for me to be accused of sinning/erring. But my major problem was that the point that I was making was that "accidents" is possibly not an RC dogma at all.
This is an astute observation, often missed by both Orthodox and Catholics. The Tridentine definition of transubstantiation does not use the philosophical term "accident" but rather "appearance." I do not doubt that the Tridentine bishops believed the two terms to be synonymous; but it is not unimportant that they chose to use the non-philosophical term in the definition. They were not seeking to dogmatize Aristotelian metaphysics or any philosophical system. Nor were the Tridentine bishops seeking to "explain" the mystery of the eucharistic change; rather, they sought to state the mystery in light of Protestant presentations they deemed heterodox.
Interestingly the question what does transubstantiation mean is presently being discussed over at the Monachos forum. Given that I probably have a better grasp of Catholic doctrine of transubstantiation than most other Orthodox, I wrote a long comment describing what I believe the Catholic Church teaches (reproduced below):
Within the Catholic Church there are many construals of transubstantiation. This was true at the Council of Trent, and it is certainly the case today. The principal function of the Tridentine dogma was to exclude Protestant understandings of the Eucharist. It should not be read as dogmatizing a specific philosophical understanding of substance, accidents, matter, and existence. That's certainly not how the best Catholic theologians interpret and apply the dogma. So what is the Catholic doctrine of transubstantiation trying to say? I propose the following:
(1) By the action of the divine Word, the elements of bread and wine truly become the Body and Blood of the risen and glorified Jesus Christ. Latin theologians employ the category of "substance" to answer the commonsense question "What is that thing?" What is present on the altar before the consecration? Bread and wine. What is present on the altar after the consecration? Body and Blood. In other words, a substantial change (transubstantiation) has occurred.
(2) Because a substantial change has occurred, it is no longer appropriate to literally
apply the words "bread" and "wine" to the Holy Gifts. This is the whole point in saying that the substance of the bread and wine have become the substance of the Body and Blood. By Latin apprehension, it would be wrong to point to the consecrated Host and say, "That is both bread and Body." That would be to misdescribe the eucharistic reality.
But if a change of substance has occurred, why is it that we only perceive bread and wine? It is here that Catholic theologians have invoked the distinction between substance and appearances (species): the bread and wine truly become the Body and Blood of Christ, yet they still appear to be bread and wine. All of the sensible qualities (accidents) of the bread and wine remain intact. If a scientist (God forbid!) were to analyze the consecrated elements, he would discover that they are identical to bread and wine in every way. No chemical, material, or molecular change has occurred. This is a critical point to recognize, because it is at this point that many people, including many Catholics, get confused. They think that transubstantiation necessarily entails a chemical-material change in the elements, a change that God miraculously keeps hidden from us. But this is not what the doctrine says. This is not what Thomas Aquinas says. The Lutheran Hermann Sasse has even accused Aquinas of being a semi-Calvinist, because of his insistence that Christ is not locally present in the Sacrament. But I'm sure that many Catholics over the centuries have believed that the eucharistic transformation involves a material change in the elements. How else to explain the violence of Catholic/Protestant polemic in the 16th century? Some Orthodox have also believed this: see, e.g., Vladimir Moss, "Dialogue Between an Orthodox and an Ecumenist
The distinction between substance (what the Sacrament truly is) and appearance (what we perceive) is hardly an invention of the Latin Church. Consider this passage from St Cyril of Jerusalem:
These things having learnt, and being fully persuaded that what seems bread is not bread, though bread by taste, but the Body of Christ; and that what seems wine is not wine, though the taste will have it so, but the Blood of Christ; and that of this David sung of old, saying, (And bread which strengtheneth man's heart, and oil to make his face to shine) [Ps. 104:15], "strengthen thine heart," partaking thereof as spiritual, and "make the face of thy soul to shine."
Or this passage from St Theophylact, commenting on Matt 26:26:
"By saying, 'This is My Body,' He shows that the bread which is sanctified on the altar is the Lords Body Itself, and not a symbolic type. For He did not say, 'This is a type,' but 'This is My Body.' By an ineffable action it is changed, although it may appear to us as bread. Since we are weak and could not endure raw meat, much less human flesh, it appears as bread to us although it is indeed flesh."
Neither author explicitly employs the term "substance," but clearly the notion is implicit.
How can there be a change of substance without a change of the sensible qualities? Is this not nonsensical? That is the great problem posed by the doctrine of transubstantiation--and it is a real problem. Catholic theologians have struggled with this for centuries. The literature here is vast, but I commend to everyone this article by Fr Herbert McCabe: Eucharistic Change
. Also see two blog articles I wrote about McCabe: "When Bread is not Bread
" and "The Risen Christ and the Language of God
." McCabe was one of the finest British theologians of the 20th century and a keen student of Thomas Aquinas. A comparison of the views of McCabe and those of Schmemann, Bulgakov, and Evdokimov might prove particularly illuminating.
In his book Orthodoxy
Paul Evdokimov states that it was only until the 9th and 11th centuries that anyone in the Church, and specifically the Latin Church, seriously posed the questions "what?" and "how?" concerning the Holy Eucharist. I'm not sure if this is completely accurate; but once these questions are asked, it seems to me that something akin to transubstantiation, i.e., the assertion of the ontological transformation of the bread and wine, is a reasonable response consistent with the faith of the ancient Church. This would also explain why the Orthodox Church felt free to appropriate the language of transubstantiation when addressing Protestant eucharistic heresies. Thus Fr Michael Pomzansky in his Orthodox Dogmatic Theology
In the Mystery of the Eucharist, at the time when the priest, invoking the Holy Spirit upon the offered Gifts, blesses them with the prayer to God the Father: "Make this bread the precious Body of Thy Christ; and that which is in this cup, the precious Blood of Thy Christ; changing them by Thy Holy Spirit" — the bread and wine actually are changed into the Body and Blood by the coming down of the Holy Spirit. After this moment, although our eyes see bread and wine on the Holy Table, in their very essence, invisibly for sensual eyes, this is the true Body and true Blood of the Lord Jesus, only under the "forms" of bread and wine.
Thus the sanctified Gifts 1) are not only signs or symbols, reminding the faithful of the redemption, as the reformed Zwingli taught; and likewise, 2) it is not only by His "activity and power" ("dynamically") that Jesus Christ is present in them, as Calvin taught; and finally, 3) He is not present in the meaning only of "penetration," as the Lutherans teach (who recognize the co-presence of Christ "with the bread, under the form of bread, in the bread"); but the sanctified Gifts in the Mystery are changed or (a later term) "transubstantiated" into the true Body and true Blood of Christ, as the Saviour said "For My flesh is meat indeed, and My Blood is drink indeed" (John 6:55).
This truth is expressed in the Encyclical of the Eastern Patriarchs in the following words: "We believe that in this sacred rite our Lord Jesus Christ is present not symbolically (typikos), not figuratively (eikonikos), not by an abundance of grace, as in the other Mysteries, not by a simple descent, as certain Fathers say about Baptism, and not through a "penetration" of the bread, so that the Divinity of the Word should "enter" into the bread offered for the Eucharist, as the followers of Luther explain it rather awkwardly and unworthily — but truly and actually, so that after the sanctification of the bread and wine, the bread is changed, transubstantiated, converted, transformed, into the actual true Body of the Lord, which was born in Bethlehem of the Ever-Virgin, was baptized in the Jordan, suffered, was buried, resurrected, ascended, sits at the right hand of God the Father, and is to appear in the clouds of heaven; and the wine is changed and transubstantiated into the actual true Blood of the Lord, which at the time of His suffering on the Cross was shed for the life of the world. Yet again, we believe that after the sanctification of the bread and wine there remains no longer the bread and wine themselves, but the very Body and Blood of the Lord, under the appearance and form of bread and wine."
Or as Evdokimov, himself a fierce critic of transubstantiation, states: "In summarizing the teaching of the Fathers, beyond any physical conversion, for the eyes of faith after the epiclesis, quite simply there is nothing else on the diskos and in the chalice except the body and blood of Christ."