Monthly Archives: October 2015

Does the Catholic Church Teach We Are Gods?

A common question I get as a Catholic apologist is rooted in a somewhat controversial paragraph from the Catechism of the Catholic Church (460):

The Word became flesh to make us “partakers of the divine nature”: “For this is why the Word became man, and the Son of God became the Son of man: so that man, by entering into communion with the Word and thus receiving divine sonship, might become a son of God.” “For the Son of God became man so that we might become God.” “The only-begotten Son of God, wanting to make us sharers in his divinity, assumed our nature, so that he, made man, might make men gods.”

On the surface, it looks troubling here especially because of the capital “G” where it says, quoting the great fourth-century defender of the Faith, St. Athanasius: “For the Son of God became man so that we might become God.” To some it looks like the Catholic Church is teaching a kind of pantheism (everything is God) or even polytheism (there are many gods). This is not the case. There are five points to be made here:

1. The Catechism of the Catholic Church makes very clear in paragraph 300 that pantheism is false when it says:

God is infinitely greater than all his works: “You have set your glory above the heavens.” Indeed, God’s “greatness is unsearchable”. But because he is the free and sovereign Creator, the first cause of all that exists, God is present to his creatures’ inmost being: “In him we live and move and have our being.” In the words of St. Augustine, God is “higher than my highest and more inward than my innermost self”.

The distinction between God and creation could not be clearer. The Church rejects pantheism.

2. In paragraph 2112, the Catechism also condemns polytheism:

The first commandment condemns polytheism. It requires man neither to believe in, nor to venerate, other divinities than the one true God.

 The Catholic Church has always condemned and will always condemn both pantheism and polytheism. Neither is being taught in CCC 460. Moreover, the Church condemns the error of henotheism as well, i.e., the idea that we worship one main God, but there may be many other lesser or even greater “Gods” in the universe. This is akin to what Mormonism espouses. The Fourth Lateran Council tells us in its Constitutions, ch. 1, “On the Catholic Faith”:

We firmly believe and simply confess that there is only one true God, eternal and immeasurable, almighty, unchangeable, incomprehensible and ineffable, Father, Son and Holy Spirit, three persons but one absolutely simple essence, substance or nature.

The CCC 212 says it this way:

God is unique; there are no other gods besides him. He transcends the world and history. He made heaven and earth… God is ‘HE WHO IS’, from everlasting to everlasting, and as such remains ever faithful to himself and to his promises.

3. If you look at the context of CCC 460, it is clear that the Church is teaching the very biblical concept of “theosis” (divinization) or that man is called by grace to participate in the divine nature. We do not become God in the sense that we become equal with God. That would be absurd and absolutely antithetical to Scripture and the teaching of the Church. In fact, the context of CCC 460 makes very clear when it says, “The Word became flesh to make us ‘partakers of the divine nature’,” and, “The only-begotten Son of God, wanting to make us sharers in his divinity, assumed our nature…” that it is talking about man participating in divinity by gift, not being equal with God. In footnote 78, the Catechism references II Peter 1:4 as biblical support:

… by which he has granted to us his precious and very great promises, that through these you may escape from the corruption that is in the world because of passion, and become partakers of the divine nature.

The Catholic Church is simply being faithful to Scripture in teaching man to be partakers of the divine nature by grace.

4. Where the English translation says, quoting St. Athanasius of Alexandria in the fourth century, “For the son of God became man so that we might become God,” the official Latin text actually reads, “Ipse siquidem homo factus est, ut nos dii efficeremur.” Literal translation: “For the Son of God became man so that we might be made gods.” The Latin term “dii” translated “God” in the English translation of the Catechism is actually nominative plural and is NOT capitalized. Unfortunately, the English translation of the official Latin text gets it wrong. “God” should be “gods.”

Part of the problem here may well go back to the original Greek of St. Athanasius from which the Catechism quotes. In the text of St. Athanasius the Catechism quotes, he actually wrote, “Αὐτὸς γὰρ ἐνηνθρώπισεν, ἵνα ἡμεῖς θεοποιηθῶμεν (Migne, Patrologia Graeca, 25, 192 B De incarnatione Verbi, 54), which translates literally: “For he was made man in order that we might be deified.” The verb θεοποιηθῶμεν, or theopoiethomen, is where the problem lies. This is a compound of two Greek words that mean “god” and “to make.” So one could see how a translator could translate it as “might be made God.” However, the word carries the connotation of participation in rather than actually becoming God. It is normally translated as “deified.” And if anyone reads St. Athanasius’ work, it is very clear that is the sense in which he was using it. It appears that the mistranslation in the Catechism may well have its origin in a mistranslation of the original Greek text from St. Athanasius.

Whatever the origin of the mistranslation, this much is clear. The biggest part of the problem we have here lies in a poor translation of the actual, official, and normative Latin text of CCC 460. But all should know that translations are just that… translations. It is only the original Latin text that is authoritative.

For people outside the Church this may sound strange, but we have an analogy in Sacred Scripture that our Protestant friends can appreciate. Let’s say we have a bad translation of Sacred Scripture. And there have been and are a lot of those. I like to use the famous “Adulterers Bible” published in 1631 by Robert Barker and Martin Lucas, the royal printers in London at the time. It was basically a reprint of the King James Bible, but with a number of flaws. The most famous of which was found in their translation of the Ten Commandments, specifically the sixth commandment (seventh for Protestants) in Exodus 20:14. They forgot the word “not” in “Thou shalt not commit adultery.” It read “Thou shalt commit adultery.” No honest person would cast aspersion upon the Sacred Text because of a poor translation like this. Similarly, a poorly translated word in a translation of the official Latin text of the Catechism should not be used to cast aspersion upon the Church. No doubt, future editions of our English translation of the Catechism will make corrections.

5. We should also note that even with the poor translation, we are not talking about anything heretical here. We are talking about an ambiguity due to poor linguistics. The context makes clear that the Church is not attempting to say Christians somehow become equal with God. The word itself should be understood in the context in which it is being written. So even if the Church intended to write “God” instead of “gods” here, the context would make clear that we are still talking about men being partakers of divinity and not being made equal with God. The Catholic Church teaches that we do become “gods” but only in that sense of participation in the divine nature as I’ve said.

6. It is crucial for us to understand in what sense Scripture speaks of theosis or God’s people as participating in the divine nature. Yes, men are referred to as “gods” in Scripture and we need to know why. We cannot ever be “gods” as Mormons claim we can be. The famous quip in Mormonism, “As we are God once was; as God is we will become” is a definite no-no in Catholic and biblical Christianity. But without understanding properly the concept of “theosis,” Fundamentalist and Evangelical Protestants (and other sects as well) often find themselves unable to deal with key biblical texts that are used by Mormons to reinforce their henotheistic understanding. For example, after having declared the truth of his divinity by saying “I and the Father are one” in John 10:30, which then caused the Jews present to “pick up stones to stone [Jesus]” because they knew he had just proclaimed himself to be God, Jesus responded, in verses 34-38:

Is it not written in your law, “I said, you are gods?” If he called them gods to whom the word of God came (and the Scripture cannot be nullified), do you say of him whom the Father consecrated and sent into the world, “You are blaspheming,” because I said, “I am the Son of God?” If I am not doing the works of my Father, then do not believe me, but if I do them, even though you do not believe me, believe the works, that you may know and understand that the Father is in me and I am in the Father.

Jesus is here quoting Psalm 82:6, where God himself refers to the “princes” of Israel as “gods” inasmuch as they represent God to his people.

I say, “You are gods, sons of the Most High, all of you; nevertheless, you shall die like men, and fall like any prince.”

The Hebrew word used for God here is “Elohim,” which is the most common word used for God in the Old Testament. Indeed, in Exodus and elsewhere in the Old Testament we have multiple examples of people of God, judges in particular, being referred to as “gods” (see Exodus 22:8, twice in 22:9, and Psalm 82:1). The idea here is that “rulers” in Israel wield God’s authority as judges and as such are “gods.” Well, in the New Testament, Christians are much more radically joined to God through Jesus Christ so that they share even more profoundly in prerogatives that belong to God alone in a strict sense. Here is a brief list of just some of them:

1. God alone is “Father” in a strict sense, according to Matt. 23:9, yet many among the people of God are referred to and named “fathers” via participation in God. See Luke 16:24, Acts 7:2, I John 2:13-14, Eph. 3:14-15, I Cor. 4:14-15.
2. Christ alone is “teacher” according to Matt. 23:8 (Gr. didaskolos), yet many among God’s people are called to be “teachers” in Him. See James 3:1, Eph. 4:11, etc.
3. Christ alone is our “shepherd and bishop” (Gr. poimaine and episkopos) according to I Peter 2:25, yet we have many “shepherds” and “bishops” in the New Covenant Church. See Eph. 4:11, I Tim. 3:1, Acts 20:28, etc.
4. Christ alone is our “leader” (Gr. kathegetes) according to Matt. 23:10 and yet we have many “leaders” in the Church (Heb. 13:17; 24).

Those who participate in that which belongs to God alone in a strict and infinite sense do not take away from God; they participate in God through a gift of grace. The same can be said for we Christians as “sons of God.” Christ alone is the “only begotten Son” according to John 1:18; 3:16, etc., yet Christians are called “sons of God” and “born of God” in Galatians 4:4-7, Romans 8:14-17, I John 3:9, I John 5:18, etc. In fact, we should note here that angels are referred to as “sons of God” in Job 1:6 and sons of Seth were called “sons of God” in Genesis 6:4—obviously via participation and not by nature—even in the Old Testament. The New Covenant reveals Christians to be sons of God not only through participation, but even more intimately and radically via adoption. Christ alone is “Son” by nature, but it is entirely proper and biblical to refer to all of the above as sons.

Thus, with all of this as a backdrop, we can see how texts of Scripture that proclaim there to be only one true God, i.e., John 17:3, I Cor. 8:5-6, etc., do not contradict a text like John 10:34 where Jesus himself refers to the people of God as “gods.” The latter are “gods” via participation, God alone is God by nature.

Concluding Thoughts:

We do not speak often of the truth that the people of God are “partakers of the divine nature,” probably because of the confusion it causes from those who do not know the Faith and the Bible very well, but that is a shame. If Jesus Christ revealing himself to be “the Son of God” was one of the most profound ways he revealed his divinity in the New Testament—and it was—then our being “sons of God” reveals our participation in divinity as well. Are we “God” by nature? Of course not! But we are partakers of the divine nature. And this is extremely significant for us to know. In the words of Pope St. Leo the Great written over 1,500 years ago from one of his sermon (and found in CCC 1691):

Christian, recognize your dignity and, now that you share in God’s own nature, do not return to your former base condition by sinning. Remember who is your head and of whose body you are a member. Never forget that you have been rescued from the power of darkness and brought into the light of the Kingdom of God.

It is this biblical principle of theosis that is the basis for our understanding of how we can accomplish anything of eternal value in this life. “Apart from me, you can do nothing,” Jesus says in John 15:5. But we can do “all things in [Christ] who strengthens [us]” according to St. Paul in Phillipians 4:13. It is because of the Christian’s participation in divinity that he possesses spiritual gifts in accord with God’s will that empower him to perform miracles and all manner of actions that are beyond his natural capacity. It is because of this participation that his prayers can be efficacious and ultimately—and most importantly—he can merit eternal life as Romans 2:6-8 and Galatians 6:7-9 make clear:

For [God] will render to every man according to his works: to those who by patience in well-doing seek for glory and honor and immortality, he will give eternal life; but for those who are factious and do not obey the truth, but obey wickedness, there will be wrath and fury.

Do not be deceived; God is not mocked, for whatever a man sows, that he will also reap. For he who sows to his own flesh will from the flesh reap corruption; but he who sows to the Spirit will from the Spirit reap eternal life. And let us not grow weary in well-doing, for in due season we shall reap, if we do not lose heart.

When the Catholic Church speaks of “meriting,” we simply mean that we will be rewarded for what we do in cooperation with God’s grace. And as St. Paul says above, part of what we merit, or are rewarded with, because of God’s grace working in us, is eternal life. But we cannot accomplish this on our own. Not only did Jesus say we could do nothing apart from him, St. Paul also made clear that any works done apart from Christ are worthless as far as eternal reward is concerned (see Eph. 2:8-9; Romans 3:28; Gal. 2:16, etc.). However, because of our union with Christ through faith and baptism it is no longer us, but “Christ who lives in [us]” that accomplishes all things (Gal. 2:20). Through Christ and in union with Christ we have truly become “sons of God” and “partakers of the divine nature” whereby we are empowered to do what our own natures could never do. As St. Paul intimated in Romans 2, we can merit “glory” and “immortality.” We can merit “eternal life.”

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Another Great Apostolate

If you haven’t been to his website, you are missing out. Steve Ray is a dear friend and Catholic convert who is doing a tremendous apostolic work for our Lord, our Lady, and Holy Mother Church. Check out his website and blog here:
Steve is a convert from the Baptist faith, travels the world, leads pilgrimages especially to the Holy Land, gives talks, writes books, and much more.
I have travelled with Steve on multiple occasions to the Philippines, India and elsewhere. Let me just say I am so glad he is on our side! He’s a dynamo!

Do the “Dead Know Nothing?”

The toughest texts to deal with concerning the natural immortality of the soul are found in the Old Testament. These are the go-to verses for Adventists, Jehovah’s Witnesses, and others who deny it. One way you can go about explaining things to them is to go to the manifold and obvious texts in the New Testament that clearly teach the human soul to be immortal. These would include Jesus’ teaching about the afterlife in his parable of Lazarus and the rich man in Luke 16:19-31 (there Jesus indicates there is an immediate or “particular” judgment and either reward or punishment at the point of death), the various texts that teach of the eternity of Hell (Matt. 25:41; 46; Rev. 14:9-11; Rev. 20:10-15, etc.), etc.

These and more texts we could use from the New Testament are crucial to the discussion, but not necessarily compelling, I have found, unless one can also deal with those “go-to” texts from the Old Testament. We will examine three of them here:

Man that is born of a woman is of few days, and full of trouble. He comes forth like a flower, and withers; he flees like a shadow, and continues not… For there is hope for a tree, if it be cut down, that it will sprout again, and that its shoots will not cease… But man dies, and is laid low; man breathes his last, and where is he?… Oh, that thou wouldst hide me in Sheol, that thou wouldst conceal me until thy wrath be past, that thou wouldest appoint me a set time, and remember me! If a man die, shall he live again?… His sons come to honor, and he does not know it; they are brought low, and he perceives it not. He feels only the pain of his own body, and he mourns only for himself (Job 14).

“His sons come to honor, and he does not know it?” To many, this text is clear: there is no consciousness after death. Further, the author compares the death of a man to a tree getting cut down. He says the tree has the advantage! The tree continues to live, whereas a man will not. Seems like an open and shut case. But not so fast! If we examine the context here we see quite a different story. Job is speaking of death being the final end to this life. He is not denying that there is an afterlife. There are three points to consider in order to clear up this apparent difficulty:

1.  Job compares man to a tree, which continues to blossom again; or “return” to this life. Man does not. He is not denying an afterlife. Job obviously believes man will be resurrected. He says as much in Job 19:25: “For I know that my redeemer lives, and at last he will stand upon the earth; and after my skin has been thus destroyed, then from my flesh I shall see God.” Job simply declares what all Christians believe: a man that dies will not return to this life.

2. In verses 13-14, as Fr. William Most has said, in his book, Apologetics Today, “[Job] indulges a fanciful wish, saying he would like to hide, without dying in Sheol, the underworld, until God’s wrath has passed.” This is an understandable wish in the midst of terrible suffering. It is in this context that he says, in verse 14, “If a man dies shall he live again?” Job knows that you cannot go to Sheol and return to this life. We know this is what he is referring to because, as we have seen, in Job 19:25, Job explicitly teaches that there will be a resurrection of the body. So the dead will return, but not to this life.

3. What about the part that says the sons of the dead man “come to honor, and he does not know it; they are brought low, and he perceives it not?” Job is writing at a time, before the advent of Christ, when the dead did not experience the Beatific Vision. The “limbo of the fathers” as it is called was somewhat mysterious.

Again, Fr. Most says:

Job talks of the future life as he knew it, and as Jews thought of it. Job and his people thought of life [after death] as a drab survival—which is what it really was before the death of Christ. It was a dim limbo of the fathers, in which they had no means of knowing what transpired on earth, whether their children suffered or prospered [barring a special revelation given by God to the souls in Sheol for a special purpose as we see in the cases of Samuel (I Samuel 28:15), perhaps Rachel (Jeremiah 31:15), certainly Jeremiah and Onias (II Maccabees 15:11-15), and Moses and Elijah on the Mountain of the Transfiguration (Luke 9:30-31)]. By way of the beatific vision of God [the holy soul of the departed] can know what goes on on earth. But without that vision he cannot. And that vision was not to be had in the days of Job, not until Jesus died.

It is interesting to note, as Fr. Most also points out, this text from Job 14 is far from disproving a belief in the afterlife; it actually demonstrates it to be true:

So, Job says that the dead man feels only his pain. The fact that he feels pain shows his continued existence. So there is an afterlife.

The “limbo of the fathers” was a shadowy sort of existence that we just do not know everything about. And neither did Job. This “pain” in the afterlife of which he speaks may well be a reference to the separation of body and soul at death and the longing for the resurrection. This makes sense when we again consider Job 19:25. Job said, “I know that my Redeemer lives, and at last he will stand upon the earth; and after my skin has been thus destroyed, then from my flesh I shall see God.” It would certainly make sense that Job would communicate a sense of “pain” in that the righteous dead are awaiting that which will finally complete them as human persons. Most important however is the fact that Job indicates “feeling” after death.

Psalm 6:3-6:

My soul is sorely troubled. But thou, O Lord—how long? Turn, O Lord, save my life; deliver me for the sake of thy steadfast love. In death there is no remembrance of thee; in Sheol who can give thee praise?

“’In death there is no remembrance of thee?’ How can it get any clearer than that?” says the Adventist. Fr. Most, quoting Scripture scholar Mitchell Joseph Dahood, S.J., responds:

The psalmist suffers not because of the inability to remember Yahweh in Sheol [Hell], but from being unable to share in the praise of Yahweh which characterizes Israel’s worship.

Psalm 6 is a Psalm of David written “to the choirmaster” in order for it to be sung in the context of the liturgical worship of the People of God. This is the worship of God that David loved so much. In Sheol there would be no Tabernacle, no Temple, no choir and no grand communal worship. There would be no “remembrance” of God in the liturgy. No “praise” of God in the assembly. This was the desire of David’s heart all of his life as we see here in Psalm 27:4:

One thing have I asked of the Lord, that will I seek after; that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, to behold the beauty of the Lord, and to inquire in his temple.

David does not want to be deprived of the glorious praise of God. Fr. Most continues:

Isaiah 38:18 also has similar language: “For Sheol will not thank you [nor] death praise you.” The verb for praise, hallel, in Hebrew is precisely the same verb used in I Chr. 16:4 and II Chr. 5:13 and 31:2 for the liturgical praise of God. That of course would not take place in Hell [sheol].

A good way to see vividly the difference between the after-life occasioned by the life, death, burial and resurrection of Christ in the New Covenant verses the after-life in the Old Covenant is to note the different ways death is viewed in each Testament. David, in Psalm 6, does not want to die because in death existence was less appealing than life in this world. Not just for the damned—of course that would be true—but for the just. In the New Covenant, we see just the opposite. St. Paul says:

For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain. If it is to be life in the flesh, that means fruitful labor for me. Yet which I shall choose I cannot tell. I am hard pressed between the two. My desire is to depart and be with Christ, for that is far better. But to remain in the flesh is more necessary on your account (Phil 1:21-24).

Only an understanding of the immortality of the soul and the glory of the beatific vision awaiting the faithful after the resurrection of Christ can make sense of this text. If there is nothing—but nothing—in death, then St. Paul should be saying with David, “I don’t want to die!” St. Paul says plainly that death in friendship with Christ is “far better” than life in this present world.

Eccl. 9:10:

For there is no work or thought or knowledge or wisdom in Sheol, to which you are going.

That sounds like we should join the local Seventh-day Adventist community, doesn’t it? What gives? As always, the key is context. Beginning at verse 5 of this chapter, we read:

For the living know that they will die, but the dead know nothing, and they have no more reward; but the memory of them is lost. Their love and their hate and their envy have already perished, and they have no more for ever any share in all that is done under the sun. Go, eat your bread with enjoyment… Enjoy life with the wife who you love… which he has given you under the sun. Whatever your hand finds to do, do it with your might; for there is no work or thought or knowledge or wisdom in Sheol, to which you are going. Again, I saw that under the sun the race is not to the swift…

Notice how many times the inspired author said “under the sun?” Three times in these few short verses! The inspired author does not say the dead have no existence at all. The context reveals that he was saying the dead have nothing to do with, and no knowledge of, what is happening “under the sun” as I’ve said before. But, in the end, the writer of Ecclesiastes knows that justice is coming in the next life. So certain is he of this that he can say in the final two verses of the book (Eccl. 12:13-14):

The end of the matter; all has been heard. Fear God, and keep his commandments; for this is the whole duty of man. For God will bring every deed into judgment, with every secret thing, whether good or evil.

The writer of Ecclesiastes is focusing upon what happens “under the sun” until the very end when he tells us that the after-life is the place where everything will finally make sense. He does not attempt to give us an in-depth teaching of the nature of the after-life. He simply assures his readers that ultimate justice awaits in God’s good time.

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Did Tertullian and St. Augustine Deny the Real Presence?

Many Protestant apologists claim we Catholics present a partial picture of the early Fathers with regard to the Eucharist. Both Tertullian and St. Augustine, they will claim, did not believe in the “Real Presence,” as Catholics refer to the teaching of the Church on Transubstantiation.

The examples they use are:

Tertullian, “Against Marcion,” Bk 4, chapter 40:

Then, having taken the bread and given it to His disciples, He made it His own body, by saying, “This is my body,” that is, the figure of my body. A figure, however, there could not have been, unless there were first a veritable body.

St. Augustine, “On Christian Instruction” (ca. AD 410), 3, 16, 24:

If a preceptive statement [in the Scriptures] forbids either vice or crime, or commands what is either useful or beneficial, it is not figurative. If, however, it seems to command vice or crime, or forbid what is either useful or beneficial, it is figurative. “Unless,” He says, “you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink His blood, you shall not have life in you.” It seems to command crime or vice; therefore it is a figure prescribing that there be communication in the Lord’s passion and a grateful and salutary treasured remembrance that His flesh was crucified and wounded for us.

Both of these men clearly teach the Eucharist to be “figurative.” So does this mean not all early Christians and Fathers of the Church believed in the Real Presence?

Moreover, it is argued, none of the Fathers used the term “transubstantiation.” Are Catholics claiming something to be true that is contrary to what at least these two famous early Christians believed?

The Catholic Response

Actually, the Fathers of the Church were clearly unanimous when it comes to the Real Presence. As far as Tertullian is concerned, there is some question as to whether or not he should be categorized as a true Church Father because of the fact that he died a Montanist heretic. But that doesn’t really matter for our purpose here, because he clearly did believe in the Real Presence anyway.

When Tertullian and St. Augustine use the term “figurative,” they do not mean to deny the Real Presence. In the texts cited, St. Augustine, for example, is warning against falling into the trap of believing the Lord was going to cut off parts of his body and give them to us. This would be cannibalistic and that is a definite no-no.

Indeed, both Tertullian and St. Augustine are emphasizing the fact that the Lord’s body and blood are communicated under the “appearances,” “signs,” or “symbols” of bread and wine. “Figure” is a synonym for “sign.” Even today the Catechism of the Catholic Church uses the terms “sign” and “symbol” to describe the Eucharist in paragraphs 1148 and 1412.

In the case of Tertullian, all we have to do is go on reading in the very document quoted above to get a sense of how he is using the term “figure,” and it is entirely Catholic. Notice what he goes on to say:

Then, having taken the bread and given it to His disciples, He made it His own body, by saying, This is my body, that is, the figure of my body. A figure, however, there could not have been, unless there were first a veritable body. An empty thing, or phantom, is incapable of a figure. If, however, (as Marcion might say,) He pretended the bread was His body, because He lacked the truth of bodily substance, it follows that He must have given bread for us. It would contribute very well to the support of Marcion’s theory of a phantom body…

Tertullian’s point here is that Marcion’s “theory of a phantom body” fits with Christ “pretend[ing] the bread was His body,” because Marcion denied Jesus had a body in the first place. But the Christian believes Christ “made it His own body, by saying, This is my body.” The transformation does not take away the symbolic value of bread and wine, it confirms it.

Tertullian makes clear in multiple places that he believed that Jesus communicated his true body and blood under the “figures” or appearances of bread and wine:

On the Resurrection of the Flesh (ca. AD 200), chapter 8:

The flesh, indeed, is washed, in order that the soul be cleansed; the flesh is anointed, that the soul may be consecrated; the flesh is signed (with the cross), that the soul too may be fortified; the flesh is shadowed with the imposition of hands, that the soul also maybe illuminated by the Spirit; the flesh feeds on the body and blood of Christ, that the soul likewise may fatten on its God. They cannot then be separated in their recompense, when they are united in their service.

On Prayer, Of Stations (Fasting), chapter 19:

Similarly, too, touching the days of Stations, most think that they must not be present at the sacrificial prayers, on the ground that the Station (fast) must be dissolved by reception of the Lord’s Body. Does, then the Eucharist cancel a service devoted to God, or bind it more to God?

On Modesty, chapter 9:

He (the prodigal who comes back to Christ) receives again the pristine garment,–the condition, to wit, which Adam by transgression had lost. The ring also he is then wont to receive for the first time, wherewith, after being interrogated, he publicly seals the agreement of faith, and thus thenceforward feeds upon the fatness of the Lord’s body—the Eucharist, to wit.

Similarly, St. Augustine also believed in the Real Presence. For example:

Sermons 234, 2 (ca. AD 400):

The Lord Jesus wanted those whose eyes were held lest they should recognize Him, to recognize Him in the breaking of the bread. The faithful know what I am saying. They know Christ in the breaking of the bread. For not all bread, but only that which receives the blessing of Christ, becomes Christ’s body.

Explanations of the Psalms (ca. 400) 33,1,10:

Here, St. Augustine comments on Psalm 119:109 in the Vulgate. The modern translations will more accurately say I hold my “life,” or my “soul” in my hands, or, “my life is at risk.” The Vulgate says, “And he was carried in his own hands.” This is the text St. Augustine would have known. He comments:

“And he was carried in his own hands.” But, brethren, how is it possible for a man to do this? Who can understand it? Who is it that is carried in his own hands? A man can be carried in the hands of another; but no one can be carried in his own hands. How this should be understood literally of David, we cannot discover; but we can discover how it is meant of Christ. For Christ was carried in His own hands, when, referring to His own Body, He said: “This is My Body.” For He carried that Body in His hands.

As far as the term transubstantiation is concerned, it is true that the term was not used authoritatively by the Church until the famous “Definition of Faith” of the 4th Lateran Council in AD 1215. And it would be infallibly defined by the Council of Trent. However, this is simply the term the Church used to define a belief that goes back to the inspired words of Christ himself. It describes the biblical belief that the “substance” or “nature” of bread and wine at the Liturgy are transformed into the body and blood of Christ, while the “accidents” or “appearances” of bread and wine remain. The Fathers used multiple ways to communicate this truth even if they did not use the term “transubstantiation.”

Here are just two examples among the many I could cite:

Notice these Fathers plainly declare the nature of the bread to have been changed into the body of Christ. That is the essence of what transubstantiation means.

You’ll also notice, especially with St. Cyril, that the term “figure” will be used as a synonym of “sign” just as we saw with Tertullian and Augustine while the context makes clear that he believes in the Real Presence.

St. Hippolytus:

The Apostolic Tradition (ca. AD 215), 21:

And then (after new converts have been baptized) the deacons immediately bring the oblation to the bishop; and he eucharists the bread into the antitype of the Body of Christ; and the cup of mixed wine, for an antitype of the Blood, which was shed for all who believe in Him; and milk and honey mixed together for the fulfillment of the promise made to the fathers, which spoke of a land flowing with milk and honey, that is, the very flesh of Christ which He gave and by which they who believe are nourished like little children . . .

St. Cyril of Jerusalem:

Catechetical Lectures (ca. AD 350), 22 (Mystigogic 4), 1-3, 6:

For Paul proclaimed clearly that: “On the night in which He was betrayed, our Lord Jesus Christ, taking bread and giving thanks, broke it and gave it to His disciples, saying, ‘Take, eat, This is My Body.’ And taking the cup and giving thanks, He said, ‘Take, drink, This is My Blood.’” He Himself, therefore, having declared and said of the Bread, “This is My Body,” who will dare any longer to doubt? And when He Himself has affirmed and said, “This is My Blood,” who can ever hesitate and say it is not His Blood?…

Let us, then, with full confidence, partake of the Body and Blood of Christ. For in the figure of bread His Body is given to you, and in the figure of wine His Blood is given to you, so that by partaking of the Body and Blood of Christ, you might become united in body and blood with Him. For thus do we become Christ-bearers.

Do not, therefore, regard the Bread and the Wine as simply that; for they are, according to the Master’s declaration, the Body and Blood of Christ. Even though the senses suggest to you the other, let faith make you firm. Do not judge in this matter by taste, but–be fully assured by the faith, not doubting that you have been deemed worthy of the Body and Blood of Christ.

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