Philosophical consideration of Eucharistic Consecration
#1
[Image: elements.jpg]

As an introduction, I am quoting from https://www.ewtn.com/library/Liturgy/zlitur152.htm.

Quote:The question of distance must also be addressed. As our reader points out, if intention alone is sufficient, what would prevent long-distance consecration? Here the words of consecration themselves should help us. There has to be some meaning to the words "Take this," and "This is my body (blood)." The word "this" is not the same as "that" or "over there."

Liturgical norms usually require that all that is to be consecrated be present before the priest on the altar and upon a corporal. On very exceptional circumstances, such as large papal Masses, ciboria with hosts have been held by priests and deacons who are around or immediately behind the altar during the Eucharistic Prayer. Thus some relationship between the altar and the hosts to be consecrated is always maintained even though on some occasions the physical distance might be relatively large.

On one or two occasions, when the number of people made it impossible for the priests around the altar to distribute Communion to everyone from the hosts consecrated at the Mass, hosts consecrated at another Mass and reserved at a nearby church were used to distribute Communion to those furthest away. Not even the Holy Father believed that he could consecrate at a distance.

Yes, the photograph is low quality.  Also, I have blurred the priest and background to protect his identity.

The issue at hand is as follows:

All the vessels are in one indistinct group at the offertory.  However, at the point that the priest fills his chalice and removes the main host from the general ciborium, he separates everything meant for himself into a new group, so that there are two different groups of vessels on the altar.  I have never seen a priest do this before except when an altar server forgets to take the cruet of wine off the altar.  The priests I've seen don't call the errant server back, but rather remove the cruet some distance to the side of the altar so that it is separate from the group of elements before him.

Applying the philosophical standards from Fr. McNamara's article cited above, it appears that one must conclude that while there is a valid Mass and that the priest truly consecrates the elements before him, he does not consecrate the elements removed to the side.  The priest only consecrates what he can reasonably call "this" in front of him, but not what a reasonable man would call "that" over there.

I am looking for philosophical input.  Thank you.

-- Nicole
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#2
I already addressed this in your other post: "I've regularly seen at larger parishes the additional ciboria and chalices well over a foot away from the celebrant during consecration; if this were a significant issue, I think the Holy See would have already addressed it especially considering more significant distance is involved for Papal Masses, for example. As Fr. McNamara says, if the elements are on the altar, there doesn't seem to be a problem."

The very article of Fr. McNamara we both cite from indicates that the common opinion is that if bread and wine are on the altar, transubstantiation will affect all of it insofar as everything else is properly executed. This distance is not of the kind to lead to invalidity.

As Fr. McNamara hints at, the question enters in when the distance is of such a *kind* (not of such a distance per se) that the bread and wine do not have a "direct relationship" to the altar where the Mass is said, but this doesn't necessarily mean they have to be in front or nearby as there are plenty of instances where the elements are not in front or nearby as in Papal Masses or in some large parishes and a valid consecration is presumed to have occurred for all the elements at hand. Therefore, a "direct relationship" must be of the sort that involves immediate participation in the whole liturgical rite itself and not random bread at a random distance that has had no involvement in Mass, whatever else that direct relationship might entail.

Certainly being a few feet off to the side of the priest's direct line of sight would not invalidate consecration... This isn't a new issue.
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#3
I think the fact that the other chalices are placed on the altar is sufficient to assume the intention to consecrate the wine therein. A bottle of wine left in the sacristy obviously would not be.
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#4
And this is the kind of thinking that causes scandal to our Orthodox brothers and sisters. How many angels can dance on the head of a pin? Seriously, the Eucharist is a mystery and cannot be explained philosophical. If we tried, we'd find it to be impossible, since accidents cannot be separated from their substance.

God the Holy Spirit accomplishes something beyond all human understanding in the consecration. Let's leave it at that. I say this as a professional philosopher.
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#5
(12-13-2016, 03:24 AM)richgr Wrote: I already addressed this in your other post: "I've regularly seen at larger parishes the additional ciboria and chalices well over a foot away from the celebrant during consecration; if this were a significant issue, I think the Holy See would have already addressed it especially considering more significant distance is involved for Papal Masses, for example. As Fr. McNamara says, if the elements are on the altar, there doesn't seem to be a problem."

The very article of Fr. McNamara we both cite from indicates that the common opinion is that if bread and wine are on the altar, transubstantiation will affect all of it insofar as everything else is properly executed. This distance is not of the kind to lead to invalidity.

As Fr. McNamara hints at, the question enters in when the distance is of such a *kind* (not of such a distance per se) that the bread and wine do not have a "direct relationship" to the altar where the Mass is said, but this doesn't necessarily mean they have to be in front or nearby as there are plenty of instances where the elements are not in front or nearby as in Papal Masses or in some large parishes and a valid consecration is presumed to have occurred for all the elements at hand. Therefore, a "direct relationship" must be of the sort that involves immediate participation in the whole liturgical rite itself and not random bread at a random distance that has had no involvement in Mass, whatever else that direct relationship might entail.

Certainly being a few feet off to the side of the priest's direct line of sight would not invalidate consecration... This isn't a new issue.

Thank you for your response.

"The question of distance must also be addressed. As our reader points out, if intention alone is sufficient, what would prevent long-distance consecration? Here the words of consecration themselves should help us. There has to be some meaning to the words 'Take this,' and 'This is my body (blood).' The word 'this' is not the same as 'that' or 'over there.'
"Liturgical norms usually require that all that is to be consecrated be present before the priest on the altar and upon a corporal. On very exceptional circumstances, such as large papal Masses, ciboria with hosts have been held by priests and deacons who are around or immediately behind the altar during the Eucharistic Prayer. Thus some relationship between the altar and the hosts to be consecrated is always maintained even though on some occasions the physical distance might be relatively large. "
This is a direct quotation of Fr. McNamara.  I have no argument with you over any direct relationship between the elements upon the altar when such relationship actually exists.  The proposition that I am making is based upon the premise that there is in fact no such direct relationship between the gifts on the altar due to their differentiation or division into separate places.

When the priest uses the formula "This is my Body, etc." or "This is the chalice of my Blood, etc." it is reasonably understood that he is not referring to anything that by common sense would be called "that" or "over there."

We are not discussion extraordinary circumstances in which explicit exceptions may be made.  We are discussing ordinary circumstances and reasonable men observing these.  My proposition therefore is: while there is a valid Mass and that the priest truly consecrates the elements before him, he does not consecrate the elements removed to the side.  The priest only consecrates what he can reasonably call "this" in front of him, but not what a reasonable man would call "that" over there.

-- Nicole
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#6
(12-13-2016, 11:02 AM)aquinas138 Wrote: I think the fact that the other chalices are placed on the altar is sufficient to assume the intention to consecrate the wine therein. A bottle of wine left in the sacristy obviously would not be.

Thank you for your response.  While intention may be something to consider, it is not at the heart of the topic.  I am interested in discussing whether the vessels which are placed in a separate place contain valid matter.  Part of the consideration of matter is its own accidents: i.e., locus or location.  My interest is the philosophical standard as to when location invalidates the matter.  My proposition as to the answer is that any separation or division which in common sense one would label the first group "this" and the second group "that" invalidates the matter for consecration.

-- Nicole
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#7
(12-13-2016, 11:05 AM)Papist Wrote: And this is the kind of thinking that causes scandal to our Orthodox brothers and sisters. How many angels can dance on the head of a pin? Seriously, the Eucharist is a mystery and cannot be explained philosophical. If we tried, we'd find it to be impossible, since accidents cannot be separated from their substance.

God the Holy Spirit accomplishes something beyond all human understanding in the consecration. Let's leave it at that. I say this as a professional philosopher.

Thank you for your response. 

Two things: 

(1) the concepts of "this" and "that" can be considered philosophically as they are within the purview of natural knowledge.  We are pretty much bound by scripture and tradition to discern in this regard as well (1 Cor. ch. 11 vs. 26-30).

(2) in the Eucharist the accidents we perceive stand alone in no substance.  It's a singular occurrence called Transubstantiation which effects this (see Council of Trent, Session 13, Can. 2).  To say that the substance of bread and wine remain (manifested by their own accidents) conjointly with the whole substance of Jesus Christ in the Eucharist is a Lutheran heresy (consubstantiation).

-- Nicole
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#8
(12-25-2016, 08:36 PM)yablabo Wrote:
(12-13-2016, 03:24 AM)richgr Wrote: I already addressed this in your other post: "I've regularly seen at larger parishes the additional ciboria and chalices well over a foot away from the celebrant during consecration; if this were a significant issue, I think the Holy See would have already addressed it especially considering more significant distance is involved for Papal Masses, for example. As Fr. McNamara says, if the elements are on the altar, there doesn't seem to be a problem."

The very article of Fr. McNamara we both cite from indicates that the common opinion is that if bread and wine are on the altar, transubstantiation will affect all of it insofar as everything else is properly executed. This distance is not of the kind to lead to invalidity.

As Fr. McNamara hints at, the question enters in when the distance is of such a *kind* (not of such a distance per se) that the bread and wine do not have a "direct relationship" to the altar where the Mass is said, but this doesn't necessarily mean they have to be in front or nearby as there are plenty of instances where the elements are not in front or nearby as in Papal Masses or in some large parishes and a valid consecration is presumed to have occurred for all the elements at hand. Therefore, a "direct relationship" must be of the sort that involves immediate participation in the whole liturgical rite itself and not random bread at a random distance that has had no involvement in Mass, whatever else that direct relationship might entail.

Certainly being a few feet off to the side of the priest's direct line of sight would not invalidate consecration... This isn't a new issue.

Thank you for your response.

"The question of distance must also be addressed. As our reader points out, if intention alone is sufficient, what would prevent long-distance consecration? Here the words of consecration themselves should help us. There has to be some meaning to the words 'Take this,' and 'This is my body (blood).' The word 'this' is not the same as 'that' or 'over there.'
"Liturgical norms usually require that all that is to be consecrated be present before the priest on the altar and upon a corporal. On very exceptional circumstances, such as large papal Masses, ciboria with hosts have been held by priests and deacons who are around or immediately behind the altar during the Eucharistic Prayer. Thus some relationship between the altar and the hosts to be consecrated is always maintained even though on some occasions the physical distance might be relatively large. "
This is a direct quotation of Fr. McNamara.  I have no argument with you over any direct relationship between the elements upon the altar when such relationship actually exists.  The proposition that I am making is based upon the premise that there is in fact no such direct relationship between the gifts on the altar due to their differentiation or division into separate places.

When the priest uses the formula "This is my Body, etc." or "This is the chalice of my Blood, etc." it is reasonably understood that he is not referring to anything that by common sense would be called "that" or "over there."

We are not discussion extraordinary circumstances in which explicit exceptions may be made.  We are discussing ordinary circumstances and reasonable men observing these.  My proposition therefore is: while there is a valid Mass and that the priest truly consecrates the elements before him, he does not consecrate the elements removed to the side.  The priest only consecrates what he can reasonably call "this" in front of him, but not what a reasonable man would call "that" over there.

-- Nicole

Re-read my response to you. Everything you just responded with has already been answered in that first post. I already clarified that even disregarding extraordinary circumstances. I'm not sure how you seem to continually miss the argument. If you agree with the words of Fr. McNamara you just quoted and you look at the original circumstances that you posted in your first post, then this issue should already be clearly resolved for you since it is ordinary circumstances and reasonable men observing. The general canonical rule for the validity of sacraments is to *presume* validity unless there are positive reasons to throw that into doubt. If this doesn't resolve the issue, then presuming good will on your part, the only possibility is that you've omitted some important detail that would significantly alter the circumstances as you presented them.

To repeat: If the elements are on the altar, whether or not they are in the same paten/ciborium/chalice is irrelevant, then the words of consecration affect everything on the altar. That is the common opinion that Fr. McNamara repeats. There is no distinction between elements in one vessel and elements in another with respect to their positioning on the altar. As long as they are on the altar, consecration occurs for all of them, for their presence on the altar provides that "direct relationship" needed for "This is My Body/Blood" to apply.

So your proposition is clearly false as it stands.

"That" over there would apply to elements removed from the altar (say on the credence table because extra wine in the cruet is not consecrated) provided there isn't an extraordinary circumstance. Also you are jumping from a grammatical distinction to a strong philosophical one that you haven't clearly articulated. Just because "this" and "that" are clearly grammatically distinct doesn't mean they are so strongly metaphysically distinct as to justify your proposition. If I'm understanding Fr. McNamara correctly, the relationship is secondarily one of location and principally one of intentional participation at the altar. You can't simply hold this distinction out as if it were self-evidently to be understood exactly as you do.

I already addressed the point that if this had actually been an issue, it most certainly would have been addressed by the Holy See long ago. You're not the first one to think about this problem. If you continue to think it's an issue, email Fr. McNamara for his advice.
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#9
(12-28-2016, 06:55 PM)richgr Wrote:
(12-25-2016, 08:36 PM)yablabo Wrote:
(12-13-2016, 03:24 AM)richgr Wrote: I already addressed this in your other post: "I've regularly seen at larger parishes the additional ciboria and chalices well over a foot away from the celebrant during consecration; if this were a significant issue, I think the Holy See would have already addressed it especially considering more significant distance is involved for Papal Masses, for example. As Fr. McNamara says, if the elements are on the altar, there doesn't seem to be a problem."

The very article of Fr. McNamara we both cite from indicates that the common opinion is that if bread and wine are on the altar, transubstantiation will affect all of it insofar as everything else is properly executed. This distance is not of the kind to lead to invalidity.

As Fr. McNamara hints at, the question enters in when the distance is of such a *kind* (not of such a distance per se) that the bread and wine do not have a "direct relationship" to the altar where the Mass is said, but this doesn't necessarily mean they have to be in front or nearby as there are plenty of instances where the elements are not in front or nearby as in Papal Masses or in some large parishes and a valid consecration is presumed to have occurred for all the elements at hand. Therefore, a "direct relationship" must be of the sort that involves immediate participation in the whole liturgical rite itself and not random bread at a random distance that has had no involvement in Mass, whatever else that direct relationship might entail.

Certainly being a few feet off to the side of the priest's direct line of sight would not invalidate consecration... This isn't a new issue.

Thank you for your response.

"The question of distance must also be addressed. As our reader points out, if intention alone is sufficient, what would prevent long-distance consecration? Here the words of consecration themselves should help us. There has to be some meaning to the words 'Take this,' and 'This is my body (blood).' The word 'this' is not the same as 'that' or 'over there.'
"Liturgical norms usually require that all that is to be consecrated be present before the priest on the altar and upon a corporal. On very exceptional circumstances, such as large papal Masses, ciboria with hosts have been held by priests and deacons who are around or immediately behind the altar during the Eucharistic Prayer. Thus some relationship between the altar and the hosts to be consecrated is always maintained even though on some occasions the physical distance might be relatively large. "
This is a direct quotation of Fr. McNamara.  I have no argument with you over any direct relationship between the elements upon the altar when such relationship actually exists.  The proposition that I am making is based upon the premise that there is in fact no such direct relationship between the gifts on the altar due to their differentiation or division into separate places.

When the priest uses the formula "This is my Body, etc." or "This is the chalice of my Blood, etc." it is reasonably understood that he is not referring to anything that by common sense would be called "that" or "over there."

We are not discussion extraordinary circumstances in which explicit exceptions may be made.  We are discussing ordinary circumstances and reasonable men observing these.  My proposition therefore is: while there is a valid Mass and that the priest truly consecrates the elements before him, he does not consecrate the elements removed to the side.  The priest only consecrates what he can reasonably call "this" in front of him, but not what a reasonable man would call "that" over there.

-- Nicole

Re-read my response to you. Everything you just responded with has already been answered in that first post. I already clarified that even disregarding extraordinary circumstances. I'm not sure how you seem to continually miss the argument. If you agree with the words of Fr. McNamara you just quoted and you look at the original circumstances that you posted in your first post, then this issue should already be clearly resolved for you since it is ordinary circumstances and reasonable men observing. The general canonical rule for the validity of sacraments is to *presume* validity unless there are positive reasons to throw that into doubt. If this doesn't resolve the issue, then presuming good will on your part, the only possibility is that you've omitted some important detail that would significantly alter the circumstances as you presented them.

To repeat: If the elements are on the altar, whether or not they are in the same paten/ciborium/chalice is irrelevant, then the words of consecration affect everything on the altar. That is the common opinion that Fr. McNamara repeats. There is no distinction between elements in one vessel and elements in another with respect to their positioning on the altar. As long as they are on the altar, consecration occurs for all of them, for their presence on the altar provides that "direct relationship" needed for "This is My Body/Blood" to apply.

So your proposition is clearly false as it stands.

"That" over there would apply to elements removed from the altar (say on the credence table because extra wine in the cruet is not consecrated) provided there isn't an extraordinary circumstance. Also you are jumping from a grammatical distinction to a strong philosophical one that you haven't clearly articulated. Just because "this" and "that" are clearly grammatically distinct doesn't mean they are so strongly metaphysically distinct as to justify your proposition. If I'm understanding Fr. McNamara correctly, the relationship is secondarily one of location and principally one of intentional participation at the altar. You can't simply hold this distinction out as if it were self-evidently to be understood exactly as you do.

I already addressed the point that if this had actually been an issue, it most certainly would have been addressed by the Holy See long ago. You're not the first one to think about this problem. If you continue to think it's an issue, email Fr. McNamara for his advice.

Dear Sir,

Thank you, once again, for your response.

Out of respect to you, I did go back and re-read your original post.  I think we need to take a few big steps back and view our whole correspondence with an ice-cold eye.
 
Something needs to be addressed:  The words of Fr. McNamara are not, “If the elements are on the altar, whether or not they are in the same paten/ciborium/chalice is irrelevant, then the words of consecration affect everything on the altar.”  But instead Fr. McNamara states, “Liturgical norms usually require that all that is to be consecrated be present before the priest on the altar and upon a corporal.”  The sense Fr. McNamara conveys is very different than the one which you are proposing.  Priests in reality DO differentiate, even upon the altar, between that which they present as valid matter for consecration and that which they do not.  An example of this happens when a negligent child-server leaves a cruet of wine upon the altar: the priest pushes the cruet off to the side of the altar.  It remains atop the altar, but also remains unconsecrated due to its division from the elements to be consecrated.

An authoritative source would be required to posit that the wine is in fact consecrated in the cruet, since natural observation shows us that the priest offering the Mass believes otherwise.

Also, Fr. McNamara shows that the division between “this” and “that” is not merely a grammatical distinction, but rather an actual differentiation which changes the matter presented for consecration either to valid or invalid.  Fr. McNamara’s words are: “Here the words of consecration themselves should help us. There has to be some meaning to the words 'Take this,' and 'This is my body (blood).' The word 'this' is not the same as 'that' or 'over there.'“  This is not a consideration of the priest’s intention in consecrating, but rather validity of matter.  The sense conveyed in the word “this” is a specific here and now as indicated by Fr. McNamara by his statement of what is ordinarily required by liturgical norms: “all that is to be consecrated be present before the priest on the altar and upon a corporal.”  He states, “present before the priest on the altar and upon a corporal.”  In contrast to what is conveyed by the word “this”, the word “that” conveys an opposition or contrary sense to here and now.  We understand by conventional use “that” to be a demonstration of another being in contrast to what we have before us, i.e., something divided and set apart, something not the same.  So, by no leap in interpretation, one could reasonably and rightly understand if it is not before the priest on the altar and upon a corporal, it is not what he calls “this”, it is not valid matter and it is not consecrated when the priest utters the consecration formulae. 

It is your interpretation that the priest presents all that is upon the altar as valid matter, just as it is your interpretation that what is standing upon the credence table or within the sacristy is the dividing point for what is not consecrated.  It could be correct or it could be error.  I don’t see that your interpretation stands in the absence of authoritative teaching or citation of actual liturgical norms.  If we could find some external authoritative source addressing this issue then that would be great.

-- Nicole
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#10
"but also remains unconsecrated due to its division from the elements to be consecrated" , "be present before the priest on the altar and upon a corporal."

With all respect, The first quote is your own misguided conjecture.  The point of importance is "On the Altar" . Obsessing about such things smacks of scrupulosity.  1 Samuel 16:7 states "But the LORD said to Samuel, "Do not look at his appearance or at the height of his stature, because I have rejected him; for God sees not as man sees, for man looks at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart."

Surely there are norms established by Mother Church.  So  "On the altar" means what it states. This argument reminds me of the question of baptism posited by some protestants who hold that immersion is the only valid form. I once asked one of these folks, So if the intent during an immersion baptism was true but a portion of a persons head did not get submerged, must God chop off that un-baptised portion of the sad persons head and send it to Hell?  Of course not. God honors our intent, and if our intent is to be obedient to church teaching and to Him then I suspect His grace is sufficient.
If you can't get your heart submitted to this simplicity then I suggest spending more time in silence before the Blessed Sacrament, asking in humility for peace and wisdom. Wisdom by the way is not knowledge, Wisdom is knowing what to do with knowledge. Wisdom is a gift. Godly wisdom can be learned to some degree by praying and pondering scripture, but it is, in it's essence, a gift from the Holy Spirit, who moves and acts in mystery beyond our ability to control, other than rejecting it's gentle promptings. Trust in God means giving Him back our free will and asking Him to put His will in our hearts. It is the rejection of our "self" as in self centeredness, and working to become God centered. Worrying about minutiae is selfishness in disguise most of the time. 

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