A Companion to the Eucharist in the Reformation by Lee Palmer Wandel

By Lee Palmer Wandel

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They could not transubstantiate by accident, nor could the word of institution alone accomplish the miracle. Richard of Middleton (ca. 1249–ca. 12 The official position quickly became so firmly entrenched that it was understood to have been the perpetual understanding of the Church. This enhancement of the power of the priesthood could not help but also enhance the power of the Eucharist itself. This period also saw a dramatic insistence on the presence of Christ in the Eucharist in a mutually reinforcing dynamic.

40 Thomas Aquinas, the Dominican theologian whose work would become the standard of orthodoxy for Roman Catholicism after the Reformation, therefore inherited an already constructed metaphysics of the Eucharist. Like his predecessors, Thomas argued that at the time of the change, a miracle took place allowing quantity to support the other accidents of bread and wine as a substance normally would. Quantity was able to do this since it had the potential for such an existence, and since the other accidents already adhered in quantity.

The host turned to flesh in the man’s mouth almost choking him. 51 Robert also related the story of his contemporary, Bishop Maurice de Sully of Paris (d. 1196) to whom, near death, was given an unconsecrated host by a holy canon of St. Victor’s in place of the Eucharist. The Bishop immediately recognized that the host was unconsecrated and asked for the true Eucharist. 52 In such stories, the theological subtleties of substance and accidents were completely lost on the faithful who would have been more interested in whether or not the host actually worked as a love potion.

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