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77. The Accidents or Accidentals of the Holy Eucharist

1. A substance is a reality regularly suited to existas itself, and not to exist merely as the mark orqualification or determinant of something else. Anaccident, or an accidental, is a reality regularly suitedto exist, not as itself, but as the mark or qualification ordeterminant of something else. Thus, a man is a substance. But aman's size, age, appearance, knowledge, and so forth, exist,not as themselves, but as marks or qualifications ofthe man; these are accidents or accidentals of the man.Accidentals are said to inhere in the reality which theymark or determine or qualify. And the reality qualified byaccidentals is called their subject. The subject ofaccidentals is fundamentally a substance. The substance of bread isthe subject of the accidentals of bread; the substance of wine isthe subject of the accidentals of wine. When, bytransubstantiation, the substance of bread and the substance ofwine are changed into the substance of Christ, the accidentals ofbread and wine remain in existence without a subject.These accidentals of bread and wine remain accidentals of bread andwine; they do not inhere in the substance of Christ; theyarenot accidentals of Christ. Hence, while we can say of the sacredhost that it is round, and white, and brittle, and that it is twoor three inches in diameter, we cannot say any of these things ofthe reality which the sacred host actually is, that is, the bodyand blood, the soul and divinity, of Jesus Christ.

2. It seems that in the Holy Eucharist, thequantity of the bread and of the wine endures, and thatthe other accidents (such as color, flavor, brittleness) exist inthis quantity as in their subject.

3. The sacramental species can, by divine power (since allaction ultimately depends on God as first agent), affect otherbodies. Thus, we can feel the sacred species on the tongue, tasteits flavor, etc.

4. The accidentals (species) of bread and wine in the HolyEucharist are subject to corruption, that is, to spoiling, tosouring. When such corruption is advanced to the degree that wouldmake ordinary bread and wine cease to be true bread and wine, ourLord ceases to be present under the species.

5. When the sacred species are destroyed (corrupted byrotting, spoiling, souring, or mingled or melted in much water, orburned with fire), they generate other things; for instance, ashes,if the species be burned. Such corrupting does not affect the bodyand blood of Christ who ceases to be present as soon as corruptionof the species occurs.

6. The normal effect of natural bread and wine (that is,its effect of nourishing the person who takes it in as food anddrink) is in the sacred species, the accidentals of bread and winein the Holy Eucharist. But when these species are digested by thereceiver, they are corrupted, and Christ ceases to be present underthem.

7. The breaking or dividing of the species is not abreaking or dividing of Christ. It is a change of quantity which isan accidental of the species, and not an accidental of the body andblood of Christ. Christ is present, whole and entire, unchanged andundiminished, in every part of the broken host, and in everyseparated amount of liquid in the consecrated chalice.

8. Any liquid added to the chalice that would make itother than the consecrated matter of the Eucharist, would corruptthe species, and Christ would no longer be present. If only a dropor two of liquid were so added, the presence of Christ would bewithdrawn from the tiny quantity which these drops wouldsubstantially change, but would not be withdrawn from the contentsof the chalice as a whole.

"To do God's will -- this was the goal upon which the saints constantly fixed their gaze. They were fully persuaded that in this consists the entire perfection of the soul. "
St Alphonsus de Liguori

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"We must not be behind time in doing good; for death will not be behind his time. "
St Phillip Neri

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"Men should often renew their good resolutions, and not lose heart because they are tempted against them."
St Philip Neri

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