He is risen !
N° 212 – August 2020
Director : Frère Bruno Bonnet-Eymard
A Media-Staged “Warning”
UNDER the heading: “A dangerous theology of the Eucharist,” the warning issued by the bishops of France manifests an equally astounding lack of understanding on their part of both the Mystery of the Eucharist, Mysterium Fidei, and of Father de Nantes’ doctrine on this Mystery, which is nothing more than an inspiring contemplation of it. This ‘warning’ is fortunately devoid of any authority and therefore has no consequence on the infallibility of the Church nor her holiness.
It is not an ‘analysis,’ it is an imputation of unfounded motives: “To avoid condemnations directly against its doctrine, the Catholic Counter-Reformation has developed a culture of ambiguity that puts forward specious and contradictory reasoning from one line or paragraph to another.” What are the examples in support of such a serious charge? Not a single one is given!
“Nevertheless, by studying extensively the documents that circulate – the many leaflets, audio cassettes or other media – on which the often incoherent teachings of Georges de Nantes not only continue to be disseminated (on audio cassettes? No, those days are long gone. The CEF [French Bishops’ Conference] may not have access to our VOD? We would gladly make it available to them on simple request) but above all may lead those who receive them to distance themselves from the Catholic Faith.”
An example? There is total silence.
Here, on the other hand, is a disturbing digression that could lead readers in good faith, trusting the words of their bishops, ‘to distance themselves from the Catholic faith’: “Let us specify, since this word will be used often in the present warning, that the living Magisterium of the Church designates the bishops in communion with the successor of Peter (the Bishop of Rome), who have the task of authentically interpreting the written or transmitted Word of God.”
The “Pope” is absent from this introductory statement, and reduced to the function of ‘Bishop of Rome.’ It is the "Bishop dressed in White" of the Secret of Fatima who laid down the insignia of his office as Supreme Pontiff. From the very day of his election, Pope Francis designated himself only as “the Bishop of Rome,” which he certainly is. He, however, did not stop there in minimising his eminent office: in the 2020 edition of the Pontifical Yearbook, he had his title of “Vicar of Christ” withdrawn, relegating it to a footnote, with this description: “historical title.”
Previous Yearbooks mentioned the title “Vicar of Christ” and the name of the Pope reigning under that title; this year’s Yearbook only mentions the name “Jorge Mario Bergoglio,” the name of the man who became ‘Bishop of Rome.’ Cardinal Gerhard Müller, former prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, did not dare to call this change by its name of ‘schism,’ because it is a schism! He merely called it ‘theological barbarism,’ which means nothing.
The truth is that this formula deliberately confirms the Orthodox who are willing to recognise the primacy of honour for Peter’s successor, but not the primacy of jurisdiction which gives him immediate authority over all the faithful and over the appointment of bishops.
“Vicar of Christ” is not a “historical title,” as is for example, “head of the State of the Vatican.” It a dogmatic title! Jesus did not appoint Simon Peter to be Bishop of Rome, but made him the head of the Apostles. It was because the Apostle then suffered martyrdom in Rome that his primatial see was established in the Church of Rome. That is why the Bishop of Rome is also the successor of Peter, the Vicar of Christ. Each bishop of France only has jurisdiction over the faithful of the territory, or “diocese,” for which the Pope has given him the charge.
I therefore challenge the CEF and impugn its judgements on the Catholic Counter-Reformation since the bishops of France are no longer in communion with the ‘Pope,’ Vicar of Christ, but only with the ‘Bishop of Rome.’ Their ‘warning’ therefore has no ‘magisterial’ value.
The said CEF asserts that Father de Nantes “develops erroneous theses,” a conclusion that Roman theologians failed to reach during a trial for his attacks against the Council, held in Rome in 1968, from which he emerged victorious! After a rigorous inquiry that revealed “no theological error,” as the future Cardinal Re, now Dean of the Sacred College, later confirmed to me.
Let us add that Father Congar did not conceal his admiration after his reading of the treatise on Sacraments, which was developed in the Catholic Counter-Reformation bulletin throughout 1977 “I insist on saying that, for example, I greatly esteemed your catechesis on the Sacraments!” (CCR n° 84, p. 4)
Under the heading: “False Doctrines,” the scribe of the Episcopal Sanhedrin comes to the Eucharist.
“The theory of the transubstantiation of the bread and wine into the Body and Blood of Christ as an extension of the Incarnation must firmly be rejected: ‘under the hold of His Soul, as He [Christ] makes of this bread a real, historical, and material extension of His Incarnation.’ (Reference to CRC no. 116, April 1977, p. 10; CCR no. 96, March 1978, p. 12)
This quotation is truncated. Father de Nantes wrote: “As for the individual existence, this change is very great for it is total; the whole being, salt, alcohol, sugars, yeast etc. is absorbed by Christ’s Body and is under the hold of His Soul as He makes of this bread (omitted in the episcopal document!), a real, historical, material extension of His Incarnation.”
A further imputation of ungrounded motives underscores the scribe’s incomprehension: “Behind this and other similar formulations (where? What formulations?) the Catholic Counter-Reformation’s unacceptable Christology filters through. According to it, the soul of Christ would preexist an initial incarnation by which Christ takes possession of His Body, then, in the Eucharist, takes possession of the accidents of bread and wine which would become His Body and Blood, so that, finally, we who eat them assimilate this Body and Christ would continue to incarnate, this time, in us!”
In the first place, there is no question of “pre-existence” but of “existence” pure and simple, as the first word of the sentence from which the truncated quotation of our Father is taken at the moment when he brings the decisive metaphysical clarification foreseen by Saint Thomas: “How can that be? The only suitable answer is that portended by Saint Thomas: transubstantiation is a conversion of the being itself. The substance that changes is not so much the essence of the bread, which scholastics call the secondary substance, but rather the concrete being, the individual existence, the prime substance, the whole being down to the last atom of iron, which itself no longer exists, but which is the Body of Christ living by His own soul. I would dare to say that the change is not considerable with regard to the essence, since the bread is only a conglomerate produced from baking a mixture; the bond between the elements gives way and the soul of Christ will assume its functions in making it His own Body.”
There is no question of a “pre-existing” soul, but of the Risen Jesus, acting through the strength of His soul on bread that He had “taken into His Holy and Venerable Hands before suffering,” and on the bread that He takes at every Mass through the hands of the one who is the minister, after having suffered Passion and Death and then being resurrected:
“This is My Body.”
Instantly, there is no longer bread on the paten, no bread at all, “neither in substance nor in accidents and appearance. There is nothing of bread there. All this, which is the host on the paten, is the Body. All that, which is in the chalice, is the Blood. I see the Body; I see the Blood! And if you are astonished by their appearance, you must know, Excellencies, that Jesus Christ in His soul and consciousness, in His Divine Person, deliberately wills to take on this appearance and to act thus with a very definite intention. He wishes to be your bread truly, really and substantially to eat, your wine to drink for your good and for your joy.” (Georges de Nantes, CCR n° 96, The Holy Mysteries of the Body and Blood of the Lord. New Theology of the Eucharist, p. 12)
The rich novelty that Father de Nantes introduces here, which is misunderstood by the scribe of the Episcopal Sanhedrin, consists in going further than Saint Thomas, who is too closely tied to Aristotle. For him, existence has significance only through its bond with an essence. Stripped of this essence, existence remains unintelligible, in that it is nothing. Nevertheless, according to the decidedly Christian metaphysics of Father de Nantes, “every existence is like a portion of being, created by God and subsisting by a positive act of God’s Power. Thus the bread on the altar is a portion of being; it is the term of a fraction of creative energy: it is drawn from its nothingness and conserved as and where it is by a precise act of the will of God. Its place in the world and in history ontologically precedes its substance of bread and its accidents (This was clearly seen by Saint Thomas in the Disputed Questions de Malo. quest. 2, art. 3, ad. 3.)
“It is this portion of being that is taken hold of by Christ, in order to make of it His Body. The water, alcohol, gluten, iron, acids and proteins, all elements remaining without change of structure or operations, are the Body of Christ and no longer anything else. He is their total being, and their unique integrating form is the soul of Christ.”
In the autumn retreat that Father de Nantes preached to us in 1994 on the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, Mysterium Fidei, he compared the Incarnation of the Word in the womb of the Virgin Mary on the day of the Annunciation and “the nine months that followed, with the transubstantiation at Mass.”
Basing himself on a homily by the Venerable Saint Bede commenting on the Gospel according to Saint Luke: “This woman shows great devotion and faith, she who, before the scribes and Pharisees who were both tempting and blaspheming the Lord, recognised His incarnation,” exclaiming: “Blessed is the womb that bore You!”
Application to Transubstantiation: “Today’s heretics deny transubstantiation and say that there is only bread and wine on the altar, just as they used to say that in the womb of the Virgin there was only a man born of an ordinary man and woman, and that he was not God! No transubstantiation, no incarnation!”
The scribe of the episcopal Sanhedrin refers in a note to this retreat and concludes from it that, according to Father de Nantes: “Christ would continue to incarnate Himself, this time in us!”
To refute “this false thinking,” the scribe refers to Saint Justin, quoted by our Father during this retreat, yet in support of this comparison of transubstantiation with the Incarnation:
“For not as common bread and common drink do we receive these;” Saint Justin points out, “but in like manner as Jesus Christ our Saviour, having been made flesh by the Word of God, had both flesh and blood for our salvation, so likewise have we been taught that the food which is blessed by the prayer of His word (these are the very words of the consecration), and from which our blood and flesh by transmutation are nourished, is the Flesh and Blood of that Jesus Who was made flesh.”
Thus we see that, according to Saint Justin, there is a similarity between the Incarnation of the Son of God Who takes human flesh and soul, Who becomes man, and this same Man, this same flesh, Who takes the species or accidents of bread and wine. “So this Justin, in the year 150, is at the forefront of theological progress for the twenty-first century!” our Father exclaimed. “How wonderful!”
The truth of the matter, however, is that it is not concern for theological truth that inspires this ‘warning’:
“With their very ‘physical’ conception of the Eucharist, Georges de Nantes and his disciples develop a sensual conception (for which they have been reproached several times) of the participation of the faithful in the Eucharist. According to this spirituality, the eating of the species would be experienced in the mode of physical contact with the body of Christ, a contact that would be the condition for an authentic replica of the mystical union with Christ. The mouth of the communicant would embrace the Body of Christ in Communion, the sensation of contact with the consecrated host being the very place of the hope of union with Christ.”
THE EUCHARISTIC KISS
One day, our Father returned from his annual visit to our Canadian communities with a holy card that he had found there. It filled him with such enthusiasm that Brother Pierre gave it to him. It is a painting by Quirizio da Murano, kept in Venice, representing Christ with such gentleness, majesty, distinction and tenderness that the image reflects reality to some extent. He is holding a large host in one hand, and with the other, opening His robe, He shows the wound on His Side, marking its outline. In a completely Venetian landscape, almost blending in with the decoration, as though invisible, a nun is kneeling in a large black veil. Her face radiates admiration, ecstasy, and desire for this host that is being shown to her, for the Blood that has flowed from the Wound of the Saviour. Jesus offers the Eucharist to a nun, but this painting is an enigma, an enigma before which I remained silent for a long time, our Father confided to us.
Until the day when he had it printed for us to offer it to postulants on the day they took the habit while saying to them:
“By identifying yourselves with this humble woman at the feet of her beloved Master and Saviour, you will know what to offer Him, for if it is difficult to know Our Lord Jesus Christ in His true dimensions, it seems to me that, looking at this image, little by little, He takes on His true stature. When you have entered into this contemplation of Christ so majestic, so great, so noble, so perfect, you are seized by feelings of admiration, adoration and love, you fathom what His divinity is, His universal royalty and what is more intimate and more touching than anything else, His holy humanity.
“So, if you wish, let us imagine Jesus’ conversation with this holy woman and let us eavesdrop on what this holy nun is stammering in order to make it our own. The language of these women is somewhat disconcerting; what is this woman at the feet of Jesus saying to Him? Women are often difficult to understand and in their mystical elevations, it seems difficult for us, men, for us, grown-ups, to follow them! Perhaps, however, Jesus’ language will pass better, we will understand Him better! And I hope that He will inspire in us some feelings of His infinite greatness, His knowledge, His power and His mercy.
“And so this is the dialogue with which I shall conclude my sermon:
She is saying to Him:
‘O my Jesus, Son of God made man, Who are uncovering for me Your wounded breast from which the milk of Your Precious Blood gushed forth, and offer Me the host of Your Sacred Body, immolated for Me on the Holy Cross, what do I have in return to offer You, your pitiful penitent with black and sorrowful veils, eyes blurred with tears?
‘I have neither gold, nor frankincense, nor exquisite myrrh. While I know what a King, what a God You are, I know, too, what a man You are: once blooming and ruddy, the most beautiful of all, today man of sorrows, fragile, vulnerable to all blows, to all snubs and insults, struck, wounded already with a thousand cruel arrows, and now with cold indifference, ingratitude and contempt. You come thus to me, so pitiful, so touching. You are the friendly and fraternal man, the fiancé, the promised Bridegroom, Whom I adore, Whom I love, Whom I want to serve and, in order to be with Him, for Whom I want to die. I want to be with Him, all the more so as thus deprived You seem to call me, to desire me, to seek me in order to make me enter into the secret of Your divine Face, Your Heart and Your Body for me so close, so mysterious and touching. O You Who took me, loved me, fascinated me and shaped me to be totally Your creature, Your subject, Your servant and – I dare not say! so much my heart yearns with surprise and gratitude – Your spouse of flesh and Blood, host and Chalice, earth and Heaven, pain and Glory, time and Eternity.’
‘To Me, Who give you everything, you will give nothing?’
‘Sweet Bridegroom of my soul, You Who know everything, You know that I have nothing!’
‘First of all, dear spouse, give Me all the gold of your heart. Thus you will not be counted among the ungrateful, those who close their doors to Me and ignore Me, those who cast Me and My holy parents out of Bethlehem, My Father and I and our creative Love out of the world, leaving us in our distant Heaven, thus surely dooming themselves to perdition. Your heart is full of this gold that I have given you. It is your love, your will that are for Me the royal crown to which I lay claim as Lord of lords and Kings of kings, for their sake and the salvation of all of them. Crown Me yourself with it for the sole pleasure that I will have in crowning you with Me, for I am yours as you are Mine.
Give me also, O My devout servant, the scent of the incense that your soul exhales. It is your piety the fragrance of which rises slowly, airy to Me in the solitude of the sanctuary. Am I not your God in the Heights? In the bosom of My Father and your Father, I come down here below to delight in your silent adoration and to give you in return heavenly fruits of holiness. You, therefore, who have nothing to sacrifice, neither honey cake, nor sheep, nor turtledove, incense the host and the chalice on the altar of your soul and offer Me as a victim of merciful love to My Father; He will provide for all your desires in the blaze of our Holy Spirit of creative love in you. Be My monstrance and I will be your eternal salvation, to you and to all those whom you love.
Give Me finally this odorous myrrh that I see flowing from your hands, exquisite nard that you received from Me yesterday to return it to Me and anoint Me with it today in My cruel torment, My whole Body, My members, from the feet to the head plowed, wounded, pierced, thus becoming your closest friend, brother, Saviour, wounded by you, gathered by you, hidden in you, buried in you in that moving compassion, more than all uniting, by the final work that I claim from your pious and gentle hands. From your poured out perfume, I will rise again in souls and I will spread there My life, My peace and My joy that no one will be able to take away from them. You, follow Me like Madeleine with her alabaster vase in her hands, for the soul that heals Me here on earth and surrounds Me with its love will not know death but will remain in Me for eternal Life.
“Ah, Lord, take my gold, breathe my incense, anoint Yourself with our exquisite myrrh; I give You everything, I want to follow You and serve You for time and eternity. So be it!
Frère Bruno de Jésus-Marie
THE BREAD OF THE ANGELS
SINCE I am recounting my life story – an enterprise considered to be shocking, indecent and even stupid – I must, obliged my topic, tell what happened next: How, after returning to my sunny cell, I effortlessly wrote down what had come to my mind during Father Baufine’s class. I did not keep these two or three little pages, and I did not tell anyone about my explanation of the Eucharistic mystery. I already had a bad enough reputation of being an original not to exacerbate it further.
I did well to keep quiet at that time, but today I would be wrong to let obstinate Thomists, who have not read or understood me, say that I am heretical on the Eucharist. First, because to such accusations, every Catholic, be he cardinal, be he Pope, must respond; then, because my explanation has the merit of upholding the pure Catholic Faith and true devotion, such as they have always been expressed in liturgical prayer and the elevations of the saints, more daring than I, and in the very language of the faithful, whereas that of my contradictors distorts and mutilates them, and almost empties them of all reality. Thus I might as well write from memory what, one day in Eastertide 1947, fell into place without hesitation or deletion on my little school exercise book, with a calm joy at the sight of these layers of intellectual light mutually generating one another, nothing of which has since then faded or diminished. Is it possible for a priest, a preacher, a theologian to have such happiness and keep it to himself under the pretext of modesty? Life is a vocation; it consists for each person in giving the best of what he has received, discovered or rediscovered, to those whom he loves, to whom he has such a duty, in order to increase even more his inner joy by sharing it.
Is this the appropriate place? Let us not dwell on it! I will only relate the memory, leaving for other moments the scholastic demonstration and discussion of what seemed to me then so simple, so luminous, and so marvellous!
It was like an intellectual vision. From the Divine Word, rays of pure light were going off in all directions of the universe, from all eternity, as many creative words as there were rays, causing fields of wheat turning gold, leafy vine branches laden with fruit to emerge from darkness, and even from nothing, endlessly. “Be wine, be bread!” the Son of God, the Word made flesh, was saying, and the ray of light seemed to move successively from the baskets to the wine press, from the grapevine to the vat and the casks; “that” became wine, and altar wine in the beautiful golden chalice, while “this” became by the hands of man and the stone of the mills, flour, bread and finally hosts upon thousands and thousands of patens… I noted down immediately in my little exercise book, that this ray of light, the creative Word, was not a poetic or mystical imagining, but indeed the primary and principal metaphysical reality, the constituent act of being: “He speaks, and things are…” If He happened to remain silent and this Light were to go out, these same substances, bread, wine, flesh, blood and all others would disappear, would return to the nothingness before the Origin. The Origin is He, God the Word! Thus the creative relationship that is itself the divine work, a Word going forth from the divine lips, is prior to the substance and accidents of things, and more real, stable, defined and localised than matter, the famous materia signata quantitate [“designated by quantity”] of this pagan Aristotle. This “constituent relationship” holds the total being of the creature according to the good pleasure of the divine Word, in this or that essence and accidents.
It is this ray of light, the bearer of being, which from the lips of the Word gives their matter and their form, their substance and their accidents to this bread as well as to this wine that the priest regards, over which he extends his hands in sign of sacrifice, and that he is going to consecrate by the force of the words that this divine Word, Jesus Christ, commanded him to say in His Name so that they should operate through His power and creative omnipotence…
“Hoc est enim Corpus meum... Hic est enim calix Sanguinis mei...” the priest says with a voice rendered sovereign by the divine Order. At this sacramental word, a junction is made between various rays of the creative light emanating from the Incarnate Word, and the beings in which they terminate approach one another to the point of merging with one another: their being escapes from the hosts from which the substance disappears, having been seized and absorbed by the Body of Christ, and likewise the being of the wine, in its nudity as a creature, is surrendered to the substance of the Blood of the Son of God made man. The strength of this change is in the creative Will, its fulfilment in the original ray of light that is every Word that proceeds from the mouth of God; the ordained mutation is effected in the essences or natures, of the Body that takes the place of the bread, of the Blood that is substituted for the wine. It is indeed a total change according to Aristotle, but for the Christian this constituent relationship of origin remains stable, and the pure existence that is its term, is destined through all change even substantial to obey its Creator alone. This divine Will of Jesus Christ sufficiently manifests His intention when, driving out the bread and the wine, it ordains His Body and His Blood to conserve nevertheless the accidents or species in order to appear as He wishes to be for us on this occasion, like our bread by His Flesh, like our wine by His Blood, in an eating and an ineffable fusion of beings, full of love.
Moreover, was this not what Saint Thomas meant by his very obscure notion of a quantitas dimensiva, a quantity remaining stable throughout the change of the substance, which he could have expressed better if he had not been betrayed by the poverty of the pagan vocabulary of Aristotle and prisoner of his categories! I had convinced myself of this already the previous year on reading the disputed Question De unione Verbi incarnati, article 4, and the Quodlibétale 9, article 2, – to which I refer the specialists –, in which Saint Thomas boldly admits that in Christ an alien, secondary existence, an “esse secundarium,” vel “accidentale,” could have merged into and been identified with the pure and simple Existence of the divine Word, with its “esse principale,” vel “substantiale” at the Incarnation! Likewise, at the word of the priest, the secondary beings, the contingent beings of bread and wine, could well mingle with, merge into and lose themselves in the principal and sovereign Being of the Word made Flesh and Blood at his priestly Word alone… Thus all the difficulties smooth themselves out to the point of disappearing. I was happy and I still am.
Yet, what has become of the “Spiritual Sword” announced by the title of these pages? Well, the following pages will try to explain it and thus to conclude this matter on which I am lingering with pleasure. And the word pleasure is not strong enough, when it is the very quintessence of our Christian life!
(Georges de Nantes, Memory and Anecdotes, Vol. 2, pp. 248-252, 1993.)