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    Fr. Joseph Jenkins

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C. S. Lewis & Transubstantiation

Cynthia G writes:

Concerning CS Lewis, Father, I read that he was contemplating joining the Catholic Church when he died, and he never wrote anything about having a problem with Mary, although in one of his books, The Great Divorce, I think, he said that he couldn’t “get” the concept of transubstantiation.

Father Joe responds:

The issue about transubstantiation comes up in his Letters to Malcolm, my least favorite of his works. He personally found the Aristotelian distinction between substance and accidents difficult to grasp. I suppose it sounded too cold for him and removed from the perception of the apostles, although he admits it is unclear how they conceptualized the Eucharist. Lewis certainly believes that there is something significant about the Eucharist, far removed from a mere empty symbolism. He thinks of the veil being the thinnest in its regard. I suppose one might say that he preferred a mystical awareness, one probably better befitting his literary approach. Critics remark that it represented a divide with Tolkien. However, it should be noted, that Lewis was an Anglican. While many of his views are very Catholic, it remains that Anglican orders had been declared null-and-void by Catholicism. If there is no valid priest then there is no genuine Eucharist or REAL PRESENCE. The stumbling block might have been this objective reality. The Anglican Eucharist feigned being something that it was not. A man with a sensitive soul about such things might on some level, even if unconscious, register this shortcoming.

It reminds me of a Catholic friend who used to delight in his visits to the area of first going to the Episcopalian Washington Cathedral and afterwards to the Catholic Shrine of the Immaculate Conception. When I asked about it his response was both rude and funny. He said he went to the Cathedral to experience the gothic beauty and the REAL ABSENCE. Then he went to the Shrine with its many conflicting styles so as to encounter the REAL PRESENCE.

2 Responses

  1. FATHER JOE: Derogatory Comment to Kristin DELETED. Sorry David, but because of your lack of civility… you are banned.

    banned2

  2. I am a convert from Evangelical Protestantism. Before my conversion I wrestled greatly with John 6 and the passage in 1 Corinthians that speaks of those who eat to their own damnation, “not discerning the Lord’s Body .” I would receive the bread and grape juice and think, “Could this really be Jesus?” Then I went to Mass and realized at the consecration that THIS was Jesus. What I had received in my Protestant church was exactly what I had been taught—a symbol and no more. It isn’t a worthless symbol, because anything that keeps the Lord’s sacrifice before us has value. But it is more like a holy card or something. A representation, yes, but not Jesus Himself. I am so thankful He loved me enough to call me to His Church!

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