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Ryan Akers wrote:

Hi, guys—

  • Can Transubstantiation and transmutation be used interchangeably?

I know that Transubstantiation is now the official term, but . . .

What would be great is if you had a web site that had ancient Church writings using the word transmutation interchangeably with transubstantiation.

I am trying to argue some points on my Religion final.



  { Can Transubstantiation and transmutation be used interchangeably? }

Fr. Francis replied:

Hi, Ryan —

I must say transmutation is a new one on me. Given its Latin roots, it seems to say that a mutation takes place. Given that a mutation is a species of the original, this does not fit, at all, in the Church's faith in the Eucharist. The bread and wine are not mutated or changed into another form of bread and wine. 

For example, white wheat bread is not changed whole wheat. White wine is neither changed into red wine. What indeed takes place is a total transformation of the substance or essence of the bread and wine. No longer do we have bread and wine but instead, we have the Body and Blood of Christ.

Although, for obvious reasons, the Encyclical Mysterium Fidei of Paul VI is dated 1965,
he expressly denies the suitability and usage of such terms as:

  • transfiguration and
  • transignification because they too, leave the substance untouched.

There is much pseudo-theology that is attempting to express the teaching of the Church, in many areas, using a "subjective epistemology". In other words, the emphasis is on what the subject "knows" rather, than on the "objective epistemology", which is the tried and true inheritance of the ancients, both Greek and Christian philosophers, who do not despair of arriving at the Truth or the "truth of the thing" and allow the "being" to reveal itself truly, and really, to the knower.

In short, transubstantiation cannot be used interchangeably with transmutation. It is mixing apples and oranges and, sadly, it is not only shortchanging what we can know, it is mutilating the teaching of the Church concerning the Eucharist.

Fr. Francis

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