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Part 2 of "The Blessed Sacrament is Truly Emmanuel" | Part
Can We Call Christ a Human Being?
One must also understand that, for St. Thomas Aquinas, unless we are speaking
about God, essence (substance, nature, or form) does not necessarily include
being (esse or existence). When St. Thomas discusses the composition
of a thing other than God, he says that "being is other than essence"
 and "being must be other than its quiddity, nature, or form."
 Even "the being of the intelligences must be in addition to
their form" - except for the "pure being" which is "God."
It has already been pointed out that, when the Church teaches that Jesus
is "consubstantial with us according to the human nature," she
means this in the sense of "essence," but not in the sense of
"hypostasis" or "person." Jesus does not have a human
"hypostasis" or human "person" in common with us.
This is why St. Thomas says "That Christ must not be called a creature."
 While Christ has a full human nature or essence, this essence does
not include created being or a created hypostasis (person). The
Angelic Doctor of the Church says:
But in Christ there is no other hypostasis or person
save that of God's Word, and this person is uncreated as is clear from
the foregoing. Therefore, one cannot say without qualification: "Christ
is a creature," although one may say it with an addition, so as to
say a creature "so far as man" or "in His human nature.
Someone might object and say that if Christ's human
nature did not have created being then Christ took on less than what we
are, for our human nature has created being. But, Pius XI quoted St. Thomas
Aquinas in his Encyclical Letter, Lux Veritatis saying:
Personality belongs to the dignity and perfection
of any being insofar as the dignity and perfection of any being require
that it should have its own existence as is understood by the term person.
It is, however, a greater dignity for anyone to exist in someone of greater
dignity than to have one's own existence. Therefore, human nature is more
dignified in Christ than in us, because in us with our own existence it
has its own personality, whereas in Christ it exists in the person of
the Word. 
Thus, Pius XI teaches that "human nature"
in Jesus Christ does not have its own being or "existence,"
but rather "it exists in the person of the Word." While the
Son of God assumes the essence or nature of created man (i.e., humanity),
He does not assume the being of created man. The Son of God, therefore,
does not assume human or created being. So, Jesus Christ
is not a human being except in a qualified sense. Rather, He is a divine
If one were to try to say that Jesus Christ is both a human and divine
being, one would imply that Jesus Christ is both two beings (one divine
and one human) or that He was a blend of a human being and a divine being.
But, to say that Jesus Christ is two beings is to clearly fall into the
Nestorian trap. For it does not matter whether you call the supposit
of the man a person or a being and the supposit of the God a person
or being, the result is still the same - two separate individuals. Salvation
and the Catholic Faith would entirely collapse. For, as St. Thomas says,
"Hence, if the human nature is not united to God the Word in person,
it is nowise united to Him; and thus belief in the Incarnation is altogether
done away with, and Christian faith wholly overturned." 
And an attempt to mix divine being and human being into one blended created
and uncreated being would also be disastrous for the Faith. The early
Fathers of the Church found it necessary to explicitly reject any intrusion
into the Deity by created being. In his First Letter to
Serapion, probably written between the years 359-360 A.D. from the
Libyan Desert, St. Athanasius taught: "We acknowledge the Trinity,
holy and perfect, to consist of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.
In this Trinity there is no intrusion of any alien element or of anything
from outside, nor is the Trinity a blend of creative and created being."
Finally, it is clear that Jesus Christ cannot be a human being or created
being because we are called upon by the Church to adore Jesus Christ with
"the worship known as 'latria' (act of adoration) which may be given
to God alone."  But, it is idolatry to adore anything created.
Jesus Christ, therefore, can only be a divine Being. St. Thomas says:
"the adoration of latria is not given to Christ's humanity
in respect of itself, but in respect of the Godhead to which it is united,
by reason of which Christ is not less than the Father."  Similarly,
Pius VI taught in "Auctorem fidei," August 28, 1794 that
the "humanity and the very living flesh of Christ is adored, not
indeed on account of itself as mere flesh, but because it is united to
the divinity." 
Thus, while it is correct to say that Jesus is fully human because
He has an essence or full human nature in common with us, we should not
say that Jesus is a human being. The "a" in the "a human
being" particularly indicates an individually existing created
human substantial form or nature. It will be most likely be understood
as human substance or human nature in the sense of a "hypostasis,"
"suppositum," or "subject," i.e., "person."
And then it would be incorrect.
The hypostatic union in Jesus Christ is a mystery beyond all telling.
We will never completely understand how a fully human nature or substantial
form can be joined to a divine Person without destroying itself or
substantially altering the being of the divine Person. We cannot even
understand how a substantial form can have the divine Person as its suppositum
or being. We only know that this is not contradictory. While Jesus Christ
has a full human nature and a full divine nature, these natures subsist
in His divine Person (hypostasis or suppositum). So,
we should not call Christ a human being, for He is a Divine Being.
Jesus Christ is truly Emmanuel. He is a divine Person and Being in
human form. When we touch the hands and fingers of Jesus Christ we are
touching his divine Person. Thus, St. John refers to the "Word of
Life" as that which "our hands have handled" (I Jn 1:1).
Let us now turn our attention to the Blessed Sacrament.
The Blessed Sacrament is a Living Physical Divine Person and Being
The Council of Trent has defined that there is no difference between the
reality of Jesus Christ and the Blessed Sacrament, except for the appearance.
The Council stated: "First of all the holy Synod teaches and
openly and simply professes that in the nourishing sacrament of the Holy
Eucharist after the consecration of the bread and wine our Lord Jesus
Christ, true God and man, is truly, really, and substantially contained
under the species (appearance ) of those sensible things." 
Similarly, in his encyclical, Mysterium Fidei, Paul VI stated about
the effect of the consecration at the Mass that "once the substance
or nature of the bread and wine has been changed into the body and blood
of Christ, nothing remains of the bread and wine except for the species
("appearance" ) - beneath which Christ is present whole
and entire in His physical 'reality,' corporeally present,
although not in the manner in which bodies are in a place." 
Because the Blessed Sacrament is the same "Thing" as
Jesus Christ, one might also ask whether or not one can call the Blessed
Sacrament a human person or a human being? No doubt, one might think that,
if Christ's "physical 'reality"' is "corporeally present"
in the Sacrament of the Eucharist, then the Blessed Sacrament must
be a human person or human being. But, we have previously stated that,
for St. Thomas, substantial being is "being through itself (per
se) because it is not in another" and "accidents" "do
not have being in themselves, independent of a subject." But, "physical"
is a quality and therefore only represents accidental being or "being
in another (in alio)." And, the "Other" or "Subject"
in which this physical quality subsists is the divine Being who is
the Second Person of the Blessed Trinity. Thus, the Catechism of the
Catholic Church states that "everything in Christ's human
nature is to be attributed to his divine person as its proper subject."
 This includes Jesus Christ's "physical, 'reality'." 
So, when our tongues touch the Host, we are not coming into bodily contact
with a human person and a human being. Rather, we are coming into bodily
contact with a living physical divine Person and Being as
directly and immediately as did St. Thomas the Apostle when he put his
finger into the nail-marks of Jesus' wounds and his hand into Jesus' side
and exclaimed: "My Lord and my God!" (Jn. 20:27-28). The Blessed
Sacrament is Emmanuel!
(This article originally appeared in the May/June
1997 issue of The Catholic Faith magazine.)
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1. Paul VI, Mysterium Fidei, Acta Apostolica Sedis, Vol. LVII (1965),766.
Partially my emphasis; Paul VI, Mysterium Fidei, No. 46, The
Pope Speaks, Vol. 10, No. I (Summer-Autumn 1965), p. 321. Partially
2. Paul VI, Siamo lietissimi in The Pope Speaks, 10 (First
Quarter 1964), 10.
3. Paul VI, Mysterium Fidei, No. 16, p. 312.
4. Enchiridion Symbolorum (Denzinger), No. 888, 30th edition. Hence
all citations of the Enchiridion symbolorum will be taken from
this source, unless otherwise indicated, and will be abbreviated as "Denz."
5. Denz., No. 302.
6. Tad W. Guzie, S. J., Jesus and the Eucharist (New York: Paulist
Press, 1974), pp. 67-68. My parenthesis and partially my emphasis.
7. Edward Schillebeeckx, O.P., The Eucharist, (New York: Sheed
and Ward, 1968), p. 120.
8. Anthony Wilhelm, Christ Among Us, 5th revised edition (San Francisco:
Harper Collins Pub., 1990), the cover and p. 216. My emphasis.
9. Denz., No. 61,113 ff., 125.
10. Second Vatican Council, Gravissimum Educationis, No. 10.
11. Second Vatican Council, Gravissimum Educationis, No. 10.
12. Denz., No. 148 & 283.
13. St. Thomas Aquinas, Summa Theologica, 1 a, q29, art. 2.
14. Denz., No. 710.
15. Denz. No. 148.
16. St. Thomas Aquinas, Summa Contra Gentiles, Book One: God, Ch.
25, No. 10, trans. Anton C. Pegis, F.R.S.C. (Notre Dame: University of
Notre Dame Press, 1975), p. 128.
17. St. Thomas Aquinas, Summa Contra Gentiles, Book One: God, Ch.
25, No. 10, p. 128.
18. St. Thomas Aquinas, Summa Contra Gentiles, Book One: God, Ch.
65, No. 3, p. 214.
19. St. Thomas Aquinas, On Being and Essence, Ch. 6, No. 1, trans.
by Armand Maurer, C.S.B. (Toronto: The Pontifical Institute of Mediaeval
Studies, 1968), p. 66.
20. St. Thomas Aquinas, Summa Theologica, la, q29, art. 2. Partially
21. St. Thomas Aquinas, Summa Theologica, III, q2, art. 2. Partially
22. Denz., No. 283.
23. Denz., No. 148, 283, 312.
24. John Paul II, Catechism of the Catholic Church, No. 466, p.
117. My emphasis.
25. John Paul II, General Audience of March 23, 1988, found in John Paul
II, Jesus, Son and Savior: A Catechesis on the Creed, Vol. 2 (Boston
MA.: Pauline Bks. and Media, 1996, p. 334).
26. John Paul II, General Audience of April 13, 1988, found in John Paul
II, Jesus, Son and Savior, Vol. 2, pp. 337-338.
27. Denz., No. 216-217, 30th edition.
28. St. Thomas Aquinas, Summa Contra Gentiles, Book Four: Salvation,
Ch. 38, No. 1-2, trans. by Charles J. O'Neil (Notre Dame: University
of Notre Dame Press, 1975), pp. 185-186.
29. St. Thomas Aquinas, Summa Contra Gentiles, Book Four: Salvation,
Ch. 38, No. 2, p. 186.
30. Denz. No. 148.
31. Denz., No. 168.
32. Denz., No. 111a.
33. Denz., No. 168.
34. St. Thomas Aquinas, On Being and Essence, Ch. 4, No. 6, p.
35. St. Thomas Aquinas, On Being and Essence, Ch. 4, No. 6, p.
36. St. Thomas Aquinas, On Being and Essence, Ch. 4, No. 6 &
7, pp. 56 & 57.
37. St. Thomas Aquinas, Summa Contra Gentiles, Book Four: Salvation,
Ch. 48, pp. 207-208.
38. St. Thomas Aquinas, Summa Contra Gentiles, Book Four: Salvation,
Ch. 48, No. 2, p. 207.
39. Pius XI, Lux Veritatis, in Act Apostolicae Sedis, Vol. 23 (December
26, 1931), 507-508, St. Thomas Aquinas, Summa Theologica, III,
q2, art. 2, reply to obj. 2. English translation from Michael O' Carroll,
C.S.Sp., "Lux Veritatis," Verbum Caro: An Encyclopedia on
Jesus, the Christ (Vol. 1), (Collegeville, MN.: Liturgical Press,
1992), p. 105. The Latin of Pius XI's Encyclical, Lux Veritatis,
reads: "personalitas intantum pertinet ad dignitatem alicuius
rei et perfectionem, inquantum ad dignitatem alicuius rei et perfectionem
eius pertinet, quod per se exsistat; quod in nomine personae intelligitur:
dignius autem est alicui, quod exsistat in aliquo se digniore,
quam quod exsistat per se; et ideo ex hoc ipso humana natura dignior
est in Christo, quam in nobis, quod in nobis quasi per se exsistens
propriam personalitatem habet, in Christo autem exsistit in persona
40. St. Thomas Aquinas, Summa Theologica, III, q 2. art. 2.
41. St. Athanasius, "Ep. I ad Serapionem," 28-30: pp.
26, 594-595, 599, found in The Liturgy of the Hours," Vol.
III, (New York: Catholic Book Pub. Co., 1975), p. 584. Partially my emphasis,
F. Chiovaro, "St. Athanasius," New Catholic Encyclopedia,
Vol. 1, pp. 997-998.
42. Paul VI, Mysterium Fidei, No. 55; Denz., No. 878, 120,
43. St. Thomas Aquinas, Summa Theologica, la, q 25, art. 2, reply
to obj. 1.
44. Denz., No. 1561.
45. Paul VI, Mysterium Fidei, No. 45.
46. Denz., No. 874.
47. Paul VI, Mysterium Fidei, No. 45.
48. Paul VI, Mysterium Fidei, No. 46, p. 321. My emphasis.
49. John Paul II, Catechism of the Catholic Church, No. 468 (Washington
D.C., Vatican City: United States Catholic Conference, Inc. - Libreria
Editrice Vaticana, 1994), p. 118.
50. St. Thomas Aquinas, On Being and Essence, Ch. 6, No. 2, p.
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