Andy posed a great question regarding Alastair’s post on Transubstantiation. I thought I would post the question and answer briefly with my thoughts on the matter and perhaps Alastair could add some comments to it if he desires. Andy inquired as follows:
Christ is at a distance from us because of the disjointedness of our reality. Both the time and the place in which Christ exists are removed from our own (direct quote from Alastair).I’m sure that with some context it would become more clear, but it sounds at one moment that “reality” means location and presence – where and when things are. But then in this remark it sounds more like he’s speaking of a sort of “spiritual” misperspective that needs realignment. Maybe I’m misled, though, for I can see how the words he uses could also be speaking of the objective fact of the “not yet”-ness of our union and redemption in Christ, vis-à-vis the “already”-ness of that which we experience, again, in an objective, local, present reality when we are united to his flesh and blood by the Spirit in the Eucharist.
Here is my response:
The disjointedness of our reality does have a temporal significance. Similar to Paul’s comments, “we now see grimly… as through a dark glass,” so our reality is indeed disjointed. This means that it is incomplete due to a variety ontological “realities,” which includes: Sin, finiteness, incompleteness, and so on.
Further, it follows that Christ’s existence is separated from our own due to the ontological distinctions between us. Christ can no longer abide in our midst as exalted Sovereign until his enemies are under his feet (I Cor.15:25). So, it is the exalted state of Christ that causes this severe separation. In essence, I believe all your comments reflect the partaking of the elements. I am not quite sure if Alastair meant it that way, but I would agree that there are also elements of temporality and already/not-yet-ness to the partaking of the meal. It is as Alistair put it: “a mini-advent,” or rather as I prefer to say it, “a mini-trailer” to the big picture. In all, the Spirit of Christ stands as the one who ushers us into these realities. Herein, lies the error of the Roman Church on this matter where they bring Christ down again and again not only to re-visualize, but to re-sacrifice our Lord. Alistair’s statement that it is we that go up, not Christ that comes down summarizes clearly our primary and fundamental difference.
A brief answer to your question would be to say that both our location and our spirituality needs “alignment” as you put it and the elements serve to re-align our disjointed lives every Sabbath; hence lies the importance of weekly “Eucharistic Celebration.”