In my last post I endeavored to explore the diversity of doctrine in the Roman Church with regard to the pinnacle of its faith – the Eucharist – at the time of the Council of Trent.  And in that post I mentioned Fr. Daly’s examination[i] of four competing doctrines resulting from the work of theologians in the years after Trent.  A gentleman named Scot asked me to enumerate them and so I shall.

Fr. Daly begins with the current state of the Eucharistic celebration and works back to Trent.  It seems that his analysis causes him to note fundamental problems in the Roman Catholic doctrine of the Eucharist today, which finds its roots in Trent:

It should be noted that this idea of sacramental representation, although now quite characteristic of contemporary Catholic theology, is actually one of the weak points of that theology.  For this theory – that the historical saving acts of Christ are “metahistorically” made present to us – is not significantly supported by the biblical witness, nor by the Jewish background, nor by broad patristic evidence.  Still more, it is also the kind of theory that creates further problems, since there is little agreement among scholars on how to explain what is being asserted.[ii]

So what followed from Trent’s “true and proper sacrifice” language was really not at all clear or unified.  In fact, Daly writes,

…one must remember that Trent never explained what it meant by “sacrifice”.  That was left to the theologians to argue about…Inevitably, the Catholic theology of the Eucharist after Trent became extremely complicated. [iii]

Fr. Daly then relies on the work of Marius Lepin[iv], a Sulpician and founder of the Servants of Jesus who was an early 20th century scholar.  It was Lepin who identified the four competing theologies resulting from Trent’s declarations.   And they are:

Theory I: “The sacrifice does not require a real change in the victim; the Mass contains only a figure of the immolation of Christ.”[v]

Theory II: “The sacrifice requires a real change of the material offered; in the Mass the change takes place in the substance of the bread and wine.”[vi]

Theory III: “The sacrifice requires a real change of the material offered; in the Mass, the change affects Christ himself.” [vii]

Theory IV: “The sacrifice requires a real change; nevertheless, there is in the Mass a change only in the species of the sacrament.”[viii]

Fr. Daly relying on Fr. Lepin’s work describes the various theologians who supported these theories and gives a detailed explanation of their intricacies.  I will leave it to the reader to explore Fr. Daly’s work at length for that level of detail.

At any rate, this all supports our previous findings that the concept of unity did not exist with regard to the doctrine of the Eucharist in the Roman Catholic Church at the time of Trent.  And it also shows that Trent sowed the seeds for greater and not lesser disunity in what followed.

Soli Deo Gloria.


[i] [i] Daly, Robert J., S.J.  “Robert Bellarmine and Post-Tridentine Eucharistic Theology”, in From Trent to Vatican II: Historical and Theological Investigations. Ed. Raymond F. Bulman and Frederick J. Parrella. New York: Oxford University Press, 2006.  Pgs. 81-101

[ii] Daly, op. cit. p. 85

[iii] Daly, op. cit. p. 89

[iv] Lepin, Marius.  L’idée du sacrifice de la Messe d’après les théologiens depuis l’origine jusqu’à nos jours (Paris: Beauchesne, 1926) as cited in Daly, op. cit.

[v] Daly, op. cit. p. 89 with explanation on page 90.

[vi] Daly, p. 90

[vii] Daly, p. 91

[viii] Daly, p. 93