I am hearing on EWTN, only now and then, and from persons I cannot name, what I submit may be a rather serious heresy. It concerns not only the summit of mystical theology, the transforming union, but also the effect of our reception of Holy Communion. The reality of substance is crucial. What happens when we receive our Lord, Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity, in Holy Communion is entirely a qualitative - which is to say - accidental union and not of the substance of the soul. The same is true of the mystical-spiritual transforming union. This is in no way to minimize the degree of perfection such a union signifies. It is seen only in the canonized Saints,(generally speaking). It requires, and or presupposes, heroic virtue. The sisters of St. Therese, clearly witnessed such heroism, in the last months especially, of Therese's life.
Read the published LAST CONVERSATIONS, for very obvious examples of the heroic virtue manifest in the transforming union. But the point I wish to emphasize - and I submit all to the judgment of Holy Mother Church, is that there is no substantial change in the human soul, in this transforming union, nor in the greatest effect possible of Holy Communion. Our souls remain substantially human. We are "divinized", only accidentally, not substantially. This is not to derogate the union, but only to point out that we do not become God, which would be heresy to believe. We do become God-like, in a degree that grows with our cooperation with Divine Grace. Transforming union is the summit of the spiritual life and is open to all who are called to a life of prayer. According to many spiritual authorities, this means everyone who is baptized! Another common error, and one not unrelated to that just discussed, is what happens to the food we eat. Food is of two kinds and they are quite different! Many plants transmit the vital principle or substantial form of their being - in seeds that we eat. The cereal grains such as wheat and nuts, like walnuts pecans etc. When these seeds enter our digestive tract - they do not sprout and begin to grow - as into a bean plant or stalk of wheat
Rather, they begin to disintegrate and reduce to the nutritive elements, such as amino acids, proteins, carbohydrates, sugars and minerals, that our bodies utilize as vital nourishment. The point is - that the only substantial change that takes place is in the individual plant or tree, that - (eventually with the nut tree) - dies. We can say that the seed or grain as carrier of the plant's vital principle, dies in our digestive process. There is no substantial change in our bodies as a result of eating anything - even God Himself in Holy Communion. Where ordinary food is concerned, the individual plant and/or animal dies, and that is a substantial change for the individual - but not for the species, which continues to be transmitted by reproduction. Even in human reproduction, there is no substantial change. The ovum and the sperm are both cells of the male and female bodies. They are, therefore, accidental forms - not substantial forms. If they were substantial forms, they would refuse to unite. They do unite in reproduction, which is not a substantial change, but simply or complexly - the pro-creation of a new substantial form. The human being as conceptus - when God infuses the rational human and immortal soul into that tiny conceptus.
Incidentally, all virtues of the supernatural order, because they are entirely spiritual and thus unlike those human virtues of the natural order, have no basis in quantity. They are entirely qualitative and spiritual. This is why St. Bernard could say - that the only measure of our love for God is to love Him without measure. Of course, only in God, is every attribute infinite. Many saints tell us, that our own feeble virtue is potentially infinite - in that it strives to be without measure... especially when it comes to that greatest of all virtues, charity. All physical objects are measured by the electro-magnetic spectrum and the frequency they measure - according to it. Scripture tells us that God has ordered all things in measure, number and weight. (Wisdom 11:21). That is the physical and therefore quantitative. This same book of Wisdom (8:1) - tells us that Wisdom, which is the highest of the gifts of the Holy Spirit,... reacheth.. from end to end mightily,and ordereth all things sweetly. Might and sweetness are qualities, and if supernatural, that is, of Divine Grace, they cannot be measured. The Master assures us - that His yoke is sweet and His burden is light (Matthew 11:30). All the sourness and all the heaviness that irks us, comes entirely from our self-love and self-centeredness.
So there is only one kind of substantial change in the natural order, and that is the death of the individual plant, animal or man. Our individual death does effect the substantial change of separation of soul from body. Soul and body, in man, form one substantial form, - one substance. Death is an awesome change, but take comfort from the Preface for the Mass for the Dead ....that those whom the certainty of death afflicts - may be consoled by the promise of future immortality. For thy faithful, O Lord... life is changed, - not taken away. The abode of this earthly dwelling being dissolved - an eternal dwelling is prepared in heaven. All other changes are accidental - involving the actions of those wonderfully versatile elements, whose obedient operations are beyond any human imagining for marvelous design. And yet, these accidental changes are all of the natural order.
The great miracle of Transubstantiation, is entirely supernatural, for the elements are mute. For the first and only instance - of all their wondrous arrangements - with reports therof, they must remain silent, and obediently cover the most stupendous event in all of creation, as they stand guard, as it were, over the transformation of lowly bread and wine - grain of the field and fruit of the vine - into the Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity of the Word Made Flesh, Jesus Christ, our Lord and Redeemer. This is truly a change of substance - a transubstantiation that does not issue in death, but in divine and eternal Life. For by dying, He overcame our death, and by rising again - hath restored our life. (Preface for Easter). But the wise virgins took oil in their vessels - with the lamps. (Matthew 25:4.) This singular parable is specific for the Last Days - for it begins,"Then shall the kingdom of heaven be like to ten virgins - who taking their lamps, went forth to meet the Bridegroom and the Bride." (Matthew 25:1)
It is obviously full of symbols - which it is necessary for us to know and to practice - if we are to be among the wise virgins, who were ready when the Bridegroom came and went in with Him to the Marriage. And the door was shut. Our salvation is at stake - for those foolish virgins - who had no oil for their lamps and had run off to buy oil when the Bridegroom came - so that when they finally did arrive - they found the door shut to them. Not only that the Bridegroom Himself refused to open the door to them, because He did not know them. Knowing, in Scripture, always means the deepest and most intimate knowledge... spiritual as well as carnal. For virgins, this knowledge is entirely spiritual and even abhors the merely carnal. What are the lamps... what are the vessels and what is the oil? These are most important symbols of spiritual realities and signify things necessary for salvation.
Now, please check me on the following, because I do not have access to my reference books. I think it is the consensus of Catholic commentators that the lamp, with its shape, its wick and the flame of its fire is Supernatural, that is, Baptismal - Theological Faith, Hope and Charity. These three virtues are necessary for salvation. Since it is the oil that burns.. the oil is charity. Hope is the wick- and the lamp is Faith. The three theological virtues are so closely related, as almost to be one instead of three. And yet, St. Thomas is clear that an abstract kind of Faith, yet fastened to the will, also can exist without Hope and Charity. But it is certainly a precarious kind of Faith. Some, especially men, are said to cling with a persistent Faith, to the intercessory power of our Blessed Mother Mary - and not without good reason. What are the vessels that apparently only the wise virgins carried with the lamps? The lamps of the foolish virgins went out for lack of this extra oil carried in vessels with the lamps.... that is, in addition to the lamps.
In these Last Days of Darkness, everyone will need lamps just to survive spiritually - but only the wise ones carry extra oil in vessels with the lamps. Why only 10? And why virgins? What worse fate can one imagine than to hear those awful words of our Divine Lord: " I know ye not!" Jesus, Mary, Joseph, save us for Thy Glory.