Quantum Physics and the Eucharist

With relativity and quantum physics, the drive towards mastery died to the mystery in science in the 20th century. Although scientists like Albert Einstein and his followers tried to shun aside the mystery dimension in Science, particularly in quantum physics, they had to submit to the mystery of reality that refuses to come under the fuller mastery of humanity. The mystery is close to religion and Hence, science and religion dialogue appeared to prosper as a result of this new love for mystery in science. Several theologians began to dialogue with quantum physics and relativity to do theology. Quantum physics essentially blurred the boundaries between the physical and the metaphysical or rather the world of appearance (physical) began to become just appearance and the deeper world (metaphysical) seems to have become real or truly physical. Given these developments, one can draw parallels between theology and quantum physics. Thus, there are several parallels between the sacrament of the Eucharist and quantum physics. But these accounts at best point to transignification (change in meaning and relations) rather than a change of reality that we call transubstantiation. Transubstantiation stands for the real, true and whole presence of Jesus Christ in the species of bread and wine and is emphatically taught by the Council of Trent of the Catholic Church.

Transubstantiation and Quantum Physics

Transubstantiation rightly indicates the real transformation of the reality of bread and wine into the reality of the body and blood of Jesus Christ. Quantum Physics seems to indicate the dynamism of this transformation. We take insights from quantum physics but assert that the mystery dimension of the sacraments cannot be taken away by it. What I wish to say is that quantum physics completes our understanding of mystery transubstantiation. This does not mean that the mystery dimension of the holy Eucharist is removed forever. The mystery continues as science itself ratifies the mystery in the entire cosmos through developments in quantum physics. Therefore, we have the challenge to see that the sacramental world and the real world truly overlap. The Catholic Church has taught us that Jesus is the primary sacrament and the Church as the secondary sacrament. We seem to have the Challenge to think that the cosmos as the tertiary sacrament in the light of quantum physics. Pope Francis has taught us that there is a Gospel of creation and hence, it appears that we seem to be moving in that direction. We have the challenge to come to the cosmic that is both Christic and Eucharistic.

The Metaphysics of the Eucharist and Quantum Physics

It is through the material bread and wine, that we are given sacramental grace and the real body and blood of Jesus Christ. The materiality of bread and wine has macro and microstructures of existence. At the micro-level, they belong to the quantum world. Just like the observation results in a collapse of the wave function at the quantum scale, we may say that Christ acting through the Priest and the Holy Church, consecrates the reality of bread and wine and transforms them into the reality of His holy body and blood. We can take the analogy of the collapse of the wave function to understand the mystery of the action of Christ in the holy Eucharist. We may do the same in the case of other sacraments. Quantum Physics does manifest that the reality of light does changes when it acts as a wave or particle. At a substantial level the bread and wine change into the body and blood of Jesus Christ. There seems to be a quantum effect that brings the lasting real presence of Jesus Christ. He being God, he can do so. He has chosen the sacramental route and hence we may say that He mediates through the rules of quantum physics.

The Divine-Human-and-the-Cosmic in the Eucharist

The entire cosmos is oriented to the building of the Body of Christ. In and through his incarnation Christ shared himself with the whole universe. He recapitulated not just humanity but the whole creation. Everything is transformed and is transforming in Christ. Eucharist, therefore, becomes an ongoing celebration of the holiness of God’s creation. This Christic effect or the thing of incarnation comes to the climax in the celebration of every Eucharist which is truly the Human-Divine and the-Cosmic celebration. How are we to understand this intermingling of the Divine-Human-and-the-Cosmic? Indeed, this comingling is manifested in par-excellence in Jesus Christ and the Eucharist and other Sacraments then become the channels to come to this intensive Divine-Human-Cosmic experience given in Jesus Christ. Maybe we can take the entanglement of two particles in quantum physics as our model to understand how the Divine-Human-Cosmic grace opens to us through the God-given switch, Jesus Christ. When we come to celebrate the Eucharist, it is Christ who stands before the Father and prays in, with and through us and the Holy Spirit and opens the Divine-Human-Cosmic grace to us. Maybe this works somewhat like the entangled particle in quantum physics. I say this with humility as I have no desire to take away the mystery dimension of the sacraments. As the entangled particles communicate across distances at the quantum levels, because of their common origin in Jesus Christ, we are opened to the channel of grace that He merited for us through His Paschal Mystery.

Conclusion

The quantum insight provides us with a way of seeing and understanding the dynamism of the holy Eucharist. It does it without taking away its mystery dimension. Christ is the res et sacramentum that Church fathers narrated. He binds us to the Divine-Human-Cosmos. In the words of Raimundu Panikkar, the Eucharist offers us a cosmotheandric experience. The Eucharist truly sacramentalizes us. It is for us to be like Jesus Christ, the primary sacrament given to us. The Challenge is to Join Jesus Christ acting in and through his Church to transform the world into a visible sacrament of Jesus Christ. Being sacramentalized, we have the challenge to sacramentalize Humanity and the Cosmos.

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GREETINGS

Hypocrisy is the tribute that vice pays to virtue.

- Fr Victor Ferrao