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Michael van der Galien

God with Us: A Meditation for Christmas Day

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Posted on December 25 2009 9:00 am
Michael van der Galien was born in the Dutch city of Leeuwarden in 1984. For as long as he can remember, he has been obsessed with the United States. When he was 17 years old, he started blogging - of course about America. His articles have been published at Big Hollywood, Pajamas Media, Hot Air (the GreenRoom) and Right Across The Atlantic. He's also an editor for the Dutch conservative blog, De Dagelijkse Standaard.
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Today, billions of people worldwide commemorate one of the central mysteries of Christian faith: the irruption into time and history of Jesus — Immanuel or “God with us.” Many will attend services at which they will receive Jesus Himself under sacramental signs. This concept of sacramental presence is one of the richest in all of Christianity, and many gallons of ink have been spilled in (often angry) discussion of what this concept entails. I offer here one of the best, from Catholic theologian Karl Rahner’s 1975 reference work Encyclopedia of Theology: The Concise Sacramentum Mundi. Specifically, it’s from the article on “Transubstantiation,” by Engelbert Gutwenger: “The words of institution [of the Eucharist] indicate a change but do not give any guiding line for the interpretation of the actual process. As regards transubstantiation, it may then be said that substance, essence, meaning and purpose of the bread are identical. But the meaning of a thing can be changed without detriment to its matter. A house, for instance, consists of a certain arrangement of materials and has a clearly established nature and a clearly established purpose. If the house is demolished and the materials used for building a bridge, a change of nature or essence has intervened. Something completely different is there. The meaning has been changed, since a house is meant to be lived in and a bridge is used to cross a depression. But there has been no loss of material.

Read the whole thing at National Review.

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