, Volume 74, Issue 3, pp 333-352

Eucharist: metaphysical miracle or institutional fact?

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Abstract

Presence as ordinarily understood requires spatio-temporal proximity. If however Christ’s presence in the Eucharist is understood in this way it would take a miracle to secure multiple location and an additional miracle to cover it up so that the presence of Christ where the Eucharist was celebrated made no empirical difference. And, while multiple location is logically possible, such metaphysical miracles—miracles of distinction without difference, which have no empirical import—are problematic. I propose an account of Eucharist according to which Christ is indeed really and objectively present in the religiously required sense, without benefit of metaphysical miracles. According to the proposed account, which draws upon Searle’s discussion of “social ontology” in The Construction of Social Reality and The Making of the Social World, the presence of Christ in the Eucharist is an institutional fact. I argue that such an account satisfies the requirements for a real presence doctrine.