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Servus Fidelis has asked a question posed by many of Pusey’s contemporaries – what does he mean by ‘Real Presence’? Our difficulty is that Pusey’s method is more common in Orthodox theology, where the apophatic method tends to prevail; there, rather than define God by what He is, the mode is to define Him by what He is not. For Pusey, Jesus was really, but not carnally, present in the bread and the wine once they were consecrated:

I believe the consecrated elements tp become, by virtue of His Consecrating words, truly and really, yet spiritually, and in an ineffable way, His Body and Blood.

There was, he insisted:

no physical union of the Body and Blood of Christ with the bread and wine. Yet where the consecrated bread is, there, sacramentally, is the Body of Christ; where the consecrated wine is, there sacramentally, is the Blood of Christ.

Christ was present, really and truly, but not in any way the sense could apprehend – or comprehend. Transubstantiation, consubstantiation were all, to him, the results of ‘carnal, sensual thoughts’, and the desire of sinful man to ‘understand the mysteries of God’. This was not possible. Transubstantiation was, for him, a presumptuous attempt to penetrate the mysteries of God, but it was better by far than the Protestant insistence on it not being a Sacrament; there was, for Pusey, no change in the elements, but Christ was there – truly and really, although the ‘how’ was a deep mystery which, to him, required naught but humble acceptance:

He who is God and Man, is with us as God only, except that in some way known to Himself, He, while abiding in Heaven in His natural mode of being, causes His body sacramentally to be with us.

Pusey took literally Our Lord’s words: “This is My Body … This is My Blood”. “Reverence for the word of God’, he wrote, ‘requires that we should should not tamper with its apparent meaning in any preconceived notions of our own.’ Well aware that at times Our Lord talked in metaphor – He was not, obviously literally a door – Pusey cited the number of instances in the New Testament where the Lord insisted on the literal meaning of the words, and where St Paul did the same. The Patristic evidence supported this claim.

Pusey’s real problem was that his own claims were inconsistent with any plain reading of the Anglican XXXIX Articles, but here he simply chose to reinterpret them to suit his beliefs. Pusey could not bring himself to convert, and, having proved to his own satisfaction that the Anglican Church was catholic, he saw no need to. Not all of us have been able to do that, so, however much we admire Pusey, not all of us have been able to follow his path – even if we have followed his beliefs and found they led elsewhere.