Definition for Substance
Substance (incl. Substantial Form & Substantial Change)
According to Komonchak et al.,
In the context of philosophical usage, form and matter are correlative terms, combining to explain the underlying structure of the changing material beings of our experience, although form can also be extended to independent uses (as in the ideal Forms of Plato existing independently in the Platonic World of Ideas, or the “pure forms” of angels in St. Thomas). In their widest general sense, form and matter [the two components of a substance — SML] are two of the most basic and indispensable terms for speaking about our everyday experience of the world. Form signifies the shapes, patterns, structures, or designs of things, whether natural or artificial, i.e., in general that which determines something to be such and such, to be this kind of thing. Matter signifies the “material,” that out of which something is made, that which is capable of receiving a form or pattern, i.e., in general that which is determinable by form. Thus we say of a piece of clothing, “What is that? It is a sweater,” and again, “What is it made out of? It is made out of wool, or cotton, etc.” We recognize the irreducible distinction between the two when we discover that the same form or pattern can be reproduced in many different materials, (e.g., a cup made of glass, clay, or metal) or the same material may be successively worked into many different forms (a child molds a piece of clay now into this form, now into that). It is clear that the form and matter of something cannot be identical, although neither can exist by itself alone: a form is always the form of something, a form in some material, and a piece of matter is never found without some form or structure to it. Were it totally formless, totally indeterminate, it would be nothing at all.
Without going into great deal of detail, let’s briefly define two philosophical terms necessary to our understanding of Transubstantiation. The two terms are: Substance (i.e., Form) and Accident (i.e., Matter). As defined by De Munnynck “signifies being as existing in and by itself, and serving as a subject or basis for accidents and accidental changes.” An example of a corporeal substance is a rock. It exists in and of itself. A rock is still a rock regardless of its shape, weight, color, density, location, etc. He goes on to write:
The Scholastics … also distinguished primary substance (substantia prima) from secondary substance (substantia secunda):
The former is the individual thing — substance properly so called; the latter designates the universal essence or nature as contained in genus and species. And, again, substance is either complete, e. g. man [body and soul], or incomplete, e. g. the soul [without the body]; which, though possessing existence in itself, is united with the body to form the specifically complete human being. The principal division; however, is that between material substance (all corporeal things) and spiritual substance, i.e. the soul and the angelic spirits ... An attempt has recently been made by representatives of physical science to reconstruct the idea of substance by making it equivalent to "energy". The attempt so far has led to the conclusion that energy is the most universal substance and the most universal accident (Ostwald, "Vorlesungen uber Naturphilosophie", 2nd ed.,
, 1902, p. 146). Leipzig
Before going any further, let us define concupiscence. According to the Catholic Encyclopedia, concupiscence is,
In its strict and specific acceptation, a desire [all emphasis SML] of the lower appetite contrary to reason. To understand how the sensuous and the rational appetite can be opposed, it should be borne in mind that their natural objects are altogether different. The object of the former is the gratification of the senses; the object of the latter is the good of the entire human nature and consists in the subordination of reason to God, its supreme good and ultimate end. But the lower appetite is of itself unrestrained, so as to pursue sensuous gratifications independently of the understanding and without regard to the good of the higher faculties.
St. Thomas Aquinas wrote, “Now we have it on the authority of Scripture that ‘God made man right’ (Eccles. 7:30), which rightness, as Augustine says (De Civ. Dei, xiv, 11), consists in the perfect subjection of the body [i.e., salt/dust of DNA] to the soul.” Aquinas goes on to show the role that supernatural grace played in our state of original justice. He writes, “Subjection of the body to the soul and of the lower powers to reason, was not from nature; otherwise, it would have remained after sin … Hence it is clear that also the primitive subjection by virtue of which reason was subject to God, was not a merely natural gift, but a supernatural endowment of grace.”
The body is meant by God’s design to be fully and harmoniously subject to the spiritual soul. As an example, we cite St. Catherine of Siena. She tells us that at our resurrection on Judgment Day, our bodies will be “imprinted” with the fruits of the sufferings and labors endured by the body in partnership with the inner heart in the practice of virtue. This imprinted ornamentation, so to speak, will not occur through the power of the body, but through the power of the soul, as it was prior to the fall.
Let’s look at another example of the spirit having the complete control over the body. It has been well documented the power that a demon (exercising the powers of the soul — a demonic spirit has no soul because they never possessed a body, thus the need for a soul) has over a body it has possessed. Because a demonic spirit is pure evil, the overflow of its “heart” is also evil. And it is expressed in the language of the possessed person’s body. It is the spirit (with all its powers) that gives the possessed body all its abilities — not the human spirit.
This makes sense in light of the philosophical understanding that the spiritual soul is the substantial form of the body. To help us understand the soul, body, and form concept, think of a hand and glove. The hand represents the spiritual soul, which contains no matter, and the leather glove represents the body. Without the hand inside of it, the glove has no form. The matter of the body remains, but it is without form.
In Deuteronomy, we read: “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind.” This wording helps us to understand the different powers within one single spiritual soul. The heart represents our free will (one of the upper powers of the soul) where we chose to love (not to be confused with chemically induced biological so-called “love,” the presence or absence of holy desire for God. The soul represents the lower portion of the one spiritual soul. It directs all functions of the body — the scriptural mouth from which the heart overflows. The mind represents the intellectual faculties of the one spiritual soul. Intellect is another of the upper powers of the spiritual soul. After all, one cannot love what one does not know. Because the Holy Spirit dwells in the upper powers of the spiritual soul, grace overflows into the lower powers of the soul thus causing that overflow to occur in the language of the body.
Thus, one created in the image and likeness of God must possess reasoned intellect. Putting all three composite parts together, we can say: the mind feeds the desires of the heart through knowledge of Truth, which incites the higher powers of the soul, i.e., spirit, to cause the body (the mouth) to send Love into the visible/physical world in the language of the body, of which the heart of flesh is critically important.
. Joseph A. Komonchak, Mary Collins, and Dermot A. Lane, in The New Dictionary of Theology (Collegeville, MN: Liturgical Press, 2000), 398.
. De Munnynck, “Substance,” The Catholic Encyclopedia.
 John Ming, "Concupiscence,” The Catholic Encyclopedia, Vol. 4. (New York: Robert Appleton Company, 1908), (accessed July 24, 2020) <http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/04208a.htm>.
 Aquinas, Summa Theologiae, I, q. 99.
 St. Catherine of Siena, The Dialogue, trans. Suzanne Noffke, O.P (Mahwah, NJ: Paulist Press, 1980), 86.
 Aquinas, Summa Theologiae, I, q. 76.
 Catherine of Siena, The Dialogue, 32, 103-104, 277.
 Hildegard of Bingen, Scivias, trans. Columba Hart and Jane Bishop (New York: Paulist Press, 1990), 151.
 Aquinas, Summa Theologiae, I, q. 76, a. 1.
 cf. Thomas Aquinas, Summa Theologiae, I, q. 75, a. 2, [I answer that].