Doubting the existence of a Substance


I am having doubts about something having a particular substance. For instance when referring to the Eucharist, the bread has accidents which we perceive. How does it have a substance? Is the substance of what bread actually IS, just the culmination of certain accidents that we prescribe the word BREAD to? I am having a hard time understanding this.


*]Substance: essence requires that it exist in itself.
*]Inherence is dependence on another being for existence.
*]Accident: essence is to exist in a substance. Accidents naturally inhere in the substances that are modified by them.
After transubstantiation, the accidents of bread and wine do not inhere in any subject or substance. They exist by divine power.


Everything that exists has a substance. Some of these things like Angels are pure spirits. Their substance is their spirit. You cannot see this substance because it is spiritual. God is a substance. You cannot see him either because he is a spirit. The substance of angels and God are called " forms. " So in God and angels, form and substance are the same.

Earthly creatures like man, animals, rocks also have a form, but in their case the forms are united to specific matter. This united thing is called a substance, a union of matter and form. To be exact, we refer to it as a second substance. You cannot see this substance. But this second substance is what all the " accidents " inhere in. Second substance or form is what determines what a thing is. The " accidents " by which we identify the kind of substance or form a thing is could actually take on any given set of appearances and habits. It just so happens that each specific kind of substance is identified by a specific set of accidents.

This set of accidents, as we experience them and as they inhere in a specific second substance or form, is termed first substance.

So when transubstantiation takes place the second substance of the bread and wine are changed into the entire substance of Christ ( the second and the first substance, the whole Christ, body, soul, and Divinity ).

But the accidents of the bread and wine ( the first substance ) remain. But now they hide or veil the whole substance of Christ ( both his second and first substances). This " hiddeness " is of course a miracle in itself. Due to the demands of the sacrament, it would be impossible for Christ to appear visually in his glorified body. Because people would not accept such an visual appearance. And it would make it difficult for Christ to be wholely present in each particle of the bread and every drop of the wine - this would be just too much for the human physychy. It would be too much of a distraction to see miniture Chirsts suddenly appearing in each host. It is much better that his substance is hidden and veiled.



Hello Yoseph.

Here’s my take: It is what is because that is what it is and that’s really how it is. Take it or leave it.



All you need to believe is that Jesus is truly present and is giving himself to you.
You don’t need to accept or understand Aristotelian philosophy to do that.


Amen. Most people are not capable of philosophical reasoning. And they shouldn’t be, that is the job of philosophers and theologians, those who have the capacity, the time, and the resources to pursue a lifetime of study…



DISCLAIMER: The views and opinions expressed in these forums do not necessarily reflect those of Catholic Answers. For official apologetics resources please visit