I am a new convert to the Catholic faith and have really struggled with Eucharist. I totally understand the evidence for the real presence within the Blessed Sacrament, but I struggle with determining between transubstantiation and consubstantiation. I understand that it is more than simply symbolic. My issue is that the effects of gluten and other allergies should not still exist if the host has truly “transubstantiated” into out Lord. I can understand the accident’s remaining, but I struggle understanding why the effects of the original substance would still remain if the substance has truly changed. In the past, the typical Catholic response has been that the effects of allergies are included under the “accidents”. This leads me to believe that a consubstantiate perspective on this issue would provide a more simple and clear answer. This dual presence, would explain the accidents and the effects remaining while not dismissing the Real Presence found within it. If God was both fully God and fully Man, then why can the host not consubstantiate with the Body. I understand that the Church is strongly against Consubstantiation, but why? This leaves me stuck. I will always default that the Church knows better than I, but I would like to understand why Transubstantiation makes more sense and why the effects remain despite the transformation of the substance. Any help is greatly appreciated! - Tyler
Transubstantiation was what the Church defined. And they did it well before “consubstantiation” came down the pike; a point worth considering.
To take it from another angle, Christ at the Last Supper (as noted in the Gospels, and by St. Paul) did not say something to the effect of “This is bread, and I reside there too”. He said something so radical that it has come down through the centuries: This is My Body"
Read John 6 (it is better in the Greek, as the Greek is even more emphatic); Christ speaks to the group in a greater and greater emphasis of what is to come. And as note, many went away as they could not accept eating his Body. In that scene, Christ did not say that bread was contain his body, or to represent his body.
A comment made this last week or two by someone speaking about the Eucharist said also to read the story of the time between the Resurrection and the Ascension. Christ had a glorified body; it could and did do things ours can’t (with extremely limited circumstances); it bi located (the disciples going to Emmaus and the Upper Room); it passed through walls/doors (the Upper Room); it consumed food (on the shore as the apostles were fishing), and it eventually floated away upward out of sight (the Ascension). If Christ in his glorified body could do these things, why could he not change the substance (the “what it is”) of bread to his Body? Is he not truly God Incarnate?
Yes, it can be a struggle. I trust the Church as bring the Church which Christ founded, and I trust the Holy Spirit to protect it always in its seek for truth. And I trust that the Holy Spirit has guided the Church in its contemplation of the Eucharist and what that means. Scholastic Philosophy has been the underlying foundation for the contemplation of the Church on what we have been given.
And as consubstantiation came from those who broke off from the Magisterium, I would have a problem accepting that the Church got it wrong and those breaking away got it right, subsequently.
Someone you might want to consider reading is Brant Pitre in his books Jesus and the Jewish Roots of the Eucharist, and Jesus and the Last Supper (there is overlap).
One last comment: there are numerous Eucharistic Miracles. one of the subsets of consubstantiation (as I understand it) is that Christ can “leave”, resulting in bread alone. How then does one account, for example, of the miracle of Lanciano, for example?
My answer is that at the consecration, the bread and wine were changed in substance to flesh and blood, and the form of them (bread and wine) were changed for the monk who was struggling with the issue (and for the faithful, since). There are other miracles, including Hosts which bleed from time to time.
To reiterate: Christ made two absolutely astounding statements. He said “I AM” - he claimed for himself the name given to Moses by the voice at the burning bush; and he said “This is My Body” and “This is My Blood”. He did not equivocate, or talk around it. Bold, bold statements.
Welcome home! Becoming a Catholic is not a one time event; it is a life-long journey - bumps in the road and all.
It is worth contemplating.
I know this, that the Eucharist’s components seem incompatible with me. I’ve eaten a lot of wheat based food, and yikes at the astringent effects of what we use out here. I have actually stopped receiving the Eucharist for a period of time to try to sort out what’s causing gastric and digestive system upset. Then, there’s the issue of the priests not being terribly precise in placing the host on the tongue at times, like being at the dentist’s office… wonder how much norovirus derivatives get spread around…
Thank you for the insight, I think you’ve helped me some. I’m interested to see what others might have to say as well. Thank you again!
I would also want you to contemplate about how Jesus is both fully human and fully God.
Jesus did have human needs such as food and water etc. and he still were the almighty God. Just as the Eucharist is fully Jesus and fully wine and bread.
Suffering and sickness can be our path to glory. Prudence always applies, but I would rather be hospitalized with the Lord dwelling in me that healthy without Him.
- Get a copy of Seven Secrets of the Eucharist by Vinny Flynn.
- Go to adoration of the Blessed Sacrament.
As Fr. Benedict Groeschel† C.F.R. taught:
“You may spend your life looking forward to it, or looking back on it, but when you are aware that He is there, you will be changed.”
On the transubstantiation vs. consubstantiation point, I think there’s nothing to add to what otjm said. Jesus’ own words are enough. I’ve always been baffled that Protestant faiths that emphasize going strictly by what is written in the Bible find so many ways to explain away transubstantiation. It’s what Jesus said, simple and clear.
On the point of why God didn’t provide some sort of allergy-free/ germ-free way for people to receive, you might as well ask why our Lord decided to be present in food and wine at all given that there are many sick people who cannot eat solid food and/or cannot drink the alcoholic wine. Why didn’t he just find a way to zap himself spiritually into our body, or be present in whatever we were able to eat in order to live. Surely if God can do all things he could provide for transubstantiation into a rice cake or a bottle of glucose. But again, it’s Jesus’ own words, what he used and how he presented it. Wheat bread and grape wine, that’s what he used, so we do what he did and don’t make up something different.
The Real Presence remains only as long as the Eucharistic species of bread or wine subsists, i.e., only until the species is decomposed. When the Eucharistic species of bread or wine decomposes, then the Real Presence undergoes a transubstantiation back into that which bread or wine naturally decomposes into.
I suspect that allergic reactions such as you are talking about would be triggered, not by the appearances of the Real Presence as bread or wine, but by that which bread or wine naturally decomposes into when the Real Presence ceases.
I don’t believe that celiac disease requires decomposition; it is an allergic reaction to gluten, an accident in the Host.
And while you are close, the Church does not use the word “decompose”. it says that when the matter can no longer be perceived as either bread or wine, that Christ is no longer present.
And I say this because if one were to run a chemical test on a glass of water in which the Host has basically dissolved, they would find gluten.
Simple: consume the Blood. End of problem.
“But the chalice has had other lips on it” some might say.
There is no evidence that Christ washed His hands before distributing communion in the upper room. Do we suppose that one of the twelve examined it carefully for contamination? Or broke out the purificator and began furiously wiping the chalice?
That (“decomposed”) is the language used in the Catholic Encyclopedia’s article on “Transubstantiation”:
Now, identically the same Lord Christ is truly present in the Eucharist as is present in heaven; consequently He is to be adored in the Blessed Sacrament, and just so long as He remains present under the appearances of bread and wine, namely, from the moment of Transubstantiation to the moment in which the species are decomposed (cf. Council of Trent, Sess. XIII, can. vi).
Since the documents of Trent were not written in English, I suspect we could use a different word. Not trying to argue; I just think that word has implications which are not correct (in English) for what Trent meant and the Church now uses.
we could go round and round; I have no interest in doing that. However, if I were to speak, for example, with someone questioning what happens to a Host when put in water, I would not use that word. dissolve is not exactly correct either; you see a glass of water with a white substance that is essentially a formless lump of white wheaten matter.
When I use the word "decompose,’ it is often in reference to, for example, what happened to the flesh on my dog after I buried it. bacteria essentially invaded and consumed the flesh, leaving the bones. as the Eucharist is not “consumed” by anything, I prefer to not use the word. “Disassemble” seems more descriptive of what happens.
The Center for Disease Control also, as last I heard, found no evidence of transmission of diseases from consuming from the Cup.
I see nothing wrong with the word “decomposed” in this context. The English editions of Ludwig Ott’s Fundamentals of Catholic Dogma use the word “corrupted”.
Moreover, the decrees and canons of the Council of Trent, Session 13, do not address the cessation of the Real Presence; the citation of Trent, Session 13, canon 6, is about adoration of the Blessed Sacrament. That is, the use of the word “decomposed” in the Catholic Encyclopedia is not a translation from Latin.
These words “corruption” or “decomposition” are used in a particular, shall-we-say technical, sense, and we cannot account for every connotation each word might have in ordinary, contemporary usage.
On the bigger issue, if the effects of gluten in a Sacred Host can be linked to the accidents, why does consibstantiation not make sense? While I appreciate the dialogue thus far, I think some further evidence would help me some to really disprove consubstantiation as a viable option. Especially as it still would appear as the easier option.