Is the Eucharist spiritual or physical?


#1

Hello,

It is very hard for me to accept the Eucharist, because it seems a very far-fetched concept. I would have to agree that it is much more than “symbolic” seeing as the definition of “symbolic” does not infer the presence of Christ therein.

If I were to believe anything about the Eucharist, I may believe that Christ is spiritually present in the bread and wine.

I find it almost impossible to believe that he is physically present in the Eucharist because of the definition of “physical.” Anything we can call physical is something that we can sense with our five senses, and Christ’s physical presence in the Eucharist is something that cannot be detected even when looking at it with a microscope. I am inclined to think that Catholics believe the exact same thing I do, but they use different definitions of “spiritual” and “physical.”

Then I had another thought, what if the Eucharist was the essence of Christ’s resurrected body? His resurrected body was clearly flesh and blood, and the Bible emphasizes this, but at the same time, it was glorified and unexplainable in nature. Maybe the miracle that happens at Mass would be turning the bread and the wine into the body and blood of the resurrected Christ.

Such a transformation need not necessarily be detected by our five senses, because of the miraculous and unexplainable nature of Christ’s resurrected body as described in the Bible. After Jesus had resurrected, he chose to make his physical self visible at different times. At some points, he chose not to be recognized as he was.

Maybe this is what happens at Mass with the Eucharist. This is a very intriguing topic, and one that has caught my particular attention ever since my Dad joined the church.

Josh :slight_smile:


#2

The Church does teach that the Holy Eucharist is Jesus’ Glorified, Resurrected Body!

Do you believe that God created the universe out of nothing?

If you believe God can create something from nothing, then why not believe He can create one thing from something else?

Here’s a very good, detailed article about the Holy Eucharist:

newadvent.org/cathen/05573a.htm


#3

Grace and Peace jc4gavejc,

Perhaps someone more knowledgeable will stop by and address this more fulling but until that happens I thought I would ask why is it presumed that Catholic Theologians are talking about a ‘physical’ change when speaking about transubstantiation?

As I understand it, the sacramental ‘accidents’ retain their physical reality after the change of the ‘substance’. When one conflates the distinction between accidents of the Bread and Wine with the substance of our Lord’s Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity in the Blessed Sacrament we gravely misunderstand the perpetual and constant teaching of the Catholic Church.


#4

You need to learn more about transubstantiation, which is the *metaphysical *(beyond physical) way the Church describes the Eucharistic miracle.

The *metaphyiscal *term used to describe what you are calling “physical” is accidence. Everything we can detect, whether with our own senses or with scientific instruments – Size, shape, molecular structure, et cetera – Are *accidents *(what you would call “physical” properties).

The *metaphysical *term used to describe what you are calling “essence” is *substance *-- It is what something really (as in: “*real *presence”) really is.

Since we are speaking of a change of substance, it is incorrect to call it “transformation” – It is not a change of “form”, thus the correct term is transubstantiation.

tee


#5

This question can be answered on so many levels that it’s hard to tell where to start. So, with that in mind, here’s a primer of theological thought on this question.

The Church has always taught that the bread and wine become the body and blood of Jesus. How this happens is a mystery. The term “transubstantiation” was applied by the Scholastics to indicate a change in “substance” (a philosophical term that refers to the essence (Greek: ousia) of a thing). Jesus is more than “spiritually” present under the form of bread and wine, he is “substantially” present meaning that his essence, his nature, his substance is present. Thus, we have two miracles: substance without accident (Jesus present under the form of bread and wine) and accidents without substance (the appearance of bread and wine without the substance of bread and wine). That is, what appears to be bread and wine is, in fact, no longer bread or wine – it is the body and blood of Jesus.

Is this presence “physical”? Depends on what you mean by “physical.” Clearly the essence of Jesus is present, but without his accidents (height, weight, color, scent, etc.). Yet those items are “present” by concomitance. This is understood as meaning that where the nature of a thing is that thing is also. Since the physical attributes of Jesus are part of his nature as a human being, they are present, but hidden.

Theologians have generally refrained from using the term “physical” because that implies dimensionality which is not present. Yet, by concomitance, there is a physicality. This is why it’s called the Real Presence.

That’s about as simple as I can make it. Hope it helps.

Deacon Ed


#6

Sorta like the concept of God becoming one of his creatures, and then letting his creatures put him to death? Talk about far-fetched! :wink:

If I were to believe anything about the Eucharist, I may believe that Christ is spiritually present in the bread and wine.

Better to believe what was revealed by God to his Church, don’t you think?

I find it almost impossible to believe that he is physically present in the Eucharist because of the definition of “physical.” Anything we can call physical is something that we can sense with our five senses, and Christ’s physical presence in the Eucharist is something that cannot be detected even when looking at it with a microscope. I am inclined to think that Catholics believe the exact same thing I do, but they use different definitions of “spiritual” and “physical.”

We don’t talk about the “physical” presence, but about the real, substantial presence.

Then I had another thought, what if the Eucharist was the essence of Christ’s resurrected body? His resurrected body was clearly flesh and blood, and the Bible emphasizes this, but at the same time, it was glorified and unexplainable in nature. Maybe the miracle that happens at Mass would be turning the bread and the wine into the body and blood of the resurrected Christ.

Such a transformation need not necessarily be detected by our five senses, because of the miraculous and unexplainable nature of Christ’s resurrected body as described in the Bible. After Jesus had resurrected, he chose to make his physical self visible at different times. At some points, he chose not to be recognized as he was.

Maybe this is what happens at Mass with the Eucharist. This is a very intriguing topic, and one that has caught my particular attention ever since my Dad joined the church.

You’ve hit on it. Christ’s physical, material body is no more, but his risen, glorious body exists forever. It is exactly in this form that he is present in the Eucharist, making himself present in his entirety to every person who desires that presence. Since, with the Incarnation, Christ is more than just spiritual, any spiritual presence of Christ is not Christ in his fullness. Only in the Eucharist does Christ appear in his fullness - body, blood, soul and divinity.


#7

When I was in RCIA, my sponsor gave me a book titled “7 Secrets of the Eucharist” by Vinny Flynn.

I strongly recommend the book. A short read of only about 100 pages but I really enjoyed it and the message presented.


#8

This might not be much of an answer…but I am a cradle Catholic and while I accepted that the Eucharist was the body and blood of our Lord, I never really “got” it. And so, I too, struggled with some of the same issues.

Then, on Holy Thursday, I spent a couple of hours in front of the Blessed Sacrament and for some reason, it just clicked. I am totally incapable of explaining it to anyone else (thus, completely worthless to you!), but if I might offer some unsolicited advice, perhaps some time with Jesus in this way would lead to a kind of dawning for you as well.


#9

**
It is very hard for me to accept the Eucharist, because it seems a very far-fetched concept. **

**Consider the Bible, which to the eyes and ears (that is, the accidents) is merely paper, ink, letters, and syllables.

But the SUBSTANCE of the Bible is much more than this–it’s the Word of God.

To the eyes and taste, it’s merely bread and wine.

But the SUBSTANCE of the Eucharist is much more than this: it’s the very Body and Blood of Christ.

Does this make sense?**


#10

Well yeah, it is repugnant to reason at first glance. That’s why many of Jesus’ followers left him when he told them to consume his flesh and drink his blood.

catholicculture.org/library/view.cfm?recnum=2578


#11

Good Point, Green Lantern! (I’ve always wanted to say that to Green Lantern… BTW) :slight_smile:


#12

Very good and fast read!!! I heartily recommend this book.

I’d also recommend what the Early Church Fathers wrote about the Eucharist. Ignatius learned from St. John the Apostle. He probably spent time with St. Peter while he was in Antioch. Read what he, St. Justin Martyr, and St. Ireneaus wrote about this phenomena.

After that, read the Synoptic Gospel accounts of the Last Supper and Paul’s writings to the Corinthians that deal with the Eucharist. Lastly, read John, Chapter 6, and you will then appreciate the beauty of the Church’s teaching on the Eucharist even if you, like St. Peter, don’t fully understand it - “Master, to whom else would we turn, for you have the words of everlasting life”.


#13

For those who doubt the true presense of Jesus Christ in the Eucharist, I recomment the book Euchairstic Miracles by Joan Carroll Cruz
The miracles shared in this book are both old and rather recent. They have all been investigated and deemed legitmate by at least one scientific evaluation. While science cannot confirm the truth, they are unable to complete the basic requirement of science, to disprove the facts. Many of the doubting scientists who have been investigating these, and many other miracles, have come to believe themselves.


#14

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