Is this correct?

I’m not quite sure if this is the right subforum for this, so if it isn’t feel free to move it to where it needs to go :slight_smile:

I was looking in my Claretian Christian Community Bible today (I do like the translation), and looking at the Institution Narrative in Luke (22:19-20, to be precise), when I glanced down at the footnotes for a moment, and started underlining (at times, my faith in the Real Presence tends to waver, so I’m always on the lookout for passages to help strengthen it) the exegesis there (the CCB has extensive notes and commentary)

The problem is, this is what the commentators have to say on this passage of Luke:

“The presence of the body of Christ is not symbolic but real,** though not a material presence**, as if we could say “Jesus is here on this table.” The Body of Christ is present, but through the sacremental sign of bread and wine, and is present inasmuch as it is signified. In communion we receive the body of the “risen” Christ (it is another reason to think it is not a material presence, but rather of another type, no less real, but different) to receive from him strength and life.”

The areas in bold are causing me a bit of confusion. I’d always been taught (and believe) that Christ is physically present through the miracle of transubstantiation in the Eucharist, but this seems to be saying he’s spiritually present, or is there a wrinkle of Eucharistic theology that I’m not getting? I’m also not sure why risen would be in quotes… that sounds mucho odd to me…


Hmm… it seems the author is writing a fancy way of saying it’s his glorified body and not his earthly body. I don’t think he’s contradicting transubstantiation. That was my understanding but other’s thoughts would be helpful. I tend to think the commentary could of been better written there.

I agree, it appears the the notes are explaining transubstantiation to a reader who wonders why the consecrated bread and the wine offered in the Eucharist still looks like bread and wine.

This is the difference between physical presence and real presence. Many people are confused by these two.

Theologians never speak about the physical presence. If Christ were ***physically ***present then there would be a 170lb man on the altar.

The Eucharist is the real presence, not the physical presence. Christ is really present but his presence is sacramental. It is the entire substance of his body, blood, soul and divinity. It is the Body of Christ but not his physical body. It is his real, sacramental presence, the entire substance of Christ.


In other words, it’s a PICNIC (Problem In Chair, Not In Commentary) problem then :smiley:

Many thanks, BTW for clearing up my longstanding misconception as well! :thumbsup: I guess for some reason I’d always thought “real” = “physical”, when it ain’t necessarily so.

Well said!

The Real Presence denotes the Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity of Jesus Christ being present in the Consecrated Host. As in, ALL of Jesus. Jesus gives Himself to each and everyone of us, wholly and without reservation, under the guise of bread and wine. If it were merely physical presence, we would each be given a piece of flesh or a drop of blood instead of bread and wine. In other words, mere physical presence means that we would only get a small portion of Jesus, not ALL of Him.
God does permit Eucharistic miracles occasionally, like the still-fresh Rennaissance miracle where the Consecrated Host became ACTUAL flesh, which modern scientists have identified as human cardiac tissue (Jesus’s Sacred Heart!). But for the most part, we are to accept that it is a Mystery, beyond the ability of human language to fully describe.
But we should never imagine that we only receive a tiny portion of Jesus. At each reception of Holy Communion, you as an individual member of the Body of Christ, are actually receiving ALL of Jesus, just as a bridegroom gives all of himself to his bride.

This sort of problem arises because we are struggling with a spiritual truth and mystery that do not fit well into our ordinary categories.

John 6, with its language of “chewing my [Jesus’] flesh and drinking my blood” certainly stresses the physical presence, sort of–it does not use the actual word, but the human bodily experience is strongly present. But do we want to go so far as to say that Jesus’ Body is physically present, implying human tissue? Of course not–he is fully present in a sacramental sign under the appearance of bread and wine. So the “physical” presence is that of bread and wine, while Jesus himself is a “real” presence, not merely symbolic, since a sacrament truly and really effects what it signifies.

I do like this distinction.

Your spiritual antenna were working - you were right to be concerned. The commentary notes seem to be presenting what is called “transignification”, a modern error, which was condemned by Pope Paul VI in his encyclical “Mysterium Fidei”.
Mysterium Fidei 1965 Pope Paul VI

  1. … or to discuss the mystery of transubstantiation without mentioning what the Council of Trent had to say about the marvelous conversion of the whole substance of the bread into the Body and the whole substance of the wine into the Blood of Christ, as if they involve nothing more than “transignification,” or “transfinalization” as they call it; or, finally, to propose and act upon the opinion

From the Fr. John Hardon Archives (Fr. Hardon’s reply to objection to the term transubstantiation - suggesting instead the concept of transignification and transfinalization)**Transubstantiation **
The term “transubstantiation” depends upon an outdated concept of medieval scholastic philosophy. Today, we must speak of “transfinalization” or “transignification” of the bread and wine. The meaning or sign of the bread and wine changes, but not the matter.

Somewhere near the center of the crisis in the Catholic Church today is confusion about the meaning of the Real Presence of Christ in the Holy Eucharist. Pope Paul VI recognized this crisis before the close of the Second Vatican Council. He identified the two principal errors about the Real Presence that were already current in his day. The errors were capsulized in two words, “transfinalization” and “transignification.”

Transfinalization is the view of Christ’s presence in the Eucharist that the purpose or finality of the bread and wine is changed by the words of consecration. They are said to serve a new function, as sacred elements that arouse the faith of the people in the mystery of Christ’s redemptive love.

Transignification is the view of Christ’s presence in the Eucharist which holds that the meaning or significance of the bread and wine is changed by the words of consecration. The consecrated elements are said to signify all that Christians associate with the Last Supper; they have a higher value than merely food for the body.

Both transfinalization and transignification were condemned by Pope Paul VI in the encyclical Mysterium fidei which he published in 1965.

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