Nature of the Eucharist

A thought occured…
The Eucharist, could it not be both completely Bread/Wine AND Christ’s Body and Body at the same time?

Basically mimicing Jesus… completely Human and completely Divine…
…at the same time.

Any reasons this isnt the case?
I just want to learn…

'Suppose you must ask; can you worship matter, stones/bread?
Bread is’nt 100% Divine.

That is exactly what the Lutherans believe. No. Catholic teaching which mirrors Jesus’ teaching is that the substance of the bread and wine no longer remain. They become fully Jesus who is fully God and fully man. To think otherwise is to denounce Jesus’ words," This is my body". Note that He did not say This Bread is my Body.

You do very good to want to learn. There are many wonderful resources regarding this. The Catechism of the Catholic Church is a good start…God Bless…teachccd :slight_smile:

and what of the human aspect of Jesus?
Im not making a statement, just a question…

Its a mystery I know - totally Man and totally Divine…
Do we worship the human aspect of Jesus???

I’m just airing an idea… could not the Host be worshipped in the same way?

Good point!
Although it does depend on how literal things are to be taken.
Ranging from our Roman Catholic position to one that it is only bread and wine - no trace of God is present at all, it being only a rememberance.

Jesus is referred to as the Lamb of God… but no one takes this literally to mean, excuse the crudeness, that Jesus is a small wooly creature. they rightly look beyond it to see the parrallels to the passover lamb etc.

Nope I just wanted to see what holes could be poled in the idea I posted…

Thanks to all

The host is 100% divine because it is 100% Christ.
Bread is not 100% divine because it is 100% bread.
If the host was 100% Christs Flesh it would be 100% divine;
Because Christ is 100% divine.
Bread is not 100% Christ or divine.

It is my understanding that Lutherans do not specifically define HOW
Jesus is “present” in the Eucharist. They do not say that the Eucharist is “fully bread/wine and fully Jesus body,blood soul and divinity”…They merely say that Jesus makes Himself “present”…as in a “spiritual” presence.

If you know of a more specific Lutheran belief, could you post it here?
I would appreciate it, because I have asked this of a Lutheran that I know…and the response was that which I have written above. Your assistance could help me to further that conversation and gain a better understanding.

As to the OP…I believe the answer (though obviously I am NO theologian) lies somewhere in the fact that Jesus gave His Body and Blood as the BREAD OF LIFE…our spiritual food, that we may have LIFE in us…only JESUS can be THE BREAD OF LIFE…therefore, if any “substance” of the original elements remained…it would not then be FULLY JESUS.


"if any “substance” of the original elements remained…it would not then be FULLY JESUS"
Yeah I get that… but to my mind would this line of reasoning not also affect the nature of Jesus… is he MAN or DIVINE? Or a mix of both Man and God.
Or as I was taught, 100% Man - 100% Divine… the how was left as a mystery and unto God.

Well, we worship Jesus because He is the eternal Son of the Father who became man in Mary’s womb. His human and divine natures are united in what is called the hypostatic union. We worship Jesus, the person. His humanity and divinity cannot be separated. He is a divine person who is really human.

In the Eucharist, we worship the person of Jesus under the appearance of bread and wine because the substance of the bread and wine is no longer really there.

To worship the divinity of Jesus under the appearance of his humanity is an early heresy which said that Jesus isn’t really human but only appears to be.

The Eucharist does not need to mimic Jesus – The Eucharist *is *Jesus.

Jesus is fully God and fully man; So too the Eucharist, under the appearance of bread and wine, is fully God and fully man. The Eucharist *is *Jesus.


Thanks Claire, this was the idea I was getting at… basically that the Bread and Divine was also in a state of hypostatic union. Hence why it looks like bread, celiac issues (intolerance to wheat right?!) etc etc But also why Christ is completely present 100%

Like I said an idea. Please by all means knock as many holes in it as you can. By sinking it we…I … gain better knowledge of what we believe - The Eucharist being completely Christ (no bread)

What you have described is the difference between transubstantiation (where the bread and wine become Christ’s Body and Blood and are no longer bread and wine) and consubstantiation (where the Body and Blood of Christ exist together with the bread and wine. The Catholic teaching is that of transubstantiation.

The Catechism of the Catholic Church (CCC 1376) says:

The Council of Trent summarizes the Catholic faith by declaring: “Because Christ our Redeemer said that it was truly his body that he was offering under the species of bread, it has always been the conviction of the Church of God, and this holy Council now declares again, that by the consecration of the bread and wine there takes place a change of the whole substance of the bread into the substance of the body of Christ our Lord and of the whole substance of the wine into the substance of his blood. This change the holy Catholic Church has fittingly and properly called transubstantiation.”

I know this doesn’t really give you a detailed explanation of why this is the case, but I thought I’d throw it out there just in case you’re not familiar with the language of the discussion.

Here’s the Catholic Encyclpoedia’s entry on Transubstantiation, which may help you in your search for answers.

Yes, but the two ideas aren’t the same. Hypostatic union is a term for how the two natures exist in Jesus. Without ceasing to be divine He took on a real human nature.

Jesus is really divine and human. When the apostles looked at him they perceived his real humanity; his divinity was revealed through his humanity (through his words, actions, miracles, death, and resurrection).

Jesus (the divine person who took on a human nature) isn’t really bread or wine, but is hidden under the appearance of bread and wine in this sacrament. It’s only by our belief in his word that we can recognize his presence.

This is not Lutheran belief. It is not a spiritual presence, it is a true and substantial presence.
Augsburg Confession
"*Our churches teach that the body and blood of Christ are truly present and are distributed to those who eat in the Supper of the Lord. They disaprove of those who teach otherwise." *

and Formula of Concord, Epitome VII

we reject and condemn all the following errors…”
“5. That in the Holy Sacrament the body of Christ is not received orally with the bread, but that with the mouth we receive only bread and wine and that we receive the body of Christ only spiritually on faith.”


That is exactly what the Lutherans believe. No. Catholic teaching which mirrors Jesus’ teaching is that the substance of the bread and wine no longer remain. They become fully Jesus who is fully God and fully man. To think otherwise is to denounce Jesus’ words," This is my body". Note that He did not say This Bread is my Body.

While I accept the Catholic teaching of transubstantiation as a reasonable expression of this mystery, I also believe the Lutheran
expression is as well, and not a denunciation of Jesus’ words. Lutherans point to scripture references such as 1 Cor. 10:17

*Because the loaf of bread is one, we, though many, are one body, for we all partake of the one loaf./*QUOTE]

One self-criticism: While the early Lutherans scoffed at Transub. as a human attempt to explain the Eucharistic mystery, they then turned right around and tried to explain it themselves with the phrase “in, with, and under”. Therefore, even though I’m Lutheran, I am not willing to condemn Transub., or EO expressions of the Eucharist. Both are as reasonable and scripturally defensible as “consub”. And both express the Real Presence.

Jon NC,

Thank you for your thorough response :slight_smile:
However, this phrase, that is in your copy: “truly present”…
is wherein the confusion lies…please define (or point me to Lutheran documents which define) “truly present”…is this a physical presence…if so, then Jesus would only be “partially” present when you state that the bread and wine remain…for ALL of Jesus’ physical presence would mean 100%…which would mean that the physical substance of the bread must no longer be there.

When I have asked this question of Lutherans (one of which was in seminary), the answer I get is the same: "Our church does not define “truly present” specifically, but just says that He “is present”.

While I wish to gain a greater understanding of your faith…this term is so vague…Catholic Teaching is very specific in defining the Real Presence…I would perhaps be better able to understand what Lutherans believe, if you could provide a specific explanation to “truly present” …and I apologize…I know this thread is about the Eucharist/not Lutheran belief…but the discussion was kind of worked in, so I hope that’s ok.

Thanks Jon NC…I really appreciate your help.

No, I think this fits quite well under the nature of the Eucharist, even though I know this is in the Apologetics section. Be aware, however, that I am not a Lutheran apologist, and I only responded because I thought what you had been told about Lutheran Eucharistic belief wasn’t true. I take it you got that, :slight_smile: and I hope I didn’t sound defensive.

A good description is here, in the Apology of the Augsburg Confession. I’ve highlighted what might answer your specific question about “truly”.

Article X: Of the Holy Supper.

54] The Tenth Article has been approved, in which we confess that we believe, that in the Lord’s Supper the body and blood of Christ are truly and substantially present, and are truly tendered, with those things which are seen, bread and wine, to those who receive the Sacrament. This belief we constantly defend, as the subject has been carefully examined and considered. For since Paul says, 1 Cor. 10, 16, that the bread is the communion of the Lord’s body, etc., it would follow, if the Lord’s body were not truly present, that the bread is not a communion of the body, but only of the spirit of Christ. 55] And we have ascertained that not only the Roman Church affirms the bodily presence of Christ, but the Greek Church also both now believes, and formerly believed, the same. For the canon of the Mass among them testifies to this, in which the priest clearly prays that the bread may be changed and become the very body of Christ. And Vulgarius, who seems to us to be not a silly writer, says distinctly that bread is not a mere figure, but 56] is truly changed into flesh. And there is a long exposition of Cyril on John 15, in which he teaches that Christ is corporeally offered us in the Supper. For he says thus: Nevertheless, we do not deny that we are joined spiritually to Christ by true faith and sincere love. But that we have no mode of connection with Him, according to the flesh, this indeed we entirely deny. And this, we say, is altogether foreign to the divine Scriptures. For who has doubted that Christ is in this manner a vine, and we the branches, deriving thence life for ourselves? Hear Paul saying 1 Cor. 10, 17; Rom. 12, 5; Gal. 3, 28: We are all one body in Christ; although we are many, we are, nevertheless, one in Him; for we are, all partakers of that one bread. Does he perhaps think that the virtue of the mystical benediction is unknown to us? Since this is in us, does it not also, by the communication of Christ’s flesh, cause Christ to dwell in us bodily? And a little after: Whence we must consider that Christ is in us not only according to the habit, which we call love, 57] but also by natural participation, etc. We have cited these testimonies, not to undertake a discussion here concerning this subject, for His Imperial Majesty does not disapprove of this article, but in order that all who may read them may the more clearly perceive that we defend the doctrine received in the entire Church, that in the Lord’s Supper the body and blood of Christ are truly and substantially present, and are truly tendered with those things which are seen, bread and wine. And we speak of the presence of the living Christ [living body]; for we know that death hath no more dominion over Him, Rom. 6, 9.

Now, as I said earlier, I am critical (not in the sense that I am criticizing others, but in the sense that I am contemplating) of attempts to explain the mystery. But to explain (as a layman) “in,with, and under”, sometimes called consubstantiation, and this is probably a lousy example, but if I have a glass of water and put sugar into it, even though the water is still there, the sugar is 100% there. Just as the sugar is “truly” with the water, the body and blood of Christ are truly in, with, and under" the bread and wine. And Lutherans use the scripture references in the above quote as a basis for this belief. Actually, for me, the quote, "are truly tendered, with those things which are seen, bread and wine…" are sufficient for me, because I really don’t care about the bread and wine (I can get them anywhere). I just care about the body and blood.


In an article on Transubstantiation by Msgr. Robert Sokolowski in an issue of “Homiletics and Pastoral Review” (Winter, 1997) the writer specifically addresses this (all emphases in original):

". . .to say that in the Eucharist the bread and wine remain what they are but acquire a new signification would contradict the logic of the Incarnation. Christ was not simply a prophet who pointed out the way to the Father; he was the way to the Father. He did not just communicate the truth about God, he was the Word of God. The believer comes to the Father not by the way and the truth that are signified by Christ, but through Christ himself, who is the way, the truth, and the life. Analogously, if the bread and wine were to remain bread and wine, they would point us toward the Death and Resurrection of Christ and toward the Son of God, they would signify him and what he did, but they would not be his presence and the presence of his action among us. The Eucharist would fail to continue, sacramentally, the form of the Incarnation, and we would be deprived of the presence, the bodily presence, of the way, the truth, and the life. The Incarnation would have been withdrawn from the world.

"The Eucharist continues the Incarnation, but there are important differences between the two mysteries. In the Incarnation, when the Word becomes flesh, the divine nature does not transubstantiate the human nature. It does not take the place of the human being. To say that it did would fall into a monophysite or gnostic understanding of the Incarnation. To understand the Incarnation as a transubstantiation would imply that the human nature ceased to be but only appeared to be when united with the divine. Instead, the human substance, soul and body, is integrally present in the Incarnation. In this respect, the human substance in the Incarnation is different from the substance of bread in the Eucharist. The human substance, soul and body, remain intact, but the substance of the bread does not.

“Indeed, it is the very material and bodily quality of the Incarnation that calls for Transubstantiation in the Eucharist. If Christ is to be present in the sacrament, he must be present in his divine and human natures, in his soul and body. And if his body is to be present, the bread cannot be. The one thing cannot be two material substances, both bread and a human body, not even the glorified human body of Christ. If it is the one it cannot be the other. The two bodily natures exclude one another, and it is the bodily presence of Christ that is specifically emphasized in the words of consecration. The body of Christ is not with the bread but takes the place of the bread in the change we call Transubstantiation. If we deny this change, we deny the bodily presence of the glorified Christ, and hence we deny the presence of Christ. Without Transubstantiation the sacramental presence of Christ would not occur.”

Thanks, but there are several distinctions he makes which seem a bit superficial.

I think of it this way, he entered the world by “uniting” with a human body and -SOUL- and this is the mystery of the incarnation which surpasses understanding.

Up until that point the universe was merely the manifestation of God’s power – and although connected with it – as all existence comes from his power – (even the devil) – he is not the universe itself – Catholics are not pantheistic.

But to stir something with one’s power is different from being there and intimately connected with something. If a jiggle a puppet, my kids know that I am the one giving it “life” and without me it has none at all – but if a marionette, I do this from a distance – as opposed to putting my hand “in” the puppet. However, when I eat an apple (a substance called apple) something else happens and it becomes my flesh, energy, and blood – In other words, it becomes me. But when I speak of an apple, I am not really talking about the atoms – the physical matter – the skin, the meat, the seeds – To be sure these are all “apple”, damaged apples, &c, but they we have a category called apple and physically it is a whole family of different configurations,etc.
But somehow we know what an apple is.

When we eat it, it is a digested apple (and at that point it is no longer an apple – it has been transformed into me, and some of it has been transformed into waste).

One can see the world mechanistically, trying to justify what “is” and “is not” an apple based on atoms, electron orbitals, etc – but that is really going beyond the meaning of substance. No two apples are identical in every detail – yet they are both apples.

“sub”=under “stance”=standing/stand ==> under-stand. substance is how you know something is – what it is – and most of us do that without counting the atoms, etc. of an apple.

Just so, when Jesus united with the human body in the hypostatic union he became intimately connected with it – transforming it like in transubstantiation – but he preserved part of the human substance of it in a union – not like a marionette, but at least a hand puppet, and quite a bit more – since a human being has “life” without the hypostatic union – so he preserved the human soul and will as well.

At a certain point, that human life died – and was separated from the body – and then he arose, but he no longer preserves the ability of the body to die, death has no power over him.

Yet, he can take on physical matter even after the incarnation.
John 21:10 is a case in point – there is a fish that has more glory than the rest in that it was transubstantiated by his eating it in his fully glorified body. Jesus is not a ghost, he is a person with body, blood, soul and divinity – but immune to death – and that fish … although his animal principle no longer exists, has quite a glory.

There are some technical loopholes one can get into with St. Thomas which I think are more trouble than they are worth.
Jesus in the incarnation was Ultimate sacrament – just as the church is called the Great sacrament. One could say his body was a sign – the sign of contradiction. He is an Icon – for the eyes can see the father through his bodily appearance.

It is in this sense that one sees the sacrament of the Eucharist – and if one looks at it properly they can see “through” it to the son.
By taking on matter similarly to the incarnation, but with his glorified powers – he is truly there, as he truly walked the earth.
Rather than eating it by chewing it, he performs the miracle of making bread into his body and blood, soul and divinity, without chewing – we do that part. And of the atoms, that’s not what we’re talking about. The existence of the bread no longer relies solely on the power of God – working from afar as it were – it exists because of him – himself intimately holding in existence.
And to do that, he has to remove the “substance” of bread.
And from the bread, which he holds in existence by power – he borrows from that power the ability to “be” in a place to “be” with us in a physical sense. eg: the power of being in a location is not lost, for the sign still exists, it does not vanish. He is “there”.

At some point, after the chewing and eating are finished, Jesus stops being united with the individual “atoms” in any useful way except his power – that is the atoms “leave” him and become waste, become allergens for the celiacs &c., become part of my flesh – become me. And in some way – not digestion – we receive something else in the soul as well – him. The Eucharist is real food because it feeds us wholly – Body, and soul Without it the soul starves.

Well, I’m rambling … questions anyone :slight_smile:

And how, in faith, does this differ with “in, with, and under”? Christ united with the atoms of the bread and wine. What you have said strengthens my recent leaning that the two expressions of the Eucharist - transub. and consub. - are a distinction without a difference. We see bread and wine, but we know(because He said so) it is Christ’s body and blood, regardless of which atoms of the bread and wine are there, or not there. And it brings me to my last thought: how long a travel is this - man’s attempts to explain His real presence - from the simple yet powerful and literal “Take eat. This is my body.”


That is consubstantiation. In Catholic theology, Christ is not received WITH the bread as there is no bread present in the Eucharist. The essence or “what is it” is fully Jesus under the veil of what appears to be bread and wine. So there is a difference on how Catholicism views the Real Presence…teachccd

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