Proving the Real Presence


On another board I’ve been having some discussions with some Protestants on the Real Presence, and I think I’ve got the argument down pretty well, so I thought I would post it here too. As far as I can tell (and please tell me if I’m wrong), the only thing I have assumed is the inerrancy of the Bible.

**The First Argument **
that we must eat the literal flesh of Christ in order to receive eternal life
*]Jesus says we must eat his flesh to have eternal life. John 6:51a: “I am the living bread that came down from heaven. If anyone eats of this bread, he will live forever.” John 6:53: "Jesus said to them, “I tell you the truth, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you have no life in you.” John 6:54: “Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day.”
*]Jesus says the flesh that we must eat is the same flesh that he will Sacrifice on the Cross. John 6:51b: “This bread is my flesh, which I will give for the life of the world.”
*]Jesus’ literal flesh was Sacrificed on the Cross.
*]Therefore, we must eat the literal flesh of Jesus to have eternal life.[/list]

The Second Argument
that the Apostles physically ate the literal body of Christ at the Last Supper
*]At the Last Supper, Jesus instructed the apostles to physically eat bread, which he called “his body”. Matthew 26:26 - While they were eating, Jesus took bread, gave thanks and broke it, and gave it to his disciples, saying, “Take and eat; this is my body.”
*]Jesus said the body the apostles would eat at the Last Supper is the same body that would be Sacrificed on the Cross. Luke 22:19: And he took bread, gave thanks and broke it, and gave it to them, saying, “This is my body given for you; do this in remembrance of me.”
*]Jesus’ literal body was Sacrificed on the Cross.
*]Therefore, the apostles physically ate the literal body of Christ at the Last Supper.[/list]

The Third Argument
tying the first two arguments together
*]In the gospel of John, we are told we must eat the literal flesh of Christ in order to receive eternal life (The First Argument).
*]The Twelve Apostles were instructed by Jesus to physically eat the literal body of Christ at the Last Supper (The Second Argument).
*]Christ’s body and Christ’s flesh are the same thing (or near enough for the sake of these arguments).
*]Therefore, we must physically eat the literal body of Christ to receive eternal life.[/list]
The Second Argument is needed to define the context of what is meant by “eating” the flesh of Christ - is it meant in a physical sense? The Second Argument proves that it is. The First Argument shows that we must “eat” the flesh of Christ in order to receive eternal life. Therefore, both arguments are needed. The Third Argument really isn’t an argument as such; more of a summary.


Which other board?

Also, do you now have eternal life after eating the Eucharist?

Nicely done, Atreyu!

The only change I would make is to delete the parenthetical comment after the third point in your third argument.


It depends what you mean by “physical”. AFAICS, what you are trying to defend is ultra-realism - which is a notion of the Eucharistic Presence that goes beyond what the Church teaches.

“This is truly the flesh of Christ” does not have the same meaning as “this is literally the flesh of Christ” - the first phrase affirms the that what is spoken of is truly, & not in a figurative sense, the flesh of Christ. The second, confuses the truth of the Presence, with its being material - which it is not: if it were, to share in the Eucharistic food would be cannibalistic. The Eucharistic Presence of Christ is not figurative - but neither is it to be envisaged as materialistic. It is unique in its manner; so it’s impossible to compare properly with any mode of presence with which everyday life makes us familiar. So we have do what we can :slight_smile:

As Trent affirms the manifold character of the Eucharistic Presence of the Risen & Glorified Lord without using the word “literal”, I think we should do likewise - if only because the word is not accurate. Above all, it’s essential for us to remember that what we are dealing with is always a mystery (which is why the Eucharistic Presence is impossible to prove).


I will answer your first question in a pm.

As for the second question, if we eat worthily of the body of Christ, then we have life in us. But that doesn’t say that we will not lose this life. That being said, this question is irrelevant as to the reality of the Real Presence.


Thanks for your comments Michael, I always appreciate your input. As far as I can tell, the most relevant canon of the CCC is this one:
1374 The mode of Christ’s presence under the Eucharistic species is unique. It raises the Eucharist above all the sacraments as "the perfection of the spiritual life and the end to which all the sacraments tend."199 In the most blessed sacrament of the Eucharist "the body and blood, together with the soul and divinity, of our Lord Jesus Christ and, therefore, the whole Christ is truly, really, and substantially contained."200 "This presence is called ‘real’ - by which is not intended to exclude the other types of presence as if they could not be ‘real’ too, but because it is presence in the fullest sense: that is to say, it is a substantial presence by which Christ, God and man, makes himself wholly and entirely present."201
In going for the word “literal” in my arguments, I was trying to be as clear as I could and as brief as I could. I suppose I would be more correct though, if I said “really and truly, that is to mean not just in a figurative or spiritual sense”, then do you think that would be better? Not nearly as brief though…


Why (or how) would you ever want to prove a mystery?



That is an insightful question.

As a side note, how many times must we “physically eat the literal body of Christ” to receive eternal life?

Once, twice?

As an atheist, could I make a Pascalian wager, sneak into a Church (this is a Catholic board so lets make it a Catholic Church) and jump into the communion line and receive the Eucharist and thus Eternal Life? This seems like a pretty easy formula.

(Of course, someone will bring up the term “worthy” and thus an authoritative person/institution who gets to define that term here on earth…).

Is faith vs. works a moot point given this formula?


watchout for sneaking in the line, you don’t know you are heading to the wrong line: :smiley: Corinthians 11:28-29

28 But let a man prove himself: and so let him eat of that bread, and drink of the chalice. 29 For he that eateth and drinketh unworthily, eateth and drinketh judgment to himself, not discerning the body of the Lord.


Does a Christian “discern” the body of the Lord better than an atheist? I could assent to the belief that it is really the Lord but does that do anything for my “discernment” of his spirit. Epistemologically, how is “discerment” (as it is used here) different that perception?


Not to get off the subject, but as an atheist, why are you here??
For an analogy:

I really hate the sport of basketball.
So I would have no interest in viewing any basketball forums.

Could it be that you are hoping to be “convinced” that there is a God?


Oops, cancel that.
My apologies, Peregrino.

I mis-took your syntax…
Speaking AS an atheist did not mean you ARE an atheist.
Please forgive me!
I can see that you are NOT an atheist when I read your posts more carefully.

(Tried to edit or delete my post, but I guess it won’t let me do that when quoting!)


It appears to me that you are actually trying to prove is that one can assemble a collection of scriptural quotations to support belief in the real presence. This is a lot different than proving the real presence - if you want to do that, then take a host in your hand and convince someone who doesn’t believe that it is really flesh and blood. You obviously can’t do this - it is a deep mystery far beyond our ability to understand and it is affirmed by the Church that it is not a physical change.

One can easily assemble a collection of scriptural quotations which support any number of ideas that we know to be wrong in the present world view so I’m not sure that is the path one should automatically follow. Belief in many of the things we claim to be true is primarily based on faith - we can’t prove any of them, from the birth of Jesus to the resurrection, it is a matter of faith.


No prob. Sometimes I ask questions that a Christian wouldn’t ask or phrase things incorrectly…


There have been Eucharistic miracles at least one of which included a consecrated host turning into human cardiac tissue.


Thanks to everyone for their comments. There are two points that I would like to address.

Good question. I think “prove” is possibly a poor choice of words. Then again, if it is properly understood, maybe it is not. I do not mean prove in a mathematical sense. In fact I am not sure of the best way to describe it, but I am using it in the same sense that the First Cause Argument “proves” the existence of an uncaused-first-cause (which we call “God”). The First Cause Argument is more a refutation of atheism than it is a proof of atheism. In a similar sense, I believe my arguments above to be a refutation of the “spiritual only” or “figurative only” notion of the Real Presence. I also expect these arguments to carry exactly zero weight with atheists; it is aimed solely at Bible-believing Christians.

The second point I would like to address is the “how many times” question. Quite simply, this question isn’t addressed by the arguments, nor by the passages in question. It is irrelevant to the arguments above.


I would disagree regarding your comments on the first cause argument. While it is logical to assume a necessary first cause, that logic itself requires that every cause have a cause and it ends up in an infinite reductionism. I don’t see how this is a “refutation of atheism”. It is probably safer to say “we don’t understand” than it is to try to “prove” via logic that “God necessarily exists”.


This is a good question. Eternal life can be better understood as a river that flows from God through His Church. A person does not get into the river by going into the door of the Church. However, a person who approaches in faith may enter into that river while in the Church. The person retains the ability to get out of the river, also.

So, yes, a person who takes the Eucharist in a state of grace experiences that eternal life.

A person who takes Eucharist profanely will experience the opposite. This is one reason there are so many fallen away Catholics today.


[LEFT]In another thread I posted the following website, one of my favorites, which is quite relevant to what is being discussed here.

Well, are you willing to take The Believer’s Test?



An atheist would see no difference between sneaking magic Eucharist as compared to sneaking a chat with santa in a mall. Neither have any real meaning to an atheist. Both may have some sort of entertainment value, but certainly an atheist would have no belief in the magical properties of the Eucharist.

The mystery of the Eucharist cannot be proved. Hello. If it could, there would be no atheists!

“Proving” something of faith to a person of another faith is not the same as providing the sort of proof that an atheist would require.

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