Real Presence

In several verses in the OT, the eating of human flesh is condemned. At the Jerusalem Council in the NT, we see that the Apostles condemned the consuming of blood. How then can the Catholic Church teach transubstantiation?

Because, in the Eucharist, we are given the substance of Christ’s Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity – not the physical characteristics of blood. That’s what ‘transubstantiation’ means, after all.

So, in the Eucharist – the ‘unbloody sacrifice’ – we partake in Christ in a way that does not include physical blood; nevertheless, it is real, in the form of bread and wine.

To add to this, the disciples agreed with you in your shock and many left Jesus when he proclaimed this. When Jesus asked the twelve if they to would leave Peter spoke for the group saying “where would be go, you have the words of eternal life!”
John 6:60-68

Here are a few links to help you understand the Church’s teaching and where it comes from.

We receive the Divinity, and the Body, Blood, and Soul of the resurrected Christ.

OK thanks for the responses. Here is my issue though with transubstantiation. We read in 1 Corinthians 14:33 that God is not the author of confusion. Yet transubstantiation seems to be a very confusing doctrine.

Saint Augustine once said: “What you see is the bread and the chalice; that is what your own eyes report to you. But what your faith obliges you to accept is that THE BREAD IS THE BODY OF CHRIST AND THE CHALICE [WINE] THE BLOOD OF CHRIST.” (Sermons 272)

Saint Cyril of Jerusalem once said: Do not, therefore, regard the Bread and the Wine as simply that; for they are, according to the Master’s declaration, the Body and Blood of Christ. Even though the senses suggest to you the other, let faith make you firm. Do not judge in this matter by taste, but – be fully assured by the faith, not doubting that you have been deemed worthy of the Body and Blood of Christ.(22 [Mystagogic 4], 6)

Our senses are deceiving us? This is so confusing! So many children for example are lost when their CCD teachers try to explain transubstantiation to them and many of them continue to be confused about this doctrine well into adulthood!!

Jesus said, “Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood…”
He didn’t mention at all that it’s only the substance and not the physical characteristics.

Who took what Jesus said and decided he meant it’s not his actual blood and flesh, with its characteristics?
And when did they decide this?

And how can one eat the “substance” of something without that substance’s “physical characteristics” included?
How can these two things be separate?

Your description sounds like what other Christians do when they take the bread and wine as symbolizing his flesh and blood, not actually* being* it.

I will check the other links posted to see if they answer these questions.


The Eucharist is just another example in the Bible of things that make you go, “How can that be?!”
The Trinity: three persons in one. How can that be?!
The Incarnation: God becomes man. How can that be?!
The virgin birth: Defies common sense. How can that be?!

I’m just saying that the Eucharist is really no more confusing than any other miracle in the Bible. We trust. We take it on faith. Jesus said it is His body. Why would we doubt?

The Jews, when they sacrificed a lamb at the temple, would take the lamb afterword and eat it. Jesus is the Lamb. After His sacrifice, we eat the Lamb. Our Lord Jesus is kind enough not to freak out our sensibilities by forcing us to eat something that actually resembles flesh. It becomes His Flesh, but we don’t have to see it or experience it that way. It also strengthens our faith because we don’t see it.

Jesus said to him, “Thomas, because you have seen Me, you have believed. Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.”

Quantum physics confuses the life out of me, however I don’t doubt the understanding of truths that are beyond me. If you want to be confused you don’t have to go far. The Trinity is enough for me. Then again the Schrodinger Equation confuses me. However I have learnt not to let my stupidity get in the way of the truth. Decartes understood how the senses deceive and his examples are obvious to all of us. Transubstantiation relies on the words of Christ, repeated again in the face of obdurate opposition of many of His followers. As one wise post suggests, we have no where to go as He has the words of eternal life. How often children are confused, however there is a time to put away childish things and take up the wonder.

I saw a Facebook meme just the other day that I really wished I’d saved.

On the left was Eve in the Garden, with Satan behind her telling her to eat the apple in her hand. On the right was a woman at Mass with doubts about the Eucharist, with Satan right behind her telling her it can’t possibly be Christ’s Body and Blood.

Our senses do not deceive us. We receive the Body and Blood of Christ under the appearance of bread and wine.

For those who doubt, God has provided other evidence. Consider the miracle of Lanciano, where a priest who doubted the real presence witnessed the bread and wine offered at Mass turned into flesh and blood before his very eyes.

In the 1970s, when the technology finally existed, scientific studies were done on the samples. It was conclusively proven they were in fact human flesh and blood. The blood type matched that of the famous Shroud of Turin. Most notably, the flesh and blood remain perfectly preserved for 12 centuries. Science has not been able to explain this preservation. Nothing has been found to suggest human intervention in any way.

And while you won’t find the word “transubstantiation” until about the 11th century, you will find numerous passages from Sacred Scripture all the way through today of Catholic leaders testifying to the real presence.

A good read on the Jewish roots of the Eucharist is a book by Brandt Pitre by the same name (The Jewish Roots of the Eucharist).

Jesus is the Passover lamb, and the Eucharist is the New Passover. Jesus is the new and true manna, the fulfillment of messianic expectations.

Regarding the blood, Jews weren’t forbidden from eating it necessarily because it was impure, but because it contained the life. Hence why it was splashed on the altar in the Jewish sacrificial system. We now share in Jesus’ life, which is the blood that consecrated the new covenant. Blood was also used to consecrated the Mosaic Covenant. It was splashed upon the Israelites at Sinai, and used in priestly ordination.

The Eucharist isn’t just flesh and blood though, it’s Jesus whole body, blood, soul, and divinity. He gives himself entirely to us in the mass.

Anyway, I suggest checking out Pitre’s book, as it goes into a lot of detail, and it’s not so confusing once we understand our Jewish roots. I think there’s also a lot of scriptural support in the new testament too for Catholic teachings. It’s just a hard teaching, so people look for ways to explain it away. But it’s in the Spirit and under God’s guidance we reach our understanding.

And not even just to the Real Presence, but to it being true flesh and blood, too. That is, testimony that it’s not just MORE than bread and wine, but NO LONGER bread and wine. Aquinas’ language to talk about the change was just developed later.

Yes, you’re right: He didn’t mention anything about it… And that’s why, in John 6, so many people left Him. You see, the ‘Bread of Life’ discourse – in its context, as it was taking place – wasn’t so much a theological seminar as it was a request, by Jesus, for folks to believe in Him. After all, the crowd had seen Him feed 5000 with 5 loaves & 2 fish; the apostles had seen Him walk on water. And now, Jesus is asking them to apply those lessons. Yes, it was a very difficult lesson to work on, but He was asking them to believe Him and trust in Him.

Who took what Jesus said and decided he meant it’s not his actual blood and flesh, with its characteristics?
And when did they decide this?

Jesus did, Himself! He ‘decided’ it at the Last Supper:

“While they were eating, he took bread, said the blessing, broke it, and gave it to them, and said, ‘Take it; this is my body.’ Then he took a cup, gave thanks, and gave it to them, and they all drank from it. He said to them, ‘This is my blood of the covenant, which will be shed for many.’” (Mark 14:22-24)

And how can one eat the “substance” of something without that substance’s “physical characteristics” included?

It’s an argument based in philosophy that, first, defines what ‘substance’ and ‘characteristics’ (well, actually, the term is ‘accidents’) are (and how the two are typically linked in a certain thing)…

How can these two things be separate?

…Ever hear someone call the Eucharist a ‘miracle’? These two things can only be what we say they are because Jesus Himself made it so: He promised it, and He did it, and He told us to do it in memory of Him. They can be separate only because it’s a miracle each time it happens.

Your description sounds like what other Christians do when they take the bread and wine as symbolizing his flesh and blood, not actually* being* it.

Now you’ve taken the discussion a step farther. (It’s ok: there are Catholics who, when they hear what the Church teaches, think the same thing, and then get ticked off at the person who explained it to them, as if he’s saying something untrue.)

What ‘other Christians do’ is say “this isn’t really Christ – it just symbolizes Him.” What I’m saying is that it is really Christ. Not in terms of physical appearances (after all, it still tastes like bread, and it can still get you drunk like wine) – the appearances of bread and wine remain. But, if anything happens (and, as Catholics, we say that something amazing does happen!), then it’s not on the order of appearances: it’s on the order of ‘substance’. The bread and wine really do become the Body and Blood of Christ… just not under the usual appearances that we’re used to seeing with bodies and with blood.

Modern Catholic Dictionary, Transubstantiation:“After transubstantiation, the accidents of bread and wine do not inhere in any subject or substance whatever. Yet they are not make-believe; they are sustained in existence by divine power.”

Also:**ACCIDENTS. **Things whose essence naturally requires that they exist in another being. Accidents are also called the appearances, species, or properties of a thing. These may be either physical, such as quantity, or modal, such as size or shape. Supernaturally, accidents can exist, in the absence of their natural substance, as happens with the physical properties of bread and wine after Eucharistic consecration.

SUBSTANCE. A being whose essence requires that it exist in itself. It is an ens per se (a being by itself) or ens in se (a being in itself). It is commonly distinguished from an accident, whose essence is to exist in another, that is, in a substance. (Etym. Latin substantia, that which stands under, principle, foundation.)

Really? Just look at the last couple of posts…especially the dialogue between Gorgias and daddygirl! :eek: It’s dialogue like that which tends to distract people from what’s really important: Jesus died for our sins and then rose from the dead so that we may live! The rest is really superfluous.

So would you say I don’t need to follow the commandments? I believe in Jesus Christ, that he is God and that he gave his life for the forgiveness of sins. Does that make it okay to go out and kill someone because I like his watch? Or to covet his wife because she’s hot? Or commit adultery? Or steal?

I mean, if everything else is superfluous, why does it matter what I do as long as I profess faith in Christ?

People make it more confusing than it needs to be. In my opinion, when people are very confused by a theological issue, it’s because one part of their mind does not want to believe it. They end up wrestling with themselves instead of letting go and trusting. Trust is the essence of belief. If you analyze every miracle too hard, you won’t believe any of it.

Anyone who professes faith in Christ would never do all those terrible things you mentioned.

Good point CatholicHockey. However, anyone who TRULY professes faith in Christ would never do any of those terrible things you mentioned. Those are very basic common sense commandments that are followed even by most secularists. My point is that I sometimes fear that the Catholic Church has a few too many bells and whistles that distract the faithful from what’s really important…the blood of the cross.

In cases like this, I sometimes find it useful to look at the question from a historical perspective. This is not a new question, by any means. Both Augustine and Ambrose wrote about it, in *De Doctrina *and *De Mysteriis *respectively. After that period it was largely forgotten. Several centuries passed without anyone raising any questions about it, until Charlemagne (768-814) initiated wide-ranging ecclesiastical reforms, including the standardization of the liturgy throughout the Empire. This in turn triggered a new spirit of inquiry in the Church, particularly in Benedictine monasteries.

Liturgical reform called for reflection on the sacraments, some of which presented greater difficulty than others. Baptism, for instance, was relatively straightforward, but the Eucharist was more complex. This is the background to the celebrated “Eucharistic controversy” at Corbie, a Benedictine monastery in France, in the 830s and 840s. Two monks, Radbertus and Ratramnus, both wrote books on the subject, both of them drawing on Ambrose and Augustine. Unhelpfully, they both gave their books the same title, *De Corpore et Sanguine Domini *(On the Body and Blood of the Lord), and both used essentially the same terminology, in which the three key words were *veritas *(truth), *figura *(appearance or symbol), and mysterium (mystery). But they attached different meanings to the terms. Radbertus used *veritas *to mean that which faith teaches and *figura *to mean the outward appearance of the elements of the Eucharist: they are outwardly bread and wine but “truly,” in Radbertus’ sense, the body and blood of the Lord. But Ratramnus, whose book appeared about ten years later, used *veritas *to denote the natural world of the five senses and *figura *to denote all that is symbolic.

Charlemagne’s grandson, who is known to history by the unflattering name of Charles the Bald, was responsible, in a way, for triggering the controversy. He was the ruler of the Empire at the time Radbertus wrote his book, and one day in 843 he turned up at Corbie saying he wanted to stay there a few days on a retreat. Charles was interested in theology, not least because he was aware that a mastery of the subject would help him settle conflicts at the various councils that were held in the course of his reign.

After a day or two at Corbie, Charles found that he didn’t get on very well with Radbertus, who was the head of the monastic school and therefore, nominally, the monastery’s top theologian. He got on better with one of the other monks, Ratramnus. (Later the same year Radbertus was elected abbot, on which occasion Ratramnus took over as head of the monastic school.)

Among other questions, Charles asked Ratramnus “whether the body and the blood of Christ, which the faithful at church receive in their mouth, are present there in mystery or in truth.” That was when Ratramnus sat down to write his book. At the time of the Protestant Reformation, the reformers seized upon Ratramnus’ book to justify their reinterpretation of the Eucharist, while the Catholic Church stood by Radbertus. The controversy continues.

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