Regarding the Eucharist

Hi everyone,
Happy Holidays!

I’ve searched around CAF on the topic relating to the Eucharist and how to explain it to Protestants. I’ve found some threads that have been helpful, including the following:
How do we know the bread and wine are LITERALLY the Body and Blood of our Lord?
how to explain to a Protestant that the Eucharist isn’t cannabalism?
Why do we not drink consecrated wine at mass?

I managed to point out references from Scripture regarding the Eucharist, including the Lord’s own words that it is indeed His flesh and blood, and that He wasn’t speaking figuratively because He didn’t explain it afterwards as He would have done when He did speak figuratively, and to press this point even more that many of His disciples left Him because they realized He was literally talking about His flesh and blood, and also I pointed out St. Paul’s warning of never receiving the Lord’s flesh and blood while in grave sin.

From the threads though I haven’t found (or possibly missed) any references to the question I’m still left with, which is the Lord saying in the Gospels to “do this in remembrance/memory of me”. The counter comes as such: “But Jesus also said “do this in remembrance/memory of me” - why would Jesus say that if He was also saying that He is present in flesh and blood in the bread and wine. Why would I need to do something to remember or in memory of someone, if that someone is right there with me? It makes more sense if it were like visiting a person’s grave or keeping pictures of a departed family - the person isn’t there anymore, either in the grave or in the pictures, but we visit the grave or look at the picture to remember them. So, it’s symbolic.”

At that point, I got kinda stumped. Can someone help point out what I could say about this?
Just to note, I’m not trying to do any apologetics. I recognize my lack of knowledge on Church teachings so I’m not attempting anything like that. This question basically came up during a discussion between friends.

Thank you for your help!


It is reading in our understanding of the English “remembrance” and not capturing the essence of the word. What it means is “to make present again”. Just as the yearly Passover celebration was a participation in the first Passover, each Mass is a participation and making present again of the Last Supper, Crucifixion, and Resurrection.

Not exactly. You have to go into the context of what the Jews meant by doing something “in remembrance”.

Look at how God instructed the Jews to celebrate the Passover in Exodus 12. Afterwards, when they ate the Passover, everyone in the household when they were celebrating that Passover, even decades and centuries after the first Passover, they would gird themselves for flight, with sandals on their feet and staffs in their hands. That was how they made a “remembrance” of the Passover; to “make a remembrance” was to make that past present, as if that night was the first night, the first Passover.

Yet, with all that God commanded, while they tried to “make present” the Passover, it was still, ultimately, symbolic.

The difference between that and what Christ does in the Eucharist, is that Christ is God, and that He can, and truly does, make His Passover present at every Mass under the appearances of bread and wine. He can do this because He IS the sacrifice and continually offers Himself to the Father on our behalf in eternity.

He is “the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world.”

And, to be a good child of Israel, you had to eat the Passover Lamb, so we do.

I hope this helps.

When I was in fifth grade, there was this kid who beat me up everyday … he loudly proclaimed that he was a Catholic and what we needed to know was that a Catholic priest could do something else that no other kind of minster could do. A Catholic Priest could turn the bread and win into the flesh and blood of Jesus

In retrospect I think there was a reason he was a the public school and not the catholic school down the street … and it wasn’t that his family could not pay tuition at the catholic school.

So tell your friends what you truly believe, what the church teaches. Don’t argue or try to win intellectual game.

Our Auxiliary bishop said something worth quoting in a recent sermon. He said 'As Catholics we do not celebrate ideas … we celebrate being like Christ, bearing witness to him through acts of charity."

The protestants they celebrate ideas … communion as a symbol is an idea … would you rather have a symbol of Jesus or be with Jesus …

Would you choose a picture of your husband ( a symbol ) or really being with your husband ( or friend or family … on is a symbol and the other is a real presence)

Which would God choose for us … ?

Jesus did not say “remembrance.” That’s an English word, and Jesus did not speak English.

We don’t know what word he actually used - he was speaking in Aramaic, but the earliest accounts we have are in Greek. So we have an English translation of a Greek translation of Aramaic.

The Greek word to which you refer is recorded is ἀνάμνησιν (anamnēsin). It is usually translated into English as “remembrance,” but that’s an inexact translation, as we will see:

First of all, Greek is a very rich language. It has five words with different “flavors” that are usually translated into the single English word “love.” There is no one-to-one translation of these five words - if we want to preserve the “flavor” we need a phrase, such as “love of self” (ego), “sexual love” (eros), or “brotherly love” (a compound of *philos *(loving) and *adelphos *(brotherly), from which the City of Brotherly Love, Philadelphia, gets its name. The name of the city is a Greek compound word).

It so happens that there are four Greek words that are usually translated as the single English word “Remembrance” (or some close variant, such as “remember”). Knowing how these words are used can often reveal clues to the “flavor” of the word.

For example, when Biblical authors wished to refer to a simple act of memory, they did not use the same word that is translated as “remembrance” in the Last Supper accounts. They used the word “mneia” (“I give thanks to God upon every remembrance of you” [Phil 1:3]) or “hupomnesis” (“This is now, beloved, the second epistle that I write unto you; and in both of them I stir up your sincere mind by putting you in remembrance” [2Pet 3:1]) or some other word. But never anamnēsin.

This particular word (anamnēsin) is not used in any other context EXCEPT for the Last Supper, with just one exception: Heb 10:3, in which Paul is describing the annual sacrifice for sins under the Mosaic Law (which the Eucharist superseded). This particular word is NEVER used when it would be plainly obvious that a simple memory exercise was implied. It is only used within the context of a sacrificial offering for sin as prescribed by divine law.

But the *best *way to determine the “flavor” of a word is by determining if it is a compound word, and analyzing the root words.

You might have noticed some similarity between the words anamnēsin, mneia, and hupomnesis. They all have a “men” syllable. That’s because the generic Greek word for remembrance is meno. But the word in question, anamnēsin, is “flavored” by another Greek word, ἀνά (ana).

The link I provided will direct you to Strong’s Greek Lexicon, where we learn that, when prefixed with a verb (as is the case), it can mean: © repetition, renewal, , anew, over again, as in ἀναγεννᾶν (anastaseōs).

Indeed, the example word that Strongs cites as being influenced by the prefix “ana” is anastaseōs, which is usually translated into English as “resurrection.”

So the “flavor” of the word anamnēsin would be to remember, yes - but also to renew by repetition. It’s not JUST a simple remembrance. It IS a remembrance, but it is MORE than that.

It’s not advisable to get overly hung up on a single word, especially when that word is a translation of a translation. Context matters more, and Church teaching matters far more than our own individual ideas.

To Chuck in Seattle.

Thank you-It’s refreshing to hear an adult conversation about the Eucharist (or any other doctrine, for that matter).

John J.

Wow you guys are awesome! As always :thumbsup:
Thank you for the responses and the explanations. I really learn a lot! I do tend to forget that the Bible as we have it is a translation, words are translated to the closest possible meaning, and with translations it’s never as clear cut as it looks to be.

Thanks again and God Bless!

If you really want to get at the heart of the Eucharist, it’s origins, it’s meaning, it’s effect, you need to read, Jesus and the Jewish roots of the Eucharist by Brant Pitre. It will change your life.

Thank you for the suggestion! I checked out the book on amazon and the reviews are raving as well. It’s definitely on my wish list now :thumbsup:

I have a question about this matter. In John’s Gospel starting in the 6th chapter. Jesus starts a conversation about His body. He is talking about Himself being the bread of life. At the end of about 40 or so verses He answers the Disciples question about this matter. It is there in verse 63 that HE says that the flesh counts for nothing, that His words are spirit and life. So who’s flesh was Jesus talking about?

All flesh except His.

With all respect He just spent all that time talking about His flesh. Nothing in the Scriptures is confusing. There is no reason in understanding the Scriptures to now change the conversation to any other flesh but His. Where the Spirit of the Lord is there is freedom. And God is Spirit.

He made it possible to consume Him through a validly ordained priest consecrating bread and wine. The only reason we know this happens is because Jesus was the first to consecrate His first bishops and they consecrated the first priests, and they passed onto us what Jesus directed them to do. We know this by sacred tradition.

Ignatius was a bishop ordained by apostles, ~69 a.d., and was a direct disciple of St John the apostle. We have his writings as we do of other ECF’s who were taught by those who were direct disciples of an apostle.

Ignatius of Antioch
“I have no taste for corruptible food nor for the pleasures of this life. I desire the bread of God, which is the flesh of Jesus Christ, who was of the seed of David; and for drink I desire his blood, which is love incorruptible” ( [FONT=Calibri]Epistle to the Romans[/FONT] 7:3 )

“Take note of those who hold heterodox opinions on the grace of Jesus Christ which has come to us, and see how contrary their opinions are to the mind of God. . . . They abstain from the Eucharist and from prayer because they do not confess that the Eucharist is the flesh of our Savior Jesus Christ, flesh which suffered for our sins and which that Father, in his goodness, raised up again. They who deny the gift of God are perishing in their disputes” ( [FONT=Calibri]Epistle to the Smyrnæans [/FONT]6:2–7:1 ).

Justin Martyr
“We call this food Eucharist, and no one else is permitted to partake of it, except one who believes our teaching to be true and who has been washed in the washing which is for the remission of sins and for regeneration * and is thereby living as Christ enjoined. For not as common bread nor common drink do we receive these; but since Jesus Christ our Savior was made incarnate by the word of God and had both flesh and blood for our salvation, so too, as we have been taught, the food which has been made into the Eucharist by the Eucharistic prayer set down by him, and by the change of which our blood and flesh is nurtured, is both the flesh and the blood of that incarnated Jesus” (*First Apology 66 [A.D. 151]).

“If the Lord were from other than the Father, how could he rightly take bread, which is of the same creation as our own, and confess it to be his body and affirm that the mixture in the cup is his blood?” (*Against Heresies *4:[FONT=Calibri]Chapter 33[/FONT] v 2 ). ~180 a.d.

“He has declared the cup, a part of creation, to be his own blood, from which he causes our blood to flow; and the bread, a part of creation, he has established as his own body, from which he gives increase unto our bodies. When, therefore, the mixed cup [wine and water] and the baked bread receives the Word of God and becomes the Eucharist, the body of Christ, and from these the substance of our flesh is increased and supported, how can they say that the flesh is not capable of receiving the gift of God, which is eternal life—flesh which is nourished by the body and blood of the Lord, and is in fact a member of him?” (Against Heresies 5: Chapter 2 v 2-3 ).

etc etc etc

He certainly isn’t saying His flesh means nothing. Look at the context.

And check this out

From my personal “cheat sheet” I use while defending the doctrine of the Real Presense

This is my body,_which is given for you_” (Lk 22:19)

This is my blood of the covenant which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins” (Matt 26:28)

By Christ’s own declaration this equating of the Eucharist to His sacrfice on the cross makes BOTH conveyers of sin-forgiving salvific grace (the most direct reading and understanding) OR BOTH are equelly symbolic (of what???) and non literal (and this strained, tenuous and inconsistent interpretation is clearly brought in to avoid the clear and direct reading of the text).

"For I received from the Lord what I also delivered to you, that the Lord Jesus on the night when he was betrayed took bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it, and said, ‘This is my body which is for you. Do this in remembrance of me.’ In the same way also the cup, after supper, saying, ‘This cup is the new covenant of my blood. Do this, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of me.’ For as often as you eat this bread and drink the cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until he comes" (1 Cor. 11:23-26).

The koine greek word “remembrance” is “anamnesis”; Every time (NO exceptions!) it occurs in greek of the New Testament or Septuagint (Old Testament), it occurs in ACTUAL (as in REAL) sacrificial context (the word in the Hebrew text is "zikuron" which has the same essential meaning and context as anamnesis).

“Anamnesis” also has the concurrent meaning of “to make the past present”, as in Jews celebrating the Passover dinner (of Jesus’ day and ours as well), literaly eating a literal lamb, are participating in the SAME and ACTUAL sacrificial dinner their ancestors did prior to their escape from Egypt. Multiple times Jesus is identified as the “lamb of God” and as the Baptist proclaimed “who takes away the sins of the world” (John 1:29). It was the blood of the lamb on the Hebrews’ lintels (and the lamb’s flesh the Hebrews HAD to eat!) that allowed the Angel of Death to pass over their houses sparing them from physical death (Ex 12); it is the blood of Jesus shed at Cavalry that spares us from eternal spiritual death. In John 6 as well as all 3 synoptic accounts, Jesus equates the sacrifice of his body, the blood shed at Calvary with “body” one must eat and the “blood” one must drink to have eternal life. Paul calls Jesus “our paschal lamb…who has been sacrificed” (1 Cor 5:7). Recall also that Jesus is explicitly identified with the “lamb slain” (sacrificed) “but still standing” (Rev 5:6).

The explicit understanding of the Eucharist being “sacrifice”, the SAME (one and ONLY one sarifice for all people and for all time) sacrifice Christ offered at Cavalry occurs explicitly in the Church’s first years. When Jesus said ", “Do this in remembrance of me” (Touto poieite tan eman anamnasin; Luke 22:19, 1 Cor. 11:24–25) these first Christians were FAR better versed in the context and language of their time and place to know it meant “Offer this as my memorial (actual and real) offering.”

steve B and Lion of Narnia (love you in that movie btw!), thank you for the responses! Really adds to my own understanding and also in explaining the Real Presence :thumbsup:

This is the interpretation given by the Haydock Catholic Bible Commentary;

"The holy sacrifice and sacrament is to be offered and received with a devout and grateful remembrance of Christ’s benefits, and especially of his sufferings and death for all mankind. But to teach that it is a bare, though devout memorial, or a remembrance only, so as to exclude the real presence of Christ, under the outward appearances of bread and wine, is inconsistent with the constant belief and consent of all Christian churches, both of the west and east, and contradicts the plain words of Christ. The learned bishop of Meaux, in his Exposition of the Catholic Faith, desires all Christians to take notice, that Christ does not command them to remember him, but to take his body and blood with a remembrance of him, and his benefits: this is the import of all the words, put together. This is my body: this is my blood: do this in, for, or with a remembrance of me. (Witham) — This sacrifice and sacrament is to be continued in the Church to the end of the world, to shew forth the death of Christ, until he cometh. But this commemoration, or remembrance, is by no means inconsistent with the real presence of his body and blood, under these sacramental veils, which represent his death; on the contrary, it is the manner that he himself hath commanded, of commemorating and celebrating his death, by offering in sacrifice, and receiving in the sacrament, that body and blood by which we were redeemed. (Challoner) — "

He was speaking about your flesh and my flesh. If you really believe Jesus is saying his flesh counts for nothing then what does the sacrifice of his flesh count for? Are you suggesting it counts for nothing?

A few years back I wrote a series of posts analyzing John 6 and I address this point as well. Hope it helps.

Here’s mine as well:,_%22Bread_of_Life_Discourse%22 ]

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