Sacramental Presence in Eucharist

I still don’t fully get it. I found an old thread where a poster said we don’t eat the literal Christ. What EXACTLY does a sacramental presence mean?

Not into the small questions, are you? :slight_smile: The problem is that if you really want to dig into this sort of thing, you end up reading Aquinas and taking sacramental theology courses. And/or doing a lot of prayer and contemplation, and reading the Bible. It’s a mystery, which means there’s always more to dig into.

Fr. Hardon’s dictionary is basically meant for the ordinary layperson reader. He defines “Sacramental Presence” like this:

The manner of presence of Christ in the Holy Eucharist.

He is really, truly, and substantially “contained” under the appearances of bread and wine, in such a way that where they are and as long as they are, he is there in the fullness of his divinity and humanity. See also REAL PRESENCE.

The definition of “Real Presence” is almost but not quite the same. Also, he adds different clarifying material.

The manner of Christ’s presence in the Holy Eucharist.

In its definition on the subject, the Council of Trent in 1551 declared that “in the sacrament of the most Holy Eucharist is contained truly, really, and substantially the body and blood, together with the soul and divinity, of our Lord Jesus Christ, and consequently the whole Christ” (Denzinger 1636, 1640).

Hence Christ is present truly or actually, and not only symbolically. He is present really – that is, objectively in the Eucharist, and not only subjectively in the mind of the believer. And he is present substantially – that is, with all that makes Christ Christ, and not only spiritually in imparting blessings on those who receive the sacrament. The one who is present is the whole Christ (totus Christus), with all the attributes of his divinity and all the physical parts and properties of his humanity.

(Etym. Latin realis, of the thing itself; extramental; + prae-esse, to be at hand, to be immediately efficacious.) See also SACRAMENTAL PRESENCE.

(Aristotle and theology calls a thing’s thingness its “substance,” while its physical properties are its “appearance.”)

So the mystery (among other things) is that Christ is really there, that all of Him, including His living Flesh is really there, but He is not there in the same physical way as He would drop in for dinner.

That doesn’t make it not Him. He’s not a ghost or a symbol. His Flesh and Blood are there in every meaningful way except the appearance, which is the appearance of bread and wine. You find yourself in the weird situation where the molecules look and act like the molecules of bread and wine, but that isn’t what they really are.

And that is why philosophy and theology make one’s head hurt.

But it’s not as if the ordinary physical universe doesn’t have weird stuff like Mobius strips and Klein bottles. The ordinary world is very strange, but we’ve gotten used to it. It is harder to get used to the weirdness of God made man.

It is Christ. But there aren’t human flesh cells or molecules. It’s not as if one part of the host is his eye, and another part his big toe. And consuming it doesn’t remove any flesh and blood from Christ.

Literally is a difficult word in this example. It is truly Christ. It is truly his flesh and blood. But it’s under the species of bread and wine. The molecules are still structurally the same.

Or to make this easier, it is literally Christ in the most important way. The other poster was probably trying to make a distinction between the substantial change and the unchanging accidents.

Yup. Every single broken piece of the consecrated Host is the whole Christ.

Another thing that doesn’t usually happen, except with holograms.

I am probably not helping… I warned you that this gets deep and wide. :slight_smile:

But it is beautiful and interesting to think about the Eucharist and to contemplate Him.

John Chapter6.
Because Jesus said so.:wink:

It means more than we can ever understand. He is there to strengthen us as well as hold us accountable because if we do not consume his life and his Word and make it part of ourselves the reception of the host is offensive.

What all could he have meant by “eat my body”, “fead on my flesh”? He meant a lot more than taking the host. Reflect on all he could have meant besides that. How else do we eat his body, drink his blood, chew on his flesh? How else do we make him part of us? How else do we take on his life?

Faith, you don’t have to understand everything about the Catholic faith.
But you need ask yourself if you BELIEVE.
Why do you go to communion? Because someone said you have to? Or because you believe Jesus comes to you?
You don’t have to answer online. I’m just saying…
I feel awful that your faith doesn’t bring you joy. Only doubts doubts, more doubts.
Maybe try praying to St. Thomas the Apostle. :shrug:

I will try to be more concise.

It means that the bread and wine are changed into Jesus Christ even though their appearance (including even molecular structure) are unchanged. It means that we truly consume Jesus without harming him or breaking him apart.

Yes, but that is only the tip of the iceberg. Perhaps we as Catholics get too obsessed with that one meaning of his words “eat my body, drink my blood”. Recall that he made a big deal of it the 6th chapter of John after feeding 5 thousand. But no mention at the last supper. Instead, he washed their feet.

The Greek words in John’s Gospel are first “Phage” for eat but when he is challenged he doubles down and uses “Tropo” some translate as chew or gnaw.

Greek is also used for medical terms. A phagocyte is a cell that consumes foreign things and is part of our immune system. But there is another term slightly different. Tropocytosis. In tropocytosis one cell attaches to another cell and appropriates or consumes the material on the surface of the host cell and incorporates it on itself.

So how de we take on Jesus beyond simply eating? How do we make his life our own besides going up to Communion. Instead of asking how he is present in the Eucharist or what is “real presence”, we should be asking how he is present in us. How else do we receive him and what does that mean?.

The Body of Christ in Holy Communion, must exist without division and extension – the whole Host and entirely in each part and on every altar, simultaneously. The Body of Christ is present in the sacrament per the mode of substance not per the mode of quantity, so we see that Pope Paul VI refers to this multi-location. A natural body is restricted to one position in space.

For what now lies beneath the aforementioned species is not what was there before, but something completely different; and not just in the estimation of Church belief but in reality, since once the substance or nature of the bread and wine has been changed into the body and blood of Christ, nothing remains of the bread and the wine except for the species—beneath which Christ is present whole and entire in His physical “reality,” corporeally present, although not in the manner in which bodies are in a place.

USCCB states in The Real Presence Of Jesus Christ In The Sacrament Of The Eucharist: Basic Questions And Answers: “The presence of the risen Christ in the Eucharist is an inexhaustible mystery that the Church can never fully explain in words.”

I don’t have DOUBTS about the Eucharist, I have QUESTIONS.

Take some classes! There are all kinds of free classes online. Call your Chancery Faith Formation dept.

Or I can participate on CAF.

Why? If you believe in the Real Presence that’s all you need to know.

I don’t think so. The Real Presence is only the tip of the iceberg.

Recall that this entire exchange in the 6th chapter in John happened before the Lord’s Supper, before the institution of the Eucharist. So what else was he referring to when he said eat my body, feed on my flesh. Because if ALL he meant was take Communion, it becomes a routine gesture easy to do. How many people go up to Communion on Sunday and you see no influence of it in their lives?

Read chapter 6. It is beautiful.
He feeds 5,000. The next day people come looking for him. "and when they found him across the sea they said to him, “Rabbi, when did you get here?” Jesus answered them and said, “Amen, amen, I say to you, you are looking for me not because you saw signs but because you ate the loaves and were filled.
Do not work for food that perishes but for the food that endures for eternal life,* which the Son of Man will give you. For on him the Father, God, has set his seal.

Then they talk about God giving manna to their ancestors. and he says “I am the bread of life; whoever comes to me will never hunger, and whoever believes in me will never thirst

It is all in the context of feeding, believing and accepting.

“Real Presence” demands real living, real following, real taking up your cross, real love for one another. It means becoming his body.I think unless one first receives Christ totally, his words in their mind, his life in their heart and live in his Spirit, it is unlikely to ever realize his presence anywhere, especially in that small host.

I don’t agree. The Real Presence is everything. When receiving you are in union with God. If you are receiving you are in a state of grace and living your life in Christ.

Even a person not in a state of grace can easily walk up there and consume the host.

And this change is by the power of the Holy Spirit?

I am not talking about people who receive unworthily. I think you know that!

I just think Jesus had more on his mind then eating the host. I think he was talking about an entire life committment to him crystallized in the signs of Holy Communion and never to be viewed without that life committment.

DISCLAIMER: The views and opinions expressed in these forums do not necessarily reflect those of Catholic Answers. For official apologetics resources please visit