Sacramental wafers and wine are literally the body and blood of Christ

I explained to a Protestant that the sacramental bread and wine that we Catholics take during communion are literally the body and blood of Jesus Christ, but he argued that wine is just wine, and bread is just bread, and that we Christians simply “symbolize” the body and blood of Christ with bread and wine. So I said to him, "If Jesus on Earth could turn water into wine then the immortal, all-powerful Jesus in Heaven re-aligned with the God the Father and God the Holy Spirit could certainly infuse His body and blood into the bread and wine that Christians receive in communion.

Sigh… Ten to one says your Protestant friend is missing what you are trying to say. You keep talking about it as if some sort of physical transformation is taking place, as if somehow the bread is being intermixed invisibly with physical flesh. The way you have phrased it, he probably doesn’t understand what you are saying. So please don’t use the water into wine analogy. That’s one physical things becoming another physical thing, which is rather different than what the Catholic Church teaches is taking place (even if it requires no less power). It’s like trying to say “When the Holy Spirit comes into you, your body is literally intermixed with Jesus’ body.” Meanwhile, the person you’re talking to thinks, “Rubbish, your body is physically the same as its always been.” You are explaining things using words that confuse the situation – they only make sense if your friend understands what the Catholic means when he says that, which he obviously doesn’t.

I think you will find many Christian Protestants are willing to accept that a spiritual event is taking place if you explain it properly (some are not obviously, and most will not conceive of it in quite the same way, but many are willing to at least consider it).

They are not the “literally the body and blood of Jesus Christ.”

The Eucharist is the entire substance of the body, blood, soul and divinity of Jesus Christ.

It is not a 165lb Jewish guy, nor is it a piece of meat.


Thank you! It took me forever to figure out what Catholics were actually talking about as a Protestant. Though be sure to define what you mean by “entire substance,” because no one who is not a Philosopher will be able to figure it out. :stuck_out_tongue:

Actually, I’m still not sure exactly what it is intended to state… Perhaps one of you philosopher types can help me sort it out? I think I got the general gist from Catholic Michael Egnor, though, who responded to something Atheist Jerry Coyne wrote about genetic tests done on some (stolen) consecrated host by saying

[quote=]Transubstantiation is a matter of some debate among Christians, but it is a theological and metaphysical debate, not a scientific one.

Coyne’s take on the…“research” is hilarious, not the least because he gets the Church’s theology precisely wrong. The modern iteration of the doctrine of transubstantiation was worked out in the 13th century by the scholastic philosophers, most notably St. Thomas, who proposed that the change in the Host is substantial, not accidental. All of the properties that could be measured by science are accidental, and do not change with consecration. The presence of human DNA in the Host would have overturned a millennium of Church doctrine.

Then he links to an article, which explains:

[quote=]We look at the bread the priest uses in the Sacrament. It is white, round, soft. The whiteness is not the bread, it is simply a quality that the bread has; the same is true of the roundness and the softness. There is something there that has these and other properties, qualities, attributes- the philosophers call all of them accidents. Whiteness and roundness we see; softness brings in the sense of touch. We might smell bread, and the smell of new bread is wonderful, but once again the smell is not the bread, but simply a property. The something which has the whiteness, the softness, the roundness, has the smell; and if we try another sense, the sense of taste, the same something has that special effect upon our palate.

In other words, whatever the senses perceive-even with the aid of those instruments men are forever inventing to increase the reach of the senses- is always of this same sort, a quality, a property, an attribute; no sense perceives the something which has all these qualities, which is the thing itself. This something is what the philosophers call substance; the rest are accidents which it possesses. Our senses perceive accidents; only the mind knows the substance. This is true of bread, it is true of every created thing. Left to itself, the mind assumes that the substance is that which, in all its past experience, has been found to have that particular group of accidents. But in these two instances, the bread and wine of the Eucharist, the mind is not left to itself. By the revelation of Christ it knows that the substance has been changed, in the one case into the substance of his body, in the other into the substance of his blood.

The senses can no more perceive the new substance resulting from the consecration than they could have perceived the substance there before. We cannot repeat too often that senses can perceive only accidents, and consecration changes only the substance. The accidents remain in their totality-for example, that which was wine and is now Christ’s blood still has the smell of wine, the intoxicating power of wine. One is occasionally startled to find some scientist claiming to have put all the resources of his laboratory into testing the consecrated bread; he announces triumphantly that there is no change whatever, no difference between this and any other bread. We could have told him that, without the aid of any instrument. For all that instruments can do is to make contact with the accidents, and it is part of the doctrine of transubstantiation that the accidents undergo no change whatever. If our scientist had announced that he had found a change, that would be really startling and upsetting.


Though I am honestly still confused by what philosophers mean by substance. Can anyone explain?? :confused:

From Thomist Philosopher Edward Feser:

Try this…The Eucharist IS Scriptural

Hi there! Substance … Material, matter, stuff…

The entire substance of the Bread is transformed into the Precious Body of Jesus…

The entire substance of the wine is transformed into the Precious Blood of Jesus…

Jesus took the form of bread and wine so that we can enter into divine life with Him.

This is the spiritual food and drink that has always been promised to the people of the OT from the Father but was not possible until Jesus (God) died as a Holy living sacrifice and we give thanks and praise to God at the Marriage Supper of the Lamb where we receive this precious gift of Himself to the bride (the Church)…

Jesus tells us in John 4:24 that ‘God is spirit’ and we must worship in spirit and truth… when we receive Jesus at mass we are Worshiping in Spirit and truth and so we understand that it is not bread nor wine symbolic of Jesus, but that it is the actual precious body, blood, soul and divinity of Jesus Christ Himself…Those who say it is symbolic of Jesus do not understand that Jesus by His very own Words (this is my body and this is my blood) has held the power to change ‘always’ the Bread into His Body and Wine into His Blood remembering that God is spirit…Can we taste or eat of spirit? yes we can when Jesus takes another form, in this case bread and wine, which Jesus can because Jesus is God and God is spirit…Those who think it is only a symbolic representation of the body and blood of Jesus do not believe that Jesus has the power to transform “substance” (transubstantiation) by His words but He does and when we receive Jesus we are worshiping in the spirit so are able to come in communion with Him. Which! gives Jesus the power to change us through the Eucharist…Does that explain better??

Hi to you! Pleased to meet you. Are we defining “substance” as atoms and molecules? That would be the common definition, but that is NOT the definition used here by the philosophers, who appear to be talking about something more akin to the “form” of the bread than its atomic structure (and by form I refer not to shape but to Aristotle’s concept of forms).

Not sure if I agree with Catholics on this one, but the problem is what “substance” is. I get that the substance is changing, but its not material substance, clearly. Or if it is, its true nature is being obscured, which is not what the Catholics are saying, or so I’m told.

What is meant by actual? When I use the word actual, I typically mean literally or truly. So if I were to say – that cat is actually a dog, I would be implying that the cat *is *a dog, physically, it just looks like a cat. I suppose I could be implying that the cat is a dog because its cat like “essence” (whatever that means) has been replaced with a doglike “essence”…

So it is supposed to be spiritually transformed, not physically. What exactly would this entail? What is happening to the bread? Is anything happening to the bread? Does the bread even have a spiritual nature which can be replaced?

With respect, I don’t know of any Christian who accepts God’s nature as Omnipotent who would say this, honestly. A more accurate summation of there beliefs might be simply that God *doesn’t *do anything to the bread (like turn it into physical flesh or replace its spiritual nature with a different spiritual nature). Now, he “could” turn it into flesh or replace its spiritual nature (assuming they hold to the position that it has such a nature), but he just doesn’t (at least, from their perspective).

Um… Would it hurt your feelings if I said not really? I mean, it sort of helped, but I still don’t understand what the substance is and how that is changing.

My church’s position on this is:

How close is this to the Catholic belief, properly understood?

I don’t mean to seem short or flippant but I thought this discussion was interesting.

It seems like you are using a lot of metaphysical terms interchangeably when they really aren’t.

All of these terms have different meanings and if I had time, I would explain them but it’s late and I’m tired. A good book to pick up on the subject would be Norris Clark’s (could be Clarke) The One and the Many. He gives a good Thomistic approach to the understanding of being.

Here’s an interesting article: Hopefully it will answer your questions.

It’s the SAME miracle that happened at the Last Supper when Jesus changed the bread and wine into His own Body and Blood. That’s NOT a symbol!! Read about the Last Supper in your Bible!! Also read the 6th Chapter of John and tell us if He meant what He said!! You might also read up on some of the Eucharistic Miracles that have been approved by the Church! God Bless. God Bless,

It is our spiritual food, just as the bible is a spiritual book, do you believe that the bible is a spiritual book??.. Does a bible look like any other book, yes, But when you pray while you read it, you’ll see that it is something much more… It gives us life and it changes us… Similarly, the Bread of life changes us and brings us closer to God thus transforming our lives…This is Gods transformative word which we believe…

John 6:35 Then Jesus declared, "I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never go hungry, and whoever believes in me will never be thirsty.

SO the ‘entire’ Substance of bread and wine becomes the precious body and blood of our Lord even though it still looks, smells and tastes like bread…

Hi there! About your comments… Lets look at what Jesus says about Himself… Jesus says He is the way and the truth and the life… We know there is more to that than just words right? God said, Let there be light, and there was light… See?? Jesus says He is the Living Word… We know those words have meaning because the Word of God moves us… Jesus says He is the Living Bread, so we know that the Consecrated Bread we eat is more than just Bread, it gives us life and puts us into communion with Him… Why? Because Jesus has the Words of eternal life… Jesus words have power…

The transformation is from the body and blood of Jesus Christ, Who is spirit, into the form of bread, so we can enter into the covenant made in His blood with Jesus…Jesus is there offering us Himself in the Form of Bread and Wine just as He did at the Last Supper when he ‘taught’ the disciple about so that after He died they would enter into the sacrifice with Jesus who became Our Spiritual Food… So Jesus is the High priest who offers Himself at each mass to us so we are in communion with Him… Hebrews 4:14-10:18

You must walk by faith and not sight to understand the transformation. Do you walk by sight when you read the bible sir? Of course you do,… You are in Spirit so know that Gods word is true and eternal, just as Jesus words are true and eternal regarding the Eucharist…But do you live by Gods word, meaning when you receive the body of Christ do you understand what we understand and have always understood as Christians since the Jesus instituted the Eucharistic meal at the Last Supper as long as you are worshipping 'In Spirit and Truth"… If you are not, than it is just bread to you…

Some did not get the teaching, and walked away… That is no different than today which is why people started their own beliefs about the Eucharist… But some do get the teaching and would never walk away because they know Jesus has the words of eternal life… John 6:68 Simon Peter answered him, "Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life. And you will see the Catholics who can never be anything but Catholic because of the Holy Eucharist… I would say that the Eucharist is what has kept me in my faith during my entire life, above the word, and above everything else… That’s how powerful and simple it is…May the Peace of Christ be with you!

Dear Fractal Fire… When did Jesus said only parts of the Bread were Him?? :shrug:

Substance is everything that constitutes the nature of a thing. If substance changes, then the thing changes into something else, something with a different nature. Substance is the essentials of any thing.

Accidents are non-essential to the nature of a thing. If the accidents change, the thing remains the same type of thing; it retains the same nature.

The Divine Nature is substance without accidents.

In the Eucharist, the substance of bread changes into the substance of Christ’s body. His blood and soul become present by concomitancy (by the connection that all the parts of the human being have as one nature). And His Divinity becomes present by the hypostatic union (by the union of his human nature with the Divine Nature as one person).

The substance of wine changes into the substance of Christ’s blood, and the rest of Christ becomes present in the same way as with the bread.

The accidents of the bread and wine remain. So the bread and wine still appear to be bread and wine, but they are Christ.

On the subject of molecules: bread and wine are mere physical objects; they have no spirit or soul. So the molecules of the bread and of the wine have both substance and accidents. The substance changes and the accidents do not.

What is the difference? I mean what does it mean to describe “entire substance?”

But He gave the Eucharist before He died, at the Last Supper. So what kind of body is His, in the Eucharist? I once thought He could be in the Host because He was glorified until someone pointed out He ate/gave the Eucharist at the Last Supper so that’s not it.

"Sacrifice of Calvary

  1. We believe that the Mass, celebrated by the priest representing the person of Christ by virtue of the power received through the Sacrament of Orders, and offered by him in the name of Christ and the members of His Mystical Body, is the sacrifice of Calvary rendered sacramentally present on our altars. We believe that as the bread and wine consecrated by the Lord at the Last Supper were changed into His body and His blood which were to be offered for us on the cross, likewise the bread and wine consecrated by the priest are changed into the body and blood of Christ enthroned gloriously in heaven, and we believe that the mysterious presence of the Lord, under what continues to appear to our senses as before, is a true, real and substantial presence"

Credo of the People of God Bl. Pope Paul VI Emp added…

I have a CCC and it confuses me more than anything.

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