The difference between real presence and physical presence?


#1

New Catholic question.
This was said on another thread:

The Eucharist is not cannibalism. The eucharist is a Sacramental presence, not a physical one. There is a difference between saying the real presence and physical presence.
I didn’t know there was a difference between the two. I thought that the two were the same thing when it came to the eucharist. Could someone please explain the diffrence to me so I can understand? Thanks and God bless.


#2

We DO say “body, blood, soul, and divinity.” Granted, we’re talking of SUBSTANCE, a knotty philosophical concept, but if it’s NOT physical, must it not then be SYMBOLIC? That won’t do!

I thought the response to cannibalism was that Christ is not thereby diminished–there’s no less of Him after communion than before, though there are fewer hosts…


#3

[quote=mark_e_rhodes]We DO say “body, blood, soul, and divinity.” Granted, we’re talking of SUBSTANCE, a knotty philosophical concept, but if it’s NOT physical, must it not then be SYMBOLIC? That won’t do!

I thought the response to cannibalism was that Christ is not thereby diminished–there’s no less of Him after communion than before, though there are fewer hosts…
[/quote]

Much like the multiplication of the five barley loaves, and two fishes in John 6?


#4

[quote=Montie Claunch]New Catholic question.
This was said on another thread:
Quote:

Originally Posted by Dan-Man916

The Eucharist is not cannibalism. The eucharist is a Sacramental presence, not a physical one. There is a difference between saying the real presence and physical presence.

I didn’t know there was a difference between the two. I thought that the two were the same thing when it came to the eucharist. Could someone please explain the diffrence to me so I can understand? Thanks and God bless.
[/quote]

Montie, usually we run into a problem because of an equivocation of the word physical.

If we use “physical” in the sense of “**physical science” **we mean that something is sense-perceptible, or at the very least, empirical. If we use “physical” in the sense of “**physical education” **we mean “of, or relating to, the body”.

Christ, really, substantially, and sacramentally present in the Eucharist is present BODILY (but under the mode of a sacrament). So, in this sense He is physically present (the “physical education” useage) [Note, that He also posesses His *own accidents: His hair, His height, His color, His shape. . .but, as St. Thomas points out His accidents are in the sacrament by means of a substance.]

But, since, as Aquinas points out, these accidents of Christ’s body are there in the manner of a substance (and not as accidents normally are) then “Christ’s body, according to the mode of being which it has in this sacrament, is perceptible neither by the sense nor by the imagination, but only by the intellect, which is called the spiritual eye.” Therefore, according to the “physical science” use of the word “physcial” Christ is NOT physically present, because he is not empirically present, or sense-perceptible.

In order to avoid equivocation we could say that Christ is BODILY present but His body is not SENSIBLY present.

What do you think Montie? Does that help at all?

God Bless you on your quest to understand (and love!) Our Lord’s Real Presence in the Eucharist!

VC


#5

[quote=Verbum Caro]Montie, usually we run into a problem because of an equivocation of the word physical.

If we use “physical” in the sense of “**physical sience” **we mean that something is sense-perceptible, or at the very least, emperical. If we use “physical” in the sense of “**physical education” **we mean of or relating to the body.

Christ, really, substantially, and sacramentally present in in the Eucharist is present BODILY (but under the mode of a sacrament). So, in this sense He is physically present. (Note, that He also posesses His own accidents: His hair, His height, His color, His shape. . .but, as St. Thomas points out His accidents are in the sacrament by means of a substance.)

But, since, as Aquinas points out that these accidents of Christ’s body are there by means of a substance (and not as accidents normally are) then “Christ’s body, according to the mode of being which it has in this sacrament, is perceptible neither by the sense nor by the imagination, but only by the intellect, which is called the spiritual eye.” Therefore, according to the “physical science” use of the word “physcial” Christ is NOT physically present, because he is not emperically present, or sense-perceptible.

In order to avoid equivocation we could say that Christ is BODILY present but His body is not SENSIBLY present. VC
[/quote]

Sound distinction between the physically and the bodily. This is a great example of the importance of serious Catholics pursuing (so far as time and intellectual capacities permit) the great thinkers of the past, especially Aristotle and Aquinas. One unfamiliar with their use of substance and accident must find the Church’s teaching on the Real Presence well-nigh incomprehensible.
Mark


#6

I think Verbum Caro has explained it well.

If we were to define “sacramental presence” as: “an indivisible physical presence under the appearances of bread and wine,” then one can say that Christ is physically present in the Eucharist.

But physical presence is usually taken to mean that something can be perceived by the senses or by scientific instruments. And in the Eucharist, we do not and cannot perceive Jesus’ physical attributes by our senses, because they are hidden under the appearances of bread and wine.

As a refutation to the charge of cannibalism, consider this: Breaking the host does not divide the body of Jesus. He remains (bodily) WHOLE and ENTIRE no matter how many times you break the host. We cannot harm him bodily in the Eucharist.


#7

[quote=Church Militant]Much like the multiplication of the five barley loaves, and two fishes in John 6?
[/quote]

I wouldn’t say that because the multiplication of loaves were just that, not a consecration of hosts so that they became the Eucharist. There could be no Eucharist, as such, BEFORE the Passion, right?


#8

[quote=mark_e_rhodes]There could be no Eucharist, as such, BEFORE the Passion, right?
[/quote]

Hi Mark,

No, not quite right. Not only was there the Eucharistic Presence of Our Lord before the Passion, it was the FIRST Eucharist!

See the Catechism

1323 “At the Last Supper, on the night he was betrayed, our Savior instituted the Eucharistic sacrifice of his Body and Blood. This he did in order to perpetuate the sacrifice of the cross throughout the ages until he should come again, and so to entrust to his beloved Spouse, the Church, a memorial of his death and resurrection: a sacrament of love, a sign of unity, a bond of charity, a Paschal banquet ‘in which Christ is consumed, the mind is filled with grace, and a pledge of future glory is given to us.’” (quoting Sacrosanctum Concillium, Vatican II)

The relationship of the Last Supper to the Passion to the Holy Sacrfice of the Mass is one of my favorite topics. The riches of meditating and exploring these mysteries are inexhaustible.

What do you think?
VC


#9

I did a search on ask an apologist. these are somewhat related to the topic, and may help.

[/font]http://forums.catholic.com/showthread.php?t=12302&highlight=cannibalism

[/font]http://forums.catholic.com/showthread.php?t=6623&highlight=physically+present

[/font]http://forums.catholic.com/showthread.php?t=40150&highlight=physically+present

[/font]http://forums.catholic.com/showthread.php?t=206&highlight=literally

[/font]http://forums.catholic.com/showthread.php?t=78724&highlight=real+presence

[/font]http://forums.catholic.com/showthread.php?t=53594&highlight=real+presence

[/font]http://forums.catholic.com/showthread.php?t=28125&highlight=real+presence


#10

Since Monte’s quoting me, I will clarify. By physical, I mean that which can be identified and defined by physical characteristics, which Christ’s presence in the Eucharist cannot. He is truly present, but under a microscope we will see no human cells or any indication of “flesh”.

Sacramentally means he is truly present, but the host still retains the qualities, or accidents, of bread. A Sacrament, after all, is a divine presense or measure of grace administered through something which appears physically mundane.


#11

We do not chew Christ’s flesh or get little pieces of his body. You can take it too literally. The Eucharist is a symbol that makes present what it actually symbolizes. The Eucharist is still a mystery for us finite humans and we will never understand the Eucharist completely.


#12

[quote=mark_e_rhodes]I wouldn’t say that because the multiplication of loaves were just that, not a consecration of hosts so that they became the Eucharist. There could be no Eucharist, as such, BEFORE the Passion, right?
[/quote]

After the resurrection, Christ’s supernatural human body (which could walk through walls and appear out of nowhere) was not bound by space OR time. Therefore, he was present, sacramentally, in the “bread” of the last while, at the same time, sitting, physically, at the table with his disciples. His sacramental, supernatural body transcended time to make itself present in the consecrated “host” he shared with the disciples.


#13

[quote=awfulthings9]After the resurrection, Christ’s supernatural human body (which could walk through walls and appear out of nowhere) was not bound by space OR time. Therefore, he was present, sacramentally, in the “bread” of the last (supper) while, at the same time, sitting, physically, at the table with his disciples. His sacramental, supernatural body transcended time to make itself present in the consecrated “host” he shared with the disciples.
[/quote]

Hiya Awfulthings,

If I am reading you rightly, you seem to be positing that the reason Christ is able to be present in the Eucharist is because He has, now, a Glorified Body.

I don’t think that is quite right, although it is understandable to try to look at it that way. But I would assert that the reason Christ is able to be present in the Eucharist is because He is present there *sacramentally *(through Divine action). [which, is actually what you *did say :thumbsup: , but I am specifically focusing on the part about His Glorified Body)

The Sacramental nature of His Presence helps us to begin to fathom many things about the Eucharist, not the least of which is how Christ can be present in “multiple places” and “multiple times”. Usually we see an appeal to His Glorified nature. But although He does have a glorified body in the Eucharist (and in Heaven!) such that we receive Him Glorified Body, Glorified Blood, Soul and Divinity, it is not by virtue of His Glorified Body that He is present in the Eucharist.

If it were by virtue of His Glorified Body, then we immediately run afoul of the question “How then, could He have been present in the Eucharist at the Last Supper, since He had not received His Glorified Body yet?” Perhaps we are tempted to answer that a Glorified Body doesn’t have the restraints of Time, and so it was His Glorfied Body, not yet received by Him, which He gave to His disciples at the Last Supper. But this won’t do! Because He says “This IS my Body which is given for you”, and His Body was a passable body, one capable of suffering, and dying. His Glorified Body is NOT capable of suffering and dying.

In order to protect the *reality *of the Real Presence, we must assert the Christ gives us His Body as it is, really. For us, that means a Glorfied Body in Heaven, for the disciples that means a mortal body, about to suffer.

What do you think?
God Bless,
VC


#14

[quote=Verbum Caro]Hiya Awfulthings,

If I am reading you rightly, you seem to be positing that the reason Christ is able to be present in the Eucharist is because He has, now, a Glorified Body.

I don’t think that is quite right, although it is understandable to try to look at it that way. But I would assert that the reason Christ is able to be present in the Eucharist is because He is present there *sacramentally *(through Divine action). [which, is actually what you *did say :thumbsup:
[/quote]

, but I am specifically focusing on the part about His Glorified Body)

The Sacramental nature of His Presence helps us to begin to fathom many things about the Eucharist, not the least of which is how Christ can be present in “multiple places” and “multiple times”. Usually we see an appeal to His Glorified nature. But although He does have a glorified body in the Eucharist (and in Heaven!) such that we receive Him Glorified Body, Glorified Blood, Soul and Divinity, it is not by virtue of His Glorified Body that He is present in the Eucharist.

If it were by virtue of His Glorified Body, then we immediately run afoul of the question “How then, could He have been present in the Eucharist at the Last Supper, since He had not received His Glorified Body yet?” Perhaps we are tempted to answer that a Glorified Body doesn’t have the restraints of Time, and so it was His Glorfied Body, not yet received by Him, which He gave to His disciples at the Last Supper. But this won’t do! Because He says “This IS my Body which is given for you”, and His Body was a passable body, one capable of suffering, and dying. His Glorified Body is NOT capable of suffering and dying.

In order to protect the *reality *of the Real Presence, we must assert the Christ gives us His Body as it is, really. For us, that means a Glorfied Body in Heaven, for the disciples that means a mortal body, about to suffer.

What do you think?
God Bless,
VC

Hey VC,

I’m not sure I agree, though I understand what you are saying. Christ’s glorified body and his physical body are the same body, though in two states.

As his glorified body still has the nail holes and the spear gash, it is still the body which is given up for us in the Eucharist. It would be true for him to say, “This IS my body, which IS given for you” because it is one in the same body.

It wouldn’t, in my opinion, be a problem to say that he transcends time because we know this to be true. If his glorifed body can pass through matter, such as a door, it can surely become, in a Sacramental way, the host under the forms of bread and wine. His glorified body is no less human than his pre-crucifixion body, nor will ours be in Heaven. It is an improved human body.

I think we’re stretching this too far, though. My point is that, for someone who assumes Catholics think we are eating a piece of flesh, we need to make the distinction that, to consume Christ’s human body, we have to understand that, in a Sacramental way, that human body is no longer bound by the laws of physics, as it once was. (Yes, I know he walked on water and performed other physics-defying miracles, but these are instances where his divine nature stepped forward. After the resurrection, his human nature, on its own, is something which can be present to us through space and time.

Or not.

Anyway, God bless


#15

Hi Awfulthings, thank you for your reply.

For support of my position please see Fr. Hardon’s Easter and the Eucharist:

At the Last Supper, when Christ pronounced the words, “This is my Body” this is the chalice of my Blood,” the Body and Blood that were to be nailed to the Cross and shed on Calvary. . . Since the Resurrection of Christ, the Holy Eucharist is indeed the true, living Body and Blood of Christ. But it is now the Risen Christ in His glorified humanity.

and St. Thomas Aquinas

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[font=Times New Roman][size=3]
[font=Times New Roman][size=3]For it is manifest that the same body of Christ which was then seen by the disciples in its own species, was received by them under the sacramental species. But as seen in its own species it was not impassible; nay more, it was ready for the Passion. Therefore, neither was Christ’s body impassible when given under the sacramental species.[/size]

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[/font](Part III, Q. 81, Art. 3 of the Summa)
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The point of this distinction is that if we try to predicate Christ’s Real Presence on the fact that He now has a Glorified body, then we must say that at the Last Supper he was present both in his Mortal Body and in His Glorified Body. I don’t think the Church wants to do that.

Any thoughts on the above?
VC


#16

[quote=Verbum Caro]Hi Awfulthings, thank you for your reply.

For support of my position please see Fr. Hardon’s Easter and the Eucharist:

and St. Thomas Aquinas

[font=Times New Roman][size=3] [/size][/font]
The point of this distinction is that if we try to predicate Christ’s Real Presence on the fact that He now has a Glorified body, then we must say that at the Last Supper he was present both in his Mortal Body and in His Glorified Body. I don’t think the Church wants to do that.

Any thoughts on the above?
VC
[/quote]

Hey VC,

I don’t see too much difference with my position and that of Aquinas because my point is that we have to avoid speaking of his “mortal body” and his “glorified body” as if they were two separate bodies. Aquinas writes that “[font=Times New Roman][font=Times New Roman][font=Times New Roman]body of Christ which was then seen by the disciples in its own species, was received by them under the sacramental species.”[/font][/font][/font]
I think this is where we are disagreeing. The earlier quote expresses well what you are saying. I don’t actually have a problem with your position either. I think that, as there is no clearly defined doctrine on the matter, it is subject to theological speculation, which is always healthy as long as it is orthodox. Perhaps my own position would be more reasonable if, instead of saying the transfiguration happens because of his “glorified” nature and focusing on the physical freedom it had, I expressed it this way: “While Christ was physically present with the apostles at the last supper, his body was Sacramentally present through the same divine powers which glorified his body after the resurrection.”

Is this any better?

Thanks


#17

Awfulthings,

I understand what you are saying. But the above quote makes me think that you might think Christs needs a glorified body in order to be present sacramentally. But why would this be so? It is by virtue of the sacrament that He is present.

[quote=awfulthings9] My point is that, for someone who assumes Catholics think we are eating a piece of flesh, we need to make the distinction that, to consume Christ’s human body, we have to understand that, in a Sacramental way, that human body is no longer bound by the laws of physics, as it once was.
[/quote]

My concern is that you are saying two different things here: 1) We consume Christ’s body sacramentally and 2) That body is no longer bound by the laws of physics. Both are absolutely true, but the first is not predicated on the second, as far as I can see.

Thanks!
VC


#18

[quote=Verbum Caro]Awfulthings,

I understand what you are saying. But the above quote makes me think that you might think Christs needs a glorified body in order to be present sacramentally. But why would this be so? It is by virtue of the sacrament that He is present.

My concern is that you are saying two different things here: 1) We consume Christ’s body sacramentally and 2) That body is no longer bound by the laws of physics. Both are absolutely true, but the first is not predicated on the second, as far as I can see.

Thanks!
VC
[/quote]

I think our posts crossed in cyberspace. See the way I restated it in my last post and see if that fits your explanation better. There, I’m not predicating it on his glorified nature, but on the divine power which would eventually give him his glorified nature.


#19

Hi Awfulthings, I really enjoy this topic, so I appreciate you spending time discussing it with me. Thank you.

First, I think we MUST differentiate Christ’s “mortal body” from Christ’s “glorified body” (although both were different states of His body) because if Christ had a Glorfied Body on the cross He wouldn’t have been able to die.

Second, I think the quote from Aquinas does say something different from what I beleive you are saying, especially this part:

“neither was Christ’s body impassible when given under the sacramental species.”

Aquinas is saying that at the Last Supper Chirst gave His disciples a passible body in the Eucharist (meaning a non-glorfied body!)

Aquinas takes this to the logical conclusion (the conclusion which, I contend, protects the reality of the Real Presence) when he speculates about what would have happend if the Eucharist was consecrated during the time Christ was in the tomb:

See here (Third Part, Q. 76, art 1, reply to Objection 1)

[font=Times New Roman][size=3]

[font=Times New Roman][size=3]And therefore had this sacrament been celebrated during those three days when He was dead, the soul of Christ would not have been there, neither by the power of the sacrament, nor from real concomitance.

[/size] [/font]

[/size][/font]
But here is where Aquinas seems even more clear: (Third Part, Q. 76, art. 2)

[font=Times New Roman][size=3]it must be held most certainly that the whole Christ is under each sacramental species yet not alike in each. For the body of Christ is indeed present under the species of bread by the power of the sacrament, while the blood is there from real concomitance, as stated above (1, ad 1) in regard to the soul and Godhead of Christ; and under the species of wine the blood is present by the power of the sacrament, and His body by real concomitance, as is also His soul and Godhead: because now Christ’s blood is not separated from His body, as it was at the time of His Passion and death. Hence if this sacrament had been celebrated then

, the body of Christ would have been under the species of the bread, but without the blood; and, under the species of the wine, the blood would have been present without the body, as it was then, in fact.

Aquinas’ phrase “as it was then, in fact” is crucial to my point.
What do you think?
VC
[/size][/font]


#20

[quote=Verbum Caro]Hi Awfulthings, I really enjoy this topic, so I appreciate you spending time discussing it with me. Thank you.

First, I think we MUST differentiate Christ’s “mortal body” from Christ’s “glorified body” (although both were different states of His body) because if Christ had a Glorfied Body on the cross He wouldn’t have been able to die.

Second, I think the quote from Aquinas does say something different from what I beleive you are saying, especially this part: Aquinas is saying that at the Last Supper Chirst gave His disciples a passible body in the Eucharist (meaning a non-glorfied body!)

Aquinas takes this to the logical conclusion (the conclusion which, I contend, protects the reality of the Real Presence) when he speculates about what would have happend if the Eucharist was consecrated during the time Christ was in the tomb:

See here (Third Part, Q. 76, art 1, reply to Objection 1)

[font=Times New Roman][size=3][/size]

[/font]
But here is where Aquinas seems even more clear: (Third Part, Q. 76, art. 2)

Aquinas’ phrase “as it was then, in fact” is crucial to my point.
What do you think?
VC

[/quote]

I can always admit when I’m wrong. I think you made a solid case for your explanation, especially in the quote regarding consecration during the entombment. Excellent posts.


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