As a former Protestant for over 40 years, I still have questions regarding the Real Presence, and why it was left for us. As a Protestant, we are taught the Holy Spirit, the Paraclete, was given to us to strengthen us, to guide us, but most importantly, be the life of Christ in us, so when He ascended, He would sent “another helper”, and that was all sufficient for the believer. So naturally, if the Holy Spirit is the presence of Christ in us, why the need for the Real Presence?
The Holy Spirit is not Christ, nor is the Holy Spirit the presence of Christ.
Jesus said, “I will be with you.”
Paul most def. called the Holy Spirit the Spirit of Christ, and when the Paraclete was promised, Jesus called Him “another Helper”, which in the syntax and the language of the Greek, meant one like Himself, so the Holy Spirit is the Presence of Christ,in the life of the believer. When Jesus said “I am with you”, the reason He is with us because He went to the Father, who sent the Spirit as an everyday Presence in our lives. The Gospel of John shows that very well.
The Real Presence is referring to a doctrine of the Blessed Sacrament, the Holy Eucharist. This Sacrament comes to us through the “breaking of bread” or in modern Catholic terms the Holy Mass, the New Covenant Sacrifice/Offering of the Body and Blood of Jesus, which He instituted at the Last Supper. This Holy and New Testament in the Body and Blood of Jesus Christ, offered under the appearance of Bread and Wine has replaced the Old Covenant’s bloody sacrifice of animals in the Temple. This Real Presence that exists in the Eucharist is a physical presence within us but is a temporary one. The Real Presence continues of course in the Blessed Sacrament that is reserved in the Tabernacles of all Catholic Churches, making all Church’s TRUE houses of the Lord.
But the Holy Spirit comes to us (through the Sacrament of Confirmation in a particular way.) The Holy Spirit DOES come with the Spirit of Jesus, and is our advocate. All baptized Christians are Sanctified with the Holy Spirit. The indwelling of the Holy Spirit is how we are filled with grace which enables us to live our lives as Christians, doing the Will of God. Catholics believe this indwelling of the Holy Spirit is how we are justified.
So the Real Presence is an aspect of the Blessed Sacrament which gives us life, whereas the indwelling of the Holy Spirit is our justification.
We need not only the Holy Spirit, but we also need the Father and the Son. It is important not to take something spoken of in scripture concerning the Holy Spirit as negating some other truth concerning the Father or the Son. Moreover, nowhere in scripture does it say that sending “‘another helper’ was all sufficient for the believer.”
Most importantly we know that we need the Eucharist because Jesus says so. In John 6 Jesus repeatedly says that his flesh and blood are true food and true drink, and he tells us that unless we eat His flesh and blood we shall have no life within us. This is all very literal and if you wish we can discuss the scriptures supporting that point in great detail.
Jesus is the new manna. He is our literal food for the journey. He is the new Moses and leads us in an exodus to the new promised land which is heaven. The manna in the desert foreshadowed the Eucharist which is Jesus Christ body, blood, soul, and divinity. We need all that God provides for us in the plan of salvation. We need the Father’s mercy and love, we need Jesus redemptive work and His Eucharistic presence as food for the journey, and we need the Holy Spirit so as to live in the Spirit and to be lead by the Spirit. In short, we need the fullness of God and all that God wants us to have.