I’m currently going through an RCIA program and we’ve recently done a session on the Eucharist. Going into this journey, I had read up on what transubstantiation is, and I’ve been trying to suppress the fact that I don’t totally believe that the bread and wine become the body and blood of Jesus. Ever since the session we did on it, I can’t stop thinking about it, and it’s starting to bother me. I firmly believe in consubstantiation but not transubstantiation.
My question is this: If I don’t fully believe in transubstantiation, should I be continuing in my journey to becoming Catholic? If I do continue, when it comes time to come into the church and take the Eucharist and I still don’t believe transubstantiation to be true, wouldn’t it be wrong for me to do so?
Talk to a priest about it and receive some guidance from him. It is certainly a mystery and is hard to wrap our minds around such an idea. The best thing you can do is pray for the wisdom to understand this mystery of our faith.
I would encourage you to talk to a Priest about this and receive some guidance and advice about why it is that you don’t believe this, or about the mindset in coming to the faith.
I would encourage you to continue things for now and look more into this belief and what the Church says on the matter.
But as for receiving the Eucharist, it is totally and absolutely forbidden for anyone to take the Eucharist without believing with Catholic Faith that it is truly the literal body and blood of Christ. This is the central belief of the Church, along with the Trinity and The Incarnation. The Eucharist is the source and summit of the Christian life.
Yes - Talk to your priest AND also explore the reasons for your lack of faith on this …
Read and meditate on the scriptures …
Read the Bread of life discourses in the Gospel of John … read them - meditate on them … listen to Jesus’ emphatic reiterations of how it is His very Body that is the Bread that gives everlasting life …
Read St Paul … Ask yourself - how can something less then the Body and Blood of Christ cause illness and death if partaken unworthily or without belief?
Read the teachings on the Eucharist by the early Church Fathers …
Spend some timber before the Blessed sacrament in prayer …
Also - Ask yourself if you are minimizing God … I ask this because many non-Catholics [and I too was one once :o] feel that Catholics don’t really focus on Jesus or God - minimizing the Godhead and are more focused on Saints - elevating them to godlike status etc … for example - many Protestants say at the last supper that Jesus could not really have given His Body and Blood to the Disciples because he was standing there - so obviously Jesus meant the last supper as a symbolic or metaphorical event …
However, what I found is that Catholics really believe that Jesus is God - that His promises are true … that when He said to the disciples at the last supper - This is My Body … This is My Blood … he meant what He said - it really was His Body and His Blood … How, Why … Its a mystery - but it is … and since He is God - He can do that …stand there offering His Body and Blood … similarly - He promised that as often as we do this participation in the Body and Blood - we do do so in 'remembrance" of Jesus … as St Paul said - we are participating [in the Jewish sense of remembrance and participation] in the Life death and Resurrection - the Body and Blood of our Lord Jesus Christ … My God is an awesome God … He can do whatever He promises, desires, wants - regardless of my ability to comprehend and understand and outside the laws of science, physics, mathematics, etc … He is the Alpha and the Omega - He was, He is, He ever shall be … outside time and space … I do not have to understand - I only need to believe …
If you can get a copy - also read Confessions of a Megachurch Pastor by Allen hunt - he comes from your Methodist faith tradition - its an easy read - you may find help in his struggles with this concept.
But if leamar3 believes it is consubstantial, that still is truly the literal body and blood of Christ as well as bread & wine… I think.
But then from CCC I see
1374 The mode of Christ’s presence under the Eucharistic species is unique. It raises the Eucharist above all the sacraments as "the perfection of the spiritual life and the end to which all the sacraments tend."201 In the most blessed sacrament of the Eucharist "the body and blood, together with the soul and divinity, of our Lord Jesus Christ and, therefore, the whole Christ is truly, really, and substantially contained."202 “This presence is called ‘real’ - by which is not intended to exclude the other types of presence as if they could not be ‘real’ too, but because it is presence in the fullest sense: that is to say, it is a substantial presence by which Christ, God and man, makes himself wholly and entirely present.”
1376 The Council of Trent summarizes the Catholic faith by declaring: “Because Christ our Redeemer said that it was truly his body that he was offering under the species of bread, it has always been the conviction of the Church of God, and this holy Council now declares again, that by the consecration of the bread and wine there takes place a change of the whole substance of the bread into the substance of the body of Christ our Lord and of the whole substance of the wine into the substance of his blood. This change the holy Catholic Church has fittingly and properly called transubstantiation.”
Bead and Wine remain as signs.
The signs of bread and wine
1333 At the heart of the Eucharistic celebration are the bread and wine that, by the words of Christ and the invocation of the Holy Spirit, become Christ’s Body and Blood. Faithful to the Lord’s command the Church continues to do, in his memory and until his glorious return, what he did on the eve of his Passion: “He took bread. . . .” “He took the cup filled with wine. . . .” The signs of bread and wine become, in a way surpassing understanding, the Body and Blood of Christ; they continue also to signify the goodness of creation. Thus in the Offertory we give thanks to the Creator for bread and wine,154 fruit of the “work of human hands,” but above all as “fruit of the earth” and “of the vine” - gifts of the Creator. The Church sees in the gesture of the king-priest Melchizedek, who “brought out bread and wine,” a prefiguring of her own offering.155
We don’t try to understand. We accept it even though it is difficult to understand and then ask God for to help us.
Immediately the father of the child cried out and said, “I believe; help my unbelief!” (Mark 9:24)
Belief is not something that happens to us. It is an act of the will. We decide to believe something and God takes it from there. We step out in faith and accept transubstantiation because it is revealed to us by God through his Church. Then we ask God to help us believe that which our senses tell us cannot happen. The OP should make an act of faith, accept that transubstantiation is real. He should say, “I believe; help my unbelief!” and not give it another thought. God will not be outdone.
Besides, transubstantiation is right in the Bible anyway.
*Instead of these things thou didst give thy
people food of angels,
and without their toil thou didst supply them
from heaven with bread ready to eat,
providing every pleasure and suited to every taste.
For thy sustenance manifested thy sweetness
toward thy children;
and the bread, ministering to the desire of
the one who took it,
was changed to suit every one’s liking.
For the elements changed places with one another,
as on a harp the notes vary the nature of the rhythm,
while each note remains the same.
This may be clearly inferred from the sight of what took place.
For land animals were transformed into water creatures,
and creatures that swim moved over to the land.
Fire even in water retained its normal power,
and water forgot its fire-quenching nature.
Flames, on the contrary, failed to consume
the flesh of perishable creatures that walked among them,
nor did they melt the crystalline, easily melted
kind of heavenly food.
Hi leamar3. I would certainly encourage you to talk to your Priest. I converted a few years ago now and this was certainly something that confused me from the outset.
One thing that helped me in believing was reading about Eucharistic Miracles, particularly the Miracle of Lanciano. Good Friday the year I converted I found myself I watched the Passion of the Christ. In the flashback scene where Jesus said the words of institution I found myself crying but with peace in my heart. I knew that God was calling me to Him in the Eucharist. I don’t need to “understand” it, I know in my heart that it is him.
I am sure there are many Catholics, especially cradle Catholics whom accept it is what is is, part of their faith and normal life (going to Church every Sunday) and even if they have doubts, they don’t really question it too much because it’s a normal routine to them and something they have been brought up with.
But it’s definitely harder for somebody like us to understand.
The notion of “transubstantiation” is strictly a Latin theological concept (and a scholastic one at that, based on Aristotelian philosophy). Boiled down to the bones, it means that the “substance” changes while the “accidents” (what we see and sense) remain the same as they were. To my mind, this concept is overly complicated. Not everything can be explained though philosophical and rational concepts. That negates the mystery.
From an Oriental perspective, what is to be believed is that the oblation becomes the Body and Blood of Our Lord. IOW, the Real Presence of Our Lord, God, and Savior. The “how” of it is rather immaterial. The truth of it is what matters. The “how” of it remains a mystery of our faith, but the truth of it is undeniable: we believe that, through Divine Mercy, it does happen. The Lord becomes manifest in our midst under the species of simple bread and wine, that our sins may be forgiven and that we may have life eternal. The ultimate Eucharistic miracle. the Mystery of Faith.
From an Anglican point of view, I think they say faith alone saves you, once you believe in Jesus Christ as the Lord and Saviour and of course live a good Christian life I suppose, it’s more appealing. But in Catholicism, it’s kind of scary because you say that you mus receive the Eucharist so that sins will be forgiven, then why did Jesus die for our sins then? Couldn’t he have lived maybe and then we do the Eucharist for the rest of time, like you’re doing now?
God said that this is my Body and this is My blood. He did not say, this is a symbol, or example or any such thing. God is not capable of sin. He is not capable of telling a lie. It is what He said it is. What’s so difficult to understand. As YODA puts it,it is what it is. Also, they have many miracles associated with the Host, you might want to read about them. Look them up on the internet.
God bless you all. Brenda
The bread and wine changing into the Body and Blood of Christ is a true mystery - and a miracle that usually cannot be sensed with the temporal senses. Our physical bodies cannot tell the difference from bread and wine. However, our souls can tell the difference. Our minds cannot hope to wrap our minds around this mystery - it is above our ability to understand.
I don’t know if this could be an issue for you or not (probably not), but I’ll chip in just in case, since I don’t think it has been mentioned yet:
Sometimes miracles happen and we are allowed to have an extra glimpse of reality, but normally there are no tangible experiences upon receiving the Eucharist. Not for the first time, and likely not at any time. I’m not saying that it never happens, it just isn’t the norm.
Transubstantiation is taken by faith, not by sight or feeling. It is a doctrine that you would need to be able to give your assent to before being allowed to make First Communion, but its also one of those things that you might have to just jump into. You probably won’t have the confirmation of experience to back up the belief, or if that is granted to you, it might take place over years. Do you have good reasons to trust Catholicism in other matters of doctrine? Based on what you already believe about the Catholic Church, is this something that you feel you can accept on the authority of the Church even though you don’t understand it?
I was raised Protestant and am in the process of conversion. I briefly had issue with transubstantiation, as well. What helped me was accepting this as a mystery. Instead of asking “how could this be?” and “how does this actually work?” I made a conscious decision to accept that transubstantiation simply is. There are many mysteries in Christian and other faiths. We humans will probably never truly understand those mysteries and that’s ok. Some things you just take on faith.