What are the physical benefits of the Holy Eucharist?


In other words, are the benefits of the Eucharist purely spiritual, pertaining to the soul?
It would seem fitting to me that if we are consuming and digesting physical flesh and blood, that the effects would likewise be physical.

The fathers seem to suggest this as well. See quotes below, Can anyone explain ?

[Christ] has declared the cup, a part of creation, to be his own Blood, from which he causes our blood to flow; and the bread, a part of creation, he has established as his own Body, from which he gives increase to our bodies."

Source: St. Irenaeus of Lyons, Against Heresies, 180 A.D.:

“So then, if the mixed cup and the manufactured bread receive the Word of God and become the Eucharist, that is to say, the Blood and Body of Christ, which fortify and build up the substance of our flesh, how can these people claim that the flesh is incapable of receiving God’s gift of eternal life, when it is nourished by Christ’s Blood and Body and is His member? As the blessed apostle says in his letter to the Ephesians, ‘For we are members of His Body, of His flesh and of His bones’ (Eph. 5:30). He is not talking about some kind of ‘spiritual’ and ‘invisible’ man, ‘for a spirit does not have flesh an bones’ (Lk. 24:39). No, he is talking of the organism possessed by a real human being, composed of flesh and nerves and bones. It is this which is nourished by the cup which is His Blood, and is fortified by the bread which is His Body. The stem of the vine takes root in the earth and eventually bears fruit, and ‘the grain of wheat falls into the earth’ (Jn. 12:24), dissolves, rises again, multiplied by the all-containing Spirit of God, and finally after skilled processing, is put to human use. These two then receive the Word of God and become the Eucharist, which is the Body and Blood of Christ.”

-"Five Books on the Unmasking and Refutation of the Falsely


In the liturgical prayers, and I can’t remember which off-hand - I think in the prayers after communion - it says something like “Let that which nourished our bodies nourish our spirits…” Our bodies metabolize those accidents of bread and wine. Because the physical, observable properties of bread and wine remain, our bodies digest them as such.


So when the Fathers speak of nourishment to our bodies, that is not the flesh of Christ, it is the accidents of bread? It seems to me they mean more than simply digestion of bread, but that Christ’s body and blood actually does something to our body and blood.


Yes, I believe there are strong spiritual & physical benefits to worthy reception of Holy Communion. The reverse is also true.

Witness St. Paul: 1 Corinthians 11: 27 Wherefore whosoever shall eat this bread, and drink this cup of the Lord, unworthily, shall be guilty of the body and blood of the Lord.

28 But let a man examine himself, and so let him eat of that bread, and drink of that cup.

29 For he that eateth and drinketh unworthily, eateth and drinketh damnation to himself, not discerning the Lord’s body.

30 For this cause many are weak and sickly among you, and many sleep.


The Catechism hints at this too, but I can’t find the blasted passage!


Justin Martyr aslo makes a reference to this. (See Below). I had some thoughts but it could be erroneous. Maybe when we digest the bread and wine, we are actually taking into our bodies (physically) the DNA of Jesus Christ, such that we increasingly are prepared for the new human body in the resurrection. Or maybe that we are digesting what he is as a resurrected 2nd Adam, and through an act of digestion we are more connected to him, in a parallel way of being connected to Adam. Or maybe we take on the blood of Christ in the new heavens and new earth as we have taken on the blood of Adam in this world…just some thoughts.

This food we call the Eucharist, of which no one is allowed to partake except one who believes that the things we teach are true, and has received the washing for forgiveness of sins and for rebirth, and who lives as Christ handed down to us. For we do not receive these things as common bread or common drink; but as Jesus Christ our Savior being incarnate by God’s Word took flesh and blood for our salvation, so also we have been taught that the food consecrated by the Word of prayer which comes from him, from which our flesh and blood are nourished by transformation, is the flesh and blood of that incarnate Jesus."

“First Apology”, Ch. 66, inter A.D. 148-155.


I think of the Eucharist as a super-relic. Imagine eating a relic, but that relic is God.


It seems as though we know that we are consuming Christ’s literal flesh, soul, divinity, and that we receive this by means of our digestive system. However, we do not know it’s effects on our physical bodies?

Therefore, the effect of the Eucharist is a purely spiritual reality, one that is separated from the physical body.

The problem with the above conclusion is two-fold, 1) It would make more sense if Christ’s body and blood in the Eucharist were also of a spiritual reality if indeed causes only spiritual effects, and 2) the Fathers did indeed speak of a physical effect from the Eucharist.


I believe in healing. Many people have been healed physically through the Eucharist.


Saint Nicholas von Flue became a hermit and lived on solely the Eucharist for the last years of his life - having a strange illness which prevented him from eating or drinking.

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