What does "species" mean


Reading Council of trent declaration on the Doctrine of the Real Presence in Heuner and Dupuis (e.g. no. 1527) It talks about the "species of bread and wine. what does the word “species” mean in this context


species - form. Bread is one form, wine is another.


Sorry about the double entry. Sorry about the double entry
My machine crashed and I didn’t realise my question had already been logged - perhaps an administrator can delete one

Don’t think it meand Form

The context is:

If anyone says that in the holy sacrament of the Eucharist the substance of bread and wine remains together with the body and blood of our Lord Jesus Christ, and denies that wonderful and unique change of the whole substance of the bread into his body and of the whole substance of the wine into his blood while only the species of the bread and wine remain, a change which the Catholic Church very fittingly calls transubstantiation, anathema sit.

I think from the above that species does not mena form - quite the opposite. Quite what it does mean I guess depends on what exactly “subtance” means in this context. I have a feeling that it does not so much mean “matter” but rather comes from the latin to “stand under” - by which I guess its meaning is co-rellative with the very dogma it helps define.

But I don’t really know what I’m talking about…


Well, in this context its saying exactly that the appearance (form or shape or look) of the bread and wine remain. Which is what I meant.


I agree - I think that is all that it can mean - but why use such a weird word…

I am a Catechist and from my experience of “explaining” this great miracle I’m not so sure how helpful the word “transubtantiation” is. Don’t get me wrong - I firmly believe we should hold on to the word - but more as a label than an explaination.(I believe recent documents have spoke about the importance of the word)

For me the simpest formula that I have come across is the formula of Trent. THat Christ becomes truly, really and substantially present under the perceptible signs of bread and wine. Perceptible - what we see smell taste.

Is it bread - No
Does it taste like bread - Yes
Does it feel like bread - Yes
Does it smell like bread - Yes
Does it crumble like bread - Yes

All perciptible signs

Is it bread - No

For me this might as well be the last word on it - and certainly from a catechetical point of view. Not sure how helpful transubtantiation is.

The only thing else I might be tempted to do is to then approach the mystery from the other direction and state a few of the anathema sits (i.e. define the mystery in the negative my stating what it is not)

But I welcome any thoughts on this


And yet, in the very next “breath”:

Which seems to be more than just a label for you?

My understanding is that we use words like *species, substance, *et cetera, because: While they may have mundane meanings which have developed over time, it can be shown that they also have precise meanings, when the Church uses them as She intends.
Gotta run to a job interview – Pray for me please



These are technical metaphysical terms.

Species: Kind, type.
Substance: What “underlies” the accidents of something, the thing that makes something what it is.
Accident: Something perceptible to the senses such as color, taste, shape, etc.

Each species of the Eucharist is Christ himself. Trent does a good job of making this clear. Christ is really, truly, and substantially present. This means he is not figuratively present, present in objective reality independently of our minds, and present in substance.


Indeed, words *are *important. I recently re-read from this document, (Mysterium Fidei):

Proper Wording of Great Importance

  1. But this is not enough. Once the integrity of the faith has been safeguarded, then it is time to guard the proper way of expressing it, lest our careless use of words give rise, God forbid, to false opinions regarding faith in the most sublime things. St. Augustine gives a stern warning about this when he takes up the matter of the different ways of speaking that are employed by the philosophers on the one hand and that ought to be used by Christians on the other. “The philosophers,” he says, "use words freely, and they have no fear of offending religious listeners in dealing with subjects that are difficult to understand. But we have to speak in accordance with a fixed rule, so that a lack of restraint in speech on our part may not give rise to some irreverent opinion about the things represented by the words.’’ (l0)

24. And so the rule of language which the Church has established through the long labor of centuries, with the help of the Holy Spirit, and which she has confirmed with the authority of the Councils, and which has more than once been the watchword and banner of orthodox faith, is to be religiously preserved, and no one may presume to change it at his own pleasure or under the pretext of new knowledge. Who would ever tolerate that the dogmatic formulas used by the ecumenical councils for the mysteries of the Holy Trinity and the Incarnation be judged as no longer appropriate for men of our times, and let others be rashly substituted for them? In the same way, it cannot be tolerated that any individual should on his own authority take something away from the formulas which were used by the Council of Trent to propose the Eucharistic Mystery for our belief. These formulas—like the others that the Church used to propose the dogmas of faith—express concepts that are not tied to a certain specific form of human culture, or to a certain level of scientific progress, or to one or another theological school. Instead they set forth what the human mind grasps of reality through necessary and universal experience and what it expresses in apt and exact words, whether it be in ordinary or more refined language. For this reason, these formulas are adapted to all men of all times and all places.



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