What Happens to the Eucharist After It is Consumed?


Hi. I have recently run into some people who insist that the Eucharist is actually digested after one partakes of it. The language they use is not respectful and I don’t wish to go into details although they do. I understand that when we partake of the Eucharist we are partaking of the actual Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity of the risen Christ and that it is intimate and that our souls are nourished.

I don’t know how to respond to these people who are making rude comments about this most Holy Sacrament. I can’t find official Church teaching and so I thought I would ask here.

What exactly happens when a person partakes of the Eucharist? Is there official Church teaching? What can I tell these people?

Help? :confused:

P.S. I mean absolutely no disrespect to God with my question. I would not blaspheme God for anything. My questions are very serious and asked with nothing but respect for the Eucharist which is Jesus and which I worship.


It ceases to be Christ after it no longer has the recognizable appearance of bread or wine.


Thanks. But what is “recognizable appearance of bread or wine”? And is there official Church teaching on this?


During the celebration of the Eucharist, the bread and wine become the Body and Blood of Christ, and this they remain. They cannot turn back into bread and wine, for they are no longer bread and wine at all. There is thus no reason for them to change back to their “normal” state after the special circumstances of the Mass are past. Once the substance has really changed, the presence of the Body and Blood of Christ “endures as long as the Eucharistic species subsist” (Catechism, no. 1377).

It would not be the Real Presence once the species has dissolved and is in your stomach, although the grace given to you remains. On the same note, if for some reason the Host has been seriously soiled, you can dissolve it in water and then pour it down the sacrarium or directly on the Earth.

So no, any witty, vulgar joking about what supposedly ultimately happens after you eat the Host is not only immensely irreverent, but it’s also incorrect.


When the substance of the Host has dissolved into your body, the sacramental presence is lost.



I’ve heard that the Eucharistic species either host or wine or both remains for 15 minutes after consumption. We aren’t to take food or drink before that time is up or we’d be polluting the Eucharist. For that precious fifteen minutes we ARE in communion with God. We should behave as such. Once that time has passed it is as any other bread or wine - digested.

You should check tracts on Catholic Answers for more info. They’ve got it covered.



The substance of the consecrated host is Our Lord. (Thus “transubstantiation”.) Our Lord’s substance is not dissolved in our stomach.
It is the accidents of bread and wine (which remain after the substance of bread and wine have been changed into Our Lord’s body and blood) that are dissolved in our body. When the species/accidents are no long present, Our Lord’s sacramental presence ceases.
Catechism of the Catholic Church
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."204

1377 The Eucharistic presence of Christ begins at the moment of the consecration and endures as long as the Eucharistic species subsist. …



Jesus Christ is fully human and fully divine. Therefore his human body which we consume in the Eucharist is made of real matter, that is real water, protein, fat, salt, and so on, which may be digested and absorbed into our bodies to nourish and strengthen us physically. His divine nature similarly enters us so that it may nourish and strengthen our spiritual nature or soul.

Accordingly I believe Christ’s presence persists within us and is not lost nor does it cease to be Christ after we consume it. I think my understanding may be consistent with John 17:20-26 (here quoted from the New Revised Standard Version Catholic Edition):
“I ask not only on behalf of these, but also on behalf of those who will believe in me through their word, that they may all be one. As you, Father, are in me and I am in you, may they also be in us, so that the world may believe that you have sent me. The glory that you have given me I have given them, so that they may be one, as we are one, I in them and you in me, that they may become completely one, so that the world may know that you have sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me. Father, I desire that those also, whom you have given me, may be with me where I am, to see my glory, which you have given me because you loved me before the foundation of the world.

“Righteous Father, the world does not know you, but I know you; and these know that you have sent me. I made your name known to them, and I will make it known, so that the love with which you have loved me may be in them, and I in them.”


Mea culpa, I am not a philosopher or a Thomist, and do not use the term substance as either would.

I meant the word as meaning simply “perceptible material”.

God Bless and ICXC NIKA


I would guess there are very few philosophers on CAF. I am certainly not one.
But it is important I think for us Catholics to get some understanding of the philosophical/Thomist meaning of “substance” because the word “transubstantiation” is based on that meaning – and not the meaning we give it in our day to day speaking.


It is Our Lord’s glorified body that is present sacramentally in the Eucharist - not a mortal physical body; His glorified body cannot be digested and absorbed (deconstructed, so to speak). When the species of bread and wine are no longer identifiable (whether in our stomachs or elsewhere from decay), Our Lord’s sacramental presence ceases. He just ceases to make Himself present sacramentally

In our ordinary language we think of a substance as something with its material accidents physically present/manifested in some way. In the Eucharist, Jesus physical body is not present “physically” (with dimensions, color, weight, etc. present in a physical way). He is present sacramentally. In Church documents you will notice that when they speak of how Jesus is present, they will say He is sacramentally present. His true body and blood are present sacramentally.


For any who wish to read more than the Catechism section, here is a link to an article titled “The only difference between Christ’s body in heaven and Christ’s body in the Eucharist” followed by a quote from it. (bolding mine) I found it very helpful.
We will quote from Ludwig Ott (Fundamentals of Catholic Dogma, TAN Edition page 386): “Consequently, the quantitas dimensiva… not in three dimensional filling of space, but in a manner of substance (per modum substantiae), that is, without actual extension. Cf. S. th. III 76,4. In order to make this mode of being present in the Blessed Sacrament more acceptable to human imagination,** theologians distinguish between two formal operations of quantity**, the** inner extension**, that is,** the ability of the Body to spread out in three dimensions, and the outer extension**, that is, the filling of space in point of fact. The relationship between them is as of cause and effect. While the former belongs to the nature of the body, and for this reason is inseparable from the body, the latter can be abrogated by a miraculous intervention of God.** In the Sacrament, Christ’s Body is present with the inner, but without the outer extension**.”

In other words, the Real Presence in the Eucharist does include the accidental property of Christ’s body which is dimensive quantity. The body of Christ, present in the Eucharist, is substantially the same body which took up space while he was on earth and which now is physically and dimensionally extended in heaven. However, the body of Christ is present in the Eucharist according to a substantial mode which is sacramental – therefore, the physical extension of the Lord’s body is only an “inner extension” and is not expressed in “outer extension”. Thus, the Lords’ Real Presence does not take up space, nor is our Lord moved in the Sacrament,** nor does his body suffer violence when the Sacrament is consumed** – hence, while we must admit that the body of Christ is present in its “physical reality” (i.e. the inner dimensive extension), we ought not claim that this body is “physically present

And here is a link to the Council of Trent’s Document on the Eucharist:


Thank you, everyone!! :slight_smile: I fully believe that the Eucharist is the Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity of the risen Christ. I find comments such as the ones I have read on another site to be blasphemous and utterly without charity or respect for the beliefs of Catholics. The claim about the Eucharist is also a straw man but attacking the Church based on misrepresentations is very common.

Now I know a bit more and can back up Catholic belief with official teaching. I have a hard time navigating the CCC. The index is not very good. Parts of it I know by heart but I don’t know a lot of it and need to study it some more. I’m also unclear about the early Church.

One thing I pointed out is that human beings cannot manufacture certain nutrients which are absolutely necessary for the maintenance of life. We have to consume food which contains those nutrients. And without eating the Flesh and drinking the Blood of Jesus we have no life in us. The Eucharist nourishes our souls, our real beings, with God Himself, giving us grace and wiping out venial sin. I find that amazing and so loving. God is so good!

May God bless all of you. You have helped me. I will pass this information on.


To be a little more precise

"There is no present requirement for fasting after Communion, but many books have recommended, as an act of reverence, not eating or drinking for 15 minutes after receiving --about as long as the sacred Species remains intact. If one remains at Mass until the closing blessing, one likely observes this recommendation even without realizing it.

In some cultures, the faithful follow the pious practice of drinking a glass of plain water before taking any nourishment after Communion. Such acts, while praiseworthy expressions of reverence, are voluntary and are matters of custom, not legislation."



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