What is the substance that changes in transubstantiation?


#1

What is the substance that actually changes during transubstantiation? How can a Catholic respond to the question, “If you analyzed the bread and wine scientifically, you’d still find bread and wine, so how can you really believe that the whole substance has been changed into Jesus?”


#2

Remember the Thomas Dolby song from the 80’s…in the song he was blinded by science ! Our senses tell us it is bread and wine. Our faith that when the priest invokes the holy spirit to come down and make the gifts holy allows us to recognize Jesus. :wink:


#3

The concepts of accident and substance originated with Aristotle. substance is not something that can be scientifically analyzed - all you are doing is analyzing the accidents (look, feel, color, taste, smell, etc.). Aristotle said that a substance is distionct from its properties.

You can find many links to read further by searching on Aristotle’s theory of substance.

The Catholic Encyclopedia has a good starting point too.


#4

Protestants do in a sense believe in transubstantiation.

They believe that when an unsaved sinner accepts jesus Christ as their personal lord and savior the person becomes New.

They view it as the person becomes new in CHrist. Same physical characteristics in but a different person.

Examining their cells under a microscope would yield the same characteristics


#5

The substance undergoes an ontological change. We also believe because Jesus isn’t using nice, descriptive language, nor does he use the expression, my flesh is like bread, in John 6, Bread of Life discourse. Jesus speaks literally that is flesh is true food. Take a look at John 6:66… Why would disciples leave him if he was only speaking figuratively? If he was speaking figuratively, wouldn’t he call them back so as to explain?
The re-presentation of the Last Supper fulfills the command of the Lord to do this until he returns; combines with the Sacrifice of his body, upon the Cross at calvary and done each day in the unbloody offering at the altar. :thumbsup:
in a similar way, you can’t measure the change within you when you are baptized or when a priest is ordained to the priesthood. This is the kind of ontological change that we put our faith in, it is the change that God makes present by the working of the Holy Spirit.


#6

This was an AWESOME example ! :thumbsup:
Oh my gosh…Baptism…I will use this at RCIA and will give you credit…ha
Have a great day :slight_smile:


#7

Interesting that John 6:66 is the time when people left him by rejecting the Eucharistic flesh…Strangely 6:66 and it’s implications as “the” number 666…of course scripture wasn’t “numbered” just a coincidence


#8

Although I like the analogy given for someone being “born again” and becoming a new creation, I am not sure that my Protestant friends would accept that because they recognize that human beings are both matter and spirit, but they would not recognize that bread and wine are anything except matter. When someone becomes a Christian, the matter in his body does not change but the spirit is born anew. How does that analogy extend to bread/body and wine/blood?

Also, by saying that it is an ontological change, isn’t one just saying that what it* is* changes.

So does the matter change but you can’t detect it? Or does the matter remain the same while something else, i.e. the substance, changes?

By the way, I believe that the bread and wine ARE changed into Jesus’ body and blood, but exactly what happens is a mystery to me.

I found the article on substance in the Catholic Encyclopedia confusing. I still don’t really know what substance means in modern terms.


#9

Catholics aren’t the only ones who believe that the bread and wine are turned into the Body and Blood of Christ.

The Lutheran church teaches “sacramental union” and believe that the bread and wine really become the Blood and Body of Christ, too (unbeknownst to many Lutherans).

There are high Anglicans and low Anglicans, and the high Anglicans believe in some sort of mystical transformation as well.

Even certain Methodist churches believe similarly, but they don’t call it transubstantiation or sacramental union. They don’t attempt to explain the details, preferring to keep it a mystery.

While they don’t all agree on the specifics, many denominations believe that the real Body and Blood of Christ is somehow present in the Bread and Wine.

A Catholic might say that that God will only work the miracle of transubstantiation through an ordained priest . . . and that the other denominations are wrong when they think that they are partaking in the Real Presence . . . but, that’s beyond the scope of this discussion.


#10

Reply back to them, “If you analyzed the flesh and blood of Jesus Christ scientifically, you’d find nothing but human tissue, so how can you really believe that Jesus Christ was God?”

BTW, since when do Christians require that the truths of Christianity be subject to scientific verification? Can science prove that God even exists?

Protestants who make such arguments (science doesn’t show it, so how can you believe it?) are arguing exactly like atheists. It’s actually very common for Protesants to argue against Catholicism with atheist-like arguments. Weird but common.


#11

Jesus could turn the chair I’m sitting in, into his body and blood, yet it would still appear to be a chair.

How much better is it, that Jesus turned something which we could consume, i.e. bread and wine?

Jesus said, “unless you eat of my flesh, and drink of my blood, you will not have eternal life.” How could this be possible, if not for Jesus giving us the Eucharist?

Jim


#12

Before I joined the Catholic Church I was Episcopalian and believed that Jesus was really present in the Eucharist. As far as I know, Episcopalians do not define a mechanism (e.g. transubstantiation, consubstantiation, …) by which Christ becomes present in the consecrated elements; they are content to leave that a mystery known only to God, similar to the mysteries of predestination/free will, the Trinity, and Christ as fully God and fully man.

I agree that Protestants seem to place limits on what God can do. I am not sure why.

I am still not sure about the meaning of the “substance” that changes. Is the substance matter that becomes just and illusion of bread and wine, or is it something else?


#13

The theology of transubstantiation is an old one that actually predates the Gospels. By the time the Gospels were written the Christian community had long been celebrating the Eucharist. This may be the reason why they do not go deeply into an explanation of the Eucharist in the Gospels. The purpose of the Gospels was to tell Good News of Redemption, not explain sacramental theology.

This presents a problem for those who look for such an explanation in the Gospels. You will not find an indepth explanation of any of the sacraments. The sacraments existed and were celebrated by the Christian community when the evangelists wrote the Gospels. In the mind of the writers, it is possible that they felt no need to write about what was already a fact to them and the people of their time.

The answer to transubstantiation and other scramental questions is to be found in Christian tradition. This is an obstacle to those Christians who believe that all truth is found only in the Bible and no where else. It’s like saying that the only place that you can find money is in a bank. If your account is empty, you’re broke. In the meantime, you’re sitting on a million dollar piece of property and their are several dollars in coins under the cusions on your couch. But you have narrowed your search to one place; therefore, you will starve while sitting on a cushion that rests over lots and lots of coins and is housed in a million dollar mansion.

The only way to understand much of our faith is to broaden our scope. Everything in the Bible has been played out in tradition and is explained by the Magisterium. Therefore, we must look at those too.


#14

To quote our non-Catholic friends, “Jesus said it, I believe it.”:signofcross:


#15

Science is essentially exercises of what humans know about the universe. Therefore, when one is skeptical of transubstantiation on the basis of science, he is restricting what God can do to merely what humans can know. I think that is a rather backwards understanding :rolleyes:

-Larry


#16

Travis,

I like this. I will also add, that there are other avenues by which we arrive at knowledge and understanding of reality. They are not always empirical sciences. Anyone ever hear of history? :slight_smile:


#17

Nothing - it remains bread and wine.


#18

I think after Jesus rose from the dead and came “Through the walls” of the upper room where the disciples were and the doors were locked:

For that instance in time when He was going Through those walls that He was substantially in them!

You couldn’t see that if you drilled into the walls at that exact moment with a camera

But that wouldn’t negate the truth of Him being there:

Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity
Despite the Appearances!

If Jesus can Substantially go through and be in walls contrary to the walls appearances

Don’t tell me that He couldn’t CHANGE the substances of bread and wine and be there despite their appearances!


#19

Transubstantiation can only be argued and demonstrated through philsophical logic, not through empirical science, maybe through Church History.

Historically, Catholics and Orthodox Christians have held that bread and wine become the Body and Blood of Jesus Christ and they remain such as long as they maintain the essence of bread and wine. In other words, if you leave the consecrated bread to rot, when it ceases to be bread, it also ceases to be Christ. As long as it retains the properties of bread it is truly Christ.

Now, as crazy as this may sound, this in a nutshell is the theology of transubstantiation. The bread and wine, must continue to have all of the properties of bread and wine, yet they are not bread and wine, they are Christ.

If anyone wants to argue this using a microscope, good luck!

There are some things that are not worth arguing about and this is one of them. You can point to the historical tradition and the reasons why the early Christians believed this to be true and why they passed it on to the next generation. But those who want empirical proof will have to sit down and wait a long time.

What I find most interesting, being a convert to Christianity, is that the ones who want the proof are the fundamentalist Protestants. But they’re the ones who scream fowl play everytime you touch on history, culture, literature and language arts to explain a passage of scripture. They do not want academic disciplines involved in understanding scripture, but they want an academic discipline to explain the Eucharist.

You can’t have it both ways. The best you can do is say that in this instance we can use academics to explain something and in this instance, we don’t have the academic knowledge to do so.

However, just because we don’t have the academic knowledge to cure AIDS, doesn’t mean there is no cure. It’s ellusive, thus far.

The proof of substantiation is just as ellusive, but it doesn’t mean that it’s not out there somewhere.

Our anscestors were simple, not stupid.


#20

The answer to transubstantiation and other scramental questions is to be found in Christian tradition. This is an obstacle to those Christians who believe that all truth is found only in the Bible and no where else. It’s like saying that the only place that you can find money is in a bank. If your account is empty, you’re broke. In the meantime, you’re sitting on a million dollar piece of property and their are several dollars in coins under the cusions on your couch. But you have narrowed your search to one place; therefore, you will starve while sitting on a cushion that rests over lots and lots of coins and is housed in a million dollar mansion.

Very good! I’ll have to remember this one.


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