Why body, blood, soul, divinity not just Jesus?

Why do we specifically state that we are receiving the body, blood, soul and divinity of Jesus in holy Communion? Why do we simply say we are receiving Jesus? Why not state that we are receiving the body of Jesus? Why all four words?

You could not receive a man with a 210 lb body and arms and legs. It’s just too hard to swallow the whole Jesus even with the chalice to wash it down.

My understaning, though limited, is as follows.

Theologians will make the distinction between “Physical” presence and “Substantial” or “Sacramental” presence while non-theologians will often use the phrase “Physically present” interchangeably with “Real presence.” Most theologians will not argue the point with non-theologians because it is simply confusing to non-theologians but there is a different.

The entire substance of Christ - body, blood, soul and divinity - are present in the Eucharist in a real way. The fact Jesus is present in the physical world is often discribed as “Physical presence” by non-thologians. Yes, Jesus is really present in the physical world and if you want to call that “Physically present” then most won’t argue with you.

Sacramental presence however is on a higher order than mere physical presence. Sacramental presence means that Jesus can be present in many different tabernacles and inside many different people at the same time and in many different times thoughout history. Sacramental presence means that all the substance that makes up Jesus - body, blood, soul and divinity - can be contained in the Eucharist.

I welcome corrections and clarifiations.


To drive the point of the Real Presence. By saying just “Jesus”, it could mean consubstantiation (Jesus present in the bread), or symbolically (we receive the bread and Jesus enters us spiritually). So by saying the bread and wine become completely the body, blood, soul and divinity of Christ, we reiterate that the Real Presence of Christ is in the Eucharist.

A1. Through transubstantiation, the essence of the bread and wine are changed to the body and blood of Our Lord, retaining the signs of bread and wine.

Baltimore Catechism No. 4 – 238:
Q. What is the Holy Eucharist?
A. The Holy Eucharist is the Sacrament which contains the body and blood, soul and divinity of Our Lord Jesus Christ under the appearances of bread and wine.

When we say “contains,” we mean the Sacrament which is the body and blood, etc. The Holy Eucharist is the same living body of Our Lord which He had upon earth; but it is in a new form, under the appearances of bread and wine. Therefore Our Lord in the tabernacle can see and hear us.
A2, A4. Using all four words affirms both the belief in transubstantiation and in the dual nature of Christ.

A3. We receive more than just the body of Jesus.

that is how my priest explained it also :slight_smile:

from what I’ve understood… Jesus is truly present in the Eucharist, but in theology, when we say He is “physically” present we mean in terms of BOTH substance and accidents. In the Eucharist, it is Jesus in terms of the substance but not in terms of accidents (visible physical characteristics - ie: the Host still LOOKS like bread, though is not bread). However, it is truly His Body. In non theological terms, people do often say “physically present”

to the OP… I think many people do say it as “receiving Jesus” :slight_smile: it is after all, Him, and we can talk to Him in the Eucharist as to a real person (in my understanding…). When we say “Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity”, we are emphasizing the idea that Jesus’ natures can not be separated… (the Eucharist can not be only His Body. it is also His Soul and Divinity)

God bless

in order to make it clear that our communion is not just a spiritual event, and to differentiate his special presence in the Eucharist from the other ways he is spiritually present: in the assembly, in the proclamation of the Word, in the person of the priest. In order to be complete, accurate, and precise and prevent the full meaning of the Real Presence from being watered down or reduced to the merely symbolic. To get over the difficulty that arises when some insist Christ is physically present, which is simply not true and would negate the truth that we receive the entire Christ full and undivided in his Human and Divine natures when we partake of commuion, not pieces of only his physical Body. He is substantially and sacramentally present, and the description above makes that clear. Moreover to ignore that reality leads to denial of the Incarnation and of the dual natures in one Person.

Well, the “Body” is the person; but it could also mean the person dead. We do not receive HIM dead, but alive. Biblically, the blood is the life. We receive HIS life.

The “soul” is the mind, or spiritual aspect of a human being. We take that in as well, not just physical substance of HIM. HE is not just human protein, or even human natural life, but human spiritual life. Body, mind, etc.

And “divinity” assures that we intake not just HIS human self but HIS Divine power. Not just a living human being, but HIS propensity to Eternity; as a priest said, “the antidote to Death.”

By using all four words, the Faith assures that we receive ALL of HIM. Even though the physical aspects are changed, as we would be unable to assimilate a 200# breathing body, limbs, head, etc.

God Bless and ICXC NIKA.

In addition to the posts above, I have heard it described simply thus:

The bread becomes Jesus’ body, as He said it would. It is not a part of Him, it is His entire body.

But, Jesus’ body also contained blood, since he was fully human. So if the bread is Jesus’ body it must also contain Jesus’ blood.

So, since Jesus was fully human, His body must have also had a soul. If the bread is now Jesus’ human body it must also contain his soul.

Now, Jesus was fully divine. If the bread is now Jesus’ body and human soul it must also contain his divinity (as the hypostatic union teaches we cannot separate the human Jesus and the divine Jesus).

I agree with the posters above. I like the way the Compendium puts it:

**282. How is Christ present in the Eucharist?


Jesus Christ is present in the Eucharist in a unique and incomparable way. He is present in a true, real and substantial way, with his Body and his Blood, with his Soul and his Divinity. In the Eucharist, therefore, there is present in a sacramental way, that is, under the Eucharistic species of bread and wine, Christ whole and entire, God and Man.

**286. What kind of worship is due to the sacrament of the Eucharist?


The worship due to the sacrament of the Eucharist, whether during the celebration of the Mass or outside it, is the worship of latria, that is, the adoration given to God alone

In another place, and now I cannot find it, it is explained that the Church does not imply by Real Presence that other modes of the Lord’s present are not real, but that in the Blessed Sacrament, the Lord’s presence is par excellence, not to be surpassed in its full reality.

Each of the words has a great theology that goes along with them.

Body. Jesus did not use the word for “flesh”, but the word “body”. The Greek word is used like we use body in ‘anybody’ If I am in a graveyard and ask “is anybody there”, I don’t want to know if there is a body ready to be buried but a living being. Body may be better translated as “Person” today for it is a living body: physical being with living intentions, desires, commands.

Blood. The part used in sacrament/sacrifice. AND to 1st century Jews it also means

  1. Passover lamb. Protected through the blood on the doorposts and lintels
  2. Sacrifice. Blood is to be sprinkled on the altar and on the sinners as a sign of the forgiveness of sins.
  3. Life. All living things bleed when cut. Blood implies alive! And Jesus remains with us today through the sacramental presents in the Eucharist
  4. Convenant. Ratified by the threat of shedding blood (which has already been shed in this case by Jesus and his blood speaks more elequently than the blood of Able)

Soul. The animating component of a person. All living things, so long as they live, have a soul: Vegitative, Animal, Rational (Man and Angel). Body+Blood+Soul = living being, human. When the soul leaves a body, it dies. When it receives a soul, it lives.

Divinity. This is not just a man, but God Himself, present under the form of Bread and Wine. True God and true man.

It seems to me that the phrase “body, blood, soul and divinity,” simply emphasizes that Jesus is present in his entirety, in his reality.

We do not receive a little piece of his body. We receive his entire body and blood, his entire human nature and his divine nature.

And he is not divided. We don’t receive a hundred thousand different ‘copies’ of Jesus just because hundreds of thousands have received, now and in the past, and in the future. We each receive the exact same one Jesus. He is neither divided by the sacrament, nor multiplied by it.

And it is the *glorified body *of Jesus Christ, as in heaven today, that is under the appearance of bread and wine.

TheDoctor’s response is very good. It is essentially a contemporary way of expressing what the Council of Trent said about the presence of Jesus Christ in the Eucharist (I’ve added comments and formatting to make it clearer)…
This has always been the belief of the Church of God,
that immediately after the consecration
the true body and the true blood of our Lord,
together with His soul and divinity
exist under the form of bread and wine

the body under the form of bread,
and the blood under the form of wine,
ex vi verborum [by the force of the words “this is my body” and “this is my blood”];

but the same body also under the form of wine,
and the same blood under the form of bread,
and the soul under both,
in virtue of that natural connection and concomitance
whereby the parts of Christ the Lord,
who hath now risen from the dead, to die no more,
are mutually united;

also the divinity
on account of its admirable hypostatic union with His body and soul.

Wherefore, it is very true that
as much is contained under either form as under both.

For Christ is whole and entire
under the form of bread
and under any part of that form;

likewise the whole Christ is present
under the form of wine
and under all its parts.

I’m looking for a poem of about four lines that explains this mystery in a charming, concise and clarifying way. I think it was written in the 1800s.

Simply this phrase clarifies that it is Jesus as God, Jesus as human. Remember the most persistent heresies of the early Church centered on the divinity/humanity of Christ. The Church response to heresy is clarification and definition of beliefs - Dogma.

I’ve heard this before, but I can’t for the life of me see how the “soul and Divinity” part rules out other versions of the Real Presence. On the contrary, no one thinks we receive the Body and Blood without the soul, and the presence of the Divinity is uncontroversial.

I think that rather, this formulation is intended to rule out the misunderstanding that Catholics are practicing cannibalism, chowing down on Jesus meat. (Some simplistic statements of the Catholic position can sound that way, as can the reliance of many Catholics on Eucharistic miracles to prove the Real Presence.)

Nothing about the formula rules out consubstantiation and/or the Lutheran view, as far as I can see. (Lutherans refuse to call their position “consubstantiation,” though I can never quite see why they get so excited about the matter.)


from what i am reading it is correct to say we consume the whole of Jesus…what he was in life we receive at communion…thanks for all the responses…

Not quite. Not what Jesus was in life, but what Jesus is.

I have heard it explained this way:
In His divine nature, Jesus is present everywhere, since God is omnipresent.
In His human nature, Jesus is present in His glorified body, which is in Heaven.
In the Blessed Sacrament, Jesus is present in both His human and divine natures, transcending space and time, so that Heaven is revealed to earth, discernible by the vision granted by faith.

When you say, Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity, then, it says that Jesus is fully present in every sense, in a way that exceeds the way in which He is omnipresent. Or, as the catechism puts it, it is real not as if other ways are not real, but rather par excellence. He could be more obvious to your senses, his presence and identity could be more difficult to deny, but he could not be more fully present. In fact, I have heard a priest say that we cannot be so present to anyone as Christ is in the Eucharist, since our humanity is not fully available to others.

Was Trent the first time this four-part formulation was used, or was it also found in earlier Church documents or councils, or writings of theologians?

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