Real Presence – Does it Mean Cannibalism?

Mar 23rd, 2009 | By | Category: Blog Posts

I’m prone to distrust doctrinal claims that would leave the majority of Christians throughout history as heretics. A strict Memorialism, the view that the Body & Blood are spoken of the Eucharistic species in a purely figurative way, does just that; for it makes Catholics, Eastern Orthodox, Lutherans, Anglicans and Calvinists supremely wrong about the supreme act of Christian worship.

eucharist

In short, it makes almost every Christian alive, or who has ever lived, a heretic.Now I’m not about to argue against Memorialism in its entirety. Frankly, there are many other resources available if anyone wants answers to that challenge. I only intend to answer the charge of cannibalism and the supposed violation of the Jewish dietary laws by those who affirm the Real Presence.

The Jewish dietary laws specified which meats were edible: vegetarian beasts with split hoofs, sea creatures having both fins and scales, and various particular birds and insects. Anything else was de facto unclean. The laws also included a prohibition against eating blood and fat.

In a recent discussion, a Memorialist accused the Catholic Church of violating the Jewish dietary laws by her doctrine of Real Presence since, in his mind, it amounts to cannibalism. But is this doctrine, which most Christians have always held in some form, a violation of the Torah? Let’s look at Mark’s gospel for some helpful clues. In Mark 7:15 Jesus says, “Nothing outside a man can make him ‘unclean’ by going into him.” In verse 19, Jesus gives the reason and Mark explains the full implication of this radical statement, “‘For it doesn’t go into his heart but into his stomach, and then out of his body.’ In saying this, Jesus declared all foods clean.”

Jesus points out that eating food is a physical process. It goes in physically, is physically digested, and then discarded. It doesn’t enter the heart and therefore does not defile. This isn’t dualism, just common sense. Now it follows that if something cannot cause spiritual harm by a purely physical process, it cannot cause spiritual benefit by a purely physical process.

The objection Memorialists raise regarding the Jewish dietary laws and the Eucharist reduces the doctrine of Real Presence to a purely physical process which is a straw-man fallacy. That is, if the reception of Christ’s Body by Christians is a purely physical process, we would be guilty of cannibalism and therefore a violation of the Jewish dietary laws. Now the contemporary Memorialists are not the first to accuse the Catholic Church of cannibalism. This unsubstantiated claim was widely used against us by the pagans of the second century. We emphatically do not hold the Eucharistic reception to be a purely physical process and we are not guilty of cannibalism because receiving the Eucharist is not the equivalent of taking a bite out of Jesus’ Arm nor of drinking His Blood from the Cross. Those things would be a violation of the Jewish dietary laws. The substance of the host has been changed into the risen Body of Christ which although fully corporeal and real, does not physically belong to this universe. The Jewish dietary laws pertain to the natural; what we are partaking of in the Eucharist is supernatural. So our reception of Christ in the Eucharist is not a mere physical event. It is an event where the supernatural meets the natural. The benefit of the Eucharist is spiritual not physical; namely: grace. We cannot receive grace via digestion. Moreover, we do not digest Christ.

From these arguments, it is clear that the doctrine of the Real Presence does not amount to cannibalism and thus does not violate the Jewish dietary laws (which Mark 7:19 abolished anyway).

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  1. Can I ask slightly unrelated question? I am looking for clarity. The Catholic Church teaches that all Trinitarian Baptisms are valid and efficacious (as far as I understand). But what about the Lord’s Supper? The Catholic Eucharist forgives venial sins according to the Catechism, but what about the Lord’s Supper in non-Catholic ecumenical bodies? Are venial sins forgiven here as well? The first time reading through the Catechism’s section on the Eucharist is mind blowing for a Presbyterian who only receives the sacrament once a month. Thanks, Jeremy

  2. Hi Jeremy. That’s a good question. The efficacy of a non-Catholic baptism, provided proper form and matter, is an ancient question which was settled in the 3rd century. However, the efficacy of the sacrament of the Eucharist is a different issue because a non-Catholic could have the form but not the matter. That is, they could perform the ritual but if they have not valid Orders via Apostolic Succession, the Eucharist is invalid. It is possible for a non-Catholic Eucharist to be valid but illicit though. This is the case with the SSPX (Society of Saint Pius the Tenth). The Eastern Orthodox Eucharist is also valid and does forgive venial sins.

    Now you may have known all that and still have your question. I don’t know of a definite pronouncement on this issue but I would humbly suggest that since the communion service of the Protestant community is not valid per qualifications above, it does not operate in the sacramental way that a Catholic Eucharist does in absolving venial sins. Now, the nuances between venial and mortal sins and how they are forgiven for those outside the ordinary walls of the Catholic Church is a complex issue and most likely is best answered with a humble deference to God’s unfathomable mercy. He works in ways we do not understand and I can only assume that those Protestants who approach the Eucharist with sincerity, especially those in a state of invincible ignorance, may by some special providence be granted a pardon in a similar way. The point of distinction though is that the communion itself is not a valid sacrament and therefore ex opere operato does not apply.

    Is this helpful?

  3. Yes, very helpful and much easier than researching myself:) Where does the Catholic Church get the idea of the Eucharist being valid via legitimate Apostolic Succession? I def see the problems with sola scriptura and do not hold to it any more, so I’m not necessarily looking for a Scripture reference, but I am interested in where the RCC gets this teaching. I know this probably requires a long answer, any links you can give me to read would be appreciated. This is one thing I cannot answer when I’ve talked with my evangelical/Reformed friends about my leaning towards Rome. Thanks, Jeremy

  4. Jeremy,

    In order to answer this question, we need to start with an understanding of the Church herself as a sacramental entity; i.e. she has a divine right to exist and to do what she is commissioned to do. The Church does not merely consist of a group of people with good intentions.

    The Eucharistic worship is at the heart of what “she is commissioned to do” because it is at the heart of her mission to save lost souls and to worship the Triune God. But by what authority does she perform this action? A sacrament is instituted by Christ, as you know, and Christ instituted the Eucharist at the Last Supper. Specifically, He told His disciples, “Do this in memory of Me.” Who could do that? Who did He give authority? Could Mary Magdalene? Could other ordinary lay persons? No. It was given to the apostles.

    So, to understand the Eucharist as valid only at the hands of those with valid Orders, we must start with the sacrament of Holy Orders. We will get into more depth on this subject when we formerly tackle Apostolic Succession but that is a few months away.

    In the first generation, the Church knew that only those to whom authority had been given (the apostles) could rightly “Do this in memory of Me.” And the second generation knew that it belonged only to those whom the apostles had ordained as successors. In fact, from the earliest times, the Church has understood the Eucharist to properly belong to the bishop. It was only as a matter of practicality in the 3rd and 4th century that it became ordinary for Presbyters to celebrate. The Church understood then and now, that they perform this action under delegated authority from the bishop, whose proper duty it is.

    So if one can perform this action without valid Apostolic Succession, what criteria could be used to determine its validity? What would be the principle difference in me doing it and an ordained Presbyterian minister? He has been duly ordained by a Presbytery, but who have they been ordained by? The question is, on whose authority do we perform this action? The sacrament is performed on the authority of Christ through apostolic succession.

  5. I appreciate it. Most of this is new to be, I had never heard that Priest performs mass through authority delegated to them by a Bishop. I’ll process it. It would be more consistent (in my understanding) if valid baptism also required legitimate holy orders. I’m still not sure I understand what you’re saying in terms of where these sacraments differ in terms of validity. Why would the baptism of a baby in the Episcopal Church by a woman be valid, but not her administering the Eucharist? Nobody gave her authority to do either.

    I am only questioning the difference between these sacraments. The Catholic Church’s position actually draws me to the Catholic Church. In a weird way I really respect that I am barred from the table as I am not Catholic. Our generation starts churches in their basements using coke at potato chips. I’m glad that the Catholic Church offers a way out of the madness.

    Again, I really appreciate y’all’s website. I’ve talked with several priests over the past two years about the Church, but it is more helpful for me to talk with people that get how I’m viewing things from a Reformed Perspective. Peace in Him, Jeremy

  6. Jeremy,

    Excellent question. This is where the infallible authority of Tradition comes in. Part of the argument of St. Cyprian of Carthage & the Northern African Synod on Re-Baptism was that Baptism was a sacrament of forgiveness of sins and as such belongs exclusively to the Church. From this it seems to follow that those outside the visible confines of the Catholic Church, whether heretical or schismatic, cannot perform a valid baptism. What I gather from your question reminds me of this argument – if the Eucharist is done by special prerogative of the Church – why isn’t the same true of baptism? It’s a fair question.

    Pope St. Stephen argued on the weight of the unbroken tradition received from the apostles that baptism cannot be repeated and was valid as long as the proper form and matter was used. (St. Augustine later concurred. You might be interested to read his treatise On Baptism).

    In Acts 8:14-17, Peter and John are sent to Samaria because the Christians there had only been baptized (by Philip the deacon) and had not received the Holy Spirit. From this it follows that 1) At least deacons could baptize 2) Apostles could do some things that even deacons couldn’t. The sacrament in this passage is Confirmation of course, but it shows that baptism did not belong to apostles/bishops alone even from the earliest Church.

    Tertullian says, “Of giving it, the chief priest (who is the bishop) has the right: in the next place, the presbyters and deacons, yet not without the bishop’s authority, on account of the honour of the Church, which being preserved, peace is preserved. Beside these, even laymen have the right; for what is equally received can be equally given.” (On Baptism ch17)

    So this demonstrates that laymen could perform the sacrament even in the early Church although it was never the norm.

  7. Jeremy,

    If you want a book, Zizioulas’s Eucharist Bishop Church is a good place to start.

    My answer would be that the Eucharist is a corporate event, whereas Baptism only makes a member of the corporation. And just because I have authority (in theory) to say “yes, you are welcome to come to our community, to come to our Eucharist” it does not imply that I have the authority to create a new community by instituting a new Eucharist of my own. If I baptize, I am (by the act) inviting the one baptized to come to the Eucharistic celebration of the one people under the one Bishop. If I hold a Mass, I’m establishing a new eucharistic community (I hate that language) and hence a new Church, and a new Christ.

    Of course, I shouldn’t usually invite whoever by baptizing them. But in an emergency it might be necessary–for instance if someone was dying.

    Regarding Protestant Eucharists: That’s a tricky question because the Catholic Church has said that Protestants are in some way Christian. But we are then (seemingly) left saying that either the Christian faith is optionally Eucharistic–which is nonsense it is the blood of Jesus Christ that cleanses us from all sin, and it is through His Flesh that we have access to the Holy of Holies–or that it is optionally One–which is also manifestly nonsense. In my opinion, this tension between the Eucharist and the unity of the Church on the one hand, and the fact that Protestants are indeed Christian on the other hasn’t been satisfactorily resolved.

  8. Tim,

    I think you got at exactly what I was asking. It seems like your saying that Scripture and tradition affirm exceptions to the norm concerning the sacrament of baptism whereas such exceptions for the Eucharist are not to be found (if so not affirmed by RCC). This makes sense in that being a one time regenerating ordiance, the unity of the Church is not disturbed nearly as dramatically as it would be with the Eucharist, which if fully valid in any administration by anybody, it would erode the bonds of Church unity.

    I’ll think it over. I get part of what your saying, but I’m sure part of me needs to trust and not fear the Catholic Church. I’ve been told for a long time that the Catholic Church “just makes stuff up” in their so called “tradition” in order to give defense of their own heresies. I had become Catholic enough in my theology to begin RCIA last fall, but after walking in the Church, I realized I still couldn’t trust it on a personal level. I think that is slowly changing, and I pray that God will let me know if and when is the right time. One reason I also love this website is that I don’t hate the Reformed faith, I still love it, which I think many of you can relate to. I asked my wife yesterday if I could be both, but she said she didn’t think that would work out. I’m taking an elective on C.S. Lewis through RTS virtual, I’m sure I’ll be shooting y’all some questions. I’m very interested in the question of where he would have gone had he lived to see the Church of England ordain women. I think he would have left, but I’m not sure where he would have gone. My wife is telling me I’m becoming too obsessed with this site, so I’m going to sign off and hang out with her. Thanks for reading and thanks for your thoughtul responses to my questions.

    Peace in Jesus, Jeremy

  9. “In my opinion, this tension between the Eucharist and the unity of the Church on the one hand, and the fact that Protestants are indeed Christian on the other hasn’t been satisfactorily resolved.”

    This is not necessarily a tension between the Eucharist and unity of the Church on one hand and the fact that Protestants are Christian on another but, more precisely, a matter of the Fullness of the Faith, which Protestants, although seemingly Christian, do not have even as regards their beliefs concerning the Holy Eucharist (as the Catholic Faith since the days of the early church professed it to be — and do take note that only the fully initiate then could take part in the celebration and even the catechumens of the Church could not themselves partake in the Celebration — how much more those separated from the Church?) and its Celebration — for even insofar as the latter is concerned, among other things, theirs is not a valid Holy Orders as that in the One, Holy, Catholic & Apostolic Church.

  10. Double post. Please delete the first one (which contains some mistakes).

    Let me offer some points in addition to Tim’s. Christ is our High Priest. And as our High Priest he has called some men to administer the sacraments to the people, as representatives of Him. To quote from a Lutheran source:

    “[The Lutheran Churches do teach that] we may obtain this faith, the Ministry of Teaching the Gospel and administering the Sacraments was instituted.” (Augsburg Confession 5)

    “[We] confess that hypocrites and wicked persons have been mingled with the Church, and that the Sacraments are efficacious even though dispensed by wicked ministers, because the ministers act in the place of Christ, and do not represent their own persons, according to Luke 10:16: He that heareth you heareth Me.” (Defense of the Augsburg Confession 7/8)

    I don’t know if this is really relevant, but it’s interesting to see some of the different translations of Justin Martyr’s First Apology. In part 67, he writes (according to this translation) that in the Sunday worship when bread and wine is brought forth to the president, he (that is; the president) “sends up prayers and thanksgivings to the best of his ability, and the congregation assents, saying the Amen.” (My emphasis) But this is, AFAIK, not a direct translation of the words. Fr Timothy Finigan writes:

    Unfortunately, the translation most readily available [of Justin Martyr’s First Apology] on the internet and in libraries betrays a Protestant bias so that when the celebrant “makes the Eucharist” or carries out the gratiarum actio, this is spoken of as “he gives thanks” and when we are told that he offers the Eucharist according to the power which he has (by virtue of holy orders), this is translated “he gives thanks to the best of his ability”. These renderings of the text of St Justin have led many to think that his account of the Eucharist gives support to the idea of informality whereas, in conjunction with the other evidence that we have from early Christian writings, they may quite properly be taken to indicate the exact opposite.

    If Justin Martyr had these ideas this early, I’m pretty sure that it was very common knowledge amongst the early Christians. And if the bishops (and their priests), as “descendants” of the Apostles, represents Christ — then it all makes sense to me.

    And that the priests “performs mass through authority delegated to them by a Bishop” is pretty explicit in the writings of Ignatius of Antioch. He writes to the Smyrnaeans: “You should regard that Eucharist as valid which is celebrated either by the bishop or by someone he authorizes.”

  11. Roma,

    I don’t of course mean that Protestants should be allowed to receive communion at Catholic churches. I mean simply that 1) Our access to Christ is through the Eucharist. The Eucharist is the heart of our faith. 2) The Eucharist is one, under one bishop. 3) Protestants are not under the bishop and do not have the Eucharist. 4) Protestants are indeed Christian. These four statements seem to me to be in tension. I can reconcile them with “Christ isn’t bound to the Eucharist, he can operate outside it.” If we said “Christ generally doesn’t act outside the Eucharist, but occasionally He does, I don’t know about this individual case” we aren’t making a statement about how we relate to Christ.

    But if we can say Protestants are separated brethren, if we (as Fr. Neuhaus has) that it would be nice if someone like Bonhoeffer could be cannonized, if we can say, as the Pope does by including Bach music in his masses, that Bach was writing Christian music, yet none of the Protestants have the Eucharist, we mean that the Christian faith is only optionally Eucharistic. That christendom is not created and defined by the Eucharist. In short, we say that the Evangelicals who say that Christendom is in our hearts, or in our thoughts are correct, and that internal faith may be confirmed by the Eucharist, but our faith isn’t in the Eucharist.

    Also, there is the problem that at least Lutherans and some Anglicans really do believe in the Physical presence of Christ.

  12. I’ll grant you that, to a limited extent, Lutherans and some Anglicans believe in a sort of Real Presence that we Catholics do; however, not all protestants (especially in how increasingly diverse protestantism has become these days) actually do.

    Yet, I must point out that there have been unique instances where a Protestant who faithfully believes as we actually do concerning the Holy Eucharist has been given that very sacrament upon their deathbed.

    This, however, does not necessarily mean that all manner of Protestants should be welcomed at the very table we partake of the wedding feast since, again, not all really genuinely believe as we Catholics do.

    The Holy Eucharist (that which we Catholics affirm as the very Body, Blood, Soul & Divinity of Jesus Christ Himself) should not be taken so lightly so as to treat it as some sort of appetizer that all such people are welcomed to.

  13. Matthew,

    But we are then (seemingly) left saying that either the Christian faith is optionally Eucharistic … or that it is optionally One ….”

    I think we don’t have to choose between those two claims. Imagine a child who has no use of his legs. Someone then begins a dilemma with , “Either the use of legs is optional to human life, or ….” We can see that the term ‘optional’ is not the right word to use in this situation. It treats a human being (i.e. a living substance) like an automobile or a washing machine, that comes with options or accessories. It thus mistakenly treats legs as either essential or merely optional. And that is a false dilemma. A person can survive without legs (see here for example), but that does not mean that legs are merely optional for humans. There is a true sense in which properly functioning legs and arms are necessary in order to flourish as a human. The Church likewise is a Body, a living organism. The sacraments are necessary for persons to enter her and to flourish with her. The sacraments are not optional. But that does not mean that there are two Bodies: those Christians who share the Eucharist and those Christians who don’t. Rather, it means that there are varying degrees of flourishing and communion within that one Body. A baptized believer who does not have the Eucharist is like a man with no legs. Can he survive? Yes. Does that mean that legs are merely optional? No. The Eucharist is essential for full communion, but not for imperfect communion. I wrote about these various degrees of communion here.

    In the peace of Christ,

    – Bryan

  14. When we consider communities the analogy of legs may be sufficient (though I don’t believe so). But when we consider an individual, legs are not analogy to the Eucharist. The Eucharist isn’t a part of me, like legs are, it is something external to me, on which I depend. Namely, it is food. But man cannot live without bread. And by calling Protestants communities Christian–and specifically by saying that Protestants can be and are holy–we seem to be saying that Protestants are living men who never eat. Or else we are saying that there is some other Food besides the Eucharist.

    Similarly, I don’t think the analogy of legs works for the community either. The Eucharist isn’t a part of the community any more than it is a part of an individual. The Eucharist constitutes the community and makes them one. Without the Eucharist, a community is just a philosophy club, or a unChristian religous meeting–unChristian because there is no Christ. But maybe that’s what the term “eccleastical community” is trying to get at.

    In Charitate Christi,

    Matt

  15. Matt,

    I was not suggesting that our need for limbs is analogous in every respect to our need for the Eucharist. I used the analogy of limbs to show that the dilemma between *merely optional* and *absolutely essential* is a false dilemma.

    But man cannot live without bread. And by calling Protestants communities Christian–and specifically by saying that Protestants can be and are holy–we seem to be saying that Protestants are living men who never eat.

    Let me offer a counterexample. Consider a person who is baptized in the Catholic Church as a baby, but is paralyzed and has a severe form of mental disability, and never develops a mental capacity beyond that of a 1 year-old. He never receives the Eucharist. This person lives to be 65, and then dies. Must this man lose the sanctifying grace he received in baptism, because he could not receive the Eucharist for 65 years? If you say, “No, because he cannot sin”, then the issue is penance, not the Eucharist. And Protestants who (as Protestants, though with invincible ignorance about the Catholic Church) have perfect contrition for their post-baptismal sins, receive the effects of the sacrament of penance, by desire. Otherwise, no Protestant who committed a mortal sin after baptism could be saved, without becoming Catholic and receiving the sacrament of penance.

    There is one Body, but even those outside this Body may (and do) enjoy some of the effects of the Soul of this Body, including sanctifying grace and salvation. Catechumens are not yet members of the Church, but they receive the effects of baptism by desire, and may be saved if they die as a Catechumen. The Church has always believed this, and she has always understood “extra ecclesiam nulla salus” with this qualification. Likewise, the necessity of the Eucharist must also be understood with the proper qualifications.

    In the peace of Christ,

    – Bryan

  16. Well, I’m perhaps more Eastern–I would prefer that he be communed. But still, I suppose it isn’t necessary.

    The issue of Catechumens is a red-herring. Catechumens are a part of the Catholic community, Protestants are not. And the Catechumen is looking forward to the Eucharist, whereas the Protestant isn’t.

  17. All,
    Just out of curiosity… if Protestants are indeed Christian, what is the argument of keeping them from the Table at a Catholic Church, especially if they do believe in the Real Presence? I am curious because the definitions of the “Christianness” of Protestants seem to vary in the above opinions. Is there any case (even hypothetical) in which you might argue that a Protestant brother should be allowed to partake from the Table?

    Thanks all.
    Caleb

  18. Because Catholics believe that the Celebration of the Eucharist is a Sign of the Reality of the Oneness of Faith, Life & Worship (above all else, as had been mentioned earlier, we Catholics fervently & emphatically believe that the Holy Eucharist is in fact the Body, Blood, Soul & Divinity of Our Lord Himself, as did the Christians of the early church), members of churches not yet fully united with the One, Holy, Catholic & Apostolic Church (i.e., the Catholic Church) are ordinarily not admitted to Holy Communion. Eucharistic sharing in exceptional circumstances by other Christians requires special permission according to the directives of the diocesan bishop and the provisions of canon law (canon 844 § 4).

    As far as the Protestants go, Canon 844 § 4 states that non-Catholics who belong to those churches which have a valid Eucharist, true Eucharistic faith and valid Penance can receive our Lord under:

    a. danger of death, or, other grave necessity,
    b. the norms of the diocesan bishop, or, the conference of bishops are complied with
    c. cannot approach a minister of his or her own community
    d. asks on his or her own for it,
    e. manifests Catholic faith in the sacraments
    f. properly disposed.

    In other words, we Catholics take reception of the Holy Eucharist very seriously (as St. Paul’s own remarks in 1st Corinthians 11:27-28, for example, would suggest a similar seriousness concerning its reception) so much so that we have such restrictions on who, exactly, can receive it.

  19. Thanks. d. is a bit vague…. could you expound?
    I am learning.
    Also, does the same apply to Eastern Orthodox, Coptic and Ethiopian Orthodox or does Cannon 844 apply only to Protestants?

    Caleb

  20. Caleb, if I can add something: the Protestants who believe in the “Real Presence” believe it in a different way and with some qualifications that are explicitly anathematized by Trent; namely: that the bread and wine continue to exist along side of the Body and Blood. There is no Protestant denomination that has an acceptable doctrine of the Eucharist. A Protestant may privately assent to Transubstantiation, and some Anglicans do, but it is not consistent with their confessional beliefs. If you believe that privately, you should be a Catholic publicly.

    Canon 844 regards any Christian, not just those who have a valid Eucharist. (Only Catholic, Orthodox and a few schismatic or quasi schismatic groups have a valid Eucharist). As for the Eastern Orthodox, from our perspective, they are permitted to receive the Eucharist at any time. Their own bishops, however, usually don’t allow them to receive.

    d. above is worded in the canon “who spontaneously ask for them”. I’m not a canon lawyer, but I’d guess it’s just insisting that the reception be voluntary, not coerced in any way.

  21. Correction: § 4 (as I read it) regards any Christian. The canon 844 is talking about Orthodox but it appears to me that § 4 shifts gears temporarily and speaks of “other Christians.”

  22. Matthew,

    The issue of Catechumens is a red-herring. Catechumens are a part of the Catholic community, Protestants are not.

    In order to evaluate whether such a claim is true or not, we would need to know exactly what “part of the Catholic community” means. A Catechumen is not a member of the Catholic Church. Mystici Corporis 22 lists the three conditions for membership in the Church:

    Actually only those are to be included as members of the Church who have been baptized and profess the true faith, and who have not been so unfortunate as to separate themselves from the unity of the Body, or been excluded by legitimate authority for grave faults committed.

    Catechumens do not meet the first condition: baptism.

    In the peace of Christ,

    – Bryan

  23. “Canon 844 regards any Christian, not just those who have a valid Eucharist. ”

    Note the significance of the key phrasing: “…provided that they demonstrate the catholic faith in respect of these sacraments and are properly disposed.

  24. Bryan,

    I agree that Catechumens are not in the Church. But if the Church is a city: Catechumens are like residents who are applying for citizenship–or if they are not yet residents, they are at least beginning to imigrate. Protestants on the other hand, though citizens of the city by their baptism, are not residents.

  25. The cannibalism concept was the cause of a very long discussion between Roman chruch divines at one time. They even went so far as to try to determine what happened to the Lord Jesus once He was digested. Did He become ——? Oh of course not they concluded. You can read about this and other Roman Church teachings as compared to the Bible in my new book, Escape From Paganism, How A Roman Catholic Can Be Saved. You can preview the book at http://www.escapefrompaganism.com.

    One more thing, what about human sacrifice? Do you understand that the inquistion was just this? It was the sacrifice of “heretics” to satisfy the demand of God. In Spain and Portugal until the end of the 1820’s all kinds of religious ritual was carried out, including a mass, when an “auto de fe” was carried out. An auto de fe (act of faith) was a torturous death that was supposedly an act by the condemned person that would make him/her right with God.

    Visit my site and preview my book. I think you might find it interesting.

    Larry Ball

  26. Larry, sorry for the delay in response. Our spam filters didn’t like your comment. Christ is not digested which you would have discovered if you read the article. I’d like to see some evidence for what you say was a long discussion in the Roman Church on this issue.

    The inquisition was absolutely nothing related to human sacrifice to appease God. You need to back up your claims (and no I won’t read your book). These claims are outlandish enough to warrant me not reading your book. If you have some evidence to give me reason to take a more serious look, I’m all ears.

  27. Even if receiving the Eucharist in some way did violate Jewish dietary laws, why would that matter? Weren’t those precepts of the Mosaic Law no longer binding for Christians in the New Covenant?

    Also, if what you say is true, that when we receive the post-consecrated wine we aren’t drinking His literal blood, how are we doing so? What did the wine change into if not His actual blood?

  28. Christie, (re: #27)

    Even if receiving the Eucharist in some way did violate Jewish dietary laws, why would that matter? Weren’t those precepts of the Mosaic Law no longer binding for Christians in the New Covenant?

    True. They pointed forward to Christ, and were fulfilled in Christ.

    Also, if what you say is true, that when we receive the post-consecrated wine we aren’t drinking His literal blood, how are we doing so? What did the wine change into if not His actual blood?

    The bread does change into Christ’s actual body, and the wine does change into Christ’s actual blood. The accidents, however, remain the same, so that the Eucharistic Body retains the appearance of bread, and the Eucharistic Blood retains the appearance of wine. See the explanation of the Capharnaite heresy, in comment #24 of the “Augustine on Adam’s Body and Christ’s Body” thread.

    What makes cannibalism wrong in ordinary cases (in addition to the act of murdering another human being) is the disregard it shows for the human body which shares in the image of God through its relation to the soul. It is not only our soul that is made in the image of God, but the body too, through its relation to the soul. To eat the body of another human being, especially when nutrition is available from other sources, treats that other person’s body as a mere means of nutrition for one’s own body; it reduces the other person’s body to an object of use, subordinate even to one’s own body, at the level of plants and non-rational animals. By eating the other person’s body, the cannibal mutilates it, and by reducing the other’s body to the level of ordinary food, he desecrates it.

    At first glance, all this would seem to make eating Christ’s Body and drinking His Blood even more wicked than ordinary cannibalism, because, being divine, He is infinitely above any created human person. And that conclusion would be correct if it were not the case that God has chosen to give us His own divine life (Eternal Life) through our eating His Body and drinking His Blood. That is why eating His Body and drinking His blood as though they were for the purpose of ordinary food, for the sake of natural bodily nutrition and health, would be a crime akin to crucifying Him, a sacrilege of the greatest sort, treating God Himself as one treats a turnip or a sausage. (Hence St. Paul’s statement that he who eats and drinks without discerning the body [μὴ διακρίνων τὸ σῶμα] eats and drinks judgment on himself. 1 Cor. 11:29)

    Yet Christ has commanded us to eat His Body and drink His Blood in the Eucharist, and we do so not for the sake of ordinary nutrition, but because in this way we receive His divine Life. His Body and Blood are not desecrated when we eat and drink the Host and Precious Blood, precisely because we do not eat and drink for ordinary nutrition, but in recognition that what we are receiving is infinitely higher than ourselves. Nor do we mutilate His Body when we eat and drink, for the reasons explained at the link given just above, regarding the Capharnaite heresy. Unlike cannibalism, in which pieces of the victim’s body are digested and assimilated into the cannibal’s body, in the Eucharist there are no “pieces” or “parts” of His Body. In the Eucharist by transubstantiation we receive the whole Christ, but because He is divine, the result is that we are assimilated into His Body, mystically, and share in His own divine Life. Eating and drinking the Eucharistic Body and Blood is therefore an act of faith in Christ, in His divinity (for if He were a mere human then eating His body would be wrong for the same reason eating other human persons’s bodies is wrong, and there would be no religious reason to eat Christ’s body), and in His humanity (because a non-incarnate deity has no body and blood of His own to give to others to eat and drink), and in His offer of Eternal Life to us through the sacramental mysteries that flowed from His side while He ‘slept’ on the cross.

    This is why the Docetists abstained from the Eucharist (according to St. Ignatius of Antioch — see Epistle to Smyrnaeans, 7.1), because if Christ did not really take on human nature and flesh and blood, then the bread and wine just remain bread and wine, which is why the Docetists saw fit to take the Flannery O’Connor line of reasoning (see footnote #13 in “Angels trapped in stinkin’ flesh.”) The ‘memorialist’ position wasn’t even an option for the Docetists. So eating and drinking Christ’s Eucharistic Body and Blood is not wrong not only because He commanded us to do this, but also because Who He is, and what we are doing when in faith we eat and drink His Eucharistic Body and Blood, make receiving the Eucharist morally different than what occurs in cannibalism, in the way I have just explained. By God’s design, Christ’s flesh is “true food,” and His blood “true drink,” not because they contain nourishment for the natural life of the human body, or more nourishment of that sort than do plants and animals, but because through partaking of His Body and Blood our soul receives the divine Life. Jesus is speaking of Theosis; but God has chosen eating and drinking as the means by which this occurs, not to suggest that Christ’s Body and Blood are lower than us as with ordinary food, but to teach us that by grace He Himself is our true Life, and that man does not live by bread alone.

    “I am the bread of life. Your fathers ate the manna in the wilderness, and they died. This is the bread which comes down out of heaven, so that one may eat of it and not die. I am the living bread that came down out of heaven; if anyone eats of this bread, he will live forever; and the bread also which I will give for the life of the world is My flesh.” Then the Jews began to argue with one another, saying, “How can this man give us His flesh to eat?” So Jesus said to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink His blood, you have no life in yourselves. He who eats My flesh and drinks My blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day. For My flesh is true food, and My blood is true drink. He who eats My flesh and drinks My blood abides in Me, and I in him. As the living Father sent Me, and I live because of the Father, so he who eats Me, he also will live because of Me. This is the bread which came down out of heaven; not as the fathers ate and died; he who eats this bread will live forever.” (St. John 6:48-58)

    In the peace of Christ,

    – Bryan

    Feast of St. John, 2012

  29. Bryan,

    I just wanted to say thank you for your detailed response. It was helpful. I also read Fr. Kimel’s piece on “Eating Christ” and his Pontifications blog post, which discussed the nuances of how Christ is really, truly, substantially, bodily present (sacramentally present) but not physically present. It was quite confusing but turned out to be just what I needed to wrap my mind around the fact that we’re not chewing on His arm or leg, on pieces of Him, like a cannibal would. So thank you for your help! I just had one question…you wrote in your linked comment that we take Christ into our stomachs…but this Cannibalism article says, “we do not digest Christ”. How can those two statements be reconciled?

    –Christie

  30. Christie (re: #29)

    I just had one question…you wrote in your linked comment that we take Christ into our stomachs…but this Cannibalism article says, “we do not digest Christ”. How can those two statements be reconciled?

    The term ‘digest’ has a more specific sense, and a more general sense. In the specific sense it implies a breaking down of the substance of that which has been consumed into its more fundamental biochemical elements, and the subsequent incorporation of that substance into that of the consumer, by way of this catabolic process. In that sense Christ is not digested, because His substance is not broken down. That’s the sense in which Tim wrote above that we do not digest Christ.

    But our stomachs and stomach acids and enzymes do not know the difference between bread and wine one the one hand, and Christ under the accidents of bread and wine on the other hand. After we consume the Host and Precious Blood, then when by the effect of our stomach acids and enzymes the accidents of bread and wine are no longer present, the substance of Christ is no longer present. And in that general sense we digest Christ in our stomachs, much as we ‘gnaw’ [τρώγω] Him with our teeth (John 6:54, 56, 57, 58). It is not something other than Christ that we digest. But this digestion isn’t ordinary, because the substance of what is digested is not broken down into parts that are other than the substance. Every part of the Host is Christ. And when the accidents of bread and wine are lost, the substance of Christ is not destroyed, but is only no longer present.

    In the peace of Christ,

    – Bryan

  31. Hi Tim,

    We emphatically do not hold the Eucharistic reception to be a purely physical process and we are not guilty of cannibalism because receiving the Eucharist is not the equivalent of taking a bite out of Jesus’ Arm nor of drinking His Blood from the Cross. Those things would be a violation of the Jewish dietary laws.

    I have a question about Eucharistic miracles such as documented on this site:
    http://www.therealpresence.org/eucharst/mir/a3.html

    This site documents some extraordinary cases where not only the substance, but the accidents of the Host have been transformed into physical flesh or physical blood. What is your take on these miracles? My thought is that the flesh and blood is not intended for consumption unless it retains the accidents of bread and wine.

  32. Bryan,

    What would you say is the devotional or spiritual difference between a believer having the 3rd person of the Trinity inside them at all times since baptism, and receiving the 2nd person’s body, blood, soul and divinity at Mass? Why is the Eucharist so highly regarded and made such a big deal of, when we already have the 3rd person constantly inside us?

    –Christie

  33. Christie, (re: #32)

    First I would correct the notion that believers in a state of grace have only the Third Person indwelling. Jesus said, “If anyone loves Me, he will keep My word; and My Father will love him, and We will come to him and make Our abode with him.” (Jn. 14:23) All three Persons of the Blessed Trinity indwell each person who is in a state of grace.

    The Eucharist is “highly regarded” and “made such a big deal of” because the Eucharist is Jesus, who is God. And God should always be “highly regarded” and recognized as “a big deal,” because He is that Deal than which no greater Deal can even be conceived. The three Persons of the Trinity do not compete for regard, nor does the presence of one divine Person rightly make us nonchalant or indifferent to the presence of another divine Person. Rather, each Person of the Trinity deepens our love for the other two Persons of the Trinity.

    The Eucharist is unique as a mode of divine presence because in the Eucharist Christ is present substantially and sacramentally under the species of bread and wine, whereas the indwelling of the Trinity is not by substantial presence but by mutual indwelling in the soul. That is, mutual indwelling is through having the beloved in one’s intellect (as known), and in one’s will (as loved), as St. Thomas explains here. The omnipresence of God, by contrast, is as the mover and sustainer of all beings. (See Summa Theologica I Q.8.) So Christ’s Eucharistic presence is unique in comparison to His omnipresence by power, and His indwelling by grace.

    In the peace of Christ,

    – Bryan

  34. Bryan,

    Thank you, that was very helpful. I could’ve phrased my question regarding the mode of divine presence with more reverence, I apologize. I just entered into full communion at Easter Vigil! Thanks for all your work on this website.

    In Christ,

    Christie

  35. Bryan,

    What do you make of the various documented ‘Eucharistic miracles’ of the Catholic Church? (http://www.therealpresence.org/eucharst/mir/engl_mir.htm). It seems that they show that the Body and Blood is physical and bloody. How can that be if the Real Presence is a sacramental, substantial presence, and has a non-bloody nature?

    –Christie

  36. Christie, (re: #35)

    In order to answer that question, it is essential to distinguish between substance and accident. The Real Presence has to do with the substance of the Host and the Precious Blood, even while the accidents of bread and wine remain. (Hence the term “transubstantiation.”) Regarding cases of Eucharistic miracles in which flesh or blood appear, and not just to the beholder, or for a short time, but to all persons, and for a long time, St. Thomas provides an answer in Summa Theologica III Q.76 a.8, where he writes the following:

    Consequently, it remains to be said, that, while the dimensions remain the same as before, there is a miraculous change wrought in the other accidents, such as shape, color, and the rest, so that flesh, or blood, or a child, is seen. And, as was said already, this is not deception, because it is done “to represent the truth,” namely, to show by this miraculous apparition that Christ’s body and blood are truly in this sacrament. And thus it is clear that as the dimensions remain, which are the foundation of the other accidents, as we shall see later on (77, 2), the body of Christ truly remains in this sacrament.

    Thus, in answer to your question, the Real Presence, even in such cases, is “substantial,” i.e. by way of transubstantiation. But in these cases the accidents are not “unbloody.” Nevertheless, say, for example, that in the case in question the Host has become a piece of heart muscle (such as in this case). According to what St. Thomas says in the quotation above, Christ’s glorified body in heaven is not missing a piece of His physical heart. Rather, in such a miracle, we should think that the accidents of bread (under which is the substance of Christ’s body), are miraculously changed into the accidents of flesh. So the heart muscle in such a case is truly the flesh of Christ, as is the Eucharist at every mass, because it is so by transubstantiation. But unlike the Host at every mass, here in these unique cases (as laid out in the link you provided) the accidents are not “unbloody.” Nevertheless, this heart muscle (to continue with my example) is not such by having been cut out from Christ’s physical body such that He is missing a piece of His heart, but rather is formed by way of a miracle upon a miracle, namely, by the miraculous transubstantiation of bread into the Body of Christ (which takes place at every mass), and then by the miraculous transformation of accidental forms (under which is the Body of Christ), from the shape, color, texture, etc. of bread, into the shape, color, texture, etc. of flesh.

    If that doesn’t answer your question, please let me know.

    In the peace of Christ,

    – Bryan

  37. Christie –

    Quick thought on #35: because of a change in the accidents (though not the substance) the appearance of bread and wine can be replaced by the accidents of flesh and blood. Now I might be making a technical metaphysical error by calling flesh and blood “accidents” here (let’s see what Bryan says)- but in any event, the issue is that under the accidents of bread and wine are substantially present the flesh and blood (and soul and divinity) of Jesus Christ in the Host. “Sacramentally” should not be taken to mean “some gnostic, merely spiritual” presence – Jesus’ body, blood, soul, and divinity are really present under the accidents of bread and wine.

    Best,
    Frank

  38. Bryan,

    That definitely answered a lot of my questions. However, I was originally thinking that the accidents of Christ’s Body, which are typically in the mode of substance in the sacrament, were what appeared in the ‘Eucharistic miracles’ in the mode of accidents. But you are saying that the accidents of bread change into accidents of His flesh. Why is that? Also, how can the accidents of His flesh be present (ex: the heart muscle) and at the same time His flesh remain only a substantial presence?

    Also, if you have time, can you please explain how “substantial” presence is different from “physical” presence? It would make more clear to me how the Mass can be the unbloody sacrifice of Calvary even though simultaneously Christ’s actual blood is really, truly, sacramentally present. Vonier’s book attempted to do that but I just couldn’t understand it.

    Thank you,

    Christie

  39. Christie, (re: #38)

    However, I was originally thinking that the accidents of Christ’s Body, which are typically in the mode of substance in the sacrament, were what appeared in the ‘Eucharistic miracles’ in the mode of accidents. But you are saying that the accidents of bread change into accidents of His flesh.

    To be clear, I am saying that in these unique cases of Eucharistic miracles, the accidents that had remained from the bread and wine and after consecration were present in the mode of accidents under quantitative dimension, are miraculously transformed into accidents of [i.e. sensible forms of] flesh or blood, and are present in the mode of accidents. (On the distinction between ‘mode of substance’ and ‘mode of accident,’ see the first link in comment #28 above.) Nevertheless, just as after the consecration the accidents of bread and wine do not inhere in the substance of Christ’s body and blood, so in these Eucharistic miracles the miraculously produced accidents of flesh and blood do not inhere in the substance of Christ’s body and blood. It has the appearance of flesh, and in fact it is flesh. Nevertheless the accidents do not inhere in the substance, and so we are not seeing the actual inhering accidents, but only the miraculously produced and sustained accidents.

    Why is that?

    I don’t understand the question. Could you clarify?

    Also, how can the accidents of His flesh be present (ex: the heart muscle) and at the same time His flesh remain only a substantial presence?

    We have to be careful not to equivocate on the term “His flesh.” By that term we can refer to a piece or part of His physical body. We can also refer to the consecrated Host, which is truly His flesh, but is not a piece or part of His physical body. In the case of a Eucharistic miracle, His flesh is present in the latter sense of the term (i.e. by way of transubstantiation), but not in the former sense (i.e. piece or part). In the case of Eucharistic miracles, His flesh is present not by removing a part of His physical body in heaven, but by a double miracle, as I explained above. So if someone conceives of ‘piece’ as “part cut out,” and asks of some particular Eucharistic miracle, “Is this a piece of Christ’s body?” then the answer would be “No.” But if the person asks, “Is this flesh Christ’s body?” the answer would be “Yes.” It is flesh in its accidents under the mode of accidents, and, because in substance it is Christ’s body, therefore this flesh is Christ’s body. In such a case the accidental form of flesh is present in the mode of accident, but this accidental form is not the “proper species” of Christ’s body, says St. Thomas, because it does not inhere in Christ’s substance, just as the accidents of bread and wine do not, after the consecration, inhere in the substance of Christ’s body and blood.

    Also, if you have time, can you please explain how “substantial” presence is different from “physical” presence? It would make more clear to me how the Mass can be the unbloody sacrifice of Calvary even though simultaneously Christ’s actual blood is really, truly, sacramentally present. Vonier’s book attempted to do that but I just couldn’t understand it.

    Physical presence generally refers to a substance being present such that its inhering accidents are present in the mode of accidents within dimensions. Substantial presence generally refers to a substance being present such that its inhering accidents are not present in the mode of accidents with dimensions, but are present also (and only) in the mode of substance.

    In the peace of Christ,

    – Bryan

  40. Bryan,

    This is obviously difficult to wrap my mind around, given we are discussing miraculous events. However, I wanted to try and understand this double miracle a little more.

    You said, “But if the person asks, “Is this flesh Christ’s body?” the answer would be “Yes.” It is flesh in its accidents under the mode of accidents, and, because in substance it is Christ’s body, therefore this flesh is Christ’s body.”

    When I am picturing this double miracle, what it seems to imply is that there are two modes of presence of the flesh of Christ — in the mode of substance (as always occurs in Mass) underneath the mode of accident (as in the Eucharistic miracle). Is that so? I don’t understand how a heart muscle can be His flesh, while His flesh is also a substance in the mode of substance.

    You also said, “Nevertheless the accidents do not inhere in the substance, and so we are not seeing the actual inhering accidents, but only the miraculously produced and sustained accidents.” What does “inhere” refer to? If the accidental form doesn’t inhere in Christ’s substance, then is it really His flesh?

    Can you explain how these Eucharistic miracles (like wine actually showing the accidents blood for instance) wouldn’t qualify as being cannibalistic or under the error of Capharnaitism if one were to drink it?

    Also, I asked “Why is that?” in reference to the accidents of bread changing into accidents of flesh, because I thought the accidents of Christ’s flesh would’ve been the things to change, not the bread. How does one know it’s the bread’s accidents changing and not the accident’s of Christ’s body which are usually in the mode of substance?

    –Christie

  41. Christie (re: #40)

    When I am picturing this double miracle, what it seems to imply is that there are two modes of presence of the flesh of Christ — in the mode of substance (as always occurs in Mass) underneath the mode of accident (as in the Eucharistic miracle). Is that so?

    Yes, in the sense that Christ’s flesh can be present substantially and (a) His inhering accidents present in the mode of accident [as when He walked around Galilee], or (b) under the accidents of bread and wine, His inhering accidents present in the mode of substance [as in the Eucharist under ordinary conditions], or (c) under the accidents of flesh or blood, His inhering accidents present in the mode of substance [as in the case of Eucharistic miracles].

    I don’t understand how a heart muscle can be His flesh, while His flesh is also a substance in the mode of substance.

    The substance of a thing determines what it is, regardless of its accidents. So the substance is Christ, because of transubstantiation. But His inhering accidents are present in the mode of substance; the non-inhering accidents are present in the mode of accidents having quantitative dimension.

    What does “inhere” refer to?

    By nature, accidents have their being only in and from substances. They cannot exist on their own. This ontological union of accidents and substances is called inherence. Accidents inhere in substances. In the Eucharist, however, the accidents of bread and wine do not inhere in the substance; they are miraculously sustained. It is not the case that part of Christ’s physical body becomes bread-shaped, or bread-textured, at the moment of consecration.

    If the accidental form doesn’t inhere in Christ’s substance, then is it really His flesh?

    Yes, because, the substance of a thing determines what it is, regardless of its accidents.

    Can you explain how these Eucharistic miracles (like wine actually showing the accidents blood for instance) wouldn’t qualify as being cannibalistic or under the error of Capharnaitism if one were to drink it?

    They wouldn’t be cannibalistic for the same reason I laid out in comment #28 above. The Capharnaite notion is that Christ would give us a piece (part, chunk) of His body. And what St. Thomas says above about Eucharistic miracles avoids that. These Eucharistic miracles seem not to be intended to make us wish to eat or drink the Host or Precious Blood under the accidents of flesh and blood, but to give divine witness to us regarding what it is we are receiving when we receive the Body and Blood of Christ sacramentally in the Eucharist. That is, no one is expected to eat or drink the result of these Eucharistic miracles.

    Also, I asked “Why is that?” in reference to the accidents of bread changing into accidents of flesh, because I thought the accidents of Christ’s flesh would’ve been the things to change, not the bread. How does one know it’s the bread’s accidents changing and not the accident’s of Christ’s body which are usually in the mode of substance

    St. Thomas gives two reasons, in the article I linked above:

    But this seems unlikely. First of all, because Christ’s body under its proper species can be seen only in one place, wherein it is definitively contained. Hence since it is seen in its proper species, and is adored in heaven, it is not seen under its proper species in this sacrament. Secondly, because a glorified body, which appears at will, disappears when it wills after the apparition; thus it is related (Luke 24:31) that our Lord “vanished out of sight” of the disciples. But that which appears under the likeness of flesh in this sacrament, continues for a long time; indeed, one reads of its being sometimes enclosed, and, by order of many bishops, preserved in a pyx, which it would be wicked to think of Christ under His proper semblance.

    In addition to those reasons, there are others. Christ’s body is a human body, and has a human shape. That is its “proper species.” The notion that these cases of Eucharistic miracles are pieces of Christ’s body would mean either (a) that His physical body is mutilated by their dispersion and separation from the rest of His body, or that His human body is configured in a grotesque way — an ordinary human-shaped body accompanied by pieces of flesh and blood spread out in a spatial configuration corresponding to the location of each of these Eucharistic miracles around the world. Both implications are contrary to the principle that grace perfects nature.

    In the peace of Christ,

    – Bryan

  42. Bryan,

    Thank you, that really helped. There’s just one more thing that is confusing me about inherence. You said that “In the Eucharist, however, the accidents of bread and wine do not inhere in the substance; they are miraculously sustained.” In Eucharistic miracles, the accidents of flesh also do not inhere in the substance of His Body, and Christ’s Body’s inhering accidents are in the mode of substance.

    But how can one substance (Christ’s Body) have two types of accidents representing it; some in the mode of non-inhering accidents and some inhering ones in the mode of substance?

    Thank you,

    Christie

  43. This whole discussuion Is so incredibly stupid! Christ died once for all and is today at the right hand of the Father with all rule power and authority. According to s rupture He Is comino avían visibly in a cloud and as king not as a hunk of bread thar you eat and eventually poop! All you that believe this filth about the messy mass are headed foe hell and this will not be the result of an accident. It wiil be the result of you will in rebe,Lilongwe against our living Lord Jesus and God the Father

  44. Christie, (re: #42)

    But how can one substance (Christ’s Body) have two types of accidents representing it; some in the mode of non-inhering accidents and some inhering ones in the mode of substance?

    This would be a problem if there were two sets of contrary *inhering* accidents. They would be incompatible with each other. It is precisely because the non-inhering accidents are non-inhering, that they can be different from the inhering accidents.

    In the peace of Christ,

    – Bryan

  45. Larry, (re: #43)

    Thanks for your comment. We also believe that Christ died once for all, and is today at the right hand of the Father with all power and authority, and that as He ascended from the Mount of Olives, so He will come again in the clouds in glory to judge the living and the dead. Of course when He returns in glory, He will come unveiled, as it were, not in the appearance of bread or wine.

    But we also believe that Christ now gives Himself to us in the Eucharist, which He instituted on Holy Thursday, when He took bread and said “This is My Body; do this in remembrance of Me.” So this discussion (on this thread) is about the way in which Christ is present with us now in this sacrament, until that longed-for day when He comes again in glory. We receive Christ in the Eucharist regularly because we love Him, and because He established this sacrament as a means by which He nourishes us spiritually, giving us Himself in a supernatural way through this sacrament.

    In the peace of Christ,

    – Bryan

  46. This seemed like an appropriate post to ask a question that came to mind this past weekend when I was discussing communion and the Eucharist with some Catholics.

    How is calling the consecrated Cup the “precious blood” or “the blood of Christ” consistent with the Catholic teaching of concomitance (i.e. Christ is really present, body *and* blood, soul and divinity under both species)? It seems that the language used in the liturgy in reference to the consecrated bread and wine indicate that the “bread of life” and the “precious blood” are different (and not just different in accidents).

    Peace,
    John D.

  47. JohnD (re: #46)

    How is calling the consecrated Cup the “precious blood” or “the blood of Christ” consistent with the Catholic teaching of concomitance (i.e. Christ is really present, body *and* blood, soul and divinity under both species)?

    Better than a “how is x consistent with y question” is explaining why there seems to you to be some inconsistency between x and y. Otherwise, those for whom x and y seem perfectly consistent are not given the problem you think needs to be solved.

    It seems that the language used in the liturgy in reference to the consecrated bread and wine indicate that the “bread of life” and the “precious blood” are different (and not just different in accidents).

    That’s because they are different. The bread is transformed into the Body of Christ, and the wine is transformed into the Blood of Christ. The bread is not transformed into the Blood of Christ, and the wine is not transformed into the Body. Rather the bread is transformed into the Body of Christ, and with His Body by concomitance His Blood, Soul, and Divinity are also present. Likewise, the wine is transformed into the Blood of Christ, and with His Blood by concomitance His Body, Soul, and Divinity are also present.

    In the peace of Christ,

    – Bryan

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