Real Presence

 

THE REAL PRESENCE  - TRANSUBSTANTIATION


  1. BulletCatholics consider the Holy Eucharist to be the source and summit of our lives.


  1. BulletThe Holy Eucharist is one of the seven sacraments instituted by Jesus.


  1. Bullet The Real presence is that when bread and wine consecrated by a valid priest (with good intention) becomes Christ body, blood, Soul and Divinity and it substantially present, all the while retaining the appearance (accidents) of bread and wine.


  1. Bullet Transubstantiation is the changing of the bread of wine to the body and blood of our Lord with the appearance of only leaving the physical elements of bread and wine behind after the priest says this is my body...this is my blood...


  1. Bullet Transubstantiation is also an explanation of the Church's teaching that Christ is really present in the consecrated elements.  It is NOT an explanation of HOW the conversion process occurs, as only God knows that.


  1. Bullet Catholics define the Real Presence to be such as to include with Christ's Body and Blood, His Soul and Divinity as well.



Objection #1 - There is no indication that the words in John 6 were meant to be literal.


This is in fact incorrect by contrasting John 4:31-34 with John 6. John 4:31-34 reads:


31 Meanwhile his disciples urged him, "Rabbi, eat something."

32 But he said to them, "I have food to eat that you know nothing about."

33 Then his disciples said to each other, "Could someone have brought him food?"

34 "My food," said Jesus, "is to do the will of him who sent me and to finish his work.


This is an example of where Jesus is speaking about food symbolically or in a figurative way to his disciples. Notice how Jesus emphasizes in plain language that he is only speaking figuratively. Let us now contrast that with John 6:51-68


John 6:51-68

6:51. I am the living bread which came down from heaven.

6:52. If any man eat of this bread, he shall live for ever: and the bread that I will give is my flesh, for the life of the world.

6:53. The Jews therefore strove among themselves, saying: How can this man give us his flesh to eat?

6:54. Then Jesus said to them: Amen, amen, I say unto you: except you eat the flesh of the Son of man and drink his blood, you shall not have life in you.

6:55. He that eateth my flesh and drinketh my blood hath everlasting life: and I will raise him up in the last day.

6:56. For my flesh is meat indeed: and my blood is drink indeed.

6:57. He that eateth my flesh and drinketh my blood abideth in me: and I in him.

6:58. As the living Father hath sent me and I live by the Father: so he that eateth me, the same also shall live by me.

6:59. This is the bread that came down from heaven. Not as your fathers did eat manna and are dead. He that eateth this bread shall live for ever.

6:61. Many therefore of his disciples, hearing it, said: This saying is hard; and who can hear it?

6:62. But Jesus, knowing in himself that his disciples murmured at this, said to them: Doth this scandalize you?

6:63. If then you shall see the Son of man ascend up where he was before?

6:64. It is the spirit that quickeneth: the flesh profiteth nothing. The words that I have spoken to you are spirit and life.

6:65. But there are some of you that believe not. For Jesus knew from the beginning who they were that did not believe and who he was that would betray him.

6:66. And he said: Therefore did I say to you that no man can come to me, unless it be given him by my Father.

6:67. After this, many of his disciples went back and walked no more with him.

6:68. Then Jesus said to the twelve: Will you also go away?


In John 6:51-52 Jesus says that he is the living bread and to live forever we must eat his flesh!  At this juncture the Jews said in John 6:53 how can he give us his flesh to eat? They took him LITERALLY. This is not symbolism. Next Jesus tells them that he they must eat his flesh and blood otherwise there is no life in them in John 6:55.  He reemphasizes this in John 6:56. Indeed it is meat and blood that you have to partake off. Verses 57-59 go on to explain the meaning of his flesh and blood which we are to eat.


But here is the clincher. In verse 61 the disciples say this is too hard to take. Why would they say that if they did not mean what he previously said to be taken literally? He tells us that some would not believe in verse 65.  Finally in verse 67 they can't take it any more and walk away.  Jesus did not say “hey fellas come back I was only joking!  I was kidding”. He told them this was his body and blood.



Objection #2 - But there is no indication the disciples thought the elements changed?


A careful reading of scriptures says otherwise. St. Paul in 1 Cor. 11:27 says,


Therefore, whosoever shall eat this bread, or drink the chalice of the Lord unworthily, shall be guilty of the body and of the blood of the Lord.


First it must be recognized that this is strong language! Paul is telling us that we are guilty if we do it inappropriately. This can't mean symbolically as why would a symbol be deemed unworthy if used inappropriately. Paul implies that we have to observe that Jesus is present in the bread and wine even though we can't see him. Next Paul in 1 Cor. 11:29 goes on to say


For he that eateth and drinketh unworthily eateth and drinketh judgment to himself, not discerning the body of the Lord.”


Again Paul preaching to the church in Corinth is telling us that who so ever eats and drinks unworthily brings judgment upon himself. The key word here is unworthily for we must be in God good graces to receive him worthily. If Jesus body and blood is purely symbolic as the Protestant says it is, then it should make no difference to a partaker, as this is a normal meal. Symbolic means its just a symbol and nothing special. In fact it is lower than the cross which is symbolic of Jesus sacrifice for us. But Paul is saying that it is not a normal meal and to not recognize that is to invoke condemnation on oneself. Furthermore at the end of the passage he says it is the "body of the Lord".  He never said this a symbol of the body of the Lord. Other supporting passages include Mark 14:22-24, Mt. 26:26-28, Luke 22:17-20,24:30-35 and 1 Cor. 10:14-17.


Objection #3  There is no indication the disciples worshipped the elements


It is true that through the Gospels we do not know much about the disciple’s 24/7 practices other than their journeys and what they taught. To resolve this discrepancy however, we note that the Catholic Church teaches that scripture contains things explicitly and implicitly and the church teaches that some things are contained in kernel form that would be later developed. The church maintains this development and refining occurs when using the scriptures and the Holy Spirit as our guide and one such form of early church worship can be found in sacred Tradition in the writings of the Early Church Fathers. One of those Fathers was St. Ignatius of Antioch who was the disciple of the Apostle St. John who died around 90AD.  St. Ignatius of Antioch writing in 107-110AD to the Philadelphians 4 as a disciple of St. John wrote:


Take ye heed, then, to have but one Eucharist. For there is one flesh of our Lord Jesus Christ, and one cup to [show forth] the unity of His blood; one altar; as there is one bishop, along with the presbytery and deacons, my fellow-servants: that so, whatsoever ye do, ye may do it according to [the will of] God.”


In a second letter this time to the Romans, St. Ignatius of Antioch Letter to the Romans 7 says “I have no delight in corruptible food, nor in the pleasures of this life. I desire the bread of God, the heavenly bread, the bread of life, which is the flesh of Jesus Christ, the Son of God, who became afterwards of the seed of David and Abraham; and I desire the drink of God, namely His blood, which is incorruptible love and eternal life.”


Clearly both of these writings tell us what John disciple, St. Ignatius of Antioch believed after spending 20 years with John the Apostle. Now how could he get it so wrong? Other church fathers such as St. Justin Martyr in First Apology 66, St. Irenaeus in Against Heresies, St. Ambrose of Milan and Tertullian have written extensively about the subject of the Eucharist, the Real Presence, and Transubstantiation.


Objection #4 - The supper was instituted before Jesus' crucifixion


The argument for this objection goes like this. At the last supper Matthew 26, Jesus broke the bread and drank the wine so if the breaking of the bread and drinking of the wine really resulted in transubstantiation then it occurred before Christ sacrificial death on the cross.  Therefore the only way for this to make sense is that the bread and wine are symbolic so the sacrifice of his death for our sins could be once and for all. The objection is actually a misunderstanding of the words of the Last supper and is easily countered by reexamining Matthew 26:26-29 and Luke 22:19 passages in question


26:26. And whilst they were at supper, Jesus took bread and blessed and broke and gave to his disciples and said: Take ye and eat. This is my body.

26:27. And taking the chalice, he gave thanks and gave to them, saying: Drink ye all of this.


26:28. For this is my blood of the new testament, which shall be shed for many unto remission of sins.

26:29. And I say to you, I will not drink from henceforth of this fruit of the vine until that day when I shall drink it with you new in the kingdom of my Father.


In Matthew 26:26 we see Jesus breaking the bread and giving it to his disciples. After his blessing it, his first words are “Take ye and eat. This is my body”. Jesus instructs them to eat it while simultaneously telling them it is his body which they are about to eat. He did not say this is a symbol of my body. In Matthew 26:27-28 the offer to drink the cup after its blessing is extended to the disciples in his words Drink ye all of this… For this is my blood of the new testament. Again he did not say this is symbolic of my blood which was going to be shed for our sins.  This once again confirms transubstantiation. Now in Luke 22:19, Jesus goes further and says “Do this for a commemoration of me”.  He is telling us here that we are to repeatedly honor him by eating his body and blood but this does not violate the Real Presence because what matters here is the manner in which Jesus is instructing his disciples to carry out the celebration of his death. A celebration that is continued to this day in many churches by the representation of the sacrifice on Calvary by which all of mankind were effectively redeemed.


Objection #5 - The Roman Catholic view is a violation of Levitical law and amounts to cannibalism


The levitical law in question is Lev. 17:14 which reads as follows


    "For as for the life of all flesh, its blood is identified with its life. Therefore I said to the sons of Israel, ‘You are not to eat the blood of any flesh, for the life of all flesh is its blood; whoever eats it shall be cut off," (Lev. 17:14).


First Jesus said that he did not come to break the law but rather to fulfill the law.  He is the law but his flesh is real flesh and his blood is real blood (John. 6:56). Clearly what we gain from eating the Lord’s flesh and blood is the promise to be with him for all eternity in like manner with his glorified body, while the levitical law refers to the material act of eating blood of any flesh or animal since its blood is its life. Remove an animals’ blood and one removes life. There can be no contradiction since we partake of his glorified body.


Objection #6 - Transubstantation is a violation of the incarnation.


This argument hinges on the fact that the incarnation refers to the hypostatic union of Jesus (God) and Jesus the man.  That is Jesus was 100% divine and 100% human or True God and True man.  If therefore Jesus is 100% human how then can he be present in the flesh and blood all the over the earth at different times and places sometimes simultaneously? The answer lies in the fact that it is his divine nature what enables him to be present everywhere as only God is omnipotent. Jesus risen body is also glorified and therefore not like our bodies which can only be at one place at one time. Jesus also taught us where two or three are gathered they he will be also, so the same reasoning applies to his glorified body in the Real presence.


Objection #7 – The Eucharist is a re-sacrifice of Christ thereby invalidating the Real Presence.


Jesus Christ died for our sins once and for all. Catholics believe that whole heartedly.  However, in the Gospels our Lord tells us to remember his sacrifice in the Last supper as often as possible. The verses from 1 Cor. 11:24-26 and Luke 22:19 illustrate this principle


1 Cor. 11:23. For I have received of the Lord that which also I delivered unto you, that the Lord Jesus, the same night in which he was betrayed, took bread,

11:24. And giving thanks, broke and said: Take ye and eat: This is my body, which shall be delivered for you. This do for the commemoration of me.

11:25. In like manner also the chalice, after he had supped, saying: This chalice is the new testament in my blood. This do ye, as often as you shall drink, for the commemoration of me.

11:26. For as often as you shall eat this bread and drink the chalice, you shall show the death of the Lord, until he come.


Luke 22:19. And taking bread, he gave thanks and brake and gave to them, saying: This is my body, which is given for you. Do this for a commemoration of me.


Note 1 Cor. 11:24-26 and Luke 22:19 show Jesus telling us that this is what we should do.  It stands to reason that the above verses along with Jesus command to literally eat his flesh and drink his blood do not contradict one another. The mass therefore (and the Eucharist our source and summit of the mass) is a re-presentation of the bloodless sacrifice that occurred at Calvary. Who alone can offer sacrifices for our sins? Jesus alone is the worthy Lamb. Can we offer the sacrifice? No we can’t, but Jesus representative can. That is the Priest in persona of Jesus Christ can offer up Jesus Christ to the father for the forgiveness of sins. What occurs at mass daily in all Catholic (and Orthodox) churches is the mass on earth being made present in heaven with all the angels and ourselves praising God for his might works.


Questions


Do you believe that Jesus rose from the dead? 


If so how can you believe that Jesus rose from the dead but you can't believe that he can transform bread and wine into his body and blood?


Jesus changed water into wine for his first miracle and you believe that without seeing it.


If I can accepted all the miracles and healings Jesus did by faith, then why can’t I accept the implicit transformation which is so clearly stated in John 6:53-57.