The Belief In The Eucharist As The

Real Prescence Of Christ Essay, Research Paper ?My flesh is true food, my blood is true drink? (John 6:55) These were the words spoken by Christ himself, during the initial institution of the Eucharistic sacrament. Such

Real Prescence Of Christ Essay, Research Paper

?My flesh is true food, my blood is true drink? (John 6:55) These were the words

spoken by Christ himself, during the initial institution of the Eucharistic sacrament. Such

phraseology, a primary article of Catholic belief was intended to be perceived in its

literal sense, as opposed to metaphorical interpretation. The Eucharist is a sacrament of

the Lord?s supper, consisting of consecrated elements which have undergone

transubstantiation – a change in essence. Such transformation results in what is referred to

as ?Real Presence? – the complete ?body and blood, together with the soul and divinity of

our lord Jesus Christ? (Catechism,1374). Despite variations throughout history in

understanding of Eucharistic presence, the actual dogma of transubstantiation has

remained unchanged since the Catholic Church?s first recorded teachings of such a

notion in 33A.D. The concept of ?Real Presence? was undoubtedly accepted in its literal

sense throughout the first millennium AD, questions remaining unposed until the

reformation of the 1500s, when the church was exposed to much disunity. The division

within the church preceded the formation of an Ecumenical council in Trent, where

Episcopal powers aimed to re-enforce belief in Real Presence – to restore, through the

Eucharist, a unity of the ?one, holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church?. Despite periodical

variation, the second Vatican council of 1962, boasting a multiple presence of Christ in

Eucharistic worship, was built upon similar motives to that of Trent. This essay will

focus on displaying the unrelenting belief in the Eucharist as the Real Presence of Christ

through summations of Eucharistic dogma provided by both the Council of Trent and

Vatican II. There will also be an inclusion of excerpts from scripture written by Early

Church Fathers surrounding belief in Real presence, and a primary focus on

Transubstantiation as proof of the consistency of the belief in the Eucharist as the

complete ?Body and Blood, together with the Soul and divinity, of our lord Jesus


Eucharistic dogma involves the complex concept of Transubstantiation – literally a

change in essence. Such a notion involves the presence of the Holy Eucharist, as the real

body and blood of Jesus, initiated at the moment of consecration. Despite arguments

opposing literal interpretation of Real Presence, there is no evidence implicating an

existent element of doubt within Catholic documentation in relation to the historical

belief in Transubstantiation. There are however, many evident writings by Early Church

Fathers to support literal interpretation of the belief in the Eucharist as the Real Presence

of Christ, as opposed to symbolical perception theorised by fundamentalists. A clearly

outlined belief in Real Presence is offered in Ignatius of Antioch?s words of wisdom -

?Strive then to make use of one form of thanksgiving, for the flesh of Our Lord Jesus

Christ is one and one is the Chalice in the union of His Blood, one alter, one bishop?. In

relation to the concept of transubstantiation, Saint Ambrose (340-397) the Bishop of

Milan, wrote: ?Let us be assured that this is not what nature formed, but what the

blessing consecrated, and the greater efficacy resides in the blessing than in nature, for by

the blessing nature is changed?. Saint Augustine, an influential figure in the history of

Christianity, professed his belief in Real Presence through this literary contribution – ?It

was in His flesh that Christ walked among us and it is his flesh that he has given us to eat

for our salvation?. It is such excerpts from scripture as these that convey a historically

profound belief in the Eucharist as the Real Presence of Christ, and evident

comprehension by the Early Church of whom attested to the belief in Transubstantiation.

Despite historical variations in interpretation regarding the substance of the Eucharist,

Christian beliefs have remained consistent. The 1500s witnessed the initiation of the

Protestant reformation where ?consubstantiation? took precedence over transubstantiation

in many reformed believers perception of the Eucharist. Consubstantiation refers to an

understanding of Jesus as ?in? the Eucharist, as opposed to Christ as the entire flesh,

blood and divinity of the Eucharist, – in its literal sense it is a ?sharing of substances?.

Under the initiative of primarily Martin Luther, the Catholic Church formed a basis for

three offspring divisions – Lutheran, Calvinist and Anglican, the first two of whom

expressed a dissatisfaction with Catholic doctrine. Thus, new forms of worship were

devised which resulted in a separation in the Catholic Liturgy. This Protestant

Reformation preceded the formation of an Ecumenical council in Trent whose primary

intention was to define Catholic doctrine, reinforcing beliefs and teachings in an attempt

to resolve problematic occurrences within the church. Of the twenty-five meetings which

were scheduled, much time was allocated to discussion regarding the liturgy and the

Eucharist. The council succeeded in reaffirming a historically profound Catholic belief in

Real Presence and Transubstantiation – Eucharistic meaning was defined, declaring

assuredly that ?the Body and Blood, together with the Soul and Divinity of our Lord

Jesus Christ, and therefore the whole Christ, is truly, really and substantially contained in

the Sacrament of the Holy Eucharist?. The Council also came to the conclusion that ?He

(Christ) gave the command to offer the Sacrifice as the Church has understood and

taught?. Regarding the professions of the Ecumenical Council, at the moment of

consecration the whole substance of bread and wine becomes that of Jesus Christ – whole

and entire. ?Jesus is really now on Earth in the Eucharist? – it is this statement that has

led the Catholic Church to reaffirm belief in transubstantiation and profess the reality of

Real Presence so passionately. ?Do this in memory of me? – a primary article of Catholic

belief spoken by Christ himself, is thus literally embraced and alive in the Eucharistic

sacrament, and confirms the belief in Real Presence in the Eucharist.

?At the Last Supper, on the night He was handed over, Our Lord instituted the

Eucharistic Sacrifice of his Body and Blood to perpetuate the sacrifice on the Cross

throughout the ages until He should come, and thus entrust to the church, His beloved

Spouse, the memorial of his death and resurrection: A sacrament of devotion, a sign of

unity, a bond of charity, a paschal banquet in which Christ is received, the soul is filled

with Grace and there is given to us the pledge of future glory.?(Vatican Council II). This

statement was put forth by Vatican II, another excerpt from Catholic documentation

attesting to a belief in the Eucharist as Real Presence. Vatican II initiated on October 11

1962, was a conglomeration of Catholic Church hierarchical members, constructed upon

the same lines to that of the Council of Trent. During this period, the church was

confronted with a collective change in consciousness, a mass breaking away from

conformitism and dogma. The people demanded freedom, freedom in belief and

expression, they fought for ?love not war?. Unlike the period surrounding the reformation,

the ?rebels? of this particular era did not migrate towards beliefs in similar religious

ideas, but strived to completely separate themselves from all dictatorship and

authoritarianism. Due to the pressure exhibited by this new generation, the Catholic

Church felt pressured to revise and update its current practices, ?to let some fresh air

come into the church? (Pope John XXIII). The Council focused initially on Liturgy, in

which participation became the primary element, a drastic transgression from the

previously conducted mass which basically excluded the parishioner from partaking in

the proceedings. The council came to the conclusion that the liturgy is ?an action of

Christ the Priest and of His Body which is the Church?. Vatican II re-enforcement of

Eucharistic Real Presence is the same belief beheld by the Ecumenical Council of Trent,

and that of Ignatius of Antioch, St. Ambrose and St. Augustine who all attributed to

scriptured writings of the Early Church. A belief held relentlessly throughout the history

of Catholicism – the first millennium, the reformation and post-1500s. The belief in the

Eucharist as the Real Presence of Christ is perhaps the most important article of Catholic

doctrine, it is a binding belief which witnesses a unity in diversity. ?Really sharing in the

body of the Lord in the breaking of the Eucharistic bread, we are taken up into

communion with him and with one another? (Chap.1,VaticanII)

The Belief in the Eucharist as the Real Presence of Christ is notably a religiously,

historically and socially prevalent teaching of the Catholic Church, instituted by Christ

himself. Early Christian theologians fully comprehended the notion of transubstantiation

and consecration, interpreting Christ?s words surrounding the Eucharistic sacrament in

there intended literal sense. It is to be noted that twelve times throughout scripture, Christ

said that he was the bread that came down from heaven, and an additional four times

claimed that they would have ?to eat my flesh and drink my blood?. It is through his

perfectly displayed intention to be perceived literally that no evident Catholic document

exists where the literal interpretation is opposed and only the metaphorical accepted. The

first millennium failed to witness any element of doubt in relation to the concept of Real

Presence in the Eucharist. Only throughout the period surrounding the Protestant

reformation did anyone profess an doubting element of faith. The Church, however,

responded through reaffirming a perpetual belief in the true essence and entirety of Christ

present in the Eucharist at the moment of consecration. From the foregoing evidence

presented, proving a continuous belief in Real Presence from the institution of the

Eucharistic sacrament at the Last Supper, it would be incredibly difficult to deny the

intended literal interpretation of Real Presence in the Eucharist. There is proof from

Early Church Fathers, Episcopal powers from the Council of Trent, the professions of

Vatican II and primarily from Christ himself, the high priest who offered his sacrifice -

his body, his blood. He is now relived, received and remembered – his presence continues

and is celebrated universally in globally vast Catholic tabernacles. ?As the living father

sent me, and I live because of the father, so he who eats me will live because of me?

(John 6:37)