You may have answered this question before,
but I am having trouble finding the answer.
I know several atheists who repeatedly tell
me that Catholics are cannibals because we
believe we eat the actual Flesh and Blood,
Soul, and Divinity of Jesus.
I am unsure of how to exactly respond. Another
one said to me that we practice ritualistic
Am I confused on this issue?
Do we actually eat
Jesus carnally, that is His bones, tissue,
I know Jesus is not consumed, that is, He
is never diminished physically by our eating
of the Eucharist. He always remains whole
and entire in Heaven.
It seems to me, to answer atheists on this,
we have to explain all of Revelation to them
at least, get into theology which I am
unable to explain fully.
These fellows I know
are complete materialists.
Thank you for any help.
Catholics practice ritualistic cannibalism
when partaking in the Eucharist? }
Hi, Thomas —
Thanks for your question.
The Church teaches that Jesus is
truly present — Body, Blood,
Soul, and Divinity in the Eucharist. This presence is Sacramental — it
is not physical, in the sense that
we are eating Jesus' cells
We believe and profess that the substance of the bread and wine are changed
into the Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity
of Jesus Christ, while the accidents(appearance
and physical properties) of the bread
and wine remain. This change in the substance is called:
This is a philosophical explanation,
not a scientific one. It is infallible
yet it is also limited.
We can only understand a Mystery
to a certain extent.
If we could
fully understand it, it wouldn't be a Mystery any
I hope this helps,
I was wondering?
Do you know of any books or articles
that explain transubstantiation
in more depth;
so I can get a fuller explanation?
Also, what do you mean by a Sacramental
Can you be more precise?
Hi, Thomas —
There is one book I was given a long
time ago, but never got around to
Christ is really, truly and substantially
contained in the Holy Eucharist
under the appearances of bread
He is not physically or spiritually
present, but rather sacramentally
present. Sacramental presence
is absolutely as real as physical
presence. If His presence were
merely physical and historical
we would have only His body and
If His presence were merely spiritual
it could include soul and divinity
but not body and blood. His sacramental
and substantial presence in each
species contains His body, blood,
soul and divinity.
Christ is present in every sacrament,
but His sacramental presence is
substantial only in the Holy Eucharist.
Substantial means that the
host we receive is truly Christ.
He is not in the bread. After
the consecration there is no bread.
Christ's sacramental presence
is necessary because Jesus did
not rise from the dead in the
same way as He raised Lazarus
from the dead. Jesus resuscitated
Lazarus, who was raised to die
again, but Jesus Himself was resurrected
into a new and eternal existence
called risen life. The
Holy Eucharist is Jesus' risen
life, His glorified body.
The Catechism of the Catholic
Church says this on your question:
1373 "Christ Jesus, who died, yes, who was raised from the dead, who is at the right hand of God, who indeed intercedes for us," is present in many ways to his Church: (Romans 8:34; cf. Vatican II, Lumen Gentium 48) in his word, in his Church's prayer, where two or three are gathered in my name, (Matthew 18:20) in the poor, the sick, and the imprisoned, (cf. Matthew 25:31-46) in the sacraments of which he is the author, in the sacrifice of the Mass, and in the person of the minister. But He is present . . . most especially in the Eucharistic species. (Vatican II, Sacrosanctum Concilium 7)
1374 The mode of Christ's presence under the Eucharistic species is unique. It raises the Eucharist above all the sacraments as the perfection of the spiritual life and the end to which all the sacraments tend.(St. Thomas Aquinas, STh III,73,3c.) In the most blessed sacrament of the Eucharist "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." (Council of Trent (1551): DS 1651)
"This presence is called real - by which is not intended to exclude the other types of presence as if they could not be real too, but because it is presence in the fullest sense: that is to say, it is a substantial presence by which Christ, God and man, makes himself wholly and entirely present."
1375 It is by the conversion of the bread and wine into Christ's body and blood that Christ becomes present in this sacrament. The Church Fathers strongly affirmed the faith of the Church in the efficacy of the Word of Christ and of the action of the Holy Spirit to bring about this conversion. Thus St. John Chrysostom declares:
It is not man that causes the things offered to become the Body and Blood of Christ, but He who was crucified for us, Christ himself. The priest, in the role of Christ, pronounces these words, but their power and grace are God's. This is my body, he says. This word transforms the things offered.
(St. John Chrysostom, prod. Jud. 1:6:PG 49,380)
And St. Ambrose says about this conversion:
Be convinced that this is not what nature has formed, but what the blessing has consecrated. The power of the blessing prevails over that of nature, because by the blessing nature itself is changed. . . . Could not Christ's word, which can make from nothing what did not exist, change existing things into what they were not before? It is no less a feat to give things their original nature than to change their nature.