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Nash Fouad wrote:

Hi, guys —

  • Does the Catholic Church believe that during Transubstantiation, the wine becomes real blood?

Blood has its own elements, so if the answer is yes, this can simply be proven wrong.

My question is about the belief of Transubstantiation, seeing the wine can be tested to still be wine, after the Eucharist is consecrated.

We, the Catholics, might insist this Sacrament converts the wine into blood, regardless of the actual results.

  • Is it theologically good to say it is symbolic?


  { Since blood has its own element, is it theologically good to say Transubstantiation is symbolic? }

Mike replied:

Hi, Nash —

Thanks for the question.

You said:

  • Is it theologically good to say it is symbolic?

If by it, you mean the Eucharist, No, it is not theologically good to say it is symbolic.

After the consecration of both the unleavened bread and grape wine, those elements substantially, sacramentally, and individually become the Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity of Our Lord Jesus Christ.

  • When we receive only the Precious Blood at Holy Communion we receive the Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity of Our Lord.
  • When we receive only the Consecrated Host at Holy Communion we receive the Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity of Our Lord.

What we can say is this:

The Holy Sacrifice of the Mass is a symbolic act that brings forth the Divine Reality. The priest consecrates the wheat bread, into the Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity of Christ. After that, he consecrates the grape wine into the Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity of Christ. [The wheat bread and grape wine still have the taste, touch, look and feel of wheat bread and grape wine, but their substances, the thing that holds them together have been changed; this is the prime area of faith for the Catholic, and faith is something that is totally independent from our five senses.]

Those two separate consecrations change the substance of wheat bread and grape wine into both the Body and Blood of Christ and also symbolize death because they are done separately.

  • What do I mean?
  • If I separated the blood in your body from your body, would you still be alive?

    Get the point.

Because the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass is also the Reality, the memorial and symbolic act brings forth the Divine Reality: The same Crucifixion, the same Reality, that happened in 33 A.D. at Calvary, is made present mystically at every Holy Mass.

We are not re-sacrificing Jesus! That would be heresy!

This is how the Catechism states it:

The sacrificial memorial of Christ and of his Body, the Church.

1362 The Eucharist is the memorial of Christ's Passover, the making present and the sacramental offering of his unique sacrifice, in the liturgy of the Church which is his Body. In all the Eucharistic Prayers we find after the words of institution a prayer called the anamnesis or memorial.

1363 In the sense of Sacred Scripture the memorial is not merely the recollection of past events but the proclamation of the mighty works wrought by God for men. (cf. Exodus 13:3) In the liturgical celebration of these events, they become in a certain way present and real. This is how Israel understands its liberation from Egypt: every time Passover is celebrated, the Exodus events are made present to the memory of believers so that they may conform their lives to them.

1364 In the New Testament, the memorial takes on new meaning. When the Church celebrates the Eucharist, she commemorates Christ's Passover, and it is made present the sacrifice Christ offered once for all on the cross remains ever present. (cf. Hebrews 7:25-27) "As often as the sacrifice of the Cross by which 'Christ our Pasch has been sacrificed' is celebrated on the altar, the work of our redemption is carried out." (Vatican II, Lumen Gentium 3; cf. 1 Corinthians 5:7.)

1365 Because it is the memorial of Christ's Passover, the Eucharist is also a sacrifice. The sacrificial character of the Eucharist is manifested in the very words of institution: "This is my body which is given for you" and "This cup which is poured out for you is the New Covenant in my blood." (Luke 22:19-20) In the Eucharist Christ gives us the very body which he gave up for us on the cross, the very blood which he "poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins." (Matthew 26:28)

1366 The Eucharist is thus a sacrifice because it re-presents (makes present) the sacrifice of the cross, because it is its memorial and because it applies its fruit:

[Christ], our Lord and God, was once and for all to offer Himself to God the Father by His Death on the altar of the cross, to accomplish there an everlasting redemption. But because His priesthood was not to end with His death, at the Last Supper "on the night when he was betrayed," [He wanted] to leave to his beloved spouse the Church a visible sacrifice (as the nature of man demands) by which the bloody sacrifice which He was to accomplish once for all on the cross would be re-presented, its memory perpetuated until the end of the world, and its salutary power be applied to the forgiveness of the sins we daily commit.

(Council of Trent (1562): DS 1740; cf. 1 Corinthians 11:23; Hebrews 7:24, 27)

1367 The sacrifice of Christ and the sacrifice of the Eucharist are one single sacrifice: The victim is one and the same: the same now offers through the ministry of priests, who then offered himself on the cross; only the manner of offering is different.

"And since in this divine sacrifice which is celebrated in the Mass, the same Christ who offered himself once in a bloody manner on the altar of the cross is contained and is offered in an unbloody manner . . . this sacrifice is truly propitiatory."

(Council of Trent (1562) Doctrina de ss. Missae sacrificio, c. 2: DS 1743; cf. Hebrews 9:14, 27)

The web postings that follow may also help clarify any questions you have on this issue, if not, just follow up with us.


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