Real Presence: Eucharist

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The Eucharistic Presence also known as the communion and the Last Supper is a significant part of the Christian religion . The Protestants believe that the communion is merely for the remembrance and the thanksgiving of Jesus’s sacrifice for the people. However the Roman Catholics and the Orthodox believe that the ritual is a physical union, becoming one with Jesus by partaking in the eating of the body and bread. Jesus spoke “My flesh is true food, my blood is true drink,”(John 6:55) when the disciples were gathered for the Last Supper before Jesus died on the cross. The intention of Jesus’s saying was not of a metaphor but to be accepted literally which is done so by the Catholic church. The Eucharist is a sacrament of the last supper. It involves sacred elements that go through transubstantiation, a change in the substance, essence. This theological concept can be referred to as a Real Presence, in which the bread and wine changes its substance into body and blood along with the soul and divinity of Jesus. The concept of Real Presence was opposed during the reformation period of 1500 when there was a division within the church. Before the concept of transubstantiation was officially codified, the term was already assumed and accepted in the literal sense. The oppositions and the divisions in the church lead the church into forming an Ecumenical council in Trent and the Vatican Council of 1962 where Episcopal powers aimed to defend and reinforce the belief in Real Presence.

The Eucharist as the Real Presence of Christ can be seen through the Eucharistic dogma provided by the the Council of Trent, Vatican II. Certain excerpts from scripture can be used to display the consistency of belief in the Eucharist as the literal blood and body of Jesus Christ. John Macquarrie in “Paths in Spirituality” consist of concepts of temporal, spatial, and personal presence can be used to support the dogma of Eucharist as Real Presence.

The Eucharist involves a theological concept of transubstantiation which was a term created to explain the mystery of the liturgy practice. It is a compound word consisting of two words that mean change and substance. Therefore the meaning of the word is a change of substance. The substance refers to the uniqueness and the very nature of anything that exists. The accident refers to the eternal qualities that are subject to the senses. The substance of the bread and wine which is refered to as the “breadness” and the “wineness” transforms into the substance of the body and blood of Christ. However the appearance and the physical state of the bread and wine, which can be tasted, touched, smelled, all do not change.

There are numerous writings by significant church figures to support the literal interpretation of the Eucharist as the Real Presence of Christ. This can be seen in the works of Ignatius of Antioch, he writes “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." Saint Augustine wrote "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" The early fathers of the church attested the belief in transubstantiation. The concept of transubstantiation was officially codified at the Council of Trent. Even before the council of Trent, the Eastern church used a similar concept in Greek called metaousious “change of substance.” Variations in the interpretations regarding the liturgy of Eucharist started to form. The Protestant reformation gave a rise to Constantiation which was formed by Martin Luther. The protest with the universal faith of Christians in the Real Presence began during the Protestant Reformation when Zwingli and Calvin refuted the concept of the real physical presence of Jesus in the Eucharist using their subjective interpretation of the text. Zwingli believed the Eucharist was just a symbolic...
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