Hi, guys —
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 exactly to respond. Another
one said to me that we practice ritualistic
- I am so confused; we don't actually eat
Jesus carnally, that is His bones, tissue
- or do we?
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 bread
and wine remain. This change in SUBSTANCE
is called Transubstantiation.
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
Hidden Manna: a theology of the Eucharist
by James Thomas O'Connor
Also make sure you read our posting
This definition from
Second Exodus should answer
your other question.
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
His glorified body.
The Catechism of the Catholic
Church, § 1374, says:
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.” 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.” 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.”