Question: Is the Holy Eucharist really the body and blood of Jesus Christ, or is it just a symbol representing Jesus?
Answer: The Holy Eucharist is the actual body and blood of Christ. It is not a symbol or a representation of Jesus Christ.
After the consecration of the Eucharist, the substance of the bread and wine undergo transubstantiation, meaning it changes in substance while the form (that of bread and wine) remains the same. Check out this post for a more thorough explanation of Transubstantiation. The real presence of Jesus Christ in the Holy Eucharist is a core doctrine of the Catholic Faith, affirmed in Canon 1 of the Fourth Lateran Council of 1215AD, and must be believed and upheld by every Catholic.
Did You Know:
The real presence of Jesus in the Eucharist has been a core and central belief of the Church for 2000 years. We have been consecrating the Eucharist in the Liturgical sacrifice of the mass, and have been consuming the body and blood, soul and divinity of Jesus in Holy Communion since the time of the Apostles. This belief and practice did not begin in the year 1215, but was only officially declared and promulgated by the Church in 1215 in response to heresies (rejections or deviations or errors of belief pertaining to essential doctrines) throughout Christendom that challenged this long-held teaching of the Church.
Biblical Evidence to Consider:
John 6:48-50, 54-57 “I am the bread of life. Your ancestors ate the mana in the desert, but they died. This is the bread that comes down from Heaven so that one may eat it and not die.”…”Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him on the last day. For my flesh is true food, and my blood is true drink. Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood remains in me, and I in him. Just as the living Father sent me and I have life because of the Father, so also the one who feeds on me will have life because of me.”
1 Corinthians 27-29: “Therefore whoever eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord unworthily will have to answer for the body and blood of the Lord.”
If the Eucharist is just symbolic and not the body and blood of Christ, why would there be a question of unworthiness? Why would Saint Paul urge us to approach Holy Communion worthily if all it is, is bread and wine and not the actual body and blood of the Lord? This statement by St. Paul only makes sense if what we’re consuming in Holy Communion is itself truly holy—the body and blood of Jesus Christ.
Acts 2:42-43: “They devoted themselves to the teaching of the apostles, to the communal life, and to the breaking of THE bread”.
They didn’t devote themselves to the breaking of bread but to the breaking of THE bread; specifically the Eucharistic species. If this were merely symbolic, why does it recruit devotion as a community following the teaching of the apostles?
1 Corinthians 10-16: “The cup of blessing that we bless, is it not a participation in the blood of Christ? The bread that we break is it not a participation in the body of Christ?”
From the Catechism of the Catholic Church, Paragraph 1378: “The Eucharistic presence of Christ begins at the moment of the consecration and endures as long as the Eucharistic species subsist” In other words, after the consecration and transubstantiation, the Eucharist is always the body and blood of Christ for as long as the Eucharistic species (the host) is physically intact.”