According to Catholicism, in the act of transubstantiation which occurs during the Eucharist, when the bread becomes Christ’s body, and the wine becomes Christ’s blood, does the bread become the “spiritual body” (σῶμα πνευματικόν) or “natural body” (σῶμα ψυχικόν) of our Lord Jesus Christ?1


1 The terms “spiritual body” and “natural body” are translated verbatim from 1 Cor. 15:44 in the New American Bible, Revised Edition.

  • What distinction are you trying to make? What makes you think the spiritual body isn't natural? As far as I know, Catholics believe that the bread takes on the substance of Christ's body, which is some sort of its own ontological category... or something. I would be asking about that, rather than asking about what is likely a false dichotomy.
    – Flimzy
    Dec 22, 2014 at 21:29
  • I don't think the apostle Paul was talking about the Eucharist. LOL
    – Flimzy
    Dec 22, 2014 at 22:16
  • 1
    No - see my answer. The "false dichotomy" is based on the misunderstanding that there is a difference in substance (in the philosophical sense) between the two bodies. Dec 22, 2014 at 22:17
  • It is different, doubtless; but it's only different in appearance, not different in substance. The radical difference of appearance is what justifies Paul's use of a different name (as we're justified in distinguishing between caterpillar and butterfly despite them being the same animal). Dec 22, 2014 at 22:30
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    Exactly. I don't think you would necessarily have been expected to know that. Dec 22, 2014 at 22:42

2 Answers 2


There's no difference between the two in respect of Eucharistic transubstantiation; hence answering "the spiritual", "the natural", or "both" are equally meaningless.

My answer to a question on the Catholic understanding of the nature of transubstantiation is supposed to make it clear that what is changed in transubstantiation is the substance of the bread; that is (more or less), what makes the bread bread. The material takes on the substance of the body of Christ; and it is in this sense that we say that the bread and wine become the body and blood of Christ.

But the substance of the natural body and the substance of the glorified or spiritual body are the same. St. Thomas Aquinas, in discussing the nature of the resurrected body, raises the question, "Whether in the resurrection the soul will be reunited to the same identical body?" (Supplement to the Third Part, Question 79, Article 1). He concludes that

The soul rising again and the soul living in this world differ, not in essence but in respect of glory and misery, which is an accidental difference. Hence it follows that the body in rising again differs, not in identity, but in condition, so that a difference of bodies corresponds proportionally to the difference of souls.

(Reply to Objection 2)

In other words, he's saying, the resurrected body (the "spiritual body") is different in appearance to the "natural body": it has different characteristics and qualities (for example, it can no longer suffer injuries). However, he argues, these different characteristics are accidents: things that just happen to be true of a person's body. They don't alter the fact that this is the person's body. That is, they don't make it a different body in substance.

Therefore Christ's body, whether the natural body he had before his resurrection or the glorified/spiritual body he had afterwards, was one body in substance; and thus there is no meaning to the question: the substance of his body is not different, and there's no distinction between the two in the change of substance that takes place at the consecration of the Eucharist.



Christ is substantially present: body, blood, soul, and divinity.

The Original Rheims New Testament commentates on 1 Cor. 15:44 saying:

As to become spiritual doth not take away the substance of the body glorified: no more when Christ's body is said to be in spiritual sort in the Sacrament, doth it import the absence of his true body and substance.

  • some of the bread atoms can be transformed to the atoms of his physical atoms...Not a problem at all. Women has the cells of their children even in their brain. Even their husbands cells...
    – Grasper
    Dec 22, 2014 at 21:46
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    @Grasper: All "of the bread atoms" of a consecrated Host are "transformed to the atoms of his physical atoms." I.e., Christ is entire under every part of the species of the bread and wine.
    – Geremia
    Dec 22, 2014 at 23:46
  • you are right. And when we receive him, this atoms penetrate into our body and turn our body into His. I wonder if that's true too?
    – Grasper
    Dec 23, 2014 at 15:33

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