Catholicism interprets 1 Corinthians 11:17-34 in light of the dogma of transubstantiation ( = the miracle of bread changing into Jesus' real flesh and wine changing into Jesus' real blood performed by a Catholic priest in the person of Jesus Christ). (source)

"For every one taketh before his own supper to eat. And one indeed is hungry and another is drunk."

1 Corinthians 11:21 (Douay-Rheims)

Does this show that in Catholicism, it is possible to get drunk with the real blood of Jesus Christ, to be intoxicated with him?

  • 1
    Please inform me what's the reason for the down vote?
    – R. Brown
    Aug 21, 2015 at 15:24
  • I wasn't one of the down-voters. However, it's somewhat unclear what you're asking. The title asks for a general Catholic explanation of 1 Corinthians 11:21, but the body seems to be asking specifically whether Catholicism believes that it's possible to get drunk from the wine of the Eucharist. What, exactly, is your question? Aug 21, 2015 at 19:38
  • @LeeWoofenden I edited my question. I am asking how do Catholics explain 1 Corinthians 11:21 in light of Transubstantiation?
    – R. Brown
    Aug 22, 2015 at 7:22
  • Thanks. But are you primarily interested in the question of whether it is possible to get drunk from the Eucharist, or are you interested in a more general Catholic interpretation of the verse? Also, do you mean literally drunk, or are you reading that more metaphorically? Aug 22, 2015 at 13:11
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    Your question reminds me of St. Thomas Aquinas's: "Whether the sacramental species can nourish?" (and thus make one drunk if he consumed too much)
    – Geremia
    Aug 23, 2015 at 1:02

1 Answer 1


The bread and wine we offer at Mass do become, in Catholic understanding, "truly, really, and substantially, the body and blood together with the soul and divinity of our Lord Jesus Christ"1, and this is what we consume in the Eucharist.

However, this does not mean—as I mentioned in this answer—that the sacrificial offerings are no longer like the originals in any way. As the term "transubstantiation" should indicate, what is changed in the process is the substance, in the older philosophical sense of "that which makes something to be what it is". The accidents, that is, "those things which happen to be properties of an object", do not change.

In particular, that means that one can measure alcoholic content (an accident of the wine) even after transubstantiation; and thus, at least in theory, it would be possible to become drunk from it. Deliberately doing so, of course, would be a gross impertinence to Our Lord. Canon law provides for an excommunication in this or a similar case:

Canon 1367. A person who throws away the consecrated species or takes or retains them for a sacrilegious purpose2 incurs a latae sententiae excommunication reserved to the Apostolic See; moreover, a cleric can be punished with another penalty, not excluding dismissal from the clerical state.

(emphasis added)

1(Council of Trent, XIIIth session, Canon I)
2Certainly the purpose of becoming drunk off the species of wine would be "a sacrilegious purpose".

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    Good answer. You might add that it seems that in the early Church, the Eucharist was celebrated as part of a meal. Therefore, there is nothing in the passage given that indicates for sure that it was the Sanguis —the Eucharist under the species (or appearance) of wine, consecrated during the meal by the presiding episcopos —that was used to get drunk. There surely would have been other wine available, since wine was the beverage of choice in the Mediterranean world (as water was often unsafe to drink). Aug 21, 2015 at 19:56
  • @AthanasiusOfAlex I've been listening to the "Catholic Under The Hood" podcast with Father Seraphim Beshoner. The podcast, reviewing Church history from the beginning, has one episode on the early understanding of the Eucharist. I'll have to listen to it again; I think it might have something to say about this. Thanks! Aug 21, 2015 at 20:42
  • In terms of transubstantiation, it is that the essence or substance of the bread and wine are wholly changed into the body and blood of Christ. In other words, they retain the properties of bread and wine, but if you could ask the wine "what are you?" after the consecration, the wine would tell you, "I'm the blood of Jesus", not "I'm wine".
    – JAGAnalyst
    Aug 21, 2015 at 21:06
  • @JAGAnalyst Exactly, as I said. Aug 21, 2015 at 21:38
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    Someone alergic to bread would also react to consuming a host too. There is a girl at the Oratory that I visit who only consumes the Blood for this reason.
    – Lucretius
    Aug 21, 2015 at 21:54

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