The Catholic Church is one of several denominations that teach the Real Presence, but they don't all have the same understanding of this doctrine. What is the Catholic understanding?

  • +1 Excellent question. I'm eager to read about the orthodox views about eucharist.
    – deps_stats
    Commented Aug 25, 2011 at 16:27
  • 1
    @deps_stats: I've edited the question and asked separately for other denominations. Commented Aug 30, 2011 at 4:19

3 Answers 3


For my part, I can quote the inside flap of the Missal in the pew which says, Catholics believe that the Bread and Wine become the Body and Blood of Christ (not a symbol, but actual fact).

It goes on to say, the Catholic Church permits eastern Orthodox adherents to come to Catholic Mass, celebrate the Eucharist and receive communion. But Catholics are not permitted to go to their Mass unless necessary.

Other Christians are excluded from reception of the Eucharist, mainly because if they hold strong to their professed belief, they do not believe the Eucharist could be what Catholics say it is. (They may believe that it is the Body and Blood of Christ, but they most certainly don't believe that only a validly ordained Catholic Priest could consecrate the host).

All peoples of all religions are invited to come to Mass and participate in the Liturgy.

Transubstantiation means that the Stuff of the bread and wine is totally replaced with the Body and Blood of Christ. Catholics don't believe that the wine is His Blood and the bread is His Body, Catholics do believe that what can be seen after consecration is just plain old different, even though there is no perceptible change. In this view, Catholic and Orthodox are the same.

In the Orthodox Church it is common to perform intinction (dip the consecrated bread in the consecrated wine) - but it doesn't change the essential belief.

Both Catholic and Orthodox see each others priests consecrations as valid (on account of a common acceptance of apostolic succession and the Imposition of Hands).

  • @PeterTerner I think you may have meant intinction (not tincture). Intinciton means dipping the host into the chalice. Commented Jun 29, 2014 at 15:28
  • @ath thanks for clearing that up tincture is just what my mom called it
    – Peter Turner
    Commented Jun 30, 2014 at 2:35
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    Council of Trent Session Thirteen Chapter Three Canon VIII. "If any one shall say, that Christ, presented in the Eucharist, is eaten spiritually only, and not also sacramentally and really; let him be anathema."
    – Andrew
    Commented Jun 30, 2014 at 3:33
  • @Andrew who you callin' anathema boy?
    – Peter Turner
    Commented Jun 30, 2014 at 4:02
  • I'm not Catholic, sir. The Pope is, via that document, and me as well. At last count, That council curses me 43 times over.
    – Andrew
    Commented Jun 30, 2014 at 13:45

The Catholic Church does not understand itself as a denomination which has more the flavor or a breakaway group, whereas the Catholic Church is a communion of 20+ churches that all share a unity in faith, belief & practice (see here). The Catholic Church sees other Churches, such as Baptist, Presbyterian, etc. as Ecclesial (Church) Communities.

Transubstantiation in Catholic thought comes from the philosophical idea of substance (reality) and accidents (appearance). So when the wine is consecrated, the substance of the wine is changed into the blood of Christ but the accidents still look, smell & taste like wine, but there is a real and substantial change in the Eucharistic elements (bread and wine). This is what the real presence means: that Jesus is "really, truly and substantially present". Note the Church does not use words like physical, literal or the like, but rather the philosophical language of the technical term transubstantiation to be accurate in what it believes and teaches.


What do Catholics mean when they talk about the Real Presence in the Eucharist?

Totally surprised to see how few Catholics actually do not insert Catholic sourced based information with a link with a truly proper Catholic definition on this subject of the Real Presence.

The Catholic Encyclopedia has this to say on this subject matter:

The totality of the real presence

In order to forestall at the very outset, the unworthy notion, that in the Eucharist we receive merely the Body and merely the Blood of Christ but not Christ in His entirety, the Council of Trent defined the Real Presence to be such as to include with Christ's Body and His Soul and Divinity as well.

This is an extremely clear definition that I personally grew up knowing. It is clear and full in all regards.


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