The words :-

τουτο εστιν το σωμα μου το υπερ υμων διδομενον [Stephanus 1550/Elzevir 1624]

this is my body which is given for you [KJV 1769 Luke 22:19]

and, particularly :

hoc est meum corpus [Vulgate - Jerome 382/Clementine 1592]

this is my body

were spoken as Jesus stood before the disciples, his hands holding out bread to them.

  1. How then, at that instant, could bread have been - literally - his own real body. ?

  2. It was not - literally - true that the bread was 'given' (sacrificially) at that instant of time. It is a figure of speech. It is the way concepts are expressed in language.

  3. And if Jesus requires

this do in remembrance of me [KJV 1769 Luke 22:19]

then it is a memorial of what was about to occur. Not a physical re-enactment. It is the faculty of memory that he wishes to be engaged, not the process of digestion.

How are these particular questions answered by those who suppose a literal meaning to hoc est meum corpus ?

3 Answers 3


I will attempt to answer your questions, but I think we need to start with a detour into what the Catholic doctrine of the Eucharist actually is. You use a couple of words that lead me to think you misunderstand the doctrine: "digestion" and "literally ... real".

The Catholic doctrine is not that the Eucharist is Christ's body in the same way that you could get a sharp knife and cut a bit of him off. (This isn't The Merchant of Venice!) The doctrine is that

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. (Catechism of the Catholic Church, ¶1374)

Similarly, we can read Thomas Aquinas, who answers the question "Whether Christ's body is in this sacrament as in a place?"

Hence it remains that Christ's body is not in this sacrament as in a place, but after the manner of substance, that is to say, in that way in which substance is contained by dimensions; because the substance of Christ's body succeeds the substance of bread in this sacrament: hence as the substance of bread was not locally under its dimensions, but after the manner of substance, so neither is the substance of Christ's body. (Summa Theologia III, 76.5)

That is to say, Christ's presence in the Eucharistic species is not restricted to the Eucharistic species. It isn't "a bit of Christ". It is just "Christ".

I think that answers your first question: "How then, at that instant, could bread have been - literally - his own real body?"

You next say that the bread was not "given" at that moment of time. Well, yes: the sacrifice in question is the sacrifice of Christ on the Cross, of which the Last Supper is part and of which the Eucharist is a re-presentation. Again, from the Catechism:

The sacrifice of Christ and the sacrifice of the Eucharist are one single sacrifice (Catechism of the Catholic Church, ¶1367)

Or, from Sacrosanctum Concilium:

At the Last Supper, on the night when He was betrayed, our Saviour instituted the eucharistic sacrifice of His Body and Blood. He did this in order to perpetuate the sacrifice of the Cross. (Sacrosanctum Concilium, ¶47)

The Eucharist is intimately related to the Cross: they are one sacrifice.

Finally, you talk about the question of a "memorial", which you contrast to a "physical re-enactment". The Catholic doctrine is that "memorial" means a lot more than a simple "remembering". Really it's worth reading the entire section of the Catechism entitled "The sacrificial memorial of Christ and of his Body, the Church". Here are a few key parts:

The Eucharist is the memorial of Christ's Passover, the making present and the sacramental offering of his unique sacrifice, in the liturgy of the Church which is his Body. ...

In the sense of Sacred Scripture the memorial is not merely the recollection of past events but the proclamation of the mighty works wrought by God for men. In the liturgical celebration of these events, they become in a certain way present and real. This is how Israel understands its liberation from Egypt: every time Passover is celebrated, the Exodus events are made present to the memory of believers so that they may conform their lives to them.

In the New Testament, the memorial takes on new meaning. When the Church celebrates the Eucharist, she commemorates Christ's Passover, and it is made present the sacrifice Christ offered once for all on the cross remains ever present. (Catechism of the Catholic Church, ¶¶1362ff)

So the Catholic view is that a memorial is a much richer thing than you suggest. The Eucharist is about presence, memorial, sacrifice, communion, and a whole host of other themes.

  • Are you saying that 1. Christ is present, in Person, in the building when the sacrament is performed or 2. That Christ is present, in Person, in the actual substance of bread ? Or 3. Are you saying neither ?
    – Nigel J
    Commented Jun 15, 2018 at 2:57
  • @NigelJ be careful in using the word "substance". Remember that its technical/philosophical meaning, used in discussing the Eucharist, is quite different from its everyday meaningful. Commented Jun 15, 2018 at 12:37
  • @MattGutting To me, something is either made of atoms, is created but immaterial (souls and angels) or is eternally Divine. I'm not aware of any other kind of existence, but I wait to be informed. Thank you for telling me.
    – Nigel J
    Commented Jun 15, 2018 at 12:47
  • @NigelJ The Catholic doctrine is that of transubstantiation. The outward form of bread and wine are preserved (the "accidents"), but the underlying reality (the "substance") is changed from that of bread and wine to that of Christ. Commented Jun 15, 2018 at 13:15
  • 1
    @NigelJ It is literally Catholic doctrine. You asked a question about what the doctrine is. This isn't a place to debate its merits. Commented Jun 16, 2018 at 7:20

It's literal because Jesus Himself says so in John 6:56:

For my flesh is meat indeed: and my blood is drink indeed.

  • @Nigel the gate is in CCC999 & CCC1000, the Eucharist will transform our bodies into glorified body and if we persevere to end.We can say together with St. Paul "its no longer I who lives but Jesus".Thats the GPS we transformed our flesh into another Jesus.. It would mean our glorified body can now enter His Kingdom. Godbless Commented Jul 1, 2018 at 14:59
  • @NigelJ. Per your Request. 41.9029° N, 12.4534° E
    – Marc
    Commented Sep 21, 2018 at 12:07
  • The door mentioned him John 10,is a real door, it is a transcendent door the reality of which cannot be seen with the human eye or touched smelled or heard opening and closing. The door is Christ, and to enter into his door, his gate, his sheepfold, is to do so through Baptism yet another transcendent reality. The reality offered to Christ is a spiritual reality realized in this life through faith. We put out trust in the words of God and the Word who is God, our Faith is in Christ Jesus and believe what he tells us by faith because he has the words of eternal life. See John 6:66 for Context.
    – Marc
    Commented Sep 21, 2018 at 12:28

How does Roman Catholicism justify a literal meaning of 'Hoc est meum corpus'?

hoc est meum corpus [Vulgate - Jerome 382/Clementine 1592]

this is my body

Biblically it's comes from the lips of Jesus Christ... Your specific question:

1.How then, at that instant, could bread have been - literally - his own real body. ?

Answer :

CCC1333 At the heart of the Eucharistic celebration are the bread and wine that, by the words of Christ and the invocation of the Holy Spirit, become Christ's Body and Blood. Faithful to the Lord's command the Church continues to do, in his memory and until his glorious return, what he did on the eve of his Passion: "He took bread. . . ." "He took the cup filled with wine. . . ." The signs of bread and wine become, in a way surpassing understanding, the Body and Blood of Christ; they continue also to signify the goodness of creation. Thus in the Offertory we give thanks to the Creator for bread and wine,154 fruit of the "work of human hands," but above all as "fruit of the earth" and "of the vine" - gifts of the Creator. The Church sees in the gesture of the king-priest Melchizedek, who "brought out bread and wine," a prefiguring of her own offering.155 Biblically it's comes from the lips of Jesus Christ... T"....his bread is my flesh, which I will give for the life of the world.” (John6:51)

From the very word of Jesus Christ:

" And he took bread, and when he had given thanks he broke it and gave it to them, saying, "This is my body which is given for you. Do this in remembrance of me." And likewise the cup after supper, saying, "This cup which is poured out for you is the New Covenant in my blood."(Matthew26:26-27)

Now the BIG QUESTION that your trying to point is if the Transubstantiation occurs during the Last Suffer...

Venerable Arch. Sheen said the Last Supper and the Calvary are the same. One is the unbloody sacrifice instituted for all of us and the other is the bloody sacrifice in Calvary At the Foot of the Cross. The Priest and the offered sacrificed are one and the same Jesus Christ. When Jesus said to the Apostles" what I have done, Do this in Remembrace of Me".Venerable Sheen said Jesus empowered the Apostles to celebrate the Holy Sacrifice with a vision of the actual sacrifice at Calvary.

CCC1333 teaches the an ordained priest invoking the Holy Spirit turns the bread & wine in real flesh and blood...Then if this is our faith, How can we doubts if Jesus is the one who said it in the Last Supper Himself.

Now, do we believe that the bread & wine at the Last Suffer become the true flesh and blood of Jesus? If we have faith in the words of Jesus that it is His flesh & blood, then it is really true by virtue of our living faith in Him.

As God said "so My word that proceeds from My mouth will not return to Me empty, but it will accomplish what I please, and it will prosper where I send it. (Isaiah55:11)

Other Supporting views:

To give light on the issue...let's hear from the Jewish Bible Scholar talking on the Passover meal from the point of view of the Old Testament.

The significant observation was Jesus did not drink the final cup of wine which is customary for the Jews in celebrating the Passover meal...so based on the Jewish customs the Passover Meal Jesus by not drinking the final cup of wine it is not yet finished, it is incomplete... This is affirmed in the Garden of Gethsemane where Jesus said "... “My Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from Me. Yet not as I will, but as You will.” (Jesus still not drinking the wine) The Holy Sacrifice was finished at Calvary AT THE FOOT OF THE CROSS, after Jesus had drank the wine.

John 19:28-30 King James Version (KJV) 28 After this, Jesus knowing that all things were now accomplished, that the scripture might be fulfilled, saith, I thirst. 29 Now there was set a vessel full of vinegar: and they filled a spunge with vinegar, and put it upon hyssop, and put it to his mouth. 30 When Jesus therefore had received the vinegar, he said, "IT IS FINISHED" and he bowed his head, and gave up the ghost.

The whole and complete sacrifice was now offered.

Dr. Brant Pitre shines fresh light on the Last Supper by looking at it through Jewish eyes. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hjfHX046pLc

What was Jesus' purpose in instituting the Eucharist during the feast of Passover? And most important of all, what did Jesus mean when he said, "This is my body... This is my blood"? https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MsEKqG7hric


"We are to believe that the Eucharist began in the womb of the Virgin Mary; that the flesh which the Son of God received from His Mother at the Incarnation is the same flesh into which He changed bread at the Last Supper; that the blood He received from His Mother is the same blood into which He changed wine at the Last Supper. Had she not given Him His flesh and blood there could not be a Eucharist."

In closing, I will give a mystery of the Holy Eucharist when the First Mass was celebrated in the Upper Room... The Holy Eucharist is the body,blood,soul & divinity of our Glorified Resurrected Jesus Christ sacramentally instituted for us to transform our flesh & blood into intimate union/oneness with Jesus Christ eternally. Now the Mystery in the Upper Room is... what happen when an Immaculate Body (Flesh & Blood) of the Theotokos received the Holy Eucharist? Did She received a Transformation similar to the Resurrected Glorified Body of Jesus Christ?...Did the Theotokos transformed to Glorified Body that is worthy to enter the Kingdom of God even while still alive here on earth?... This is the Mystery on Infinite Mystical Union of the the Holy Spirit to Her Spouse/Advocate who became the Spirit of Truth...(but I wont expound it here)

This is the POWER OF THE HOLY EUCHARIST and it's transforming power experienced by the Theotokos in Her Immaculate Body!(A Mystery worth discovering...)

Godbless!. S&IHMMP4us.Amen

  • So - no scriptures actually state the supposed 'transformation' is what you are indicating.
    – Nigel J
    Commented Jun 21, 2018 at 3:06
  • Nigel J what scriptures are you asking? Is Matthew26:26-27 and Isaiah55:11 not enough for you.Its very clear in CCC1333 that the power of Transubstantiation comes from invoking the Holy Spirit by the Priest. In the case of Jesus at the Last Supper His Word is created as He Wills it as the Spirit of God is one with Him. Commented Jun 21, 2018 at 7:21
  • Quoting CCC1333 to me is not helping as I only follow the holy bible (Genesis to Revelation). Thank you for your contribution as it demonstrates that this doctrine is not conveyed by holy scripture but by human tradition. Regards.
    – Nigel J
    Commented Jun 21, 2018 at 10:36
  • Nigel J i understand fully your stand on CCC as Bible Christian but you ignore the Gospel of Matthew and Isaiah who clearly said Jesus Word will not return to Him void, it will accomplished what it Wills., Biblically your stand is pointing to John6:66. The body of believers who left the scene. Godbless Commented Jun 21, 2018 at 12:09

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .