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Are there examples of transubstantiation that happens in other places/moments that are not in the celebration of Mass? I mean, somewhere in nature or in psychology, maybe philosophy. I am asking this because many theological concepts sometimes have analogues in nature or happen also in other non-religious places, so it would be a bit easier to understand it if there were counterparts.

To clarify a bit, it's like the idea of "balance". This is a concept that can be found in many "realms", such as in nature (ecological balance), psychology (well-being), and philosophy (Aristotle's idea of virtue as balance of extremes). Is transubstantiation seen anywhere else beyond theology?

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  • Transubstantiation is an idea that when a priest consecrates the bread and wine, its substance turns to the body, blood, soul and divinity of Jesus, while the accidents (the properties related to the 5 senses) remain. Therefore, I’m not quite sure what an example from nature or anywhere else would look like. Are you asking for a case where a priest consecrates something else and it changes? Or any example of God changing the substance but not accidents of a thing?
    – Luke Hill
    Nov 25, 2023 at 16:41
  • In order for this question to work, I'd like some more clarification on what exactly you are asking for. If you merely want a clarification on what transubstantiation is, I'm happy to recommend some resources for you.
    – Luke Hill
    Nov 25, 2023 at 16:47
  • @LukeHill, I added some clarification in the original answer. Nov 25, 2023 at 21:48

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Transubstantiation is a philosophical concept to explain what happens during Mass. The general idea is that everything in nature has a substance that doesn’t change, and attributes (called accidents, but I think attributes may be a bit clearer in modern language) that do change. The substance of a chair is its “chair-ness”, its attribute could be “green”. You can change the attributes, and it would still be a chair. If you change the substance, it is no longer a chair.

The great mystery of the Mass is that the bread and wine do not change attributes, so they still feel, smell, taste like bread and wine, but their substance does change. From “bread-ness” and “wine-ness” they change to “Body-ness” and “Blood-ness”. They do become the Body and Blood of Christ.

The interesting thing is that many people find it strange that bread and wine become Body and Blood, but fewer mention the even stranger fact that the attributes stay the same. Yet, that is what it is.

If you look at the miracle at the wedding in Cana you will see that water not only changes into the substance of wine, it has all the attributes of wine. Still a miracle, but not as miraculous as the Mass.

One of the essential aspects of a miracle is that they are not “natural”. I think it would be hard to find an example of transubstantiation in nature. But there is another reason for this: our senses notice attributes, not substance. We do not see “chair-ness”, our mind builds the knowledge of “chair-ness” from the attributes of chairs we see in our life, and from logic, reasoning. Therefore it would be practically impossible for us to notice any form of transubstantiation, as the attributes don’t change.

You can see this in Mass. There is absolutely no way to sense the difference between the bread and wine before, or the Body and Blood after. As Catholics we care a lot about this, so we make sure all Blood is consumed, including any particles left in the chalice (this is done at purification). All particles of the Body are also consumed, or left in the tabernacle. We take very good care that it is impossible to treat the Body as if it were bread. Because you just cannot tell otherwise.

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  • Great answer, +1. Kicking myself for not thinking of the wedding at Cana.
    – Luke Hill
    Nov 26, 2023 at 13:08

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