Transubstantiation "vs" Real Presence

Not open for further replies.


I always thought these two phrases were pretty much interchangeable, meaning that at the Consecration during Mass, the bread and wine become the Body and Blood, Soul and Divinity of Jesus Christ. However, I was recently told by a very intellectual, very wise Catholic theologian at a meeting that many bishops do not even understand, or at least make the distinction between the two, but it is an important one. Episcopalians, for example, believe in the Real Presence, but not, apparently, in Transubstantiation, along with some other Protestants.

The key seems to be that, with the uniquely Catholic belief of Transubstantiation, there is absolutely no substance of bread nor wine left, merely the FORM. Hence “trans-substance”: the substance has been completely transformed, and is completely Divine.

Whereas, with the concept of Real Presence, one can believe that bread and wine are equally present, or present in some varying degree ALONG WITH Christ. What, in your view, are the ramifications of such a distinction?

This really intrigued me and I wished I could have got more elaboration from this man, but I hope you can explain in greater detail (in a way a layperson can comprehend). Also, I have a very good evangelical protestant friend who is quite critical of the Catholic faith, and I would truly like to be able to explain this to him accurately.

Thank you so much!
Transubstantiation is the change of substance which brings about the Real Presence. The bread is changed into the body of Christ and the wine into the blood of Christ. The belief that the Real Presence is added to and co-exists with the bread and wine is known as Consubstantiation (a heresy).

For more in-depth information see these two Catholic Encyclopedia articles:
Not open for further replies.