8.2.12 The real presence of the body and blood of Christ in Holy Communion

The elements of bread and wine are not transformed in their substance through the consecration and pronouncement of the words of institution. Rather, the substance of Christ's body and blood is joined to them (consubstantiation). There is thus no transformation of the substances (transubstantiation).

There is a close connection between Holy Communion and the fact that Jesus Christ has both a human and a divine nature, both of which exist unadulterated and indivisible in Him (see 3.4). It is in this sense that the relationship between the bread and wine and the body and blood of Christ is to be understood: after the consecration, a parallel exists between the "bread and wine"–which corresponds to the human nature of Christ–and the "body and blood"–which corresponds to the divine nature of Christ.

In Holy Communion, bread and wine correspond to the human nature of Christ, while the body and blood correspond to His divine nature. Accordingly, there can be no transubstantiation of the bread and wine. Rather, even after consecration, the bread and wine retain their natural substance. Yet the bread and wine are not merely metaphors or symbols for the body and blood of Christ. Rather, the body and blood of Christ are truly present (real presence). Through the words of consecration spoken by an Apostle or a priestly minister commissioned by him, the substance of the body and blood of Christ is joined to the substance of the bread and wine.

The outward form (accidence) of the elements of Holy Communion is not changed by this act. Just as the Man Jesus was visible during His life on earth, so also the bread and wine are visible in Holy Communion. After their consecration, however, the elements of Holy Communion constitute a dual substance–like the two natures of Jesus Christ–namely that of bread and wine and that of the body and blood of Christ. The Son of God is then truly present in the elements of Holy Communion: in His divinity and in His humanity.

However, as regards the elements of Communion it is not the case that the bread alone corresponds to the body of Christ and that the wine alone corresponds to the blood of Christ. Rather, the body and blood of Christ is completely present in each of the two elements, both the bread and the wine.

The body and blood of Christ remain present in the consecrated wafer until it has reached its designated recipient.

After the divine service, the wafers that were not dispensed are treated with reverence and care.

See also