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Forum Home > Ask Father > Catholics and Transubstantiation

Fr. Matt
Site Owner
Posts: 382

Do you think Catholics really believe in transubstantiation?

April 10, 2014 at 11:41 PM Flag Quote & Reply

Fr. Matt
Site Owner
Posts: 382

           With Holy Week upon us, I thought: What a perfect time to field this question about transubstantiation! (After all, it first began at the Last Supper). Now, you may be asking: What the blunder is transubstantiation? Wasn’t it in that Mary Poppins song … how did that go … ‘supercalifragilistictransubstantiation …’? Well, no, I guess not.

          Our confirmation class has been studying the life of Jesus through the mysteries of the Rosary. In the Luminous Mysteries, we find the Transfiguration followed by the Institution of the Eucharist (at the Last Supper). In the Transfiguration, Jesus changed in appearance. In Transubstantiation, the appearance of bread and wine does not change at all; however, the reality of their what-it-is-ness (their substance) changes into the substance of Jesus. In this way, the Transfiguration and Transubstantiation are the inverse of one another.

          Whew, all that as a lead-in to your question: Do I think Catholics really believe in transubstantiation? That depends on what you actually mean. Are you asking a sociological question that could be answered by taking a poll or survey? Or are you asking a theological question about the Catholic Faith?

          If it’s a theological question, then the answer is quite simple: Yes, Catholics believe that the bread and wine really changes into Jesus. We cannot see, smell, hear, feel, or taste that difference (at least not with our bodily senses), but we know it to be true because Jesus – Who is the Truth – tells us so. After Jesus (through the priest) speaks those words: “This is My Body; This is My Blood”, well, that’s what they are.

          If, however, you’re asking the sociological question of what percentage of Catholics actually believe what the Catholic Church teaches on this matter, well, then I suspect that it gets a bit muddier. I would propose that – of the roughly 70% of people who identify themselves as ‘Catholic’ but do not attend Mass regularly, very few of these believe in transubstantiation. After all, if I actually knew that Jesus (God) was going to show up at my local Catholic parish every single time Mass is offered, and that He was going to humble Himself so profoundly and make Himself so vulnerable as to be made food for me so that He could actually and literally live in me and I in Him … well, nothing and no one in this world could ever keep me away! I would run through barbed wire and swim through boiling oil in order to get there! So, no, I don’t think that very many of these folks believe.

          Of the roughly 30% who do attend Mass regularly, I suspect that very many don’t know the word ‘transubstantiation’, but that almost every one of them believes it in their heart of hearts. Otherwise, why would they put up with so much lousy preaching and smelly neighbors to come to Mass each week? They must know that it’s Jesus – even if they don’t know that they know.

          I guess that’s about as good as I can do without taking an actual scientific poll. As always, if you have another way of looking at this or other questions of our Faith, please sign on to our website (www.stanthonyniagara.org), and post your own question or response in the Forums section under “Ask Father”. And thanks for another great question! May God bless you this Holy Week, and may you have a grace-filled Easter season!



Fr. Matt

April 10, 2014 at 11:45 PM Flag Quote & Reply

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