What does the Catholic Church teach about Transubstantiation vs Consubstantiation?

Consubstantiation is the belief, held by some Protestants, particularly Lutherans and Anglicans, that in the Eucharist, after the consecration, the substances of both the body and blood of Christ and of bread and wine remain.

The body and blood are “with the substance” (con-substatia) of the bread and wine, sitting right next to them, so to speak.

Transubstantiation is quite different.

It is the belief that the whole substance of bread and wine is converted or literally changed into the whole substance of the body and blood of Christ, with only the appearance (the accidents, as theologians say) or sensible qualities of the former remaining. Consubstantiation means the Eucharist consists of the body and blood of Christ, plus the bread and wine. Transubstantiation means only the body and blood are present, although the appearances of bread and wine remain as sacramental symbols of earthly food.

The term transubstantiation was decided upon at the Fourth Ecumenical Council of the Lateran (1215) as the only term which completely and accurately describes the mystery of the Real Presence. Other terms are either incomplete or simply wrong.

While consubstantiation affirms a real presence of Jesus, only transubstantiation does justice to the biblical teaching regarding Christ’s presence as well as the tradition and practice of the early Church regarding the Eucharist.

This teaching comes from the Bible (Mt 26:26 – 28, Mk 14:22 – 24, Lk 22:19 – 20, Jn 6:32 – 71, 1 Cor 10:16 – 17, 1 Cor 11:23 – 29) and from early Christian writers.

Cyril of Jerusalem, in writing his Catechetical Discourses around A.D. 350, said that communications should be “fully convinced that the apparent bread is not bread, even though it is sensible to the taste, but the body of Christ, and that the apparent wine is not wine, even though the taste would have it so.”

He could not affirm this belief if any bread or wine remained after the consecration.

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