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Alice Claire Mansfield wrote:

Hi, guys —

Our pastor, Fr. X, said at a recent evening workshop that when we receive Holy Communion,
"we become the Body and Blood of Christ". He meant this literally, not figuratively speaking.

One person questioned how this can be; how we can presume that we become God when we receive Holy Communion. Fr. X didn't answer her question. He sort of put her off with some touchy, feely, new-age stuff.

  • I know that St. Augustine exhorted his congregation to become what they receive at Communion, but does the Catholic Church officially teach that we actually become the Body and Blood of Christ when we receive Holy Communion?

None of the other people at this workshop had a problem with Fr. X's thinking, but my friend
and I sure did, and would appreciate your insights.

Thank you kindly and God bless you for making this forum available.

Houston, Texas
Magnify the Lord with me. Let us exalt His name together. Psalm 34

  { Do we literally become the Body and Blood of Christ when we receive Holy Communion? }

Mike replied:

Hi, Alice Claire —

Thanks for the question.

No, we do not become the Body and Blood of Christ. Through the Eucharist we partake in His Divine nature and really receive is Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity, while retaining our human nature.

Jesus is a Divine Person with a Divine and Human Will, neither of which conflict with each other.

We are human people with only a human will.

Through the Eucharist, we partake in His Divine nature so we may carry out The Lord's will in our lives, for our own salvation and for the salvation of others. (Galatians 2:19, 20)

Thanks for writing and write again,


Mary Ann replied:

Alice Claire —

We are united with His Resurrected Self, Body and Blood, Soul and Divinity. We began the process of what the Fathers called divinization at Baptism, and the Eucharist nourishes this real supernatural life in us, a life which is a sharing in the life of the Trinity, through the sharing in the risen humanity of the Son.

The way in which we do become the Body of the Lord is that together, through Baptism and the Eucharist, we are made the living Body of Christ. The Church is the Body of Christ, made so by each of us being incorporated ("in-bodied") into Christ through Baptism, and this incorporation is nourished and strengthened in the Eucharist.

So the short answer is no and yes.

Mary Ann Parks

John replied:

Alice Claire,

Like many aspects of our faith, this is more of mystery. When a Christian walks into a room, he or she is indwelled by the Holy Spirit.  Hence, one can say, that when that Christian walks in the room, God walks in the room. Now, that is not to say the individual is God.

I think Fr. X may have confused the issue by saying literally, the Body of Christ. Although not entirely inaccurate, it is misleading. Individuals don't undergo transubstantiation. In the case of the Eucharist, the elements become the Sacramental Real Presence, yet they retain the appearance of bread and wine. We do not undergo that same change. Our physical bodies,
our minds, and our individual souls remain after we receive the Lord.

Most likely, Fr. X was trying to make a point, and glossed over a lot of theology to make it.

John DiMascio

Fr. Francis replied:

Dear Alice Claire,

I did not see the original question, but my sense is that it was something to the effect of whether we become the Body and Blood of Christ. Mike, you gave a fine and correct answer as far as it goes. We are not transubstantiated ourselves. Bread and wine are transubstantiated, i.e., totally transformed into the Body and Blood of Christ. We are not.

However, notice I did not use the word "changed". I did not, because indeed, by our reception of the Blessed Sacrament of the Body and Blood of Christ, we indeed do become, or are changed into the Body of Christ!!!

Saint Paul, in writing his First Letter to the Corinthians, teaches us the profound truth of the three-fold mystery and reality of the Body of Christ.

  • In chapter 15, he speaks of the reality of the Risen Body of Christ.
  • In chapter 10 and 11, Paul teaches us about the reality and mystery of the Eucharistic Body (and Blood) of Christ, instituted by the Lord Jesus Himself "on the night before he died".
  • Finally, in chapters 12-14, he teaches us about the reality, i.e., the Mystery of the Church as the Body of Christ.

Pope John Paul II has "caught" the whole Mystery of the Eucharist in his encyclical on the Eucharist. In that wonderful teaching, he claims that:

"The Eucharist makes the Church and the Church makes the Eucharist".

Now Mike, you caught the beauty of the Second Millennium of Catholic teaching concerning the Eucharist in your answer. Your answer concentrated on what exactly comes about "in the Eucharist" — when the Church celebrates the Eucharist. Here, the teaching on Transubstantiation is in order. But don't forget the emphasis of the Church in the First Millennium — that the Eucharist makes the Church.

Paul, and the other new Testament writers, emphasize the Eucharist making the Church.
Now Alice Claire, Mike is correct. We are not transubstantiated into the Body and Blood of Christ, but we are united with, and made participants and members of the Body of Christ.

As Saint Augustine states in one of his wonderfully succinct teachings,

"It is your own Mystery that you receive in your hand."

Father Francis

Father Francis replied to John's reply as follows:

To pick up and clarify your point — It was Saint Athanasius in his wonderful

De Incarnatione: On the Incarnation

who stated:

"God became man so that man could become God."

You stated correctly how this truly orthodox statement (and teaching) could be misquoted and misused.

A complete misuse and incorrect application of it can be found in the core teaching of the Mormons. (Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints) The Mormons, in their Gnostic addition to the New Testament canon, have incorporated this once orthodox teaching into their polytheistic nonsense.

Athanasius would scream!

Father Francis

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