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Karol Gevanthor wrote:

Hi, guys —

  • Are Catholics the only ones who believe in the Real Presence of Jesus in the Eucharist?
  • What do Episcopalians believe about the Eucharist?

Karol

 

  { Are Catholics the only ones who believe in the Real Presence and what do Episcopalians believe? }

John replied:

Hi, Karol —

Thanks for your question.

The term Real Presence means different things in different denominational circles.

For instance, when I was a Baptist/Pentecostal, we believed that Christ was truly present in the action of taking communion; we called that real presence. That is just one of many, many variations of beliefs which permeate non-Catholic theologies.

The Catholic Church recognizes that Christ is indeed present on a spiritual level, in the celebration of the Lord's Supper which takes place in these Protestant communities.  These understandings of the real presence aren't necessarily wrong; they are usually very incomplete.

Now Catholics believe that Real Presence is more than a spiritual/mystical presence in the action, or even in the species. Catholics believe the bread and wine are changed into the Person of Jesus Christ, fully present in sacramental form, in what appears to be bread and wine.

That belief is exclusive to the Catholic and Orthodox Churches. It is also a belief maintained by some churches that have gone into Schism, such as:

  • the Polish National Church (in America),
  • the Old Catholics (who rejected Vatican I), and
  • some other groups which have gone in Schism after Vatican II.

All these Churches have valid Sacraments. They maintained a valid Priesthood and therefore,
the Eucharist found in their Church is valid and it is, indeed, Jesus that one receives under the appearance of bread and wine.

The Episcopalians and Anglicans vary in their beliefs basically from one person to the next, but it doesn't really matter. They interrupted Apostolic Succession, and so have no valid Holy Orders. The so-called Episcopal priest can believe what he will, but it doesn't matter.

He can't consecrate the Eucharist. The bread and wine he tries to consecrate will remain bread and wine.

John

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