Understanding Transubstantiation (The Eucharist)

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LTRP Note: Because of the current emphasis being put on the Eucharist by many contemplative/emerging leaders within the evangelical/Protestant camp, we believe this article by former Catholic nun, Mary Ann Collins, is important:

Transubstantiation is the doctrine that if a validly ordained Catholic priest consecrates bread and wine, then Jesus Christ is literally present — body, blood, soul, and divinity — in every crumb of consecrated bread and every drop of consecrated wine. This is the official doctrine of the Catholic Church. It is clearly stated in the “Catechism of the Catholic Church.”

Catholics call this “the Eucharist” or “holy communion.” They speak about the “real presence” of Christ in the bread and wine. Things relating to it are called “eucharistic.” A consecrated communion wafer is called a “host.” Hosts that are left over after Mass are kept in a tabernacle, (a large, ornate container that can be locked). When hosts are in the tabernacle, a candle is lit. This enables Catholics to know that consecrated hosts are inside, so they can kneel and pray in front of the tabernacle as a form of eucharistic devotion. The tabernacle also protects the hosts by making it difficult to steal them.

When I was a Catholic, I sometimes attended special services called “Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament.” A large consecrated host was put in a monstrance. (This is a large, ornate, metal container, in the basic shape of a daisy with a stem, plus a base so that it can stand up.) The monstrance looked like it was made of gold. It had a circular chamber in the middle which held a large, round host. The front of the chamber was glass, so you could see the host. Visually it looked like gold rays were coming out of the host.

The priest put the monstrance on the altar. We worshiped the host, believing that it was Jesus. Click here to read more.