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To understand "transubstantiation", we need to be familiar with two terms: 1. Substance 2. Accidents Substance is the essence of an object. Given an object, say a chair. The substance of the chair makes the it what it is. Accidents are perceived experiences of an object. The color of the paint, the hardness of the wood, the sound the chair makes when it is moved, are all accidents of the chair. Note that the substance of the chair may remain intact, even if a person cannot perceive the accidents of the chair. During the Last Supper, when Christ said, "This is my body", the Catholic understanding is this: 1. The substance of the bread and wine "changed completely" into the body and blood of Christ. 2. The accidents of the bread and wine remain intact. We still see, smell, and touch bread and wine. No word can completely describe the miracle that happened. So a new word is created, "transubstantiation" - a complete change in substance.
Michael Houdmann has handled well the Roman Catholic definition of transubstantiation and the direct biblical answer to the doctrine. I would add this observation from the whole of biblical teaching. In Catholicism, the fundamental human force necessary to cause the mystical change of the communion elements into the body and blood is a ritual conducted by a Roman Catholic priest. It is part of a greater attempt to extend Levitical priesthood practice into Christian (Catholic) practice. Additionally, their practice of taking communion is preceded by requiring all who would partake to go to confession before a priest (veiled by a screened window) and tell your sins to him. He will then order penance and "absolve" you of your sins. Failure to do so makes taking of communion a vain practice and may add on a sin. James 5:16 says, "Therefore, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working." There is no command in the NT to confess to a priest. Also see Heb. 10: 16- 20. We have direct access to the throne of God through Christ. The use of a priest is, at best, a redundancy. There is also the matter of the establishment of church hierarchy in the New testament as it differs from the Levitical priesthood and was Instructed by the apostle Paul. He laid out the order specifically to include Apostles, pastors/elders/ deacons, teachers Husbands of one wife (something that the protestants are increasingly giving in to social pressure on), but not priests. No need for more sacrifice for sins. It is FINISHED. I take the bread and wine as Jesus demonstrated it as a symbolic gesture to help future generations to reflect on Jesus incredible sacrifice. The idea of taking a wafer and grape juice and mysticising it into the literal body and blood of Christ is not scripturally supported.
My understanding of transubstantiation is in some ways like the above but in other ways different. Jesus' glorified body is present in the consecrated host and wine. His bloody sacrifice happened only once on Calvary but being God, this is also an eternal sacrifice; past, present and future are simultaneous. Jesus said "do this in remembrance of me". The priest at the alter calls down the Holy Spirit to consecrate the bread and wine thus their substance is changed while the accident of a wafer and a goblet of wine stay the same.
We, the members of the Universal Syriac Orthodox Church do not believe in the doctrine of transubstantiation.of the Roman Catholic Church. Even though Jesus of Nazareth belongs to the family of Carpenter Joseph, to us, the believers, He is Our Lord Jesus Christ Son of God the Father In the same way even though Holy Communion is bread and wine, the bread is the Body and wine is the Blood of our Lord Jesus Christ That is to say, if you are not a believer, the Holy Communion is bread and wine; if you are a believer, the Holy Communion is Holy Body and the Holy Blood of Christ, our Lord. Assume, for the purpose of argument only, that an ant which by a very very remote chance enter into the plate in which the hollies are kept and eat morsel of it. Nothing will happen to the ant as the ant is not a believer. But when a believer in the Lord eat from the bread, it is the Body of his Savior and the Lord will reside in the believer. For Judas Iscariot the Holy Body and the Holy Blood of our Lord directly given to him by our Lord were to him null and void; yes they were bread and wine to him. The Holy Bible says:(quote) As soon as Judas took the bread Satan entered him (unquote) [John 13:27]
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