December 3, 2020

Real Presence?

Comments now closed.

My apologies to those who hold the following view. I don’t think your voice was fairly represented in our discussion earlier this week on the Lord’s Supper. I hope you were not offended, and that you will continue to participate in our ongoing conversation about this matter.

Because I think your perspective is so important, I will give you a post all your own.

Grace and peace.

Agnus Day appears with the permission of


  1. ***bleats of blessing bestowed***

  2. Truth. It’s like stale cardboard.

  3. Thank you.

  4. I think it’s more like something from the styrofoam family of products.

  5. Tokah Fang says

    It’s funny, I didn’t grow up even knowing about the concept of real presence, forget having an opinion on it. I remember sitting in a pew at the LCMS church that hosted our school one Sunday morning, because we were supposed to sing something during the service. There was a little card in the pew that said I couldn’t take communion without attending a class. Without taking a class? I was incensed! Nearly two decades later, I’m an orthodox catechumen, so my thinking has obviously changed.

    In the 200’s, there was a huge dustup in North Africa following a tough persecution. Some people had run away, some people had sacrificed to the Roman gods, and some people had bought a paper that said they had sacrificed. There was a huge controversy about what to do with the latter two groups. But the controversy was interrupted by news of a new wave of persecution coming. There simply wasn’t going to be time to settle the issue properly, so the bishop made the decision to bring back into communion a huge swathe of them. He did it because he believed that they would need the extra strength and blessing of the Eucharist to help them through the persecution to come.

    We can argue a lot of thing of things about communion and the development of the church, but what I can’t escape is that early christians believed it was an efficacious gift from God that really did stuff. Separated by nearly two millenia from their context, I can’t just philosophize my way to knowing better than they did who were closer to the source material. If they were wrong on this, I guess I’m just going to be wrong with them.

    • Tokah Fang says

      I realize now that my reply was over-serious, sorry about that!

      • I thought it was interesting, and helpful, since I am currently working my way through many of these issues.

      • Margaret Catherine says

        Hey, it’s “our” thread. Go for it. 😉 This situation you mention – did that specific event also play in to the development of the (practice of) Confession?

        • I think it’s too late for that, but don’t quote me. It was mentioned in a bio of St Cyprian’s life in a book of his writings I have.

  6. Ahhh… there is a cure for cardboard tongue… ;D

    Look East! We have Real Bread included with the Real Presence!

    • As do we in our Lutheran church. Big, glorious hunks of fresh bread each week!

    • How do you avoid crumbs? Serious question, we go through a lot of effort to avoid spills and crumbs, and reverently handle the sacrament, and I can’t imagine using a big crumby loaf. Maybe something like Naan?

      • boaz,

        in the Orthodox Liturgy the (leavened) bread is put into the chalice with the watered wine (hot water), so it’s spongy and not too very wet – so no crumbs. The people are given communion from a small spoon, with a cloth held under the recipient’s chin, and the servers wipe the person’s mouth after receiving. No crumbs per se, but sometimes some gets spilled, in which case either the recipient eats it from the cloth, or one of the servers does. If some happens to fall on the floor, the priest picks it up and eats it. The Mysteries must be ingested by a human being. The chalice is rinsed in a special sink with a drain under the church building leading into the earth (like the Anglicans have); the cloths are also rinsed in said sink.

        With the antidoron, as was described in a recent comment string, it’s blessed but not consecrated, so we treat it with the same kind of respect we would have for an icon. We pick up the crumbs and at least make sure they go into the earth.

        Hope that’s not too much info!


        • We usually consume the water used to rinse the chalice as well. I think I prefer the wafers than what you described though, as I would be too worried about spillage, rather than the remembrance of Christ and his forgiveness.

  7. When I was a Baptist, I learned of Catholics believing in the Real Presence and closed communion. This made total sense to me: of course if you think it is really Jesus, you don’t just let anyone (including Baptist dudes like me who don’t believe it’s Jesus) to receive communion.

    I respected that and wouldn’t have dared try to receive communion at a Catholic Church. For one thing, you have to respect other peoples’ beliefs and for another thing, it just might be true.

    Now, Protestantism is all over the spectrum on communion from a rarely celebrated purely symbolic action to a frequently celebrated “intensely” symbolic action to some kind of presence of Jesus (spiritual or otherwise) with the bread and wine. But for the most part Protestants believe it to be symbolic and not “really” Jesus. Not so real that they would bow down and adore Him in the consecrated bread and wine, as Catholics do.

    And if it’s only symbolic, then letting others receive, at least other Christians of whatever stripe, seems fine.

    One final point that may interest people: As a Southern Baptist, I never attended a service where the Lord’s Supper was celebrated. They held it in a special service once a quarter or so for new church members. So it was on kind of an “as needed” basis, and you wouldn’t even know about it unless you thought to ask or look into it.

    • Most of what Baptists do is a mystery to me. Baptism doesn’t save, but they are hyper technical (and wrongly so) about how it should be performed. Communion doesn’t involve Christ’s body and blood, and it also doesn’t involve wine, but let’s exclude everybody who disagrees with us about interpreting Genesis 1 and Revelation.

      • Boaz, the American Baptist church that I belong to has open communion, once a month. Fairly traditional, in the congregationalist-style manner of my upbringing. The juice and bread (matzo in our case, but any will do) are served at separate times to the congregation, which remains seated.

        I wouldn’t say we’re hyper technical, but the form never varies. The only change I’ve noticed in 19 years is the switch from leavened bread to matzo.

        But you’re right about it not involving Christ’s literal body and blood, and God forbid we should use real wine–although the real matzo must have seemed important to someone.

        By the way, I have a hyper-orthodox (little o) Anglican friend who insists that if real wine isn’t used it isn’t real communion. Comments about that from anybody?

        • Well, I agree with your anglican friend. I for the life of me can’t figure out why people are so cavalier with that which their Lord and Savior did on the night he was betrayed, in that which he instituted as his last will and testament. No one treats anyone else’s will in the same manner.

          • Grape Juice is wine minus fermentation. Drink made from the grape. Is Jesus somehow only present in the alcohol? Perhaps its the incarnation of the yeast?

          • Grape Juice is wine minus fermentation. Drink made from the grape. Is Jesus somehow only present in the alcohol? Perhaps its the incarnation of the yeast?

            a very interesting technical distinction…

            and the choice of leavened vs. unleavened bread…

            are the grace & blessing in the details??? Jesus only comfortable residing in the correct elements???

            only grape juice, fermented or not? only bread, but not crackers? only wheat product, but not barley, oats, corn, rice or rye???

            salted? not salted? baked or fried? what is the ‘right’ way to present communion???

          • Technically he is in the essence and not the accidents.

          • We should ask, “How legalistic is Jesus, anyway?”

        • I am just for the life of my confused that wine is not used. It is what Jesus used, after all.

          The big thing, I think, is the idea that we can’t use wine because God doesn’t want us to drink that causes more head scratching, even though people obviously drank wine during Jesus’ time, and even before that. *Shrugs*

          • even though people obviously drank wine during Jesus’ time

            Not according to a vocal number of evangelicals. They and many churches contend and teach that all references to wine in the bible are really references to grape juice. Well except for Noah.

            I think they are very blindly reading into the scriptures what they want to find no matter what the words say but that’s just me.

  8. Cute, Chaplain Mike! I thought you were being serious at first about some group not having had their voice heard during our discussion and I thought, “That’s odd. I thought everyone got heard.” But NOW I see!

    When I was a kid, I would play church with my friends/family and we used Necco wafers to serve Communioni! They are the same size and shape, but much more colorful and quite tasty!

    There are Masses that are so large, it would likely be hard to “do Communion” with “real” bread. But I could see a small church getting the OK from the powers that be to use real loaves of bread. Maybe they do that in some small Catholic churches somewhere.

    • Joanie, In the Latin Rite our Hosts only have wheat flour and water, no salt, oil, yeast or sugar. Don’t know where that came from, but it’s in the GIRM.
      The Eastern RIte Churches have the identical practice as the EO.

      • Dispensations can be made from these requirements, e.g. in the case of underground Chinese Catholic congregations.

  9. Alright, Mike, now that I read Joanie’s comment I get it too. I thought the cartoon was just to illustrate (I mean, I can’t function without cartoons).

    So we weren’t supposed to get serious? Now that I’ve made a fool of myself….

  10. He said” this IS my body…this IS my blood.”

    We don’t have to resolve every mystery on how that could be. It’s good enough that we trust that what He said is true.

    • David Cornwell says

      Exactly. Our arguments prove it remains mystery. And that’s good.

    • “This is the bread of affliction….”

    • It has always struck me a bit odd as a RC that so many “Bible believing” churches who are obsessed with the literal truth of every word in Scripture choose to ignore the Last Supper and the Lord’s command to “Do this in memory of me.” As well as the “unless you eat My Flesh and drink My Blood you will not have life within you.” I am hardly a biblical expert on anything, but. that does not sound like “drink some juice and crackers and think about my death and rising”. It is a command to recieve Him in the Eucharist, which is why to those of us Catholic and Orthodox, the Mass takes bread and wine and it becomes the Real Presence….which we treat with the reverance we would treat Christ if He suddenly appeared to us in visible form. It is ALSO why we cannot invite anyone to the Table who does not share this understanding. And for me, personally, the power and connection I feel when receiving Christ in the Eucharist is a moment of one-ness and joy that I can only compare to the incredible joy I felt on my wedding night, or when my children were first born.