Transubstantiation is, according to the teaching of the Roman Catholic Church, the change by which the bread and the wine used in the sacrament of the Eucharist become, not merely as a sign or a figure, but also in actual reality the body and blood of Christ.  Responding to Protestant sects who denied that the Eucharist is anything more than a memorial, the Council of Trent (1545-63) declared that “The same Christ who offered himself once in a bloody manner on the altar of the cross, is present and offered in an unbloody manner” in the Mass.

To be accurate and fair in my assessment of transubstantiation, all of the information I have given so far has come from Roman Catholic sites on the Internet.  We see that this teaching says that when one partakes of the bread and wine at the Mass service, they are partaking of the literal body and blood of the Lord Jesus Christ.  Let’s look at the account of the Lord’s institution of this remembrance feast.  Matthew 26:26-30 says, “And as they were eating, Jesus took bread, and blessed it, and brake it, and gave it to the disciples, and said, Take, eat; this is my body. And he took the cup, and gave thanks, and gave it to them, saying, Drink ye all of it; For this is my blood of the new testament, which is shed for many for the remission of sins. But I say unto you, I will not drink henceforth of this fruit of the vine, until that day when I drink it new with you in my Father’s kingdom. And when they had sung an hymn, they went out into the mount of Olives.”  The Roman Catholic Church states that the words of the Lord Jesus here are literal, which means the bread and the cup are the actual body and blood of Christ. teaches that, “Through the Mass, Jesus continues to offer himself to his Father as a living sacrifice, and he does so in what the Church specifically states is “an unbloody manner”—one that does not involve a new crucifixion.”  That site goes on to say, “The Mass is the renewal and perpetuation of the sacrifice of the cross in the sense that it offers [Jesus] anew to God.”

Let’s look first at the institution of what is normally called communion, remembrance meeting, or the breaking of bread.  We have the institution of this remembrance meeting given in Matthew 26:26-30, Mark 14:22-26, and Luke 22:19-20.  We have the Apostle Paul teaching and instructing the continuance of the meeting in 1 Corinthians 11:23-30.  It’s important that we discern whether the Lord’s words were literal or figurative when He said, “This is my body” and “This is my blood.”  When we consider that the Lord was with His disciples when He instituted this meeting when He spoke of His body and blood, we are led to ask how this could possibly be literal when the Lord was still living in His body and His blood was running through His veins.  Did the Lord take part of His body and present it to His disciples?  Did He open His veins and pour His blood into a cup for them to drink?  How terrible the thought!  So often in scriptures, metaphors are used to teach literal truths.  We insist strongly that this is such a case.  How could it be otherwise without the contemptible thought of cannibalism being practiced by millions of people throughout the world?

Furthermore in this transubstantiation we read that the Catholic Church teaches that Christ is “present and offered in an unbloody manner in the Mass.”  We also saw that the Catholics teach that the Mass is a “renewal and perpetuation of the sacrifice of the cross.”  In other words, Christ is continually sacrificed in the Mass service.  How does that compare with the scriptures?  Hebrews 10:10 says, “By the which will we are sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ ONCE for all.”  Hebrews 10:14 says, “For by ONE offering he hath perfected for ever them that are sanctified.”  Once for all; one offering!  These, and so many other verses, are clear that Christ died once for our sins.  May we be faithful to the words of the Lord and gather with those of like faith and partake of the bread and the cup as symbols of the body and blood of Christ and remember Him and the death He died for us.  (185.3)