Real Presence

From Academic Kids

Real Presence is the belief that Jesus is truly present, body, blood, soul, and divinity, in the Eucharist. This is a doctrine regarding Holy Communion, is maintained in Catholic, Eastern Orthodox, Lutheran, Methodist, and many (but not all) Anglican traditions of Christianity. Some traditions do not subscribe to this doctrine.


Actual presence

According to the Roman Catholic and Orthodox traditions, the "Real Presence" reflects the nature of the elements after the Consecration; according to Catholic doctrine, at the moment of Consecration, the elements (or "gifts" as they are termed for liturgical purposes) are transformed (literally transubstantiated) into the actual Body and Blood of Christ. The terms "elements" or "gifts" are preferred, as it is theologically incorrect to refer to the "bread" or "wine" after they have been consecrated, as Catholics believe they are no longer bread and wine. Catholic doctrine holds that the elements are not only spiritually transformed, but rather are actually (substantially) transformed into the Body and Blood of Christ. The elements retain the appearance or "accidents" of bread and wine, but are indeed the actual Body and Blood of Christ, the actual, physical presence of Jesus in the Eucharist. For this reason, what remains of the sacrament after the Communion procession is reserved in the Tabernacle, where it can be utilized for later Masses, for private devotion and prayer, as well as for public Eucharistic adoration.

Presence "in, with and under"

Lutherans believe that the Body and Blood of Christ are really present "in, with and under" the Bread and Wine, so that communicants receive both the elements and Christ Himself. The disagreement between these two groups centers on what happens to the bread and wine. For Lutherans, only bread and wine remain after the distribution of the Lord's Supper. The elements are treated with respect, sometimes even reserved as in Catholic practice, but are reconsecrated in later services or repectfully disposed of.

Presence as "mystery"

Methodism has not issued a definitive statement regarding how the presence of Christ is experienced. While transubstantiation is rejected, the followers of John Wesley have typically affirmed that the grace of Christ is experienced via his real presence in the sacrament, but have allowed the details to remain a mystery. (See Means of Grace)

Spiritual feeding

In which it is believed that, instead of Christ's body and blood coming down to inhabit the elements, the faithful are, by faith and in the Holy Spirit, taken to the right hand of the Father to feed spiritually on the risen, glorified Christ. Most (if not all) people who take this view are Reformed.


Some Protestant groups see Communion (also called the Lord's Supper or the Lord's Table) as a symbolic meal, a memorial of the Last Supper and the Passion in which nothing miraculous occurs. This view is known as the Zwinglian view, after Ulrich Zwingli, a Swiss Reformed church leader who popularised it. It is commonly associated with Baptists and some Reformed groups.


The majority of churches require that ordained clergy consecrate the elements. Some groups, such as the Disciples of Christ-Christian Churches allow lay people to consecrate the elements.

See also



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