Why do we believe that Christ is truly present despite the appearance of bread and wine?


Because the teaching is one of the clearest in the Bible.


It is one of the clearest teachings from the mouth of Jesus.


Historiclally, the lives of the early Christians revolved around the Mass. This once-and-for-all sacrifice is made present to us no matter what century we live in. It is not a repeat of the sacrifice in Calvary. It is the SAME exact sacrifice, in  unbloody form, that is still available to us as an eternal source of grace and salvation.


In the sixth chapter of the Gospel of John, Jesus tells us over and over again that his flesh is true food and his blood is true drink. When the apostles don’t understand, he repeats himself again and again. He makes it clear He is not speaking symbolically.


In the end, many disciples leave Him because they can’t accept this hard teaching. These followers would not have had a problem swallowing the teaching had Jesus just been speaking symbolically. They had swallowed harder teachings with no problem.


The apostles, with the exception of Judas, believe Jesus about His flesh being true food and they stay with Him.


But read for yourself the words of Jesus in the Bible:


“Your ancestors ate the manna in the desert, but they died;

this is the bread that comes down from heaven so that one may eat it and not die.

I am the living bread that came down from heaven; whoever eats this bread will live forever; and the bread that I will give is my flesh for the life of the world."

The Jews quarreled among themselves, saying, "How can this man give us (his) flesh to eat?"

Jesus said to them, "Amen, amen, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you do not have life within you.

Whoever eats 19 my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him on the last day.

For my flesh is true food, and my blood is true drink

Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood remains in me and I in him.

Just as the living Father sent me and I have life because of the Father, so also the one who feeds on me will have life because of me.

This is the bread that came down from heaven. Unlike your ancestors who ate and still died, whoever eats this bread will live forever."

These things he said while teaching in the synagogue in Capernaum

Then many of his disciples who were listening said, "This saying is hard; who can accept it?"

Since Jesus knew that his disciples were murmuring about this, he said to them, "Does this shock you?

What if you were to see the Son of Man ascending to where he was before?

It is the spirit that gives life, while the flesh is of no avail. The words I have spoken to you are spirit and life.

But there are some of you who do not believe." Jesus knew from the beginning the ones who would not believe and the one who would betray him.

And he said, "For this reason I have told you that no one can come to me unless it is granted him by my Father."

As a result of this, many (of) his disciples returned to their former way of life and no longer accompanied him

Jesus then said to the Twelve, "Do you also want to leave?"

Simon Peter answered him, "Master, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life.

We have come to believe and are convinced that you are the Holy One of God."

Jesus answered them, "Did I not choose you twelve? Yet is not one of you a devil?"

He was referring to Judas, son of Simon the Iscariot; it was he who would betray him, one of the Twelve.” [John 6: 49-71]


The apostles were probably wondering how in the world this promise of Jesus to give them His flesh as food and blood as drink was going to play out. The Last Supper answered all their questions. That’s where the promise was fulfilled. Jesus held up the bread and said “This is my body.” He held up the wine and said “This is my blood,” thus instituting the sacrament  of the Eucharist. That which had the appearance of bread and wine were now something completely different. Jesus then gave his apostles (and their successors) the authority to do what He did. Jesus said “Do this in remembrance of me.” [1 Cor 11:24]


Now they understood exactly how Jesus planned to give Christians His flesh and blood to eat and drink after He was gone.


From the very beginning, the apostles took Jesus’ words literally and passed the literal teaching down through the succession of bishops. The Early Church believed in the Real Presence. The Early Church Fathers unanimously taught the Real Presence. It was considered a universal doctrine of those who considered themselves Christian. The Catholic Church never stopped teaching it. The Eucharist, which is Christ Himself, is the center of our lives, the center of our worship. It is a re-presentation of that same sacrifice on Calvary, the once-and-for-all sacrifice that Christ makes accessible to all of us.


It was not until the 16th century that some Christian denominations reversed themselves on this historically Christian doctrine. Christian denominations that broke off the Church prior to the 16th century (Orthodox, Armenians, etc.) all kept the doctrine of the ancient Church.


“Suppose for a minute that the Catholic doctrine of the Real Presence is false. Jesus must have foreseen that the whole Church would embrace this false doctrine and fall into idolatry. He would have known that the very words he spoke in John 6 and at the Last Supper led them to do so. Why would he have deliberately used language that he knew Christians would misinterpret? Why would Jesus have allowed his followers to be so horribly mistaken when he could have prevented it with a simple word of explanation? It is simply impossible that the Divine Teacher was so clumsy in proclaiming his doctrines that he led all his students into error.” [Beginning Apologetics 3: How to Explain and Defend the Real Presence of Christ in the Eucharist by Father Frank Chacon and Jim Burnham]


This teaching of Jesus is a surprising one, but it is no harder to believe than His Resurrection or the fact that God could be man at the same time. Upon examining the lives of so many saints who were propelled to such great holiness and love by the Eucharist, which they received daily, it is not so hard to believe it is truly Jesus.








St. Ignatius of Antioch (110AD):  “[heretics] abstain from Eucharist and from prayer because they do not confess that the Eucharist is the Flesh of our Savior Jesus of our Savior Jesus Christ…” (Letter to Smyrnaeans 6,2)


St. Justin Martyr (150 AD): “not as common bread nor common drink do we receive these; but…as we have been taught, the food which has been made into the Eucharist by the Eucharistic prayer set down by him, and by the change of which our blood and flesh is nourished, is both the Flesh and Blood of that incarnated Jesus.” (First Apology 66, 20)


St. Irenaeus of Lyons (195 AD): “He [Jesus] has declared the cup, a part of his creation, to be His own Blood, from which he causes our blood to flow; and the bread, a part of creation, He has established as His Own Body, from which He gives increase to our bodies.” (Against Heresies 5,2,2.)


St. Cyril of Jerusalem (350 AD): “He himself, therefore, having declared and said of the bread, “This is My Body,’ who will dare any longer to doubt? And when He Himself has affirmed and said, ‘This is My Blood,’ who can ever hesitate and say it is not His Blood? (Catechetical Lectures: Mystagogic 4,22,1.


St. Cyril of Jerusalem : “Do not, therefore, regard the bread and wine as simply that, for they are, according to the Master’s declarations, the Body and Blood of Christ. Even though the senses suggest to you the other, let faith make you firm. Do not judge in this matter by taste, but be fully assured by faith, not doubting that you have been deemed worthy of the Body and Blood of Christ.” Ibid. 4,22,6.


St. Ignatius of Antioch (100 AD) the Eucharist is "the medicine of immortality and the antidote, so that we do not die, but live forever in Jesus Christ"


For more Church Fathers on the Real Presence, see


WEB SITES ON THE EUCHARIST (Church History shows the first Christians took the Real Presence for granted…barely a word of protest) (Catholic Encyclopedia: Proof of the Real Presence) (The Eucharist: The Lord’s Supper) (Church Fathers) (The Real Presence Association) (Answering Common Objections) (article part I) (article part II) (article part III) (reply to Protestant remarks on the Eucharist) (Institution of the Mass) (The Biblical Eucharist) (answers fundamentalists’ objections to the Eucharist)



The Mass of the Early Christians (Mike Aquilina)

The Lamb’s Supper (Scott Hahn)

Beginning Apologetics 3: How to Explain and Defend the Real Presence of Christ in the Eucharist (Father Frank Chacon & Jim Burnham)

This IS My Body (Mark P. Shea)

Eucharistic Miracles (Joan Carroll Cruz….Eucharistic miracles from the 8th century to 1970. Hosts bleed, levitate, become hard as flint when received by a person in mortal sin, etc. Saints who experience levitation, visions, phenomena of tears, fire and light when receiving Communion. With 123 pictures, including photos this is a powerful confirmation of the Catholic Faith.)

Celebrating the Mass (Father Alfred McBride)

Praying in the Presence of Our Lord (Fr. Benedict, J. Groeschel)

Teach Me About the Mass (for kids) by Paul and Joan Plum)

The Holy Eucharist (Cardinal Francis Arinze)

Adoration, Eucharistic Texts and Prayers throughout Church History

How to Get the Most Out of the Eucharist by Michael Dubruiel. Huntingdon, IN: Our Sunday Visitor books 2005

The How-To Book of the Mass by Michael Dubruiel. Huntingdon, IN: Our Sunday Visitor books, 2002.

Beginning Apologetics 3: How to Explain and Defend the Real Presence of Christ in the Eucharist. Farmington, NM: San Juan Catholic Seminars, 1999.

God Is Near Us: the Eucharist the Heart of Life by Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger. San Francisco: Ignatius Press, 2003

The Lamb's Supper: The Mass As Heaven on Earth by Scott Hahn. The Mass as Heaven on earth. New York, NY: Doubleday, 1999.

The Mass of the Early Christians by Mike Aquilina. Huntington, IN: Our Sunday Visitor Books, 2001.

This is My Body by Mark P. Shea

Eucharistic Miracles by Joan Carroll Cruz. Rockford, Ill.: Tan Books, 1987.

Praying the Presence of Our Lord: Prayers for Eucharistic Adoration Editor: Rev. Benedict J. Groeschel. Huntingdon, IN: Our Sunday Visitor, 1999.

The Hidden Manna: A Theology of the Eucharist  by Fr. James T. O’Connor San Francisco: Ignatius Press, 1978.

Worthy is the Lamb: The Biblical Roots of the Mass by Thomas Nash. San Francisco: Ignatius Press, 2004.

Know Him in the Breaking of the Bread: A Guide to the Mass by Fr. Francis Randolph San Francisco: Ignatius Press, 1998.

Our Splendid Eucharist: Reflections on Mass and Sacrament by Raymond Moloney, S.J. San Francisco: Ignatius Press.

If Your Mind Wanders at Mass by Thomas Howard. San Francisco: Ignatius Press, 2001 (new edition).

            Adoration: Eucharistic Prayers throughout Church History, edited by Daniel Guernsey. San Francisco: Ignatius Press, 1999. (more books)





“The first Christians, like today’s Christians, experienced the Mass as a sacrament, a sacrifice, the new Passover, the re-presentation of the Paschal Mystery, the communion of God with man, the revelation of heavenly worship, and the source and summit of the Church’s life and unity.

“…….The Mass was, after all, the act that defined them as Christians.” [Mike Aquilina, The Mass of the Early Christian, pp. 21-22s]



Below, Scott Hahn, a former evangelical pastor, describes his first visits to Mass, and his belief that the Mass is the only way a Christian can logically interpret Revelations. Here he recalls one of the first time he witnessed the priest at Mass raising the host saying “This is My Body……This is the cup of My blood.”


“In less than a minute, the phrase “Lamb of God” had rung out four times. From long years of studying the Bible, I immediately knew where I was. I was in the Book of Revelations, where Jesus is called the Lamb no less than 28 times in 22 chapters. I was at the marriage feast that John describes at the end of that very last book of the Bible. I was before the throne of heaven, where Jesus is hailed forever as the Lamb. I wasn’t ready for this, though – I was at Mass!

“……I plunged with renewed vigor into my study of ancient Christianity and found that the earliest bishops, the Fathers of the Church, had made the same “discovery” I was making every morning. They considered the Book of Revelation the key to the liturgy, and the liturgy the key to the Book of Revelation……..the action I had considered the supreme blasphemy – the Mass – now turned out to be the event that sealed God’s covenant…….” [Scott Hahn, The Lamb’s Supper]



"Every time this mystery is celebrated, ‘the work of our redemption is carried on’ and we ‘break the one bread that provides the medicine of immortality, the antidote for death, and the food that makes us live forever in Jesus Christ.’" (Catechism.: Paragraph 1405)