Ask Fr. Francis: When was the Theology that the Host Contains both Body and Blood initiated in the Church?

by | Jun 27, 2022 | Faith

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Question:

When did the theology of host contains both Body and Blood initiated in Catholic Church? (year, council and the pope who declared it.) Jesus said, “This is my Body and this is my Blood and drink and eat and whoever receives will attain eternal life.” Why did Jesus not say you eat my body because it contains everything body and blood? And why do we need wine in holy mass as per the new theology if the host contains both body and blood? Jesus teaching and new theology is mismatching.

Answer:

Although I don’t have at this moment the exact earliest instance the Church started teaching that both species (host and chalice) each contains the fullness of Jesus Christ’s glorified body, blood, soul and divinity, I can tell you that St. Thomas Aquinas (13th century) has already affirmed it in his Summa Theologiae, 3rd part question 76. And the last time the Church declared the same teaching in a council was at the Council of Trent. So I can assure you that this is not a new teaching.

The reason why this is necessary because the Church believe not so much that Jesus’ Body and Blood are individually present in the Sacrament, but that Jesus Himself in His entirety is present in the Blessed Sacrament — not only in the Blessed Sacrament in general, but in each and every part of it; namely, the Church believes that Jesus is fully present in even the smallest piece of host, or the smallest drop of the chalice.

And since Jesus is fully man and fully God, His full Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity is present in each particle of host and each drop of the chalice.

When Jesus said “This is my body, take and eat” and “This is my blood”, we have to remember that He was instituting a sacrament, and not explaining theology in exclusive terms. He was just simply stating the symbolism of bread and wine now points to His real presence, with the language of sacrament and devotion necessarily needs to be succinct and simple. If Jesus were to explain the intricacies of transubstantiation, then His disciples would have never understood the message.

Additionally, when Jesus first instituted the Eucharist, the Bread and Blood were never meant to be received separately. Jesus after all was celebrating the Passover meal, where both bread and wine have to be consumed. The separation of Body and Blood in association with bread and wine therefore was only separation in the symbolism of bread and wine due to its limitation in being each easily recognizable as both Body and Blood, but not in actuality points to a separation of Jesus into Body and Blood, which would mean neither species is the whole Jesus.

And if bread becomes only Body and chalice only Blood, then neither is Jesus, since just the Body or just the Blood is dead. But what we receive, even in one species or in the smallest quantity is the living, glorified Jesus in entirety, which necessarily consists of His Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity.

People in the early Church always received both species. To this day, in the Eastern rites and the Orthodox Church, the Bread is immersed in the wine and the whole cup of bread and wine are consecrated together. The faithful would then receive both from the priest through a special spoon.

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