Catholic And Lutheran View Of The Eucharist
Catholics and Lutherans have some similar and some very different beliefs. For example, both religions believe in the Trinity, Christ’s passion and death, Jesus’ divine nature, and they both believe in salvation by grace. However, Catholic churches ordain priests and Lutherans do not, and Catholics celebrate seven sacraments and Lutherans only celebrate two.
Perhaps one of the biggest beliefs that Lutherans and Catholics disagree on is what happens to the bread and wine during the celebration and consecration of the Eucharist.
Both Lutheran Churches and Catholic Churches celebrate the Eucharist and receive Communion. They both celebrate the Last Supper during the Eucharistic period of the Mass. However, when the blessing over the bread and wine takes place, Catholics and Lutherans have different views.
In a Catholic Mass, during the Eucharistic Prayer, the priest says the words of Consecration remembering the Last Supper: “this is my body….this is my blood…” At this time, the bread and wine are transformed into the body and blood of Christ. This concept is called Transubstantiation.
The bread and wine’s taste, shape, color, etc. are its “accidents”. The essence of the bread and wine is what is really IS. During Transubstantiation, the accidents (way it looks and tastes) stays the same but its essence changes. The essence of the bread and wine becomes the real body and blood of Jesus Christ. It is not just a symbol; Catholics believe that they are receiving Jesus.
Transubstantiation is miraculous so it cannot be fully explained, like any other miracle. Another way to understand Transubstantiation is that the outward appearance stays the same but the inside, what it is, changes into Jesus. This is one reason why Catholics believe the
Eucharist is so important, because they are actually receiving their Savior, the Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity of the Eternal Son. Also, when the reserved Host is kept in the tabernacle, Catholics know that the Real Presence of Jesus is there also, just like after the Consecration of the bread and wine during the Mass.
The Eucharist is a not only a reminder, but a renewal of Jesus’ new covenant to “do unto others as I have done unto you”. When Catholics receive communion they are also receiving the grace of Jesus, Himself, being given to them through the bread and wine/body and blood.
Lutherans believe in consubstantiation rather than transubstantiation. Martin Luther, founder of the Luther religion, rejected of St. Thomas Aquinas’s idea of Jesus being the essence of the bread and wine (the Catholic view). His understanding of the sacrament was that there was real bread and real wine on the altar. So, from Luther’s ideas and statements against the Catholic Church, Lutherans established their belief of consubstantiation.
Consubstantiation is the idea that Christ is present simultaneously and together with the bread and wine in some spiritual way. This means that Christ is present with and in the bread and wine but the essence stays the same; the bread and wine is still bread and wine.
Also, for Lutherans, the faith of the individual believer determines if Jesus is present in the bread and wine during the service. Lutherans use the phrase “Real Presence” but it means something very different from Catholics. To Lutherans, the idea of “Real Presence” is that Jesus is there during the Eucharist, but unlike the Catholic idea, His Body and Blood do not take place of the bread and wine.