Skip to main contentAccessibility feedback

Dear catholic.com visitors: This website from Catholic Answers, with all its many resources, is the world's largest source of explanations for Catholic beliefs and practices. A fully independent, lay-run, 501(c)(3) ministry that receives no funding from the institutional Church, we rely entirely on the generosity of everyday people like you to keep this website going with trustworthy , fresh, and relevant content. If everyone visiting this month gave just $1, catholic.com would be fully funded for an entire year. Do you find catholic.com helpful? Please make a gift today. Thank you. Wishing you a blessed Lenten season.

Dear catholic.com visitors: This website from Catholic Answers, with all its many resources, is the world's largest source of explanations for Catholic beliefs and practices. A fully independent, lay-run, 501(c)(3) ministry that receives no funding from the institutional Church, we rely entirely on the generosity of everyday people like you to keep this website going with trustworthy , fresh, and relevant content. If everyone visiting this month gave just $1, catholic.com would be fully funded for an entire year. Do you find catholic.com helpful? Please make a gift today. Thank you. Wishing you a blessed Lenten season.

Why Does the Church Use the Words “Substance” and “Accidents” in the Doctrine of the Eucharist?

Question:

Why does the Church insist on binding its Eucharistic doctrine to the technical Aristotelian categories of "substance" and "accidents?" Why must the Magisterium insist on a specific philosophical theory of matter?

Answer:

Actually, the magisterium’s language isn’t that specific. Although the Aristotelian distinction between substance and accidents has been used by Catholic theologians, the Council of Trent opted for a broader distinction of substance and species, which does not necessarily imply any particular theory about the nature of the relationship (whether “accidental” or otherwise) between what a thing is and its sensible attributes. All this necessarily pins down is that the eucharistic elements continue to manifest all the physical properties of bread and wine, but what they are has been completely changed.

Did you like this content? Please help keep us ad-free
Enjoying this content?  Please support our mission!Donatewww.catholic.com/support-us