By Archbishop Michael Jackels
The Catholic Church teaches that at Mass, when the priest invokes the Holy Spirit and repeats the words that Jesus said at the Last Supper, the bread and wine are changed into the Body and Blood, Soul and Divinity of the risen and glorified Christ.
The word “transubstantiation” is used to refer to this change. Transubstantiation is not a commonly used word, but if we take it apart we might understand better what it means.
The first part of the word – “trans” – signifies change. The middle part of the word – substance – refers to a thing that exists, such as bread or wine. And the end of the word – “tion” – signifies action.
So, transubstantiation means: the action of changing an existing thing into a different existing thing. In the case of the Eucharist, it refers to changing bread and wine into the Body and Blood of Jesus.
The Eucharist does not look, taste or feel like flesh and blood; nevertheless, it is a real change. This is a mystery, something hard to understand, which we accept in faith, because Jesus taught it.