De-substantiation? What happens to the Jesus wafer after it is swallowed?

A short time ago in a weekend roundup comment, I referred to Catholicism’s obscure teaching regarding the alleged, 15-minute-only, limited presence of Jesus in communion that I’d like to expound upon a bit. This discussion gets a little messy by necessity so I apologize to those readers with very sensitive natures.

Roman Catholicism has catalog after catalog filled with its rituals, ceremonies, and traditions, but the most important of its rituals, by far, is the “celebration of the eucharist” at every mass. The Roman church goes so far as to proclaim that the eucharist (Greek eukharistia “thanksgiving”) is “the source and summit of the Christian life” (CCC 1324).

The RCC claims that during the eucharist portion of the mass, the priest transforms bread wafers and wine into the actual body and blood of Jesus Christ. This mysterious transformation is called transubstantiation. The priest then offers up the alleged Jesus wafers and wine as a sacrifice to God the Father for the sins* of the congregants and any others who are named, including the pope, the local bishop, souls in purgatory etc. The congregants then line up in the aisle to receive the Jesus elements from the priest. Catholics are taught the Jesus elements impart graces that enable them to resist sin and do good so as to hopefully merit Heaven at the moment of their death. The Roman church bases its transubstantiation doctrine on a hyper-literalist interpretation of John 6 and the Last Supper accounts in the gospels.

With that introduction, we can now get down to the (very) nitty gritty of this post. Let’s go back to the pious Catholic supplicant who received the Jesus wafer from the priest and placed it in his or her mouth. They return to their pew and kneel down on the kneeler, contemplating that they have just swallowed Jesus. What then? The Jesus wafer goes down the communicant’s esophagus and into their stomach where it is broken down by gastric acids. The particles/molecules then travel through the intestines where nutrients are absorbed. Any remaining matter is expelled through the colon and rectum.

Wait a minute! Do you mean to say that some of the Jesus wafer particles are expelled into the public sewer system and that the discharged Jesus matter from the Catholics in the community is mixed together with human excrement down at the local waste treatment facility? That sounds like a real problem. However, the Catholic catechism teaches that Jesus remains present in the wafer particles/molecules only for “as long as the Eucharistic species subsist” (CCC 1377), which is generally assumed to be about 15 minutes. Why 15 minutes? Why not 10 minutes? Why not 20 minutes? Who decided on 15 minutes? So after 15 minutes, Jesus allegedly leaves the eucharist particles/molecules and returns to Heaven, conveniently avoiding the messier parts of digestive waste elimination. What shall we call this process? De-substantiation? Have I coined a new term? There is very little official information from the RCC about this obscure, 15-minute subsistence dilemma. It’s another one of Catholicism’s “Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain” religious-calculus conundrums. Pious Catholics just go along with the program without thinking through the inevitable messy consequences of the transubstantiation rabbit hole.

Gospel Christians believe, as the Bible states, that communion/the Lord’s supper is a remembrance of how Jesus Christ gave His body and shed His blood as a propitiatory sacrifice for sin.

“And he took bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it and gave it to them, saying, “This is my body, which is given for you. Do this in remembrance of me.” – Luke 22:19

Jesus defeated sin and death when He rose from the grave and He offers eternal life to all those who repent of their sin and trust in Him as their Savior by faith alone. Once again, Catholics get hung up on the physical/temporal rather than just believing the spiritual truth of receiving Jesus Christ as Savior by faith alone.

Postscript 1: Question: Since the Bible teaches that God the Holy Spirit already indwells all genuine believers, why would Roman Catholicism make such a HUGE deal about (allegedly) physically ingesting God the Son at Sunday mass every week? Answer: Because the eucharist/transubstantiation doctrine equates to tremendous control for the Catholic clergy.

Postscript 2: Catholicism claims the sacrifice of the mass is a “re-presentation” of Jesus’s sacrifice at Calvary, but the Bible says there is NO MORE sacrifice for sin.

“And every priest stands daily at his service, offering repeatedly the same sacrifices, which can never take away sins. But when Christ had offered for all time a single sacrifice for sins, he sat down at the right hand of God, waiting from that time until his enemies should be made a footstool for his feet. For by a single offering he has perfected for all time those who are being sanctified.” – Hebrews 10:11-14

Jesus Christ is now seated at the right hand of God the Father. He is NOT situated on Catholic altars as a broken host/victim.

*The RCC hierarchy stipulates that only venial sins can be forgiven at mass. They claim mortal sins can only be forgiven by a priest in confession.

For research purposes, see the Catholic article, “How long is Jesus present in the Eucharist after we’ve received Communion?”

80 thoughts on “De-substantiation? What happens to the Jesus wafer after it is swallowed?

  1. The Armenian church also teaches transubstantiation. Since its mystical and magical, the church can make up explanations.
    I’m sure the Catholic Church has an explanation for elimination issue…perhaps Jesus just dissolves w/o digestion.
    My question is, at the Last Supper, how could the elements be Jesus’ Body when He sat there whole before them?
    Press on Ex Catholic brother!

    Liked by 3 people

  2. It’s funny how Romanists idolize Augustine but pay lip service to his teachings. He says those who received it foolishly thought of it carnally, and further goes on to quote John 6:63 to show that it must be understood spiritually.

    Augustine (354-430): It seemed unto them hard that He said, “Except ye eat the flesh of the Son of Man, ye have no life in you:” they received it foolishly, they thought of it carnally, and imagined that the Lord would cut off parts from His body, and give unto them; and they said, “This is a hard saying.” It was they who were hard, not the saying; for unless they had been hard, and not meek, they would have said unto themselves, He saith not this without reason, but there must be some latent mystery herein. They would have remained with Him, softened, not hard: and would have learnt that from Him which they who remained, when the others departed, learnt. For when twelve disciples had remained with Him, on their departure, these remaining followers suggested to Him, as if in grief for the death of the former, that they were offended by His words, and turned back. But He instructed them, and saith unto them, “It is the Spirit that quickeneth, but the flesh profiteth nothing; the words that I have spoken unto you, they are spirit, and they are life.” Understand spiritually what I have said; ye are not to eat this body which ye see; nor to drink that blood which they who will crucify Me shall pour forth. I have commended unto you a certain mystery; spiritually understood, it will quicken. Although it is needful that this be visibly celebrated, yet it must be spiritually understood. NPNF1: Vol. VIII, St. Augustin on the Psalms, Psalm 99 (98), §8.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. ” I have commended unto you a certain mystery; spiritually understood, it will quicken.” Spiritually understood.. (not biologically) it will quicken. Quicken means “restore life.”


    1. Sally, I was a Roman Catholic for 27 years and I did believe the priest transformed the bread wafer into Jesus, as I was taught. However, I also knew that the Jesus wafer did not transform me. I was regularly in the company of hundreds of other Catholics (family, friends, neighbors, classmates) who also believed in the wafer Jesus. But there was no transformative power in the wafer as we were taught. Classmates were as cruel after taking the wafer as they were before. I can say with experience that most of the Catholics who line up for the Jesus wafer on Sunday do not want to talk about Jesus on Monday, or Tuesday, or Wednesday, etc. The eucharist ritual is a BIG part of their week, but they do not know Jesus Christ spiritually. The Jesus wafer is part of a religious system that teaches its adherents they must merit their salvation. That is antithetical to the Gospel of grace.

      Liked by 3 people

      1. Tom – Jesus says that the door to eternal life is narrow, and few find it. We are also told in scripture to ‘work out our salvation with fear and trembling.’ It sounds like we both had a bad experience with Catholicism. I am trying to arrange some counselling for myself, through the Catholic Church. Thanks, as always, for sharing your knowledge.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Sally, several Catholics have written me in the past suggesting that I must have had a “bad experience” with Catholicism. That presumes a person can have a “good experience.” But no one can have a “good experience” with a religious system that teaches a person must merit their salvation. Your church officially teaches that Muslims, Hindus, Buddhists, and even atheists are also able to merit Heaven if they are “good.” The apostles were not put to death for preaching a gospel that said everyone can merit salvation through whatever religion or philosophy they subscribe to. You need to check this out for yourself, Sally, instead of defending something that you actually know very little about.

        Liked by 1 person

      3. I’m united in Jesus Christ with all believers who are saved by God’s grace alone, through faith alone, in Christ alone. I am compelled to warn everyone to flee from pseudo-christian sects that teach credulous souls that they must merit their salvation. After many conversations with you, I know that superficial religious unity is very important to you. I could never acknowledge anyone as a brother or sister in Christ who believes/supports a religious system that teaches salvation must be merited and that Muslims, Hindus, Buddhists, and atheists are also able to merit their salvation. People who believe/support such a corrupted form of (c)hristianity are not “believers.”

        Liked by 1 person

      4. RE: In the end, God will decide who the believers are.

        God’s infallible Word already tells us…

        For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in (trusts in) him shall not perish but have eternal life. John 3:16

        God did not say Muslims, Hindus, Buddhists, and atheists can MERIT Heaven as your church teaches.

        Whoever has the Son has life; whoever does not have the Son of God does not have life. 1 John 5:12

        Liked by 1 person

      5. I would be showing hatred to you and the other followers of the Roman Catholic false gospel by not warning you. My fellow believers do not insist salvation must be merited as your church unabashedly proclaims.

        Liked by 2 people

      6. RE: I dug and found a pearl of great price.

        I would hardly call having to merit your salvation a pearl of great price, as your church insists you must do. Let’s be honest. A few days ago you didn’t even know your church taught merit was a requirement of salvation.

        Liked by 1 person

      7. Re: Division rather than unity

        It’s funny you mention this since the Bishop of Rome was one of the earliest schismatics.

        In any case the Apostle Paul condemns people who preach a different gospel (Gal 1:8-9) and God’s word says not to welcome such people:

        2 John 10
        10 If anyone comes to you and does not bring this teaching, do not take them into your house or welcome them.

        Verses 1-4 describe the Bishops and leadership of the Roman Church perfectly. God days to avoid them:

        2 Tim 3:1-5
        1 But understand this, that in the last days there will come times of difficulty. 2 For people will be lovers of self, lovers of money, proud, arrogant, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, 3 heartless, unappeasable, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not loving good, 4 treacherous, reckless, swollen with conceit, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, 5 having the appearance of godliness, but denying its power. Avoid such people.

        Liked by 3 people

      8. May I remind you that those who partake of the bread and the body unworthily eat and drink damnation on themselves as the scripture says… and I am a former protestant… I too have witnessed people who claim Christ and “Once saved, always saved” and still lead completely unchanged lives. I too have witnessed protestants go to church every Sunday and act all holy only to act like the devil on Monday, Tuesday, et cetera. Sounds like the problem isn’t with Christ or His “wafer” but with unbelievers who give lip service. If you remember John 3:16 says “For God so loved the world that he gave His only begotten son, so whosoever BELIEVES will have eternal life.” Lots of people sit in a church, claim the name of Jesus but show they don’t believe His words. “Who are my father, my mother, my sister, my brothers but those who do the will of God.”

        I BELIEVE in the real presence. I don’t know understand how you could sit in protestant church and not feel like the sanctuary is missing “something.” I pray that your heart would be kindled again for the Eucharist and the treasure He is.

        Liked by 1 person

      9. Thanks, Andrea. No need to remind me. I am thoroughly familiar with 1 Corinthians 11. We certainly must take the Lord’s Supper with serious reverence and honest introspection, which some of the Corinthians were not doing. But there are immense problems with the literalist Catholic view and the theory of transubstantiation. In John 6:54, Jesus said, “Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life.” If those words were to be taken literally, as you propose, then just eating the Jesus wafer would provide eternal life, but I’m sure even you would not subscribe to that. Jesus clarifies in verse 63, “The Spirit gives life; the flesh counts for nothing.” Eating a Jesus wafer, does NOT give eternal life, it is belief (mentioned 10 times in John 6), i.e., trusting in Jesus Christ as Savior by faith alone that is the Narrow Door by which we enter into eternal life. I am always puzzled by Catholics who zealously contend for the particulars of their religion when their own pope and prelates teach that all religionists and even atheists are also able to merit their salvation according to “the light they have been given.” That is not Christianity. Find out for yourself. Read “The Gospel According to Rome” by James G. McCarthy.


      10. I think as a Protestant that the baby gets thrown out with the bath water. The Bible isn’t merely a book of empty symbols. Baptism remits sin, The Eucharist provides eternal life, and I could add more but you know your Bible but what you don’t actually understand is the Catholic faith. Just because you can’t understand it all doesn’t mean it is invalid.

        Liked by 1 person

      11. You presume much, Andrea. I actually understand the Catholic religion extremely well. I was a Roman Catholic for 27 years and have studied the religion quite extensively since then.
        There are a couple of serious problems with Catholicism’s literalist approach to John 6:54, “Whoever feeds on my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day.”
        1) – There are many, like the thief on the cross, who never received communion but will still be saved in Christ because they’re trusting in Him as their Savior by faith alone.
        2) – There are millions upon untold millions who received communion over the centuries who had no genuine inclination towards God or spirituality. The verse reads “Whoever feeds on my flesh…has eternal life.” Do you take that to be literally true with no qualifications? Even your church doesn’t go that far. The key to John 6 is belief/trust, NOT eating a faux Jesus wafer.


      12. Pray for some understanding! Jesus said, “If your hand or your foot causes you to stumble, cut it off and throw it away” (Mat. 18:8). Did Jesus literally mean to cut off your hand or foot? Jesus also said, “If your eye causes you to stumble, gouge it out and throw it away” (Mat. 18:9). Did He actually mean for someone to gouge their eye out? Pray for some spiritual discernment. Salvation does not come through your institutional religiosity. I’m puzzled by zealous Roman Catholics who defend the particulars of their religion when your pope and his prelates teach Muslims, Hindus, Buddhists, and even atheists can also merit Heaven if they “follow the light they are given’ and are “good.” In contrast, God’s Word says, “None is righteous, no, not one; no one understands; no one seeks for God. All have turned aside; together they have become worthless; no one does good, not even one.”
        Which is why Jesus had to die for us and only those who trust in Him by faith alone will be saved.


      13. Yes, btw, I do believe Jesus was that serious about sin.

        Salvation does not come from institutional religiosity! I can totally agree with that one. You cannot point out institutional religiosity and imply Catholics are guilty but you are not.

        Liked by 1 person

      14. Yes, Jesus was absolutely serious about sin, but sin begins in the heart. Sin is a heart problem not a hand or an eye problem (Matthew 15:19). Have you gouged out one of your eyes or severed one of your hands since you take Jesus’ words so literally and I imagine you have sinned with both? Come to think of it, I don’t think I’ve ever heard a single report about any Catholic literalist like yourself gouging their eye out or severing their hand.


    1. Thanks, Jimmy. I’ve never seen a term for the de-substantiation process, either from a Catholic or from an evangelical-critical source. A shopkeeper always pays more attention to the storefront than the back room.

      Liked by 2 people

      1. RE: Jesus for sure does not appreciate this.

        Actually, both Jesus and the apostle Paul had quite a few critical/condemnatory things to say about false teachers and their false gospels. Have you not read Paul’s epistles? The PC police would certainly have arrested him for his intolerant “hate speech.”

        Liked by 2 people

      2. Re: Jesus doesn’t appreciate this

        Matthew 7:21-23
        21 “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven.  22 On that day many will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many mighty works in your name?’  23 And then will I declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness.’

        Indeed he doesn’t. Given the corruption in the Roman Church, Jesus might say to them “I never knew you, depart from me you workers of lawlessness”.

        Liked by 1 person

      3. Hi Sally. A person who embraces as Christian pretty much EVERYONE who names Christ, even when they unabashedly profess and teach salvation by merit as the RCC does, is Rome’s polezni durak.


  3. Well, Pope Gelasius I denied transubstantiation and the Jesuit Edward Kilmartin confirms. So the witness of the 5th century Church of Rome denied a dogma of the present day Roman Church and Trent. Which means Trent placed him under an anathema. I wonder why?

    So given that Trent audaciously decided what Christianity was by elevating Transubstantiation to the level of dogma, thus placing Gelasius I and the rest of Christendom under an anathema, I wouldn’t be pointing fingers at others.

    Pope Gelasius I, Bishop of Rome (492-496): Surely the sacrament we take of the Lord’s body and blood is a divine thing, on account of which, and by the same we are made partakers of the divine nature; and yet the substance of the bread and wine does not cease to be. And certainly the image and similitude of Christ’s body and blood are celebrated in the action of the mysteries. (Tractatus de duabus naturis 14 [PL Sup.-III. 773]) See Francis Turretin, Institutes of Elenctic Theology, 3 Vols., trans. George Musgrave Giger and ed. James T. Dennison (Phillipsburg: reprinted by Presbyterian and Reformed Publishing Co., 1992), Vol. 3, p. 479 (XVIII.xxvi.xx).

    Edward J. Kilmartin, S.J.: According to Gelasius, the sacraments of the Eucharist communicate the grace of the principal mystery. His main concern, however, is to stress, as did Theodoret, the fact that after the consecration the elements remain what they were before the consecration. Edward J. Kilmartin, S.J., “The Eucharistic Theology of Pope Gelasius I: A Nontridentine View” in Studia Patristica, Vol. XXIX (Leuven: Peeters, 1997), p. 288.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. CCC 2010, “…Moved by the Holy Spirit and by charity, we can then merit for ourselves and for others the graces needed for our sanctification, for the increase of grace and charity, and for the attainment of eternal life.”

      CCC 2027, “Moved by the Holy Spirit, we can merit for ourselves and for others all the graces needed to attain eternal life, as well as necessary temporal goods.”


    2. I just love how these types never bother interacting with the material presented in the article. I have encountered a few of those people before, and always end up deleting them in moderation.

      Liked by 1 person

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