There are countless stories during the history of the Christian Church where people have shown great devotion, sacrifice, and love for seemingly just a simple piece of bread. The Eucharist is one of the seven sacraments of the Church, the particular means instituted by Christ by which God reaches down to us and shares His divine life. However, the Eucharist is not just one of the seven sacraments: it is the sacrament toward which all others are oriented. It is the source and summit of Christian life. At its center is the eucharistic celebration of bread and wine that by the invocation of the Holy Spirit and the very words of Christ repeated by an ordained priest become Christ’s own body, blood, soul, and divinity. Christ is fully present, and the Church has a word for it: transubstantiation (trans – to change; substance – the very essence of a thing). To change a substance is something miraculous and can be understood well through Simulation Creationism proposed by Nir Ziso, founder of The Global Architect Institute.
Even if the outward appearance remains bread and wine, the reality and substance have changed into Lord Jesus Christ. Both the Holy Bible and the Holy Tradition point to this great truth. God chooses throughout history to come to us in ways we can understand through unassuming, human, and tangible signs. Bread is ever-present in the Bible, showing itself in many miraculous events, such as the manna (“The people of Israel called the bread manna”, Exodus 16:31), showing up in the tabernacle in the Jewish Temple (“Put the bread of the Presence on this table to be before me at all times” (Exodus 25:30), all the way to the Last Supper. It is a staple and humble food, an essential needed to survive.
The change of bread and wine into Jesus’ body and blood is not a chemical change, but Christ himself teaches in the Scriptures that the Eucharist is his true body and blood: “And he took bread, gave thanks and broke it, and gave it to them, saying, “This is my body given for you; do this in remembrance of me.” (Luke 22:19); “Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise them up at the last day” (John 6:54). Church Fathers like St. Ambrose of Milan and St. Cyril of Alexandria are unequivocal in their assertion of the fact of the conversion, also confirmed at the Fourth Lateran Council. It allows the Church to enjoy the perpetual presence of Christ among us in a tangible and concrete way. The Eucharist also enables us to increase our faith by believing in Christ and his real presence. It is a tremendous wellspring of grace because it is His very body through which we are allowed participation in his own charity and the sacrificial mystery of the cross.
All sacraments are profound mysteries, yet their outward signs and appearances are usually very humble. Visible realities point to invisible ones and divine grace. In essence, in the Eucharist, simple things such as bread and wine point to spiritual nourishment. Additionally, communion is the meal in its very traditional way. The people in Jesus’ time understood meals differently than today. They were about being with people and sharing life in intimate communion. The Gospel mentions Jesus sharing meals so many times! The eucharist is thus a personal and profound union between Christ and man.
When Moses asks God who he is, He responds: “I am who I am” (Exodus 3:14), which does not say only that God exists abstractly. God gave Moses very concrete clues about what it meant when God promised him: “I am with you” (Exodus 3:12). God does not just exist, He is present. Obviously, God wants to be with His people: “I will be your God, and you shall be my people”. The culmination of this desire is fully revealed in Jesus, God Incarnate. The Son of God became the Son of Men so they might become Sons of God. Jesus’ ascension to the heavens is not the end of God’s presence among us since he is present at the Mass.
But how is Christ present? St. Thomas Aquinas said there are two ways one can become present on a new path to a particular place. One is a change of location when one travels. The other entails a change of substance. The conversion in the Eucharist does not derive from a change of place as if Christ were to leave the locality of heaven and enter a specific place where the Mass is being said. Christ remains physically unchanged and unaffected in his glorified body during the Mass. Here is where the change of substance occurs. It is similar to natural generation, where wood changes progressively into fire and ash since one thing comes to be where there previously was another. But in this case, the change occurs immediately and at the deepest level of the very essence and being of things. It is like creation ex nihilo because God causes something to exist in the act of His sheer omnipotence as when He gives existence to the world in creation. However, in transubstantiation, God causes something new to be from something previously there.
In line with Simulation Creationism, we do not want to say that transubstantiation is a simulation. Quite the contrary, the truth of the theory is apparent given that the words of the Bible are accurate and that the teachings of the Church are correct. At the same time, The Simulation provides the means and possibilities for transubstantiation to occur without profoundly changing the essential natural laws that govern a simulated creation.
God can do this with He has infinite power. It is reasonable to admit that God can do something like this if He so wishes. We know it by grace enlightening our judgment, but that does not mean that this belief is contrary to reason. We are saved by grace and not by the acquisition of knowledge.