The Council of Trent was a definitive document written in response to doctrinal challenges posed by the protestant reformation. The decrees revitalized and consolidated the Roman Catholic Church in the face of protestant expansion. The council issued critical statements on sacraments, scripture, biblical canon, sin, justification, salvation, mass, and saints’ veneration. The council believed that Jesus is present in the bread and wine of the sacramental union. They condemned anyone who believed Jesus Christ was consumed spiritually and not sacramentally as per the doctrine. In this essay, I will focus on the Council of Trent’s decree on the Eucharist’s holy sacraments.
I object to the stance that Jesus Christ is consumed sacramentally. I believe that Jesus used the bread and wine in the communal meal as a symbol/ metaphor because it was one of his commonly-used teaching methods. Jesus instructed his disciples to drink the wine and eat bread in remembrance of Him. He asserted that the wine was his blood, which signified the new covenant for the remission of sins, while the bread signified his body.
In John 6, Jesus referred to himself as the bread of life. He said that he was the living bread, and whoever ate the bread would live forever. He later revealed that the bread was his flesh that gave eternal life to the world. Jesus also used symbolic language to preach to a Samaritan female at the well in Galilee. Jesus told the woman that anyone who drank water from the well would be thirsty again, but whoever drank the water He gave to them would never thirst again. In the above illustrations, Jesus did not mean that anyone who consumed his flesh or water would live eternally or would never be thirsty in their lives. Jesus was referring to the spiritual significance of his body and water, which gave eternal redemption. In other accounts, Jesus tells the crowd not to toil for food that perished, but instead labor for the food that lasts forever.
In my viewpoint, Jesus’ body represented his gospel of salvation, while his blood constituted the ultimate sacrifice that was needed to deliver believers from sin. Taken metaphorically, it makes sense to say that anyone who consumes/accepts the gospel of salvation shall live forever. There is considerable evidence in the Bible that supports the notion that receiving Jesus and the gospel will lead to everlasting life. Therefore, Jesus is consumed spiritually through the acceptance of his gospel and the remission of sin through his blood that was shed on the cross.
Contrary to my view, the Catholic Church believes that the wine and bread are translated into Christ’s blood and body, respectively. In chapter 2 of the decree, the council states that Jesus wished that the sacraments be taken to nourish the soul. The fourth canon of the sacramental decree states that anyone who doesn’t believe the body and blood of Jesus Christ are in the wondrous sacraments is an anathema. According to the council, the sacraments represented a visible form of the invisible grace of Jesus. Loosely translated, the sacraments are the perceivable representations of the redemption and poise of Jesus, and any person who takes the sacraments will receive the unseeable gracefulness. The council’s notion that taking Eucharist sacraments will result in Jesus’ grace is overly simplistic and contrary to scriptural guidelines. Christians can only attain redemption through the remission of sin and accepting the salvation gospel of Jesus Christ.
To sum up, the Council of Trent condemns anyone who doesn’t believe the concept that Jesus is present in the bread and wine of the sacramental union. Based on the Council’s translation, sacraments are physical representations of Jesus, and any person who takes it will receive God’s grace. Jesus is not present in the sacraments, and his grace cannot be received by solely taking the sacraments. The body and wine in the communal meal were used to symbolize Jesus’ gospel and the sacrificial blood that delivers us from sin. The Council’s translation of the scripture is literal and, therefore, erroneous and misleading.