As Catholics, we believe something that no other religion nor any other Christian denomination believes: the Eucharist is 100% the Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity of our Lord Jesus Christ. It’s not part bread, part Jesus. It’s not a symbol. It IS Jesus. We believe in transubstantiation—the process by which the bread becomes fully and totally Jesus.
It’s not something that’s easy to grasp. Most of us are more like St. Thomas than we care to admit. We need to see to believe, so it’s really hard to believe that something that neither looks, feels, nor tastes like Jesus is in fact Jesus. “As a result of [this teaching], many of His former disciples returned to their former way of life and no longer accompanied Him” (John 6:66). His own disciples even struggled with this and abandoned Him.
As Catholics, we have persisted because unlike those disciples and our Protestant brothers and sisters, we take Jesus at His word regarding this teaching. “Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him on the last day. For my flesh is true food, and my blood is true drink” (John 6:54-55). Without the Eucharist, we do not have life in us. We are starving.