By Switzer, John
U.S. Catholic , Vol. 76, No. 8
When considering the Catholic Church, perhaps nothing stands out so obviously as the Mass. Eucharist, according to the Second Vatican Council, is both the "source and summit" of Christian life. Using bread and wine, at Mass we celebrate a communal sharing of the true presence of the risen Christ in these elements, which change from bread and wine into this sacrament of Christ. This is known as transubstantiation, a theological term used by Latin (Western) Christians, and it is a central belief of the Roman Catholic Church. So why does the creed make no mention of it?
The creedal formula we normally profess on Sunday is known to theologians as the Nicene-Constantinopolitan Creed, because it is derived from two fourth-century councils. The greater part of this statement of faith is dedicated to the trinitarian nature of God because this was the raging debate of the day.
At this time the eucharistic presence of Christ was not a source of contention. Several centuries were needed before the church would ask whether this presence could be seen with the eyes in our head or only with the eyes of faith.
Although belief in Christ's presence was an ancient doctrine,
the particular terminology of transubstantiation had not yet been created. Early creedal debates took place in Greek and were centered mostly in the East while the later debates over the Eucharist occurred in Latin and took place in the West. …