Rather than have this go on burried in a random forum, I thought I'd bring this one out in the open... The Church from the 1st century forward has posited that the Eucharist is Christ's real flesh, not mere bread and wine (and wine, not grapejuice!). Scripture seems to back this up. Christ's simple statement "this is my flesh" seems enough to me. "this is the cup of my blood, the blood of the new covenant" he says. This is the only time he mentions the new covenant. Moreover, he is the Lamb of God and there was no other lamb present at the passover they celebrated. They ate his flesh. His blood was the blood which now protected them from death. There's his entire discourse with the Jews of John 6 where 12 times he commands them to eat his flesh. The Greek word Christ uses for eat is "trogon", which means literally "to gnaw" or "masticate" or "to chew". "My flesh is food in deed, and my blood is drink in deed", says Christ. The Jews asked "how can this man give us his flesh to eat" when he said he was the bread come down from heaven. Jesus doesn't correct them. In Matthew 16:12, when people misunderstood a bread-based parable about "the leaven of the pharisees", he corrected them. Why no correction here? John 6:66 records that because of this many of his diciples left him. Why let them leave merely because Jesus himself hadn't been clear enough? And if it was metaphorical, what made it such a hard saying? Paul is pretty firm too. Paul in 1 Cor 10:16 asks the question, "the cup of blessing and the bread of which we partake, is it not an actual participation in Christ's body and blood?" In the next chapter he says "Therefore whoever eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord unworthily will have to answer for the body and blood of the Lord. A person should examine himself, and so eat the bread and drink the cup. For anyone who eats and drinks without discerning the body, eats and drinks judgment on himself." History also seems to be on the side of the catholic understanding. "They abstain from the Eucharist and from prayer, because they confess not the Eucharist to be the flesh of our Saviour Jesus Christ, which suffered for our sins, and which the Father, of His goodness, raised up again." Ignatius of Antioch, Epistle to Smyrnaeans, 7,1 (c. A.D. 110). "For not as common bread and common drink do we receive these; but in like manner as Jesus Christ our Saviour, having been made flesh and blood for our salvation, so likewise have we been taught that the food which is blessed by the prayer of His word, and from which our blood and flesh by transmutation are nourished, is the flesh and blood of that Jesus who was made flesh." Justin Martyr, First Apology, 66 (c. A.D. 110-165). "[T]he bread over which thanks have been given is the body of their Lord, and the cup His blood..." Irenaeus, Against Heresies, IV:18,4 (c. A.D. 200). This is only the beginning of the defense I am willing to give, but for the sake of brevity (and I've already posted much) I will end here. I'd certainly like everyone's takes on this issue.