Mark Hart

Consubstantial: What Does That Mean?

The day has finally arrived! We prayed the new Roman Missal at Mass for the last two Sundays. Did you like it? Do you remember the part of the Creed where we professed believing that Jesus is “consubstantial” with the Father? In case you were confused about what that big, fancy word means, here’s an excerpt from the book “More Than Words” that explains it. You can purchase the book in the Life Teen Store to help you understand all the words in the Mass that are different!


If you've ever had a best friend or been completely in love, or if you've known someone almost your whole life, you know what it is like to say 'We're basically the same person.' If you've known twins, you've probably noticed how they seem to know what the other is thinking, whether they are identical or not. If you've attended a wedding and heard the priest reference that the two become one flesh (Mark 10:8), you know that there is a sacred joining of two together.

But when we talk about the union of God the Father with God the Son, it is not enough to just say that they are the same. They are both God … one God in three unique Persons. By asking us to now use the word consubstantial when we pray the Creed (remember, the Creed is a statement of what we believe as Catholics) the Church is reminding us of the importance of professing that the Father and the Son are the exact same substance.

That means we believe that what they are made of, what they both are at their very core, is the same, just as Jesus Himself said: 'The Father and I are one' (John 10:30).

This is an excerpt from "More Than Words." Buy it today in the Life Teen Store.

The Church believes that Christ must be consubstantial (of the same substance) with the Father because He was fully God. He is not 'half God, half man.' He is not some other God. He is not a 'lesser God.' He is the same God as the Father and the Holy Spirit. Thus, Jesus Christ must be the same substance as the Father and the Holy Spirit.

This is one of the ways we try to understand the mystery of the Holy Trinity. We will now say that Jesus is consubstantial with the Father when we pray the Creed; it might call you to go deeper in Scripture to try and understand Jesus. The more you read, especially in the Gospels, you'll start to see why this is such an important part of what we believe about Jesus. You might also want to check out the Catechism of the Catholic Church, paragraphs 242, 262, 467, and 663, for some further explanation.

Pray that you will understand Jesus Christ, who is fully God and fully man.

One final note if you want to go a little deeper: the idea of the Father and Son being consubstantial is one of the ways that the early Church answered against heresies about who Jesus was. When some wanted to say that Jesus was not fully human or was not fully God, or when others did not believe that He was eternal, the Church professed her belief that Jesus and the Father are One God of the same substance. The concept of homoousion, which is now translated into consubstantial, was first clearly articulated at the Council of Nicea in 325 AD (which is where the Nicene Creed came from).

Mark Hart

About the Author

My childhood plan was to be a jedi. My teenage plan was to be on Saturday Night Live. God's plan was to have me in ministry. God won - and I'm glad He did.