IV. THE MATTER AND FORM OF THE SACRAMENT OF THE EUCHARIST.

 

 

 

44. As to the matter of the Eucharist, there is no doubt but that we should use that alone which was used by Jesus Christ that is, bread of wheat, and wine of the vine, as we learn from St. Matthew (xxv, 26), St. Mark (xiv, 12), St. Luke (xxii, 19), and St. Paul (1. Cor. xi, 27). This is what the Catholic Church has always done, and condemned those who dared to make use of any other matter, as is proved in the Third Council of Carthage (c. 27), which was held in the year 397. Estius (1) says that consecration can be performed with any sort of bread wheaten, barley, oaten, or millet; but St. Thomas (2) writes, that it is with bread of wheat alone it can be done, but still that bread made of a sort of rye, which grows from wheat sown in poor soil, is also matter for the consecration : ” Et ideo si qua frumenta sunt, quas ex semine tritici generari possunt, sicut ex grano tritici seminato malis terris nascitur siligo, ex tali frumento panis confectus potest esse materia hujus Sacramenti.” He, therefore, rejected all other bread, and this is the only opinion we can follow in practice. Doctors have disputed, as we may see in the works of Mabillon, Sirmond, Cardinal Bona, and others, whether unleavened bread, such as the Latins use, or leavened bread, as used by the Greeks, is the proper matter for the Sacrament. There is not the least doubt but that the consecration is valid in either one or the other; but, at present, the Latins are prohibited from consecrating in leavened, and the Greeks in unleavened, bread, according to a Decree of the Council of Florence, in 1429 : “Definimus in azimo, sive in fermentato pane triticeo Corpus Christi veraciter confici, Sacerdotesque in alterutro ipsum Domini Corpus conficere debent, unum quenque scilicet juxta suæ Eeclesise Occidentalis, sive Orientalis consuetudinem.” The matter of the consecration of the blood should be common wine, pressed from ripe grapes; and, therefore, the liquor expressed from unripe grapes, boiled wine, or that which has become vinegar, cannot be used. Must, however, or the unfermented juice of the grape, will answer; but it should not be used without necessity.

 

(1) Æstius, in 4, dist. S, c. 6. (2) St. Thorn, q. 74, art. 3, ad 2,

 

45. As to the quantity of bread and wine to be consecrated, it is quite sufficient that it be apparent to the senses, be it ever so little; it must, however, be certain, and of a known quantity, and morally present.  According to the intention of the Church, and as St. Thomas teaches (3), a greater number of particles should not be consecrated than is sufficient to give communion to that number of people who are expected to receive within the time that the species would keep without corrupting. From this Peter de Marca concludes (4), that it is not in the power of a Priest to consecrate all the bread in a shop, for example; the consecration in this case, he says, would be invalid, though others assert it would only be illicit. Theologians also dispute of the validity of consecration, when performed for the purposes of witchcraft, or to expose the Host to the insult of unbelievers.

 

46. We now have to treat of the form of the Eucharist. Luther (5) says, that the words of Christ alone,” This is my body,” are not sufficient to consecrate, but that the whole liturgy must be recited. Calvin (6) said, that the words were not necessary at all for consecration, but only to excite faith. Some Greek schismatics, Arcudius (7) informs us, said that the words, ” This is,” &c., being once expressed by Christ, were sufficient in themselves to consecrate all the Hosts offered up ever after.

 

47. Some Catholics taught that Christ consecrated the Eucharist by his occult benediction, without any words at all, by the excellence of his power; but ordained the form, at the same time, for man to use in consecration. 

 

(3) St. Thom. 3, p. q. 73, art. 2..  (4) Petr. de Marca Diss. posthuma de Sacrif. Missa. (5) Luther, l. de Abrog. Missa (6) Calvin, Inst. l. 4, c. 17, sec. 39.  (7) Arcud. l. 3, c. 28.

 

This opinion was held by Durandus (8), Innocent III. (9), and especially by Catherinus (10), but as Cardinal Gotti(ll) informs us, it is now not held by any one, and some even say it was branded as rashness to hold it. The true and general doctrine is, as St. Thomas teaches (12), that Jesus Christ consecrated, when he expressed the words, ” This is my body, this is my blood,” and that the priest, at the present day, consecrates in the same manner, expressing the same words, in the person of Christ, and this not historically narrative, but significantly significative that is, by applying this meaning to the matter before him, as the generality of Doctors teach with St. Thomas (13).   

 

48. Catherinus says, also, that besides the words of our Lord, it is necessary, in order to consecrate, to add the prayers which, in the Latin Church, precede, and in the Greek, follow, the act; and the learned Oratorian, Father Le Brun (14), follows this opinion, likewise. The general opinion of theologians agreeing with St. Thomas (15), is, that Christ consecrated with the very same words as Priests do at present, and that the prayers of the Canon of the Mass are obligatory, but not necessary for consecration, so that it would be valid without them. The Council of Trent (Sess. xiii, c. 1) declares that our Saviour, ” Post panis vinique benedictionem se suum ipsius corpus illis præbere, ac suum sanguinem disertis ac perspicuis verbis testatus est : quæ verba a sanctis Evangelistis commemorata, et a D. Paulo postea repetita, cum propriam illam et apertissimam significationem præ se ferant, secundum quam a Patribus intellecta sunt,” &c. Were not the words, ” Take and eat; this is my body,” as the Evangelists inform us, clearly demonstrative that Christ gave his disciples his body to eat ? It was by these words, then, and no other, that he converted the bread into his body, as St. Ambrose writes (16) : ” Consecratio igitur quibus verbis est, et cujus sermonibus ? Domini Jesu. Nam reliqua omnia, quæ dicuntur, laudem Deo deferunt; oratio præmittitur pro Popolo, pro Regibus, pro ceteris; ubi venitur ut conficiatur venerabile Sacramentum, jam non suis sermonibus Sacerdos, sed utitur sermonibus Christi.”

 

(8) Durand. Z. 4. de Div. Offic. c. 41, n. 13 (9) Innoc. III. l 4, Myst. c. 6. (10) Ap. Tournelly Comp. de Euch. qu. 4, a. 6, p. 184. (11) Gotti, Theol. du Euch. qu. 2, sec. l,n.2. (12) St. Thom. 3, p. q. 78, a. 1.  (13) St. Thom, loc. cit. a. 5.  (14) Le Brun, t. 3, rer. Liturg. p. 212. (15) St. Thom 3, p. q. 78, a. 5.  (16) St. Ambrose, de Sacramen. t 4, c . 4.

 

St. John Chrysostom (17), speaking of the same words, says : ” Hoc verbum Christi transformat ea, quæ oposita sunt.” And St. John of Damascus says : ” Dixit pariter Deus, Hoc est corpus meum, ideoque omnipotenti ejus præepto, donee veniat, efficitur.”

 

49. The same Council (Cap. 3) says : ” Et semper hæc fides in Ecclesia Dei fuit, statim post consecrationem verum Domini nostri Corpus, ver unique ejus sanguinem sub panis et vini specie existere ex vi verborum.” Therefore, by the power of the words that is, the words mentioned by the Evangelists instantly after the consecration, the bread is converted into the body, and the wine into the blood, of Jesus Christ. There is a great difference between the two sentences, ” This is my body,” and ” We beseech thee that the body of Jesus Christ may be made for us,” or, as the Greeks say, ” Make this bread the body of Christ;” for the first shows that the body of Christ is present at the very moment in which the sentence is expressed, but the second is only a simple prayer, beseeching that the oblation may be made the body, not in a determinative, but a suspended and expectative sense. The Council says that the conversion of the bread and wine into the body and blood of Christ takes place vi verborum, not vi orationum, by the power of the words, and not by the power of the prayers. St. Justin says (18) : ” Eucharistiam confici per preces ab ipso Verbo Dei profectas ;” and he afterwards explains that these prayers are : ” This is my body;” but the prayer in the Canon was not pronounced by the Word of God himself. St. Iræneus(19) says, also: ” Quando mixtus calix, et factus panis percipit verbum Dei, fit Eucharistia corporis Christi.” We do not find that Christ, in consecrating, used any other words but those : ” This is my body, and this is my blood.” Taking all this into consideration, we must decide that the opinion of Le Brun has not a sound foundation of probability.

 

 (17) St. Chrisost. Hom. 1 de Prod. Judæ. (18) St. Justin, Apol. 2. (19) St. Iræn. l. 5, c. 2.

 

50. Several Fathers (say the supporters of this opinion) teach that the Eucharist is consecrated both by  prayer and by the words of Christ. We answer, that by the word prayer they mean the very expression ” This is my body,” used by Christ, as St. Justin (20) expressly states, that the prayer by which the Eucharist is consecrated is the words, ” This is my body,” &c. St. Iræneus had previously said the same (21), that the Divine invocation by which the Eucharist is made is the Divine word. St. Augustine (22) says that the mystic prayer (23) by which the- Eucharist is made consists in the words of Christ, ” This is my body,” &c., as the forms of the other Sacraments are called prayers, because they are holy words which have the power of obtaining from God the effect of the Sacraments. They object to us, also, some Liturgies, as those of St. James, St. Mark, St. Clement, St. Basil, and St. John Chrysostom, which would make it appear that besides the words of Christ other prayers are requisite for consecration, as we have in the Canon : ” Quæsumus ut nobis corpus, et sanguis fiat delectissimi Filii tui,” &c. The same prayer is also used in the Greek Mass, but, as Bellarmin writes (24), when the Greeks were asked by Eugenius IV. what was the reason that they used the prayer ” that this may become the body,” &c., after having already expressed the words of consecration, ” This is my body,” &c., they answered that they added this prayer, not to confirm the consecration, but that the Sacrament might assist the salvation of the souls of those who received it.

 

51. Theologians (25) say, notwithstanding, that it is not an article of Faith that Christ did consecrate with these words, and ordained that with these words alone priests should consecrate, for although this is the general opinion, and most consonant with the sentiments of the Council of Trent, still it is not anywhere declared to be an article of faith by the Canon of the Church; and although the Holy Fathers have given it the weight of their authority, they have never laid it down as a matter of faith. Salmeron mentions (loc cit.) that the Council of Trent being entreated to explain the form with which Christ consecrated this Sacrament, the Fathers judged it better not to define anything on the subject.

 

(20) St. Justin Apol. 2. (21) St. Iren. l. 4, c. 24, & l. 3, c. 2. (22) St. Aug. Serm. 28, de Verb. Do. (23) Idem, de Trinit. c. 4.  (24) Bellar. l. 4 de Euchar. c. 19.  (25) Salmeron. t. 9, trac. 13, p. 88; Tournell. de Euchar. 9, 4, a. 6, vers. Quær.

 

Tournelly (26) replies to all the objections made by those who wish to make it a matter of faith. If it is not a matter of faith, however, still, as St. Thomas teaches, it is morally certain (27), and we cannot even say that the contrary opinion is probable. The priest, then, would commit a most grievous sin, if he omitted the preceding prayers, but still his consecration would be valid. It is debated among authors, whether any other words unless these, ” This is the Chalice of my blood,” though the remainder is laid down in the Missal, are essentially necessary for the consecration of the blood. In our Moral Theology (28) the reader will find the point discussed. Several hold the affirmative opinion, and quote St. Thomas in their favour, who says (29) : “Et ideo ilia quæ sequuntur sunt essentialia sanguini, prout in hoc Sacramento consecratur, et ideo oportet, quod sint de substantia Formæ;” the opposite opinion, however, is more generally followed, and those who hold it deny that it is opposed to the doctrine of St. Thomas, for he says that the subsequent words appertain to the substance but not to the essence of the form, and hence they conclude that these words do not belong to the essence, but only to the integrity of the form, so that the priest who would omit them would commit a grievous sin undoubtedly, but still would validly consecrate.

 

52. We should remark here that the Council of Trent (Sess. xxii), condemned in nine Canons nine errors of the Reformers concerning the Sacrifice of the Mass, as follows : First that the Mass is not a true Sacrifice, and that it is only offered up to administer the Eucharist to the Faithful. Second That by these words, “Do this in commemoration of me,” Christ did not institute the Apostles Priests, or ordain that the Priests should offer up his body and blood. Third That the Mass is only a thanksgiving or remembrance of the Sacrifice of the Cross, but not a propitiatory Sacrifice, or that it is useful only to those who communicate at it. Fourth That this Sacrifice is derogatory to the Sacrifice of the Cross. Fifth That it is an imposture to celebrate Mass in honour of the Saints, and to obtain their intercession. Sixth That there are errors in the Canon. Seventh That the ceremonies, vestments, and signs used in the Catholic Church are incentives to impiety. Eighth That private Masses, in which the Priest alone communicates, are unlawful. Ninth That the practice of saying part of the Canon in a low voice should be condemned; that it all ought to be said in the vulgar tongue, and that the mixture of water with the wine in the Chalice should also be condemned. All these errors I have refuted in my work against the Reformers.  

 

(26) Tournell. loc. cit. p. 191, v. Dices. 1. (27) St. Thorn. 3 p. 9, 78, a. 1, ad 4. (28) Liguor. Theol. Moral t. 2,  dub. 6 de Euch. &c.  (29) St. Thom, in 4 Dist. 8, q. 2, ar. 2, q. 2.