The Roman Catholic Church sets forth its conception of the sacrament of the Lord’s Supper, very briefly, in its Profession of the Tridentine (of or pertaining to the Council of Trent) Faith, A.D. 1564, in paragraphs VI and VII, as follows: “I profess, likewise, that in the mass there is offered to God a true, proper, and propitiatory sacrifice for the living and the dead; and that in the most holy sacrament of the Eucharist there is truly, really, and substantially, the body and blood, together with the soul and divinity of our Lord Jesus Christ; and that there is made a change of the whole essence of the bread into the body, and of the whole essence of the wine into the blood; which change the Catholic Church calls transubstantiation . . . I also confess that under either kind alone Christ is received whole and entire, and a true sacrament.”
However, the Romish Church sets forth its conception of this sacrament more elaborately in the canons and decrees of the Council of Trent, in the thirteenth session of that council, held Oct. 11, 1551, under the title: Decree Concerning The Most Holy Sacrament of the Eucharist. We now quote from these canons and decrees.
On The Real Presence Of Our Lord Jesus Christ In The Most Holy Sacrament Of The Eucharist
In the first place, the holy Synod teaches, and openly and simply professes, that, in the august sacrament of the holy Eucharist, after the consecration of the bread and wine, our Lord Jesus Christ, true God and man, is truly, really, and substantially contained under the species of those sensible things. For neither are these things mutually repugnant—that our Savior himself always sitteth at the right hand of the Father in heaven, according to the natural mode of existing, and that, nevertheless, he be, in many other places, sacramentally present to us in his own substance, by a manner of existing, which, though we can scarcely express it in words, yet can we, by the understanding illuminated by faith, conceive, and we ought most firmly to believe, to be possible unto God: for thus all our forefathers, as many as were in the true Church of Christ, who have treated of this most holy Sacrament, have. most openly professed, that our Redeemer instituted this so admirable a sacrament of the last supper, when, after the blessing of the bread and wine, he testified, in-express and clear words, that he gave them his own very body, and his own blood, words which—recorded by the holy Evangelists, and afterwards repeated by Saint Paul, whereas they carry with them that proper and most manifest meaning by the Fathers—it is indeed a crime the most unworthy that they should be wrested, by certain contentious and wicked men, to fictitious and imaginary tropes, whereby the verity of the flesh and blood of Christ is denied, contrary to the universal sense of the Church, which, as the pillar and ground of truth, has detested, as satanical, these inventions devised by impious men; she recognizing, with a mind ever grateful and unforgetting, the most excellent benefit of Christ.
On The Reason Of The Institution Of This Most Holy Sacrament
Wherefore, our Savior, when about to depart out of this world to the Father, instituted this sacrament, in which he poured forth as it were the riches of his divine love towards men, making a remembrance of his wonderful works; and he commanded us, in the participation thereof, to venerate his memory, and to show forth his death until he come to judge the world. And he would also that this sacrament should be received as the spiritual food of souls, whereby may be fed and strengthened those who live with his life who said, He that eateth me, the same also shall live by me; and as an antidote, whereby we may be freed from daily faults, and be preserved from mortal sins. He would, furthermore, have it be a pledge of our glory to come; and everlasting happiness, and thus be a symbol of that one body whereof he is the head, and to which he would fain have us as members be united by the closest bond of faith, hope, and charity, that we might all speak the same things, and there might be no schisms amongst us.
On The Excellency Of The Most Holy Eucharist Over The Rest Of The Sacraments
The most holy Eucharist has indeed this in common with the rest of the sacraments, that it is a symbol of a sacred thing, and is a visible form of an invisible grace; but there is found in the Eucharist this excellent and peculiar thing, that the other sacraments have then first the power of sanctifying when one uses them, whereas in the Eucharist, before being used, there is the Author himself of sanctity. For the apostles had not as yet received the Eucharist from the hand of the Lord, when nevertheless himself affirmed with truth that to be his own body which he presented (to them). And this faith has ever been in the Church of God, that, immediately after the consecration, the veritable body of our Lord, and his veritable blood, together with his soul and divinity, are under the species of bread and wine, but the body indeed under the species of bread, and the blood under the species of wine, by the force of words; but the body itself under the species of bread, and the blood under the species of wine, and the soul under both, by the force of that natural connection and concomitancy whereby the parts of Christ our Lord, who hath now risen from the dead, to die no more, are united together; and the divinity, furthermore, on account of the admirable hypostatical union thereof with his body and soul. Wherefore it is most true, that as much is contained under either species as under both; for Christ whole and entire is under the species of bread, and under any part whatsoever of that species; likewise the whole (Christ) is under the species of wine, and under the parts thereof.
And because that Christ, our Redeemer, declared that which he offered under the species of bread to be truly his own body, therefore has it ever been a firm belief in the Church of God, and this holy Synod doth now declare it anew, that, by the consecration of the bread and of the wine, a conversion is made of the whole substance, of the bread into the substance of the body of Christ our Lord, and of the whole substance of the wine into the substance of his blood; which conversion is, by the holy Catholic Church, suitably and properly called Transubstantiation.
On The Cult And Veneration To Be Shown To This Most Holy Sacrament
Whereas, there is no room left for doubt, that all the faithful of Christ may, according to the custom ever received in the Catholic Church, render in veneration the worship of latria, which is due to the true God, to this most holy sacrament. For not therefore is it the less to be adored on this account, that it was instituted by Christ, the Lord, in order to be received; for we believe that same God to be present therein, of whom the eternal Father, when introducing him into the world, says: And let all the angels of God adore him; whom the Magi, falling down, adored; who, in fine, as the Scripture testifies, was adored by the apostles in Galilee.
The holy Synod declares, moreover, that very piously and religiously was this custom introduced into the Church, that this sublime and venerable sacrament be, with special veneration and solemnity, celebrated, every year, on a certain day, and that a festival; and that it be borne reverently and with honor in procession through the streets and public places. For it is most just that there be certain appointed holy days, whereon all Christians may, with a special and unusual demonstration, testify that their minds are grateful and thankful to their common Lord and Redeemer for so ineffable and truly divine a benefit, whereby the victory and triumph of his death are represented. And so indeed did it behoove victorious truth to celebrate a triumph over falsehood and heresy, that this her adversaries, at the sight of so much splendor, and in the midst of so great joy of the universal Church, may either pine away weakened and broken; or, touched with shame and confounded, at length repent.
On Reserving The Sacrament Of The Sacred Eucharist, And Bearing It To The Sick
The custom of reserving the holy Eucharist in the sacracium is so ancient, that even the age of the Council of Nicea recognized that usage. Moreover, as to carrying the sacred Eucharist itself to the sick, and carefully reserving it for this purpose in churches, besides that it is exceedingly conformable to equity and reason, it is also found enjoined in numerous councils, and is a very ancient observance of the Catholic Church. Wherefore, this holy Synod ordains that this salutary and necessary custom is to be by all means retained.
On The Preparation To Be Given That One May Worthily Receive The Sacred Eucharist
If it is unbeseeming for any one to approach to any of the sacred functions, unless he approach holily; assuredly, the more the holiness and divinity of this heavenly sacrament are understood by a Christian, the more diligently ought he to give heed that he approach not to receive it but with great reverence and holiness, especially as we read in the Apostle those words full of terror: He that eateth and drinketh unworthily, eateth and drinketh judgment to himself. Wherefore, he who would communicate, ought to recall to mind the precept of the Apostle: Let a man prove himself. No ecclesiastical usage declares that necessary proof to be, that no one, conscious to himself of mortal sin, how contrite soever he may seem to himself, ought to approach to the sacred Eucharist without previous sacramental confession. This the holy Synod hath decreed is to be invariably observed by all Christians, even by those priests on whom it may be incumbent by their office to celebrate, provided the opportunity of a confessor do not fail them; but If, in an urgent necessity, a priest should celebrate without previous confession, let him confess as soon as possible . . . (this far our quote from Chapter VII of these canons and decrees.—H.V.)
In the seventh chapter Rome would maintain that it is necessary, shall we observe this sacrament properly, to examine ourselves. But we should notice that also this examination must proceed along Roman Catholic lines. A man may ever be so contrite as far as he himself is concerned, this will not avail him unless he observes all the other sacraments of Rome, and this also includes the sacrament of penance as prescribed by Rome.