In our preceding article, we called attention to the Romish view of the sacrament of the Lord’s Supper by quoting from the canons and decrees of the Council of Trent, and we quoted Chapters I through VII of these decrees. We now continue with these canons and decrees.
On the Use of this Admirable Sacrament
Now as to the use of this holy sacrament, our Fathers have rightly and wisely distinguished three ways of receiving it. For they have taught that some receive it sacramentally only, to wit, sinners: others spiritually only, those to wit who eating in desire that heavenly bread which is set before them, are, by a lively faith which worketh by charity, made sensible of the fruit and usefulness thereof: whereas the third (class) receive it both sacramentally and spiritually, and these are they who so prove and prepare themselves beforehand, as to approach to this divine table clothed with the wedding garment. Now as to the reception of the sacrament, it was always the custom in the Church of God that laymen should receive the communion from priests; but that priests when celebrating should communicate themselves; which custom, as coming down from an apostolic tradition, ought with justice and reason to be retained. And finally this holy Synod, with true fatherly affection, admonishes, exhorts, begs, and beseeches, through the bowels of the mercy of our God, that all and each of those who bear the Christian name would now at length agree and be of one mind in this sign of unity, in this bond of charity, in this symbol of concord; and that, mindful. of the so great majesty, and the so exceeding love of our Lord Jesus Christ, who gave his own beloved soul as the price of our salvation, and gave us his own flesh to eat, they would believe and venerate these sacred mysteries of his body and blood, with such devotion of soul, with such piety and worship, as to be able frequently to receive that super-substantial bread, and that it may be to them truly the life of the soul and the perpetual health of their mind; that being invigorated by the strength thereof, they may, after the journeying of this miserable pilgrimage, be able to arrive at their heavenly country, there to eat, without any veil, that same bread of angels which they now eat under the sacred veils.
But forasmuch as it is not enough to declare the truth, if errors be not laid bare and repudiated, it hath seemed good to the holy Synod to subjoin these canons, that all—the Catholic doctrine being already recognized—may now also understand what are the heresies which they ought to guard against and avoid.
In its canons (Rome’s “Rejection of errors”), the Council of Trent set forth what it considers to be heresies in regard to the sacrament of the Lord’s Supper.
CANON I.—If any one denieth that, in the sacrament of the most holy Eucharist, are contained truly, really, and substantially, the body and blood together with the soul and divinity of our Lord Jesus Christ, and consequently the whole Christ; but saith that he is only therein as in a sign, or in figure, or virtue: let him be anathema.
CANON II.—If any one saith, that, in the sacred and holy sacrament of the Eucharist, the substance of the bread and wine remains conjointly with the body and blood of our Lord Jesus Christ, and denieth that wonderful and singular conversion of the whole substance of the bread into the body, and of the whole substance of the wine into the blood—the species only of the bread and wine remaining—which conversion indeed the Catholic Church most aptly calls Transubstantiation: let him be anathema.
CANON III.—If any one denieth, that, in the venerable sacrament of the Eucharist, the whole Christ is not contained under each species, and under every part of each species, when separated: let him be anathema.
CANON IV.—If any one saith, that, after the consecration is completed, the body and blood of our Lord Jesus Christ are not in the admirable sacrament of the Eucharist, but (are there) only during the use, whilst it is being taken, and not either before or after; and that, in the hosts, or consecrated particles, which are reserved or which remain after communion, the true body of the Lord remaineth not: let him be anathema.
CANON V.—If any one saith, either that the principal fruit of the most holy Eucharist is the remission of sins, or that other effects do not result therefrom: let him be anathema.
CANON VI.—If any one saith, that, in the holy sacrament of the Eucharist, Christ, the only-begotten Son of God, is not to be adored with the worship, even external of latria; and is, consequently, neither to be venerated with a special festive solemnity, nor to be solemnly borne about in procession, according to the laudable and universal rite and custom of holy Church; or, is not to be proposed publicly to the people to be adored, and that the adorers thereof are idolaters: let him be anathema.
So, in these decrees and canons the Council of Trent sets forth the Romish view of this sacrament.
We also wish to call attention to the presentation of the Romish doctrine concerning the sacrament of the Lord’s Supper as set forth in the Radio Replies by the Fathers Rumble and Carty.
In Volume III, page 200, we read: 847. “I presume that the Eucharist is of supreme importance in your religion. It is. Since the Eucharist is the sacramental presence of Christ Himself in the Catholic Church, it cannot but be the very heart and soul of our religion, As a matter of fact, there is no true Christianity without the Eucharist any more than there is without the Incarnation itself.”
However, in connection with this statement by Rumble and Carty, it is nevertheless true that, although Rome has 7 sacraments, only 2 of those sacraments are considered absolutely necessary: baptism and penance. So, although the Eucharist is of supreme importance, it is not as absolutely necessary as the, sacraments of baptism and penance. And this is interesting, especially in the light of the fact that Rome quotes John 6:48-65 in support of its doctrine of transubstantiation. This passage from the gospel of John certainly emphasizes that the eating of Christ’s flesh and the drinking of His blood are certainly necessary unto salvation.
In Volume II several questions are asked of the Romish clergy and answered by them as follows:
761. What is the Host? Where, when, and by whom was it originated?
The word Host comes from the Latin word Hostia, meaning a victim. Now the victim in the sacrifice of Call vary was Jesus Christ, and He is forever the propitiation offering Himself to His father for our sins. And because He, our victim and offering to God, is in the Holy Eucharist, the consecrated wafer is often called simply the Host. The Host, then, is the Holy Sacrament of the Eucharist in which Jesus Christ is really and substantially present under the appearance of bread. The Host, or in other words, the Blessed Sacrament, was originated by Jesus Christ in the Supper Room at Jerusalem the night before He died, when He took bread into His hands and said, “This is My Body.” I Matt. XXVI:26.
(In this connection, we would ask the following questions. Where, in that entire Scriptural narrative as it occurred in that upper room, do we ever read that the bread and wine were changed into the body and blood of our Lord? Besides, Jesus stood before His disciples in His earthly body, as before His death upon the cross. Did, then, the bread and wine change into that earthly body, flesh of our Lord as before His death upon Calvary? The text says, does it not: “This is my body”? Understanding this text in the literal sense of the word, it certainly must mean, if it means anything, that that bread and wine were Jesus’ present body, flesh and blood.—H.V.)
762. Is it possible for the Roman Catholic Priesthood to change bread and wine into the Body and Blood of Christ?
It is. For the Catholic Priesthood is the Priesthood of Christ Himself communicated to those who are duly ordained as Catholic priests. It was Christ who took bread and wine, and said, “This is My Body,” and “This is My Blood.” After which He said to His Apostles, “Do this in commemoration of Me.” Christ thus first effected the change, and gave to others the power to effect the same change.
763. So priests are really the creators of their Creator!
They are not. In the first place, to create is to produce something from nothing. Obviously the conversion of the substance of bread into the substance of Christ’s body is not creation. (In this connection, I would make the following remark. We believe that to create, according to the Word of God, is more than merely to produce something from nothing. But, should this definition stand, it is certainly just as creative to change bread and wine into the body and blood of our Lord, as it is to make something out of nothing.—H.V.) Secondly, you still speak as if a priest, in his social capacity, were exercising his own proper and merely human powers. That is not so. It is the power and priesthood of Christ, communicated to him, which effects this sacramental change. If Christ could do it at the Last Supper, He is still able to do it by means of such human instruments as He designs to choose. Here the Creator obeys His own power insofar as that power has been committed to, and has been exercised by a priest. (This certainly means, does it not, that the power of the living God is completely dependent upon the priest, inasmuch as that Divine power has been committed to and is exercised by a priest.—H.V.)
764. Are the priests mightier or more powerful than God?
Most decidedly not. Your question is based upon the idea of a power independent of God, and in possible conflict with God. But the power by which a priest causes the presence of the Creator in the Eucharist is not a power independent of God; nor can it be opposed to God. It is Gods own power vested in the priest, and it is operative only when the priest fulfills duties appointed by God according to conditions established by God. To help you to understand this take the following example: If the King had a most trusted ambassador, and commissioned him to make certain arrangements in his name, agreeing to abide by those arrangements, and to whatever the ambassador might decide, the ambassador could say truly that he had full power, even over the King. Yet his power would be derived from the King, and, in fact, be the King’s own power exercised through Him. (In the meantime, however, that ambassador would surely have tremendous power; imagine, he could even say, truly, that he had full power, even over the King.—H.V.)