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Doctrine of the Real Presence in the Encyclical "Mediator Dei"

by Fr. John A. Hardon, S.J.

Shortly before his elevation to the Pontificate, Cardinal Pacelli was commissioned by Pius XI to preside at the International Eucharistic Congress in Budapest in 1938. In the opening address on May 25, he exhorted the assembled multitude to cultivate their faith in the Blessed Sacrament with as much devotion as they would give to the study of Christ Himself, because the Eucharist, he told them, is Christ. “It is that unsearchable mystery by which we believe that the earthly life of Christ our Redeemer, though apparently closed at His Ascension into heaven, still goes on and will go on until the end of time. It is nothing less than the invisible continuation now of His visible presence in times past.” [1]

Ten years later, as Sovereign Pontiff, he was to repeat these sentiments and make them the central idea of his Encyclical on the Sacred Liturgy. For although other Eucharist doctrines are also developed in the “Mediator Dei,” this one of the perfect identity between Christ as the Word Incarnate and Christ as present in the Eucharist is fundamental and presupposed in everything else that the Pope says.

The “Mediator Dei” was directly addressed only to Christians in communion with the Holy See and, among these, primarily to those of the Latin Rite. “The reason,” for this limitation, “lies in a special situation prevailing in the Western Church; of sufficient importance, it would seem, to require this exercise of our authority.” [2] But why lay stress on such an obvious Catholic dogma as the Real Presence in writing to professed Catholics? Since the sixteenth century, when the Reformers called the doctrine into question, the Church has condemned anyone who “denies that in the Most Holy Eucharist is contained truly, really and substantially the body and blood, together with the soul and divinity of Our Lord Jesus Christ.” [3] No Catholic, therefore, who values his faith, would think of denying the Real Presence of Christ in the Eucharist. But there has been evidence, the Pope says, that a “special situation” has arisen in the Western Church in recent years that calls for a restatement of this Mystery of Faith, which is “the culmination and center of the Christian religion.” [4]

Papal Protest Against Subtle And Dangerous Errors

Towards the end of 1942, the Archbishop of Fribourg, in Switzerland, sent a memorandum to the bishops of Austria, in which he deplored the conduct of certain liturgists who were “disturbing the masses of the people” by their strange and, as he felt, unorthodox teachings. He singled out for special mention those “who claim that there is a mysterious kind of existential and somatic union between Christ and the Christian, with disastrous consequences for the doctrine of grace and the Sacraments.” [5] Pius XII was more specific. Speaking to the bishops of the whole world, he warns them: “It is essential that you watch vigilantly lest the enemy come into the field of the Lord and sow cockle among the wheat. In other words, do not let your flocks be deceived by subtle and dangerous errors of false mysticism or quietism. Watch with diligence lest the false teaching of those be propagated who wrongly think and teach that the glorified human nature of Christ really and continually dwells in the ‘just’ by His presence, and that one and numerically the same grace, as they say, unites Christ with the members of His Mystical Body.” [6]

Mystical Theories That Are Now Condemned

Neither the Archbishop nor the Pope mentions any names, but they are not hard to identify. In a current popular manual on the Mystical Body, we read: “The meaning of the phrase, ‘Body in Christ.’ (Rom., xii. 5), is that the Body by which Christians are formed is to be identified with the pneumatic Christ, who is the source of Divine Life, and the origin of charismatic graces and of (all) moral and religious activity. The indwelling of Christ in the faithful described in the expression, ‘Christ in us,’ is not to be limited to an impersonal force operating in the Christian. It should be taken literally to mean the presence and activity of the pneumatic Christ in man. The Body of Christ which constitutes the Church can be said to be Christ because the pneumatic Christ is incorporated in it, because He gives to it the principle of activity and manifests Himself visibly by means of it.” [7]

With proper distinctions the above statement might be defended, although it is dangerously close to the physical indwelling of Christ condemned by the Holy Father. Less cautious and clearly censured in the “Mediator Dei” are a number of mystical theories that first appeared in the late thirties, and are still accepted in some quarters as at least “not lacking probability.” [8] “The Body of Christ,” it is said, speaking of the Mystical Body, “is none other than the real, personal Body which once lived and died and was glorified, and with which in the Eucharist, (sacramental) Bread is identified.” [9]

Another author places the question: “Why did Christ establish that union between Himself and us, wherein He is the Vine and we are the branches?” He answers: “So that He might join us to the Divinity. But in what kind of union? In a union so close that we become filled with the Divinity in the same way as the humanity of Christ was joined to the Godhead.” He goes on: “Christ as man dwells physically in the souls of the just and they dwell physically in His humanity. This union between Christ and ourselves constitutes the Mystical Body, making it one personality, which is not metaphorical but real, whose new vital principle is the same as that of the risen, glorified Christ.” [10]

Presence Of Christ In The Individual Soul

These writers are all Catholics, and therefore committed to explain the function of the Holy Eucharist in the economy of salvation. Not an easy task, under the circumstances. Without the Eucharist, it is argued, the pneumatic life of Christ in the members of the Mystical Body cannot be sustained. But given the permanent existence of Christ’s humanity in the souls of the elect - and in this theory everyone in sanctifying grace belongs to the Mystical Body - what justification is there for the Eucharist at all, much less for its frequent reception? If the God-Man really dwells in the souls of all those who belong to the Mystical Body, what reality is left to attribute to His presence in the Eucharist? Why single out the Eucharistic species, if the Lord is also and equally present, in His human nature, in the soul of every person in the state of grace? To still speak of the humanity of Christ as contained under the appearance of bread and wine would only be to use a metaphor, because the Eucharist, for all its reputed importance as an “aliment of the Mystical Body,” would not give a man any more than he already has, as soon as and as long as he is in the grace of God.

Anglican Writers Influenced By Condemned Mysticism

It is instructive to see what effect this sort of doctrine has had on various members of the Anglican Communion, like Mascall and Farrer, who were sympathetic to the papal teaching on the Mystical Body, but who allowed themselves to be taken in by the false mysticism which the Pope condemned. Mascall also supposes that the humanity of the Word Incarnate abides physically in the souls of the just. Then he makes the illation that the glorified body of Christ and His Mystical Body must be one and the same thing. But then how explain the Eucharist, and what purpose does it serve? “If the one perfect act of worship is being offered by Christ in His glorified natural body in heaven, and if the Mystical Body and the natural body are identical, might it not seem that we make our perfect act of worship simply by being devout members of the Mystical Body without there being any need for the Sacramental Body in the Eucharist?” [11]

An obvious difficulty and one that every Catholic would have to answer if he adopted the theory that Christ and all Christians coalesce into one physical person. Why confine the human nature of Christ, on earth, to the Blessed Sacrament, when you have this human nature dwelling in every member of the Mystical Body antecedent to Holy Communion? Either the Real Presence does not really contain Christ’s humanity, or Christ’s humanity does not really dwell in the souls of the just. There seems to be no escaping the dilemma, unless, as Mascall does, we distinguish between “humanity” and humanity. “The Sacramental Body,” he explains, “is in a quite definite sense perfect, while the Mystical Body is not. All the sinlessness of Christ’s glorified human nature is manifested in the Eucharist, wherein He communicates Himself to us and unites us to Himself in the integrity and splendor of His spotless humanity. The offering of Himself to the Father which He makes there is unsullied by any flaw.

The Mystical Body, in contrast, is made up of sinful human beings, whose incorporation into Christ, while in the truest sense a new birth and communication of Christ’s own life, has not restored at one stroke all that sin has destroyed. In addition, the Mystical Body is woefully incomplete, for many who will one day belong to it are not members of it as yet.

In consequence, while on the side of Him who is its Head, the Mystical Body is perfect and entire just because it is His, on the side of those who are its members it is maimed and undeveloped. It needs, therefore, for its healing and its growth to be brought into repeated relations with the glorified Body which is its archtype, and this is done in the Eucharist.” [12]

Dr. Farrer is more concise and explicit. “The Glorified Body,” he writes, “is the Mystical Body - that is, the second has no reality that is not the reality of the first.” This is clarity without a scruple. And the Eucharist? “What the Eucharist means is the creation of the Mystical Body by partaking of the glorified Body - not yet in the fulness of Resurrection being, but in that spiritual anticipation of it that we have tried to set forth.” [13]

Distinction Between Physical And Social Body Of Christ

Unquestionably, the nexus between Christ and His members in the Church is most intimate, but not so intimate as those imagine whom Pius XII condemned in two Encyclicals, “Mystici Corporis” and “Mediator Dei.” There are some, he said in the earlier document, who overlook the fact that St. Paul was using metaphorical language in speaking of the Mystical Body. They fail to distinguish between the physical and social body of Christ and therefore, “want the Divine Redeemer and the members of the Church to coalesce into one physical person.” [14]

Once the two are identified by postulating the indwelling of the God-Man, as man, as the equivalent of sanctifying grace, we have reduced His presence in the Eucharist to the fantastic theory excogitated by Luther in his controversy with Zwingli. Luther had denied the Catholic doctrine of transubstantiation and in its place invented what he called “consubstantiation,” according to which the substance of bread and wine remain, though the Body and Blood of Christ become really present along with them.

Zwingli objected that even consubstantiation implied a miraculous interference with the laws of nature, and should be rejected just as much as transubstantiation. Luther countered this by inventing the doctrine of the “ubiquity of Our Lord’s humanity,” precisely in order to assert the non-miraculous nature of His consubstantiation.

As Our Lord is everywhere as man, He is already in and with the bread and wine, and no miracle is involved in their “consecration.” Moreover, He is already in the soul of the believer, even before Communion is received. Thus the whole function of the Eucharist is not to bring about or add to the presence of Christ in the soul of the believer, but, by stimulating his faith, to increase his consciousness of that presence. Luther’s own followers drew the simple inference that, if this is true, then the Real Objective Presence is unnecessary. [15] By the same token, our modern theorists nullify the Blessed Sacrament when they conceive the Church as a colossal hypostatic union, and make the Mystical Body itself a single cosmic Eucharist, in which human beings are the visible species, and the human nature of Christ is the invisible contents.

Exaggerations Of Some Liturgical Zealots

The “Mediator Dei” is, in large part, a defense of traditional Eucharistic doctrine against the exaggerations of liturgical zealots who, by their over-emphasis on one phase of the Holy Eucharist, were endangering the very essence of the Sacrament itself, namely, the dogma of the Real Presence. One of their special grievances is the Jansenism of that popular piety which forgets that “Jesus Christ is no longer a distant and solemn Personage whom a cringing worshipper contemplates hidden under the Eucharistic Species; that He is no longer, as some people are fond of making Him out, a ‘Prisoner’ who is fettered for love of us in the darkness of the tabernacle, but that He is more than a friend; more than a brother; that He is the ‘Incomparable Leader’ whose members we are; that He is the glorious Head whose arms and hands and organs we are, vitalized by the same blood that He lives by, animated by the same soul that He has, which is the Holy Spirit.” [16]

The author of this apostrophe is a former professor of philosophy at the College of Nantes, a number of whose writings have been “couronnés par l’Académie Francaise,” and the volume from which the above selection was taken, has gone through eighteen editions and has been translated into several European languages, including English and Italian.

Undogmatic Implications Of Certain Pious Expressions

More recently, a correspondent in the Maison Dieu lined up all the different expressions which characterize modern piety relative to the Blessed Sacrament, and which he believes symbolize the false notions which this piety has produced in the minds of the faithful. “Prisoner of the tabernacle, Christ hidden under the Eucharist veils, the pure white Host,” are severely criticized for their undogmatic implications. “How can anyone,” he asks, “speak of Christ in the Eucharist as a prisoner, except by allowing the imagination, enslaved by external appearances, to dictate to his reason? A strange prisoner, indeed, who is present in millions of prisons and at the same time reigns glorious and free in heaven!”

“Jesus is the very opposite of a prisoner. Granted that His Body was held captive for a few hours in the grave, He has since broken the chains which held Him bound. So far from being a prisoner, He is a Liberator, who sets other prisoners free.

“Can we justify the expression, ‘Prisoner of the tabernacle,’ on the grounds that the Eucharistic Christ is more than anything else ‘a suffering Christ’? But Jesus has specifically told us that even in His Passion and death, He was always sovereignly free.

“In presenting Christ to the faithful under this aspect, we encourage them to weep over Christ and to sympathize with His unfortunate state, where actually people should have recourse to the Eucharist as to a source of happiness and strength.” [17]

According to this school, therefore, Catholic Eucharistic devotion has deviated from the straight path of tradition by concentrating on the “static” presence of Christ in the Blessed Sacrament. The result has been an obscuration of the different states of Christ, as He was and as He actually is, instead of the clarity that would be there if the imagination did not intrude.

Identity Of The Eucharistic And Historical Christ

However, the Pope has no such fears. “It is not to be admitted,” he says, “that by this Eucharistic cult - towards the presence of Christ in the tabernacle - men falsely confound the historical Christ, as they say, who once lived on earth, with the Christ who is present in the august Sacrament of the Altar, and who reigns glorious and triumphant in heaven, and bestows supernatural favors.” [18]

As a matter of fact, this identity of the Eucharist and historical Christ can be obscured in the minds of the people because it imposes such a burden on their faith. In at least two diocesan synods in recent years, the priests were told to instruct the faithful not to pay more attention to the pictures and statues in church than to the Blessed Sacrament. Thus, “pastors and rectors of churches are to make every effort to correct the abusive practice of those people who, when they enter the church, seem to be more and, in fact, solely concerned with showing signs of reverence to some statue or other and simply neglect to adore the Blessed Sacrament of the Eucharist.” [19]

Certainly the problem is not to keep the people from making Christ in the Blessed Sacrament too historical, but in having them realize that He is historical at all. But what does the Pope mean when he says that by their devotion to the Real Presence, “the faithful bear witness to and solemnly avow the faith of the Church that the Word of God is identical with the Son of the Virgin Mary, who suffered on the Cross, who is present in a hidden manner in the Eucharist, and who reigns upon His heavenly throne”? [20]

Wherein Does This Identity Persist

The term “identical” has to be analyzed before it means anything. Arius, for example, identified Christ with the Son of God, and Eckhart identified us with the Son of God, and both were condemned as heretics, one for not saying enough and the other for saying too much. Relative to the Blessed Sacrament, if we examine the different ways in which the historical and Eucharistic Christ can be identical, we have, first, the following two possibilities. The Eucharistic and historical Christ is identical: (1) in having the same divine nature; (2) in having the same human nature.

Clearly it would not be saying much to claim that He is identical in having the same divine nature, because the Word, as God, was already on earth before the Incarnation, and He would have remained on earth, as God, even though there had been no institution of the Blessed Sacrament. So, the first significant fact is that, in virtue of the Blessed Sacrament, thanks to the flesh which the Son of God received from the Virgin Mary, Christ as man is still on earth, in His human nature, even though He has ascended into heaven. Thus, the Encyclical, in explaining how Christ in the Eucharist can no longer suffer or die, says of Him: “On the altar, by reason of the glorified state of His human nature, death shall have no more dominion over Him.” [21] In other words, Christ does not shed His blood in the Mass, not because the Eucharist contains only the Divinity of Christ (which, by definition, is impassible), but because the human nature which is present is in a glorified and therefore immortal condition.

Christ in the Eucharist, therefore, is identical with the Christ of history in possessing the same human nature. But this presents two more possibilities. Having the same human nature may mean: (1) that in both cases He has only the same human soul, or (2) that He also has the same human body.

Why The Bodily Presence Of Christ Is Stressed

Orthodox Catholic doctrine is, of course, that the identify of human nature covers both the body and soul. However, it is less of a strain on one’s faith to conceive of Christ’s humanity in the Eucharist, not as something material and bodily, but only as something spiritual. Even Calvin, who denied the real bodily presence, was willing to admit that at the moment of reception, the spirit of Christ nourishes the soul of the communicant. [22] And lately the Modernist, Loisy, while strenuously opposing a material conception of the Real Presence, claimed that “faith in the spirit of Christ and faith in Jesus Christ present in the Holy Eucharist are one and the same faith.” [23]

Consequently, the stress in the “Mediator Dei” on a bodily presence in the Blessed Sacrament is a counterpoise to the error of spiritualizing Christ in the Eucharist to the exclusion or at least the oversight of His body. “Christ,” and not just the soul of Christ, “is present under the Eucharistic species.” [24] The Sacrifice of the Mass is the same as the Sacrifice of the Cross, because “the Victim is the same, namely, our Divine Redeemer, in His human nature” whole and entire, ‘with His true body and blood.” [25] During Mass, the act of consecration is primarily terminated not in the Divinity of Christ, not even in His human spirit, as such, but in His body and blood. “For by the transubstantiation of bread into the body of Christ and of wine into His blood, His body and blood are both really present.” [26]

“The Word of God,” we are told by the Pope, “is identical with the Son of Mary, who suffered on the Cross, who is present in a hidden manner in the Eucharist, and who reigns upon His heavenly throne.” [27] But how far can we extend this identification? In relation to the humanity of Christ, does this mean only: (1) an identity of nature and substance, or (2) does it also include an identity of physical properties, down to the smallest details of stature, texture, and disposition of bodily parts?

Historical Setting Of The Controversy

If this looks like an academic question to us now, during the early Middle Ages it was the storm center of one of the most heated, domestic controversies in the history of the Eucharist. It is important to place the issue in its proper historical setting, because the explanation of the “Mediator Dei” on this point uses the very language and texts around which the original controversy revolved.

St. Paschasius, abbot of the monastery of Corbie (in a treatise “De Corpore et Sanguine Domini,” published in 831), affirmed the identify of the Eucharistic Body of Christ with the natural body which He had on earth, and now has in heaven. In 844, the Emperor Charles the Bald commissioned the Benedictine Ratrammus to refute certain passages in Paschasius which he was told were questionable. Soon after, Rabanus Maurus also joined in the opposition to Paschasius. The latter defended his position with numerous citations from the Fathers in his “Letter to Frudegard,” concluding: “When Christ said, ‘This is My body…this is My blood,’ He meant that this was no other flesh than His very own, which was born of the Virgin Mary and which hung upon the Cross; and that this was no other blood than that which was shed upon the Cross.” [28]

A century later, Paschasius was thoroughly vindicated by Gerbert, afterwards Pope St. Sylvester II, who, in a work bearing the same title, “De Corpore et Sanguine Domini,” showed that his doctrine was correct in every particular. And now, after eleven centuries, Pius XII has “canonized” Paschasius’ teaching by incorporating it, almost verbatim, in the “Mediator Dei.” Quoting St. John Chrysostom, on whose authority Paschasius leaned, the Pope says: “When you see it (the Body of Christ) exposed, say to yourself: Thanks to this body, I am no longer dust and ashes, I am no more a captive but a free man: hence I hope to obtain heaven and the good things that are there in store for me, eternal life, the heritage of the angels, companionship with Christ; death has not destroyed this body which was pierced by nails and scourged…this is that body which was once covered with blood, pierced by a lance, from which issued saving fountains upon the world, one of blood and the other of water. This Body He gave to us to keep and eat, as a mark of His intense love.” [29]

All Intrinsic Properties Of Christ’s Body In Eucharist

In answer to the question, therefore, whether the identity between the historical and Eucharistic Christ includes not only the substance of His Sacred Humanity but also its physical and accidental properties, the Pope says emphatically “yes.” Surely when the body of the Redeemer was pierced by nails and scourged and covered with blood and pierced by a lance, when blood and water issued from His open side, it was the entire body, and not only its substance, which was thus affected. Consequently, when Pius XII identifies this body, so minutely described, with the Real Sacramental Presence, he is attributing to the Lords humanity in the Eucharist all the intrinsic properties and perfections, qualitative and quantitative, which are attributable to His historical body, once mortal and passible on earth, and now glorified and immortal in heaven.

However, a difficulty suggests itself. On the one hand, Pius XII numerically identifies Christ in the pages of history with Christ in the Holy Eucharist; on the other hand, the Council of Trent seems to distinguish between the two when it says: “There is no repugnance in this that Our Savior sits always at the right hand of His Father in heaven, according to the natural mode of existing, and yet is in many places sacramentally present.” [30] Evidently there is no contradiction between the two statements; and in fact, the one is only an explanation of the other.

St. Thomas, in treating of “The Manner in Which Christ Is Present in the Sacrament of the Altar,” first lays down the fundamental principle that it is of Catholic faith that the whole Christ, divinity and humanity, body and soul, is really present in the Blessed Sacrament. Moreover, relative to the body of Christ he says: “It is not only His flesh, but also His bones, and sinews, and other things,” which are necessary to make an integral, living body. [31]

Then in the course of an explanation of whether Christ has physical movement in the Eucharistic species, he says: “The mode of being (esse) which Christ has in Himself is not the same mode of being (esse) which He has under this Sacrament, because, when we say that He is under this Sacrament, there is signified a certain relationship of Himself to this Sacrament. Consequently, with respect to this mode of being (esse), Christ does not move locally (per se), but only per accidens, because Christ is not in this Sacrament as in a place.” [32]

Anglican Mistakes Regarding Teaching Of St. Thomas

Unfortunately, there have been some (for example, the Anglican, Mascall) [33] who read into these words of St. Thomas a meaning which he never intended, namely, that in distinguishing the natural and sacramental modes of Christ’s existence, he postulated something intrinsic and absolute - so absolute in fact that you no longer have the same Christ in Himself and under the Species.

Now, the plain fact is that all the standard commentators on the Summa understand St. Thomas to mean that there is only an extrinsic difference between the Eucharistic and natural Christ when he says that in one case the mode of being is natural and in the other sacramental. Thus Bellarmine, in commenting on this part of the Summa and also explaining the pertinent words of Trent, says: “The Body of Christ, because of its special mode of existence in the Eucharist, does not express any relation to surrounding bodies. Therefore, we can truly say that the Body of Christ, as it is in the Eucharist, is true, real, natural, living, quantified, having color, and that His flesh is corporeal, not spiritual. But we do not say that the Body of Christ in the Eucharist is sensible, visible, tangible, or extended, although it is such in heaven. The reason is because these names imply a relation to surrounding bodies, which the Body of Christ does not have in the Eucharist.” [34]

And more recently, a modern commentator on the Summa warns us in reading St. Thomas how “necessary it is not to believe that this new mode of being (which he attributes to Christ in the Eucharist) is something substantial in the Body of Christ.” Not only does it not affect Christ substantially, but even accidentally “it is not something which affects Him as an intrinsic accident. It is something completely external, an accident from the outside, a relation, which is the least real of the extrinsic accidents. Moreover, it is a relation which implies no modification at all in Christ, of any possible kind that can be conceived.” [35]

Practical Teachings Of The “Mediator Dei”

The doctrine of the Real Presence in the “Mediator Dei” serves as a basis for certain practical consequences that follow from its clear understanding, even independently of the Mass and Holy Communion.

Christ in the Blessed Sacrament is adorable. Again the Pope was forced to correct certain abuses that had lately crept in. He tells the bishops: “Above all, do not allow - as some do, who are deceived under the pretext of restoring the liturgy or who idly claim that only liturgical rites are of any real value or dignity - that churches be closed during the hours not appointed for public functions, as has already happened in some places, where the adoration of the august Sacrament and visits to Our Lord in the tabernacles are neglected.” [36]

One of the arguments used by those who depreciate this “extra-liturgical piety” is that it is only a recent innovation. So we are told that “The reservation of the Eucharist was unknown to antiquity. It was set aside for the benefit of those who were absent or sick, but the worship of this Reserved Presence was simply ignored. The tabernacle where Christ abides, before which people prostrate themselves and recite long prayers, was unknown in the Church for the first ten centuries.” [37] Prescinding from the historical accuracy of this statement, the Pope’s answer is that “this practice of adoration” of the Blessed Sacrament, “is based on strong and solid - dogmatic - reasons. For the Eucharist is at once a Sacrifice and a Sacrament. But it differs from the other Sacraments in this, that it not only produces grace but it contains in a permanent manner the Author of grace Himself. When therefore the Church bids (jubet) us adore Christ hidden behind the Eucharistic veils…she manifests living faith in her Divine Spouse who is present beneath these veils, she professes her gratitude to Him, and she enjoys the intimacy of His friendship.” [38]

Extra-Liturgical Devotions Are Endorsed

However, as the Pope notes, Christ in the Blessed Sacrament is not only adorable; He is also there as the Author and Dispenser of grace. Consequently, besides the Mass and Holy Communion, there is a special efficacy in asking for God’s blessings within the physical, or at least moral, presence of Our Lord in the Holy Eucharist. Bishops and priests are, therefore, urged to provide that “the churches be entirely at the disposal of greater numbers of the faithful who, called to the feet of their Savior, hearken to His most consoling invitation: ‘Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavily burdened, and I will refresh you’ (Matt., xi. 28). Let your churches be the house of God where all who enter to implore blessings rejoice in obtaining whatever they ask and find there heavenly consolation.” [39]

The Pope was not introducing something new when he recommended devotion to the Reserved Presence of Christ in the Blessed Sacrament. Canon Law, for example, enjoins on priests and teachers, “whose duty it is to form the religious spirit of the faithful, to spare no effort in developing in their souls a devotion to the Most Holy Eucharist, especially exhorting them…to visit the Blessed Sacrament.” [40] Moreover, according to St. Alphonsus Liguori, “prayer before Jesus Christ, abiding in the Sacrament of the Altar, second only to the reception of Holy Communion, is, of all other devotions, the most pleasing to God and the most profitable to ourselves. For although the Lord is ready to listen to everyone who prays to Him, no matter where he may be, nevertheless, present in the Blessed Sacrament, He dispenses His graces in greater abundance. This is the reason why He is willing to remain night and day in our churches, to console everyone who comes to visit Him and recommends to Him his needs.” [41] We should not expect it to be otherwise, seeing that in the Holy Eucharist, “the earthly life of Christ our Redeemer,” in all the perfection of His glorified humanity, “though apparently closed at His Ascension into heaven, still goes on, and will continue to go on until the end of time.”


[1] La Documentation Catholique, XXXIX (Paris), 710, 714.

[2] “Mediator Dei et Hominum,” Acta Apost. Sedis XXXIX, 524 sqq.

[3] Concilium Tridentinum, Sess. XIII, can. 1; Denzinger-Bannwart, n. 883.

[4] Acta Apost. Sedis XXXIX, 547.

[5] La Maison Dieu, VII (Paris, 1946), 99.

[6] Acta Apost. Sedis, XXXIX, 593.

[7] Werner Goossens, “L’Eglise Corps du Christ” (Paris, 1949), 61-63.

[8] Ibid., pg. 68.

[9] L. Cerfaux, “La Théologie de l’Eglise suivant saint Paul” Unam Sanctam X, (Paris, 1942), 222.

[10] For personal reasons, the writer has been asked to withhold the name of the author of this theory. His doctrine was officially proscribed by the Church, but immediately he submitted to the judgment of the Holy See.

[11] E. L. Mascall, “Christ, the Christian and the Church” (London, 1946), 163.

[12] Ibid.

[13] A. M. Farrer, in “The Parish Communion” (London, 1937), 83.

[14] “Mystici Corporis” in Acta Apost. Sedis, XXXV, 234.

[15] Martin Luther, “Briefe” (de Wette edition), V, 577, 578.

[16] Charles Grimaud, “Ma Messe” (18th. ed., Paris, 1933), 196, 197.

[17] La Maison Dieu (Rouguet), XI (Paris, 1947), 179, 180.

[18] Acta Apost. Sedis, XXXIX, 570.

[19] Synodus Panormitana, die 5-7 junii, 1933; Constitutiones Synodales, Sess. II, art. 3. Also Synodus Diocesana Vicetina, 1936, x306, p. 90.

[20] Acta Apost. Sedis, XXXIX, 570.

[21] Ibid., 548.

[22] Jean Calvin, “Institution de la Religion Chrétienne” Brunswick, 1865, Livre IV, chap. 17.

[23] Alfred Loisy, “Autour d’un Petit Livre” (Paris), p. 241.

[24] Acta Apost. Sedis, XXXIX 528.

[25] Ibid., 548.

[26] Ibid.

[27] Ibid., 551.

[28] Migne, P.L., CXX, 1352.

[29] Acta Apost. Sedis, XXXIX, 570, 571.

[30] Sess. XIII, cap. I; Denzinger-Bannwart, n. 874.

[31] Summa Theol., III, Q. lxxvi, art. 1, ad 2.

[32] Ibid., art. 6, in corp.

[33] Mascall, op. cit., 173-176.

[34] Bellarminus, “De Sacramento Eucharistiae,” V, lib. 1, cap. 2 (Naples, 1858), 250.

[35] Thomas Pègues, “Commentaire de la Somme Théologique,” XVIII (Toulouse, 1928), 181.

[36] Acta Apost. Sedis, XXXIX, 384, 385.

[37] B. Capelle in “La Vie Eucharistique de l’Eglise” (Louvain, 1934), 42.

[38] Acta Apost. Sedis, XXXIX, 569.

[39] Ibid., 571.

[40] Canon 1273.

[41] S. Alfonso Liguori, “Opere Ascetiche,” IV, Opuscolo 6 (Turin, 1847), 450.

Homiletic and Pastoral Review
Vol. 51 - #10, July 1951, pp. 882-892

Copyright © 1999 by Inter Mirifica

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