Sacramentality of Eucharist and Church Documents

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Pope Innocent III – On the sacramental form of the Eucharist cf. Christian Faith 1502.

Pope Martin V – On the realism of the Eucharist Presence, Christian Faith 1507

Council of Florence – Matter and form of Eucharist Christian Faith 1509; 1510

The Council of Trent made real attempt to answer the questions raised by the Reformers. From the beginning the Council regarded the Eucharist as one of the most important sacraments that needs to be reflected. The Council did not treat the Eucharist in a unified way instead it treated different parts of it. Thus, we have Decrees on the real presence of the most holy sacrament of Eucharist; reasons for the institution of this sacrament; on the excellence of most holy Eucharist over other sacrament; etc. Christian Faith 1516 “in common with other sacraments, the most holy Eucharist is a symbol of a sacred thing and a visible form of invisible grace….”

Encyclical of Pius XII – Mystici Corporis, Speaks about the Eucharist and the Church, Christian Faith 1565

Vatican II in SC 7 reiterates what the Council of Trent had said about the Eucharist. The Eucharist like all other sacraments is an action of Christ. He is the one who gathers, proclaims and leads the people.

Mysterium Fidei of Pope Paul VI (1965) calls the Eucharist “the great sacrament” Cf.35 and in the Profession of Faith of 1968 cf. Christian Faith 39/18-19.

Instruction on the Worship of the Eucharistic Mystery, 1967 of SCR no. 4 speaks of the sacramental nature of the Eucharist.

On Holy Communion and the Worship of the Eucharistic mystery Outside of Mass, 1973 no. 6 speaks about the sacramental signification.

Dominicae Cenae (On the Mystery and Worship of the Eucharist), Pope John Paul II, 1980.

Catechism of the Catholic Church nos.1322 to 1419, we note 48 times the word sacrament is used.

Encyclical Letter, Ecclesia De Eucharistia, Pope John Paul II mentions 81 times Sacrament in relation to the Eucharist.

Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacrament, Instruction

Redemptionis Sacramentum, on certain matters to be observed or to be avoided

Regarding the Most Holy Eucharist, 2004, more than 100 times explain the Eucharist as Sacrament.

Post-Synodal Apostolic Exhortation Sacramentum Caritatis, 2007, we find 152 times the word sacrament mentioned.

Thus, for the Catholic Church the Eucharist is a Sacrament as it is a visible sign of an invisible grace. The rationalists questioned the effects, the genuineness, and the history of the Eucharist. Though the reformers did not accept the sacramental teachings of the Catholic Church completely, they never questioned the sacramental nature of the Eucharist, it was a true sacrament. The Catholic Church sees in the Eucharist all the essential elements of a sacrament such as:

1) Eucharist as the outward sign…….we have the bread and wine and the words of consecration.

2) Eucharist is the invisible Grace imparted through the outward sign; Body and Blood, Eternal life, cf. Jn 6/27ff. One can experience in faith only; no objective measurement is possible.

3) Eucharist is Instituted by Christ Jesus himself. “Do this in memory of me”, in all the 4 accounts of the Last Supper it is mentioned; COT teaches cf. Christian Faith 1515. Is it real? historical? Could it be a later addition? We believe that this celebration of the Lord’s Supper or breaking of the Bread was impossible in the early Church if it were not instituted by Christ.

4) The Eucharist is a sign of divine life; a symbol of spiritual nourishment (under the natural signs of bread and wine); indicate Christ’s presence.

5) Eucharist is an Efficacious sign: it can certainly produce the effect that it signifies namely the supernatural nourishment of men and women. “He who eats my flesh and drinks my blood lives in me….” This is the promise of Christ.

6) The Eucharist is a permanent sacrament. We must understand this statement correctly. (By their very nature all the sacraments are transitory cf. LG. 48; the sacramental action is not permanent). But the effect of the sacrament is permanent namely the bread and wine consecrated remains body and blood of Christ even after the celebration is over.

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