On-Going Instruction in the Principles of Christianity
2020 Jubilee 2021
YEAR OF THE EUCHARIST - 10/11
("MYSTERY OF FAITH",
ENCYCLICAL LETTER OF
POPE PAUL VI)
In the Sacrifice of the Mass Christ is Made Sacramentally Present (continued)
The Council of Trent, basing itself on this faith of the Church, “openly and sincerely professes that within the Holy Sacrament of the Eucharist, after the Consecration of the bread and wine, Our Lord Jesus Christ, true God and true Man, is really, truly and substantially contained under those outward appearances.” In this way, the Savior in His Humanity is present not only at the right hand of the Father according to the natural manner of existence, but also in the Sacrament of the Eucharist “by a mode of existence which we cannot express in words, but which, with a mind illumined by faith, we can conceive, and must most firmly believe, to be possible to God.”
To avoid misunderstanding this sacramental presence which surpasses the laws of nature and constitutes the greatest miracle of its kind we must listen with docility to the voice of the teaching and praying Church. This voice, which constantly echoes the voice of Christ, assures us that the way Christ is made present in this Sacrament is none other than by the change of the whole substance of the bread into His Body, and that of the whole substance of the wine into His Blood, and that this unique and truly wonderful change the Catholic Church rightly calls Transubstantiation. As a result of Transubstantiation, the species of bread and wine undoubtedly take on a new meaning and a new finality, for they no longer remain ordinary bread and ordinary wine, but become the sign of something sacred, the sign of a spiritual food. However, the reason they take on this new significance and this new finality is simply because they contain a new “reality” which we may justly term ontological. Not that there lies under those species what was already there before, but something quite different, and that not only because of the faith of the Church, but in objective reality, since after the change of the substance or nature of the bread and wine into the Body and Blood of Christ, nothing remains of the bread and wine but the appearances, under which Christ, whole and entire, in His physical “reality” is bodily present, although not in the same way that bodies are present in a given place.
For this reason the Fathers took special care to warn the faithful that in reflecting on this most august Sacrament, they should not trust to their senses, which read only the properties of bread and wine, but rather the words of Christ...