On-Going Instruction in the Principles of Christianity
2020 Jubilee 2021
YEAR OF THE EUCHARIST - 10/25
("MYSTERY OF FAITH",
ENCYCLICAL LETTER OF
POPE PAUL VI)
Ambrose, Bishop of Milan, dealing with the Eucharistic change, says: “Let us be assured that this is not what nature formed, but what the blessing consecrated, and that greater efficacy resides in the blessing than in nature, for by the blessing nature is changed.” To confirm the truth of this mystery, he recounts many of the miracles described in the Scriptures, including Christ’s Birth of the Virgin Mary, and then turning to the work of Creation, concludes thus: “Surely the word of Christ, which could make out of nothing that which did not exist, can change things already in existence into what they were not. For it is no less extraordinary to give things new natures than to change their natures.”
However, there is no need to assemble many testimonies. Rather let us recall that firmness of faith with which the Church with one accord opposed Berengarius, who, yielding to the difficulties of human reasoning, was the first who dared deny the Eucharistic change. More than once she threatened to condemn him unless he retracted. Thus it was that Our predecessor, St. Gregory VII, ordered him to pronounce the following oath.
“I believe in my heart and openly profess that the bread and wine which are placed on the altar are, by the mystery of the sacred prayer and the words of the Redeemer, substantially changed into the true and lifegiving Flesh and Blood of Jesus Christ Our Lord, and that after the Consecration, there is present the true Body of Christ which was born on the Virgin and, offered up for the salvation of the world, hung on the Cross and now sits at the right hand of Father, and that there is present the true Blood of Christ which flowed from His side. They are present not only by means of a sign and of the efficacy of the Sacrament, but also in the very reality and truth of their nature and substance.”
These words fully accord with the doctrine of the mystery of the Eucharistic change as set forth by the Ecumenical Councils. The constant teaching of these Councils—of the Lateran, of Constance, Florence and Trent—whether stating the teaching of the Church or condemning errors, affords us an admirable example of the unchangeableness of the Catholic Faith.