On-Going Instruction in the Principles of Christianity
2020 Jubilee 2021
YEAR OF THE EUCHARIST - 11/1
("MYSTERY OF FAITH",
ENCYCLICAL LETTER OF
POPE PAUL VI)
After the Council of Trent, Our predecessor, Pius VI, on the occasion of the errors of the Synod of Pistoia, warned parish priests when carrying out their office of teaching, not to neglect to speak of Transubstantiation, one of the articles of the Faith. Similarly Our predecessor of happy memory, Pius XII, recalled the bounds which those who undertake to discuss the Mystery of Transubstantiation might not cross. We Ourself also, in fulfilment of Our Apostolic Office, have openly borne solemn witness to the faith of the Church at the National Eucharistic Congress held recently at Pisa.
Moreover the Catholic Church has held on to this faith in the presence in the Eucharist of the Body and Blood of Christ, not only in her teaching but also in her practice, since she has at all times given to this great Sacrament the worship which is known as Latria and which may be given to God alone. As St. Augustine says: “It was in His flesh that Christ walked among us and it is His flesh that He has given us to eat for our salvation. No one, however, eats of this flesh without having first adored it...and not only do we not sin in this adoring it, but we would sin if we did not do so.
The Catholic Church has always offered and still offers the cult of Latria to the Sacrament of the Eucharist, not only during Mass, but also outside of it, reserving Consecrated Hosts with the utmost care, exposing them to solemn veneration, and carrying them processionally to the joy of great crowds of the faithful.
In the ancient documents of the Church we have many testimonies of this veneration. The pastors of the church in fact, solicitously exhorted the faithful to take the greatest care in keeping the Eucharist which they took to their homes. “The Body of Christ is meant to be eaten, not to be treated with irreverence,” St. Hippolytus warns the faithful.
In fact the faithful thought themselves guilty, and rightly so, as Origen recalls, if after they received the Body of the Lord in order to preserve it with all care and reverence, a small fragment of it fell through negligence.
The same pastors severely reproved those who showed lack of reverence if it happened. This is attested to by Novitianus whose testimony in the matter is trustworthy. He judged as deserving condemnation anyone who came out of Sunday service carrying with him as usual the Eucharist, the sacred Body of the Lord, “not going to his house but running to places of amusement.