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Gen'l. Info. Regarding the Holy Eucharist / Mass

Return to Sacraments Section

The Holy Eucharist (At Traditional Latin 'Tridentine' Mass)

The Holy Eucharist

Important Notice: By using this site you indicate agreement to all terms. For more terms information, see below and click here.


"Henceforth my motto shall be: 'Give me the Eucharist, or let me die!" (St. Peter Julian Eymard)

"Oh! Unheard of goodness of a God incorporating himself with his creature!" (From 'Act of Thanksgiving')

"The Holy Eucharist is the true Body and the true Blood of our Lord Jesus Christ under the appearances of bread and wine." (Catechism of St. John Neumann)

"[T]he Eucharist is, in itself, the greatest of the sacraments" (St. Thomas Aquinas, Doctor of the Church and "greatest theologian in the history of the Church")

"God in His omnipotence could not give more, in His wisdom He knew not how to give more, in His riches He had not more to give, than the Eucharist." (St. Augustine, Doctor of the Church)


The Holy Eucharist

Also Called: The Most Blessed Sacrament, The Bread of Life, The Sacrament of the Altar, The Bread of Angels, The Sacred Host (from the Latin 'Hostia', for 'Victim'), (Received as) Holy Communion, (Received by the Dying as) Viaticum, (Made Present at the) Holy Sacrifice of the Mass

"God dwells in our midst, in the Blessed Sacrament of the altar." (St. Maximilian Kolbe)

"That Christ's true Body and Blood are present in this Sacrament can be perceived neither by sense nor by reason, but by faith alone, which rests on God's authority." (St. Thomas Aquinas, Doctor of the Church and "greatest theologian in the history of the Church")

"No tongue can express the greatness of the love which Jesus Christ bears to our souls. He did not wish that between Him and His servants there should be any other pledge than Himself, to keep alive the remembrance of Him." (St. Peter of Alcantara)

"There is nothing more to be added when we have said 'The Eucharist', since It is Jesus Christ." (St. Peter Julian Eymard)

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Type of Sacrament

Is Sacrament Obligatory?

Recipients

Can This Sacrament Be Repeated?

When Should Sacrament Be Received?

General Prerequisites

Ordinary Ministers

Form / Matter

Chief Effects

Additional Information | 2 | 3 | 4

For More Information Regarding the Holy Eucharist, Try...

Type of Sacrament:  'Sacrament of the Living'  (click here for more info.)

Is Sacrament Obligatory? Yes, for those who have reached the age of reason.

"Jesus said to them, 'Amen, amen, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you do not have life within you. Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him on the last day. For my flesh is true food, and my blood is true drink. Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood remains in me and I in him. Just as the living Father sent me and I have life because of the Father, so also the one who feeds on me will have life because of me. This is the bread that came down from heaven. Unlike your ancestors who ate and still died, whoever eats this bread will live forever.'" (Jn. 6:53-58) 

Note: As Scripture makes clear, reception of the Holy Eucharist is one essential condition for salvation. To be saved, one must also live according to God's laws.

Recipients: Baptized Catholics (men and women, young and old) in the state of grace who have reached the age of reason and are properly disposed.

Can This Sacrament Be Repeated? Yes. Frequent (even daily) reception of Holy Communion is highly recommended.

"It is an excellent thing to go to Communion often, and even daily in accordance with the desire of the Church, provided we do so with the requisite dispositions." (Catechism of St. Pius X)

"It is well to receive Holy Communion often, as nothing is a greater aid to a holy life than often to receive the Author of all grace and the Source of all good." (Baltimore Catechism)

When Should Sacrament Be Received? As soon as possible after reaching the age of reason, according to the dictates of the Church. Note that the Church may require Catholics to receive Holy Communion at least once a year, at Easter, and at death. Note: Of course, those receiving Holy Communion must be properly disposed and in the state of grace. Any who have committed a mortal sin must first make a sacramental Confession and receive absolution prior to receiving Holy Communion.

"We are bound to receive Holy Communion, under pain of mortal sin, during Easter time and when in danger of death." (Baltimore Catechism)

"We are bound to go to Communion once a year, at Easter, each one in his own parish; and also when in danger of death." (Catechism of St. Pius X)

"The precept of paschal Communion begins to bind as soon as a child is capable of receiving with the requisite dispositions." (Catechism of St. Pius X)

"If any one denieth that all and each of Christ's faithful of both sexes are bound, when they have attained to years of discretion, to communicate every year at least at Easter, in accordance with the precept of holy mother Church; let him be anathema." (Council of Trent)

"Can. 920 §1 Once admitted to the blessed Eucharist, each of the faithful is obliged to receive holy communion at least once a year. §2 This precept must be fulfilled during paschal time (the Easter season), unless for a good reason it is fulfilled at another time during the year." (1983 Code of Canon Law)

General Prerequisites: Those receiving Holy Communion must be in a state of grace, they must have proper faith, and must have made all required preparations (e.g. fasting, continence, etc.). Note: Any who have committed a mortal sin must first make a sacramental Confession and receive absolution prior to receiving Holy Communion.

Ordinary Ministers: Priests (or Bishops)

The power to consecrate the bread & wine (which become the Body & Blood of Christ, the Holy Eucharist) is given ONLY to validly ordained priests (and bishops). 

Traditionally, the responsibility of distributing Holy Communion to the faithful belongs to the priest (or bishop) alone: 

"Can. 845 § 1 The ordinary minister of Holy Communion is only a priest. § 2 A deacon is an extraordinary [minister], authorized by the local Ordinary or a pastor, granted for a grave cause, which in case of legitimate necessity is presumed." (1917 Code of Canon Law)

The 1983 Code of Canon Law also permits deacons to distribute Holy Communion: 

"Can. 910 §1 The ordinary minister of holy communion is a Bishop, a priest or a deacon." (1983 Code of Canon Law). 

It should be noted that deacons have been ordained ("the deaconate is the first order or grade in ordained ministry"). 

In contrast, lay persons have not been ordained and have always been forbidden by the Church to handle the Sacred Species and the sacred vessels. Illustrative quotations regarding this matter include those below...

"To safeguard in every possible way the dignity of so august a Sacrament, not only is the power of its administration entrusted exclusively to priests, but the Church has also prohibited by law any but consecrated persons, unless some case of great necessity intervene, to dare handle or touch the sacred vessels, the linen, or other instruments necessary to its completion. Priests themselves and the rest of the faithful may hence understand how great should be the piety and holiness of those who approach to consecrate, administer or receive the Eucharist." (Catechism of the Council of Trent)

"To touch the sacred species and to distribute them with their own hands is a privilege of the ordained" (Pope John Paul II, 1980 A.D.)

"For just as temple, altar, vessels, and vestments need to be consecrated, so do the ministers who are ordained for the Eucharist; and this consecration is the sacrament of Order." (St. Thomas Aquinas, Doctor of the Church and "greatest theologian in the history of the Church")

"There is nothing which belongs more to the Church and there is nothing Jesus Christ wanted more closely reserved for its shepherds than the dispensation of the sacraments He instituted." (Pope Gregory XVI, "Commissum Divinitus", 1835 A.D.)

"[L]aymen are officially incompetent to dispense any sacrament: and that they can baptize in cases of necessity, is due to the Divine dispensation, in order that no one may be deprived of spiritual regeneration." (St. Thomas Aquinas, Doctor of the Church and "greatest theologian in the history of the Church")

"The dispensing of Christ's body belongs to the priest for three reasons. First, because...he consecrates as in the person of Christ. But as Christ consecrated His body at the supper, so also He gave it to others to be partaken of by them. Accordingly, as the consecration of Christ's body belongs to the priest, so likewise does the dispensing belong to him. Secondly, because the priest is the appointed intermediary between God and the people; hence as it belongs to him to offer the people's gifts to God, so it belongs to him to deliver consecrated gifts to the people. Thirdly, because out of reverence towards this sacrament, nothing touches it, but what is consecrated; hence the corporal and the chalice are consecrated, and likewise the priest's hands, for touching this sacrament. Hence it is not lawful for anyone else to touch it except from necessity, for instance, if it were to fall upon the ground, or else in some other case of urgency." (St. Thomas Aquinas, Doctor of the Church and "greatest theologian in the history of the Church")

According to the Catechism of the Council of Trent, this practice is traced to Apostolic times:

"It must be taught, then, that to priests alone has been given power to consecrate and administer to the faithful, the Holy Eucharist. That this has been the unvarying practice of the Church, that the faithful should receive the Sacrament from the priests, and that the officiating priests should communicate themselves, has been explained by the holy Council of Trent, which has also shown that this practice, as having proceeded from Apostolic tradition, is to be religiously retained, particularly as Christ the Lord has left us an illustrious example thereof, having consecrated His own most sacred body, and given it to the Apostles with His own hands." (Catechism of the Council of Trent)

Breaking with all tradition, modernists in the wake of the Second Vatican Council have - by calculated disobedience to papal authority - sought to push 'Extraordinary Ministers of Holy Communion' (lay persons - even women - distributing Holy Communion) upon the faithful. Such persons may also wrongly attempt to usurp the priest's very title of "Eucharistic Minister" - an abuse of the title which may only rightly be applied to priests. The Second Vatican Second Vatican Council did NOT authorize the distribution of the Holy Eucharist by lay persons, nor was it ever the desire of the Pope. Rather, the practice was implemented in direct defiance of the pope and became widespread. Unfortunately, the disobedience resulted in a partial 'surrender' by the Vatican (the practice may be reluctantly tolerated under certain conditions). As predicted, however, this practice has led to much sacrilege, loss of faith, and to the blurring of the priestly role. For more information on this topic, see below (or click here).

Form / Matter: Formula for Consecration ["The form of the sacrament of the Eucharist consists of the words used by Jesus Christ Himself: 'This is My Body: This is My Blood.'" (Catechism of St. Pius X)], Wheaten bread (unleavened) and wine (from the grape) (which should be mixed with a little water). Note: For the validity of the consecration, both the form and the matter must be licit, and the priest also must have the proper intention.

Note: Unfortunately, there has been a well-known mistranslation in the words of consecration in the vernacular Novus Ordo (New Order) Mass which was imposed upon the faithful in the 1960's. This mistranslation remained uncorrected for decades and indicates that Jesus shed his blood for "all" rather than for "many". (Note that the official Latin edition of the Novus Ordo Mass correctly states "many", but previous translations in English and other languages incorrectly stated "all".) As stated by the Catechism of the Council of Trent:

"For if we look to its value, we must confess that the Redeemer shed His blood for the salvation of all; but if we look to the fruit which mankind have received from it, we shall easily find that it pertains not unto all, but to many of the human race. When therefore ('our Lord) said: For you, He meant either those who were present, or those chosen from among the Jewish people, such as were, with the exception of Judas, the disciples with whom He was speaking. When He added, And for many, He wished to be understood to mean the remainder of the elect from among the Jews or Gentiles. With reason, therefore, were the words for all not used, as in this place the fruits of the Passion are alone spoken of, and to the elect only did His Passion bring the fruit of salvation. And this is the purport of the Apostle when he says: Christ was offered once to exhaust the sins of many; and also of the words of our Lord in John: I pray for them; I pray not for the world, but for them whom thou hast given me, because they are thine." (Catechism of the Council of Trent, emphasis added)

Although this mistranslation is generally believed not to affect the validity of the consecration (the incorrectly translated word follows the words necessary to effect the consecration), the Church has always considered it gravely sinful to tamper with important elements of the Sacraments. In this case, it is clear that there is a mistranslation and that the mistranslation seems to be intentional since the very same mistranslation has occurred over and over again throughout the world, and in many languages. Although many Catholics have, for years, expressed concern over the widespread error and its lack of correction, the situation persisted.

In order to have a valid consecration, the proper matter is also required. In the wake of the Second Vatican Council, there have been a number of cases in which invalid materials were used in the Mass. Faithful Catholics should note that improper materials generally invalidate the Sacrament (and even if materials used are improper, but not sufficiently improper to invalidate a sacrament, their use is still illicit). This means that if a priest celebrates Mass - even using the correct words of consecration and having the correct intention - but uses invalid materials instead of wheaten bread and wine from the grape, NO consecration occurs, and there is NO Real Presence.

"Christ instituted this sacrament under the species of bread and wine, as is evident from Matthew 26. Consequently, bread and wine are the proper matter of this sacrament." (St. Thomas Aquinas, Doctor of the Church and "greatest theologian in the history of the Church")

"The matter of the sacrament of the Eucharist is that which was used by Jesus Christ Himself, that is, wheaten bread and wine of the vine." (Catechism of St. Pius X)

"Can. 926 In the eucharistic celebration, in accordance with the ancient tradition of the Latin Church, the priest is to use unleavened bread wherever he celebrates Mass." (1983 Code of Canon Law)

"The matter of this Sacrament is twofold. The first element is wheaten bread...the second [is wine pressed from the fruit of the vine, with which is mingled a little water]." (Catechism of the Council of Trent)

"[O]nly wine from the grape [along with wheaten bread] is the proper matter of this sacrament." (St. Thomas Aquinas, Doctor of the Church and "greatest theologian in the history of the Church")

"Can. 924 §1 The most holy Sacrifice of the Eucharist must be offered with bread and with wine in which a little water must be mixed. §2 The bread must be wheaten only and recently made so that there is no danger of corruption. §3 The wine must be natural, made from grapes of the vine, and not corrupt." (1983 Code of Canon Law)

"What is required is this: bread made from wheat flour, wine from grapes, and the presence of these materials before the priest at the time of the Consecration." (De Defectibus)

"If the bread is not made of wheat flour, or if so much other grain is mixed with the wheat that it is no longer wheat bread, or if it is adulterated in some other way, there is no Sacrament." (De Defectibus)

"If the wine has become mere vinegar, or is completely bad, or if it has been made from sour or unripe grapes, or if so much water has been mixed with it that the wine is adulterated, there is no Sacrament." (De Defectibus)

"There is no Sacrament [of the Mass] if any of these is missing: the proper matter, the form, including the intention, and the priestly ordination of the celebrant. If these things are present, the Sacrament is valid, no matter what else is lacking." (De Defectibus)

"Defects on the part of the form may arise if anything is missing from the complete wording required for the act of consecrating....the words of the Consecration...are the form of this Sacrament... If the priest were to shorten or change the form of the consecration of the Body and the Blood, so that in the change of wording the words did not mean the same thing, he would not be achieving a valid Sacrament. If, on the other hand, he were to add or take away anything which did not change the meaning, the Sacrament would be valid, but he would be committing a grave sin." (De Defectibus)

"But as wheaten bread alone is to be considered the proper matter for this Sacrament - a doctrine which has been handed down by Apostolic tradition and confirmed by the authority of the Catholic Church - so it may be easily inferred from the doings of Christ the Lord that this bread should be unleavened. It was consecrated and instituted by Him on the first day of unleavened bread, on which it was not lawful for the Jews to have anything leavened in their house... This quality of the bread [being unleavened], however, is not to be deemed so essential that, if it be wanting, the Sacrament cannot exist; for both kinds are called by the one name and have the true and proper nature of bread. No one, however, is at liberty on his own private authority, or rather presumption, to transgress the laudable rite of his Church. And such departure is the less warrantable in priests of the Latin Church, expressly obliged as they are by the supreme Pontiffs, to consecrate the sacred mysteries with unleavened bread only." (Catechism of the Council of Trent)

"With the wine, however, the Church of God has always mingled water. First, because Christ the Lord did so, as is proved by the authority of Councils and the testimony of St. Cyprian; next, because by this mixture is renewed the recollection of the blood and water that issued from His side. Waters, also, as we read in the Apocalypse, signify the people; and hence, water mixed with the wine signifies the union of the faithful with Christ their Head. This rite, derived as it is from Apostolic tradition, the Catholic Church has always observed. But although there are reasons so grave for mingling water with the wine that it cannot be omitted without incurring the guilt of mortal sin, yet its omission does not render the Sacrament null. Again as in the sacred mysteries priests must be mindful to mingle water with wine, so, also, must they take care to mingle it in small quantity, for, in the opinion and judgment of ecclesiastical writers, that water is changed into wine." (Catechism of the Council of Trent)

It should be noted that although the celebrating priest is obliged to receive Holy Communion under both species, others are not obliged to receive Holy Communion under both species (the species of bread and wine). Once again, modernists in the wake of the Second Vatican Council have attempted - by calculated disobedience to papal authority - to restore the practice of Communion under both species in the Church. [It should be noted that the Second Vatican Council never commanded this practice.] This has left some Catholics to erroneously (and heretically) believe that it is necessary to Communicate under both species or that they receive Christ "more fully" if they receive Holy Communion under both species. Further, this practice has led to many and serious problems and abuses. For more information on this subject, see below (or click here). 

Chief Effects:

Although "no language can convey an adequate idea of its utility and fruits" (Catechism of the Council of Trent), the following are some chief effects of the Holy Eucharist:

* Increases grace, remits sin and strengthens us against future sin, and gives consolation: "The principal effects which the Most Holy Eucharist produces in those who worthily receive it are these: (1) It preserves and increases the life of the soul, which is grace, just as natural food sustains and increases the life of the body; (2) It remits venial sins and preserves us from mortal sin; (3) It produces spiritual consolation." (Catechism of St. Pius X)

* Is the source of life and the 'antidote against [eternal] death':

"Now if any one will seriously consider the benefits which flow from the Eucharist he will understand that conspicuous and chief among them all is that in which the rest, without exception, are included; in a word it is for men the source of life, of that life which best deserves the name. 'The bread which I will give is my flesh, for the life of the world' (St. John vi., 52)." (Pope Leo XIII, "Mirae Caritatis", 1902 A.D.)

"...breaking one Bread, which is the medicine of immortality, the antidote against death, enabling us to live forever in Jesus Christ." (St. Ignatius of Antioch, c. 110 A.D.)

* Unites us to Christ and to one another and is the symbol of unity: 

"For, as [St. John] Damascene has explained, this Sacrament unites us to Christ, renders us partakers of His flesh and Divinity, reconciles and unites us to one another in the same Christ, and forms us, as it were, into one body." (Catechism of the Council of Trent)

"[T]he Eucharist is the end of all the Sacraments, and the symbol of unity and brotherhood in the Church" (Catechism of the Council of Trent)

* Weakens concupiscence, increases charity, is a pledge of future glory: "Yes; the Most Holy Eucharist produces three other effects in (1) It weakens our passions, and in particular it allays in us the fires of concupiscence; (2) It increases in us the fervor of charity towards God and our neighbor, and aids us to act in conformity with the will of Jesus Christ; (3) It gives us a pledge of future glory and of the resurrection of our body." (Catechism of St. Pius X)

* Brings happiness & spiritual joy: 

"Without the Holy Eucharist there would be no happiness in this world; life would be insupportable." (Catechism of the Cure of Ars)

"How happy are the pure souls that have the happiness of being united to Our Lord by Communion! They will shine like beautiful diamonds in Heaven, because God will be seen in them." (Catechism of the Cure of Ars)

"When we receive Holy Communion, we receive our joy and our happiness." (Catechism of the Cure of Ars)

"Nothing contributes more to the spiritual joy and advantage of pious persons than the contemplation of the exalted dignity of this most august Sacrament [of the Holy Eucharist]. In the first place they learn how great is the perfection of the Gospel Dispensation, under which we enjoy the reality of that which under the Mosaic Law was only shadowed forth by types and figures. Hence St. Denis divinely says that our Church is midway between the Synagogue and the heavenly Jerusalem, and consequently participates of the nature of both. Certainly, then, the faithful can never sufficiently admire the perfection of the holy Church and her exalted glory which seems to be removed only by one degree from the bliss of heaven... Furthermore the faithful experience in this Sacrament the most perfect love of Christ our Savior. It became the goodness of the Savior not to withdraw from us that nature which He assumed from us, but to desire, as far as possible, to remain among us so that at all times He might be seen to verify the words: My delight is to be with the children of men. (Prov. viii. 31)." (Catechism of the Council of Trent)

* Transports us to heaven: "When you see the Lord immolated and lying upon the altar, and the priest bent over that sacrifice praying, and all the people purpled by that precious blood, can you think that you are still among men and on earth? Or are you not lifted up to heaven?" (St. John Chrysostom, Doctor of the Church, c. 387 A.D.)

* Nourishes and transforms the soul: 

"For what bread and wine are to the body, the Eucharist is to the health and delight of the soul, but in a higher and better way. This Sacrament is not, like bread and wine, changed into our substance; but we are, in some wise, changed into its nature, so that we may well apply here the words of St. Augustine: I am the food of the grown. Grow and thou shalt eat Me; nor shalt thou change Me into thee, as thy bodily food, but thou shalt be changed into Me." (Catechism of the Council of Trent)

"My children, all beings in creation require to be fed, that they may live; for this purpose God has made trees and plants grow; it is a well-served table, to which all animals come and take the food which suits each one. But the soul also must be fed. Where, then, is its food? My brethren, the food of the soul is God. Ah! what a beautiful thought! The soul can feed on nothing but God. Only God can suffice for it; only God can fill it; only God can satiate its hunger; it absolutely requires its God!" (Catechism of the Cure of Ars)

"If you were to put your tongue into molten gold - if that were possible - you would make your hand or tongue golden. In much the same way, the [Eucharistic] Mystery lying before us here affects the soul." (St. John Chrysostom, Doctor of the Church)

* Allows us to possess Christ: 

"In common with the inhabitants of heaven, we too possess Christ, God and man, present with us. They are raised a degree above us, inasmuch as they are present with Christ and enjoy the Beatific Vision; while we, with a firm and unwavering faith, adore the Divine Majesty present with us, not, it is true, in a manner visible to mortal eye, but hidden by a miracle of power under the veil of the sacred mysteries." (Catechism of the Council of Trent)

"No one can fail to see that the divine Eucharist bestows an incomparable dignity upon the Christian people. For it is not just while the Sacrifice is being offered and the Sacrament is being confected, but also after the Sacrifice has been offered and the Sacrament confected - while the Eucharist is reserved in churches or oratories - that Christ is truly Emmanuel, which means 'God with us.' For He is in the midst of us day and night; He dwells in us with the fullness of grace and of truth. He raises the level of morals, fosters virtue, comforts the sorrowful, strengthens the weak and stirs up all those who draw near to Him to imitate Him, so that they may learn from his example to be meek and humble of heart, and to seek not their own interests but those of God. Anyone who has a special devotion to the sacred Eucharist and who tries to repay Christ's infinite love for us with an eager and unselfish love of his own, will experience and fully understand - and this will bring great delight and benefit to his soul - just how precious is a life hidden with Christ in God and just how worthwhile it is to carry on a conversation with Christ, for there is nothing more consoling here on earth, nothing more efficacious for progress along the paths of holiness." (Pope Paul VI, 1965 A.D.)

* Allows us to experience the love of Christ: "Furthermore the faithful experience in this Sacrament the most perfect love of Christ our Savior. It became the goodness of the Savior not to withdraw from us that nature which He assumed from us, but to desire, as far as possible, to remain among us so that at all times He might be seen to verify the words: My delight is to be with the children of men." (Catechism of the Council of Trent)

* Increases our desire for heavenly things: "Again, just as the body is not only supported but also increased by natural food, from which the taste every day derives new relish and pleasure; so also is the soul not only sustained but invigorated by feasting on the food of the Eucharist, which gives to the spirit an increasing zest for heavenly things." (Catechism of the Council of Trent)

* Remits venial sins: 

"It cannot be doubted that by the Eucharist are remitted and pardoned lighter sins, commonly called venial. Whatever the soul has lost through the fire of passion, by falling into some slight offence, all this the Eucharist, canceling those lesser faults, repairs, in the same way - not to depart from the illustration already adduced - as natural food gradually restores and repairs the daily waste caused by the force of the vital heat within us. Justly, therefore, has St. Ambrose said of this heavenly Sacrament: That daily bread is taken as a remedy for daily infirmity. But these things are to be understood of those sins for which no actual affection is retained." (Catechism of the Council of Trent)

"Two things may be considered in this sacrament, to wit, the sacrament itself, and the reality of the sacrament: and it appears from both that this sacrament has the power of forgiving venial sins. For this sacrament is received under the form of nourishing food. Now nourishment from food is requisite for the body to make good the daily waste caused by the action of natural heat. But something is also lost daily of our spirituality from the heat of concupiscence through venial sins, which lessen the fervor of charity, as was shown in the SS,Q24, A10. And therefore it belongs to this sacrament to forgive venial sins. Hence Ambrose says (De Sacramentis v) that this daily bread is taken 'as a remedy against daily infirmity.' The reality of this sacrament is charity, not only as to its habit, but also as to its act, which is kindled in this sacrament; and by this means venial sins are forgiven. Consequently, it is manifest that venial sins are forgiven by the power of this sacrament." (St. Thomas Aquinas, Doctor of the Church and "greatest theologian in the history of the Church")

* Preserves us from sin and temptation and reduces concupiscence: "There is, furthermore, such a power in the sacred mysteries as to preserve us pure and unsullied from sin, keep us safe from the assaults of temptation, and, as by some heavenly medicine, prepare the soul against the easy approach and infection of virulent and deadly disease. Hence, as St. Cyprian records, when the faithful were formerly hurried in multitudes by tyrants to torments and death, because they confessed the name of Christ, it was an ancient usage in the Catholic Church to give them, by the hands of the Bishop, the Sacrament of the body and blood of our Lord, lest perhaps overcome by the severity of their sufferings, they should fail in the fight for salvation. It also restrains and represses the lusts of the flesh, for while it inflames the soul more ardently with the fire of charity, it of necessity extinguishes the ardor of concupiscence." (Catechism of the Council of Trent)

"The Holy Eucharist remits venial sins by disposing us to perform acts of love and contrition. It preserves us from mortal sin by exciting us to greater fervor and strengthening us against temptation." (Baltimore Catechism)

* Heals us: "Or again, glancing at the admirable actions of Christ our Lord, they may show that if those who received Him beneath their roof during His mortal life, or were restored to health by touching His vesture or the hem of His garment, were justly and deservedly deemed most blessed, how much more fortunate and happy we, into whose soul, resplendent as He is with unfading glory, He disdains not to enter, to heal all its wounds, to adorn it with His choicest gifts, and unite it to Himself." (Catechism of the Council of Trent)

* Leads us to eternal glory: 

"Holy Communion is the shortest and safest way to heaven. There are others; innocence, but that is for little children; penance, but we are afraid of it; generous endurance for the trials of life, but when they come we weep and ask to be spared. The surest, easiest, shortest way is the Eucharist." (Pope St. Pius X)

"Finally, to comprise all the advantages and blessings of this Sacrament in one word, it must be taught that the Holy Eucharist is most efficacious towards the attainment of eternal glory. For it is written: He that eateth my flesh, and drinketh my blood, hath everlasting life, and I will raise him up on the last day. That is to say, by the grace of this Sacrament men enjoy the greatest peace and tranquility of conscience during the present life; and, when the hour of departing from this world shall have arrived, like Elias, who in the strength of the bread baked on the hearth, walked to Horeb, the mount of God, they, too, invigorated by the strengthening influence of this (heavenly food), will ascend to unfading glory and bliss." (Catechism of the Council of Trent)

* Will shine in us in eternity: 

"At the Day of Judgment we shall see the Flesh of Our Lord shine through the glorified body of those who have received Him worthily on earth, as we see gold shine in copper, or silver in lead." (Catechism of the Cure of Ars)

"O my children, how beautiful will a soul be in eternity that has worthily and often received the good God! The Body of Our Lord will shine through our body, His adorable Blood through our blood; our soul will be united to the Soul of Our Lord during all eternity. There it will enjoy pure and perfect happiness. My children, when the soul of a Christian who has received Our Lord enters paradise, it augments the joy of Heaven. The Angels and the Queen of Angels come to meet it, because they recognize the Son of God in that soul. Then will that soul be rewarded for the pains and sacrifices it will have endured in its life on earth. My children, we know when a soul has worthily received the Sacrament of the Eucharist, it is so drowned in love, so penetrated and changed, that it is no longer to be recognized in its words or its actions... It is humble, it is gentle, it is mortified, charitable, and modest; it is at peace with everyone. It is a soul capable of the greatest sacrifices; in short, you would not know it again." (Catechism of the Cure of Ars)

* Pleases God: "A soul can do nothing that is more pleasing to God than to communicate (receive Holy Communion) in a state of grace." (St. Alphonsus Liguori, Doctor of the Church)

* Allows us to make a return to God for His benefits: "This Sacrament is not only a treasure of heavenly riches, which if turned to good account will obtain for us the grace and love of God; but it also possesses a peculiar character, by which we are enabled to make some return to God for the immense benefits bestowed upon us." (Catechism of the Council of Trent)

* Feeds our souls and expiates sins: "They should teach, then, in the first place, that the Eucharist was instituted by Christ for two purposes: one, that it might be the heavenly food of our souls, enabling us to support and preserve spiritual life; and the other, that the Church might have a perpetual Sacrifice, by which our sins might be expiated, and our heavenly Father, oftentimes grievously offended by our crimes, might be turned away from wrath to mercy, from the severity of just chastisement to clemency." (Catechism of the Council of Trent)

* Fuels a 'devouring fire' inspiring us to good and repugnance to evil: "So if you were to keep Our Lord well and recollectedly, after Communion, you would long feel that devouring fire which would inspire your heart with an inclination to good and a repugnance to evil. When we have the good God in our heart, it ought to be very burning. The heart of the disciples of Emmaus burnt within them from merely listening to His voice." (Catechism of the Cure of Ars)

* Purifies the soul and comforts the body: "When you have [worthily] received Our Lord, you feel your soul purified, because it bathes itself in the love of God. When we go to Holy Communion, we feel something extraordinary, a comfort which pervades the whole body, and penetrates to the extremities. What is this comfort? It is Our Lord, who communicates Himself to all parts of our bodies, and makes them thrill. We are obliged to say, like St. John, "It is the Lord!" Those who feel absolutely nothing are very much to be pitied." (Catechism of the Cure of Ars)

* Is the best good work possible and of the highest value to us:

"There is nothing so great, my children, as the Eucharist! Put all the good works in the world against one good Communion; they will be like a grain of dust beside a mountain." (Catechism of the Cure of Ars)

"There is no prayer or good work so great, so pleasing to God, so useful to us as the Mass." (St. Lawrence Justianian)

"My children, if we understood the value of Holy Communion, we should avoid the least faults, that we might have the happiness of making it oftener. We should keep our souls always pure in the eyes of God." (Catechism of the Cure of Ars)

"[The] day you hear Mass is worth a thousand days to you, that all the labors and works of a day, or a week, or a whole year are nothing in comparison with the value of one Mass." (Fr. O'Sullivan)

* Gives us immense favors and blessings: "No human tongue can describe the immense favors and blessing which we receive from the Mass. The sinner obtains pardon, the good man becomes more holy, our faults are corrected and our vices uprooted by hearing Holy Mass." (St. Lawrence Justianian)

* Makes our prayers irresistible to God: "Make a prayer when you have the good God in your heart; the good God will not be able to refuse you anything, if you offer Him His Son, and the merits of His holy death and Passion." (Catechism of the Cure of Ars)

* Appeases God: "[The Mass] is the only Holy Act which keeps the wrath of God from a sinful world, because it holds the Cross between heaven and earth, thus renewing that decisive moment when our sad and tragic humanity journeyed suddenly fourth to the fullness of supernatural life." (Archbishop Fulton Sheen)

* Gives glory, praise, and thanksgiving to God, and makes reparation to God:

"No greater glory can be given to God than the celebration of this sacrifice, wherein God Himself is the Victim; at the same time, nothing can be more advantageous to man than to partake of this divine Victim, to become himself this Victim, by incorporating it with himself by holy Communion, whereby is realized that wonderful promise of our Redeemer: He that eateth My Flesh and drinketh My Blood, abideth in Me, and I in him." (Dom Gueranger)

"Now a remedy must be found for this wickedness on the one hand, and this sloth on the other, in a general increase among the faithful of fervent devotion towards the Eucharistic Sacrifice, than which nothing can give greater honor, nothing be more pleasing, to God. For it is a divine Victim [that is, Christ] which is here immolated; and accordingly through this Victim we offer to the most blessed Trinity all that honor which the infinite dignity of the Godhead demands; infinite in value and infinitely acceptable is the gift which we present to the Father in His only-begotten Son; so that for His benefits to us we not only signify our gratitude, but actually make an adequate return." (Pope Leo XIII, "Mirae Caritatis", 1902 A.D.)

* Gives us grace and advances us in virtue: 

"Those who receive [the sacrament of the Eucharist] worthily, receive an increase of grace. And all the effects which material food and drink have on the life of our body - maintaining and increasing life, restoring health and bringing pleasure - all these effects this sacraments has on our spiritual life. As Pope Urban says, in this sacrament we think of our Savior with gratitude, we are drawn away from evil, we are encouraged to do good, and we advance in virtue and in grace." (Council of Florence)

"Moreover, in this most admirable Sacrament, which is the chief means whereby men are engrafted on the divine nature, men also find the most efficacious help towards progress in every kind of virtue." (Pope Leo XIII, "Mirae Caritatis", 1902 A.D.)

* Benefits the living and the dead: "This oblation abounding with an unspeakable richness of fruit embraces the present and future life. For by this oblation God is pleased and, granting the grace and gift of repentance, remits even great crimes and sins. Although grievously offended by our sins, He is moved from anger to mercy, from the severity of just chastisement to clemency; by it the title and obligation of temporal punishment is dissolved; by it the souls of the departed in Christ who have not yet been fully purged are aided; by it temporal goods also are obtained, if they do not stand in the way of greater benefits; by it singular honor and cult are procured for the saints and especially for the Immaculate and most holy Mother of God, the Virgin Mary. Wherefore, from the apostolic tradition, we offer the divine Sacrifice of the Mass 'for the universal peace of the Churches; for the right disposition of the world; for rulers, soldiers, allies; those laboring with infirmity; those oppressed by afflictions; for all who are in need; for those detained in purgatory; with the belief that it will be a help to those souls for whom prayer is offered before the holy and most awesome Victim [that is, Christ] lying before us.'" (Pope Pius IX, "Amantissimi Redemptoris", 1858 A.D.)

* Assists us in our spiritual combats with the devil: 

"The Holy Communion is the principal and indispensable weapon of the Christian in his spiritual combats with the infernal powers" (Fr. Delaporte)

"Christ did this to bring us to a closer bond of friendship, and to signify His love toward us, giving Himself to those who desire Him, not only to behold Him, but also to handle Him, to eat Him, to embrace Him with the fullness of their whole heart. Therefore as lions breathing fire do we depart from that Table, rendered objects of terror to the devil." (St. John Chrysostom, Doctor of the Church, 4th century A.D.)

* Is a powerful means of supplication and atonement

* Shortens one's own Purgatory time as well as satisfies for those already in Purgatory

* Makes persons refrain from wickedness (it is an impediment to sin)

* Is a powerful means for the conversion of sinners

* Gains graces for ourselves and others

* Gives us the merit of faith

* Increases our glory in Heaven

* Continues the Sacrifice of the Cross in Christ's Church


Additional Information:

* The Word 'Eucharist' may mean "good grace" (Catechism of the Council of Trent) or thanksgiving. It refers to the Body & Blood of Christ under the appearance of bread and wine. 

* The Holy Eucharist is the greatest Treasure in the Church: "All good works together are not of equal value with the sacrifice of the Mass, because they are the works of men, and the holy Mass is the work of God. Martyrdom is nothing in comparison; it is the sacrifice that man makes of his life to God; the Mass is the sacrifice that God makes to man of His Body and of His Blood." (Catechism of the Cure of Ars)

* The Holy Eucharist is "the very life of the Church". In fact, the entire Church revolves around the Holy Eucharist.

"The Blessed Sacrament is the first and supreme object of our worship." (St. Mary Euphrasia Pelletier)

"The Eucharist is the principal and central raison d'etre of the sacrament of the priesthood" (Pope John Paul II)

"This Sacrament, whether as the theme of devout meditation, or as the object of public adoration, or best of all as a food to be received in the utmost purity of conscience, is to be regarded as the center towards which the spiritual life of a Christian in all its ambit gravitates; for all other forms of devotion, whatsoever they may be, lead up to it, and in it find their point of rest." (Pope Leo XIII, "Mirae Caritatis", 1902 A.D.)

* The Holy Eucharist is the most worthy thing we can offer God. Nothing else we can do or have done can be compared with the Holy Eucharist - God's own Son. Not even the angels can offer God anything greater or more pleasing to God.

* We cannot sufficiently praise the Holy Eucharist: "But indeed a Sacrament so great and so rich in all manner of blessings can never be extolled as it deserves by human eloquence, nor adequately venerated by the worship of man." (Pope Leo XIII, "Mirae Caritatis", 1902 A.D.)

* The Holy Eucharist is our Highest Good. 

* If we could have asked God for anything, we would not have dared to ask for the Holy Eucharist - the Flesh and Blood of God incarnate, our Creator: "Should we ever have dared to ask of God to put His Son to death for us, to give us His Flesh to eat and His Blood to drink?" (Catechism of the Cure of Ars)

* The Holy Eucharist is proof of God's immeasurable love for us, His children. 

"Christ's love towards men was so great that not only was He willing to endure the most cruel sufferings for our salvation and an atrocious death on the cross, but also He wished to nourish us eternally in the sacrament of His body and bloody." (Pope Pius IX)

"To show the love He has for us, He has made it possible for those who desire it not merely to look upon Him, but even to touch Him and to consume Him and to fix their teeth in His flesh and to be commingled with Him - in short, to fulfill all their love." (St. John Chrysostom, Doctor of the Church)

"No tongue can express the greatness of the love which Jesus Christ bears to our souls. He did not wish that between Him and His servants there should be any other pledge than Himself, to keep alive the remembrance of Him." (St. Peter of Alcantara)

* God desires to be with us ["my delights were to be with the children of men" (cf. Prov. 8:31)] and the Holy Eucharist allows Christ to remain with us, even after ascending to the Father: 

"Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you. And behold I am with you all days, even to the consummation of the world." (Mt. 28:20)

"Our Lord, having loved his own, loved them to the end. As a divine and admirable pledge of this love, knowing that the hour had now come that He should pass from the world to the Father, that He might not ever at any period be absent from His own, He accomplished with inexplicable wisdom that which surpasses all the order and condition of nature." (Catechism of the Council of Trent)

"Eternal Wisdom, on the one hand, wished to prove his love for man by dying in his place in order to save him, but on the other hand, he could not bear the thought of leaving him. So he devised a marvelous way of dying and living at the same time, and of abiding with man until the end of time. So, in order to fully satisfy his love, he instituted the sacrament of Holy Eucharist and went to the extent of changing and overturning nature itself." (St. Louis de Montfort)

* The Sacrament of the Holy Eucharist was instituted at the Last Supper, on Holy Thursday:

"Christ instituted the Holy Eucharist at the Last Supper, the night before He died." (Baltimore Catechism)

"Jesus Christ instituted the sacrament of the Eucharist at the last supper, which He took with His disciples, the evening before His passion." (Catechism of St. Pius X)

"Jesus Christ Himself instituted the Sacrifice of the Holy Mass when He instituted the Sacrament of the Blessed Eucharist and said that this should be done in memory of His passion." (Catechism of St. Pius X)

* This Sacrament differs from all the others in various ways:

"How much this Sacrament differs from all the others is easily inferred. For all the other Sacraments are completed by the use of the material, that is, while they are being administered to some one. Thus Baptism attains the nature of a Sacrament when the individual is actually being washed in the water. For the perfecting of the Eucharist on the other hand, the consecration of the material itself suffices, since neither (species) ceases to be a Sacrament, though kept in the pyx. Again in perfecting the other Sacraments there is no change of the matter and element into another nature. The water of Baptism, or the oil of Confirmation, when those Sacraments are being administered, do not lose their former nature of water and oil; but in the Eucharist, that which was bread and wine before consecration, after consecration is truly the substance of the Body and Blood of the Lord." (Catechism of the Council of Trent)

"The Eucharist also has a unique mark of distinction. The other sacraments do not have the power of sanctifying until someone makes use of them, but in the Eucharist the very author of sanctity is present before the sacrament is used" (Council of Trent)

"The most holy Eucharist has indeed this in common with the rest of the sacraments, that it is a symbol of a sacred thing, and is a visible form of an invisible grace; but there is found in the Eucharist this excellent and peculiar thing, that the other sacraments have then first the power of sanctifying when one uses them, whereas in the Eucharist, before being used, there is the Author Himself of sanctity. For the apostles had not as yet received the Eucharist from the hand of the Lord, when nevertheless Himself affirmed with truth that to be His own body which He presented (to them). And this faith has ever been in the Church of God, that, immediately after the consecration, the veritable Body of our Lord, and His veritable Blood, together with His soul and divinity, are under the species of bread and wine; but the Body indeed under the species of bread, and the Blood under the species of wine, by the force of the words; but the body itself under the species of wine, and the blood under the species of bread, and the soul under both, by the force of that natural connexion and concomitancy whereby the parts of Christ our Lord, who hath now risen from the dead, to die no more, are united together; and the divinity, furthermore, on account of the admirable hypostatical union thereof with His body and soul. Wherefore it is most true, that as much is contained under either species as under both; for Christ whole and entire is under the species of bread, and under any part whatsoever of that species; likewise the whole (Christ) is under the species of wine, and under the parts thereof." (Council of Trent, 1551 A.D.)

* Three things signified by this Sacrament: "Three things, then, are signified by this Sacrament. The first is the Passion of Christ our Lord, a thing past; for He Himself said: Do this for a commemoration of me, and the Apostle says: As often as you shall eat this bread, and drink the chalice, you shall show the death of the Lord, until he come. It is also significant of divine and heavenly grace, which is imparted at the present time by this Sacrament to nurture and preserve the soul. Just as in Baptism we are begotten unto newness of life and by Confirmation are strengthened to resist Satan and openly to profess the name of Christ, so by the Sacrament of the Eucharist are we nurtured and supported. It is, thirdly, a foreshadowing of future eternal joy and glory, which, according to God's promises, we shall receive in our heavenly country." (Catechism of the Council of Trent)

* The Holy Eucharist is usually given in Mass, but It may be given outside of Mass (especially as Viaticum)

"When the Holy Communion is given to one in danger of death, it is called Viaticum, and is given with its own form of prayer." (Baltimore Catechism)

Note: For more on Viaticum, click here.

* The Holy Sacrifice of the Mass was promised in the Old Testament: "Should we look for figures and prophecies of this Sacrifice in the Old Testament, in the first place Malachy most clearly prophesied thereof in these words: From the rising of the sun even to the going down, my name is great among the Gentiles, and in every place there is sacrifice, and there is offered to my name a clean oblation: for my name is great among the Gentiles, saith the Lord of hosts. (Mal. 1:11)" (Catechism of the Council of Trent)

* The Holy Eucharist was prefigured in the New Testament by the multiplication of bread (one of the relatively few things that are mentioned in all four gospels).

* The Holy Eucharist is both a Sacrament and a Sacrifice. 

"The Holy Eucharist, besides being a sacrament, is also the permanent Sacrifice of the New Law, which Jesus Christ left to His Church to be offered to God by the hands of His priests." (Catechism of St. Pius X)

"The Holy Eucharist is a Sacrament when we receive it in Holy Communion and when it remains in the Tabernacle of the Altar. It is a sacrifice when it is offered up at Mass by the separate Consecration of the bread and wine, which signifies the separation of Our Lord's blood from His body when He died on the Cross." (Baltimore Catechism)

"This sacrament is both a sacrifice and a sacrament. It has the nature of a sacrifice inasmuch as it is offered up; and it has the nature of a sacrament inasmuch as it is received. And therefore it has the effect of a sacrament in the recipient, and the effect of a sacrifice in the offerer, or in them for whom it is offered. If, then, it be considered as a sacrament, it produces its effect in two ways: first of all directly through the power of the sacrament; secondly as by a kind of concomitance, as was said above regarding what is contained in the sacrament (Q76,AA1,2). Through the power of the sacrament it produces directly that effect for which it was instituted. Now it was instituted not for satisfaction, but for nourishing spiritually through union between Christ and His members, as nourishment is united with the person nourished. But because this union is the effect of charity, from the fervor of which man obtains forgiveness, not only of guilt but also of punishment, hence it is that as a consequence, and by concomitance with the chief effect, man obtains forgiveness of the punishment, not indeed of the entire punishment, but according to the measure of his devotion and fervor. But in so far as it is a sacrifice, it has a satisfactory power. Yet in satisfaction, the affection of the offerer is weighed rather than the quantity of the offering. Hence our Lord says (Mark 12:43; Luke 21:4) of the widow who offered 'two mites' that she 'cast in more than all.' Therefore, although this offering suffices of its own quantity to satisfy for all punishment, yet it becomes satisfactory for them for whom it is offered, or even for the offerers, according to the measure of their devotion, and not for the whole punishment." (St. Thomas Aquinas, Doctor of the Church and "greatest theologian in the history of the Church") 

* Some differences between the Mass as a Sacrament and Sacrifice include: "But (between the Eucharist as a Sacrament and a Sacrifice) the difference is very great; for as a Sacrament it is perfected by consecration; as a Sacrifice, all its force consists in its oblation. When, therefore, kept in a pyx, or borne to the sick, it is a Sacrament, not a Sacrifice. As a Sacrament also, it is to them that receive it a source of merit, and brings with it all those advantages which have been already mentioned; but as a Sacrifice, it is not only a source of merit, but also of satisfaction. For as, in His Passion, Christ the Lord merited and satisfied for us; so also those who offer this Sacrifice, by which they communicate with us, merit the fruit of His Passion, and satisfy." (Catechism of the Council of Trent)

* The Sacrifice of the New Law is the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass. It is the unbloody sacrifice of the Body and Blood of Christ.

"This Sacrifice of the New Law is called the Holy Mass." (Catechism of St. Pius X)

"The Mass is the unbloody sacrifice of the Body and Blood of Christ." (Baltimore Catechism)

"The Holy Mass is the Sacrifice of the Body and Blood of Jesus Christ offered on our altars under the appearances of bread and wine, in commemoration of the Sacrifice of the Cross." (Catechism of St. Pius X)

* In the Mass, "Jesus Christ offers Himself for us to His heavenly Father by the hands of the priest." (Catechism of St. John Neumann)

* In Mass, Christ is not re-sacrificed, but rather the Sacrifice of the Mass is the same as the Sacrifice on the Cross - that is, the same sacrifice is made present on the Altar in an unbloody manner. There are not many sacrifices, but one Sacrifice.

"The Mass is the same sacrifice as that of the Cross." (Baltimore Catechism)

"The Mass makes present the sacrifice of the Cross; it does not add to that sacrifice nor does it multiply it." (Pope John Paul II)

"The Mass is not an imitation, or a memory of Calvary, it is identically the same sacrifice and differs only from Calvary in appearance." (Fr. O'Sullivan)

"The Eucharist is the perfect sacrament of our Lord's Passion, as containing Christ crucified" (St. Thomas Aquinas, Doctor of the Church and "greatest theologian in the history of the Church")

"The Mass is the same sacrifice as that of the Cross because the offering and the priest are the same - Christ our Blessed Lord; and the ends for which the sacrifice of the Mass is offered are the same as those of the sacrifice of the Cross." (Baltimore Catechism)

"Between the Sacrifice of the Mass and that of the Cross there is this difference and relation, that on the Cross Jesus Christ offered Himself by shedding His Blood and meriting for us; whereas on our altars He sacrifices Himself without the shedding of His Blood, and applies to us the fruits of His passion And death." (Catechism of St. Pius X)

"The Sacrifice of the Mass is substantially the same as that of the Cross, for the same Jesus Christ, Who offered Himself on the Cross, it is Who offers Himself by the hands of the priests, His ministers, on our altars; but as regards the way in which He is offered, the Sacrifice of the Mass differs from the Sacrifice of the Cross, though retaining the most intimate and essential relation to it." (Catechism of St. Pius X)

"The Sacrifice of the Cross is the one only Sacrifice of the New Law, inasmuch as through it Our Lord satisfied Divine Justice, acquired all the merits necessary to save us, and thus, on His part, fully accomplished our redemption. These merits, however, He applies to us through the means instituted by Him in His Church, among which is the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass." (Catechism of St. Pius X)

"[The difference between the sacrifice of the Cross and the sacrifice of the Mass is] the manner in which the sacrifice offered is different. On the Cross, Christ really shed His blood and was really slain; in Mass there is no real shedding of blood or real death, because Christ can die no more; but the sacrifice of the Mass, through the separate consecration of the bread and wine, represents His death on the Cross." (Baltimore Catechism)

"We therefore confess that the Sacrifice of the Mass is and ought to be considered one and the same Sacrifice as that of the cross, for the victim is one and the same, namely, Christ our Lord, who offered Himself, once only, a bloody Sacrifice on the altar of the cross. The bloody and unbloody victim are not two, but one victim only, whose Sacrifice is daily renewed in the Eucharist, in obedience to the command of our Lord: Do this for a commemoration of me. The priest is also one and the same, Christ the Lord; for the ministers who offer Sacrifice, consecrate the holy mysteries, not in their own person, but in that of Christ, as the words of consecration itself show, for the priest does not say: This is the body of Christ, but, This is my body; and thus, acting in the Person of Christ the Lord, he changes the substance of the bread and wine into the true substance of His body and blood." (Catechism of the Council of Trent)

"The august [Eucharistic] Sacrifice of the Altar is, as it were, the supreme instrument whereby the merits won by the divine Redeemer upon the cross are distributed to the faithful: 'as often as this commemorative [Eucharistic] Sacrifice is offered, there is wrought the work of our Redemption.' This, however, so far from lessening the dignity of the actual sacrifice on Calvary, rather proclaims and renders more manifest its greatness and its necessity, as the Council of Trent declares. Its daily immolation reminds us that there is no salvation except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ and that God Himself wishes that there should be a continuation of this sacrifice 'from the rising of the sun till the going down thereof' (Mal. 1:11), so that there may be no cessation of the hymn of praise and thanksgiving which man owes to God, seeing that he required His help continually and has need of the blood of the Redeemer to remit sin which challenges God's justice." (Pope Pius XII, "Mediator Dei", 1947 A.D.)

"And forasmuch as, in this divine sacrifice which is celebrated in the Mass, that same Christ is contained and immolated in an unbloody manner, who once offered Himself in a bloody manner on the altar of the cross; the holy Synod teaches, that this sacrifice is truly propitiatory and that by means thereof this is effected, that we obtain mercy, and find grace in seasonable aid, if we draw nigh unto God, contrite and penitent, with a sincere heart and upright faith, with fear and reverence. For the Lord, appeased by the oblation thereof, and granting the grace and gift of penitence, forgives even heinous crimes and sins. For the victim is one and the same, the same now offering by the ministry of priests, who then offered Himself on the cross, the manner alone of offering being different. The fruits indeed of which oblation, of that bloody one to wit, are received most plentifully through this unbloody one; so far is this (latter) from derogating in any way from that (former oblation). Wherefore, not only for the sins, punishments, satisfactions, and other necessities of the faithful who are living, but also for those who are departed in Christ, and who are not as yet fully purified, is it rightly offered, agreeably to a tradition of the apostles." (Council of Trent, 1562 A.D.)

"[Jesus Christ has offered Himself in] two ways: in a bloody and in an unbloody manner (in a bloody manner at His death on the Cross and in an unbloody manner 'at the Last Supper; and this He always does at every Holy Sacrifice of the Mass')" (Catechism of St. John Neumann)

* The Sacrifice of the Mass is not a mere commemoration or a merely a sacrifice of praise and thanksgiving, but a truly propitiatory sacrifice: 

"In the Mass there is offered to God a true sacrifice, properly speaking, which is propitiatory for the living and the dead." (Pope Pius IV)

"If any one saith that in the mass a true and proper sacrifice is not offered to God; or that to be offered is nothing else but that Christ is given us to eat; let him be anathema." (Council of Trent)

"If any one saith that the sacrifice of the mass is only a sacrifice of praise and of thanksgiving; or that it is a bare commemoration of the sacrifice consummated on the Cross, but not a propitiatory sacrifice; or that it profits him only who receives; and that it ought not to be offered for the living and for the dead for sins, pains, satisfactions, and other necessities; let him be anathema." (Council of Trent)

"The holy council teaches that this Sacrifice [of the Mass] is truly propitiatory, so that if we draw near to God with an upright heart and true faith, with fear and reverence, with sorrow and repentance, through the Mass we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need (see Heb. 4:16). For by this oblation the Lord is appeased" (Council of Trent).

"And thenceforth, the Apostles, and their successors in the priesthood, began to lift to heaven that 'clean oblation' foretold by Malachy, through which the name of God is great among the gentiles. And now, that same oblation in every part of the world and at every hour of the day and night, is offered and will continue to be offered without interruption till the end of time: a true sacrificial act, not merely symbolical, which has a real efficacy unto the reconciliation of sinners with the Divine Majesty." (Pope Pius XI, "Ad Catholici Sacerdotii", 1935 A.D.)

"The august sacrifice of the altar, then is no mere empty commemoration of the passion and death of Jesus Christ, but a true and proper act of sacrifice, whereby the High Priest by an unbloody immolation offers Himself a most acceptable victim to the Eternal Father, as He did upon the cross. 'It is one and the same victim; the same person now offers it by the ministry of His priests, who then offered Himself on the cross, the manner of offering alone being different. The priest is the same, Jesus Christ, whose sacred Person His minister represents." (Pope Pius XII, "Mediator Dei")

"[T]he sacred and holy Sacrifice of the Mass is not a Sacrifice of praise and thanksgiving only, or a mere commemoration of the Sacrifice performed on the cross, but also truly a propitiatory Sacrifice, by which God is appeased and rendered propitious to us. If, therefore, with a pure heart, a lively faith, and affected with an inward sorrow for our transgressions, we immolate and offer this most holy victim [Christ], we shall, without doubt, obtain mercy from the Lord, and grace in time of need; for so delighted is the Lord with the odor of this victim [Christ] that, bestowing on us the gift of grace and repentance, He pardons our sins." (Catechism of the Council of Trent) 

* We must be on guard today against the movement of those who propagate Protestant errors - those who want to turn the Sacrifice of the Mass into a mere meal, where communion is the culmination, rather than the consecration. These errors amount to heresy and have been condemned by the Church. Also, we must be on guard against the common error today that considers Mass not as a Sacrifice, but as a socializing occasion or a stage show. We must keep in mind that we gather as a community not to socialize with each other or to be entertained, but to propitiate God, whom we have offended, and worship Him in the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass. Communion with our neighbor is always secondary to communion with God. The proper time to socialize with our neighbor and to enjoy entertainment is outside of Mass. When we are in church, we are in the Lord's house ["a house of prayer" (Our Lord Jesus Christ, Mt. 21:13)]. The Holy Sacrifice of the Mass - the true re-presentation of Calvary - is a solemn, holy occasion and it is a prefigurement of heavenly worship of God. If you read in Revelation how those in heaven worship God, you will see that they are not directing their attention towards each other, engaging in private conversation, adopting irreverent postures, enjoying 'modern music', seeking entertainment, etc... Rather, they seem to follow admonitions such as...

"Enter, let us bow down in worship; let us kneel before the LORD who made us. For this is our God, whose people we are, God's well-tended flock." (Ps. 95:6-7) 

"[B]ow down to the LORD, splendid in holiness. Tremble before God, all the earth; say among the nations: The LORD is king. The world will surely stand fast, never to be moved. God rules the peoples with fairness." (Ps. 96:9-10) 

"Serve the LORD with fear; with trembling bow down in homage" (Ps. 2:11) 

"All the ends of the earth will worship and turn to the LORD; All the families of nations will bow low before you. For kingship belongs to the LORD, the ruler over the nations." (Ps. 22:28-29) 

"Give to the LORD the glory due God's name. Bow down before the LORD'S holy splendor!" (Ps. 29:2) 

"My hand made all these things when all of them came to be, says the LORD. This is the one whom I approve: the lowly and afflicted man who trembles at my word." (Isa. 66:2) 

"The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom; prudent are all who live by it." (Ps. 111:10)

Catholics must recognize and appreciate that Mass is the re-presentation of Calvary. Mass is not a party! Socializing should be conducted outside the church building (i.e. in the hall). 

"When you hear Mass, do you come in the same frame of mind as the Blessed Virgin at Calvary? Because it is the same God, and the same Sacrifice." (St. John Vianney)

"Now the exhortation of the Apostle, 'Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus," requires that all Christians should possess, as far as humanly possible, the same dispositions as those which the divine Redeemer had when He offered Himself in sacrifice: that is to say, they should in a humble attitude of mind, pay adoration, honor, praise and thanksgiving to the supreme majesty of God. Moreover, it means that they must assume to some extent the character of a victim, that they deny themselves as the Gospel commands, that freely and of their own accord they do penance and that each detests and satisfies for his sins. It means, in a word, that we must all undergo with Christ a mystical death on the cross so that we can apply to ourselves the words of St. Paul, 'With Christ I am nailed to the cross.'" (Pope Pius XII, "Mediator Dei")

For more information on proper behavior in church, continue reading below and try here.

* Although "it has always been the desire of the Church that at every Mass some of the faithful should be present and should communicate" (Pope Leo XIII), a Mass is just as valid even if there is no congregation. It is the priest alone - acting in the name of Christ - which effects the transubstantiation, and no lay communicants (or 'spectators') are necessary. Remember that "the essence of Mass is in consecration, NOT in Communion". 

"Can. 904 Remembering always that in the mystery of the eucharistic Sacrifice the work of redemption is continually being carried out, priests are to celebrate frequently. Indeed, daily celebration [of the Mass] is earnestly recommended, because, even if it should not be possible to have the faithful present, it is an action of Christ and of the Church in which priests fulfill their principal role." (1983 Code of Canon Law)

"They, therefore, err from the path of truth who do not want to have Masses celebrated unless the faithful communicate; and those are still more in error who, in holding that it is altogether necessary for the faithful to receive holy communion as well as the priest, put forward the captious argument that here there is a question not of a sacrifice merely, but of a sacrifice and a supper of brotherly union, and consider the general communion of all present as the culminating point of the whole celebration." (Pope Pius XII, "Mediator Dei")

"For each and every Mass is not something private, even if a priest celebrates it privately; instead, it is an act of Christ and of the Church... [T]here is no reason to criticize but rather only to approve a Mass that a priest celebrates privately for a good reason in accordance with the regulations and legitimate traditions of the Church, even when only a server to make the responses is present. For such a Mass brings a rich and abundant treasure of special graces to help the priest himself, the faithful, the whole Church and the whole world toward salvation - and this same abundance of graces is not gained through mere reception of Holy Communion." (Pope Paul VI, 1965 A.D.)

"The proposition of the synod in which, after it states that 'a partaking of the victim [that is, Christ in the Holy Eucharist] is an essential part in the sacrifice,' it adds, 'nevertheless, it does not condemn as illicit those Masses in which those present do not communicate sacramentally, for the reason that they do partake of the victim, although less perfectly, by receiving it spiritually,' since it insinuates that there is something lacking to the essence of the sacrifice [of the Mass] in that sacrifice which is performed either with no one present, or with those present who partake of the victim neither sacramentally nor spiritually, and as if those Masses should be condemned as illicit, in which, with the priest alone communicating, no one is present who communicates either sacramentally or spiritually, [is condemned as] false, erroneous, suspected of heresy and savoring of it." ('Auctorem fidei', Condemning the Errors of the Synod of Pistoia, Aug. 28, 1794 A.D.)

"We must, however, deeply deplore certain exaggerations and over-statements which are not in agreement with the true teaching of the Church. Some in fact disapprove altogether of those Masses which are offered privately and without any congregation, on the ground that they are a departure from the ancient way of offering the [Eucharistic] Sacrifice; moreover, there are some who assert that priests cannot offer Mass at different altars at the same time, because, by doing so, they separate the community of the faithful and imperil its unity; while some go so far as to hold that the people must confirm and ratify the [Eucharistic] Sacrifice if it is to have its proper force and value. They are mistaken in appealing in this matter to the social character of the Eucharistic Sacrifice, for as often as a priest repeats what the divine Redeemer did at the Last Supper, the [Eucharistic] Sacrifice is really completed. Moreover, this [Eucharistic] Sacrifice, necessarily and of its very nature, has always and everywhere the character of a public and social act, inasmuch as he who offers it acts in the name of Christ and of the faithful, whose Head is the divine Redeemer, and he offers it to God for the holy Catholic Church, and for the living and the dead. This is undoubtedly so, whether the faithful are present - as we desire and commend them to be in great numbers and with devotion - or are not present, since it is in no wise required that the people ratify what the sacred minister has done." (Pope Pius XII, "Mediator Dei", 1947 A.D.)

"For We can see that some of those who are dealing with this Most Holy Mystery in speech and writing are disseminating opinions on Masses celebrated in private or on the dogma of transubstantiation that are disturbing the minds of the faithful and causing them no small measure of confusion about matters of faith, just as if it were all right for someone to take doctrine that has already been defined by the Church and consign it to oblivion or else interpret it in such a way as to weaken the genuine meaning of the words or the recognized force of the concepts involved. To give an example of what We are talking about, it is not permissible to extol the so-called community Mass in such a way as to detract from Masses that are celebrated privately; or to concentrate on the notion of sacramental sign as if the symbolism - which no one will deny is certainly present in the Most Blessed Eucharist - fully expressed and exhausted the manner of Christ's presence in this Sacrament; or to discuss the mystery of transubstantiation without mentioning what the Council of Trent had to say about the marvelous conversion of the whole substance of the bread into the Body and the whole substance of the wine into the Blood of Christ, as if they involve nothing more than transignification, or transfinalization as they call it; or, finally, to propose and act upon the opinion that Christ Our Lord is no longer present in the consecrated Hosts that remain after the celebration of the sacrifice of the Mass has been completed. Everyone can see that the spread of these and similar opinions does great harm to belief in and devotion to the Eucharist." (Pope Paul VI, 1965 A.D.)

"The august [Eucharistic] Sacrifice of the Altar is concluded with communion or the partaking of the divine feast. But, as all know, the integrity of the [Eucharistic] Sacrifice only requires that the priest partake of the heavenly food. Although it is most desirable that the people should also approach the holy table, this is not required for the integrity of the [Eucharistic] Sacrifice. We wish in this matter to repeat the remarks which Our predecessor Benedict XIV makes with regard to the definitions of the Council of Trent: 'First We must state that none of the faithful can hold that private Masses, in which the priest alone receives Holy Communion, are therefore unlawful and do not fulfill the idea of the true, perfect and complete unbloody sacrifice instituted by Christ our Lord. For the faithful know quite well, or at least can easily be taught, that the Council of Trent, supported by the doctrine which the uninterrupted tradition of the Church has preserved, condemned the new and false opinion of Luther as opposed to this tradition.' 'If anyone shall say that Masses in which the priest only receives communion, are unlawful, and therefore should be abolished, let him be anathema.' They, therefore, err from the path of truth who do not want to have Masses celebrated unless the faithful communicate; and those are still more in error who, in holding that it is altogether necessary for the faithful to receive Holy Communion as well as the priest, put forward the captious argument that here there is question not of a [Eucharistic] sacrifice merely, but of a sacrifice and a supper of brotherly union, and consider the general communion of all present as the culminating point of the whole celebration. Now it cannot be over-emphasized that the Eucharistic Sacrifice of its very nature is the unbloody immolation of the divine Victim [Christ], which is made manifest in a mystical manner by the separation of the sacred species and by their oblation to the eternal Father. Holy Communion pertains to the integrity of the Mass and to the partaking of the august Sacrament; but while it is obligatory for the priest who says the Mass, it is only something earnestly recommended to the faithful." (Pope Pius XII, "Mediator Dei", 1947 A.D.)

Continued on Next Page

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Did You Know? 

You can still attend the Traditional Latin Mass - the highly reverent "Mass of the Saints". It is NOT the same as the Mass said in most Catholic parishes today. 

The Mass celebrated in most Catholic parishes since the 1960's is called the "Novus Ordo" (New Order) Mass. It was concocted by men after the Second Vatican Council. There are numerous and significant differences between the Traditional Latin Mass and the Novus Ordo Mass.

The Holy Sacrifice of the Mass (The "Tridentine" Mass)Happily, the Traditional Latin Mass - in use for most of the life of the Church - is still validly said in Catholic parishes today. Contact your diocese for the nearest location of this incomparable Mass. 

If this Mass is not available in your parish, petition your pastor!

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