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Reflections: Sacraments Sctn. (Holy Eucharist/Priests)

The Holy Sacrifice of the Mass (Traditional Latin 'Tridentine' Mass)

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Holy Eucharist / Mass & Priests



Holy Eucharist / Mass & Priests

Also See: Mass (Topic Page) | Priests (Topic Page)

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"For I have received of the Lord that which also I delivered unto you, that the Lord Jesus, the same night in which he was betrayed, took bread, And giving thanks, broke and said [to the Apostles]: Take ye and eat: This is my body, which shall be delivered for you. This do for the commemoration of me. In like manner also the chalice, after he had supped, saying: This chalice is the new testament in my blood. This do ye, as often as you shall drink, for the commemoration of me. For as often as you shall eat this bread and drink the chalice, you shall shew the death of the Lord, until he come. Therefore, whosoever shall eat this bread, or drink the chalice of the Lord unworthily, shall be guilty of the body and of the blood of the Lord. But let a man prove himself: and so let him eat of that bread and drink of the chalice. For he that eateth and drinketh unworthily eateth and drinketh judgment to himself, not discerning the body of the Lord. Therefore are there many infirm and weak among you: and many sleep [that is, die]." (St. Paul, 1 Cor. 11:23-30)

"Can. 802 Only priests have the power of offering the sacrifice of the Mass." (1917 Code of Canon Law)

"[T]he Eucharist is the principal and central raison d'etre of the sacrament of the priesthood" (Pope John Paul II)

"If any one saith, that it is not lawful for the celebrating priest to communicate himself; let him be anathema." (Council of Trent)

"Anyone who believes and contends that he can perform the Sacrifice of the Eucharist without having first been ordained by a a heretic." (Pope Innocent III)

"Can. 929 In celebrating and administering the Eucharist, priests and deacons are to wear the sacred vestments prescribed by the rubrics." (1983 Code of Canon Law)

"If a priest celebrates Mass in a state of mortal sin or under some ecclesiastical penalty, he does celebrate a valid Sacrament, but he sins most grievously." (De Defectibus)

"If any one saith, that masses, wherein the priest alone communicates sacramentally, are unlawful, and are, therefore, to be abrogated; let him be anathema." (Council of Trent)

"[I]t belongs to a priest to consecrate the Eucharist, which is the principal purpose of the priesthood" (St. Thomas Aquinas, Doctor of the Church and "greatest theologian in the history of the Church")

"Can. 909 A priest is not to neglect to prepare himself properly through prayer for the celebration of the Eucharistic sacrifice and to offer thanks to God at its completion." (1983 Code of Canon Law)

"Can. 930 §1 A priest who is ill or elderly, if he is unable to stand, may celebrate the eucharistic Sacrifice sitting but otherwise observing the liturgical laws; he may not, however, do so in public except by permission of the local Ordinary." (1983 Code of Canon Law)

"Can. 868 A celebrating priest is not allowed to distribute the Eucharist during Mass to those faithful who are so distant from him that he loses sight of the altar." (1917 Code of Canon Law) [Note: In such cases, another priest should assist the celebrating priest.]

"If any one saith, that by those words, Do this for the commemoration of me (Luke xxii. 19), Christ did not institute the apostles priests; or, did not ordain that they, and other priests should offer His own body and blood; let him be anathema." (Council of Trent)

"Can. 907 In the celebration of the Eucharist [the Mass], deacons and lay persons are not permitted to say the prayers, especially the eucharistic prayer, nor to perform the actions which are proper to the celebrating priest." (1983 Code of Canon Law)

"Can. 900 §1 The only minister who, in the person of Christ, can bring into being the sacrament of the Eucharist, is a validly ordained priest. §2 Any priest who is not debarred by canon law may lawfully celebrate the Eucharist [say Mass], provided the provisions of the [applicable] canons are observed." (1983 Code of Canon Law)

"In the sacramental reception it has always been the custom in the Church of God that the laity receive Communion from the priests and that priests who are celebrating Mass give Communion to themselves. This custom should rightly and deservedly be kept as coming down from apostolic tradition." (Council of Trent)

"For it is not man who makes the sacrificial gifts become the Body and Blood of Christ, but He that was crucified for us, Christ Himself. The priest stands there carrying out the action, but the power and the grace is of God. 'This is My Body', he says. This statement transforms the gifts." (St. John Chrysostom, Doctor of the Church, c. 4th century A.D.)

"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 [Mass] frequently. Indeed, daily celebration [of 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 fulfil their principal role." (1983 Code of Canon Law)

"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) [Note: The 1983 Code of Canon Law permits Deacons to act as 'ordinary ministers': "Can. 910 §1 The ordinary minister of holy communion is a Bishop, a priest or a deacon." (1983 Code of Canon Law)]

"There is one holy universal Church of the faithful outside which absolutely no one is saved, in which Jesus Christ Himself is both Priest and Victim, Whose Body and Blood are truly contained in the sacrament of the altar under the appearances of bread and wine, the bread and the wine being by divine power transubstantiated into His Body and Blood, so that for the perfecting of the mystery of unity we may receive of Him what He took from us. And no one may consecrate this sacrament except a priest who has been duly ordained according to the keys of the Church, which Jesus Christ Himself granted to the apostles and their successors." (Fourth Lateran Council)

"Can. 916 Anyone who is conscious of grave sin may not celebrate Mass or receive the Body of the Lord without previously having been to sacramental confession, unless there is a grave reason and there is no opportunity to confess; in this case the person is to remember the obligation to make an act of perfect contrition, which includes the resolve to go to confession as soon as possible." (1983 Code of Canon Law) [Note: Of course, the term 'anyone' as used in this paragraph refers to all persons with regard to the reception of Holy Communion, but refers to a priest with regard to celebrating Mass (since, of course, no lay person has the power to celebrate Mass).]

"In a word this Sacrament is, as it were, the very soul of the Church; and to it the grace of the priesthood is ordered and directed in all its fullness and in each of its successive grades. From the same source the Church draws and has all her strength, all her glory, her every supernatural endowment and adornment, every good thing that is here; wherefore she makes it the chiefest of all her cares to prepare the hearts of the faithful for an intimate union with Christ through the Sacrament of His Body and Blood, and to draw them thereto. And to this end she strives to promote the veneration of the august mystery by surrounding it with holy ceremonies." (Pope Leo XIII, "Mirae Caritatis", 1902 A.D.)

"You must all follow the bishop as Jesus Christ follows the Father, and the presbytery as you would the Apostles. Reverence the deacons as you would the command of God. Let no one do anything of concern to the Church without the bishop. Let that be considered a valid Eucharist which is celebrated by the bishop, or by one whom he appoints. Wherever the bishop appears, let the people be there; just as wherever Jesus Christ is, there is the Catholic Church. Nor is it permitted without the bishop either to baptize or to celebrate the agape; but whatever he approve, this too is pleasing to God, so that whatever is done will be secure and valid." (St. Ignatius of Antioch, c. 110 A.D.)

"[S]uch is the dignity of this sacrament that it is performed only as in the person of Christ. Now whoever performs any act in another's stead, must do so by the power bestowed by such a one. But as the power of receiving this sacrament is conceded by Christ to the baptized person, so likewise the power of consecrating this sacrament on Christ's behalf is bestowed upon the priest at his ordination: for thereby he is put upon a level with them to whom the Lord said (Luke 22:19): 'Do this for a commemoration of Me.' Therefore, it must be said that it belongs to priests [and bishops alone] to accomplish this sacrament." (St. Thomas Aquinas, Doctor of the Church and "greatest theologian in the history of the Church")

"Afterward the Lord gave me and still gives me such faith in priests who live according to the manner of the holy Roman Church because of their order, that if they were to persecute me, I would [still] have recourse to them. And if I possessed as much wisdom as Solomon had and I came upon pitiful priests of this would, I would not preach contrary to their will in the parishes in which they live. And I desire to fear, love, and honor them and all others as my masters. And I do not wish to consider sin in them because I discern the Son of God in them and they are my masters. And I act in this was since I see nothing corporally of the Most High Son of God in this world except His Most holy Body and Blood which they receive and which they alone administer to others. And these most holy mysteries I wish to have honored above all things and to be reverenced and to have them reserved in precious places." (St. Francis of Assisi)

"The power of consecrating the Eucharist belongs to the character of the priestly order. But every character is indelible, because it is given with a kind of consecration...just as the consecrations of all other things are perpetual, and cannot be lost or repeated. Hence it is clear that the power of consecrating is not lost by degradation [of a priest]. For, again, Augustine says (Contra epistolarum Parmeniani ii): 'Both are sacraments,' namely Baptism and order, 'and both are given to a man with a kind of consecration; the former, when he is baptized; the latter when he is ordained; and therefore it is not lawful for Catholics to repeat either of them.' And thus it is evident that the degraded priest can perform this sacrament [validly, although illicitly]." (St. Thomas Aquinas, Doctor of the Church and "greatest theologian in the history of the Church")

"The sacrament of the Eucharist consists in the consecration of the matter and not in its use. Consequently, strictly speaking, that which is the matter of the sacrament is not a consecrated thing. Hence no consecration of the matter by a bishop is required beforehand: but the altar and such like things, even the priest himself, need to be consecrated, all of which can be done by none but a bishop: so that in this sacrament also, the priest's power is shown to be derived from the bishop's, as Dionysius observes (De Ecclesiastica Hierarchia iii). The reason why a priest can perform that consecration of matter which is a sacrament by itself, and not that which, as a sacramental, is directed to a sacrament consisting in something used by the faithful, is that in respect of Christ's true body no order is above the priesthood, whereas, in respect of Christ's mystic body the episcopate is above the priesthood" (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 [the apostles] 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")

"Augustine (Paschasius) says (De Corpore et Sanguine Domini xii): 'Within the Catholic Church, in the mystery of the Lord's body and blood, nothing greater is done by a good priest, nothing less by an evil priest, because it is not by the merits of the consecrator that the sacrament is accomplished, but by the Creator's word, and by the power of the Holy Spirit'... the priest consecrates this sacrament not by his own power, but as the minister of Christ, in Whose person he consecrates this sacrament. But from the fact of being wicked he does not cease to be Christ's minister; because our Lord has good and wicked ministers or servants. Hence (Matthew 24:45) our Lord says: 'Who, thinkest thou, is a faithful and wise servant?' and afterwards He adds: 'But if that evil servant shall say in his heart...'. And the Apostle (1 Corinthians 4:1) says: 'Let a man so account of us as of the ministers of Christ'; and afterwards he adds: 'I am not conscious to myself of anything; yet am I not hereby justified.' He was therefore certain that he was Christ's minister; yet he was not certain that he was a just man. Consequently, a man can be Christ's minister even though he be not one of the just. And this belongs to Christ's excellence, Whom, as the true God, things both good and evil serve, since they are ordained [permitted] by His providence for His glory. Hence it is evident that priests, even though they be not godly, but sinners, can consecrate the Eucharist." (St. Thomas Aquinas, Doctor of the Church and "greatest theologian in the history of the Church")

"The fact, however, that the faithful participate in the Eucharistic Sacrifice does not mean that they also are endowed with priestly power. It is very necessary that you make this quite clear to your flocks. For there are today, Venerable Brethren, those who, approximating to errors long since condemned teach that in the New Testament by the word 'priesthood' is meant only that [common] priesthood which applies to all who have been baptized; and hold that the command by which Christ gave power to His apostles at the Last Supper to do what He Himself had done, applies directly to the entire Christian [that is, Catholic] Church, and that thence, and thence only, arises the hierarchical priesthood. Hence they assert that the people are possessed of a true priestly power, while the priest only acts in virtue of an office committed to him by the community. Wherefore, they look on the Eucharistic Sacrifice as a 'concelebration,' in the literal meaning of that term, and consider it more fitting that priests should 'concelebrate' with the people present than that they should offer the [Eucharistic] Sacrifice privately when the people are absent. It is superfluous to explain how captious errors of this sort completely contradict the truths which we have just stated above, when treating of the place of the priest in the Mystical Body of Jesus Christ. But we deem it necessary to recall that the priest acts for the people only because he represents Jesus Christ, who is Head of all His members and offers Himself in their stead. Hence, he goes to the altar as the minister of Christ, inferior to Christ but superior to the people. The people, on the other hand, since they in no sense represent the divine Redeemer and are not mediator between themselves and God, can in no way possess the sacerdotal power... The unbloody immolation at the words of consecration, when Christ is made present upon the altar in the state of a victim, is performed by the priest and by him alone, as the representative of Christ and not as the representative of the faithful." (Pope Pius XII, "Mediator Dei", 1947 A.D.)

[Note: The following refers to priests who have validly received the sacrament of Holy Orders. Of course, if a man has not validly received Holy Orders, he is a mere layman (and not a priest) and would have no power whatsoever to effect a consecration and therefore no power to bring forth the Holy Eucharist.] "As was said above, heretical, schismatical, excommunicate, or even sinful priests, although they have the power to consecrate the Eucharist, yet they do not make a proper use of it; on the contrary, they sin by using it. But whoever communicates with another who is in sin, becomes a sharer in his sin. Hence we read in John's Second Canonical Epistle (2 John 1:1) that 'He that saith unto him, God speed you, communicateth with his wicked works.' Consequently, it is not lawful to receive Communion from them, or to assist at their mass. Still there is a difference among the above, because heretics, schismatics, and excommunicates, have been forbidden, by the Church's sentence, to perform the Eucharistic rite. And therefore whoever hears their mass or receives the sacraments from them, commits sin. But not all who are sinners are debarred by the Church's sentence from using this power: and so, although suspended by the Divine sentence, yet they are not suspended in regard to others by any ecclesiastical sentence: consequently, until the Church's sentence is pronounced, it is lawful to receive Communion at their hands, and to hear their mass. Hence on 1 Corinthians 5:11, 'with such a one not so much as to eat,' Augustine's gloss runs thus: 'In saying this he was unwilling for a man to be judged by his fellow man on arbitrary suspicion, or even by usurped extraordinary judgment, but rather by God's law, according to the Church's ordering, whether he confess of his own accord, or whether he be accused and convicted.'... By refusing to hear the masses of such priests, or to receive Communion from them, we are not shunning God's sacraments; on the contrary, by so doing we are giving them honor (hence a host consecrated by such priests is to be adored, and if it be reserved, it can be consumed by a lawful priest): but what we shun is the sin of the unworthy ministers... those who receive or minister unworthily, are deprived of the fruit... And therefore, those who belong to the unity of the Faith are not to receive the sacrament from their dispensing." (St. Thomas Aquinas, Doctor of the Church and "greatest theologian in the history of the Church") 

[Note: The following refers to priests who have validly received the sacrament of Holy Orders. Of course, if a man has not validly received Holy Orders, he is a mere layman (and not a priest) and would have no power whatsoever to effect a consecration and therefore no power to bring forth the Holy Eucharist.] "Augustine says (Contra epistolarum Parmeniani ii): 'Just as Baptism remains in them,' i.e. in heretics, schismatics, and those who are excommunicate, 'so do their orders remain intact.' Now, by the power of his ordination, a priest can consecrate the Eucharist. Therefore, it seems that heretics, schismatics, and those who are excommunicate, can consecrate the Eucharist, since their orders remain entire... Some have contended that heretics, schismatics, and the excommunicate, who are outside the pale of the Church, cannot perform this sacrament. But herein they are deceived, because, as Augustine says (Contra epistolarum Parmeniani ii), 'it is one thing to lack something utterly, and another to have it improperly'; and in like fashion, 'it is one thing not to bestow, and quite another to bestow, but not rightly.' Accordingly, such as, being within the Church, received the power of consecrating the Eucharist through being ordained to the priesthood, have such power rightly indeed; but they use it improperly if afterwards they be separated from the Church by heresy, schism, or excommunication. But such as are ordained while separated from the Church, have neither the power rightly, nor do they use it rightly. But that in both cases they have the power, is clear from what Augustine says (Contra epistolarum Parmeniani ii), that when they return to the unity of the Church, they are not re-ordained, but are received in their orders. And since the consecration of the Eucharist is an act which follows the power of order, such [men] as are separated from the Church by heresy, schism, or excommunication, can indeed consecrate the Eucharist, which on being consecrated by them contains Christ's true Body and Blood; but they act wrongly, and sin by doing so; and in consequence they do not receive the fruit of the sacrifice [of the Mass]... [I]f a priest severed from the unity of the Church celebrates Mass, not having lost the power of order, he consecrates Christ's true Body and Blood; but because he is severed from the unity of the Church, his prayers have no efficacy." (St. Thomas Aquinas, Doctor of the Church and "greatest theologian in the history of the Church")

Also See: The Holy Eucharist (Gen'l. Info.) | Holy Eucharist (Catechism of the Council of Trent) | Holy Eucharist / Mass (Basics / Misc.) | Priests & The Holy Eucharist / Mass (Priests & Vocations Reflections) | Priests & The Sacraments (Priests & Vocations Reflections) | Mass is a Sacrifice / The Mass & Calvary | The Holy Eucharist Should Be Handled Only By Priests | Lay 'Eucharistic Ministers': Why Not? | Traditional Prohibition Regarding Concelebration | Priests & Vocations Section | Holy Orders (Gen'l. Info.) | Priests / Priesthood (Priests & Vocations Reflections) | Why Priestly Celibacy? | Top Reasons Why Women Can't Be Priests | Reverence / Proper Behavior (Mass / Holy Eucharist) | Church Talk Reflections | Latin Mass / Catholic Tradition

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* Priests (Topic Page)

* Sin (Topic Page)

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