XXXVI - 10 (03)
what of the night?”
"The hour has come, the hour is
striking and striking at you,
The Roman Eucharist
Mary and the Eucharist
On "Holy Thursday" of
Easter Week this year, Pope John Paul
II issued an Encyclical, Ecclesia de Eucharistia. The first
sentence read, "The [Roman] Church draws her life from the
Eucharist." As he continued, he declared, "The Church was born of the
paschal mystery. For this very reason the Eucharist, which is in an outstanding
way the sacrament of the paschal mystery, stands in the center of the Church's life" (Emphasis his). If indeed, as
stated, "the seal of the living God" is "the mark of
redemption" (Letter 126, 1898), which centered in the once-for-all
In this issue of WWN, we give "proof" from the accepted documents of the Roman Church how blasphemous this rite really is, and also how simple, through this rite, it is to be accepted into the unity of the Roman faith; but also what is involved in so doing.
One of the saints of the Roman Church down graded Mary in his discussion of the power and dignity of the Roman priesthood. In this Encyclical, John Paul II, a devotee of Mary, repositions Mary's role in connection with the Eucharist.
The Roman Eucharist
During the congress, groups
advocating church reform gathered in a large
Herein, Bishop Mixa stated the
second factor in the Eucharistic question which blocks the road to ecumenical
unity - the perceived powers of the priesthood of
"Visible unity" not only involves the doctrine of the nature of the Eucharist itself, whether a commemoration as in "the Lord's Supper", or a transubstantiation as in the Roman Eucharist; but also the doctrine of "the sacrament of Holy Orders." This John Paul II made very clear. He stated:
Lastly the [Roman] Church is apostolic in the sense that she "continues to be taught, sanctified and guided by the Apostles until the Lord's return, through their successors in pastoral office: the college of bishops assisted by priests, in union with the Successor of Peter, the Church's supreme pastor." Succession to the Apostles in the pastoral mission necessarily entails the sacrament of Holy Orders, that is, the uninterrupted sequence, from the very beginning, of valid Episcopal ordination. This is essential for the Church to exist in a proper and full sense.
The Eucharist also expresses this sense of apostolicity. As the Second Vatican Council teaches, "the faithful join in the offering of the Eucharist by virtue of their royal priesthood," yet it is the ordained priest who, "acting in the person of Christ, brings about the Eucharistic Sacrifice and offers it to God in the name of all the people." For this reason, the Roman Missal prescribes that only the priest should recite the Eucharist Prayer, while the people participate in faith and in silence. [par. 281 ...
The ministry of priests who have received the sacrament of Holy Orders, in the economy of salvation chosen by Christ, makes clear that the Eucharist which they celebrate is a gift which radically transcends the power of the assembly and is in any event essential for validly linking the Eucharistic consecration to the sacrifice of the Cross and to the Last Supper. The assembly gathered together for the celebration of the Eucharist, if it is to be a truly Eucharistic assembly, absolutely requires the presence of an ordained priest as its president. [par. 29; emphasis his]
The awesomeness of the power claimed
what God did at the command of Joshua (), de Liguori wrote:
But our wonder should be far greater when we find that in obedience to the words of his priests - Hoc est Corpus Meum - God himself descends on the altar, that he comes wherever they call him, and as often as they call him, and places himself in their hands, even though they should be his enemies. After having come, he remains entirely at their disposal; they move him as they please, from one place to another; they may if they wish, shut him up in the tabernacle, or expose him on the altar, or carry him outside of the church; they may, if they choose, eat his flesh, and give him for the food of others. "0 how very great is their power," says St. Lawrence Justinian, speaking of priests. "A word falls from their lips and the body of Christ is there substantially formed from the matter of the bread, and the Incarnate Word descended from heaven, is really found present on the table of the altar! Never did divine goodness give such power to the angels. The angels abide by the order of God, but the priests take him in their hands, distribute him to the faithful, and partake of him as food for themselves." (pp. 26-27)
In another section on the "Importance of the Priestly Office," de Liguori writes:
The dignity of the
priest is estimated from the exalted nature of his offices. Priests are chosen
by God to manage on earth all his concerns and interests. "Divine,"
says St. Cyril of
In justification of the assumption that the sacrifice of the Mass is superior to the Virgin Mary, de Liguori quotes St. Bernadine of Sienna as addressing Mary: "Holy Virgin, excuse me, for I speak not against thee: for the Lord has raised the priesthood above thee." Then he summarizes Bernadine's reasoning:
The saint assigns the
reason of the superiority of the priesthood over Mary; she conceived Jesus
Christ only once; but by consecrating the Eucharist, the priest, as it were,
conceives him as often as he wishes, so that if the person of the Redeemer had
not yet been in the world, the priest, by pronouncing the words of
consecration, would produce this great person of a Man-God. "0 wonderful dignity of the priests," cries out
Thus the priest may, in
a certain manner, be called the creator of his Creator, since by saying the
words of consecration, he creates, as it were, Jesus in the sacrament, by
giving him a sacramental existence, and produces him as a victim to be offered
to the eternal Father. As in creating the world it was sufficient for God to have
said, Let it be made, and it was created - He spoke, and they were made, - so
it is sufficient for the priest to say, "Hoc est corpus meum," and
behold the bread is no longer bread, but the body of Jesus Christ. "The
power of the priest," says St. Bernadine of Sienna, "is the power of
the divine person; for the transubstantiation of the bread requires as much
power as the creation of the world." And
In his Encyclical, the Pope connected the Eucharist with the sacrament of Penance. Citing the decrees of the Council of Trent that "one must first confess one's sins" before receiving the Eucharist, he stated:
The two sacraments of
the Eucharist and Penance are very closely connected. Because the Eucharist
makes present the redeeming sacrifice of
This again brings into play the assumed power of the priests. The sainted de Liguori describes this power. He writes:
The priest holds the place of the Saviour himself, when, by saying "Ego te absolvo," he absolves from sin. This great power, which Jesus Christ received from his eternal Father, he has communicated to his priests. "Jesus," says Tertullian, "invests the priests with his own powers." To pardon a single sin requires all the omnipotence of God. . . . But what only God can do by his omnipotence, the priest can also do by saying, "Ego te absolve a peccatis tuis," for the forms of the sacrament, or the words of the forms, produce what they signify. How great would be our wonder if we saw a person invested with the power of changing a negro into a white man; but the priest does what is far more wonderful, for by saying "Ego te absolvo" he changes a sinner from an enemy into a friend of God, and from the slave of hell into an heir of paradise.
Cardinal Hugo represents the Lord addressing the following words to a priest who absolves a sinner: "I have created heaven and earth, but I leave to you a better and nobler creation; make out of this soul that is in sin a new soul, that is, make out of the slave of Satan, that the soul is, a child of God. I have made the earth bring forth all kinds of fruit, but to thee I confide a more beautiful creation, namely, that the soul should bring forth fruits of salvation." The soul without grace is a withered tree that can no longer produce fruit; but receiving the divine grace, through the ministry of a priest, it brings forth fruits to eternal life. (pp. 34-35).
These concepts though not detailed
in his current Encyclical, form the basis for the Pope's dictum in regard to
"communion" at ecumenical gatherings such as the Ecumenical
Kirchentag held this year in
The Catholic Church's teaching on the relationship between priestly ministry and the Eucharist and her teachings on the Eucharistic Sacrifice have both been the subject in recent decades of a fruitful dialogue in the area of ecumenism. We must give thanks to the Blessed Trinity for the significant progress and convergence achieved in this regard, which leads us to hope one day for a full sharing of faith. Nonetheless, the observations of the [Second Vatican] Council concerning the Ecclesial Communities [Protestants] which arose in the West from the sixteenth century onwards and are separated from the Catholic Church remain fully pertinent: "The Ecclesial Communities separated from us lack that fullness of unity which should flow from Baptism, and we believe that especially because of the lack of the sacrament of Orders they have not preserved the genuine and total reality of the Eucharistic mystery. (par. 30, emphasis his).
The Worship of Man-made Bread
In the Wilderness of Temptation, Satan tempted Christ to turn stones to bread, now in the Sacrifice of the Mass, his minions profess to turn bread into the Man-God, Christ Jesus. But it is not a momentary thing. It becomes an object of worship and adoration. In the current Encyclical, John Paul II wrote:
The worship of the Eucharist outside of the Mass is of inestimable value for the life of the Church. This worship is strictly linked to the celebration of the Eucharistic Sacrifice. The presence of Christ under the sacred species reserved after the Mass - a presence which lasts as long as the species of bread and wine remain - derives from the celebration of the sacrifice and is directed towards communion, both sacramental and spiritual. It is the responsibility of Pastors to encourage, also by their personal witness, the practice of Eucharistic adoration, and exposition of the Blessed Sacrament in particular, as well as prayer of adoration before Christ present under the Eucharistic species. (Par. 25).
After citing his own worship "in silent adoration" before "the Most Holy Sacrament," he testifies that from this experience he has "drawn . . . strength, consolation and support." He then exhorts:
This practice, repeatedly praised and recommended by the Magisterium, is supported by the example of many saints. Particularly outstanding in this regard was Saint Alponsus Liguori, who wrote: "Of all devotions, that of adoring Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament is the greatest after the sacraments, the one dearest to God and the one most helpful to us." (ibid.)
Further, the Pope calls attention to an Encyclical of Paul VI which admonishes that "in the course of the day the faithful should not omit visiting the Blessed Sacrament" declaring that "such visits are a sign of gratitude, an expression of love and an acknowledgement of the Lord's presence." (ibid.)
The pope in this Encyclical ties the concept of "visible unity" with the Sacrament of the Eucharist. He stated:
Ecclesial communion, as I have said, is likewise visible, and finds expression in the series of "bonds" listed by the Council when it teaches: "They are fully incorporated into the society of the Church who, possessing the Spirit of
Christ, accept her whole structure and all the means of salvation established within her, and within her visible framework are united to Christ, who governs her through the Supreme Pontiff and the Bishops, by the bonds of profession of faith, the sacraments, the ecclesiastical government and communion." (par. 38; emphasis his)
That there be no misunderstanding in what he is saying, the Pope reiterated this outline for visible unity by declaring:
The ecclesial communion
of the Eucharistic assembly is a communion with its own Bishop and with
the Roman Pontiff. The Bishop, in effect, is the visible
principle and the foundation of unity within his particular Church. It would
therefore be a great contradiction if the sacrament par excellence of
the Church's unity were celebrated without true communion with the Bishop. . .
Likewise, since "the Roman Pontiff, as the successor of Peter, is the
perpetual and visible source and foundation of the unity of the Bishops and of
the multitude of the faithful," communion with him is intrinsically
required for the celebration of the Eucharistic Sacrifice. Hence the great
truth expressed which the Liturgy expresses in a variety of ways: "Every
celebration of the Eucharist is performed in union not only with the proper
Bishop, but also with the Pope, with the episcopal order, with all the clergy,
and with the entire people. Every valid celebration of the Eucharist expresses
universal communion with Peter and with the whole Church, or objectively calls
for it, as in the case of the
Mark this closely: in the light of
this clear pronouncement on what only
will constitute "visible unity," given on April 17, six weeks later,
sixteen German denominations signed the document, Charta 0ecumenica at the Kirchentag setting forth guidelines for
promoting cooperation towards "visible unity." Further, the Constitution of the World Council of
"The Centre" of Romanism
While "the mystery of the Trinity is the central doctrine of the Catholic faith" and the basis of "all the other teachings of the Church" (Handbook for Today's Catholic, p. 11), the Pope in this Encyclical declares that "the Church was born of the paschal mystery," referring to the Passover Supper in the upper room. "For this very reason," he states, "the Eucharist, which is in an outstanding way the sacrament of the paschal mystery, stands at the centre of the Church's life." (Par. 3; emphasis his). He declares that "the Church draws her life from Christ in the Eucharist." (Par. 6, emphasis his).
Speaking of his own experience, he indicated that from the time he first became the pope, "as the Successor of Peter," he marked "Holy Thursday, the day of the Eucharist and of the priesthood, by sending a letter to all the priests of the world." This year, his twenty-fifth, he wished to involve "the whole Church more fully in this Eucharistic reflection" by "pointing out with new force to the Church the centrality of the Eucharist" (Par. 7). You will observe that connected with the Eucharist, he links "the priesthood," those who are declared able to create the Man-God out of a piece of bread. He comments:
If the Eucharist is the centre and summit of the Church's life, it is likewise the centre and summit of priestly ministry. For this reason, with a heart filled with gratitude to our Lord Jesus Christ, I repeat that the Eucharist "is the principle and central raison d'etre of the sacrament of the priesthood, which effectively came into being at the moment of the institution of the Eucharist. (Par. 31).
The whole objective of the Ecumenical
movement is "communion." In this Encyclical, the Pope declared that
"the Eucharist creates communion and fosters communion. " He
cites the Apostle Paul's letter to the divided
of the Eucharist in order to return to the spirit of fraternal communion." (Par. 40, emphasis his). From this point, the Pope makes a very significant observation:
particular effectiveness in promoting communion is one of the reasons for the
importance of Sunday
Citing a more recent Encyclical, Novo Millennio Ineunte, he stated, "I drew particular attention to the Sunday Eucharist, emphasizing its effectiveness for building communion. 'it is' - I wrote - 'the privileged place where communion is ceaselessly proclaimed and nurtured. Precisely through sharing in the Eucharist, the Lord's Day also becomes the Day of the Church, when she can effectively exercise her role as the sacrament of unity.'" (ibid.)
All of this recalls the statement
made by Cardinal Edward Cassidy, then
President of the Vatican Council for Promoting Church Unity, at a news
conference while in attendance at the 1991 Seventh Assembly of the
The mark of Romanism is more than
just "the Day of the Church," it also includes what is done on that
day, "the Sunday Eucharist," the blasphemous
Holy Communion may be received on the tongue or in the hand [See Rev. 14:9] and may be given under the form of bread alone or under both species.
When the minister [priest] of the Eucharist addresses the communicant with the words "The Body of Christ," "The Blood of Christ," the communicant responds, "Amen."
When the minister [priest] raises the Eucharistic bread or wine, this is an invitation for the communicant to make an Act of Faith, to express his or her belief in the Eucharist, to manifest a need and desire for the Lord, to accept the good news of Jesus' paschal mystery.
A clear and meaningful "Amen" is your response to this invitation. In this way you profess your belief in the presence of Christ in the Eucharistic bread and wine as well as in his Body, the Church. (p. 42).
Pause and take time to analyze what
is being said in the above paragraphs. The "Act of Faith" is the
acceptance of the Roman teaching of Transubstantiation - the bread and wine
becoming the actual body and blood of Jesus Christ. The clear and meaningful
"Amen" indicates two things: 1)
Your acceptance of the blasphemy, and 2) Your full unity with
The day is not far distant when the test will come to all who deny "the day of the Church" and who refuse to worship a piece of bread as their Saviour.
Mary and the Eucharist
Volume XII of the published works in English of the sainted doctor of the Roman Church, Alphonsus de Liguori, is devoted to the "Dignity and Duties of the Priest." We quoted in the above article, de Liguori's citation from Bernadine of Sienna wherein he addressed the Virgin Mary - "Holy Virgin, excuse me, for I speak not against thee: the Lord has raised the priesthood above thee." (See p. 3). John Paul II, a devotee of Mary, in his Encyclical on the Eucharist seeks to mute this strong assertion, and place Mary in the forefront of the Roman doctrine of transubstantiation.
For your information, we shall quote at length from the Encyclical, the Pope's placement of Mary in defence of the Roman teaching:
53. If we wish to rediscover in all its richness the profound relationship between the Church and the Eucharist, we cannot neglect Mary, Mother and the model of the Church. In my Apostolic Letter, Rosarium Virginis Mariae, I pointed to the Blessed Virgin Mary as our teacher in contemplating Christ's face, and among the mysteries of light I included the institution of the Eucharist.
Mary can guide us towards this most holy sacrament, because she herself has a profound relationship with it.
At first glance, the Gospel is silent on this subject. The account of the institution of the Eucharist on the night of Holy Thursday makes no mention of Mary. Yet we know that she was present among the Apostles who prayed "with one accord" (cf. Acts ) in the first community which gathered after the Ascension in expectation of Pentecost. Certainly Mary must have been present at the Eucharistic celebrations of the first generation of Christians, who were devoted to "the breaking of bread" (Acts ).
But in addition to her sharing in the Eucharist banquet, an indirect picture of Mary's relationship with the Eucharist can be had, beginning with her interior disposition. Mary is a "woman of the Eucharist" in her whole life. The Church, which looks to Mary as a model, is also called to imitate her in her relationship with this most holy mystery.
54. Mysterium fidei! If the Eucharist is a
mystery of faith which so greatly transcends our understanding as to call for
sheer abandonment to the word of God, then there can be no one like Mary to act
as our support and guide in acquiring this disposition. In repeating what
Christ did at the Last Supper in obedience to his command: "Do this in
memory of me!" we also accept Mary's invitation to obey him without
hesitation: "Do whatever he tells you" (Jn 2:5). With the same
maternal concern which she showed at the wedding feast of
55. In a certain sense Mary lived her Eucharistic faith even before the institution of the Eucharist, by the fact that she offered her virginal womb for the Incarnation of God's Word. The Eucharist, while commemorating the passion and resurrection, is also in continuity with the incarnation. At the Annunciation Mary conceived the Son of God in the physical reality of his body and blood, thus anticipating within herself what to some degree happens sacramentally in every believer who receives, under the signs of bread and wine, the Lord's body and blood.
As a result, there is a profound analogy between the Fiat which Mary said in reply to the angel, and the Amen which every believer says when receiving the body of the Lord. Mary was asked to believe that the One whom she conceived "through the Holy Spirit" was "the Son of God" (Lk -35). In continuity with the Virgin's faith, in the Eucharistic mystery we are asked to believe that the same Jesus Christ, Son of God and Son of Mary, becomes present in his full humanity and divinity under the signs of bread and wine. (All emphasis his)
It should be observed that the Pope not only modifies the position of Bernadine of Sienna, but places Mary on a level with the Roman priesthood. Mary conceived the "Eucharist;" the priests claim to transform the "bread" into the "incarnate God." Note closely the Pope's last sentence in the above quotation from the Encyclical. The "bread and wine" become Christ's "full humanity and divinity," in other words, God again manifest in the flesh! Man-made bread is declared worthy of worship. He who tempted the Son of man to make stones into bread to show His creative power, now asserts that he can create that same Son of man out of bread by merely uttering the word to do so. Here in this Encyclical, we have projected in the emphasis on "the Sunday Mass" a challenge not only to the memorial of creation, the Sabbath, but to the basis of redemption, the once for all sacrifice at Calvary. Intertwined with the Eucharist of Rome, is now the Mariology of the same system. We would do well to reread carefully Rev. 13:5-6 and 14:9-10, keeping in mind that one does not worship a day, but in the Mass is called to worship that which is assumed created by the priest on that day.
Note: Space limitations in this issue did
not permit us to discuss the call in the Encyclical, Ecclesia de Eucharistia, to the laity of the Roman Church to do
their duty "as citizens," so as to build "a world fully in
harmony with God's plan" (Par. 20). As we were writing this issue of WWN
(in July), we received a Fax telling us of some plans being formulated to
achieve this objective in