The Divine Lamp

The unfolding of thy words gives light; it imparts understanding to the simple…Make thy face shine upon thy servant, and teach me thy statutes

Posts Tagged ‘Eucharist’

Father Rickaby’s Commentary on 1 Corinthians 11:23-26

Posted by Dim Bulb on May 29, 2013

1Co 11:23  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,

I have received of the Lord. Evidently St. Paul means that a special instruction had been vouchsafed to him, beyond that which other Christians of his time had received concerning the Last Supper from the Apostles there present. Elsewhere he says: For neither did I receive it (the gospel) of man, nor did I learn it, but by the revelation of Jesus Christ (Gal 1:12). Our Saviour Himself then, appearing after His Ascension to St. Paul, had deigned to instruct him in this and other mysteries. St. Paul was a seer of visions (1 Cor 15:8; 2 Cor 12:2-4; Acts 9:12; Acts 22:7; Acts 23:11; Acts 26:15).

This is the oldest record of the Last Supper. St. Luke 22:19-20, closely follows St. Paul, whose companion he was. St. Matthew 26:26-28, writes as an eye-witness; and St. Mark 14:22-24, records the story as he learnt it of another eye-witness, St. Peter.

1Co 11:24  And giving thanks, broke and said: Take ye and eat: This is my body, which shall be delivered for you. This do for the commemoration of me.

Giving thanks, ευχαριστησας, means the same thing as ευλογησας, which is translated blessing  (e.g., Mark 8:7). The two words are used as synonymous in 1 Cor 14:16, where ευλογης and ευχαριστια are translated bless and blessing. Again they are interchanged in Mark 14:22-23. And St. John 6:11, has ευχαριστησας where the other three evangelists (Matt 14:19; Mark 6:41; Luke 9:16) have ευλογησεν, of our Lord blessing the loaves and fishes.

Take ye and eat : this is my body which shall be delivered for you. To represent these words, all that we find in the three oldest manuscripts is, This is my body that is for you. The other Greek manuscripts read, This my body that is broken (i.e. given in food) for you. For the Hebrew phrase of breaking bread cf. Isaiah 58:1; Lam 4:4; Mark 8:19; Acts 2:46; Acts 20:11. Our present reading, given, or delivered, διδομενον, is found in Luke 22:19; while take ye and eat is in Matt 26:26. The variation then is unimportant.

1Co 11:25  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.

After he had supped (also in Luke 22:20). We may argue from these words, with St. Mark’s whilst they were eating (Mark 14:22), and St. Matthew’s while
they were at supper (Matt 26:26), that the institution of the Holy Eucharist took place when supper was in the main over, but they had not yet risen from table. The chalice used in the institution may have been the fourth cup of wine, that legally terminated the Jewish paschal supper.

The new testament in my blood, i.e. my blood of the new testament (Matt 26:28). For when every commandment of the law had been read by Moses to all the people, he took the blood of calves and goats, . . . and sprinkled both the book itself and all the people, saying, This is the blood of the testament, which God hath enjoined unto you (Heb 9:19; Exodus 24:8). With this sprinkling of the blood of oxen and goats, it was impossible that sins should be taken away (Heb 10:4). Nor again could the law take away sin (Rom 4; Rom 7; Gal 3). Sins are taken away, not by the real, living blood of goats and oxen, but by what that blood was a figure of, the real, living Blood of Christ, which He gave to His disciples to drink (Matt 26:27-28). In this was the new testament, in which God said: I will be merciful to their iniquities, and their sins I will remember no more (Heb 8:8; Heb 8:12; Jer 31:31-34).

This do for the commemoration of me. “If any one says that by the words, This do for the commemoration of me, Christ did not institute His Apostles priests, or did not ordain that they and other priests should offer His Body and Blood, let him be anathema” (Council of Trent, sess. 22, can. 2). This is one of the comparatively few texts, the sense of which has been dogmatically declared by the Church.

1Co 11:26  For as often as you shall eat this bread and drink the chalice, you shall shew the death of the Lord, until he come.

You shall eat, you shall show forth: better, you eat, you show forth (καταγγελλετε, you declare).

The eating and drinking here spoken of, being the completion of the celebration of the Holy Eucharist, is put for that celebration itself. Every time the Holy Eucharist is celebrated, every time Mass is said, the death of the Lord is shown forth by the separate consecration of the bread into His Body, and the wine into His Blood, which separate consecration is symbolical of the actual separation of that same Body and Blood, which was the actual death of that same Lord on Calvary.

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Cornelius a Lapide’s Commentary on 1 Corinthians 11:23-26

Posted by Dim Bulb on May 28, 2013

1Co 11:23  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,
1Co 11:24  And giving thanks, broke and said: Take ye and eat: This is my body, which shall be delivered for you. This do for the commemoration of me.

That which also I delivered unto you. Not by writing, as I said before, but by word of mouth. This is one authority for the traditions which, orthodox divines teach, should be added to the written word of God.

That the Lord Jesus, the same night &c. Five actions of Christ are here described: (1.) He took bread; (2.) He gave thanks to the Father; (3.) He blessed the bread, as S. Matthew also says (Matt 26:26); (4.) He brake it; (5.) He gave it to His disciples, and in giving it, He said, “Take, eat; this is My body.” These are the words of one who gives as well as of one who consecrates.

Hence there is no foundation for the argument of Calvin, who says that all these words “took,” “blessed,” “broke,” “gave,” refer to bread only, and that therefore it was bread that the Apostles took and ate, not the body of Christ. My answer is that these words refer to the bread, not as it remained bread, but as it was changed into the body of Christ while being given, by the force of the words of consecration used by Christ. In the same way Christ might have said at Cana of Galilee, “Take, drink; this is wine,” if He had wished by these words to change the water into wine. So we are in the habit of saying, Herod imprisoned, slew, buried, or permitted to be buried, S. John, when what he buried was not what he imprisoned: he imprisoned a man; he buried a corpse. Like this, and consequently just as common, is this way of speaking about the Eucharist, which is used by the Evangelists and S. Paul.

Notice too from Christ’s words, “Take, for this is,” &c. that He seems to have taken one loaf, and in the act of consecration to have broken it into twelve parts, and to have given one part to each Apostle, and that each one seems to have received it into his hand. Hence the custom existed for a long time in the Church of giving the Eucharist into the hands of the faithful, as appears from Tertullian (de Spectac.), from Cyril of Jerusalem (Myst. Catech. 5), from S. Augustine (Serm. 44). Afterwards, however, it was put into the mouth to prevent accidents, and out of reverence.

This is My body. Heretics say that this is a figure of speech, a metonymy, or something of the sort, and that the meaning is, “This is a figure of My body,” “This represents My body.”

But that this is no mere figure of speech is evident (1.) from the emphasis on the word “This,” and from the words, “My body and My blood,” as well as from the whole sentence, which is so clearly expressed that it could not have been put more plainly. Add to this that the words were used on the last day of Christ’s life, at the time that He left His testament, instituted a new and everlasting covenant with His unlettered and beloved disciples, and also instituted this most sublime sacrament, at once a dogma and a Christian mystery, all which things men generally express as they ought to do in the clearest terms possible. Who can believe that the great wisdom and goodness of Christ would have given in His last words an inevitable occasion for false doctrine and never-ending idolatry?—which He surely did if these so clear words, “This is My body,” were meant to be understood merely as a figure of speech. If this is indeed true, then the whole Church, for the last 1500 years, has been living in the most grievous error and idolatry, and that too through Christ’s own words, which Luther thought so clear that he wrote to the men of Argentum: “If Carlstad could have persuaded me that in the sacrament there is nothing but bread and wine, he would have conferred a great kindness upon me; for so I should have been most utterly opposed to the Papacy. But I am held fast: there is no way of escape open; for the text of the Gospel is too apparent and too convincing, its force cannot well be evaded, much less can it be destroyed by words or glosses forged in some brain-sick head.” And Melancthon (ad. Fred. Myconium) says: “If you understand ‘My body’ to mean ‘a figure of My body,’ what difficulty is there that you will not be able to explain away? It will then be easy to transform the whole form of religion.” With Servetus, you will be able to say that Father, Son, and Holy Spirit are but three names of the one God, not Three Persons; that Christ took flesh, but only in appearance; that He died and suffered, but only as a phantasm, as the Manichæans teach. In short, in this way who will not be able to say that the Gospel is the Gospel, Christ is Christ, God is God figuratively, and so come, as many do, to believe nothing at all? Observe how the Sacramentaries open here a door to atheism. Cardinal Hosius most truly prophesied that heretics would in course of time become atheists, and that the end of all heresy is atheism. When they fall away from Catholic truth into heresy, and find in that nothing fixed, or firm, or durable, what remains for them but to abjure their heretical opinions and believe nothing, and become that of which the Psalmist sings (Ps 14:1), “The fool hath said in his heart, There is no God?” Would that we did not daily see the truth of this.

Again, not only Paul, but Matthew, Mark, and Luke record the institution in the same way and in the same words: “This is My body; this is My blood.” Not one, then, can say it is a figure of speech, or maintain that one explains the other where he is obscure. Erasmus was convinced by this argument, and replied to the attempts of Conrad Pellican to convert him to Zwinglianism: “I have always said that I could never bring my mind to believe that the true body of Christ was not in the Eucharist, especially when the writings of the Evangelists and S. Paul expressly speak of the body as given and of the blood as shed. . . . If you have persuaded yourself that in Holy Communion you receive nothing but bread and wine, I would rather under go all kinds of suffering, and be torn limb from limb, than profess what you do; nor will I suffer you to make me a supporter or associate of your doctrine; and so may it be my portion never to be separated from Christ. Amen.”

2. If in the Eucharist bread remains bread, then the figure of bread has succeeded to the figure of the lamb. Who is there that does not see that it is wrong to say that that can be? The lamb slain under the Old Law was a plainer representation of Christ suffering than the bread in the New Law. Again, the lamb would have been a poor type of the Eucharist if it is, as Calvin says, bread and nothing else. Any one would rather have the lamb, both for itself and as a figure of Christ, than the bread.

3. This is still more evident in the consecration of the cup. “This is My blood of the new testament, which is shed for you”—words which are clearest of all in S. Luke 22:20—”This is the chalice, the new testament in my blood, which shall be shed for you.” The relative in this verse undoubtedly refers to “cup.”  S. Luke, therefore, says that the cup, or the chalice of the blood of Christ, was poured out for us; therefore, in this chalice there was truly the blood of Christ, so that, when this chalice was drunk from, there was poured out, not wine, which was before consecration, and, as heretics say, remains after consecration also, but the blood of Christ, which was contained in it after consecration; for this is the meaning of “the cup of My blood which is poured out for you.” Otherwise it was a cup of wine, not of blood, that was poured out for us, and Christ would have redeemed us with a cup of wine, which is most absurd. This will still more plainly appear from the next verse. Nor can it be said, as Beza does, that the text is corrupt, for all copies and commentators read it as we do, and always have so read it.

4. All the Evangelists and S. Paul explain what “this body” means by adding, “which is given for you,” or, as S. Paul says, “which is broken for you.” But it was not the figure of the body, but the true body of Christ that was given and “broken for us;” therefore it was the true body of Christ that Christ gave to His Apostles. Moreover, S. Paul says: “Whosoever shall eat this bread . . . unworthily shall be guilty of the body and blood of the Lord.” Therefore there is here really “the body and blood of the Lord,” and he who handles and takes it unworthily does it an injury.

In short, the Greek and Latin Fathers of all ages explain these words of consecration literally. This was how the Church understood them for 1050 years, till the time of Berengarius. He was the first who publicly taught the contrary, being a man untaught indeed, but ambitious of obtaining the name of a new teacher. For J. Scotus and Bertram, who, at an earlier date, held the same views as Berengarius, were but little known, and were at once refuted and silenced by Paschasius Radbert, and others. This opinion of Berengarius was at once opposed as a dogma that had seen light for the first time by Lanfranc, Archbishop of Canterbury, Guidmund, Alger, and the whole Catholic Church. The error of Berengarius was condemned at a council held at Versailles, under Leo IX., and at another held at Tours, under Victor II., at which Berengarius was present, and being convicted, he at once abjured his heresy, but having relapsed, he was once more convicted in a Roman council of 113 bishops, under Nicholas II., and his books were burnt. Having again lapsed, he condemned his error in a third Roman council, under Gregory VII., and uttered the following confession of faith given by Thomas Wald. (de Sacram. vol. ii. c. 43): “I, Berengarius, believe with my heart and profess with my mouth that the bread and wine are charged into the true and real and lifegiving flesh and blood of our Lord Jesus Christ, and that, after consecration, there is His true body which he took of the Virgin, and that there is the very blood which flowed from His side, not merely by way of sign, but in its natural properties, and in reality of substance.” Would that those who follow Berengarius now in his error would follow him also in his repentance. The heresy of Berengarius has been renewed in the present century by Andrew Carlstadt, who was at once opposed by Luther. Carlstadt was followed by Zwingli, he by Calvin; and yet there is no single article of faith which has such firm support of all the Fathers and of the whole Church as this of the reality of the body of Christ in the Eucharist.

The same truth has been defined in eight General Councils—the First and Second Nicene, the Roman under Nicholas II., the Lateran, those of Vienne, of Constance, Florence, and Trent, as well as by many provincial synods. If any one doubts this, let him read John Garetius, who gives in order the testimonies of the Fathers for sixteen centuries after Christ, and of the Councils of each century, who alike unanimously and clearly confess this truth. He also brings forward the profession of the same faith given by the Churches of Syria, Ethiopia, Armenia, and India. Let him read also Bellarmine (de Eucharistiâ), who gives and comments on the words of each. Whoever reads them will see that this has been the faith of the Church in all ages, so that Erasmus might well say to Louis Beer: “You will never persuade me that Christ, who is Truth and Love, would so long suffer His beloved bride to remain in so abominable an error as to worship a piece of bread instead of Himself.”

And here appears the art and ingenuity of Zwingli, Calvin, and their friends. They bring forward a new view of the Eucharist, and teach that in it there is not really the body of Christ, but merely a figure of the body. How do they prove it? From the Scriptures. Well, then, let the words be studied, let all the Evangelists be read, let Paul too be read, and let it be said whether they support them or us and the received teaching of the Church. What else do all clearly proclaim but a body, and that a body given for us? What else but blood shed for us? Where here is room for shadow, or figure, or type? But they say these words must be explained figuratively. Admit, then, that the words of Scripture, do not favour you, for you say that the mind of Scripture is to be ascertained elsewhere than from the words of Scripture. How, then, do you prove that these words ought to be explained figuratively? If they are ambiguous, whence is the exposition to be sought? Who is to end the strife save the Church, which is the pillar and ground of the truth handed down to her from the Fathers? What save the primitive authority of the Fathers, the tradition of our forefathers, and the consent of the first ages of the Church? We quote and allege the Fathers of every century, all our forefathers, the national and General Councils of each century: all take the words of Christ as they stand, and condemn the figurative interpretation. What remains, then, but to follow the plain words of Scripture, and the clear exposition of the Fathers and of the whole Church in all ages? And yet you obstinately adhere to your figurative explanation. What Scripture supports you—whose authority—what reason? You can only say that your heresy has so determined, and that you follow the trumpet of Luther. So I think, so I choose, so I will, so I determine: let my will do instead of reason. This is the only ground you have for all your beliefs.

Melancthon wrote far more truly and more soundly about this (de Ver. Corp. et Sang. Dom.): “If, relying on human reason, you deny that Christ is in the Eucharist, what will your conscience say in time of trial? What reason will it bring forward for departing from the doctrine received in the Church? Then will the words, ‘This is My body,’ be thunderbolts. What will your panic-stricken mind oppose to them? By what words of Scripture, by what promises of God will she fortify herself, and persuade herself that these words must necessarily be taken metaphorically, when the Word of God ought to be listened to before the judgment of reason?” At all events in the hour of death, and in that terrible day when we stand before the tribunal of Christ, to be examined of our life and faith, if Christ ask me, “Why didst thou believe that My body was in the Eucharist?” I can confidently answer, “I believed it, 0 Lord, because Thou saidst it, because Thou didst teach it me. Thou didst not explain Thy words as a figure, nor did I dare to explain them so. The Church took them in their simple meaning, and I took them as the Church did. I was persuaded that this faith and this reverence were due from me to Thy words and to Thy Church.”

If Christ ask the Calvinist, “Why didst thou wrest My words from their proper meaning into a figure of speech?” what answer will he make? “I thought that I must do so, for my reason could not understand how they could or ought to be true.”—”But,” He will reply, “which ought you to have listened to—your reason, which has human infirmity, or My word, which is all-powerful, than which nothing can be truer? Reason dictated to the Gentiles that to believe in Me as God, when born, suffering, and crucified, was folly. Yet you thought and believed that you should believe all this about Me, and you were persuaded of it from the words of Scripture only, which say this simply. Why, then, in this one article of the Eucharist did you presume to interpret what I expressly said, by the rule of your reason, according to the measure of your brain? Why did you not bow to the authoritative exposition of the Church of all ages? Why desire to be wiser than it?” What answer will he give—how excuse himself—whither turn? Let each one think earnestly of this ere it be too late, let him submit himself to God’s word and the Church with humble and loyal obedience, lest he be confounded in that day of the Lord, and receive his lot with the unbelievers in the lake of fire that burneth with fire and brimstone, lest he hear the words of thunder, “Depart from Me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire.” Nor let him marvel at such a wonderful mystery in the Eucharist, when Christ, throughout His whole life, was wonderful for His mysteries (Isa 9:6) ; and when Isaiah also says of Him (Isa 45:15): “Verily thou art a hidden God, the God of Israel the saviour. .” If an angel should conceal himself under the form of the Host, he would be really there though hidden; you would see, touch, and taste bread only, not an angel; yet you would believe that an angel was hidden beneath it if an angel or a prophet had said so. Why, then, in like manner, do you not believe that Christ is concealed under the Host, when Christ Himself, who cannot lie, says so? For God, who is Almighty, can supernaturally give this mode of existence—spiritual, invisible, indivisible—to the body of Christ in the Eucharist. Let no one then faithlessly say: “How can Christ be in so small a Host?” Let him think that Christ is there, as an angel might be; let him not inquire as to the mode, but embrace instead the wonderful love of Christ, whose delights are with the sons of men, who went about to pass from the world to the Father; as S. John says (John 13:1), “having loved His own which were in the world, He loved them unto the end;” and of whom says the verse of S. Thomas—

“By birth their Fellow-man was He,
Their meat when sitting at the board;
He died their Ransomer to be;
He ever reigns, their great Reward.”

that by His love He might compel our love in return, that as often as we see and take our part in these mysteries we might think of Him as addressing us in the words: “So Christ gives Himself here wholly to thee; give, nay give again thyself wholly to Him.”

You will perhaps object that the Eucharist is called “bread and fruit of’ the vine,” i.e., wine, in S. John 6:57, S. Matt 26:29. I answer that in the account of the institution of the Eucharist it is called bread by no one, if it is elsewhere, and also that “bread” there denotes any kind of food. (See note on 10:17). So wine might signify any kind of drink, as being the common drink among the Jews, as it is now in Spain, Italy, France, and Germany.

But the better answer is that Christ applied the name “fruit of the vine,” not to what was in the Eucharistic chalice, but to that in the cup of the Passover Supper. For, as He said of the lamb (S. Luke 22:16), “I will not eat thereof until it be fulfilled in the Kingdom of God,” so of the cup of the lamb, “I will not drink of the fruit of the vine until the Kingdom of God shall come.” For S. Luke plainly makes a distinction, not observed by S. Matthew and S. Mark, between the lamb and the cup of the Passover supper, and relates that Christ spoke of both before the Eucharist (Luke 22:17). Christ simply meant to say that He would not afterwards live with them, or take part in the common supper, as He had hitherto done, because He was going to His death, as Jerome, Theophylact and others say in their comments on the passage.

You may perhaps object, secondly, that the words, “This is My body” are a sacramental mode of speech, and are, therefore, typical and figurative.

But I deny that this follows; for this is a sacramental mode of speech, because, by these words, a true sacrament is worked, viz., because, under the species of bread and wine as the visible signs, there is present the very body of Christ. The words are not sacramental in the sense of being typical or figurative, for sacraments properly speaking signify what they contain and effect. For a sacrament is a visible sign of an invisible reality which it causes and effects, as, e.g., when we say, “I baptize thee,” i.e., “wash thee,” the meaning is not, “I give thee a sign or figure of washing,” but strictly, “By this sacrament I wash thy body, and by this I wash thy soul from the stains of thy sins.” So when we say, “I absolve thee,” “I confirm thee,” “I anoint thee,” there is signified, not a figurative but a real and proper absolution, confirmation, and anointing of the body and soul.

If Christ, therefore, when He said “body,” had meant “figure of My body,” He ought to have explained Himself, and said, “I am speaking, not only sacramentally, but figuratively,” otherwise He would have given to the Apostles and to the whole Church an evident occasion for the most grievous error. The conclusion then has no basis that Christ is in the Eucharist as in a sacrament, that is, figuratively or typically, as the commentary ascribed to S. Ambrose says, in which it is followed by some of the Fathers, and that therefore He is not really there, but only figuratively; the contrary should be inferred. Christ is not, therefore, there figuratively, but truly and properly; for a sacrament signifies what is really present, not what is falsely absent. As, then, the conclusion is valid that where there is smoke there is fire, because smoke is the sign of the presence of fire; and again this body breathes, therefore life is present in it, because breathing is a sign of life, so also it rightly follows that the body of Christ is in the Eucharist as in a Sacrament; therefore, He is really there, because the Sacrament and the sacramental species signify that they as the true sacraments of Christ’s body, truly contain it.

You will object perhaps, thirdly, that Christ said (S. John6:63): “It is the Spirit that quickeneth, the flesh profiteth nothing;” therefore the flesh of Christ is not present, and is not eaten in the Eucharist.

3. I answer that it cannot be said without impiety that the flesh of Christ, suffering and crucified for us, profits us nothing. Indeed, the very opposite of this is taught by Christ Himself throughout S. John 6:35-65. He says in so many words that His flesh greatly profits us. His meaning therefore is, as S. Cyril points out, (1.) that the flesh of Christ has not its quickening power in the Eucharist from itself, but from the Spirit, that is from the Godhead of the Word, to which it is hypostatically united. (2.) That this manducation, as S. Chrysostom says, of Christ’s flesh in the Eucharist is not carnal: that we do not press it with our teeth, as we might bull’s flesh, but that we eat it after a spiritual manner, one suited to the nature of spirit, viz., mysteriously sacramentally, invisibly. For you here eat the flesh of Christ in exactly the same way as you would feed on and appropriate the substance of an angel, if he lay concealed in the sacrament. The opposite of this was what was understood by the unspiritual people of Capernaum, and it is against them only that Christ says these words. Hence He proceeds to say: “The words that I speak unto you, they are spirit and they are life.” In other words, “They are spiritual, and must be understood spiritually: you will not eat My flesh in the carnal sense of being bloody, cut into pieces and chewed, but only in a spiritual way, as though it were a spirit couched invisibly and indivisibly beneath the Blessed Sacrament.” In the same way, “My words are life,” that is full of life, giving life to him that heareth, believeth, and eateth My flesh.

4. You will perhaps again urge that it seems impossible that Christ, being so great, should be in so small a Host and at so many different altars, and that it seems incredible that Christ should be there, subject to the chance of being eaten by mice or vomited, &c.

I reply to the first, “With God all things are possible.” Hence we say, “I believe in God the Father Almighty.” God can do more than a miserable man, nay, more than all the hosts of angels and men can conceive, else He would not be God. Moreover, faith transcends human capacity: these mysteries are matters for faith, not for reason. “Faith,” says S. Augustine (in Joan. Tract. 27 and 40), “is believing what you see not.” And S. Gregory (in Evang. Hom. xxvi.) says: “Faith has no merit where human reason supplies proof.” S. Thomas, therefore, well sings of this sacrament—

“Faith alone, though sight forsaketh,
Shows true hearts the mystery.”

Moreover, it can be shown by a similar case that it is not impossible for the body of Christ to be in so small a Host; for the body of Christ was born of the Virgin, i.e., came forth from her closed womb; He therefore penetrated the Virgin’s womb in such a way that when He was born He was in the same place as His mother’s womb was. Similarly, Christ rose from the closed sepulchre, and entered to His disciples when the doors were shut: He was therefore in the same place as the stone before the tomb and the door of the upper room.

Now I argue thus: If two whole bodies can be at once in the same place, e.g., Christ and the stone, so also two parts of the same body, e.g., the head and feet of Christ, can be in the same place, as, e.g., in the same Host. If two can be, then can three or four or five, or as many as God shall see fit to put in the same place. Christ says the same in S. Matt 19:24., in the words, “It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter into the Kingdom of heaven.” But God can absolutely draw a rich man to heaven, therefore He can make a camel go through the eye of a needle, and therefore the body of Christ through so small a Host.

Now, if two bodies can be in the same place, so, by parity of reasoning, the same body, viz., that of Christ, can be in difierent places and different Hosts; for both are of equal difficulty and of equal power.

We can show, thirdly, the possibility of this by another example; for God can make an angel, nay, an angel can make himself expand from filling a single point to fill a whole room; and on the other hand He can make a body that is spread through some extent of space contract to a single point. If He can do that, why not this, especially since He is Almighty? for both belong to the same order and present the same difficulty, nor does one involve more contradiction than the other.

Further, not only does God do this in the case of an angel, who is spirit and not body, but He does it also to bodies in the world of nature. For fire will rarefy and expand water to ten times its volume, nay, make it boil over and escape; and, again, cold can so condense this same water, when the heat of the fire is taken from it, as to contract it to its original volume. Why, then, cannot God, who infinitely surpasses the workings of nature, reduce the body of Christ, which is but of six feet, to the dimensions of a single Host, nay, of a single point? As God can increase anything indefinitely, so can He diminish it in the same way; for both the infinite power of God is requisite and sufficient.

Lastly, Christ compares Himself and His Gospel to a grain of mustard-seed (S. Matt 13:31), which, from being of small dimensions, attains great size by its inherent vigour, and spreads itself out into wide-spreading branches, and becomes a large tree. If God does this to a grain of mustard-seed by natural agencies, why can He not do the like in the Eucharist according to His promise?

2. As to the indignity offered to Christ, I reply that Christ suffers nothing: it is the species alone that are affected. For Christ is here after a mysterious and indivisible manner, as a spirit. As, then, an angel who should enter the Host, or as God, who is in reality in every body and every place, suffers nothing if the Host or the body containing Him is vomited, burnt, or broken, so neither does the body of Christ in the Eucharist suffer anything, because it is like to an angel. Erasmus (Praef. in lib. Algeri.) says: ”God, who, according to nature, is as truly in the sewers as the skies, cannot be hurt or defiled, nor can the glorified body of the Lord.” And again (ad Conrad Pellican) he says: “Up to the present, with all Christians I have adored in the Eucharist Christ, who suffered for me, nor do I yet see any reason why I should abandon my belief. N human reasons will ever have power to draw me away from the unanimous belief of the Christian world. Those few words, “In the beginning God created the heaven and the earthy’ have more weight with me than all the arguments of Aristotle and the rest of the philosophers, by which they strive to show that the heavens and the earth had no beginning. So, too, here we have the words of God, “This is My body,
which is given for you,”  “This is My blood, which is shedfor you.”

I have dealt with these objections at some length, because of the importance of their subject, and because of the modern Protestant controversies, which, I observe, are causing some of our neighbours, and especially the Dutch, to swerve from the ancient orthodox faith, because of the supposed difficulty or incredibility of this article of the Eucharist, when, as a fact, there is no other article in Holy Scripture, the Fathers, or councils so firmly fixed as this is.

From what has been said, it appears (1.) that in the Eucharist the species of bread does not remain, but is transubstantiated into the body of Christ, as the wine is into His blood, as the Lateran Council lays down, and as the Church has always held. Consequently it also appears (2.) that the accidents only of the bread and wine remain without a subject, and (3.) that the body of Christ is present after the manner of a spiritual substance, invisible, indivisible, the whole in the whole and the whole in each part of the host, as is thought universally by theologians. Let us now weigh the meaning of the words of consecration.

This. This pronoun is not so much a substantive denoting an indefinite individual (as some think it to stand for “this thing,” or “what is contained under these species,” whether bread or the body of Christ) as it is an adjective signifying the same thing indeterminately, as “My body” signifies distinctly and by name. Similarly, when we say, “This is a servant,” “This is a man,” the word “this” merely points out the servant or the man in an indeterminate way. You will perhaps reply that when Christ said “this” it was not yet the body of Christ, and therefore the word cannot stand for it. I answer that, as this is a form of consecration, the words are not enuntiative but efficacious, and that, therefore, the word “this ” refers to that which is not yet, but which comes through the use of the formula, and will be there when that has been said.

Perhaps you will urge again: This efficacious form of words signifies, This is transubstantiated into My body: therefore this refers to the bread; for it is the bread alone that is so transubstantiated, I deny the major, viz., that transubstantiation is here signified primarily and directly. Primarily there is only signified that the body of Christ is made to be present in such a way that when the species is signified, so too is the body; it then follows secondarily, that the bread is transubstantiated and annihilated. Still, if you wish to explain “this is” indirectly, as meaning “This is transubstantiated into My body,” then I grant that it refers to the bread. It is no wonder if this pronoun stands for two different things, because the one proposition, “This is My body,” is of manifold meaning, efficacious, enuntiative, nay, efficacious in a twofold way.

But to clearly understand all this, take notice that if Christ had taken the species only of bread without the substance, and had then consecrated it, nay, if He had taken not even the species but had created it, as He consecrated, out of nothing, by saying, “This is My body,” then primarily He would have done just what He did when He took the bread and consecrated it and said, “This is My body.” Put in the two supposed cases He would not have transubstantiated anything, for no substance of bread would have been there before, nor would the pronoun “this” have referred to bread or any other substance, but only to the body of Christ, which would be simply produced; therefore in our last case, and in the actual consecration, there is not primarily signified transubstantiation, nor does “this” refer to the bread but to the body of Christ.

Similarly, when God created the heaven. He could have said, “This is heaven,” i.e., this is created and brought into being, and is heaven; “This is earth,” i.e., this is created, is produced, and at the same time, by these very words, the earth is; “This is Eve,” i.e., she is produced, and at the very instant that she comes into being she is Eve. In like manner, when it is said, “This is My body; this is My blood,” the meaning is, This is consecrated, produced, and becomes My body and blood, so that at the close of the consecration it is in fact My body and blood.

This form of consecration then, “This is My body,” seems, from what has been said, to signify properly and primarily, not the startingpoint, “viz., the change and annihilation of the bread, but the goal, viz., the production of the body and blood of Christ; and this is pointed to in the pronoun “this.” In other words: that which under the species of bread and wine is produced and comes into being, and when it comes into being exists, is My body and blood. Still, in a secondary sense, the form of words denotes the destruction of the starting-point, the bread, and its transubstantiation. For, as under these species the substance of bread and wine formerly existed, and as they have to give place to the body and blood of Christ, which are produced by virtue of the words of consecration, so the pronoun “this” refers to nothing else but the body and blood of Christ. Hence, since by these words it is signified that the body of Christ is produced, it is necessarily also signified that the bread is done away with and transubstantiated into the body.

The words of consecration are (1.) simply practical, and denote, “This is made My body;” (2.) enuntiative, denoting. This at the end of the consecration is My Body; (3.) conversive and transsubstantiative, and denote that “this” substance of bread contained under this species is changed into the body of Christ, in such a way that, when the consecration is finished, bread no longer remains, but has been changed into the body of Christ.

Is. (1.) We must notice that Christ does not seem to have said is, for the Hebrew and Aramaic do not use the verb substantive but understand it, nay, they do not possess the present tense. Consequently in Greek and Latin the verb is not of the essence of the form of consecration; still in practice it ought not to be omitted, and cannot be omitted without grievous sin, for the form of consecration would be ambiguous without it. (2.) The verb “is” is better supplied than “is made,” (a) because there is no change here from not being to being, as “is made” would imply, for the flesh of Christ existed before; (b) because “is” expresses the instantaneousness of the change, and includes what is and what was; (c) because the pronoun “this” properly points to what is, not to what is being made, for what is not yet cannot, strictly speaking, be seen and pointed to, yet it is afterwards said to be pointed to when it is shown to be coming into existence so as to be seen; (d) because “is” signifies the abiding, unchanging truth of this sacrament; (e) because, lastly, it is better to say, “Take eat: this is My body,” than, “This is being made My body.”

(3.) Notice again that Christ consecrated by the words, “This is My body,” and not when He blessed the bread. So priests now consecrate by them in imitation of Christ, as the Councils of Florence and Trent and all the Fathers lay down, in opposition to the Greeks. Hence these words are used by the priest (a) historically, as relating what Christ did; (b) personally, as imitating in consecrating the exact actions of Christ. Hence in consecrating and transubstantiating the priest puts on the person of Christ.

My Body.—1. Notice that “body” here signifies, not the whole man, but the flesh as distinguished from the soul, which flesh is here present by the force of the words alone. The soul and divinity are present, however, by concomitance, both with the body and the blood. So too by concomitance the blood is with the body under the species of bread, and the body in turn is with the blood under the species of wine. Cf. the Council of Trent.

2. Notice that Christ here instituted the sacrament of the Eucharist for all to partake of, and at the same time a sacrifice for the priests to offer to God. So the Church teaches, following Apostolical tradition, and so the Council of Trent lays down (sess. xxii, c. 1). This is the one sacrifice of the New Law, the antitype of all that were under the Old Law. Therefore this one sacrifice is at once Eucharistic, a sin-offering, a burnt-offering, and a peace-offering.

Which is broken for you. 1. According to Ambrose and Theophylact, the body of Christ is now being broken under the species, or by means of the species of bread, which are being broken and consumed, and so it is, as S. Luke has it, given to God, that is, sacrificed. All this is implied in the word “broken.” Formerly, in the sacrifice called the “mincha” when the bread was offered to God, it had to be broken, blessed, and eaten, as S. Thomas points out (iii. qu. 85, art. 3, ad. 3). Hence the Catholic confession of Berengarius, in which he recanted his error about the Eucharist, runs, that the body of Christ is in truth handled and broken by the hands of the priests, and pressed by the teeth of the faithful, viz., through the sacramental species of bread, which is handled, broken, and pressed. For this species is no longer that of bread, but of Christ’s body, which alone is the substance here under such species or accidents. Hence it is that, when this species is seen, touched, and named, it is the substance of the body of Christ that is seen, touched, and named, and nothing else, just as before consecration, by the same species was seen, touched, and named the substance of bread.

2. “Is broken” denotes, shall be shortly broken and immolated on the Cross. So Anselm. This breaking and immolation were not so much future as present, for the day of the Passover and Christ’s suffering had begun when Christ said these words. It was therefore a kind of prolonged present. It was, says Cajetan, to be broken with scourgings in its skin, nails in its hands and feet, and a spear in its side.

3. Bellarmine (de Missa, lib. i. c. 12) says: “In the Eucharist the body of Christ is broken, i.e., is divided and destroyed, viz., when under the distinct and different species of bread and wine. It is offered to God, taken, and consumed, to represent the suffering and death of Christ.” Hence S. Chrysostom says: “The breaking of the body in the sacrament is a symbol of the Passion, and of the body broken on the Cross.” Tropologically this breaking denotes mortification. Cf. S. Dionysius (Eccl Hier. c. iii.).

1Co 11:25  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.

In like manner also the chalice, after he had supped, saying: This chalice is the new testament in my blood. Notice (1.) that Christ, after He celebrated the typical supper of the Paschal lamb, and afterwards the common supper on  other meats, instituted the third, viz., the Eucharistic supper.

2. Notice that tlie heathen offer their sacrifices after a banquet, as giving thanks to God for their feast, and offered Him libations and sang His praises crowned with garlands. (Cf. Athen. lib. i. c. ix. and lib. xv. c. 20, also Virg. Æn. lib. viii., also Giraldus, de Diis Gentium.) The ancient ritual records of the Hebrews show that they did the same in the sacrifice of the Paschal lamb. When the supper was over, the head of the family took a piece of unleavened bread and broke it into as many parts as there were guests, and gave a piece to each, saying, “This is the bread of affliction which our fathers ate in the land of Egypt: whosoever hungers, let him come nigh and complete the Passover.” Then he would take a cup and bless it, saying, “Blessed art Thou, O Lord, who hast created the fruit of the vine,” &c. Then he would taste of it, and hand it on to the next, and he to his neighbour, and so on till it had made the round of the table.

Christ follows their customs in instituting the Eucharist, and He left it as His last farewell and testament, and to give us and His disciples a symbol and proof of His great love, and to replace the typical lamb by the verity of the Eucharist. And this is why Christ supped first and instituted the Eucharist last of all. Now, however, through reverence for so great a sacrament, the Eucharist, by Apostolic tradition, is always received fasting.

This chalice is the new testament in My blood. This is the authentic instrument, and as it were the paper on which the new testament has been written and sealed, i.e., the new covenant ratified, and the new promises of God confirmed, and My last will to give you an eternal inheritance, sealed, if only you will believe on Me and obey Me. It has been written, not in letters of ink, but in My blood, contained in this cup, just as a sheet of parchment contains the writing of the will.

You will perhaps object that SS. Matthew and Mark have: “This is the blood of the new testament.” Why, then, does S. Paul say, “This cup,” i.e., the blood contained in this cup, “is the testament?”

I answer that testament has a twofold meaning—(a) the last will of a testator, in which sense it is used by the two Evangelists, who speak of the blood in which the last will of Christ was confirmed; and (b) it signifies the writing or the instrument of tins last will. So S. Paul uses it here, and calls the blood itself the testament.

Notice (1.) that Christ is here alluding to the covenant of Moses between God and the people, ratified by the blood of victims, which in an allegory represented this covenant, ratified by the blood of Christ. Cf. Exodus 24. Notice (2.) that the ancients were wont to ratify their covenants with the blood of victims. Livy (lib. i.), speaking of the treaty drawn up between the Romans and Albans, says: “When the laws of the treaty had been agreed upon, the Fetial priest said, “‘The Roman people will not be the first to break them. If it shall at any time do so, by common consent and with hostile intent, then do thou, O Jupiter, on the same day strike the Roman people as I this day strike this boar. Strike them the harder as thy power is the greater.”  Then he killed the boar by a blow from a flint stone.” Cf. too Virg. (Æn. lib. viii.). This same custom was common also long before that amongst true worshippers of God. Hence (Gen 15:9-10, 17) the Lord ordered a bullock, a ram, and a she-goat to be sacrificed for a sign and confirmation of the covenant that He had made with Abraham, and He divided them in the midst. When this was done, a lamp representing God passed through between the pieces, typifying that so should he be divided who should break the covenant. Cf. Jeremiah 34:18. Hence Cyril (contra Julian, lib. x.). shows from Sophocles that this custom was observed in later times, when they went through the midst of a fire carrying a sword in their hands when they took an oath. Cf. also in this connection Exodus 24. The blood of the victims was here sprinkled, to signify that he who should break the covenant would in like manner pay with his own blood for his broken faith. But because it was between God and the people that the covenant was made, it was necessary for both God and the Israelites to divide the blood between them to be sprinkled with it; and since God is incorporeal, and so cannot be sprinkled with blood, the altar was sprinkled with the blood of the sacrifices in His stead.

In the same way Christ the Lord ratified the new covenant with His own blood, being the blood of a federal victim; especially because by His blood He won redemption, grace, and an inheritance for us, and all the other good things which He promised us in His covenant. Cf. Hebrews 9:15 et seq. He expressed this in the institution of the Eucharist when He said: “This cup is the new testament in My blood,” or as S. Matthew more clearly expresses it, “This is My blood of the new testament.” From this we may collect a strong argument against the Sacramentaries for the verity of the body of Christ; for if the old covenant was ratified in blood, as we see it was from Exodus 24:8, where we read, “This is the blood of the covenant which the Lord hath made with you,” so too is the new covenant ratified with actual blood, as we see from the words, “This is My blood of the new testament.” For here the old was a type cf the new and the real covenant, and it is certain that Christ here referred to it.

It may be said, Christ speaks of the blood of the new testament, not of the new covenant, as Moses does in Exodus 24, and therefore the two sprinklings are dissimilar. I answer that testament here has a twofold meaning: (a) specially for the last will of a testator, or his authentic instrument; and when his will is conditioned, his promise takes the form of an agreement or covenant. Even if his will be absolute, yet there is always involved a mutual obligation on the testator’s side to bequeath his goods, and on the side of the beneficiary to undertake the debts and burdens of the testator, and to carry out his wishes. But since a testament contains the last wishes of a man, and so makes, as it were, a closely binding agreement, the word has come to mean (b) any agreement, promise, or covenant, as S. Jerome says (in Malachi ii.), and Innocent (De Celeb. Miss. cap. cum Marth.), and S. Augustine (Locut. in. Genes. 94). This is proved to be the meaning in both Latin and Greek by Budæus.

Hence it is that Christ and S. Paul, following the Septuagint, mean by the “blood of the testament” the blood of the covenant, whether in its looser or stricter meaning; for testament here can be understood in both ways: (1.) the Eucharist gives us the blood of Christ as an earnest of our promised possession in heaven, or of the covenant entered into with us about it; (2.) this covenant was Christ’s last will, and is therefore a testament most important and most sure. Hence, too, the Apostle teaches us that Christ, the testator, sealed this testament with His blood. Cf. notes to Heb 8:10.

Do this, that I have just done—consecrate, offer as a sacrifice, take, distribute the Eucharist, as I have consecrated, offered, taken, and distributed it. Hence the Apostles were here ordained priests. So the Council of Trent says (sess. xxii. c. i), following the perpetual belief of the Church.

It may be objected that Christ did not say, “I have sacrificed: do you also sacrifice.” I answer 1, that neither did He say, “I have instituted the sacrament: do you celebrate it.” Nor did He say on the Cross, “I offer Myself as a sacrifice,” but He actually did so. So, too, this consecration was a real offering of sacrifice, inasmuch as by it, through a real transubstantiation, there was offered to the glory of God a most worthy victim, viz., the body of Christ under the species of an animal slain and dead, that is, a body separated from the blood as far as the act of consecration goes.

2. That the Eucharist is a sacrifice is also implied by the phrase “when He had supped.” In other words, after the sacrifice of the typical lamb, Christ instituted the true and blessed Eucharistic sacrifice which the lamb had foreshadowed. Since the Paschal lamb was a type of the Eucharist and was a sacrifice, as is agreed by all, it follows that the Eucharist is a sacrifice.

3. The word “testament” also implies the sacrifice of the Eucharist, for the blood by which covenants were ratified was the blood of victims. As then, when it is said in Exodus 24:8, “This is the blood of the covenant that the Lord hath made with you,” we understand the blood of the victims sacrificed, by which the old covenant was ratified; so when Christ said, “This is My blood of the new testament,” we must understand the blood of the sacrifice by which the new testament was ratified, and which was prefigured by the old covenant, and by the blood of the sacrifice. Lastly, in the Eucharist alone Christ is properly and perfectly the Priest after the order of Melchizedech; for on the cross (if the victim and its slaughter, the oblation and the effusion of the blood be considered) Christ was a Priest after the order of Aaron only, i.e.. His priesthood was like Aaron’s. So the Fathers lay down. See them quoted in Bellarmine (de Missd, lib. i. c. 6 and 12). This too is the voice and mind of the Church of all ages.

It may be said again that the Eucharist is a commemoration of the sacrifice on the Cross, and therefore it is not a sacrifice. I deny that this follows, for if so the ancient sacrifices would not be true sacrifices, although they prefigured the sacrifice of the Cross. Similarly, the Eucharist is a true sacrifice, though it is done in commemoration of the sacrifice of the Cross.

1Co 11:26  For as often as you shall eat this bread and drink the chalice, you shall shew the death of the Lord, until he come.

For as  often as you shall eat this bread, &c. Ye show it forth not only in word (as in the canon of the Mass are the words, “Wherefore we, mindful of Thy blessed Passion,” &c.), but better still in deed, both to yourselves and to the people. So Anselm, Theophylact, Ambrose.

Theophylact draws the moral lesson: “When you take the Eucharist you should feel Just as if you were with Christ on the evening of the Paschal feast and at supper with Him, lying by His side on the couch, and receiving from His own hands the sacred food; for that is the supper, and that is the death which we announce and show till His second advent.”

Take note that it is His death rather than the mighty deeds of His life that Christ bids us show. The reason is, that by His death the testament of Christ was completed, together with His last will, and our redemption, and the supreme love that He had for us, which caused Him to die for us. Of all these the Eucharist is the memorial.

S. Basil says tropologically (in Reg. Brev. 234): “We announce the Lord’s death when we die unto sin and live unto Christ, or wheti the world is crucified unto us and we unto the world.”

Lastly, S. Hippolytus (de Consumm. Mundi.) says, with S. Chrysostom and Theophylact, that the sacrifice and sacrament of the Eucharist will publicly last till the second coming of Christ and the coming of Anti-Christ, who will remove it, as Daniel foretold (12:11), and prevent it from being publicly celebrated at all events. S. Paul implies this when he says, :Until He come,” that is, till the glorious Lord come to judgment. Hence, as S. Thomas says, it appears that the celebration of the Eucharist will last to the end of the world.

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Bishop MacEvilly’s Commentary on 1 Corinthians 11:23-26

Posted by Dim Bulb on May 28, 2013

This post begins with the Bishop’s brief analysis of the entire chapter (11), followed by his commentary on 11:23-26. Text in purple is the Bishop’s paraphrase of the scripture he is commenting on.


The Apostle undertakes, in this chapter, the correction of three abusive practices, which prevailed at Corinth. The first was, the indecorous practice on the part of the Corinthian females of appearing in the churches with heads uncovered, while the men appeared with their heads covered. In order to combat this abuse, he shows the relation of inferiority and subjection which the woman holds towards the man; whence he infers the deordination of the man appearing with covered head, and the woman with head uncovered, and from other reasons of congruity, and finally, from the practice of the Church, he demonstrates the same (1–16).

The second regarded their conduct at the Agapes, celebrated immediately before Holy Communion. He reproves the Corinthians for their dissensions on such occasions. He taxes the rich with a want of consideration for the poor, when they assemble together; and in order to bring them to a sense of what they owed this divine banquet, he relates the history of the institution of the adorable Eucharist (16–26).

The third regarded the sacrilegious impiety of unworthy communion. He points out its enormity (27), its antidote (28), and in order to stimulate them to greater diligence in their preparation for this divine banquet, he again depicts the enormity of unworthy communion (29). He refers to instances of its punishment even among themselves (30). He shows the mode of avoiding these punishments (31), and again reverts to the subject of the Agapes.

1Co 11:23  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,

23. For I have received by revelation from the Lord himself immediately and directly (as, indeed, I have the entire Gospel, of which the doctrine of the Eucharist forms a prominent part), what I have already described to you by word of mouth touching this subject, viz., that the Lord Jesus, on the very night on which he was betrayed, took bread into his venerable and creative hands;

In order to point out the enormity of the sacrilegious communions, which were the great evils resulting from the excesses committed at the Agapes (see note), the Apostle repeats the loving history of the institution of the adorable Eucharist, which he had already, when among them, described orally, and to their forgetfulness of which, as well as of the sanctity of the mystery they were about to approach, their irreverences, their contempt of the entire church, their neglect of the poor, their excesses might be attributed. Note: The earliest Christians met in the houses of the more well-to-do among them in order to celebrate the Eucharist, for such houses were usually large enough to accommodate a sizable number of people. These meeting were usually held in the evenings, after the work day was through. Those who could, would often bring food to these gathering in order to share it with the poorer working people in a  meal preceding the Eucharist. For this reason the meals became known as Agape Meals (love feasts). It appears that some individuals and cliques began eating the food among themselves, not waiting for the arrival of the people dependent upon such meals. This lack of charity at thee meals showed a fundamental misunderstanding concerning the nature of the Eucharist, which became known as the Sacrament of Charity (see next paragraph).

“The same night on which he was betrayed.” This circumstance the Apostle mentions, in order to commend the excessive charity of Christ for us in this adorable institution, wherein our amiable Saviour poured forth all the riches of his Divine love for man (Council of Trent, SS. 13, ch. 2), and exhausted all the treasures of his infinite riches, all the inventions of wisdom, and all the efforts of infinite power.—(St. Augustine). Oh! how calculated is not the frequent consideration of the boundless love of our Blessed Jesus in the Sacrament of the altar—wherein he makes it his delight to remain with the children of men, even unto the end of the world, although the greater part of mankind are quite insensible to the incomprehensible prodigy of love, which he there never fails to exhibit—wherein he is prodigal of himself, to an extent that the mind of man could not fathom, and faith alone could believe—to draw us, to force us to love this disinterested lover who first loved us. What is the gift bestowed? On whom is it bestowed? How long is it to last? When was it given? Why was it given? At how great a sacrifice was it given? Shall not the consideration of these and the other circumstances of this Divine institution, force us to love our Lord Jesus in the Holy Eucharist!

1Co 11:24  And giving thanks, broke and said: Take ye and eat: This is my body, which shall be delivered for you. This do for the commemoration of me.

24. And giving thanks, broke and said: Take ye and eat, this is my body which shall be delivered for you. What I have now done, do you and your successors also to the end of time, in commemorat on of my bitter passion and death.

“And giving thanks.” These words express the act of returning thanks to his Heavenly Father, as well for his great benefit, which he had long pre-ordained, and which he is now immediately about to give, as for all his other blessings bestowed on mankind. The Evangelists add, in the history of the institution of the Eucharist—“he blessed”—the object of which benediction was, to implore upon the bread which he was about to consecrate, the Divine beneficence. In the Canon of the Mass, wherein the whole action is minutely and circumstantially detailed, are added the words, elevatis oculis in cœlum (He lifted his eyes to heaven), which he is presumed to have done on this as well as on the other occasions when he performed miracles; he did so in multiplying the bread (Matt 14), and in raising Lazarus from the grave (John 11).

“Broke.” According to some Expositors, he did this before consecration. These say, there was a two-fold breaking, the one referred to here, the other in the words, “this is my body which shall be delivered for you,” or, as in the Greek, which is broken for you, very expressive of his immolation and subjection to great tortures on the altar of the Cross. It seems, however, more probable that only one breaking took place, viz., that which occurred at the consecration, and of which the Apostle only gives a summary account, neglecting the order in which things took place.

“This is my body, which shall be delivered for you.” In Greek, τὁ ὑπερ ὑμῶν κλωμενον, which is broken for you, of course in the external species or appearances. The words, “which is broken,” although in the present tense, are used for a proximate future; they have a pregnans significatio, equivalent to “broken and given.” It corresponds with διδομενον (“which is given”), in St. Luke (22:19). Hence, it is well expressed by the Vulgate, tradetur. The word, κλωμενον, is wanting in the Vatican and Alexandrian MSS. From these words is derived a most solid and unanswerable proof of the real presence of the body and blood of our Lord in the blessed Sacrament.—(Concil. Trid. SS. xiii. c. 1). The words must have been understood in their plain, literal sense by the Apostles at the Last Supper; for, the Redeemer gave them no clue, that we are aware of, for understanding them, figuratively. On the contrary, the words of promise, which they had heard a year before (John, 6), and of which the fulfilment was deferred to the present moment, should have made them expect, that he would leave them his real body and blood, which it is clear, from the offence his words caused them, they understood him to promise.—(John, 6:62, &c.) Hence, our Blessed Redeemer could not have employed figurative language on this occasion, unless he had forewarned his Apostles, that he intended doing so; since, according to all the acknowledged laws of language, the man would be guilty of a he, who would employ language, in a figurative sense, which he knew his hearers were prepared to understand, literally. Now, the Apostles could be prepared to understand our Redeemer’s words, in the literal sense only: and his words, therefore, could be uttered in that sense only by our Divine Reedeemer. Taken literally, they clearly enunciate, and, therefore, prove the real presence. “Which shall be delivered for you;” according to this reading, adopted by the Vulgate, reference is made in these words to our Redeemer’s death upon the cross. If we follow the Greek reading, which is broken for you, the words express the present breaking of his body under the appearance or species of bread; and this breaking, which affects only the species, is referred to the substance contained under them, viz., the body and blood of Christ.

“This do for a commemoration of me,” i.e., in commemoration of his death and passion (as in verse 24). It is to be observed, that the three Evangelists (Matthew, chap. 26.; Mark, 14.; Luke, 22), and St. Paul here, give the same precise words in the consecration of the bread, “THIS IS MY BODY;” to which St. Luke adds, “which is given for you,” and St. Paul here, “which shall be delivered for you.”

1Co 11:25  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.

25. In like manner, after having first partaken of the Paschal supper, and also of the ordinary Jewish supper, he took the chalice, saying, this chalice, i.e., the contents of this chalice, is the authentic instrument of the New Testament, sealed and sanctioned in my blood, or, the thing contained in this chalice of my blood, it is, that ratifies and confirms the New Testament. As often as you shall drink of this, do it in commemoration of me.

“After he had supped.” These words are added in the account given by St. Paul of the consecration of the chalice; because, as is clear from the history of the Last Supper by St. Luke (22:17–20), there were two different chalices used on the occasion; one, the cup employed by the Jewish householder, before the Paschal supper; the other, the Eucharistic chalice, which is not to be confounded with the former—for, it was only after the Paschal Supper, and after the Jewish common supper also, that the Eucharistic chalice was consecrated. It is to be borne in mind, that it was only after the Paschal and the Jewish common suppers, which were used on the occasion of the Pasch (for the Jews had two suppers on this occasion, the Paschal and the common one), the bread also was transubstantiated; but this circumstance is omitted by the Apostle when describing the consecration of the bread; because, no confusion would result from such omission; whereas, if omitted in the history of the consecration of the cup, this Euchariastic cup might be confounded with that used at the common supper.

“This chalice,” the container for the thing contained.

“Is the new testament.” It is a “testament,” being the instrument through which a dying testator bequeathes a gift.

“New,” in opposition to the old, given by Moses; and, moreover, it conveys new blessings of a more exalted and spiritual character.

The form of the consecration of the chalice left us by St. Paul and St. Luke, is perfectly the same; “this chalice is the new testament in my blood,” to which St. Luke adds, τό ὑπερ ὑμῶν εκχυνομενον, “which shall be shed for you,” (chap. 22 verse 20). The form recorded by St. Matthew, which is the same as that of St. Mark, is somewhat different from that employed here by St. Paul and by St. Luke. In Matthew and Mark, the form is, “this is my blood of the new testament which shall be shed for many,” to which is added in St. Matthew, “unto the remission of sin.” The meaning of which is, that the new covenant of God with man, promising grace here and glory hereafter, on certain conditions, is ratified and sanctioned by the blood contained in the chalice; for it was by the effusion of the blood of Christ that these blessings were secured to man. The form here employed by St. Paul, and by St. Luke, “this chalice is the new testament,” &c., is reconciled by Piconio and A’Lapide with the form used by St. Matthew, “this is my blood of the new testament,” &c., in this way: they attach a different meaning to “testament,” in both cases. With St. Matthew, it means, the will itself. Here, according to them, it means the authentic instrument or copy of that will. Estius gives the word, “testament,” the same precise signification in both cases; he says, that the form here used by St. Paul means precisely the same thing with the form of St. Matthew. This chalice, or what is contained in this chalice of my blood, it is, that ratifies and confirms the new testament. Estius transposes the words, “in my blood,” as they are found in the form used here by St. Paul, and joins them with the word “chalice,” “this chalice in my blood,” which, according to him, means the same as “this chalice of my blood;” and he appears to insinuate that the difference of case “in my blood,” for, “of my blood,” is owing to some idiomatic peculiarity of language. This exposition has the advantage of giving the words used on this solemn occasion, the same fixed and definite meaning.

From this is clearly proved that the real blood of Christ was there; for, it was real blood that was shed in the testament of Moses, to which these words are allusive, and it would be perfectly unmeaning to suppose that the type was dedicated in real blood, and the antitype, only in the figure of blood.

“This do ye, as often as you shall drink,” &c. It is the doctrine of the Council of Trent (SS. xxii. chap. 1, de Missæ Sacrif.) that, at the institution of the adorable Eucharist, our Redeemer constituted his Apostles priests of the new testament, and commanded them and their successors in the priesthood to offer up (his body and blood), under the symbols or appearances of bread and wine, when he uttered the words, “Do this in commemoration of me.”

The precept conveyed in this and the preceding verses, by no means implies that the faithful are bound to receive communion under both kinds. For, our Redeemer directly addresses his priests, and commands them to offer sacrifice; to do, what he has done, to the end of time, in commemoration of his bitter death and passion. The only precept indirectly, or, rather, by correlative obligation binding on the faithful, is, to receive the Eucharist from the hands of their pastors, and in receiving it, to commemorate the death of Christ. But there is no command imposed on them to receive it under two kinds. Nay, the very conditional form in which our Redeemer speaks, when referring to the chalice, “this is ye as often as you shall drink.” &c., would imply the contrary; for why employ a condition if it were absolutely imperative? The command goes no farther in reference to the faithful, than to commemorate the death of Christ, when approaching to Holy Communion, and this may be done even under one kind. No doubt, Holy Communion was given in the early ages under both kinds; but, this was only a matter of discipline which might vary, but not of precept, which it was not in the power of the Church to change. She, for wise reasons, changed the discipline of former ages, and now allows Communion to be given to the faithful under one kind only. The precept of receiving under both kinds, only regarded the priests offering sacrifice, and the sacrifice most perfectly “shewed” forth the death of Christ, under the two distinct kinds.

1Co 11:26  For as often as you shall eat this bread and drink the chalice, you shall shew the death of the Lord, until he come.

26. As often, then, as you shall partake of this bread (transubstantiated into the body), and drink the chalice (changed into the blood of Christ), you shall announce the death of the Lord until he comes to judge the world.

In this verse, the Apostle explains the precept included in the institution of the Eucharist, as regarded the faithful, viz., that as often as they partook of the body and blood of Christ, they should announce his death, until he comes to judge the world. The Eucharist, therefore, is to continue till the end of time. “And drink the chalice,” the common Greek has, ποτηριον τουτο, this chalice, but, this, is cancelled by the best critics, on the authority of the chief MSS. “You shall shew.” The Greek is in the present, “you do show,” καταγγελλετε.


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Cornelius a Lapide’s Commentary on John 6:55-58

Posted by Dim Bulb on May 26, 2013

Joh 6:55  For my flesh is meat indeed: and my blood is drink indeed.

For My Flesh, &c., indeed, i.e., not parabolically nor figuratively, as Euthymius says from S. Chrysostom, but really and properly, according to the plain meaning of the words. Hence S. Chrysostom (Hom. 61. ad. Pop.) teaches that we in the Eucharist are united and commingled with the Flesh of Christ, not only by love and consent of will, but also really and substantially. “Wherefore,” saith he, “He hath commingled Himself with us, and united His Body to ours, that we should be made one whole, even as a body is connected with its head. This is the desire of ardent lovers. It is this which Job hinted at, saying to his servants, to whom he was beyond measure desirable, because they showed their desire, saying, ‘Who will give us to be filled with his flesh?’” (Job xxxi.) “Not only does Christ afford Himself to be seen by those who desire Him, but even to be handled and eaten, to have our teeth fastened in His Flesh, and to fulfil every desire. As lions therefore breathe out fire, so let us depart from that Table, made terrible to the devil, and contemplating our Head in our minds, and the charity which He has manifested towards us.”

Joh 6:56 He that eateth my flesh and drinketh my blood abideth in me: and I in him.

He that eateth, &c. Observe (1.) S. John delights in the word abide. By it he sometimes signifies delay, and duration of time (as in John 1:33), He upon whom thou shalt see the Spirit descending and remaining (abiding). Sometimes, however, by the expression abides he expresses, moreover, indwelling and intimate union, as here and in his 1st Epistle (1 Jn 3:9), “His seed,” i.e., of the grace of God, “abideth in him.” And in 1 Jn 4:16, “He that abideth in charity abideth in God, and God in him.”

Observe (2.) the abiding and union of the soul with Christ in the Eucharist not only takes place by the Eucharist Itself, but by the Eucharist in such manner that Christ being therein hidden, really and corporeally enters into our body, and so Christ with us, and we with the flesh of Christ, and by consequence with His Person, Divinity and omnipotence are really united and commingled, even as food is really united and commingled with our flesh. So S. Chrysostom observes, “He saith, abideth in Me, that He may show we are commingled with Himself.” And Euthymius, “He abideth in Me; he is united to Me by the reception and communication of My Flesh and My Blood, and is made one body with Me.” Theophylact, “In this place we are taught the Sacrament of communion. For he who eats and drinks the Flesh and Blood of the Lord, abides in the Lord Himself, and the Lord in Him. For there is a new sort of commingling, and one beyond understanding, that God is in us, and we in God.”  S. Cyril in this verse brings forward the apt similitude of wax. “It is as if when any one should pour wax into liquefied wax; it must be that the one should commingle with the other throughout. So if any one receive the Flesh and Blood of the Lord, he is so conjoined with Him, that Christ is found in him, and he in Christ.” And shortly afterwards, “As a little leaven, as Paul says, leaveneth the whole lump, so a little benediction draws the whole man into Himself (Christ), and fills him with His grace: and thus Christ abides in us, and we in Him. For truly the whole leaven passes into the whole lump. And this is the meaning of the passage.” The same Cyril also declares (lib. 10, c. 13) that Christ is in us, “not only through the indwelling, which is meant by love, but also by a participation of nature.”

S. Hilary teaches the same (lib. 8, de Trin.), and S. Irenæus (lib. 4, c. 34). Hence S. Cyril of Jerusalem (Cat. 4. Mystag.) declares, that in Holy Communion we become Christ-bearers, yea concorporate and united by consanguinity with Christ. Moreover Christ really abides with us so long as the sacramental species of bread and wine remain in us. But when they are digested and consumed by the stomach, Christ ceases indeed to live in us as Man substantially; but still through that previous union which He has contracted with us, the spiritual life of our souls is by His grace fed, strengthened and preserved for eternity. For (His Flesh) is grafted into our body as it were a seed of immortality. Which seed, as I have said, is not physical, but moral, like the merit of good works. For as a good work leaves after it merit, as it were a seed of glory, as it were a sort of title to eternal life, so does the communion of the Holy Eucharist leave a similar new title (jus), one peculiar to Itself, after It, unto the same life, as it were a seed of glory in us. For Christ grants this title to communicants through contact with, and partaking of His life-giving Body. For it is fitting and becoming that Christ should impart His own glorious life to those to whom He imparts Himself. “For it surely behoved,” says Cyril, “that not only the soul should rise to the blessed life by the Holy Ghost, but also that this worthless and earthly body should, by the taste of that which is akin to it, by contact and by food, be brought back to immortality.” The Flesh of Christ, therefore, in the Eucharist is the moral instrument of the Resurrection. Would you learn the physical cause of the same? It is this. The Deity of Christ in the Eucharist is the physical cause of the resurrection. To understand this from the foundation, observe that Christ as God, by the grace given and infused into a man by the reception of the Eucharist, even after the Eucharistic species have been consumed in the stomach, really dwells in the man, not only as in His temple by charity, but also as food in his stomach by way of nutriment. For as digested food nourishes and feeds the stomach, and through it all the limbs and members to which the stomach transmits the food, so in like manner the Divinity of Christ with His Flesh taken in the Eucharist, as it were the Food of soul and body, because it cannot be digested and consumed by man, abides continually in, as it were, the stomach of the soul, and nourishes and feeds it, and by it all the faculties and powers of the soul. And this is what Christ here saith, He that eateth my flesh and drinketh my blood abideth in me: and I in him. For the Deity of Christ as it were food abides always in the soul, feeding it; and the soul in her turn abides in the Deity of Christ, as an immortal and life-giving Food. For she abides as it were in Life itself, which feeds us continually with the influx of habitual grace, and at stated periods by the infusion of fresh actual grace, as by fresh holy illuminations, fresh inspirations, new pious affections and impulses sent into the soul, that we may become the same that Christ is, says S. Gregory Nyssen. And thus we are made spiritual, holy and divine, and that daily more and more, and have always in the stomach both of our body and our soul the very Divinity of Christ, as it were the tree of life, so that It in Its own time, in the day of judgment and the general resurrection, will communicate to us Its own immortal, blessed and Divine life. Thus sometimes medicine, a long time after it has been taken and digested, through the virtue which it leaves after it, works and heals, even though it at first makes those who take it more sick, because it attacks the depraved humours (of the body), and fights with them until it purges and expels them; and when they are expelled, it restores the body to its pristine purity and health.

The following is the order of things in the communion of the Eucharist. (1.) Through the receiving of the Eucharist, the Flesh and Blood of Christ, yea whole Christ, i.e., His Humanity and Divinity, as it were food, enters into us, and abides in us. (2.) The species of the Eucharist being digested by the stomach, and converted into our flesh (for the matter of the bread and wine which had been annihilated in consecration, comes back by the power of God), the Flesh and Humanity of Christ cease to be in us: but the Divinity of Christ, as it were immortal Food, remains in us. And This (3.) communicates Its own eternal life to the soul, nourishes and augments it by continually feeding in the way of which I have spoken. (4.) The Same will raise our bodies from death at the resurrection, and unite them to our souls, and so bestow the life of eternal glory upon the whole man, inasmuch as we have the Eucharist, at least as regards the Divinity of Christ which it contains, as it were the food and medicine of immortality always in our body and our soul. And by means of It Christ abides in us, as He Himself here asserts, inasmuch as He is very God. But God will be the physical cause of our resurrection as the Flesh of Christ will be the moral cause of the same. And although our flesh must first die, even as the Flesh of Christ died, yet this food of the Eucharist, that is, Christ as God always abiding in a man, will raise him up from death unto life eternal. This is what Christ saith, I am the living bread which came down from heaven. If any man eat of this bread, he shall live for ever. For Christ as God, not as man, came down from heaven. He that eateth, &c.—because as food It always sustains and nourishes him into eternal life. Nor indeed can these words be otherwise explained. As therefore food, after it has been digested, leaves its power to nourish in the chile which remains, so the species of the Eucharist after they have been digested, leave in a manner their power of nourishing unto eternal life in the Divinity of Christ which with grace remains, For His Humanity by His own ordinances has been tied to the species of bread and wine, that so long as they remain, It also should remain, and when they are consumed that It should cease to be present, as S. Thomas and the rest of the Theologians teach. In like manner after a good work there remains in us not only habitual grace, but also the Divinity Itself, and the Whole Most Holy Trinity, which makes us to be partakers of the Divine nature, and sons of God.

Here observe by the way a threefold distinction between the Eucharist and common food. (1.) The first is that common food does not remain in us, but is converted into chile, and then into blood, and then into the flesh and substance of our several members. But in the Eucharist the Flesh of Christ is not converted into the substance of him who eateth, but remains uncorrupt and unchanged in Itself, forasmuch as It is immortal and glorious. This is what Christ said to a certain Saint, “Thou shalt not change Me into thyself, but thou shalt be changed into Me.”

(2.) The second is, that common food is of itself without life, but is animated, and receives life from him that eateth it. But the Flesh of Christ in the Eucharist is both living and life-giving, giving life to him that eateth It.

(3.) Bread and food leave behind no part of themselves, because they are wholly converted into chile, and transfuse into it their power of nourishing. But the Flesh of Christ in the Eucharist, after the species being consumed, the bread has vanished, leaves after It, Its own hypostasis, that is to say, the Person of the Word, and His Divinity, on account of which Christ is here said to remain in him that eateth, and to raise him up, and he that eateth to remain in Christ. So Cyril and the Fathers cited above. Also S. Ambrose (lib. 6, de Sacrament, c. 1), whom hear. “How then did the Bread, even the Living Bread come down from heaven? Because the same our Lord Jesus Christ is a partaker both of Deity and of a body; and thou who receivest His Flesh, art partaker through that Food of His Divine Substance.” So too, S. Hilary (lib. 8, de Trin.) “He Himself is in us through His Flesh, whilst we are with Him in This which is in God.”

Joh 6:57  As the living Father hath sent me and I live by the Father: so he that eateth me, the same also shall live by me.

As the living Father, &c. . . . hath sent Me, in the Flesh into the world, through the Incarnation, for the salvation of men. The living Father, who is Himself Divine Life, uncreated Substance, and therefore in begetting Me hath communicated to Me the same Substance, that I might communicate the same to the Humanity, which He sent Me to assume, that I might communicate similar spiritual, holy, blessed and eternal life to the faithful who eat of Me.

And I live by (propter) the Father, i.e., through the Father, of the Father. For the Father in begetting Me communicates to Me His own Divinity, which is the essence of life. For God hath begotten God, the Living One hath begotten the Living One. “The Son therefore,” saith Cyril, “is as Light of Light, and as Life of Life. And as the Father gives light through the Son to the things which need light, and through Him does wisely, so through the Son as through His life which proceeds from Him, He quickens those things which have need of life.” And again, “I live by (propter) the Father: for since My Father is Life by nature, and because I am by nature His Son, I naturally possess this property of His nature, that is life.”

Here Christ gives the reason by which He is living and quickening Bread in the Eucharist, who will raise us from death at the judgment-day. And He opens out the very origin and fountain of life and resurrection. For God the Father is that Fount of life, according to the words, “With Thee is the Fountain of life” (Ps 35:10). And He communicates together with His Essence this life to His Son, whereby it comes to pass that the Son Himself is a Fountain of Life. Wherefore as the Father always abides in the Son, always imparts this source of life to the Son, so also the Son, being sent by the Father in the flesh, and abiding in it, continually infuses this Divine life into the flesh and the Humanity which He has assumed, and continually abiding in us, inspires the like life into us who receive His Flesh in the Eucharist. He therefore shall live by Me, that as the Father communicates His own life to the Son, so Christ communicates His life to the Christian who rightly receives Him. Wherefore S. Dionysius the Areopagite (de Eccles. Hierarch. c. 1) teaches that the Priest passes into fellowship with the Godhead, and (c. 2) that communion deifies, and (c. 3) that those who worthily communicate are by the similitude of a pure and divine life grafted into Christ. Moreover, the Eucharist does the same thing for the pure and the penitent. Whence S. Augustine (Serm. 1, de Temp.) says, “Let him change his life, who wishes to receive Life. For if he change not his life, he will receive Life unto condemnation, and will rather be destroyed than healed by It: rather slain than quickened.” For the impure and the impenitent receive not life, but death of body and soul, both now and eternally, from the Eucharist. Thus S. Cyprian (Serm. 5, de Laps.), speaking of a woman who communicated unworthily, says, “She received not bread, but a sword, and as it were taking some deadly poison she was shaken, trembled, and fell. She who had deceived man, felt the vengeance of God.” He relates several cases of a similar kind. Durandus also (Ration. Divin. 0ff. lib. 6, c. 10) relates that the pestilence which ravaged Rome, from the time of Pope Pelagius until Gregory the Great, and caused many thousand deaths, was sent by God in punishment of those, who, after the Lenten fast and the Easter communion, returned to their former wickedness. For they were to be visited with death who profaned the Eucharist, which is true life.

The meaning then is, “As the Father, who liveth by Himself, and is the Essence itself of life, hath sent Me into this world, and I have life from Him who begat Me, life, I say, both human, from a human soul, and of greater importance, Divine life, through partaking of the Godhead, with which My humanity is hypostatically united, and will be united for ever, so in like manner he who eateth the living Me, also from Me, ever abiding in Him as regards My Godhead, shall receive a perpetual life of grace and glory; and as regards his body, I will in due time raise it up into a blessed and eternal life.” Christ here signifies that the life which is originally in the Father is communicated to us through the Son and the Eucharist, as by an organic means. So Leontius, Jansen, and others. But above the rest, S. Cyril, whom hear, “As I am made man by the will of the Father, who came forth from essential life, and as being man I live, and have filled My body with Life, no otherwise shall he who eateth My flesh live by Me. For I assumed mortal flesh; but because I exist as life essentially, dwelling in the flesh, I have made it wholly like unto My own life. For I indeed am not conquered by the death of the flesh, but as God I have overcome all death and destruction.” And shortly afterwards, “As the Father hath sent Me, so that I am become man, yet I live by the Father, that is, I perfectly preserve the Father’s nature: so he who shall receive Me by eating My flesh shall surely live, being made wholly like unto Me, who am able to give him life, because I am of the living Father.” He adds a simile taken from red-hot iron. For as the fire communicates its heat to the red-hot iron, so does the living Christ impart His life unto us in the Eucharist. In admiration of this S. Augustine exclaims (lib. 7, Confess. c. 10), “0 eternal Truth, and true Charity, and sweet Eternity, I tremble with love and dread, as though I heard Thy voice from on high saying, ‘I am the Bread of the strong: grow as thou shalt eat Me.’”

Observe here the gradation, by which life gradually descends to us from God as it were by stairs. The first step is, the Father communicating His own Divine Essence to the Son. The second, when the Son communicates the same life to the Humanity which He assumed by the participation of attributes. Third, when He inspires the life of grace and glory which He shares with It. The fourth, when He infuses not equal but like life into us in the Eucharist.

Lastly, Christ here signifies what I have spoken of in the preceding verse, that His Godhead which always abides in us, after the reception of the Eucharist, even after the species have been consumed, continually causes the life of grace to flow into us, and will after death raise us up again unto immortal life. This is what He means when He saith, I live by the Father, &c. He means, Because I receive Godhead, which is pure life from the Father, so he that eateth me, the same also shall live by me. For My Godhead abiding in him, will continually breathe into his soul the breath of life. And his body shall after death be raised up by It to the beatific life. It is as the seminal virtue which lies hid in the heart of a grain of wheat, that seems dead through the winter, but in spring by the heat of the sun opening out its force, it, as it were, raises the grain of wheat itself from death, and causes it to germinate, and produce thirty and sixty fold.

Joh 6:58  This is the bread that came down from heaven. Not as your fathers did eat manna and are dead. He that eateth this bread shall live for ever.

This is the bread, &c. He intimates the same thing which I have said at the end of the foregoing verse. For Christ came down from heaven not as man, but as God. Wherefore he who eateth Him in the Eucharist shall live for ever, because in truth he eateth God and the Godhead, which being ever present with him who eateth, continually breathes into him His own life. Hear S. Ambrose (Serm. 18 in Ps. cxviii.), “How shall he die whose food is Life?” And presently, describing its wonderful effects, “Draw nigh unto Him, and be filled, for He is Bread. Draw nigh unto Him, and drink, for He is a Fountain. Draw nigh unto Him, and be enlightened, for He is Light. Draw nigh unto Him, and be free, for where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty. Draw nigh unto Him, and be absolved; for He is remission of sins.” And S. Bernard (Serm. de Cæna. Dom.) says, “Two things that Sacrament worketh in you: it diminishes the sense (of sin) in the least matters, and in graver sins it wholly takes away consent.” And again he says, “If any of you feel neither so frequently nor so severely the motions of anger, envy, lust, and such like passions, give thanks to the Body and Blood of the Lord, forasmuch as the virtue of the Sacrament worketh in you.” And S. Chrysostom on Ps 22:5 (Vulg.), saith upon the words, “Thou hast prepared a table before me, against them that trouble me,” “Let those who have trouble of the flesh come to the table of the Mighty One, and tribulation shall be turned into consolation.” Lastly, S. Cyril says, “The body of Christ quickens, and by our participation of it restores us to incorruption. For it is the body of none other than of the Life itself. It retains the virtue of the Word Incarnate, and is full of the power of Him by whom all things live and have their being.”

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Father Callan’s Commentary on 1 Corinthians 12:12-14, 27-31

Posted by Dim Bulb on September 15, 2012


A Summary of 1 Corinthians 12:12-30~St. Paul now illustrates how the different members of the Church, with their various gifts are all one, as parts of the one mystical body of which Christ is the head. As the human body is one, in spite of its various members, and as its vital spirit is one, although manifesting itself differently through different members, so it is with the mystical body of Christ, of which He is the Head and His Holy Spirit the soul. If, therefore, all the spiritual gifts possessed by the different members of the Church come from the same divine source and are intended for the same lofty purpose, which is the good of the Church, those who have the more humble gifts ought to be contented, not envying those who are more highly endowed (verses 12-20); and, contrariwise, those who have been more especially favored must not look down upon or despise their less fortunate brethren (verses 21-30).

12. For as the body is one, and hath many members ; and all the members of the body, whereas they are many, yet are one body, so also is Christ.

So also is Christ. Literally, “So also Christ.” On this passage, where we might expect the word “Church” to be in the place of the term “Christ,” St. Chrysostom remarks: “As head and body are one man, so, says the Apostle, the Church and Christ are one; wherefore he puts Christ instead of the Church.”

13. For in one Spirit were we all baptized into one body, whether Jews or Gentiles, whether bond or free; and in one Spirit we have all been made to drink.

St. Paul now proves that the faithful are all one. All have been regenerated by means of the same Baptism, operating in virtue of the same Holy Spirit, and all are incorporated in the same Jesus Christ, so that they form one mystical body, vivified by Christ’s Holy Spirit. All former differences of religion, race, or condition of life have thus been obliterated.

We have all been made to drink, i.e., all the faithful have participated in the effusion of gifts, some ordinary, some extraordinary, which the one Holy Spirit has poured out on them in the Sacrament of Confirmation. Here St. Chrysostom says: “He seems to me now to speak of that descent of the Holy Ghost which is after Baptism, and before the reception of the (Eucharistic) mysteries” (cited by Rick.). In the early days of the Church Confirmation was administered immediately after Baptism, as in the Greek Church still (cf. Prat, La Theol. de Saint Paul, tom. II. p. 379).

Gentiles (Vulg., gentiles) is “Greeks” in the MSS.

14. For the body also is not one member, but many.

In verse 12 the analogy was drawn between the oneness of the human body and that of Christ’s mystical body, the Church, and it was shown to be complete. In verse 13 it was proved that the Church is one. Therefore the conclusion now follows that the human body is one, although its parts and members are many.

27. Now you are the body of Christ, and members of member.

What has been said of the human body is now applied to Christ’s mystical body, the Church, where also there is one unifying vital principle, but different members. You are the body of Christ, i.e., the faithful taken together constitute the body of the Church.

Members of member, i.e., the faithful are mutually dependent on one another; or (according to a better Greek reading, given below), taken severally, they are the members of the Church.

The Vulgate, et membra de membro represents an inferior Greek manuscript, but the best Greek has μελη εκ μερους, et membra ex parte, i.e., taken together you are the body of Christ, but taken singly or individually, you are His members. (The RSV reads: Now you are the body of Christ and individually members of it).

28. And God indeed hath set some in the church; first apostles, secondly prophets, thirdly doctors; after that miracles; then the graces of healings, helps, governments, kinds of tongues, interpretations of speeches.

Although the members of the Church constitute one body, if taken together, they are distinct, with various offices and functions, if considered severally. The Apostle now speaks df some of the extraordinary gifts and powers that were bestowed on different individuals in the Church. There is no question here of the ordinary functions of the various grades in the hierarchy, that is, of bishops, priests and the like; but only of those classes that possessed certain extraordinary powers, such as prophecy.

Hath set. Literally, “Hath placed.”

In the Vulgate and in our version nine gifts are enumerated here, as in verses 8-10, above; but the Greek text and the old Latin versions contain only eight, interpretations of speeches being omitted.

The church, i.e., the Church in general, not only the Corinthian Church.

Apostles, i.e., those endowed with extraordinary powers for preaching the Gospel to unbelievers in new parts of the world.

Prophets, . . . doctors. See above, on verses 8-10. The first three classes are named here in the order of their dignity. Prophets, as such, always spoke under the inspiration ofthe Holy Ghost; whereas doctors, although especially instructed and assisted by the Holy Spirit, made use of their natural knowledge in their exposition of doctrine.

Miracles … the graces of healings. See above, on verses 8-10.

Helps, i.e., persons having extraordinary powers for looking after and assisting the poor, the sick and the destitute. Governments, i.e., those gifted for the exercise of authority over external affairs in the Church.

Kinds of tongues. See above, on verse 10. The Apostle mentions this gift last probably to show the Corinthians that it was not so important as they had thought.

Interpretations of speeches (Vulg., interpretationes sermonum) should be omitted here.

29. Are all apostles? Are all prophets? Are all doctors?
30. Are all workers of miracles? Have all the grace of healing? Do all speak with tongues? Do all interpret?

29, 30. Although the most of these extraordinary graces were generally found in different individuals, it sometimes happened that several of them were possessed by the same person. Nevertheless, the Apostle is referring in these verses to the general rule, according to which the different gifts were variously distributed among the members of the Church. The conclusion is that all should be contented with the graces which God has been pleased to bestow upon them, not envying one another, not despising one another.

31. But be zealous for the better gifts. And I shew unto you yet a more excellent way.

While St. Paul admonished the Corinthians to be satisfied with the gifts they had, he did not mean to forbid them to strive for higher perfection; rather, he desired this. But in order to attain to greater excellence and the more perfect state, it is necessary to enter upon and learn the way of charity, the only road to true perfection. Accordingly, before going into a more exhaustive consideration of those gifts which the Corinthians erroneously sought above everything, the Apostle unfolds to them (1 Cor 12:31-13:13) the treasures of charity, without which all other endowments can profit them nothing. The present verse, therefore, serves as a transition from this to the following chapter.

The Corinthians are encouraged to seek the better gifts (τα κρειττονα, as in the Rec, with D E F G, Old Latin and Vulg.), i.e., the gifts that were really more useful for themselves and for the Church, although not so showy. A better reading of the above phrase has, “greater gifts”, as in B A C, i.e., gifts of a higher order than those he has been speaking about, and which he will discuss at length in chapter 14; these “greater gifts” are faith, hope and especially charity.

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Father Callan’s Commentary on 1 Corinthians 11:17-26, 33

Posted by Dim Bulb on September 15, 2012

This post contains Fr. Callan’s summary of 1 Cor 11:17-34 followed by his notes on verses 17-26, 33 (and also 34), which is the reading for Monday of the 24th week in Ordinary Time, Year B.


A Summary of 1 Cor 11:17-34~Besides the abuse of women’s appearing at the religious assemblies of the faithful in Corinth with uncovered head, there were others of a far more serious nature, namely, those in connection with the love-feasts and with the celebration of the Holy Eucharist.

In imitation of our Lord, who instituted the Holy Eucharist in the evening, after the eating of the Paschal Supper, it seems that the early Christians also, at least in Corinth, held the Eucharistic celebration in the evening and accompanied it by a common supper or feast which, because it was intended to strengthen the bond of charity among the faithful, was called the Agape, or love-feast. The necessaries of this supper or love-feast were contributed by those who could afford to bring something with them, and especially by the rich, who thus came to the assistance of the poor. Soon, however, abuses crept in. The poor were crowded out or prevented from getting their share of the supper, some drank to excess, and divisions and animosities were excited among the brethren. Naturally all this was a bad preparation for, and a great irreverence towards, the Eucharistic celebration which in Corinth at this time appears to have followed the common supper.

St. Paul, therefore, in this section of the present chapter sternly reproves the Corinthian abuses in connection with the love-feasts (1 Cor 11:17-22); he recalls the fact and purpose of the institution of the Holy Eucharist (1 Cor 11:23-26); he shows what preparation is required of him who would partake of this great Sacrament (1 Cor 11:27-29); arguing from effects he points out that due preparation has been wanting in many of the Corinthian faithful (1 Cor 11:30-32); and finally, he lays down some practical rules to be observed at the love-feasts (1 Cor 11:33-34).

It is to be noted here that what has just been said, as well as what will be further said in the following verses with regard to the common meal which the faithful of Corinth were accustomed to take before the Eucharistic celebration when St. Paul wrote the present letter, refers, according to the opinion universally accepted, to the Agape. This traditional view of the Agape as a Christian feast is mainly traceable to what St. Paul says in the verses that follow. But Msgr. Batiffol (Dict, de Theol. Cath., tom. I, col. 551-556) takes a very different view of the question. He holds that there is no trace of the Agape, as we here understand it, either in this Epistle or anywhere else, before the end of the second century, and that St. Paul in the following verses is condemning at most an attempt on the part of the Corinthians to introduce a common meal along with the Eucharistic celebration.

In trying to prove his opinion, however, we feel that Msgr. Batiffol has not done justice to the present passage of St. Paul. His analysis of the text almost entirely overlooks the force of verses 21 and 33, which, we believe, are nearly unintelligible, short of the explanation commonly given of the Agape. Having just condemned (verse 19) the dissensions among the Christians when they came together, the Apostle says in verses 20, 21: “When therefore you come together to the same place it is not to eat the Lord’s supper (implying that previously it was otherwise); for at the repast each one first takes (προλαμβανει) his own supper, and one is hungry, while another is overindulged.” And then, after showing what an injury such actions are to the poor, and in particular what a bad preparation they make for the Eucharistic celebration which was supposed to follow, the Apostle concludes his instructions by saying in verse 33, “Wherefore, my brethren, when you come together for the repast, wait for one another.”

It seems plain from these verses that St. Paul is not imposing a fast on the faithful before Communion. He is taking it for granted that the common meal before the celebration of the Eucharist is according to existing custom in Corinth, and therefore legitimate; but what he is condemning is the uncharitable and unbecoming manner in which this meal came to be held. In verse 21 he is complaining of the private, individual taking of this meal, with the result that some are overindulged while others are deprived; and in verse 33 he points out that these abuses can be corrected, not by giving up the practice of the common meal, but by waiting for one another. What meaning
would these two verses convey if at Corinth there were no such thing as a common meal accompanying the Eucharistic celebration, or if St. Paul were resisting any attempt to establish such a custom?

In view of these remarks we see no sufficient reason for departing from the traditional explanation of the present passage.

1 Cor 11:17. Now this I ordain: not praising you, that you come together not for the better, but for the worse.

Now this, namely, what I have just said about women veiling their heads in church. Such is the reference of “this,” according to the best interpreters (St. Aug., St. Thomas, Corn., etc.); and the best reading of the verse is as follows : “Now commanding this (concerning women covering their heads) I do not praise (what I am going to speak about) that you come together not unto the better, but unto the worse.”

Not praising you, etc., i.e., I do not praise you for the abuses that take place in your religious assemblies.

The first “you” in this verse ought to be omitted.

1 Cor 11:18. For first of all I hear that when you come together in the church, there are schisms among you; and in part I believe it.

First. The Apostle begins with the first more serious abuse, which is in connection with the love-feast; the second grave abuse he begins to discuss in 12:1.

I hear, etc., i.e., he learned it through the letter he had received.

In the church. Literally, “In church,” i.e., in your religious assemblies, whether these took place in a building set apart for the purpose, or not. Most likely the Corinthians had no special buildings at so early a date which they called churches. In fact, it was very probably only about the third century that the name church was given to any building.

There are schisms, etc., i.e., divisions and dissensions. Schisms in a strict sense are not thought of here; neither are the various factions of the first part of the Epistle in question.

In ecclesiam of the Vulgate should be in ecclesia.

19. For there must be also heresies: that they also, who are approved, may be made manifest among you.

St. Paul says that he is prepared to believe the report that there are divisions among the Corinthians at their religious meetings, because he knows, from his acquaintance with human weakness and perversity, that even heresies, i.e., pertinacious denials of doctrine and ruptures in faith and with the authority of the Church, must also arise. If it is necessary (Matt 18:7; Luke 17:1) that these more serious divisions should occur, it is not wonderful that among the faithful there shoufd be divisions and misunderstandings, bad as these latter also are. The Apostle is speaking in general about heresies, and does not mean that any actually existed at Corinth.

Some authors (MacR., Rick., etc.) hold that “heresies” here means nothing more than sects or factions, since the Greek term, here used occurs in eight other places of the New Testament (Acts 5:17; Acts 15:5; Acts 26:5; Acts 24:5, Acts 24:14; Acts 28:22; Gal 5:20; 2 Peter 2:1), and in six of these it means sect.

That they also, etc. “Also” should be omitted. The meaning is that God permits heresies in order to test and purify the faith of true Christians, as gold is tried, but not consumed by fire.

The second et of the Vulgate should be away.

20. When you come therefore together into one place, it is not now to eat the Lord’s supper.

It is not now, etc. Some say the meaning is: It is not possible or lawful to eat the Lord’s Supper. But more probably the Apostle means that, while the Corinthians ostensibly came together for the purpose of showing mutual charity and celebrating the Holy Eucharist, their conduct was such that they violated the whole spirit of the Lord’s Supper.

The Lord’s supper doubtless embraces both the Agape (verses 21, 33) and the Eucharistic celebration (verse 23). It was a reproduction of our Lord’s Last Supper, which consisted of the Paschal Supper and the reception of the Holy Eucharist.

Was it the common practice at that time to partake of the love-feast before receiving Holy Communion? A definite answer to this question cannot be given. According to St. Chrysostom the offering and reception of the Eucharist preceded the Agape; according to others the reverse order was observed. It seems certain that at this early date there was no definite practice in the matter. For from Acts 2:46; 20:11 it appears that the “breaking of bread,” i.e., the celebration of the Eucharist, occurred before the common meal ; while from the present passage of St. Paul it is clear that, at Corinth at least, the same order was observed which our Lord made use of at the Last Supper (Cornely).

After some years, it appears, the love-feast was separated from the Eucharistic celebration, perhaps on account of abuses such as St. Paul is here condemning. The Eucharist was then celebrated in the morning. This was the case in Bithynia in the early part of the second century (Plin., Ep. 96 ad Trajan.). In the middle of the second century Justin Martyr (Apol. i. 67) describes the Eucharistic feast, but is silent about the Agape. Tertullian (De Corona, c. 3) speaks of the Eucharist as celebrated before daylight. The same author in describing the Agape, makes no reference to the Eucharist (Apol. 39).

When the general practice of fasting before receiving Holy Communion began we cannot determine with certainty. St. Aug. (Ep. cxviii., ad Januar.) thought it came down from the Apostles. But if this were so, it would be difficult to explain the contrary custom at Corinth in St. Paul’s time and also the ruling of the 29th canon of the Third Council of Carthage (a.d. 397): Ut sacramenta altaris nonnisi a jejunis hominibus celebretur, excepto uno die anniversario,
quo cena Domini celebratur. Sozomen, the historian, says there was no obligation in Egypt in the fifth century to receive Holy Communion fasting. Cf. MacR., h. 1.

21. For every one taketh before his own supper to eat And one indeed is hungry and another is drunk.

That the religious celebrations of the Corinthians had become unlike the Lord’s Last Supper, which they were supposed to reproduce, was evident from the way the faithful in their religious assemblies conducted themselves. Those who could afford it brought food and drink for the common meal, as was the proper custom, but they did not have a common meal of which all partook.

For every one, etc. Literally, “For in the eating every one taketh first his own,” etc., i.e., all those who brought provisions ate them in private, and before all had assembled or distribution could be made, with the result that the poor were left hungry. And the rich, instead of helping to feed the poor, gave themselves to excessive drinking. It seems that the members of those cliques spoken of in verse 18 used to share their provisions together to the exclusion of those who belonged to a different clique, some of whom had no provisions.

Is drunk (μεθυει) is softened down by some commentators to signify something short of actual intoxication.

22. What, have you not houses to eat and to drink in? Or despise ye the church of God; and put them to shame that have not? What shall I say to you? Do I praise you? In this I praise you not.

Indignant over these abuses the Apostle asks the Corinthians if they had not their own homes in which to hold their banquets without injury to the poor.

Despise ye the church of God, etc., i.e., do you despise the assembly of the faithful which is composed of rich and poor, all of whom are equal before God? It is an injury to the poor to exclude them as unworthy from a part in the common meal at the religious assemblies, and thus put them to shame by making more conspicuous their poverty. For such actions the Apostle cannot but blame those who are guilty.

Do I praise you? Better, “Shall I praise you?”

23. 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,
24. And giving thanks, broke, and said: Take ye, and eat: this is my body, which shall be delivered for you: this do for the commemoration of me.

St. Paul could not praise the Corinthians for their conduct at the Eucharistic celebration; for their behavior there was a gross profanation of a sacred banquet solemnly instituted by Christ Himself. In order that they may the better understand the gravity of their actions he starts here to recall to their minds what he had taught them when founding the Church at Corinth.

For I have received, etc (ver 23). It is not entirely clear whether St. Paul received from the Lord what follows by direct revelation or through others. But the emphatic use of the pronoun (εγω γαρ = ego gar), together with what he says in 9:1 and in Gal 1:12, makes it almost certain that what he is about to say was vouchsafed to him from the Lord’s own lips, perhaps during his three years’ stay in Arabia (Gal 1:17). He does not say “from the disciples of the Lord,” but “from the Lord” (απο του κυριου = apo to Kurios).

Which also I delivered unto you. (ver 23) He had made known to the Corinthians very exactly what had been revealed to him concerning the Blessed Eucharist. St. Paul’s account agrees very closely with that given by his disciple St. Luke (Luke 22:19, 20), who had learned of this great event directly from the Apostle himself.

That the Lord Jesus, the same night, etc. (ver 23) St. Paul gives this circumstance to show the intimate connection between the Eucharist and the Passion of our Lord, and to set out more in relief the enormous ingratitude and irreverence of the Corinthians who dared to celebrate the august mysteries with so much laxity and neglect.

Took bread, etc., (ver 23) as recorded also in Matt 26:2-29; Mark 14:17-25; Luke 22:10-20.

Giving thanks (ευχαριστησας~ from the Greek εὐχαριστέω = eucharisteō) (ver 24). The same expression is found in St. Luke’s account of the Last Supper (Luke 22:19), and is equivalent to the “blessing” (ευλογησας) of Matt 26:26; Mark 14:22. The blessing contained thanksgiving for that which was blessed (Westm. Ver.), and hence our Lord both gave thanks and blessed the bread before the consecration.

Broke (ver 24). Estius and others say the breaking of the bread was only after the consecration, as in the Mass. Some hold there were two breakings, one into larger pieces before the consecration, and one into smaller pieces afterwards.

The words take ye, and eat are not in any of the best MSS., and are omitted by the Fathers and many of the oldest versions. They were most likely inserted here by a copyist from Matt 26:26. Likewise the words shall be delivered (Vulg. tradetur), having only the Vulgate and Syriac versions with Theodoret in their favor, must be omitted. Somewhat better supported, but still insufficiently so is another reading, “which is broken for you,” (Greek: klasmenon,  E F G K L P, Rec, Peshitto, and some copies of the Old Latin). Two Greek-Latin MSS. (Codex Claromontanus of the 6th cent., and the Codex Sangermanensis of the 9th cent.) render klasmenon here by frangitur.

The best reading, therefore, of this passage in the four oldest
and best MSS. is: “This is my body, which is for you” (τουτο μου εστιν το σωμα το υπερ υμων). The words, which is for you, i.e., which is given for you, taken in conjunction with the clearer words used with the chalice, point unmistakably to the sacrificial character of the Eucharistic celebration at the Last Supper.

This do for the commemoration of me (ver 24).  On this passage the Council of Trent (Sess. XXII. can. 2) says: “If anyone say that by the words, ‘This do in remembrance of me” Christ did not constitute His Apostles priests, or did not ordain that they and other priests should offer His body and blood, let him be anathema.”

25. 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.

In like manner, etc. As He had done for the bread, so immediately afterwards He did for the chalice, i.e., He took it, gave thanks to the Father, blessed it, etc.

After he had supped, i.e., after the Paschal supper was in the main over. St. Luke speaks to the same effect, “after he had supped” (Luke 22:20). St. Matthew says, “While they were at supper” (Matt 26:26); and St. Mark has, “Whilst they were eating” (Mark 14:22). The expression, μετα το δειπνησα (after he supped, or dined), which occurs only in St. Paul and in St. Luke, was perhaps added to render more definite the vague indication of time conveyed by the εσθιοντων δε αυτων (as they were eating) of Sts. Matt, and Mark (Cornely). Taking together all four accounts we can plainly see that the institution of the Blessed Eucharist took place while our Lord and the disciples were still at the supper table, but towards the end of the meal. Very probably the fourth cup of wine, which legally terminated the Jewish Paschal supper, was the one consecrated by the Saviour.

This chalice, etc., i.e., the contents of this chalice is “my blood,” as directly stated in Matt 26:28, and in Mark 14:24: “This is my blood.”

The new testament in my blood, i.e., the contents of this chalice is the seal or ratification of the New Covenant through my blood. The reference is clearly to the words of Moses (Exod 24:8) who, after he had read the book of the covenant and the people had promised to observe it, sprinkled them with sacrificial blood saying, “Behold the blood of the covenant which the Lord hath made with you.” In like manner Christ’s sacrificial blood, which the disciples drank, is the seal of the New Covenant. As in the case of Moses there was present real sacrificial blood which had been offered in sacrifice, so at the Last Supper there was present real blood—the blood of Christ, which was being offered in sacrifice for the sins of the world (Heb 8:8; Jer 31:31-34).

This do ye . . . for the commemoration of me. These words, in connection with the chalice, are found only in St. Paul. They emphasize the commission given to the Apostles and show the purpose of the Eucharistic celebration.

This, i.e., the whole action which Christ had just performed in changing bread and wine into His body and blood and in giving the sacred species to others for their spiritual nourishment, this the Apostles and their successors were to repeat and continue till the Second Coming of the Lord at the end of the world, as St. Paul indicates in the following verse.

26. For as often as you shall eat this bread, and drink the chalice, you shall shew the death of the Lord, until he come,

The Apostle now shows what the celebration of the Eucharistic banquet was intended to commemorate or recall. The words eat, drink, and shew are all in the present tense in the original.

You shall shew the death of the Lord. The Eucharist is the commemorative sacrifice of the death of Christ, and this death is mystically signified by the separate consecrations of the two distinct elements of bread and wine.

Until he come, i.e., until Christ comes at the end of the world. This proves that the Eucharistic sacrifice is to be continued till the end of time, and, since sacrifice requires a priest, it also proves that our Lord ordained the Apostles priests at the Last Supper, and at the same time empowered them to provide their successors to the end.

33. Wherefore, my brethren, when you come together to eat, wait for one another.
34. If any man be hungry, let him eat at home; that you come not together unto judgment. And the rest I will set in order, when I come.

Referring again to the abuses connected with the Agape, the Apostle urges the Corinthians, when they assemble for their love-feasts and the celebration of the Holy Eucharist, to have their meal in common. Let them wait to eat, until all are present, so that the rich may not overindulge themselves, nor the poor be deprived of their portion.

If some get so hungry that they cannot wait for the common meal, they should take something at home beforehand; so that they may come together, i.e., to the assembly, with spiritual profit, and not unto judgment, i.e., not to their spiritual ruin and condemnation. The love-feast was not instituted to satisfy hunger, but to nourish charity among the faithful; and likewise, the religious assemblies of the Christians were not the places to have profane banquets, but were for the purpose of celebrating the Holy Eucharist.

And the rest, etc., i.e., the Apostle will complete his instructions to the faithful at Corinth when he arrives there in person; he will supplement his written word by oral teaching: “from which it is evident,” says St. Thomas on this verse, “that the Church has many things from the direction of the Apostles which are not found in Sacred Scripture.”

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Bernardin de Piconio’s Commentary on 1 Corinthians 11:17-26, 33

Posted by Dim Bulb on September 14, 2012

17. But this I command: not praising, because you assemble, not for better, but for worse.
18. For first when you assemble into the Church, I hear there are divisions among you, and in part I believe.
19. For there must also be heresies, that those also who are proved, may become manifest among you.

(17) This I command. The Greek reads: In this which I command, I praise you not. He had praised them in verse 2. The Syriac: This I command, not as if I praised you, for you do not improve, but are getting worse.

(18) Assemblies are for union and mutual advantage. This is true in general, both of human society, which is founded on this principle, and of the association of all animal species. But your assemblies, instead of promoting union and improvement, make you worse. First, there are divisions and schisms among the followers of rival teachers. Greek writers assert that these different parties would not even communicate at the same altar, but had separate altars, or at least separate communions in the Church. This the Apostle had heard, and at least in part, could easily believe, knowing the pride and obstinacy of some of the men with whom he had to deal. There was something still worse yet to come. There must also be heresies (vs 19). It is morally necessary that with such guides, and under such circumstances, heresy in dogma will show itself. Probably it already existed, and only waited to be brought into full light, and the second Epistle shows the Apostle to have been right in his expectation. The Greek has: there must be heresies even among you. There is no reason why your Church should be exempt from the natural and inevitable result of such a state of things as exists among you.

That those who are proved or tried, may be made manifest. The effect, not the cause, as Saint Chrysostom observes. God brings good even out of so great an evil. Heresies separate the dross from the body of the Church, and the pure gold remains.

There was another kind of division and dissension, that between the rich and the poor, which he now proceeds to notice.

20. When therefore you assemble together, now it is not to eat the Supper of the Lord.
21. For each one takes first his own supper to eat. And one indeed is hungry, and another is drunk.
22. Have you not houses for eating and drinking? Or do you despise the Church of God? And put to shame those who have not? What shall I say to you? Do I praise you? In this I praise not.

(vss 20-21) It would appear that in the days of the Apostles Christian people assembled in the Church early on the Sunday, or other festival days, to receive Holy Communion together; and Saint Paul himself, as is supposed, had instituted at Corinth the feast of charity, or Agape, principally on account of the poor, that they might all eat together, and the poor receive of the superfluities of the rich. Saint Chrysostom, who is followed by Baronius, thinks the Agape followed the communion; Saint Augustine that it preceded it (probably being held before midnight), and this opinion agrees best with the argument of the Apostle in the verses following. The custom quickly degenerated. The rich brought their own provisions, but consumed them without sharing them with their poorer neighbours; and often took more than was good for them; while the poor were not only put to shame, and suffered hunger, but had to look on while others feasted, and they starved.

The Agape was called the Supper of the Lord, in imitation of the Last Supper, at which Christ instituted the Eucharist. The term Supper of the Lord is never applied to the holy Eucharist, by any Christian writer whatever, until heretics in modern times used this phraseology.

(vs 22) Do you despise the Church of God? If you must eat and drink to excess, do so at home, where your doing it would at any rate not occasion scandal or pain to others. Or do you mean deliberately to show contempt to the Church of God? Under which term both the building and those who assembled in it are included. Or do you do it, on purpose to put the poor, qui non habent, to shame? In this I cannot praise you; on the contrary, you are worthy of the severest blame. Now, under these changed conditions, it is not a Supper of the Lord.

11:23.  For I received of the Lord that which also I delivered to you, that the Lord Jesus in the night he was delivered up, took bread.
11:24.  And giving thanks he broke, and said: Take and eat: this is my body, which shall be delivered up for you: do this in my commemoration.
11:25.  Likewise also the chalice, after he had supped, saying: This chalice is the new testament in my blood: do this as often as you shall drink, in my commemoration.
11:26.  For as often as you shall eat this bread and drink the chalice, you will announce the death of the Lord until he comes.

I praised you for observing the commands I gave to you by word of mouth; but sine in regard to this you have failed to remember them, it is necessary for  me to repeat them in writing.  I received (vs 23), by direct communication and revelation from Christ, not from any human teaching.  It is to be observed that it was only by accident that the Apostle wrote this down.  Had the Corinthians remembered what he said, he would in all probability not have written it.  Not only the written words, but the oral traditions, of the Apostles, are to be observed.

Saint Peter, as a fourth Evangelist, records the words of God the Father, This is my beloved son, rehearsed in three Gospels, 2 Pet. 1:17.  Here Saint Paul, as a fourth Evangelist, gives the words of Christ, which are also given by St Matthew, St Mark, and St Luke.

In the night he was delivered up to death, he took bread.  Wheat bread, and unleavened, for the seven days of unleavened bread had begun that evening.  By a misunderstanding of John 18:28, the Greeks consider that Christ suffered before the Pasch began, and they accordingly use leavened bread.

(vs 24) Giving thanks.  To God the Father.  From this action is derived the term Eucharist.  The canon of the Mass adds: and lifting up his eyes to heaven, which he frequently did on similar occasions, (Matt 19:19; John 11:41.   Further, he blessed as in St Matthew and St Mark.  Thanksgiving has regard to God, blessing to the creature on which his benediction is implored.

He broke, into twelve portions, and distributing said, by words instantly operative and effectual of what they expressed.  The operative word of Christ is of two kinds.  One is imperative: be cleansed, rise, look up, Lazarus, come forth.  The other affirmative, and present: Thy son liveth; woman, thou art loosed from thy infirmity.  Of this latter kind are the words here used, Hoc est corpus meum.

Take and eat.  Take in the hands.  It was the ancient custom to receive the holy Eucharist in the hands, not as now in the mouth from the hand of the priest.

This is my body.  The Greek has τουτο μου εστιν το σωμα, in a somewhat different order of the words.  The Syriac or Hebrew language (i.e., Aramaic), which Christ spoke, has no substantive verb, and there is no doubt the words he used were only this my body.  See Cornelius a Lapide.  Hoc is most probably the predicate: my body is this.  Similarly, my blood is this chalice, or what is contained in this chalice.

Which shall be delivered up for you.  The Greek and Syriac both read: Which is being broken for you.  Broken, in the species of bread.  The body of our Lord was not otherwise broken (John 19:36. See my note at the end of this paragraph).  by the words do this, Christ conferred upon the Apostles the power of consecrating, or else he would have been enjoining upon them that which was impossible.  for a memorial of me.  Recalling the affection with which I delivered myself up to death for you.

Note: On the basis of manuscript evidence the word “broken” is considered by modern scholars as a scribal insertion (see Raymond F. Collins, FIRST CORINTHIANS, page 432).  Even if original it need not necessarily be seen as a contradiction of John 19:36, for “broken” could be a metaphor for death, i.e., separated from life.  See the image of the olive tree in Romans 11:17-24.

(vs 25) Likewise also the chalice, after he had supped.  Our Lord had first of all, with the Apostles, eaten the paschal lamb, standing, girded, and with a staff in his hands, according to the ritual in Exodus 12:11.  (See my note at end of paragraph).  Then he sat down, or according to the custom of those times, lay down, on a couch, to the ordinary supper.  Then rising, he washed the feet of this disciples; and afterwards lay down again, for the institution and distribution of the most holy Eucharist.  After this he delivered the morsel he had dipped to Judas; so that the remains of the supper must have been at that time still on the table.  Lastly, after speaking a long time, he rose, saying, Rise, let us go.  The supper referred to in the text is the ordinary one.

Note: In light of Matthew 26:20, Mark 14:17, it seems unlikely that the Passover was celebrated according to the rubrics of Exodus 12:11.  First century Jews had adopted the custom of reclining at the Passover, for in their day this was the mark of a free man; slave ate meals standing, and the Passover was a feast of liberation (see Protestant scholar Robert Gundry, MARK: A COMMENTARY ON HIS APOLOGY FOR THE CROSS, page 827).

The new testament in my blood.  The authentic copy of the new covenant between God and man, sealed with my blood.  The reference to the document is figurative, but the blood is real; for he does not say signed with that which represents my blood, but in my bloodDo this, as often as you drink.  The command, here, as in the last verse, is addressed to the Apostles, and their successors in the priesthood, as explained by the Council of Trent, Session II, cahpter 1.  Do what I have done.

In commemoration of me.  this memory is in no way inconsistent with the real presence of Christ.  Christ is in this Sacrament his own memorial, as in heaven, bearing the stigma of his wounds, he is himself the memorial of his own passion.  The time, the circumstances of the speaker, the quality of the action, the nature of the action, the actor’s intention, power, the very words he used, all compel us to place a literal interpretation on those words, implying the real and true presence of Christ in the Eucharist.

The time: the night before he died.  No one uses tropes and figures at such a moment.

The condition: a loving father, about to die, makes his last will.  clearness and simplicity are always needed in such a case, and no wise man would use figures of speech, speaking of a precious jewel, when he meant the picture of one.

The quality of the act: the Mediator between God and man, making an everlasting covenant to subsist while the world stands, would not use language of metaphor and poetry.

The action itself: ambiguity and equivocation would have been most perilous in the institution of a sacrament and sacrifice of such august dignity, destined to last to the end of the world.

the will and intention: loving his children most ardently, and desirous to give the greatest good in his power.  He loved them to the end.

The power: Knowing that he came out from God, and to God returns, that the Father had given all things into his hands, and he can do all he will.

the words used, are simple and clear, in accordance with these considerations.  Simple, as the words of a loving father, addressing his children before he died: of a faithful mediator, contracting an eternal covenant, of a Supreme Pontiff, a fountain of truth, detesting all false dogma: of a true, zealous, most powerful savior of the race of man, conferring upon them the highest and greatest of all possible or imaginable goods.

My body, which shall be delivered up to death for you.  the body was delivered up to death, not in figure, it was his body of which he spoke.

My blood, which shall be shed.  In reality, not in figure, on the cross.  The blood of the Old Testament was real: so that of the New.  but this is no figure: in a few hours it was terribly fulfilled.

What man could dare to stand before the judgment seat of Christ, and say he did not believe a statement so clear as this?  What Christian, believing it, even if deceived, would not be able to say, if I am deceived, thou hast deceived me, who art truth itself?

(vs 26) You will announce the death of the Lord. The apostle has just called attention to Christ’s institution of the holy Eucharist on the might before his passion, and with direct reference to that event.  The Corinthian Christians had perhaps not sufficiently considered it in that light, as a commemoration, and proclamation of Christ’s death.  You will announce.  The word used in Greek might be either in the present indicative, you announce, or the imperative, announce ye.  The Eucharist represents the death of Christ by the mystical separation of his blood from his body, which is effected by the words of consecration; and which further takes place by the eating of the sacred body, as separated from the blood, and the drinking the precious blood as poured forth and separate from the body.  In either species there is the representation of the death of the Lord, but most perfectly in both together.  And this commemoration of the sacrifice and death of Christ is to continue till he come.

33. Therefore, my brethren, when you meet to eat, wait for one another.

When you meet to eat. The Apostle here reverts to the Agape, or feast of charity, or Supper of the Lord, customary at Corinth. Let it be, what was intended, charity towards the poor.

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Fathers Nolan’s and Brown’s Commentary on John 6:60-69

Posted by Dim Bulb on August 20, 2012

Joh 6:60  Many therefore of his disciples, hearing it, said: This saying is hard; and who can hear it?

The effect of the discourse upon many of the disciples is recorded. Hard
(σκληρος), i.e., harsh, hard to accept.

Joh 6:61  But Jesus, knowing in himself that his disciples murmured at this, said to them: Doth this scandalize you?

The Evangelist notes, according to his custom, that their thoughts were known to Christ.

Joh 6:62  If then you shall see the Son of man ascend up where he was before?

If then you shall see the son of man ascend up where he was before? The sense according to some, is: If you shall see Me ascending into heaven, it will then be easier to believe My doctrine, seeing I am Divine; and you shall at the same time understand, that it is not in a bloody manner (as you suppose) that you are to eat My body. Thus He would correct their too carnal interpretation of His words, and point at the same time to a reason why the true sense, however difficult, was to be accepted. Others think that Christ’s words increase the difficulty, the sense being, if you are scandalized now, because I say, while present with you, that I will give My body, how much more will you be scandalized when you see that body taken away into heaven, and are yet asked to believe that it is to be eaten on earth? It is argued in favour of this opinion, that the form of Christ’s reply: “Does this scandalize you? If therefore,” &c., indicates that their difficulty would then be greater. So Mald., Tolet, Beel., Corl. We may remark, as against the Nestorians, that language could not signify more clearly than this verse signifies the unity of Person in Christ. The Son of Man will ascend to heaven where as Son of God He is from all eternity. “Filius Dei et hominis unus Christus…. Filius Dei in terra suscepta carne, Filius hominis in coelo in unitate personae.” St. Aug. on this verse.

Joh 6:63  It is the spirit that quickeneth: the flesh profiteth nothing. The words that I have spoken to you are spirit and life.

Many interpretations of this verse have been advanced. The following two are the most probable, intrinsically and extrinsically.-

(1) The spirit is the spirit of man elevated and ennobled by grace; the flesh, the corrupt dispositions and weak thoughts of human nature unaided by grace (see Rom 8:5-6); and the meaning of the verse is; it is the mind illumined by grace that quickeneth to faith and to a proper under standing of My words; the mind or human nature by itself is of no avail in such matters; the words which I have spoken to you are to be understood by the mind quickened and illumined by grace. So St. Chrys., Teoph., Wisem., Perr., M Ev. But there are serious difficulties against this view (a) “caro” is then taken metaphorically in this verse, while throughout the context it has been taken literally of the flesh of Christ; (b) the explanation of the words “are spirit and life” is unnatural.

(2) Others take the Spirit of the Divinity of Christ, the flesh of His humanity considered  apart from the Divinity; and the meaning of the verse then is: it is My Divinity that quickeneth, and maketh My flesh a meat enduring unto eternal life; the flesh if separated from the Divinity would profit nothing; the words which I have spoken to you regard My life-giving Divinity as united to My humanity. In this view, as Maid, explains it, “life,” by a Hebraism, is equivalent to an adjective signifying life-giving, as may be inferred from the beginning of the verse, where it is said that it is the Spirit that giveth life* Hence “Spirit and life” is equivalent to life-giving Spirit, and the latter part of  verse means that Christ’s words have reference to His life-giving Divinity in union with His humanity. So, too, St. Cyril of Alex., Beel., Corl. We prefer this view, and hold that Christ here gives the key to the solution of the difficulty on account of which His disciples had murmured (verse 61). He had closed His discourse with words attributing eternal life to the eating of His flesh (verse 58); they murmured accordingly, thinking it absurd or incredible that such effect could follow from such a cause as the eating of a man s flesh; and in verse 63 He explains that His flesh is the flesh of the Man-God, which therefore the quickening influence of the Divinity with which it is united, is capable of producing such marvellous effects.

There is not a shadow of probability in the interpretation put upon this verse by the Sacramentarians. They explained the verse to mean: that the figurative sense of what He had said regarding the necessity of eating His flesh and blood profits, but that the literal sense would profit nothing. Thus they professed to find in these words an assurance that Christ had not spoken of a real eating of His flesh in the Eucharist, but only of a spiritual reception of Himself through faith. In reply to this we say (a) that through out the rest of the Bible “spiritus” and “caro” are not even once used of a figurative and literal sense (see note below); (2) if Christ here gave the explanation which our adversaries suppose, how is it that, as we learn from verse 66, many of His disciples retired notwithstanding, and walked with Him no more? In such an explanation all their difficulty would be removed, and they would be taught that it was only of a figurative eating by faith that Christ had been speaking. How then account for their departure? But it was different in the explanation we have given above. In our view, Christ, still insisting on a real reception of His flesh, merely explains how it is that such real reception can lead to such glorious results.

Note: The author’s are not implying that (for example) “flesh’ is never used figuratively, rather, the two words combined are never used to denote the concepts “literal” and “figurative.”

Joh 6:64 But there are some of you that believe not. For Jesus knew from the beginning who they were that did not believe and who he was that would betray him.

In the view we hold regarding verse 63, the connection of this verse with it is: the fact that I am God explains what you find difficult in My words(verse63); but some of you do not believe Me to be God; and hence your difficulty (verse 64). To indicate Christ’s Divine knowledge, the Evangelist adds that He knew from the beginning, &c.

Joh 6:65  And he said: Therefore did I say to you that no man can come to me, unless it be given him by my Father.

Christ’s words in this verse are to be connected closely with the beginning of the preceding, the intervening words of the Evangelist being parenthetical.

Therefore did I say to you. The allusion is to what was said above (verse 44), which is substantially the same as what is said here, since to be drawn to Christ by the Father is nothing else than to be given grace by the Father to come to Christ. It might seem at first sight that these words excuse the incredulity of those whom Christ addresses; but it is not so. For, the reason they had not been drawn by the Father was because they would not, because they had not followed the promptings of grace. See above on verse 45. " Peccabant tamen qui nolebant venire, id est credere in Christum, turn quia habebant gratiam sufficientem, qua possent credere si vellent, etsi non haberent efficacem, qua reipsa et actu crederent; turn quia humiliter
non petebant a Deo gratiam (“Yet those who would not come, i.e., would not believe in Christ, sinned, both because they had sufficient grace, by which they might have believed if they had wished (although they had not efficacious grace, by which they would really and actually believe), as also because they did not humbly ask of God efficacious grace, also because by their pride, and other sins, they had rendered themselves unworthy of that grace. Yea, by their obstinacy they repelled the grace and faith of God”). Lapide references St Cyprian, lib. 1, epist. 3, ad. Cornel.

Joh 6:66  After this, many of his disciples went back and walked no more with him.

Had Christ in the preceding discourse spoken only of faith, surely, all-merciful and loving as He is, He would have made His meaning clear, before allowing many of His disciples to depart from Him for ever. It was only, then, because they understood Him correctly, and refused to believe Him, that He allowed them to depart.

Joh 6:67  Then Jesus said to the twelve: Will you also go away?

The twelve. These are spoken of as well known, though this is the first made of their number in this Gospel.

Will you also go away? While the question implies that such desertion was to be feared, its form implies a negative answer (see note), and suggests that in the case of the chosen twelve such conduct ought to be impossible.

Note: Ancient Greek has a way of formulating a question in such a way as to imply that the speaker is expecting a negative answer. This is done by using the negative primary particle μή (mē, pronounced may). See the question of Nicodemus in Jn 7:51; the responding question put to Nicodemus in Jn 7:52; and the question to Jesus by Pilate in Jn 18:35.

Joh 6:68  And Simon Peter answered him: Lord, to whom shall we go? Thou hast the words of eternal life.
Joh 6:69  And we have believed and have known that thou art the Christ, the Son of God.

Peter replies for all the Apostles (not knowing the unbelief of Judas), and confesses the truth of Christ’s doctrine, and, according to the Vulgate reading, the Divinity of Christ. It is very doubtful, however, whether the Vulgate reading here is correct. The oldest Greek MSS. read: “And we have believed and
know thatThou art the Holy One ( ο αγιος) of God. Whether in the mind of St, Peter this latter form of the words meant a full confession of Christ s Divinity, or onlythat He was the Messias, it is difficult to say. It would seem indeed from the praise bestowed upon Peter by our Lord (Matt 16:16) on an occasion subsequent to this,  that then for the first time Peter fully confessed Christ’s Divinity.

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Fathers Nolan’s and Brown’s Commentary on John 6:51-58

Posted by Dim Bulb on August 14, 2012

Joh 6:51  I am the living bread which came down from heaven. If any man eat of this bread, he shall live for ever: and the bread that I will give is my flesh, for the life of the world.

Before quitting this portion of His discourse, and going on to declare how He is the bread of life, Christ sums up what He has said, repeating again the proposition laid down in verse 35: I am the bread of life; again comparing and preferring the Blessed Eucharist to the manna (John 6:49-50 compared with John 6:32 and John 6:35); and combining in one the two propositions contained in John 6:35 and John 6:38, namely, that He is the bread, and that He came down from heaven. In John 6:50 where it is declared that he who eats this bread shall not die, the meaning is, that the Blessed Eucharist, of its own nature, is calculated to save us from the death of the soul, and to secure even for our bodies a glorious resurrection. Sin, of course, may rob it of its glorious effects.

Having summed up the preceding portion of His discourse, Christ now proceeds to declare how He is the bread of life. Till now He had contented Himself with declaring that He is that bread, and with pointing out the chief disposition ne cessary to receive Him worthily; now He goes further, and points out how He will be the bread of life; namely, by giving His flesh, that is, His whole human nature (John 1:14), to which the Divine nature is inseparably united, to be received in the Blessed Eucharist. Thus He gradually unfolds the mystery, reserving till the last supper the further knowledge, that this reception of His body and blood was to take place in a sacramental manner.

And the bread that I will give is my flesh, for the life of the world. Many Greek MSS. read: And the bread that I will give is My flesh, which I will give for the life of the world. If the words which I will give be genuine, we would explain them not in reference to the sacrifice of the cross, but in reference to the sacrifice of the Eucharist, in which Christ is given for us and to us. Compare St. Luke This is My body, which is given for you (Luke 22:19), and especially Luke 22:20, where the Greek text shows that it is the blood as in the chalice (and not as on Calvary) that is said to be offered in sacrifice. But the words (not Luke’s but those underlined above) more probably are not genuine; they are omitted by Lachmann, Tischendorf, Tregelles, Westcott, and Hort, and by the Revised Version, as well as by the Vulgate.

Though not merely Christ’s flesh, that is, His humanity (John 1:14), but also His Divinity, is received in the Blessed Eucharist, His human nature is specially mentioned, lest it should be thought that He is the living bread only as God, or merely spiritually. Dixerat enim, says St. Thomas on this verse, Quod erat panis vivus; et ne intelligatur quod hoc ei esset in quantum est Verbum, vel secundum animam tantum, ideo ostendit quod etiam caro sua vivificativa est: est enim organum divinitatis suae unde, cum instrumentum agat virtute agentis, sicut divinitas Christi vivificativa est, ita et caro virtute Verbi adjuncti vivificat; unde Christus tactu suo sanabat infirmos. (Translation: For he had said that he was the living bread; and so that we do not think that he is such so far as he is the Word or in his soul alone, he shows that even his flesh is life-giving, for it is an instrument of his divinity. Thus, since an instrument acts by virtue of the agent, then just as the divinity of Christ is life-giving, so too his flesh gives life [as Damascene says] because of the Word to which it is united. Thus Christ healed the sick by his touch. See here, Lecture 6, article 959). Besides, as St. Thomas adds, since this Sacrament is commemorative of our Lord’s Passion (For as often as you shall eat this bread, and drink the chalice, you shall show the death of the Lord, 1 Cor 11:26), His flesh  is mentioned to remind us of the weakness of that human nature wherein it was possible for Him who was God to suffer.

Joh 6:52  The Jews therefore strove among themselves, saying: How can this man give us his flesh to eat?
Joh 6:53  Then Jesus said to them: Amen, amen, I say unto you: except you eat the flesh of the Son of man and drink his blood, you shall not have life in you.
Joh 6:54  He that eateth my flesh and drinketh my blood hath everlasting life: and I will raise him up in the last day.

The Jews therefore (ergo, not enim). because of what He had now said, disputed among themselves, evidently taking different views of what He had said; but Jesus, far from retracting, solemnly in sists upon what He had just said, and declares negatively (verse 53), and positively (verse 54), not only the possibility, but the necessity of receiving His body and blood. It does not follow from verse 53, as the Utraquists falsely contended, that Communion under both kinds is necessary; for Christ is received whole and entire under either species. Under the species of bread only the body is present in virtue of the words of consecration, and similarly under the species of wine only the blood; but since Christ’s body is now a living body, it follows that in the Blessed Eucharist, where the body is, there also are the blood and the soul in virtue of the natural connection between the parts of a living body, and there,
too, the Divinity, in virtue of the hypostatic union. See Decrees of the Council of Trent, sess. 13, ch. 3. The precept is to receive both body and blood, but not necessarily under both species. For, as the Council of Trent (sess. 21, cap. 1) points out, Christ attributes the same effects to eating in verses 55, 58, 59, as He does here to eating and drinking. See also 1Cor 11:27, where he who eats or drinks unworthily, is said to be guilty of both body and blood. The precept of Christ, then, is obeyed whether one or both species be received, and it is a disciplinary matter entrusted to the care of the Church, whether the faithful are to receive under one or both species.

Seeing, then, that there is no obligation for the faithful to receive the Blessed Eucharist under both species, it may be asked why does Christ mention both species? We reply, that He does so to signify that in the Blessed Eucharist there is a perfect repast, which ordinarily supposes the presence both meat and drink; and, perhaps, also to indicate that this sacrament is commemorative of His death, in which His body and blood were separated.

Nor do verses 53 and 54 afford any proof that the Blessed Eucharist is necessary, necessitate medii unto salvation, like Baptism (John 3). For (1) Baptism is declared to be absolutely necessary for all, “unless a man be born
again;” here the Blessed Eucharist is declared necessary only for those who are capable of receiving a precept, “Unless you eat,” &c. (2) From the nature of the case, Baptism, being a new birth, is absolutely necessary for all who are to live the new spiritual life; and as many as are born, must be born again in order to live the higher life; but the Blessed Eucharist is not the introduction to a new life, but a means of nourishing the life already acquired. Hence for children who have already acquired that spiritual life in Baptism, and cannot lose it because incapable of sinning, the Blessed Eucharist cannot be necessary to salvation, nor even for adults can it be absolutely necessary as a means, if there be, as there are, other means of retaining the life already acquired.

Joh 6:55  For my flesh is meat indeed: and my blood is drink indeed.
Joh 6:56  He that eateth my flesh and drinketh my blood abideth in me: and I in him.

In the Blessed Eucharist we are united to Christ, and His humanity remains in us until the sacred species become corrupted; His divinity, until mortal sin is committed, and He is expelled.

Joh 6:57  As the living Father hath sent me and I live by the Father: so he that eateth me, the same also shall live by me

The sacred union between Christ and the communicant is compared to the ineffable union between Him and His heavenly Father.

The living Father. This is a unique instance of this title, but we frequently find: The living God, Matt 16:16; 2 Cor 6:16, &c. And I live by (δια τον πατερα) the Father. It is to be noted that δια is followed by the accusative, not the genitive. If, then, we are to regard it as meaning here what it ordinarily means when followed by the accusative, and as the Vulgate seems to take it, the sense would rather be: As the living Father hath sent Me, and I live on account of the Father, so he that eateth Me, the same also shall live on account of Me. This would mean that as complete devotion to the Father is the object of the life of the Incarnate Son (the Son as sent), so complete devotion to the Son shall be the object of the life of him to whom Christ shall have united Himself in the Blessed Eucharist. Others, however, think that δια is here equivalent to through, or by, as in our Rheims Version. The sense then is as Christ lives through the eternal life communicated to Him in His eternal generation by the Father; so, in some way, the communicant shall live in virtue of the spiritual life communicated to him or sustained in him because of his union with Christ in the Blessed Eucharist.

Joh 6:58 This is the bread that came down from heaven. Not as your fathers did eat manna and are dead. He that eateth this bread shall live for ever.

This verse concludes and unites the principal points of the discourse. Compare verses 32, 41, 49, 5o, 52, 55. Hence it confirms the view we nave followed regarding the unity of subject throughout the discourse.

He that eateth this bread shall live for ever. With this encouraging and glorious promise, made not to any one people, nor to any class as such, not even to all believers, but to each one (note the change from the plural to the singular: your fathers . . . He that eateth) who shall worthily receive, and duly profit by the Blessed Eucharist, the discourse ends.



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Father MacIntryre’s Commentary on John 6:51-58

Posted by Dim Bulb on August 14, 2012

Joh 6:51  I am the living bread which came down from heaven. If any man eat of this bread, he shall live for ever: and the bread that I will give is my flesh, for the life of the world.

The bread that I will give, is my flesh (σαρξ). This gift has not yet been given; it is held out in promise. Moreover, the gift is Christ s flesh: most literally the very flesh of Christ not a generic gift as in v. 27 (βρωσιν = food) but that specific flesh which the Word had become, “The Word was made flesh” (John 1:14). Therefore, not the flesh exclusively, but the whole body of Christ (Matt. 26:26; Luke 22:19).

my flesh for the life of the world (υπερ της του κοσμου ζωης). This is the full declaration to which the whole discourse has been gradually leading from the food which perisheth, to the food which endureth to life everlasting; from the food which endureth, to the bread of God, which cometh down from heaven and giveth life to the world; from the bread of God, to Christ Himself personally; from Christ personally, to His flesh for the life of the world. From the outset the general idea has been deepening and growing in definiteness. The giving for the life of the world points to Christ s coming sacrifice (Jn 3:14-17); the giving of Christ s flesh as bread points to the manner of our nourish ment by the saving flesh of Christ. (In the A.V. there is an inauthentic addition, the bread that I will give is My flesh, which I will give for the life of the world. This addition is removed from the text in R.V.). These words must have sounded mysterious to the Jews; none the less did they fail to perceive the substantial idea that Christ was promising to give His flesh as food.

Joh 6:52  The Jews therefore strove among themselves, saying: How can this man give us his flesh to eat?

The Jews therefore strove among themselves ( προς αλληλους); see John 6:41.

How can this man (ουτος = this fellow) give us His flesh to eat? Instead of believing, on the strength of Christ s word, that it could be done, and that the manner of its doing should be left to Christ’s omnipotent wisdom, their souls are lost in vain conjectures about its possibility and the manner of its accomplishment. But faith is the essential condition of life (vv. 29, 35, 36, 40), therefore our Lord insists on belief in the truth, which He at once sets forth in more definite terms (cf. Jn 3:3-5).

Joh 6:53  Then Jesus said to them: Amen, amen, I say unto you: except you eat the flesh of the Son of man and drink his blood, you shall not have life in you.

These words were said in their literal meaning. Even the exuberant and florid imagery of the Oriental imagination has never expressed the simple idea of accepting a teacher’s doctrine by the metaphor of eating and drinking the teacher’s flesh and blood. The words eat my flesh, drink my blood, cannot therefore mean believe in me, accept my doctrine. Whenever the phrase eating a man’s flesh was used, not in its literal, but in a metaphorical sense, it meant to destroy or to injure him (Job 19:22; Ps 27:2; James 5:3). It only remains, therefore, to take the words in their obvious meaning, as the Christian Church has always taken them, and not to “make a riddle what Christ made so plain.” St. Paul in speaking of the heinousness of an unworthy communion says, “Whoso ever 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” (1 Cor 11:27). In these words we see that our Lord is received whole and entire under each form, so that it is not necessary to receive both forms. Christ is not divided; hence, although by force of the words of consecration the bread is changed only into the body of Christ, and the wine only into His blood, yet, by force of union and concomitance, the whole Christ, body, blood, soul, and Divinity, is under each species.

Joh 6:54  He that eateth my flesh and drinketh my blood hath everlasting life: and I will raise him up in the last day.

He that eateth (ο τρωγων). The idea of the previous verse emphatically repeated affirmatively. The verb used is most expressive. Its primary meaning is to crunch, to chew. It is again employed in verses 57, 58, 59.

Joh 6:55  For my flesh is meat indeed: and my blood is drink indeed.

For (γαρ, assigning reason of the statement) my flesh is meat indeed (αληθης εστιν βρωσις), i.e., is true and real food: and My blood true and real drink (αληθης εστιν ποσις); not by metaphor, but in truth and in deed My flesh is food.

Joh 6:56  He that eateth my flesh and drinketh my blood abideth in me: and I in him.

Abideth in me (cf. Jn 15:4-6). It means the closest and most intimate union. The phrase is characteristic in St. John. For the doctrine cf. Jn 1:16. The closeness of this union is shown by the fact that our Lord compares it to the union between Himself and the Father.

Joh 6:57  As the living Father hath sent me and I live by the Father: so he that eateth me, the same also shall live by me.

As the living Father hath sent me, and I live by the Father ( δια τον πατερα). δια with the accusative usually denotes the reason for which, or on account of which, anything is done; but it may also denote the efficient reason, as here (cf. Jn 6:26).

Joh 6:58  This is the bread that came down from heaven. Not as your fathers did eat manna and are dead. He that eateth this bread shall live for ever

This is the bread. That is, and now the description of the bread from heaven is completed; such is the bread of which I began to speak.

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