Vatican II Verifications

The Par Excellence of the Eucharist over other modes which Christ is Present in the Sacred Liturgy

part one

     There have many misconceptions that Vatican II changed many things in the Church and "we don't do it that way anymore" has become the refrain in all too many parishes throughout the world. However, surprise! It hasn't changed that much! To prove this, we go to the source: the Vatican Council Postconciliar Documents, expertly compiled by the revered Dominican Austin P. Flannery in two volumes.

      Today we address a complexing question that many are in a quandary about. Is Jesus equally present in the Word as He is in the Eucharist. He is present in both, just as He is present in the priest as the celebrant and the body of the faithful - the Mystical Body of Christ. But in all those He is present in Spirit, but He is not present corporally. For the Eucharist is a sacrament instituted by Christ at the Last Supper and the Word, while necessary to complement the sacrament, is not a sacrament in itself. Vatican II teaches that the Word is vital in fulfilling the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, but the encyclical Mysterium Fidei by Pope Paul VI singles out the Eucharist as being above the others in the sense that this "presence of Christ under the species 'is called real' not in an exclusive sense, as if the other kinds of presence were not real, but par excellence." The following is taken from VATICAN COUNCIL II, VOLUME II, More Postconciliar Documents; General Editor Austin Flannery, O.P. Costello Publishing Company, Part Six, pages 109-110 on the SACRED LITURGY, Chapter 9, INSTRUCTION ON THE WORSHIP OF THE EUCHARISTIC MYSTERY, Articles 9 and 10.

9. The Different Modes of Christ's Presence

     In order that they should achieve a deeper understanding of the mystery of the Eucharist, the faithful should be instructed in the principal ways in which the Lord is present to his Church in liturgical celebrations.(43)

      He is always present in a body of the faithful gathered in his name (cf. Mt. 18:20). He is present, too, in his Word, for it is he who speaks when the Scriptures are read in the Church.

      In the sacrifice of the Eucharist he is present both in the person of the minister, "the same now offering through the ministry of the priest who formerly offered himself on the cross," (44) and above all under the species of the Eucharist. (45) For in this sacrament Christ is present in a unique way, whole and entire, God and man, substantially and permanently. This presence of Christ under the species "is called ‘real’ not in an exclusive sense, as if the other kinds of presence were not real, but par excellence."(46)

10. The Connection Between the Liturgy of the Word and the Liturgy of the Eucharist

      Pastors should therefore "carefully teach the faithful to participate in the whole Mass," showing the close connection between the liturgy of the Word and the celebration of the Lord’s Supper, so that they can see clearly how the two constitute a single act of worship. (47) For "the teaching of the Word is necessary for the very administration of the sacraments, in as much as they are sacraments of faith, which is born of the Word and fed by it,"(48) This is especially true of the celebration of Mass, in which it is the purpose of the liturgy of the Word to develop the close connection between the preaching and hearing of the Word of God and the eucharistic mystery.(49)

      When therefore the faithful hear the Word of God, they should realize that the wonders it proclaims culminate in the Paschal Mystery, of which the memorial is sacramentally celebrated in the Mass. In this way the faithful will be nourished by the Word of God which they have received and in a spirit of thanksgiving will be led on to a fruitful participation in the mysteries of salvation. Thus the Church is nourished by the bread of life which she finds the table both of the Word of God and of the Body of Christ. (50)

January 23-25, 1998 volume 9, no. 17          Vatican II Verifications