Epistle of Holy Thursday

1 Corinthians 11:20-32

Brethren: When you come therefore together into one place, it is not now to eat the Lord’s supper. For every one taketh before his own supper to eat. And one indeed is hungry and another is drunk. 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. For I have received of the Lord that which I also delivered unto you, that the Lord Jesus, the same night in which He was betrayed, took bread, 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. In like manner also the chalice, after He had supped, saying: This chalice is the new testament in My Blood. This do ye, as often as you shall drink, for the commemoration of Me. For as often as you shall eat this bread and drink the chalice, you shall show the death of the Lord, until He come. Therefore, whosoever shall eat this bread, or drink the chalice of the Lord unworthily, shall be guilty of the Body and the Blood of the Lord. But let a man prove himself; and so let him eat of that bread and drink of the chalice. For he that eateth and drinketh unworthily eateth and drinketh judgment to himself, not discerning the Body of the Lord. Therefore are there many infirm and weak among you: and many sleep. But if we would judge ourselves, we should not be judged. But whilst we are judged, we are chastised by the Lord, that we be not condemned with this world.

Haydock

Verse 20. The Lord’s supper. So the apostle here calls the charity feasts observed by the primitive Christians; and reprehends the abuses of the Corinthians on these occasions: which were the more criminal, because these feasts were accompanied with the celebrating the eucharistic sacrifice and sacrament. Ch.

Verse 21. Every one taketh before his own supper to eat. The sense seems to be, that he took and brought with him, what he designed to eat with others, and give at that supper: but as soon as some were met (without staying for others, as he orders them, v. 33. when he again speaks of these suppers) the rich placing themselves together, began this supper, and did not take with them their poor brethren, who had brought nothing, or had nothing to bring; by this means, one indeed is hungry, and another is drunk, that is, had at least drunk plentifully, while the poor had nothing but shame, and confusion. By this means of eating and drinking without temperance and moderation, they were by no means disposed to receive afterwards the holy Eucharist. He tells such persons that committed these disorders, that if they be so hungry that they cannot fast, they should eat (v. 34.) before they come from home. We find these Agape forbidden to be made in the Churches, in the 28th canon of the council of Laodicea, a little before the general council of Nice. In S. Chrys.’s time, and from the first ages, every one received the sacrament of the holy eucharist fasting, as it is probable this was one of the things which S. Paul gave orders about, (v. 34.) when he came to Corinth. We must not imagine, that because Christ instituted the holy sacrament, and gave it to his apostles after he had supped with them, that the apostles, or the pastors of the Church, their successors, could not order it to be received fasting, and kneeling, for greater reverence and devotion. See S. Aug. on this same subject, in his letter to Januarius, liv. tom. 2. part 2. p. 126. Nov. edit. He says, that though it is evident the apostles did not receive the body and blood of Christ fasting, yet we must not on that account calumniate, or blame the universal Church, in which it is received only by those who are fasting. He says, it is most insolent madness to dispute against what is a custom in the universal Church. Wi.

Verse 23. I have received of the Lord. That is, by revelation from Christ, as well as from others, who were present with him, that which also I delivered to you by word of mouth, &c. Here he speaks of the holy sacrament itself, of the words of consecration, as the evangelists had done, and of the real presence of Christ’s body and blood. — Which shall be delivered for you. In the common Greek copies, which is broken for you, to wit, on the cross. — You shall shew the death of the Lord. As often as you receive, it shall be with a devout and grateful remembrance of his sufferings and death for your sake. He puts every one in mind, that whosoever shall eat this bread, (v. 27.) so called from the outward appearances, or drink the chalice of the Lord unworthily, shall, by such a sacrilege, be guilty of the body and of the blood of the Lord. And (v. 29.) that he eateth, and drinketh judgment, or condemnation to himself, not discerning the difference betwixt celestial food and other meats, and not considering it to be truly the body of the Lord. See S. Chrys. hom. xxvii. If the words of our Saviour, this is my body, &c. were to be understood in a metaphorical and figurative sense only, is it probable that S. Paul, writing twenty-four years afterwards, to the new converted Gentiles at Corinth, would have used words, which full as clearly express a true and real presence of Christ’s body in the eucharist, without one word to signify that this was to be understood in a figurative sense only? Wi.

Verse 24. Juvenius, a native of Spain, and a priest, who flourished under Constantine the Great, about the year 329, has left us the life of Christ in hexameter verse, where speaking of the institution of the eucharist, he says, “Christ taught his disciples, that he delivered to them his own body;” and when he gave them the chalice, “he taught them that he had distributed to them his blood: and said, this blood remits the sins of the people: drink this, it is mine.” Bibl. Max. P. P. T. iv. p. 74.

Discipulos docuit proprium se tradere corpus,
Edocuitque suum se divisisse cruorem.
Atque ait: Hic sanguis populi delicta remittit:
Hunc potate meum.

Verse 27. Or drink. Here erroneous translators corrupted the text, by putting and drink (contrary to the original, h pinh) instead of or drink. — Guilty of the body, &c. not discerning the body, &c. This demonstrates the real presence of the body and blood of Christ, even to the unworthy communicant; who otherwise could not be guilty of the body and blood of Christ, or justly condemned for not discerning the Lord’s body. Ch. — The real presence in the sacrament is also proved by the enormity of the crime, in its profanation. See S. Chrys. hom. de non contem. ec. and hom. lx. and lxi. ad pop. Antioch. where he shews that the unworthy receiver imitates the Jews in crucifying Jesus, and trampling under foot his sacred blood. Hence the dreadful punishments we read of in verses 27 and 30.

Verse 28. Drink of the chalice. This is not said by way of command, but by way of allowance, viz. where and when it is agreeable to the practice and discipline of the Church. Ch.

Verse 30-32. Therefore in punishment of the sin of receiving unworthily, many are infirm, visited with infirmities, even that bring death, which is meant by those words, many sleep. But it is a mercy of God, when he only punishes by sickness, or a corporal death, and does not permit us to perish for ever, or be condemned with this wicked world. To avoid this, let a man prove himself, examine the state of his conscience, especially before he receives the holy sacrament, confess his sins, and be absolved by those to whom Christ left the power of forgiving sins in his name, and by his authority. If we judge ourselves in this manner, we shall not be judged, that is, condemned. Wi.

Denzinger

874: The Real Presence of our Lord Jesus in the Most Holy Sacrament of the Eucharist

JULIUS III 1550-1555
COUNCIL OF TRENT
SESSION XIII (Oct. II, 1551)
Decree On the Most Holy Eucharist
Chap. 1. The Real Presence of our Lord Jesus in the Most Holy Sacrament of the Eucharist

First of all the holy Synod teaches and openly and simply professes that in the nourishing sacrament of the Holy Eucharist after the consecration of the bread and wine our Lord Jesus Christ, true God and man, is truly, really, and substantially [can. I] contained under the species of those sensible things. For these things are not mutually contradictory, that our Savior Himself is always seated at the right hand of the Father in heaven according to the natural mode of existing, and yet that in many other places sacramentally He is present to us in His own substance by that manner of existence which, although we can scarcely express it in words, yet we can, however, by our understanding illuminated by faith, conceive to be possible to God, and which we ought most steadfastly to believe. For thus all our forefathers, as many as were in the true Church of Christ, who have discussed this most holy sacrament, have most openly professed that our Redeemer instituted this so wonderful a sacrament at the Last Supper, when after the blessing of the bread and wine He testified in clear and definite words that He gave them His own body and His own blood; and those words which are recorded [Matt. 26:26ff.; Mark 14:22; Luke 22:19 ff.] by the holy Evangelists, and afterwards repeated by St. Paul [1 Cor. 11:23 ff.], since they contain within themselves that proper and very clear meaning in which they were understood by the Fathers, it is a most disgraceful thing for some contentious and wicked men to distort into fictitious and imaginary figures of speech, by which the real nature of the flesh and blood of Christ is denied, contrary to the universal sense of the Church, which, recognizing with an ever grateful and recollecting mind this most excellent benefit of Christ, as the pillar and ground of truth [1 Tim. 3:15], has detested these falsehoods, devised by impious men, as satanical.

875: The Reason for the Institution of this Most Holy Sacrament

JULIUS III 1550-1555
COUNCIL OF TRENT
SESSION XIII (Oct. II, 1551)
Decree On the Most Holy Eucharist
Chap. 2. The Reason for the Institution of this Most Holy Sacrament

Our Savior, therefore, when about to depart from this world to the Father, instituted this sacrament in which He poured forth, as it were, the riches of His divine love for men, “making a remembrance of his wonderful works” [Ps. 110:4], and He commanded us in the consuming of it to cherish His “memory” [1 Cor. 11:24], and “to show forth his death until He come” to judge the world [1 Cor. 11:23]. But He wished that this sacrament be received as the spiritual food of souls [Matt. 26:26], by which they may be nourished and strengthened [can. 5], living by the life of Him who said: “He who eateth me, the same also shall live by me” [John 6:58], and as an antidote, whereby we may be freed from daily faults and be preserved from mortal sins. He wished, furthermore, that this be a pledge of our future glory and of everlasting happiness, and thus be a symbol of that one “body” of which He Himself is the “head” [1 Cor. 11:23; Eph. 5:23], and to which He wished us to be united, as members, by the closest bond of faith, hope, and charity, that we might “all speak the same thing and there might be no schisms among us” [cf. 1 Cor. 1:10].

877: Transubstantiation

JULIUS III 1550-1555
COUNCIL OF TRENT, continued
SESSION XIII (Oct. II, 1551)
Decree On the Most Holy Eucharist
Chap. 4. Transubstantiation

But since Christ, our Redeemer, has said that that is truly His own body which He offered under the species of bread [cf. Matt. 26:26ff.; Mark 14:22ff.; Luke 22:19 ff.; 1 Cor. 11:23 ff.], it has always been a matter of conviction in the Church of God, and now this holy Synod declares it again, that by the consecration of the bread and wine a conversion takes place of the whole substance of bread into the substance of the body of Christ our Lord, and of the whole substance of the wine into the substance of His blood. This conversion is appropriately and properly called transubstantiation by the Catholic Church [can. 2].

930: That Laymen and Clerics who not Offering Mass are not Bound by Divine Law to Communion under Both Species

PIUS IV 1559-1565
COUNCIL OF TRENT
SESSION XXI (July 16, 1562)
The Doctrine on Communion under both Species and that of Little Children
Chap. 1. That Laymen and Clerics who not Offering Mass are not Bound by Divine Law to Communion under Both Species

Thus, the holy Synod itself, instructed by the Holy Spirit, who is the Spirit of wisdom and understanding, the Spirit of counsel and piety, [Isa. 11:2]. and following the judgment and custom of the Church itself, declares and teaches that laymen and clerics not officiating are bound by no divine law to receive the sacrament of the Eucharist under both species, and that without injury to the faith there can be no doubt at all that communion under either species suffices for them for salvation. For although Christ the Lord at the Last Supper instituted and delivered to the apostles this venerable sacrament under the species of bread and wine [cf. Matt. 26:26 f.; Mark 14:22; Luke 22:19;1 Cor. 11:23], f.], yet, that institution and tradition do not contend that all the faithful of Christ by an enactment of the Lord are bound [can. 1, 2] to receive under both species [can. 1, 2]. But neither is it rightly inferred from that sixth discourse in John that communion under both forms was commanded by the Lord [can. 3], whatever the understanding may be according to the various interpretations of the holy Fathers and Doctors. For, He who said: “Unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink His blood, you shall not have life in you” [John 6:54], also said: “If anyone eat of this bread, he shall live forever” [John 6:52]. And He who said: “He that eateth my flesh, and drinketh my blood hath life everlasting” [John 6:55] also said: “The bread, which I shall give, is my flesh for the life of the world” [John 6:52]: and finally, He who said: “He that eateth my flesh and drinketh my blood, abideth in me and I in him” [John 6:57], said nevertheless: “He that eateth this bread, shall live forever” [John 6:58].

938: The Institution of the Most Holy Sacrifice of the Mass

PIUS IV 1559-1565
COUNCIL OF TRENT
SESSION XXII (Sept. 17, 1562)
Chap. 1. The Institution of the Most Holy Sacrifice of the Mass

Since under the former Testament (as the Apostle Paul bears witness) there was no consummation because of the weakness of the Levitical priesthood, it was necessary (God the Father of mercies ordaining it thus) that another priest according to the order of Melchisedech [Gen. 14:18 ;Ps. 109:4;Heb. 7:11] arise, our Lord Jesus Christ, who could perfect [ Heb. 10:14] all who were to be sanctified, and lead them to perfection. He, therefore, our God and Lord, though He was about to offer Himself once to God the Father upon the altar of the Cross by the mediation of death, so that He might accomplish an eternal redemption for them [edd.: illic,there], nevertheless, that His sacerdotal office might not come to an end with His death [Heb. 7:24, 27] at the Last Supper, on the night He was betrayed, so that He might leave to His beloved spouse the Church a visible sacrifice [can. 1] (as the nature of man demands), whereby that bloody sacrifice once to be completed on the Cross might be represented, and the memory of it remain even to the end of the world [ 1 Cor. 11:23 ff.] and its saving grace be applied to the remission of those sins which we daily commit, declaring Himself constituted “a priest forever according to the order of Melchisedech” Ps. 109:4; offered to God the Father His own body and blood under the species of bread and wine, and under the symbols of those same things gave to the apostles (whom He then constituted priests of the New Testament), so that they might partake, and He commanded them and their successors in the priesthood in these words to make offering: “Do this in commemoration of me, etc.” [Luke 22:19;1 Cor. 11:23], as the Catholic Church has always understood and taught [can. 2]. For, after He had celebrated the ancient feast of the Passover, which the multitude of the children of Israel sacrificed [Exod. 12:1 ff.] in memory of their exodus from Egypt, He instituted a new Passover, Himself to be immolated under visible signs by the Church through the priests, in memory of His own passage from this world to the Father, when by the shedding of His blood He redeemed us and “delivered us from the power of darkness and translated us into His kingdom [Col. 1:13 ].

2045: What Paul Says About the Institution of the Eucharist

The Errors of Modernists, on the Church, Revelation, Christ, the Sacraments*
From the Decree of the Holy Office, "Lamentabili" July 3, 1907

Editor’s note: the Church has deemed the following statement false.

  1. Not all that Paul says about the institution of the Eucharist [1 Cor. 11:23-25] is to be taken historically.

949: “Do this for a commemoration of me”

PIUS IV 1559-1565
COUNCIL OF TRENT
SESSION XXII (Sept. 17, 1562)
The Doctrine on the Most Holy Sacrifice of the Mass
Chap. 1. The Institution of the Most Holy Sacrifice of the Mass 

Can. 2. If anyone says that by these words: “Do this for a commemoration of me” [Luke 22:19;1 Cor. 11:24], Christ did not make the apostles priests, or did not ordain that they and other priests might offer His own body and blood: let him be anathema [cf. n. 938 ].

880: The Preparation that Must be Employed to Receive the Holy Eucharist Worthily

JULIUS III 1550-1555
COUNCIL OF TRENT
SESSION XIII (Oct. II, 1551)
Decree On the Most Holy Eucharist
Chap. 7. The Preparation that Must be Employed to Receive the Holy Eucharist Worthily

If it is not becoming for anyone to approach any of the sacred functions except solemnly, certainly, the more the holiness and the divinity of this heavenly sacrament is understood by a Christian, the more diligently ought he to take heed lest he approach to receive it without great reverence and holiness [can. 2], especially when we read in the Apostle those words full of terror: “He that eateth and drinketh unworthily, eateth and drinketh judgment to himself not discerning the body of the Lord” [1 Cor. 11:29]. Therefore, the precept, “Let a man prove himself” [1 Cor. 11:28], must be recalled to mind by him who wishes to communicate. Now ecclesiastical usage declares that this examination is necessary, that no one conscious of mortal sin, however contrite he may seem to himself, should approach the Holy Eucharist without a previous sacramental confession. This, the holy Synod has decreed, is always to be observed by all Christians, even by those priests on whom by their office it may be incumbent to celebrate, provided the recourses of a confessor be not lacking to them. But if in an urgent necessity a priest should celebrate without previous confession, let him confess as soon as possible [see n. 1138 ff.].

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