QUESTION 78: OF THE FORM OF THIS SACRAMENT
We must now consider the form of this sacrament; concerning which there
are six points of inquiry:
(1) What is the form of this sacrament?
(2) Whether the form for the consecration of the bread is appropriate?
(3) Whether the form for the consecration of the blood is appropriate?
(4) Of the power of each form?
(5) Of the truth of the expression?
(6) Of the comparison of the one form with the other?
Article 1: Whether this is the form of this sacrament: "This is My body," and "This is the chalice of My blood"?
Objection 1: It seems that this is not the form of this sacrament: "This is My
body," and, "This is the chalice of My blood." Because those words seem
to belong to the form of this sacrament, wherewith Christ consecrated His
body and blood. But Christ first blessed the bread which He took, and
said afterwards: "Take ye and eat; this is My body" (Mt. 26:26).
Therefore the whole of this seems to belong to the form of this
sacrament: and the same reason holds good of the words which go with the
consecration of the blood.
Objection 2: Further, Eusebius Emissenus (Pseudo-Hieron: Ep. xxix;
Pseudo-Isid.: Hom. iv) says: "The invisible Priest changes visible
creatures into His own body, saying: 'Take ye and eat; this is My body.'"
Therefore, the whole of this seems to belong to the form of this
sacrament: and the same hold good of the works appertaining to the blood.
Objection 3: Further, in the form of Baptism both the minister and his act are
expressed, when it is said, "I baptize thee." But in the words set forth
above there is no mention made either of the minister or of his act.
Therefore the form of the sacrament is not a suitable one.
Objection 4: Further, the form of the sacrament suffices for its perfection;
hence the sacrament of Baptism can be performed sometimes by pronouncing
the words of the form only, omitting all the others. Therefore, if the
aforesaid words be the form of this sacrament, it would seem as if this
sacrament could be performed sometimes by uttering those words alone,
while leaving out all the others which are said in the mass; yet this
seems to be false, because, were the other words to be passed over, the
said words would be taken as spoken in the person of the priest saying
them, whereas the bread and wine are not changed into his body and blood.
Consequently, the aforesaid words are not the form of this sacrament.
On the contrary, Ambrose says (De Sacram. iv): "The consecration is
accomplished by the words and expressions of the Lord Jesus. Because, by
all the other words spoken, praise is rendered to God, prayer is put up
for the people, for kings, and others; but when the time comes for
perfecting the sacrament, the priest uses no longer his own words, but
the words of Christ. Therefore, it is Christ's words that perfect this
I answer that, This sacrament differs from the other sacraments in two
respects. First of all, in this, that this sacrament is accomplished by
the consecration of the matter, while the rest are perfected in the use
of the consecrated matter. Secondly, because in the other sacraments the
consecration of the matter consists only in a blessing, from which the
matter consecrated derives instrumentally a spiritual power, which
through the priest who is an animated instrument, can pass on to
inanimate instruments. But in this sacrament the consecration of the
matter consists in the miraculous change of the substance, which can only
be done by God; hence the minister in performing this sacrament has no
other act save the pronouncing of the words. And because the form should
suit the thing, therefore the form of this sacrament differs from the
forms of the other sacraments in two respects. First, because the form of
the other sacraments implies the use of the matter, as for instance,
baptizing, or signing; but the form of this sacrament implies merely the
consecration of the matter, which consists in transubstantiation, as when
it is said, "This is My body," or, "This is the chalice of My blood."
Secondly, because the forms of the other sacraments are pronounced in the
person of the minister, whether by way of exercising an act, as when it
is said, "I baptize thee," or "I confirm thee," etc.; or by way of
command, as when it is said in the sacrament of order, "Take the power,"
etc.; or by way of entreaty, as when in the sacrament of Extreme Unction
it is said, "By this anointing and our intercession," etc. But the form
of this sacrament is pronounced as if Christ were speaking in person, so
that it is given to be understood that the minister does nothing in
perfecting this sacrament, except to pronounce the words of Christ.
Reply to Objection 1: There are many opinions on this matter. Some have said that
Christ, Who had power of excellence in the sacraments, performed this
sacrament without using any form of words, and that afterwards He
pronounced the words under which others were to consecrate thereafter.
And the words of Pope Innocent III seem to convey the same sense (De
Sacr. Alt. Myst. iv), where he says: "In good sooth it can be said that
Christ accomplished this sacrament by His Divine power, and subsequently
expressed the form under which those who came after were to consecrate."
But in opposition to this view are the words of the Gospel in which it is
said that Christ "blessed," and this blessing was effected by certain
words. Accordingly those words of Innocent are to be considered as
expressing an opinion, rather than determining the point.
Others, again, have said that the blessing was effected by other words
not known to us. But this statement cannot stand, because the blessing of
the consecration is now performed by reciting the things which were then
accomplished; hence, if the consecration was not performed then by these
words, neither would it be now.
Accordingly, others have maintained that this blessing was effected by
the same words as are used now; but that Christ spoke them twice, at
first secretly, in order to consecrate, and afterwards openly, to
instruct others. But even this will not hold good, because the priest in
consecrating uses these words, not as spoken in secret, but as openly
pronounced. Accordingly, since these words have no power except from
Christ pronouncing them, it seems that Christ also consecrated by
pronouncing them openly.
And therefore others said that the Evangelists did not always follow the
precise order in their narrative as that in which things actually
happened, as is seen from Augustine (De Consens. Evang. ii). Hence it is
to be understood that the order of what took place can be expressed thus:
"Taking the bread He blessed it, saying: This is My body, and then He
broke it, and gave it to His disciples." But the same sense can be had
even without changing the words of the Gospel; because the participle
"saying" implies sequence of the words uttered with what goes before. And
it is not necessary for the sequence to be understood only with respect
to the last word spoken, as if Christ had just then pronounced those
words, when He gave it to His disciples; but the sequence can be
understood with regard to all that had gone before; so that the sense is:
"While He was blessing, and breaking, and giving it to His disciples, He
spoke the words, 'Take ye,'" etc.
Reply to Objection 2: In these words, "Take ye and eat," the use of the
consecrated, matter is indicated, which is not of the necessity of this
sacrament, as stated above (Question , Article ). And therefore not even these
words belong to the substance of the form. Nevertheless, because the use
of the consecrated matter belongs to a certain perfection of the
sacrament, in the same way as operation is not the first but the second
perfection of a thing, consequently, the whole perfection of this
sacrament is expressed by all those words: and it was in this way that
Eusebius understood that the sacrament was accomplished by those words,
as to its first and second perfection.
Reply to Objection 3: In the sacrament of Baptism the minister exercises an act
regarding the use of the matter, which is of the essence of the
sacrament: such is not the case in this sacrament; hence there is no
Reply to Objection 4: Some have contended that this sacrament cannot be
accomplished by uttering the aforesaid words, while leaving out the rest,
especially the words in the Canon of the Mass. But that this is false can
be seen both from Ambrose's words quoted above, as well as from the fact
that the Canon of the Mass is not the same in all places or times, but
various portions have been introduced by various people.
Accordingly it must be held that if the priest were to pronounce only
the aforesaid words with the intention of consecrating this sacrament,
this sacrament would be valid because the intention would cause these
words to be understood as spoken in the person of Christ, even though the
words were pronounced without those that precede. The priest, however,
would sin gravely in consecrating the sacrament thus, as he would not be
observing the rite of the Church. Nor does the comparison with Baptism
prove anything; for it is a sacrament of necessity: whereas the lack of
this sacrament can be supplied by the spiritual partaking thereof, as
Augustine says (cf. Question , Article , ad 1).
Article 2: Whether this is the proper form for the consecration of the bread: "This is My body"?
Objection 1: It seems that this is not the proper form of this sacrament:
"This is My body." For the effect of a sacrament ought to be expressed in
its form. But the effect of the consecration of the bread is the change
of the substance of the bread into the body of Christ, and this is better
expressed by the word "becomes" than by "is." Therefore, in the form of
the consecration we ought to say: "This becomes My body."
Objection 2: Further, Ambrose says (De Sacram. iv), "Christ's words consecrate
this sacrament. What word of Christ? This word, whereby all things are
made. The Lord commanded, and the heavens and earth were made. "
Therefore, it would be a more proper form of this sacrament if the
imperative mood were employed, so as to say: "Be this My body."
Objection 3: Further, that which is changed is implied in the subject of this
phrase, just as the term of the change is implied in the predicate. But
just as that into which the change is made is something determinate, for
the change is into nothing else but the body of Christ, so also that
which is converted is determinate, since only bread is converted into the
body of Christ. Therefore, as a noun is inserted on the part of the
predicate, so also should a noun be inserted in the subject, so that it
be said: "This bread is My body."
Objection 4: Further, just as the term of the change is determinate in nature,
because it is a body, so also is it determinate in person. Consequently,
in order to determine the person, it ought to be said: "This is the body
Objection 5: Further, nothing ought to be inserted in the form except what is
substantial to it. Consequently, the conjunction "for" is improperly
added in some books, since it does not belong to the substance of the
On the contrary, our Lord used this form in consecrating, as is evident
from Mt. 26:26.
I answer that, This is the proper form for the consecration of the
bread. For it was said (Article ) that this consecration consists in changing
the substance of bread into the body of Christ. Now the form of a
sacrament ought to denote what is done in the sacrament. Consequently the
form for the consecration of the bread ought to signify the actual
conversion of the bread into the body of Christ. And herein are three
things to be considered: namely, the actual conversion, the term
"whence," and the term "whereunto."
Now the conversion can be considered in two ways: first, in "becoming,"
secondly, in "being." But the conversion ought not to be signified in
this form as in "becoming," but as in "being." First, because such
conversion is not successive, as was said above (Question , Article ), but
instantaneous; and in such changes the "becoming" is nothing else than
the "being." Secondly, because the sacramental forms bear the same
relation to the signification of the sacramental effect as artificial
forms to the representation of the effect of art. Now an artificial form
is the likeness of the ultimate effect, on which the artist's intention
is fixed ;. just as the art-form in the builder's mind is principally the
form of the house constructed, and secondarily of the constructing.
Accordingly, in this form also the conversion ought to be expressed as in
"being," to which the intention is referred.
And since the conversion is expressed in this form as in "being," it is necessary for the extremes of the conversion to be signified as they exist in the fact of conversion. But then the term "whereunto" has the proper nature of its own substance; whereas the term "whence" does not remain in its own substance, but only as to the accidents whereby it comes under the senses, and can be determined in relation to the senses. Hence the term "whence" of the conversion is conveniently expressed by the demonstrative pronoun, relative to the sensible accidents which continue; but the term "whereunto" is expressed by the noun signifying the nature of the thing which terminates the conversion, and this is Christ's entire body, and not merely His flesh; as was said above (Question , Article , ad 2). Hence this form is most appropriate: "This is My body."
Reply to Objection 1: The ultimate effect of this conversion is not a "becoming"
but a "being," as stated above, and consequently prominence should be
given to this in the form.
Reply to Objection 2: God's word operated in the creation of things, and it is
the same which operates in this consecration, yet each in different
fashion: because here it operates effectively and sacramentally, that is,
in virtue of its signification. And consequently the last effect of the
consecration must needs be signified in this sentence by a substantive
verb of the indicative mood and present time. But in the creation of
things it worked merely effectively, and such efficiency is due to the
command of His wisdom; and therefore in the creation of things the Lord's
word is expressed by a verb in the imperative mood, as in Gn. 1:3: "Let
there be light, and light was made."
Reply to Objection 3: The term "whence" does not retain the nature of its
substance in the "being" of the conversion, as the term "whereunto" does.
Therefore there is no parallel.
Reply to Objection 4: The pronoun "My," which implicitly points to the chief
person, i.e. the person of the speaker, sufficiently indicates Christ's
person, in Whose person these words are uttered, as stated above (Article ).
Reply to Objection 5: The conjunction "for" is set in this form according to the
custom of the Roman Church, who derived it from Peter the Apostle; and
this on account of the sequence with the words preceding: and therefore
it is not part of the form, just as the words preceding the form are not.
Article 3: Whether this is the proper form for the consecration of the wine: "This is the chalice of My blood," etc.?
Objection 1: It seems that this is not the proper form for the consecration of
the wine. "This is the chalice of My blood, of the New and Eternal
Testament, the Mystery of Faith, which shall be shed for you and for many
unto the forgiveness of sins." For as the bread is changed by the power
of consecration into Christ's body, so is the wine changed into Christ's
blood, as is clear from what was said above (Question , Articles ,2,3). But in
the form of the consecration of the bread, the body of Christ is
expressly mentioned, without any addition. Therefore in this form the
blood of Christ is improperly expressed in the oblique case, and the
chalice in the nominative, when it is said: "This is the chalice of My
Objection 2: Further, the words spoken in the consecration of the bread are
not more efficacious than those spoken in the consecration of the wine,
since both are Christ's words. But directly the words are spoken---"This
is My body," there is perfect consecration of the bread. Therefore,
directly these other words are uttered---"This is the chalice of My
blood," there is perfect consecration of the blood; and so the words
which follow do not appeal to be of the substance of the form, especially
since they refer to the properties of this sacrament.
Objection 3: Further, the New Testament seems to be an internal inspiration,
as is evident from the Apostle quoting the words of Jeremias (31:31): "I
will perfect unto the house of Israel a New Testament . . . I will give
My laws into their mind" (Heb. 8:8). But a sacrament is an outward
visible act. Therefore, in the form of the sacrament the words "of the
New Testament" are improperly added.
Objection 4: Further, a thing is said to be new which is near the beginning of
its existence. But what is eternal has no beginning of its existence.
Therefore it is incorrect to say "of the New and Eternal," because it
seems to savor of a contradiction.
Objection 5: Further, occasions of error ought to be withheld from men,
according to Is. 57:14: "Take away the stumbling blocks out of the way of
My people." But some have fallen into error in thinking that Christ's
body and blood are only mystically present in this sacrament. Therefore
it is out of place to add "the mystery of faith."
Objection 6: Further, it was said above (Question , Article , ad 3), that as Baptism
is the sacrament of faith, so is the Eucharist the sacrament of charity.
Consequently, in this form the word "charity" ought rather to be used
Objection 7: Further, the whole of this sacrament, both as to body and blood,
is a memorial of our Lord's Passion, according to 1 Cor. 11:26: "As often
as you shall eat this bread and drink the chalice, you shall show the
death of the Lord." Consequently, mention ought to be made of Christ's
Passion and its fruit rather in the form of the consecration of the
blood, than in the form of the consecration of the body, especially since
our Lord said: "This is My body, which shall be delivered up for you"
Objection 8: Further, as was already observed (Question , Article ; Question , Article ),
Christ's Passion sufficed for all; while as to its efficacy it was
profitable for many. Therefore it ought to be said: "Which shall be shed
for all," or else "for many," without adding, "for you."
Objection 9: Further, the words whereby this sacrament is consecrated draw
their efficacy from Christ's institution. But no Evangelist narrates that
Christ spoke all these words. Therefore this is not an appropriate form
for the consecration of the wine.
On the contrary, The Church, instructed by the apostles, uses this form.
I answer that, There is a twofold opinion regarding this form. Some have
maintained that the words "This is the chalice of My blood" alone belong
to the substance of this form, but not those words which follow. Now this
seems incorrect, because the words which follow them are determinations
of the predicate, that is, of Christ's blood. consequently they belong to
the integrity of the expression.
And on this account others say more accurately that all the words which
follow are of the substance of the form down to the words, "As often as
ye shall do this," which belong to the use of this sacrament, and
consequently do not belong to the substance of the form. Hence it is that
the priest pronounces all these words, under the same rite and manner,
namely, holding the chalice in his hands. Moreover, in Lk. 22:20, the
words that follow are interposed with the preceding words: "This is the
chalice, the new testament in My blood."
Consequently it must be said that all the aforesaid words belong to the
substance of the form; but that by the first words, "This is the chalice
of My blood," the change of the wine into blood is denoted, as explained
above (Article ) in the form for the consecration of the bread; but by the
words which come after is shown the power of the blood shed in the
Passion, which power works in this sacrament, and is ordained for three
purposes. First and principally for securing our eternal heritage,
according to Heb. 10:19: "Having confidence in the entering into the
holies by the blood of Christ"; and in order to denote this, we say, "of
the New and Eternal Testament." Secondly, for justifying by grace, which
is by faith according to Rm. 3:25,26: "Whom God hath proposed to be a
propitiation, through faith in His blood . . . that He Himself may be
just, and the justifier of him who is of the faith of Jesus Christ": and
on this account we add, "The Mystery of Faith." Thirdly, for removing
sins which are the impediments to both of these things, according to Heb.
9:14: "The blood of Christ . . . shall cleanse our conscience from dead
works," that is, from sins; and on this account, we say, "which shall be
shed for you and for many unto the forgiveness of sins."
Reply to Objection 1: The expression "This is the chalice of My blood" is a
figure of speech, which can be understood in two ways. First, as a figure
of metonymy; because the container is put for the contained, so that the
meaning is: "This is My blood contained in the chalice"; of which mention
is now made, because Christ's blood is consecrated in this sacrament,
inasmuch as it is the drink of the faithful, which is not implied under
the notion of blood; consequently this had to be denoted by the vessel
adapted for such usage.
Secondly, it can be taken by way of metaphor, so that Christ's Passion
is understood by the chalice by way of comparison, because, like a cup,
it inebriates, according to Lam. 3:15: "He hath filled me with
bitterness, he hath inebriated me with wormwood": hence our Lord Himself
spoke of His Passion as a chalice, when He said (Mt. 26:39): "Let this
chalice pass away from Me": so that the meaning is: "This is the chalice
of My Passion." This is denoted by the blood being consecrated apart from
the body; because it was by the Passion that the blood was separated from
Reply to Objection 2: As was said above (ad 1; Question , Article , ad 1), the blood
consecrated apart expressly represents Christ's Passion, and therefore
mention is made of the fruits of the Passion in the consecration of the
blood rather than in that of the body, since the body is the subject of
the Passion. This is also pointed out in our Lord's saying, "which shall
be delivered up for you," as if to say, "which shall undergo the Passion
Reply to Objection 3: A testament is the disposal of a heritage. But God disposed
of a heavenly heritage to men, to be bestowed through the virtue of the
blood of Jesus Christ; because, according to Heb. 9:16: "Where there is a
testament the death of the testator must of necessity come in." Now
Christ's blood was exhibited to men in two ways. First of all in figure,
and this belongs to the Old Testament; consequently the Apostle concludes
(Heb. 9:16): "Whereupon neither was the first indeed dedicated without
blood," which is evident from this, that as related in Ex. 24:7,8, "when
every" commandment of the law "had been read" by Moses, "he sprinkled all
the people" saying: "This is the blood of the testament which the Lord
hath enjoined unto you."
Secondly, it was shown in very truth; and this belongs to the New
Testament. This is what the Apostle premises when he says (Rm. 9:15):
"Therefore He is the Mediator of the New Testament, that by means of His
death . . . they that are called may receive the promise of eternal
inheritance." Consequently, we say here, "The blood of the New
Testament," because it is shown now not in figure but in truth; and
therefore we add, "which shall be shed for you." But the internal
inspiration has its origin in the power of this blood, according as we
are justified by Christ's Passion.
Reply to Objection 4: This Testament is a "new one" by reason of its showing
forth: yet it is called "eternal" both on account of God's eternal
pre-ordination, as well as on account of the eternal heritage which is
prepared by this testament. Moreover, Christ's Person is eternal, in
Whose blood this testament is appointed.
Reply to Objection 5: The word "mystery" is inserted, not in order to exclude
reality, but to show that the reality is hidden, because Christ's blood
is in this sacrament in a hidden manner, and His Passion was dimly
foreshadowed in the Old Testament.
Reply to Objection 6: It is called the "Sacrament of Faith," as being an object
of faith: because by faith alone do we hold the presence of Christ's
blood in this sacrament. Moreover Christ's Passion justifies by faith.
Baptism is called the "Sacrament of Faith" because it is a profession of
faith. This is called the "Sacrament of Charity," as being figurative and
Reply to Objection 7: As stated above (ad 2), the blood consecrated apart
represents Christ's blood more expressively; and therefore mention is
made of Christ's Passion and its fruits, in the consecration of the blood
rather than in that of the body.
Reply to Objection 8: The blood of Christ's Passion has its efficacy not merely
in the elect among the Jews, to whom the blood of the Old Testament was
exhibited, but also in the Gentiles; nor only in priests who consecrate
this sacrament, and in those others who partake of it; but likewise in
those for whom it is offered. And therefore He says expressly, "for you,"
the Jews, "and for many," namely the Gentiles; or, "for you" who eat of
it, and "for many," for whom it is offered.
Reply to Objection 9: The Evangelists did not intend to hand down the forms of
the sacraments, which in the primitive Church had to be kept concealed,
as Dionysius observes at the close of his book on the ecclesiastical
hierarchy; their object was to write the story of Christ. Nevertheless
nearly all these words can be culled from various passages of the
Scriptures. Because the words, "This is the chalice," are found in Lk.
22:20, and 1 Cor. 11:25, while Matthew says in chapter 26:28: "This is My
blood of the New Testament, which shall be shed for many unto the
remission of sins." The words added, namely, "eternal" and "mystery of
faith," were handed down to the Church by the apostles, who received them
from our Lord, according to 1 Cor. 11:23: "I have received of the Lord
that which also I delivered unto you."
Article 4: Whether in the aforesaid words of the forms there be any created power which causes the consecration?
Objection 1: It seems that in the aforesaid words of the forms there is no
created power which causes the consecration. Because Damascene says (De
Fide Orth. iv): "The change of the bread into Christ's body is caused
solely by the power of the Holy Ghost." But the power of the Holy Ghost
is uncreated. Therefore this sacrament is not caused by any created power
of those words.
Objection 2: Further, miraculous works are wrought not by any created power,
but solely by Divine power, as was stated in the FP, Question , Article . But
the change of the bread and wine into Christ's body and blood is a work
not less miraculous than the creation of things, or than the formation of
Christ's body in the womb of a virgin: which things could not be done by
any created power. Therefore, neither is this sacrament consecrated by
any created power of the aforesaid words.
Objection 3: Further, the aforesaid words are not simple, but composed of
many; nor are they uttered simultaneously, but successively. But, as
stated above (Question , Article ), this change is wrought instantaneously.
hence it must be done by a simple power. Therefore it is not effected by
the power of those words.
On the contrary, Ambrose says (De Sacram. iv): "If there be such might
in the word of the Lord Jesus that things non-existent came into being,
how much more efficacious is it to make things existing to continue, and
to be changed into something else? And so, what was bread before
consecration is now the body of Christ after consecration, because
Christ's word changes a creature into something different."
I answer that, Some have maintained that neither in the above words is
there any created power for causing the transubstantiation, nor in the
other forms of the sacraments, or even in the sacraments themselves, for
producing the sacramental effects. This, as was shown above (Question , Article ), is both contrary to the teachings of the saints, and detracts from the
dignity of the sacraments of the New Law. Hence, since this sacrament is
of greater worth than the others, as stated above (Question , Article ), the
result is that there is in the words of the form of this sacrament a
created power which causes the change to be wrought in it: instrumental,
however, as in the other sacraments, as stated above (Question , Articles ,4).
For since these words are uttered in the person of Christ, it is from His
command that they receive their instrumental power from Him, just as His
other deeds and sayings derive their salutary power instrumentally, as
was observed above (Question , Article ; Question , Article , ad 3).
Reply to Objection 1: When the bread is said to be changed into Christ's body
solely by the power of the Holy Ghost, the instrumental power which lies
in the form of this sacrament is not excluded: just as when we say that
the smith alone makes a knife we do not deny the power of the hammer.
Reply to Objection 2: No creature can work miracles as the chief agent. yet it
can do so instrumentally, just as the touch of Christ's hand healed the
leper. And in this fashion Christ's words change the bread into His body.
But in Christ's conception, whereby His body was fashioned, it was
impossible for anything derived from His body to have the instrumental
power of forming that very body. Likewise in creation there was no term
wherein the instrumental action of a creature could be received.
Consequently there is no comparison.
Reply to Objection 3: The aforesaid words, which work the consecration, operate
sacramentally. Consequently, the converting power latent under the forms
of these sacraments follows the meaning, which is terminated in the
uttering of the last word. And therefore the aforesaid words have this
power in the last instant of their being uttered, taken in conjunction
with those uttered before. And this power is simple by reason of the
thing signified, although there be composition in the words uttered
Article 5: Whether the aforesaid expressions are true?
Objection 1: It seems that the aforesaid expressions are not true. Because
when we say: "This is My body," the word "this" designates a substance.
But according to what was said above (Articles ,4, ad 3; Question , Articles ,7),
when the pronoun "this" is spoken, the substance of the bread is still
there, because the transubstantiation takes place in the last instant of
pronouncing the words. But it is false to say: "Bread is Christ's body."
Consequently this expression, "This is My body," is false.
Objection 2: Further, the pronoun "this" appeals to the senses. But the
sensible species in this sacrament are neither Christ's body nor even its
accidents. Therefore this expression, "This is My body," cannot be true.
Objection 3: Further, as was observed above (Article , ad 3), these words, by
their signification, effect the change of the bread into the body of
Christ. But an effective cause is understood as preceding its effect.
Therefore the meaning of these words is understood as preceding the
change of the bread into the body of Christ. But previous to the change
this expression, "This is My body," is false. Therefore the expression is
to be judged as false simply; and the same reason holds good of the other
phrase: "This is the chalice of My blood," etc.
On the contrary, These words are pronounced in the person of Christ, Who
says of Himself (Jn. 14:6): "I am the truth."
I answer that, There have been many opinions on this point. Some have
said that in this expression, "This is My body," the word "this" implies
demonstration as conceived, and not as exercised, because the whole
phrase is taken materially, since it is uttered by a way of narration:
for the priest relates that Christ said: "This is My body."
But such a view cannot hold good, because then these words would not be applied to the corporeal matter present, and consequently the sacrament would not be valid: for Augustine says (Tract. lxxx in Joan.): "The word is added to the element, and this becomes a sacrament." Moreover this solution ignores entirely the difficulty which this question presents: for there is still the objection in regard to the first uttering of these words by Christ; since it is evident that then they were employed, not materially, but significatively. And therefore it must be said that even when spoken by the priest they are taken significatively, and not merely materially. Nor does it matter that the priest pronounces them by way of recital, as though they were spoken by Christ, because owing to Christ's infinite power, just as through contact with His flesh the regenerative power entered not only into the waters which came into contact with Christ, but into all waters throughout the whole world and during all future ages, so likewise from Christ's uttering these words they derived their consecrating power, by whatever priest they be uttered, as if Christ present were saying them.
And therefore others have said that in this phrase the word "this"
appeals, not to the senses, but to the intellect; so that the meaning is,
"This is My body"---i.e. "The thing signified by 'this' is My body." But
neither can this stand, because, since in the sacraments the effect is
that which is signified, from such a form it would not result that
Christ's body was in very truth in this sacrament, but merely as in a
sign, which is heretical, as stated above (Question , Article ).
Consequently, others have said that the word "this" appeals to the
senses; not at the precise instant of its being uttered, but merely at
the last instant thereof; as when a man says, "Now I am silent," this
adverb "now" points to the instant immediately following the speech:
because the sense is: "Directly these words are spoken I am silent." But
neither can this hold good, because in that case the meaning of the
sentence would be: "My body is My body," which the above phrase does not
effect, because this was so even before the utterance of the words: hence
neither does the aforesaid sentence mean this.
Consequently, then, it remains to be said, as stated above (Article ), that
this sentence possesses the power of effecting the conversion of the
bread into the body of Christ. And therefore it is compared to other
sentences, which have power only of signifying and not of producing, as
the concept of the practical intellect, which is productive of the thing,
is compared to the concept of our speculative intellect which is drawn
from things. because "words are signs of concepts," as the Philosopher
says (Peri Herm. i). And therefore as the concept of the practical
intellect does not presuppose the thing understood, but makes it, so the
truth of this expression does not presuppose the thing signified, but
makes it; for such is the relation of God's word to the things made by
the Word. Now this change takes place not successively, but in an
instant, as stated above (Question , Article ). Consequently one must understand
the aforesaid expression with reference to the last instant of the words
being spoken, yet not so that the subject may be understood to have stood
for that which is the term of the conversion; viz. that the body of
Christ is the body of Christ; nor again that the subject be understood to
stand for that which it was before the conversion, namely, the bread. but
for that which is commonly related to both, i.e. that which is contained
in general under those species. For these words do not make the body of
Christ to be the body of Christ, nor do they make the bread to be the
body of Christ; but what was contained under those species, and was
formerly bread, they make to be the body of Christ. And therefore
expressly our Lord did not say: "This bread is My body," which would be
the meaning of the second opinion; nor "This My body is My body," which
would be the meaning of the third opinion: but in general: "This is My
body," assigning no noun on the part of the subject, but only a pronoun,
which signifies substance in common, without quality, that is, without a
Reply to Objection 1: The term "this" points to a substance, yet without
determining its proper nature, as stated above.
Reply to Objection 2: The pronoun "this" does not indicate the accidents, but the
substance underlying the accidents, which at first was bread, and is
afterwards the body of Christ, which body, although not informed by those
accidents, is yet contained under them.
Reply to Objection 3: The meaning of this expression is, in the order of nature,
understood before the thing signified, just as a cause is naturally prior
to the effect; but not in order of time, because this cause has its
effect with it at the same time, and this suffices for the truth of the
Article 6: Whether the form of the consecration of the bread accomplishes its effect before the form of the consecration of the wine be completed?
Objection 1: It seems that the form of the consecration of the bread does not
accomplish its effect until the form for the consecration of the wine be
completed. For, as Christ's body begins to be in this sacrament by the
consecration of the bread, so does His blood come to be there by the
consecration of the wine. If, then, the words for consecrating the bread
were to produce their effect before the consecration of the wine, it
would follow that Christ's body would be present in this sacrament
without the blood, which is improper.
Objection 2: Further, one sacrament has one completion: hence although there
be three immersions in Baptism, yet the first immersion does not produce
its effect until the third be completed. But all this sacrament is one,
as stated above (Question , Article ). Therefore the words whereby the bread is
consecrated do not bring about their effect without the sacramental words
whereby the wine is consecrated.
Objection 3: Further, there are several words in the form for consecrating the
bread, the first of which do not secure their effect until the last be
uttered, as stated above (Article , ad 3). Therefore, for the same reason,
neither do the words for the consecration of Christ's body produce their
effect, until the words for consecrating Christ's blood are spoken.
On the contrary, Directly the words are uttered for consecrating the
bread, the consecrated host is shown to the people to be adored, which
would not be done if Christ's body were not there, for that would be an
act of idolatry. Therefore the consecrating words of the bread produce
their effect before. the words are spoken for consecrating the wine.
I answer that, Some of the earlier doctors said that these two forms,
namely, for consecrating the bread and the wine, await each other's
action, so that the first does not produce its effect until the second
But this cannot stand, because, as stated above (Article , ad 3), for the
truth of this phrase, "This is My body," wherein the verb is in the
present tense, it is required for the thing signified to be present
simultaneously in time with the signification of the expression used;
otherwise, if the thing signified had to be awaited for afterwards, a
verb of the future tense would be employed, and not one of the present
tense, so that we should not say, "This is My body," but "This will be My
body." But the signification of this speech is complete directly those
words are spoken. And therefore the thing signified must be present
instantaneously, and such is the effect of this sacrament; otherwise it
would not be a true speech. Moreover, this opinion is against the rite of
the Church, which forthwith adores the body of Christ after the words are
Hence it must be said that the first form does not await the second in
its action, but has its effect on the instant.
Reply to Objection 1: It is on this account that they who maintained the above
opinion seem to have erred. Hence it must be understood that directly the
consecration of the bread is complete, the body of Christ is indeed
present by the power of the sacrament, and the blood by real
concomitance; but afterwards by the consecration of the wine, conversely,
the blood of Christ is there by the power of the sacrament, and the body
by real concomitance, so that the entire Christ is under either species,
as stated above (Question , Article ).
Reply to Objection 2: This sacrament is one in perfection, as stated above (Question , Article ), namely, inasmuch as it is made up of two things, that is, of
food and drink, each of which of itself has its own perfection; but the
three immersions of Baptism are ordained to one simple effect, and
therefore there is no resemblance.
Reply to Objection 3: The various words in the form for consecrating the bread
constitute the truth of one speech, but the words of the different forms
do not, and consequently there is no parallel.