QUESTION 83: OF THE RITE OF THIS SACRAMENT
We have now to consider the Rite of this sacrament, under which head
there are six points of inquiry:
(1) Whether Christ is sacrificed in the celebration of this mystery?
(2) Of the time of celebrating;
(3) Of the place and other matters relating to the equipment for this
(4) Of the words uttered in celebrating this mystery;
(5) Of the actions performed in celebrating this mystery.
(6) Of the defects which occur in the celebration of this sacrament.
Article 1: Whether Christ is sacrificed in this sacrament?
Objection 1: It seems that Christ is not sacrificed in the celebration of this
sacrament. For it is written (Heb. 10:14) that "Christ by one oblation
hath perfected for ever them that are sanctified." But that oblation was
His oblation. Therefore Christ is not sacrificed in the celebration of
Objection 2: Further, Christ's sacrifice was made upon the cross, whereon "He
delivered Himself for us, an oblation and a sacrifice to God for an odor
of sweetness," as is said in Eph. 5:2. But Christ is not crucified in the
celebration of this mystery. Therefore, neither is He sacrificed.
Objection 3: Further, as Augustine says (De Trin. iv), in Christ's sacrifice
the priest and the victim are one and the same. But in the celebration of
this sacrament the priest and the victim are not the same. Therefore, the
celebration of this sacrament is not a sacrifice of Christ.
On the contrary, Augustine says in the Liber Sentent. Prosp. (cf. Ep.
xcviii): "Christ was sacrificed once in Himself, and yet He is sacrificed
daily in the Sacrament."
I answer that, The celebration of this sacrament is called a sacrifice
for two reasons. First, because, as Augustine says (Ad Simplician. ii),
"the images of things are called by the names of the things whereof they
are the images; as when we look upon a picture or a fresco, we say, 'This
is Cicero and that is Sallust.'" But, as was said above (Question , Article ),
the celebration of this sacrament is an image representing Christ's
Passion, which is His true sacrifice. Accordingly the celebration of this
sacrament is called Christ's sacrifice. Hence it is that Ambrose, in
commenting on Heb. 10:1, says: "In Christ was offered up a sacrifice
capable of giving eternal salvation; what then do we do? Do we not offer
it up every day in memory of His death?" Secondly it is called a
sacrifice, in respect of the effect of His Passion: because, to wit, by
this sacrament, we are made partakers of the fruit of our Lord's Passion.
Hence in one of the Sunday Secrets (Ninth Sunday after Pentecost) we say:
"Whenever the commemoration of this sacrifice is celebrated, the work of
our redemption is enacted." Consequently, according to the first reason,
it is true to say that Christ was sacrificed, even in the figures of the
Old Testament: hence it is stated in the Apocalypse (13:8): "Whose names
are not written in the Book of Life of the Lamb, which was slain from the
beginning of the world." But according to the second reason, it is proper
to this sacrament for Christ to be sacrificed in its celebration.
Reply to Objection 1: As Ambrose says (commenting on Heb. 10:1), "there is but
one victim," namely that which Christ offered, and which we offer, "and
not many victims, because Christ was offered but once: and this latter
sacrifice is the pattern of the former. For, just as what is offered
everywhere is one body, and not many bodies, so also is it but one
Reply to Objection 2: As the celebration of this sacrament is an image
representing Christ's Passion, so the altar is representative of the
cross itself, upon which Christ was sacrificed in His proper species.
Reply to Objection 3: For the same reason (cf. Reply Objection ) the priest also
bears Christ's image, in Whose person and by Whose power he pronounces
the words of consecration, as is evident from what was said above (Question , Articles ,3). And so, in a measure, the priest and victim are one and the
Article 2: Whether the time for celebrating this mystery has been properly determined?
Objection 1: It seems that the time for celebrating this mystery has not been properly determined. For as was observed above (Article ), this sacrament is representative of our Lord's Passion. But the commemoration of our Lord's Passion takes place in the Church once in the year: because Augustine says (Enarr. ii in Ps. 21): "Is not Christ slain as often as the Pasch is celebrated? Nevertheless, the anniversary remembrance represents what took place in by-gone days; and so it does not cause us to be stirred as if we saw our Lord hanging upon the cross." Therefore this sacrament ought to be celebrated but once a year.
Objection 2: Further, Christ's Passion is commemorated in the Church on the
Friday before Easter, and not on Christmas Day. Consequently, since this
sacrament is commemorative of our Lord's Passion, it seems unsuitable for
this sacrament to be celebrated thrice on Christmas Day, and to be
entirely omitted on Good Friday.
Objection 3: Further, in the celebration of this sacrament the Church ought to
imitate Christ's institution. But it was in the evening that Christ
consecrated this sacrament. Therefore it seems that this sacrament ought
to be celebrated at that time of day.
Objection 4: Further, as is set down in the Decretals (De Consecr., dist. i),
Pope Leo I wrote to Dioscorus, Bishop of Alexandria, that "it is
permissible to celebrate mass in the first part of the day." But the day
begins at midnight, as was said above (Question , Article , ad 5). Therefore it
seems that after midnight it is lawful to celebrate.
Objection 5: Further, in one of the Sunday Secrets (Ninth Sunday after
Pentecost) we say: "Grant us, Lord, we beseech Thee, to frequent these
mysteries." But there will be greater frequency if the priest celebrates
several times a day. Therefore it seems that the priest ought not to be
hindered from celebrating several times daily.
On the contrary is the custom which the Church observes according to the
statutes of the Canons.
I answer that, As stated above (Article ), in the celebration of this
mystery, we must take into consideration the representation of our Lord's
Passion, and the participation of its fruits; and the time suitable for
the celebration of this mystery ought to be determined by each of these
considerations. Now since, owing to our daily defects, we stand in daily
need of the fruits of our Lord's Passion, this sacrament is offered
regularly every day in the Church. Hence our Lord teaches us to pray (Lk. 11:3): "Give us this day our daily bread": in explanation of which words
Augustine says (De Verb. Dom. xxviii): "If it be a daily bread, why do
you take it once a year, as the Greeks have the custom in the east?
Receive it daily that it may benefit you every day."
But since our Lord's Passion was celebrated from the third to the ninth
hour, therefore this sacrament is solemnly celebrated by the Church in
that part of the day.
Reply to Objection 1: Christ's Passion is recalled in this sacrament, inasmuch as
its effect flows out to the faithful; but at Passion-tide Christ's
Passion is recalled inasmuch as it was wrought in Him Who is our Head.
This took place but once; whereas the faithful receive daily the fruits
of His Passion: consequently, the former is commemorated but once in the
year, whereas the latter takes place every day, both that we may partake
of its fruit and in order that we may have a perpetual memorial.
Reply to Objection 2: The figure ceases on the advent of the reality. But this
sacrament is a figure and a representation of our Lord's Passion, as
stated above. And therefore on the day on which our Lord's Passion is
recalled as it was really accomplished, this sacrament is not
consecrated. Nevertheless, lest the Church be deprived on that day of the
fruit of the Passion offered to us by this sacrament, the body of Christ
consecrated the day before is reserved to be consumed on that day; but
the blood is not reserved, on account of danger, and because the blood is
more specially the image of our Lord's Passion, as stated above (Question , Article , ad 2). Nor is it true, as some affirm, that the wine is changed
into blood when the particle of Christ's body is dropped into it. Because
this cannot be done otherwise than by consecration under the due form of
On Christmas Day, however, several masses are said on account of
Christ's threefold nativity. Of these the first is His eternal birth,
which is hidden in our regard. and therefore one mass is sung in the
night, in the "Introit" of which we say: "The Lord said unto Me: Thou art
My Son, this day have I begotten Thee." The second is His nativity in
time, and the spiritual birth, whereby Christ rises "as the day-star in
our [Vulg.: 'your'] hearts" (2 Pt. 1:19), and on this account the mass is
sung at dawn, and in the "Introit" we say: "The light will shine on us
today." The third is Christ's temporal and bodily birth, according as He
went forth from the virginal womb, becoming visible to us through being
clothed with flesh: and on that account the third mass is sung in broad
daylight, in the "Introit" of which we say: "A child is born to us."
Nevertheless, on the other hand, it can be said that His eternal
generation, of itself, is in the full light, and on this account in the
gospel of the third mass mention is made of His eternal birth. But
regarding His birth in the body, He was literally born during the night,
as a sign that He came to the darknesses of our infirmity; hence also in
the midnight mass we say the gospel of Christ's nativity in the flesh.
Likewise on other days upon which many of God's benefits have to be
recalled or besought, several masses are celebrated on one day, as for
instance, one for the feast, and another for a fast or for the dead.
Reply to Objection 3: As already observed (Question , Article ), Christ wished to give
this sacrament last of all, in order that it might make a deeper
impression on the hearts of the disciples; and therefore it was after
supper, at the close of day, that He consecrated this sacrament and gave
it to His disciples. But we celebrate at the hour when our Lord suffered,
i.e. either, as on feast-days, at the hour of Terce, when He was
crucified by the tongues of the Jews (Mk. 15:25), and when the Holy Ghost
descended upon the disciples (Acts 2:15); or, as when no feast is kept,
at the hour of Sext, when He was crucified at the hands of the soldiers
(Jn. 19:14), or, as on fasting days, at None, when crying out with a loud
voice He gave up the ghost (Mt. 27:46,50).
Nevertheless the mass can be postponed, especially when Holy orders
have to be conferred, and still more on Holy Saturday; both on account of
the length of the office, and also because orders belong to the Sunday,
as is set forth in the Decretals (dist. 75).
Masses, however, can be celebrated "in the first part of the day," owing
to any necessity; as is stated De Consecr., dist. 1.
Reply to Objection 4: As a rule mass ought to be said in the day and not in the
night, because Christ is present in this sacrament, Who says (Jn. 9:4,5):
"I must work the works of Him that sent Me, whilst it is day: because the
night cometh when no man can work; as long as I am in the world, I am the
light of the world." Yet this should be done in such a manner that the
beginning of the day is not to be taken from midnight; nor from sunrise,
that is, when the substance of the sun appears above the earth; but when
the dawn begins to show: because then the sun is said to be risen when
the brightness of his beams appears. Accordingly it is written (Mk. 16:1)
that "the women came to the tomb, the sun being now risen"; though, as
John relates (Jn. 20:1), "while it was yet dark they came to the tomb."
It is in this way that Augustine explains this difference (De Consens.
Exception is made on the night of Christmas eve, when mass is
celebrated, because our Lord was born in the night (De Consecr., dist.
1). And in like manner it is celebrated on Holy Saturday towards the
beginning of the night, since our Lord rose in the night, that is, "when
it was yet dark, before the sun's rising was manifest."
Reply to Objection 5: As is set down in the decree (De Consecr., dist. 1), in
virtue of a decree of Pope Alexander II, "it is enough for a priest to
celebrate one mass each day, because Christ suffered once and redeemed
the whole world; and very happy is he who can worthily celebrate one
mass. But there are some who say one mass for the dead, and another of
the day, if need be. But I do not deem that those escape condemnation who
presume to celebrate several masses daily, either for the sake of money,
or to gain flattery from the laity." And Pope Innocent III says (Extra,
De Celebr. Miss., chap. Consuluisti) that "except on the day of our
Lord's birth, unless necessity urges, it suffices for a priest to
celebrate only one mass each day."
Article 3: Whether this sacrament ought to be celebrated in a house and with sacred vessels?
Objection 1: It seems that this sacrament ought not to be celebrated in a
house and with sacred vessels. For this sacrament is a representation of
our Lord's Passion. But Christ did not suffer in a house, but outside the
city gate, according to Heb. 1:12: "Jesus, that He might sanctify the
people by His own blood, suffered without the gate." Therefore, it seems
that this sacrament ought not to be celebrated in a house, but rather in
the open air.
Objection 2: Further, in the celebration of this sacrament the Church ought to
imitate the custom of Christ and the apostles. But the house wherein
Christ first wrought this sacrament was not consecrated, but merely an
ordinary supper-room prepared by the master of the house, as related in
Lk. 22:11,12. Moreover, we read (Acts 2:46) that "the apostles were
continuing daily with one accord in the temple; and, breaking bread from
house to house, they took their meat with gladness." Consequently, there
is no need for houses, in which this sacrament is celebrated, to be
Objection 3: Further, nothing that is to no purpose ought to be done in the
Church, which is governed by the Holy Ghost. But it seems useless to
consecrate a church, or an altar, or such like inanimate things, since
they are not capable of receiving grace or spiritual virtue. Therefore it
is unbecoming for such consecrations to be performed in the Church.
Objection 4: Further, only Divine works ought to be recalled with solemnity,
according to Ps. 91:5: "I shall rejoice in the works of Thy hands." Now
the consecration of a church or altar, is the work of a man; as is also
the consecration of the chalice, and of the ministers, and of other such
things. But these latter consecrations are not commemorated in the
Church. Therefore neither ought the consecration of a church or of an
altar to be commemorated with solemnity.
Objection 5: Further, the truth ought to correspond with the figure. But in
the Old Testament, which was a figure of the New, the altar was not made
of hewn stones: for, it is written (Ex. 20:24): "You shall make an altar
of earth unto Me . . . and if thou make an altar of stone unto Me, thou
shalt not build it of hewn stones." Again, the altar is commanded to be
made of "setim-wood," covered "with brass" (Ex. 27:1,2), or "with gold"
(Ex. 25). Consequently, it seems unfitting for the Church to make
exclusive use of altars made of stone.
Objection 6: Further, the chalice with the paten represents Christ's tomb,
which was "hewn in a rock," as is narrated in the Gospels. Consequently,
the chalice ought to be of stone, and not of gold or of silver or tin.
Objection 7: Further, just as gold is the most precious among the materials of
the altar vessels, so are cloths of silk the most precious among other
cloths. Consequently, since the chalice is of gold, the altar cloths
ought to be made of silk and not of linen.
Objection 8: Further, the dispensing and ordering of the sacraments belong to
the Church's ministers, just as the ordering of temporal affairs is
subject to the ruling of secular princes; hence the Apostle says (1 Cor. 4:1): "Let a man so esteem us as the ministers of Christ end the
dispensers of the mysteries of God." But if anything be done against the
ordinances of princes it is deemed void. Therefore, if the various items
mentioned above are suitably commanded by the Church's prelates, it seems
that the body of Christ could not be consecrated unless they be
observed; and so it appears to follow that Christ's words are not
sufficient of themselves for consecrating this sacrament: which is
contrary to the fact. Consequently, it does not seem fitting for such
ordinances to be made touching the celebration of this sacrament.
On the contrary, The Church's ordinances are Christ's own ordinances;
since He said (Mt. 18:20): "Wherever two or three are gathered together
in My name, there am I in the midst of them."
I answer that, There are two things to be considered regarding the
equipment of this sacrament: one of these belongs to the representation
of the events connected with our Lord's Passion; while the other is
connected with the reverence due to the sacrament, in which Christ is
contained verily, and not in figure only.
Hence we consecrate those things which we make use of in this sacrament;
both that we may show our reverence for the sacrament, and in order to
represent the holiness which is the effect of the Passion of Christ,
according to Heb. 13:12: "Jesus, that He might sanctify the people by His
own blood," etc.
Reply to Objection 1: This sacrament ought as a rule to be celebrated in a house,
whereby the Church is signified, according to 1 Tim. 3:15: "That thou
mayest know how thou oughtest to behave thyself in the house of God,
which is the Church of the living God." Because "outside the Church there
is no place for the true sacrifice," as Augustine says (Liber Sentent.
Prosp. xv). And because the Church was not to be confined within the
territories of the Jewish people, but was to be established throughout
the whole world, therefore Christ's Passion was not celebrated within the
city of the Jews, but in the open country, that so the whole world might
serve as a house for Christ's Passion. Nevertheless, as is said in De
Consecr., dist. 1, "if a church be not to hand, we permit travelers to
celebrate mass in the open air, or in a tent, if there be a consecrated
altar-table to hand, and the other requisites belonging to the sacred
Reply to Objection 2: The house in which this sacrament is celebrated denotes the
Church, and is termed a church; and so it is fittingly consecrated, both
to represent the holiness which the Church acquired from the Passion, as
well as to denote the holiness required of them who have to receive this
sacrament. By the altar Christ Himself is signified, of Whom the Apostle
says (Heb. 13:15): "Through Him we offer a sacrifice of praise to God."
Hence the consecration of the altar signifies Christ's holiness, of which
it was said (Lk. 1:35): "The Holy one born of thee shall be called the
Son of God." Hence we read in De Consecr., dist. 1: "It has seemed
pleasing for the altars to be consecrated not merely with the anointing
of chrism, but likewise with the priestly blessing."
And therefore, as a rule, it is not lawful to celebrate this sacrament
except in a consecrated house. Hence it is enacted (De Consecr., dist.
1): "Let no priest presume to say mass except in places consecrated by
the bishop." And furthermore because pagans and other unbelievers are not
members of the Church, therefore we read (De Consecr., dist. 1): "It is
not lawful to bless a church in which the bodies of unbelievers are
buried, but if it seem suitable for consecration, then, after removing
the corpses and tearing down the walls or beams, let it be rebuilt. If,
however, it has been already consecrated, and the faithful lie in it, it
is lawful to celebrate mass therein." Nevertheless in a case of necessity
this sacrament can be performed in houses which have not been
consecrated, or which have been profaned; but with the bishop's consent.
Hence we read in the same distinction: "We deem that masses are not to be
celebrated everywhere, but in places consecrated by the bishop, or where
he gives permission." But not without a portable altar consecrated by the
bishop: hence in the same distinction we read: "We permit that, if the
churches be devastated or burned, masses may be celebrated in chapels,
with a consecrated altar." For because Christ's holiness is the fount of
all the Church's holiness, therefore in necessity a consecrated altar
suffices for performing this sacrament. And on this account a church is
never consecrated without consecrating the altar. Yet sometimes an altar
is consecrated apart from the church, with the relics of the saints,
"whose lives are hidden with Christ in God" (Col. 3:3). Accordingly under
the same distinction we read: "It is our pleasure that altars, in which
no relics of saints are found enclosed, be thrown down, if possible, by
the bishops presiding over such places."
Reply to Objection 3: The church, altar, and other like inanimate things are
consecrated, not because they are capable of receiving grace, but because
they acquire special spiritual virtue from the consecration, whereby they
are rendered fit for the Divine worship, so that man derives devotion
therefrom, making him more fitted for Divine functions, unless this be
hindered by want of reverence. Hence it is written (2 Macc. 3:38): "There
is undoubtedly in that place a certain power of God; for He that hath His
dwelling in the heavens is the visitor, and the protector of that place."
Hence it is that such places are cleansed and exorcised before being
consecrated, that the enemy's power may be driven forth. And for the same
reason churches defiled by shedding of blood or seed are reconciled:
because some machination of the enemy is apparent on account of the sin
committed there. And for this reason we read in the same distinction:
"Wherever you find churches of the Arians, consecrate them as Catholic
churches without delay by means of devout prayers and rites." Hence, too,
it is that some say with probability, that by entering a consecrated
church one obtains forgiveness of venial sins, just as one does by the
sprinkling of holy water; alleging the words of Ps. 84:2,3: "Lord, Thou
hast blessed Thy land . . . Thou hast forgiven the iniquity of Thy
people." And therefore, in consequence of the virtue acquired by a
church's consecration, the consecration is never repeated. Accordingly we
find in the same distinction the following words quoted from the Council
of Nicaea: "Churches which have once been consecrated, must not be
consecrated again, except they be devastated by fire, or defiled by
shedding of blood or of anyone's seed; because, just as a child once
baptized in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy
Ghost, ought not to be baptized again, so neither ought a place, once
dedicated to God, to be consecrated again, except owing to the causes
mentioned above; provided that the consecrators held faith in the Holy
Trinity": in fact, those outside the Church cannot consecrate. But, as we
read in the same distinction: "Churches or altars of doubtful
consecration are to be consecrated anew."
And since they acquire special spiritual virtue from their consecration,
we find it laid down in the same distinction that "the beams of a
dedicated church ought not to be used for any other purpose, except it be
for some other church, or else they are to be burned, or put to the use
of brethren in some monastery: but on no account are they to be discarded
for works of the laity." We read there, too, that "the altar covering,
chair, candlesticks, and veil, are to be burned when warn out; and their
ashes are to be placed in the baptistery, or in the walls, or else cast
into the trenches beneath the flag-stones, so as not to be defiled by the
feet of those that enter."
Reply to Objection 4: Since the consecration of the altar signifies Christ's
holiness, and the consecration of a house the holiness of the entire
Church, therefore the consecration of a church or of an altar is more
fittingly commemorated. And on this account the solemnity of a church
dedication is observed for eight days, in order to signify the happy
resurrection of Christ and of the Church's members. Nor is the
consecration of a church or altar man's doing only, since it has a
spiritual virtue. Hence in the same distinction (De Consecr.) it is said:
"The solemnities of the dedication of churches are to be solemnly
celebrated each year: and that dedications are to be kept up for eight
days, you will find in the third book of Kings" (8:66).
Reply to Objection 5: As we read in De Consecr., dist. 1, "altars, if not of
stone, are not to be consecrated with the anointing of chrism." And this
is in keeping with the signification of this sacrament; both because the
altar signifies Christ, for in 1 Cor. 10:3, it is written, "But the rock
was Christ": and because Christ's body was laid in a stone sepulchre.
This is also in keeping with the use of the sacrament. Because stone is
solid, and may be found everywhere. which was not necessary in the old
Law, when the altar was made in one place. As to the commandment to make
the altar of earth, or of unhewn stones, this was given in order to
Reply to Objection 6: As is laid down in the same distinction, "formerly the
priests did not use golden but wooden chalices; but Pope Zephyrinus
ordered the mass to be said with glass patens; and subsequently Pope
Urban had everything made of silver." Afterwards it was decided that "the
Lord's chalice with the paten should be made entirely of gold, or of
silver or at least of tin. But it is not to be made of brass, or copper,
because the action of the wine thereon produces verdigris, and provokes
vomiting. But no one is to presume to sing mass with a chalice of wood or
of glass," because as the wood is porous, the consecrated blood would
remain in it; while glass is brittle and there might arise danger of
breakage; and the same applies to stone. Consequently, out of reverence
for the sacrament, it was enacted that the chalice should be made of the
Reply to Objection 7: Where it could be done without danger, the Church gave
order for that thing to be used which more expressively represents
Christ's Passion. But there was not so much danger regarding the body
which is placed on the corporal, as there is with the blood contained in
the chalice. And consequently, although the chalice is not made of stone,
yet the corporal is made of linen, since Christ's body was wrapped
therein. Hence we read in an Epistle of Pope Silvester, quoted in the
same distinction: "By a unanimous decree we command that no one shall
presume to celebrate the sacrifice of the altar upon a cloth of silk, or
dyed material, but upon linen consecrated by the bishop; as Christ's body
was buried in a clean linen winding-sheet." Moreover, linen material is
becoming, owing to its cleanness, to denote purity of conscience, and,
owing to the manifold labor with which it is prepared, to denote Christ's
Reply to Objection 8: The dispensing of the sacraments belongs to the Church's
ministers; but their consecration is from God Himself. Consequently, the
Church's ministers can make no ordinances regarding the form of the
consecration, and the manner of celebrating. And therefore, if the priest
pronounces the words of consecration over the proper matter with the
intention of consecrating, then, without every one of the things
mentioned above---namely, without house, and altar, consecrated chalice
and corporal, and the other things instituted by the Church---he
consecrates Christ's body in very truth; yet he is guilty of grave sin,
in not following the rite of the Church.
Article 4: Whether the words spoken in this sacrament are properly framed?
Objection 1: It seems that the words spoken in this sacrament are not properly
framed. For, as Ambrose says (De Sacram. iv), this sacrament is
consecrated with Christ's own words. Therefore no other words besides
Christ's should be spoken in this sacrament.
Objection 2: Further, Christ's words and deeds are made known to us through
the Gospel. But in consecrating this sacrament words are used which are
not set down in the Gospels: for we do not read in the Gospel, of Christ
lifting up His eyes to heaven while consecrating this sacrament: and
similarly it is said in the Gospel: "Take ye and eat" [comedite] without
the addition of the word "all," whereas in celebrating this sacrament we
say: "Lifting up His eyes to heaven," and again, "Take ye and eat
[manducate] of this." Therefore such words as these are out of place when
spoken in the celebration of this sacrament.
Objection 3: Further, all the other sacraments are ordained for the salvation
of all the faithful. But in the celebration of the other sacraments there
is no common prayer put up for the salvation of all the faithful and of
the departed. Consequently it is unbecoming in this sacrament.
Objection 4: Further, Baptism especially is called the sacrament of faith.
Consequently, the truths which belong to instruction in the faith ought
rather to be given regarding Baptism than regarding this sacrament, such
as the doctrine of the apostles and of the Gospels.
Objection 5: Further, devotion on the part of the faithful is required in
every sacrament. Consequently, the devotion of the faithful ought not to
be stirred up in this sacrament more than in the others by Divine praises
and by admonitions, such as, "Lift up your hearts."
Objection 6: Further, the minister of this sacrament is the priest, as stated
above (Question , Article ). Consequently, all the words spoken in this sacrament
ought to be uttered by the priest, and not some by the ministers, and
some by the choir.
Objection 7: Further, the Divine power works this sacrament unfailingly.
Therefore it is to no purpose that the priest asks for the perfecting of
this sacrament, saying: "Which oblation do thou, O God, in all," etc.
Objection 8: Further, the sacrifice of the New Law is much more excellent than
the sacrifice of the fathers of old. Therefore, it is unfitting for the
priest to pray that this sacrifice may be as acceptable as the sacrifice
of Abel, Abraham, and Melchisedech.
Objection 9: Further, just as Christ's body does not begin to be in this
sacrament by change of place, as stated above (Question , Article ), so likewise
neither does it cease to be there. Consequently, it is improper for the
priest to ask: "Bid these things be borne by the hands of thy holy angel
unto Thine altar on high."
On the contrary, We find it stated in De Consecr., dist. 1, that "James,
the brother of the Lord according to the flesh, and Basil, bishop of
Caesarea, edited the rite of celebrating the mass": and from their
authority it is manifest that whatever words are employed in this matter,
are chosen becomingly.
I answer that, Since the whole mystery of our salvation is comprised in
this sacrament, therefore is it performed with greater solemnity than the
other sacraments. And since it is written (Eccles. 4:17): "Keep thy foot
when thou goest into the house of God"; and (Ecclus. 18:23): "Before
prayer prepare thy soul," therefore the celebration of this mystery is
preceded by a certain preparation in order that we may perform worthily
that which follows after. The first part of this preparation is Divine
praise, and consists in the "Introit": according to Ps. 49:23: "The
sacrifice of praise shall glorify me; and there is the way by which I
will show him the salvation of God": and this is taken for the most part
from the Psalms, or, at least, is sung with a Psalm, because, as
Dionysius says (Eccl. Hier. iii): "The Psalms comprise by way of praise
whatever is contained in Sacred Scripture."
The second part contains a reference to our present misery, by reason of
which we pray for mercy, saying: "Lord, have mercy on us," thrice for the
Person of the Father, and "Christ, have mercy on us," thrice for the
Person of the Son, and "Lord, have mercy on us," thrice for the Person of
the Holy Ghost; against the threefold misery of ignorance, sin, and
punishment; or else to express the "circuminsession" of all the Divine
The third part commemorates the heavenly glory, to the possession of
which, after this life of misery, we are tending, in the words, "Glory be
to God on high," which are sung on festival days, on which the heavenly
glory is commemorated, but are omitted in those sorrowful offices which
commemorate our unhappy state.
The fourth part contains the prayer which the priest makes for the
people, that they may be made worthy of such great mysteries.
There precedes, in the second place, the instruction of the faithful,
because this sacrament is "a mystery of faith," as stated above (Question , Article , ad 5). Now this instruction is given "dispositively," when the
Lectors and Sub-deacons read aloud in the church the teachings of the
prophets and apostles: after this "lesson," the choir sing the "Gradual,"
which signifies progress in life; then the "Alleluia" is intoned, and
this denotes spiritual joy; or in mournful offices the "Tract",
expressive of spiritual sighing; for all these things ought to result
from the aforesaid teaching. But the people are instructed "perfectly" by
Christ's teaching contained in the Gospel, which is read by the higher
ministers, that is, by the Deacons. And because we believe Christ as the
Divine truth, according to Jn. 8:46, "If I tell you the truth, why do you
not believe Me?" after the Gospel has been read, the "Creed" is sung in
which the people show that they assent by faith to Christ's doctrine. And
it is sung on those festivals of which mention is made therein, as on the
festivals of Christ, of the Blessed Virgin, and of the apostles, who laid
the foundations of this faith, and on other such days.
So then, after the people have been prepared and instructed, the next
step is to proceed to the celebration of the mystery, which is both
offered as a sacrifice, and consecrated and received as a sacrament:
since first we have the oblation; then the consecration of the matter
offered; and thirdly, its reception.
In regard to the oblation, two things are done, namely, the people's
praise in singing the "offertory," expressing the joy of the offerers,
and the priest's prayer asking for the people's oblation to be made
acceptable to God. Hence David said (1 Para 29:17): "In the simplicity of
my heart, I have . . . offered all these things: and I have seen with
great joy Thy people which are here present, offer Thee their offerings":
and then he makes the following prayer: "O Lord God . . . keep . . . this
Then, regarding the consecration, performed by supernatural power, the
people are first of all excited to devotion in the "Preface," hence they
are admonished "to lift up their hearts to the Lord," and therefore when
the "Preface" is ended the people devoutly praise Christ's Godhead,
saying with the angels: "Holy, Holy, Holy"; and His humanity, saying with
the children: "Blessed is he that cometh." In the next place the priest
makes a "commemoration," first of those for whom this sacrifice is
offered, namely, for the whole Church, and "for those set in high places"
(1 Tim. 2:2), and, in a special manner, of them "who offer, or for whom
the mass is offered." Secondly, he commemorates the saints, invoking
their patronage for those mentioned above, when he says: "Communicating
with, and honoring the memory," etc. Thirdly, he concludes the petition
when he says: "Wherefore that this oblation," etc., in order that the
oblation may be salutary to them for whom it is offered.
Then he comes to the consecration itself. Here he asks first of all for
the effect of the consecration, when he says: "Which oblation do Thou, O
God," etc. Secondly, he performs the consecration using our Saviour's
words, when he says: "Who the day before," etc. Thirdly, he makes excuse
for his presumption in obeying Christ's command, saying: "Wherefore,
calling to mind," etc. Fourthly, he asks that the sacrifice accomplished
may find favor with God, when he says: "Look down upon them with a
propitious," etc. Fifthly, he begs for the effect of this sacrifice and
sacrament, first for the partakers, saying: "We humbly beseech Thee";
then for the dead, who can no longer receive it, saying: "Be mindful
also, O Lord," etc.; thirdly, for the priests themselves who offer,
saying: "And to us sinners," etc.
Then follows the act of receiving the sacrament. First of all, the
people are prepared for Communion; first, by the common prayer of the
congregation, which is the Lord's Prayer, in which we ask for our daily
bread to be given us; and also by private prayer, which the priest puts
up specially for the people, when he says: "Deliver us, we beseech Thee,
O Lord," etc. Secondly, the people are prepared by the "Pax" which is
given with the words, "Lamb of God," etc., because this is the sacrament
of unity and peace, as stated above (Question , Article ; Question , Article ). But in
masses for the dead, in which the sacrifice is offered not for present
peace, but for the repose of the dead, the "Pax" is omitted.
Then follows the reception of the sacrament, the priest receiving first,
and afterwards giving it to others, because, as Dionysius says (Eccl.
Hier. iii), he who gives Divine things to others, ought first to partake
Finally, the whole celebration of mass ends with the thanksgiving, the
people rejoicing for having received the mystery (and this is the meaning
of the singing after the Communion); and the priest returning thanks by
prayer, as Christ, at the close of the supper with His disciples, "said a
hymn" (Mt. 26:30).
Reply to Objection 1: The consecration is accomplished by Christ's words only;
but the other words must be added to dispose the people for receiving it,
as stated above.
Reply to Objection 2: As is stated in the last chapter of John (verse 25), our
Lord said and did many things which are not written down by the
Evangelists; and among them is the uplifting of His eyes to heaven at the
supper; nevertheless the Roman Church had it by tradition from the
apostles. For it seems reasonable that He Who lifted up His eyes to the
Father in raising Lazarus to life, as related in Jn. 11:41, and in the
prayer which He made for the disciples (Jn. 17:1), had more reason to do
so in instituting this sacrament, as being of greater import.
The use of the word "manducate" instead of "comedite" makes no difference in the meaning, nor does the expression signify, especially since those words are no part of the form, as stated above (Question , Article , ad 2,4).
The additional word "all" is understood in the Gospels, although not
expressed, because He had said (Jn. 6:54): "Except you eat the flesh of
the Son of Man . . . you shall not have life in you."
Reply to Objection 3: The Eucharist is the sacrament of the unity of the whole
Church: and therefore in this sacrament, more than in the others, mention
ought to be made of all that belongs to the salvation of the entire
Reply to Objection 4: There is a twofold instruction in the Faith: the first is
for those receiving it for the first time, that is to say, for
catechumens, and such instruction is given in connection with Baptism.
The other is the instruction of the faithful who take part in this
sacrament; and such instruction is given in connection with this
sacrament. Nevertheless catechumens and unbelievers are not excluded
therefrom. Hence in De Consecr., dist. 1, it is laid down: "Let the
bishop hinder no one from entering the church, and hearing the word of
God, be they Gentiles, heretics, or Jews, until the mass of the
Catechumens begins," in which the instruction regarding the Faith is
Reply to Objection 5: Greater devotion is required in this sacrament than in the
others, for the reason that the entire Christ is contained therein.
Moreover, this sacrament requires a more general devotion, i.e. on the
part of the whole people, since for them it is offered; and not merely on
the part of the recipients, as in the other sacraments. Hence Cyprian
observes (De Orat. Domin. 31), "The priest, in saying the Preface,
disposes the souls of the brethren by saying, 'Lift up your hearts,' and
when the people answer---'We have lifted them up to the Lord,' let them
remember that they are to think of nothing else but God."
Reply to Objection 6: As was said above (ad 3), those things are mentioned in
this sacrament which belong to the entire Church; and consequently some
things which refer to the people are sung by the choir, and same of these
words are all sung by the choir, as though inspiring the entire people
with them; and there are other words which the priest begins and the
people take up, the priest then acting as in the person of God; to show
that the things they denote have come to the people through Divine
revelation, such as faith and heavenly glory; and therefore the priest
intones the "Creed" and the "Gloria in excelsis Deo." Other words are
uttered by the ministers, such as the doctrine of the Old and New
Testament, as a sign that this doctrine was announced to the peoples
through ministers sent by God. And there are other words which the priest
alone recites, namely, such as belong to his personal office, "that he
may offer up gifts and prayers for the people" (Heb. 5:1). Some of these,
however, he says aloud, namely, such as are common to priest and people
alike, such as the "common prayers"; other words, however, belong to the
priest alone, such as the oblation and the consecration; consequently,
the prayers that are said in connection with these have to be said by the
priest in secret. Nevertheless, in both he calls the people to attention
by saying: "The Lord be with you," and he waits for them to assent by
saying "Amen." And therefore before the secret prayers he says aloud,
"The Lord be with you," and he concludes, "For ever and ever." Or the
priest secretly pronounces some of the words as a token that regarding
Christ's Passion the disciples acknowledged Him only in secret.
Reply to Objection 7: The efficacy of the sacramental words can be hindered by
the priest's intention. Nor is there anything unbecoming in our asking of
God for what we know He will do, just as Christ (Jn. 17:1,5) asked for
But the priest does not seem to pray there for the consecration to be
fulfilled, but that it may be fruitful in our regard, hence he says
expressively: "That it may become 'to us' the body and the blood." Again,
the words preceding these have that meaning, when he says: "Vouchsafe to
make this oblation blessed," i.e. according to Augustine (Paschasius, De
Corp. et Sang. Dom. xii), "that we may receive a blessing," namely,
through grace; "'enrolled,' i.e. that we may be enrolled in heaven;
'ratified,' i.e. that we may be incorporated in Christ; 'reasonable,'
i.e. that we may be stripped of our animal sense; 'acceptable,' i.e. that
we who in ourselves are displeasing, may, by its means, be made
acceptable to His only Son."
Reply to Objection 8: Although this sacrament is of itself preferable to all
ancient sacrifices, yet the sacrifices of the men of old were most
acceptable to God on account of their devotion. Consequently the priest
asks that this sacrifice may be accepted by God through the devotion of
the offerers, just as the former sacrifices were accepted by Him.
Reply to Objection 9: The priest does not pray that the sacramental species may
be borne up to heaven; nor that Christ's true body may be borne thither,
for it does not cease to be there; but he offers this prayer for Christ's
mystical body, which is signified in this sacrament, that the angel
standing by at the Divine mysteries may present to God the prayers of
both priest and people, according to Apoc. 8:4: "And the smoke of the
incense of the prayers of the saints ascended up before God, from the
hand of the angel." But God's "altar on high" means either the Church
triumphant, unto which we pray to be translated, or else God Himself, in
Whom we ask to share; because it is said of this altar (Ex. 20:26): "Thou
shalt not go up by steps unto My altar, i.e. thou shalt make no steps
towards the Trinity." Or else by the angel we are to understand Christ
Himself, Who is the "Angel of great counsel" (Is. 9:6: Septuagint), Who
unites His mystical body with God the Father and the Church triumphant.
And from this the mass derives its name [missa]; because the priest
sends [mittit] his prayers up to God through the angel, as the people do
through the priest. or else because Christ is the victim sent [missa] to
us: accordingly the deacon on festival days "dismisses" the people at the
end of the mass, by saying: "Ite, missa est," that is, the victim has
been sent [missa est] to God through the angel, so that it may be
accepted by God.
Article 5: Whether the actions performed in celebrating this sacrament are becoming?
Objection 1: It seems that the actions performed in celebrating this mystery
are not becoming. For, as is evident from its form, this sacrament
belongs to the New Testament. But under the New Testament the ceremonies
of the old are not to be observed, such as that the priests and ministers
were purified with water when they drew nigh to offer up the sacrifice:
for we read (Ex. 30:19,20): "Aaron and his sons shall wash their hands
and feet . . . when they are going into the tabernacle of the testimony .
. . and when they are to come to the altar." Therefore it is not fitting
that the priest should wash his hands when celebrating mass.
Objection 2: Further, (Ex. 30:7), the Lord commanded Aaron to "burn
sweet-smelling incense" upon the altar which was "before the
propitiatory": and the same action was part of the ceremonies of the Old
Law. Therefore it is not fitting for the priest to use incense during
Objection 3: Further, the ceremonies performed in the sacraments of the Church
ought not to be repeated. Consequently it is not proper for the priest to
repeat the sign of the cross many times over this sacrament.
Objection 4: Further, the Apostle says (Heb. 7:7): "And without all
contradiction, that which is less, is blessed by the better." But Christ,
Who is in this sacrament after the consecration, is much greater than the
priest. Therefore quite unseemingly the priest, after the consecration,
blesses this sacrament, by signing it with the cross.
Objection 5: Further, nothing which appears ridiculous ought to be done in one
of the Church's sacraments. But it seems ridiculous to perform gestures,
e.g. for the priest to stretch out his arms at times, to join his hands,
to join together his fingers, and to bow down. Consequently, such things
ought not to be done in this sacrament.
Objection 6: Further, it seems ridiculous for the priest to turn round
frequently towards the people, and often to greet the people.
Consequently, such things ought not to be done in the celebration of this
Objection 7: Further, the Apostle (1 Cor. 13) deems it improper for Christ to
be divided. But Christ is in this sacrament after the consecration.
Therefore it is not proper for the priest to divide the host.
Objection 8: Further, the ceremonies performed in this sacrament represent
Christ's Passion. But during the Passion Christ's body was divided in the
places of the five wounds. Therefore Christ's body ought to be broken
into five parts rather than into three.
Objection 9: Further, Christ's entire body is consecrated in this sacrament
apart from the blood. Consequently, it is not proper for a particle of
the body to be mixed with the blood.
Objection 1:: Further, just as, in this sacrament, Christ's body is set before
us as food, so is His blood, as drink. But in receiving Christ's body no
other bodily food is added in the celebration of the mass. Therefore, it
is out of place for the priest, after taking Christ's blood, to receive
other wine which is not consecrated.
Objection 1:: Further, the truth ought to be conformable with the figure. But
regarding the Paschal Lamb, which was a figure of this sacrament, it was
commanded that nothing of it should "remain until the morning." It is
improper therefore for consecrated hosts to be reserved, and not consumed
Objection 1:: Further, the priest addresses in the plural number those who are
hearing mass, when he says, "The Lord be with you": and, "Let us return
thanks." But it is out of keeping to address one individual in the plural
number, especially an inferior. Consequently it seems unfitting for a
priest to say mass with only a single server present. Therefore in the
celebration of this sacrament it seems that some of the things done are
out of place.
On the contrary, The custom of the Church stands for these things: and
the Church cannot err, since she is taught by the Holy Ghost.
I answer that, As was said above (Question , Article ), there is a twofold
manner of signification in the sacraments, by words, and by actions, in
order that the signification may thus be more perfect. Now, in the
celebration of this sacrament words are used to signify things pertaining
to Christ's Passion, which is represented in this sacrament; or again,
pertaining to Christ's mystical body, which is signified therein; and
again, things pertaining to the use of this sacrament, which use ought to
be devout and reverent. Consequently, in the celebration of this mystery
some things are done in order to represent Christ's Passion, or the
disposing of His mystical body, and some others are done which pertain to
the devotion and reverence due to this sacrament.
Reply to Objection 1: The washing of the hands is done in the celebration of mass
out of reverence for this sacrament; and this for two reasons: first,
because we are not wont to handle precious objects except the hands be
washed; hence it seems indecent for anyone to approach so great a
sacrament with hands that are, even literally, unclean. Secondly, on
account of its signification, because, as Dionysius says (Eccl. Hier.
iii), the washing of the extremities of the limbs denotes cleansing from
even the smallest sins, according to Jn. 13:10: "He that is washed
needeth not but to wash his feet." And such cleansing is required of him
who approaches this sacrament; and this is denoted by the confession
which is made before the "Introit" of the mass. Moreover, this was
signified by the washing of the priests under the Old Law, as Dionysius
says (Eccl. Hier. iii). However, the Church observes this ceremony, not
because it was prescribed under the Old Law, but because it is becoming
in itself, and therefore instituted by the Church. Hence it is not
observed in the same way as it was then: because the washing of the feet
is omitted, and the washing of the hands is observed; for this can be
done more readily, and suffices far denoting perfect cleansing. For,
since the hand is the "organ of organs" (De Anima iii), all works are
attributed to the hands: hence it is said in Ps. 25:6: "I will wash my
hands among the innocent."
Reply to Objection 2: We use incense, not as commanded by a ceremonial precept of the Law, but as prescribed by the Church; accordingly we do not use it in the same fashion as it was ordered under the Old Law. It has reference to two things: first, to the reverence due to this sacrament, i.e. in order by its good odor, to remove any disagreeable smell that may be about the place; secondly, it serves to show the effect of grace, wherewith Christ was filled as with a good odor, according to Gn. 27:27: "Behold, the odor of my son is like the odor of a ripe field"; and from Christ it spreads to the faithful by the work of His ministers, according to 2 Cor. 2:14: "He manifesteth the odor of his knowledge by us in every place"; and therefore when the altar which represents Christ, has been incensed on every side, then all are incensed in their proper order.
Reply to Objection 3: The priest, in celebrating the mass, makes use of the sign
of the cross to signify Christ's Passion which was ended upon the cross.
Now, Christ's Passion was accomplished in certain stages. First of all
there was Christ's betrayal, which was the work of God, of Judas, and of
the Jews; and this is signified by the triple sign of the cross at the
words, "These gifts, these presents, these holy unspotted sacrifices."
Secondly, there was the selling of Christ. Now he was sold to the
Priests, to the Scribes, and to the Pharisees: and to signify this the
threefold sign of the cross is repeated, at the words, "blessed,
enrolled, ratified." Or again, to signify the price for which He was
sold, viz. thirty pence. And a double cross is added at the words---"that
it may become to us the Body and the Blood," etc., to signify the person
of Judas the seller, and of Christ Who was sold.
Thirdly, there was the foreshadowing of the Passion at the last supper.
To denote this, in the third place, two crosses are made, one in
consecrating the body, the other in consecrating the blood; each time
while saying, "He blessed."
Fourthly, there was Christ's Passion itself. And so in order to
represent His five wounds, in the fourth place, there is a fivefold
signing of the cross at the words, "a pure Victim, a holy Victim, a
spotless Victim, the holy bread of eternal life, and the cup of
Fifthly, the outstretching of Christ's body, and the shedding of the
blood, and the fruits of the Passion, are signified by the triple signing
of the cross at the words, "as many as shall receive the body and blood,
may be filled with every blessing," etc.
Sixthly, Christ's threefold prayer upon the cross is represented; one
for His persecutors when He said, "Father, forgive them"; the second for
deliverance from death, when He cried, "My God, My God, why hast Thou
forsaken Me?" the third referring to His entrance into glory, when He
said, "Father, into Thy hands I commend My spirit"; and in order to
denote these there is a triple signing with the cross made at the words,
"Thou dost sanctify, quicken, bless."
Seventhly, the three hours during which He hung upon the cross, that is,
from the sixth to the ninth hour, are represented; in signification of
which we make once more a triple sign of the cross at the words, "Through
Him, and with Him, and in Him."
Eighthly, the separation of His soul from the body is signified by the
two subsequent crosses made over the chalice.
Ninthly, the resurrection on the third day is represented by the three crosses made at the words---"May the peace of the Lord be ever with you."
In short, we may say that the consecration of this sacrament, and the
acceptance of this sacrifice, and its fruits, proceed from the virtue of
the cross of Christ, and therefore wherever mention is made of these, the
priest makes use of the sign of the cross.
Reply to Objection 4: After the consecration, the priest makes the sign of the
cross, not for the purpose of blessing and consecrating, but only for
calling to mind the virtue of the cross, and the manner of Christ's
suffering, as is evident from what has been said (ad 3).
Reply to Objection 5: The actions performed by the priest in mass are not
ridiculous gestures, since they are done so as to represent something
else. The priest in extending his arms signifies the outstretching of
Christ's arms upon the cross. He also lifts up his hands as he prays, to
point out that his prayer is directed to God for the people, according to
Lam. 3:41: "Let us lift up our hearts with our hands to the Lord in the
heavens": and Ex. 17:11: "And when Moses lifted up his hands Israel
overcame." That at times he joins his hands, and bows down, praying
earnestly and humbly, denotes the humility and obedience of Christ, out
of which He suffered. He closes his fingers, i.e. the thumb and first
finger, after the consecration, because, with them, he had touched the
consecrated body of Christ; so that if any particle cling to the fingers,
it may not be scattered: and this belongs to the reverence for this
Reply to Objection 6: Five times does the priest turn round towards the people,
to denote that our Lord manifested Himself five times on the day of His
Resurrection, as stated above in the treatise on Christ's Resurrection
(Question , Article , Objection ). But the priest greets the people seven times,
namely, five times, by turning round to the people, and twice without
turning round, namely, when he says, "The Lord be with you" before the
"Preface," and again when he says, "May the peace of the Lord be ever
with you": and this is to denote the sevenfold grace of the Holy Ghost.
But a bishop, when he celebrates on festival days, in his first greeting
says, "Peace be to you," which was our Lord's greeting after
Resurrection, Whose person the bishop chiefly represents.
Reply to Objection 7: The breaking of the host denotes three things: first, the
rending of Christ's body, which took place in the Passion; secondly, the
distinction of His mystical body according to its various states; and
thirdly, the distribution of the graces which flow from Christ's Passion,
as Dionysius observes (Eccl. Hier. iii). Hence this breaking does not
imply severance in Christ.
Reply to Objection 8: As Pope Sergius says, and it is to be found in the
Decretals (De Consecr., dist. ii), "the Lord's body is threefold; the
part offered and put into the chalice signifies Christ's risen body,"
namely, Christ Himself, and the Blessed Virgin, and the other saints, if
there be any, who are already in glory with their bodies. "The part
consumed denotes those still walking upon earth," because while living
upon earth they are united together by this sacrament; and are bruised
by the passions, just as the bread eaten is bruised by the teeth. "The
part reserved on the altar till the close of the mass, is His body hidden
in the sepulchre, because the bodies of the saints will be in their
graves until the end of the world": though their souls are either in
purgatory, or in heaven. However, this rite of reserving one part on the
altar till the close of the mass is no longer observed, on account of the
danger; nevertheless, the same meaning of the parts continues, which some
persons have expressed in verse, thus:
"The host being rent---
What is dipped, means the blest;
What is dry, means the living;
What is kept, those at rest."
Others, however, say that the part put into the chalice denotes those
still living in this world. while the part kept outside the chalice
denotes those fully blessed both in soul and body; while the part
consumed means the others.
Reply to Objection 9: Two things can be signified by the chalice: first, the
Passion itself, which is represented in this sacrament, and according to
this, by the part put into the chalice are denoted those who are still
sharers of Christ's sufferings; secondly, the enjoyment of the Blessed
can be signified, which is likewise foreshadowed in this sacrament; and
therefore those whose bodies are already in full beatitude, are denoted
by the part put into the chalice. And it is to be observed that the part
put into the chalice ought not to be given to the people to supplement
the communion, because Christ gave dipped bread only to Judas the
Reply to Objection 1:: Wine, by reason of its humidity, is capable of washing,
consequently it is received in order to rinse the mouth after receiving
this sacrament, lest any particles remain: and this belongs to reverence
for the sacrament. Hence (Extra, De Celebratione missae, chap. Ex parte),
it is said: "The priest should always cleanse his mouth with wine after
receiving the entire sacrament of Eucharist: except when he has to
celebrate another mass on the same day, lest from taking the
ablution-wine he be prevented from celebrating again"; and it is for the
same reason that wine is poured over the fingers with which he had
touched the body of Christ.
Reply to Objection 1:: The truth ought to be conformable with the figure, in some
respect: namely, because a part of the host consecrated, of which the
priest and ministers or even the people communicate, ought not to be
reserved until the day following. Hence, as is laid down (De Consecr.,
dist. ii), Pope Clement I ordered that "as many hosts are to be offered
on the altar as shall suffice for the people; should any be left over,
they are not to be reserved until the morrow, but let the clergy
carefully consume them with fear and trembling." Nevertheless, since this
sacrament is to be received daily, whereas the Paschal Lamb was not, it
is therefore necessary for other hosts to be reserved for the sick. Hence
we read in the same distinction: "Let the priest always have the
Eucharist ready, so that, when anyone fall sick, he may take Communion to
him at once, lest he die without it."
Reply to Objection 1:: Several persons ought to be present at the solemn
celebration of the mass. Hence Pope Soter says (De Consecr., dist. 1):
"It has also been ordained, that no priest is to presume to celebrate
solemn mass, unless two others be present answering him, while he himself
makes the third; because when he says in the plural, 'The Lord be with
you,' and again in the Secrets, 'Pray ye for me,' it is most becoming
that they should answer his greeting." Hence it is for the sake of
greater solemnity that we find it decreed (De Consecr. dist. 1) that a
bishop is to solemnize mass with several assistants. Nevertheless, in
private masses it suffices to have one server, who takes the place of the
whole Catholic people, on whose behalf he makes answer in the plural to
Article 6: Whether the defects occurring during the celebration of this sacrament can be sufficiently met by observing the Church's statutes?
Objection 1: It seems that the defects occurring during the celebration of
this sacrament cannot be sufficiently met by observing the statutes of
the Church. For it sometimes happens that before or after the
consecration the priest dies or goes mad, or is hindered by some other
infirmity from receiving the sacrament and completing the mass.
Consequently it seems impossible to observe the Church's statute, whereby
the priest consecrating must communicate of his own sacrifice.
Objection 2: Further, it sometimes happens that, before the consecration, the
priest remembers that he has eaten or drunk something, or that he is in
mortal sin, or under excommunication, which he did not remember
previously. Therefore, in such a dilemma a man must necessarily commit
mortal sin by acting against the Church's statute, whether he receives or
Objection 3: Further, it sometimes happens that a fly or a spider, or some
other poisonous creature falls into the chalice after the consecration.
Or even that the priest comes to know that poison has been put in by some
evilly disposed person in order to kill him. Now in this instance, if he
takes it, he appears to sin by killing himself, or by tempting God: also
in like manner if he does not take it, he sins by acting against the
Church's statute. Consequently, he seems to be perplexed, and under
necessity of sinning, which is not becoming.
Objection 4: Further, it sometimes happens from the server's want of heed that
water is not added to the chalice, or even the wine overlooked, and that
the priest discovers this. Therefore he seems to be perplexed likewise
in this case, whether he receives the body without the blood, thus making
the sacrifice to be incomplete, or whether he receives neither the body
nor the blood.
Objection 5: Further, it sometimes happens that the priest cannot remember
having said the words of consecration, or other words which are uttered
in the celebration of this sacrament. In this case he seems to sin,
whether he repeats the words over the same matter, which words possibly
he has said before, or whether he uses bread and wine which are not
consecrated, as if they were consecrated.
Objection 6: Further, it sometimes comes to pass owing to the cold that the
host will slip from the priest's hands into the chalice, either before or
after the breaking. In this case then the priest will not be able to
comply with the Church's rite, either as to the breaking, or else as to
this, that only a third part is put into the chalice.
Objection 7: Further, sometimes, too, it happens, owing to the priest's want
of care, that Christ's blood is spilled, or that he vomits the sacrament
received, or that the consecrated hosts are kept so long that they become
corrupt, or that they are nibbled by mice, or lost in any manner
whatsoever; in which cases it does not seem possible for due reverence to
be shown towards this sacrament, as the Church's ordinances require. It
does not seem then that such defects or dangers can be met by keeping to
the Church's statutes.
On the contrary, Just as God does not command an impossibility, so
neither does the Church.
I answer that, Dangers or defects happening to this sacrament can be met
in two ways: first, by preventing any such mishaps from occurring:
secondly, by dealing with them in such a way, that what may have happened
amiss is put right, either by employing a remedy, or at least by
repentance on his part who has acted negligently regarding this sacrament.
Reply to Objection 1: If the priest be stricken by death or grave sickness before
the consecration of our Lord's body and blood, there is no need for it to
be completed by another. But if this happens after the consecration is
begun, for instance, when the body has been consecrated and before the
consecration of the blood, or even after both have been consecrated, then
the celebration of the mass ought to be finished by someone else. Hence,
as is laid down (Decretal vii, q. 1), we read the following decree of the
(Seventh) Council of Toledo: "We consider it to be fitting that when the
sacred mysteries are consecrated by priests during the time of mass, if
any sickness supervenes, in consequence of which they cannot finish the
mystery begun, let it be free for the bishop or another priest to finish
the consecration of the office thus begun. For nothing else is suitable
for completing the mysteries commenced, unless the consecration be
completed either by the priest who began it, or by the one who follows
him: because they cannot be completed except they be performed in
perfect order. For since we are all one in Christ, the change of persons
makes no difference, since unity of faith insures the happy issue of the
mystery. Yet let not the course we propose for cases of natural debility,
be presumptuously abused: and let no minister or priest presume ever to
leave the Divine offices unfinished, unless he be absolutely prevented
from continuing. If anyone shall have rashly presumed to do so, he will
incur sentence of excommunication."
Reply to Objection 2: Where difficulty arises, the less dangerous course should
always be followed. But the greatest danger regarding this sacrament lies
in whatever may prevent its completion, because this is a heinous
sacrilege; while that danger is of less account which regards the
condition of the receiver. Consequently, if after the consecration has
been begun the priest remembers that he has eaten or drunk anything, he
ought nevertheless to complete the sacrifice and receive the sacrament.
Likewise, if he recalls a sin committed, he ought to make an act of
contrition, with the firm purpose of confessing and making satisfaction
for it: and thus he will not receive the sacrament unworthily, but with
profit. The same applies if he calls to mind that he is under some
excommunication; for he ought to make the resolution of humbly seeking
absolution; and so he will receive absolution from the invisible High
Priest Jesus Christ for his act of completing the Divine mysteries.
But if he calls to mind any of the above facts previous to the
consecration, I should deem it safer for him to interrupt the mass begun,
especially if he has broken his fast, or is under excommunication, unless
grave scandal were to be feared.
Reply to Objection 3: If a fly or a spider falls into the chalice before
consecration, or if it be discovered that the wine is poisoned, it ought
to be poured out, and after purifying the chalice, fresh wine should be
served for consecration. But if anything of the sort happen after the
consecration, the insect should be caught carefully and washed
thoroughly, then burned, and the "ablution," together with the ashes,
thrown into the sacrarium. If it be discovered that the wine has been
poisoned, the priest should neither receive it nor administer it to
others on any account, lest the life-giving chalice become one of death,
but it ought to be kept in a suitable vessel with the relics: and in
order that the sacrament may not remain incomplete, he ought to put other
wine into the chalice, resume the mass from the consecration of the
blood, and complete the sacrifice.
Reply to Objection 4: If before the consecration of the blood, and after the
consecration of the body the priest detect that either the wine or the
water is absent, then he ought at once to add them and consecrate. But if
after the words of consecration he discover that the water is absent, he
ought notwithstanding to proceed straight on, because the addition of the
water is not necessary for the sacrament, as stated above (Question , Article ):
nevertheless the person responsible for the neglect ought to be punished.
And on no account should water be mixed with the consecrated wine,
because corruption of the sacrament would ensue in part, as was said
above (Question , Article ). But if after the words of consecration the priest
perceive that no wine has been put in the chalice, and if he detect it
before receiving the body, then rejecting the water, he ought to pour in
wine with water, and begin over again the consecrating words of the
blood. But if he notice it after receiving the body, he ought to procure
another host which must be consecrated together with the blood; and I say
so for this reason, because if he were to say only the words of
consecration of the blood, the proper order of consecrating would not be
observed; and, as is laid down by the Council of Toledo, quoted above (ad
1), sacrifices cannot be perfect, except they be performed in perfect
order. But if he were to begin from the consecration of the blood, and
were to repeat all the words which follow, it would not suffice, unless
there was a consecrated host present, since in those words there are
things to be said and done not only regarding the blood, but also
regarding the body; and at the close he ought once more to receive the
consecrated host and blood, even if he had already taken the water which
was in the chalice, because the precept of the completing this sacrament
is of greater weight than the precept of receiving the sacrament while
fasting, as stated above (Question , Article ).
Reply to Objection 5: Although the priest may not recollect having said some of
the words he ought to say, he ought not to be disturbed mentally on that
account; for a man who utters many words cannot recall to mind all that
he has said; unless perchance in uttering them he adverts to something
connected with the consecration; for so it is impressed on the memory.
Hence, if a man pays attention to what he is saying, but without
adverting to the fact that he is saying these particular words, he
remembers soon after that he has said them; for, a thing is presented to
the memory under the formality of the past (De Mem. et Remin. i).
But if it seem to the priest that he has probably omitted some of the
words that are not necessary for the sacrament, I think that he ought not
to repeat them on that account, changing the order of the sacrifice, but
that he ought to proceed: but if he is certain that he has left out any
of those that are necessary for the sacrament, namely, the form of the
consecration, since the form of the consecration is necessary for the
sacrament, just as the matter is, it seems that the same thing ought to
be done as was stated above (ad 4) with regard to defect in the matter,
namely, that he should begin again with the form of the consecration, and
repeat the other things in order, lest the order of the sacrifice be
Reply to Objection 6: The breaking of the consecrated host, and the putting of
only one part into the chalice, regards the mystical body, just as the
mixing with water signifies the people, and therefore the omission of
either of them causes no such imperfection in the sacrifice, as calls for
repetition regarding the celebration of this sacrament.
Reply to Objection 7: According to the decree, De Consecr., dist. ii, quoting a
decree of Pope Pius I, "If from neglect any of the blood falls upon a
board which is fixed to the ground, let it be taken up with the tongue,
and let the board be scraped. But if it be not a board, let the ground be
scraped, and the scrapings burned, and the ashes buried inside the altar
and let the priest do penance for forty days. But if a drop fall from the
chalice on to the altar, let the minister suck up the drop, and do
penance during three days; if it falls upon the altar cloth and
penetrates to the second altar cloth, let him do four days' penance; if
it penetrates to the third, let him do nine days' penance; if to the
fourth, let him do twenty days' penance; and let the altar linens which
the drop touched be washed three times by the priest, holding the chalice
below, then let the water be taken and put away nigh to the altar." It
might even be drunk by the minister, unless it might be rejected from
nausea. Some persons go further, and cut out that part of the linen,
which they burn, putting the ashes in the altar or down the sacrarium.
And the Decretal continues with a quotation from the Penitential of Bede
the Priest: "If, owing to drunkenness or gluttony, anyone vomits up the
Eucharist, let him do forty days' penance, if he be a layman; but let
clerics or monks, deacons and priests, do seventy days' penance; and let
a bishop do ninety days'. But if they vomit from sickness, let them do
penance for seven days." And in the same distinction, we read a decree of
the (Fourth) Council of Arles: "They who do not keep proper custody over
the sacrament, if a mouse or other animal consume it, must do forty days'
penance: he who loses it in a church, or if a part fall and be not found,
shall do thirty days' penance." And the priest seems to deserve the same
penance, who from neglect allows the hosts to putrefy. And on those days
the one doing penance ought to fast, and abstain from Communion. However,
after weighing the circumstances of the fact and of the person, the said
penances may be lessened or increased. But it must be observed that
wherever the species are found to be entire, they must be preserved
reverently, or consumed; because Christ's body is there so long as the
species last, as stated above (Question , Articles ,5). But if it can be done
conveniently, the things in which they are found are to be burned, and
the ashes put in the sacrarium, as was said of the scrapings of the
altar-table, here above.