Liturgy & Liturgical Law Forum: Essential formula of transubstantiation
Essential formula of transubstantiation QUESTION from A. Basto December 25, 2001 Dear Mr. Slavek,
I have always been told that the essential formula of the Most Holy Sacrament of the Eucharist are the words of the Lord, that is to say, for the bread that becomes the Body of Christ the following words: Take this, all of you, and eat it: for this is my Body which will be given up for you. And for the cup of wine that becomes the precious Blood of Christ the words: Take this all of you and drink from it: this is the cup of my blood, the blood of the new and everlasting convenant. It will be shed for you and for all so that the sins may be forgiven. Do this in memory of me.
But I have also been told by other people that this is not the essential formula of consacration that brings about the Body and Blood of Our Lord Jesus Christ. Once, I was told that the entire Eucharistic Prayer is the formula of the Sacrament. I have also been told that the formula of transubstantiation is limited to the words: For this is my body, and to the words: For this is the cup of my blood.
I have also heard that the formula of consacration includes not only the words mentioned in the first paragraph but also the other words that narrate the last supper. So, the formula of transubstatiation would be: The day before he suffered, he took the bread in his sacred hands and looking up to heaven, to you, his almighty Father, he gave you thanks and praise. He broke the bread, gave it to his disciples, and said: Take this, all of you, and eat it: for this is my Body which will be given up for you. When the supper was ended he took the cup. Again he gave you thanks and praise, gave the cup to his disciples, and said: Take this all of you and drink from it: this is the cup of my blood, the blood of the new and everlasting convenant. It will be shed for you and for all so that the sins may be forgiven. Do this in memory of me.
Also, I have heard that the concluding words Mysterium Fidei are part of the essential formula. And in another chat with a friend, I have heard that the last sentence that comes before the narration of the actions of the Lord is part of the formula, that is to say, (using Eucharistic Prayer I), the following words would also be essential for the consacration: Let it become for us the body and blood of Jesus Christ, your only Son, our Lord.
Given this confusion, I ask you: What is the text of the essential formula of the Sacrament of the Body and Blood of Jesus Christ, Our Lord?
ANSWER by Mr. Jacob Slavek on December 29, 2001 Dear Mr. Basto,
Most theologians are saying that the minimum needed for validity is This is my Body and This is (the cup of) my Blood. The FORMULA for the consecration would be Take this, all of you... up to do this is memory of me. The formula can differ among the Eucharistic prayers and rites of the Catholic Church. Keep in mind that we have four different accounts of it in the New Testament, one in each of Matthew, Mark, Luke and I Corinthians.
The issue of the Mysterium Fidei, or The mystery of faith: When this was removed from the formula following the reforms of Vatican II radical traditionalists insisted that it was necessary for validity thus provided them with proof that they desperately desired that the new Mass was invalid. They of course are wrong, these words are not needed for validity.
Let it become for us the body and blood of Jesus Christ, your only Son, our Lord. These words, immediately preceding the consecration, is the last part of the Epiclesis, or invocation of the Holy Spirit. For reference, I will show how the General Instruction describes.
c. Epiclesis: in special invocations the Church calls on God's power and asks that the gifts offered by human hands be consecrated, that is, become Christ's body and blood, and that the victim to be received in communion be the source of salvation for those who will partake.(n.55)
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