St. Augustine admirably summed up this doctrine that
moves us to anevermore completeparticipation inourRedeemer’s
sacrifice which we celebrate in the Eucharist:
This wholly redeemed city, the assembly and society of the
saints, is offered toGod as a universal sacrifice by the high priest
who in the form of a slave went so far as to offer himself for us
in his Passion, to make us the Body of so great a head. . . . Such
is the sacrifice of Christians: “we who are many are one Body in
Christ.” The Church continues to reproduce this sacrifice in the
sacrament of the altar so well-known to believers wherein it is
evident to them that in what she offers she herself is offered.
The presence of Christ by the power of his word and the Holy Spirit
“Christ Jesus, who died, yes, who was raised from the dead,
who is at the right hand of God, who indeed intercedes for us,” is
present in many ways to his Church:
in his word, in his Church’s
prayer, “where two or three are gathered inmy name,”
in the poor,
the sick, and the imprisoned,
in the sacraments of which he is the
author, in the sacrifice of the Mass, and in the person of the minister.
But “he is present . . . most
especially in the Eucharistic species.
The mode of Christ’s presence under the Eucharistic spe-
cies is unique. It raises the Eucharist above all the sacraments as
“the perfection of the spiritual life and the end to which all the
In the most blessed sacrament of the Eucharist
“the body and blood, together with the soul and divinity, of our
Lord Jesus Christ and, therefore,
the whole Christ is truly, really, and
“This presence is called ‘real’—by
which is not intended to exclude the other types of presence as if
they could not be ‘real’ too, but because it is presence in the fullest
sense: that is to say, it is a
presence by which Christ, God
and man, makes himself wholly and entirely present.”
It is by the conversion of the bread and wine into Christ’s
body and blood that Christ becomes present in this sacrament. The
Church Fathers strongly affirmed the faith of the Church in the
efficacy of the Word of Christ and of the action of the Holy Spirit
to bring about this conversion. Thus St. John Chrysostom declares:
196 St. Augustine,
De civ. Dei,
10, 6: PL 41, 283; cf.
199 199 Cf.
201 St. Thomas Aquinas,
III, 73, 3c.
202 Council of Trent (1551): DS 1651.
203 Paul VI,