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St. Thomas Aquinas
Catechetical Instructions

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  • The holy Eucharist
    • The effect of the Eucharist
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The effect of the Eucharist
 
The effect of this Sacrament is twofold: first, in the very consecration of 
the Sacrament, since in virtue of the above words bread is changed into the 
Body of Christ, and wine into His Blood; so that Christ is entirely 
contained under the appearances of bread which remain without a subject; 
and Christ is entirely contained under the appearances of wine. And, 
moreover, under each part of the consecrated Host and of the consecrated 
wine, Christ is totally present even after the separation is made.21 The 
second effect of this Sacrament brought about in the soul of one who 
worthily receives is the union of man with Christ, as He himself says: "He 
that eateth My Flesh, and drinketh My Blood, abideth in Me, and I in 
him."22 And since man is incorporated with Christ and united to His members 
through grace, it follows that through this Sacrament grace is increased in 
those who receive it worthily. Thus, therefore, in this Sacrament there is 
that which is the Sacrament alone ("sacramentum tantum"), that is, the 
species of bread and wine; and that which is known as the "res et 
sacramentum," that is, the true Body of Christ; and that which is the "res 
tantum," that is the unity of the Mystical Body, that is, the Church which 
this Sacrament both signifies and causes.23
 



21
. "Hence it also follows that Christ is so contained, whole and entire, 
under either species that, as under the species of bread are contained not 
only the body but also the blood and Christ entire, so in like manner under 
the species of wine are truly contained not only the blood, but also the 
body and Christ entire. These are matters on which the faithful cannot 
entertain a doubt. Wisely, however, was it ordained that two distinct 
consecrations should take place. They represent in a more lively manner the 
Passion of Our Lord, in which His blood was separated from His body; and 
hence in the form of consecration we commemorate the shedding of His blood. 
Again, since the Sacrament is to be used by us as the food and nourishment 
of our souls, it was most appropriate that it should be instituted as food 
and drink, two things which obviously constitute the complete sustenance of 
man.
 
"Nor should it be forgotten that Christ is, whole and entire. contained not 
only under either species, but also in each particle of either species. 
'Each,' says St. Augustine, 'receives Christ the Lord, and He is entire in 
each portion. He is not diminished by being given to many, but gives 
Himself whole and entire to each' (cited in Gratian, 'De consecratione,' 
dist. 2). This is also an obvious inference from the narrative of the 
Evangelists. It is not to be supposed that Our Lord consecrated the bread 
used at the Last Supper in separate parts, applying the form particularly 
to each, but that all the bread then used for the sacred mysteries was 
consecrated at the same time and with the same form, and in a quantity 
sufficient for all the Apostles. That the consecration of the chalice was 
performed in this manner, is clear from these words of the Saviour: 'Take 
and divide it among you' (Luke, xxii, 17)" ("Roman Catechism," "The 
Eucharist," 35-36).
 


22
. John. vi. 57.
 


23
. "Those who receive this Sacrament piously and fervently must, without 
any doubt, so receive the Son of God into their souls as to be united as 
living members to His Body. For it is written, 'He that eateth Me, the same 
also shall live by Me.' And again: 'The bread which I will give is My flesh 
for the life of the world' (John, vi. 58). . . . For the Eucharist is the 
end of all the Sacraments, and the symbol of unity and brotherhood in the 
Church" ("Roman Catechism," "loc. cit.," 49).
 





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