Skip to comments.Why the Creed Doesn't Mention the Eucharist
Posted on 06/28/2006 5:07:50 PM PDT by NYer
ROME, JUNE 27, 2006 (Zenit.org).- Answered by Father Edward McNamara, professor of liturgy at the Regina Apostolorum university.
Q: Could you tell me why, in our profession of faith and creed, we don't profess our belief in the Real Presence of the body and blood of Jesus Christ in the Eucharist? -- D.K., Norwalk, Connecticut
A: The reasons are above all historical but also involve the purpose of the liturgy itself.
From a historical perspective the creed as we know it was first sketched out at the Councils of Nicaea (325) and Constantinople (381) although in its developed form it first appears in the acts of the Council of Chalcedon (451).
This creed was probably based on a baptismal profession of faith and encapsulated what were perceived as the essential tenets of the faith.
Above all it was a response to Arian and other heresies and defended the doctrine of the Trinity and Christ's true humanity and divinity. It was never intended to be an exhaustive exposition of every aspect of the faith.
Since it was necessary to defend the very foundations of the faith, such questions as the nature of the Eucharist were simply not on the theological horizon and would not be for several centuries more.
Also, during this early period, the fullness of Eucharistic doctrine was often explained only after baptism -- thus only after the new Christian had publicly recited the creed.
The practice of reciting the creed at Mass is attributed to Patriarch Timothy of Constantinople (511-517), and the initiative was copied in other churches under Byzantine influence, including that part of Spain which was under the empire at that time.
About 568, the Byzantine emperor Justinian ordered the creed recited at every Mass within his dominions. Twenty years later (589) the Visigoth king of Spain Reccared renounced the Arian heresy in favor of Catholicism and ordered the creed said at every Mass.
About two centuries later we find the practice of reciting the creed in France and the custom spread slowly to other parts of Northern Europe.
Finally, when in 1114, Emperor Henry II came to Rome for his coronation as Holy Roman Emperor, he was surprised that they did not recite the creed. He was told that since Rome had never erred in matters of faith there was no need for the Romans to proclaim it at Mass. However, it was included in deference to the emperor and has pretty much remained ever since, albeit not at every Mass but only on Sundays and on certain feasts.
Eastern and Western Christians use the same creed except that the Latin version adds the expression "filioque" (and the Son) to the article regarding the procession of the Holy Spirit, a difference that has given rise to endless and highly complex theological discussions.
In spite of this difference, there is a common understanding among all Christians that the creed should be left as it is and that neither the creed, nor indeed the Mass itself, is a suitable place to give technical expression to every tenet of the faith.
On another level, however, the entire Mass is itself a profession of faith. It is the living faith celebrated and heralded in a great and sublime act of worship that is converted into a faith that imbues every aspect of daily activity.
Even though there is no explicit mention of the real presence in the creed, Catholics proclaim their Eucharistic faith through almost every word and gesture at Mass and especially by their Amen at the end of the Eucharistic Prayer and when receiving Communion.
In a similar fashion they liturgically express their faith in other dogmas not contained in the creed. Going to Mass for the feasts of the Immaculate Conception and Assumption also proclaims our faith in these doctrines.
Going to confession or receiving the sacrament of the sick affirms our faith in the sacramental system itself and our belief that Christ has granted the Church power to forgive sins.
In short, every act of liturgical worship is, by its very nature, also a proclamation of faith.
* * *
Follow-up: Use of Mustum at Mass
Some readers expressed some perplexity regarding my remarks that the sacrifice of the Mass is completed with the priest's communion (see June 13).
One correspondent asked "how 'incompletely' did people participate and did they or did they not 'fully' participate in the Eucharistic banquet with all the graces and merits one gains from such participation?" when the celebrant forgot to consume at a concelebration.
Another, a layman from Canada, asked: "I thought the Sacrifice of Calvary is offered during and immediately following the words of consecration. [ ] Doesn't the priest receive Communion, strictly speaking, in the same manner and purpose as we laymen do, as Christ abiding physically in us, effectual to life everlasting?"
While Christ's action in the Mass would not be affected by the priest's failure to receive Communion, it would impinge on the integrity of the celebration as an act of the Church.
The question of the priest's obligation to receive Communion under both species before distributing Communion, receives less attention today than in former times when only the priest received from the chalice and concelebration was almost nonexistent.
In earlier times, however, the ramifications of the question were explored. St. Thomas Aquinas addressed this point in the Summa Theologiae (III part q. 82 art. 4). Responding to the question, "Whether the priest who consecrates is bound to receive this sacrament?" he states:
"I answer that, as stated above (Q79, AA 5,7), the Eucharist is not only a sacrament, but also a sacrifice. Now whoever offers sacrifice must be a sharer in the sacrifice, because the outward sacrifice he offers is a sign of the inner sacrifice whereby he offers himself to God, as Augustine says (De Civ. Dei x).
"Hence by partaking of the sacrifice he shows that the inner one is likewise his. In the same way also, by dispensing the sacrifice to the people he shows that he is the dispenser of divine gifts, of which he ought himself to be the first to partake, as Dionysius says (Eccl. Hier. iii).
"Consequently, he ought to receive before dispensing it to the people. Accordingly we read in the chapter mentioned above (Twelfth Council of Toledo, Can. v): 'What kind of sacrifice is that wherein not even the sacrificer is known to have a share?' But it is by partaking of the sacrifice that he has a share in it, as the Apostle says (1 Corinthians 10:18): 'Are not they that eat of the sacrifices, partakers of the altar?' Therefore it is necessary for the priest, as often as he consecrates, to receive this sacrament in its integrity."
Several readers asked questions regarding the validity of mustum (natural unfermented grape juice) for consecration.
In the letter quoted in previous treatments of this theme, signed by the then Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, it is specifically stated that the questions regarding the validity of mustum have been resolved by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. Mustum is therefore valid matter for transubstantiation even though the studies and minutes of the debate that led to the decision are not matter of public record.
In order for mustum to be valid the process used for the suspension of fermentation must not alter the nature of the juice in any way. For this reason, pasteurized grape juice in which all alcohol has been evaporated through high-temperature preparations is invalid matter for Mass.
We can be sure that the Church would never in any way approve the use of mustum if any doubt remained regarding its validity.
According to traditional Catholic moral reasoning it is necessary to use the strictest interpretations when dealing with the validity of the sacraments. Certainty is required and it is never permitted to proceed to celebrate a sacrament on the basis of probable validity.
Since mustum is barely within the range of legitimate matter and is certainly far from the fullness of the sign desired by the Lord, its use is licit only for those who have received proper authorization due to special needs.
The situation is similar for priests and faithful who are only able to ingest special low-gluten bread. Thus if a priest who has received authorization from his bishop to use low-gluten bread presides at a concelebration, then ordinary hosts must be prepared for the other priests and the faithful.
Since the priest must always receive under both species, those who cannot take even low-gluten bread may no longer celebrate individually but may receive permission to concelebrate and receive under one species. The rule would be similar if a priest were also intolerant of any grape product including mustum.
Finally, a reader asked if Church law required red wine alone. No such law exists. We have addressed this question in the follow-up of July 13, 2004.
right on :-)
It was also not an official doctrine of the church at the time of the council.
The Eucharist has always been an official doctrine. Have you ever read the Didache? It was written before the year 100 AD.
Here is section 9:
Chapter 9. The Eucharist. Now concerning the Eucharist, give thanks this way. First, concerning the cup:
We thank thee, our Father, for the holy vine of David Thy servant, which You madest known to us through Jesus Thy Servant; to Thee be the glory for ever..
And concerning the broken bread:
We thank Thee, our Father, for the life and knowledge which You madest known to us through Jesus Thy Servant; to Thee be the glory for ever. Even as this broken bread was scattered over the hills, and was gathered together and became one, so let Thy Church be gathered together from the ends of the earth into Thy kingdom; for Thine is the glory and the power through Jesus Christ for ever..
But let no one eat or drink of your Eucharist, unless they have been baptized into the name of the Lord; for concerning this also the Lord has said, "Give not that which is holy to the dogs."
And here is Saint Ignatius of Antioch, writing in the year 110 AD:
"They abstain from the Eucharist and from prayer, because they do not confess that the Eucharist is the flesh of our savior Jesus Christ, flesh which suffered for our sins and which the Father, in his goodness, raised up again... Let that be considered a valid Eucharist which is celebrated by the bishop, or by one whom he appoints. Wherever the bishop appears, let the people be there; just as wherever Jesus Christ is, there is the Catholic Church." (Epistle to the Smyreans)
"Take heed, then, to have but one Eucharist. For there is one flesh of our Lord Jesus Christ, and one cup to [show forth] the unity of His blood; one altar; as there is one bishop, along with the presbytery and deacons, my fellow-servants: that so, whatsoever you do, you may do it according to [the will of] God." (Epistle to the Philadelphians)
I've stayed up nights wondering why the eucharist isn't in the creed.
Doctrine is by an official pronouncement of the pope not a book.
It was not declared official and binding doctrine until 1215, until then those that believed it was a remembrance or spiritual presence were allowed.
"Elsewhere the Lord, in the Gospel according to John, brought this out by symbols, when He said: 'Eat ye my flesh, and drink my blood,' describing distinctly by metaphor the drinkable properties of faith and the promise, by means of which the Church, like a human being consisting of many members, is refreshed and grows, is welded together and compacted of both,--of faith, which is the body, and of hope, which is the soul; as also the Lord of flesh and blood. For in reality the blood of faith is hope, in which faith is held as by a vital principle." - Clement of Alexandria (The Instructor, 1:6)
"He says, it is true, that 'the flesh profiteth nothing;' but then, as in the former case, the meaning must be regulated by the subject which is spoken of. Now, because they thought His discourse was harsh and intolerable, supposing that He had really and literally enjoined on them to eat his flesh, He, with the view of ordering the state of salvation as a spiritual thing, set out with the principle, 'It is the spirit that quickeneth;' and then added, 'The flesh profiteth nothing,'--meaning, of course, to the giving of life. He also goes on to explain what He would have us to understand by spirit: 'The words that I speak unto you, they are spirit, and they are life.' In a like sense He had previously said: 'He that heareth my words, and believeth on Him that sent me, hath everlasting life, and shall not come into condemnation, but shall pass from death unto life.' Constituting, therefore, His word as the life-giving principle, because that word is spirit and life, He likewise called His flesh by the same appellation; because, too, the Word had become flesh, we ought therefore to desire Him in order that we may have life, and to devour Him with the ear, and to ruminate on Him with the understanding, and to digest Him by faith. Now, just before the passage in hand, He had declared His flesh to be 'the bread which cometh down from heaven,' impressing on His hearers constantly under the figure of necessary food the memory of their forefathers, who had preferred the bread and flesh of Egypt to their divine calling." - Tertullian (On the Resurrection of the Flesh, 37)
"'He that eateth me,' He says, 'he also shall live because of me;' for we eat His flesh, and drink His blood, being made through His incarnation and His visible life partakers of His Word and of His Wisdom. For all His mystic sojourn among us He called flesh and blood, and set forth the teaching consisting of practical science, of physics, and of theology, whereby our soul is nourished and is meanwhile trained for the contemplation of actual realities. This is perhaps the intended meaning of what He says." - Basil (Letter 8:4)
>>>It was not declared official and binding doctrine until 1215
The church has never officially declared that the sky is blue either. She doesn't make declarations like that until there are people questioning it. The church (both the Catholic and the Orthodox) has continuously taught that Jesus is truly present in the Eucharist. Even the Lutherans believe that.
Pope Saint Leo I
"When the Lord says: 'Unless you shall have eaten the flesh of the Son of Man and shall have drunk His blood, you shall not have life in you,' you ought to so communicate at the Sacred Table that you have no doubt whatever of the truth of the Body and the Blood of Christ. For that which is taken in the mouth is what is believed in faith; and in do those respond, 'Amen,' who argue against that which is received."
-"Sermons" [91,3] ante 461 A.D.
I think you are reading more into those quotes than is there. Here are more quotes from Saint Basil to clarify his position:
"What is the mark of a Christian? That he be purified of all defilement of the flesh and of the spirit in the Blood of Christ, perfecting sanctification in the fear of God and the love of Christ, and that he have no blemish nor spot nor any such thing; that he be holy and blameless and so eat the Body of Christ and drink His Blood; for 'he that eateth and drinketh unworthily, eateth and drinketh judgement to himself.' What is the mark of those who eat the Bread and drink the Cup of Christ? That they keep in perpetual remembrance Him who died for us and rose again."
-"The Morals" Ch. 22
"He, therefore, who approaches the Body and Blood of Christ in commemoration of Him who died for us and rose again must be free not only from defilement of flesh and spirit, in order that he may not eat drink unto judgement, but he must actively manifest the remembrance of Him who died for us and rose again, by being dead to sin, to the world, and to himself, and alive unto God in Christ Jesus, our Lord."
-"Concerning Baptism" Book I, Ch. 3.
"To communicate each day and to partake of the holy Body and Blood of Christ is good and beneficial; for He says quite plainly: 'He that eats My Flesh and drinks My Blood has eternal life.' Who can doubt that to share continually in life is the same thing as having life abundantly? We ourselves communicate four times each week, on Sunday, Wednesday, Friday, and Saturday; and on other days if there is a commemoration of any saint."
-"Letter to a Patrician Lady Caesaria"  ca. 372 A.D.
And here are more quotes from Clement of Alexandria to clarify his position:
"The Blood of the Lord, indeed, is twofold. There is His corporeal Blood, by which we are redeemed from corruption; and His spiritual Blood, that with which we are anointed. That is to say, to drink the Blood of Jesus is to share in His immortality. The strength of the Word is the Spirit just as the blood is the strength of the body. Similarly, as wine is blended with water, so is the Spirit with man. The one, the Watered Wine, nourishes in faith, while the other, the Spirit, leads us on to immortality. The union of both, however, - of the drink and of the Word, - is called the Eucharist, a praiseworthy and excellent gift. Those who partake of it in faith are sanctified in body and in soul. By the will of the Father, the divine mixture, man, is mystically united to the Spirit and to the Word.",
-"The Instructor of the Children". [2,2,19,4] ante 202 A.D.,
"The Word is everything to a child: both Father and Mother, both Instructor and Nurse. 'Eat My Flesh,' He says, 'and drink My Blood.' The Lord supplies us with these intimate nutrients. He delivers over His Flesh, and pours out His Blood; and nothing is lacking for the growth of His children. O incredible mystery!",
-"The Instructor of the Children" [1,6,41,3] ante 202 A.D.. ,
And the great Saint Justin Martyr:
"This food we call the Eucharist, of which no one is allowed to partake except one who believes that the things we teach are true, and has received the washing for forgiveness of sins and for rebirth, and who lives as Christ handed down to us. For we do not receive these things as common bread or common drink; but as Jesus Christ our Savior being incarnate by God's Word took flesh and blood for our salvation, so also we have been taught that the food consecrated by the Word of prayer which comes from him, from which our flesh and blood are nourished by transformation, is the flesh and blood of that incarnate Jesus."
" First Apology", Ch. 66, inter A.D. 148-155.