Aquinas on the Eucharist – BONUS episode

Aquinas and the Eucharist - Karlo Broussard




Hey patreons of the Catholic Man Show, Karlo Broussard here. I’d like to welcome you to this course on Aquinas and the Eucharist where we’ll be looking at what Aquinas says about the Eucharist in his Summa Theologiae, tertia pars, questions 73-83.

I’d like to thank Adam and David for this opportunity to share the course with you, which is a token of their appreciation for your support of the show—a support that I would strongly encourage you to continue in.

I think you’re going to enjoy going through this course on the Eucharist because Aquinas has some great things to say about it. And, of course, it’s always to geek out on this stuff. I hope that you have as much fun as I will have teaching it.

Aquinas divides his treatment of the Eucharist into seven major themes or aspects of the Sacrament and treats each with one or several different “Questions,” which are basically further subpoints to make about those major aspects. And each of these Questions are further divided into articles, or what Aquinas calls, “points of inquiry.”

Each of the lessons for this course will ordinarily deal with a single question. But there will be times when we have to divide a question into two lessons in order to do justice to it. For example, Question 75 is so packed and dense that we’ll need two lessons to do it justice.

The methodology that I’ll use is simpe: read the text and offer commentary as we go. Some things can be received upon an initial reading. Others, however, not so much. Sometimes there is a need for further commentary. And I’ll do my best to provide that for you.

Also, my goal is to outline Aquinas’s thought in a way that easily digestible, giving summaries of the various arguments with premises and conclusions. I know it helps me to keep track of exactly what Aquinas is saying because it makes explicit what Aquinas often is saying implicitly.

Now, before we begin diving into Question 73 in this lesson, it’s important that we look at Aquinas’s outline of the material that he will be going through on the Eucharist. Aquinas says there are seven major aspects of the Eucharist to consider:

  • The sacrament itself (Question 73)
  • Its matter (Questions 74-77)
  • Its form (Question 78)
  • Its effects (Question 79)
  • The use or receiving of the sacrament (Questions 80-81)
  • The minister (Question 82)
  • The rite of the sacrament (Question 83)

In this lesson, we’ll start with Question 73, which deals with the sacrament itself. It’s divided up into 6 articles, or as Aquinas puts it, “six points of inquiry.”

  1. ARTICLE 1: Is the Eucharist a sacrament?




What is a sacrament?


A sense perceptible sign that effects what it signifies.


So the question here is: Does the bread effect what it signifies, namely, the body and blood of Jesus?


  1. Aquinas’s Answer: Yes


[An appeal to authority]

On the contrary, It is said in the Collect [*Postcommunion “pro vivis et defunctis”]: “May this Thy Sacrament not make us deserving of punishment.”


[Aquinas’s own reasoning]

I answer that, The Church’s sacraments are ordained for helping man in the spiritual life. But the spiritual life is analogous to the corporeal, since corporeal things bear a resemblance to spiritual. Now it is clear that just as generation is required for corporeal life, since thereby man receives life; and growth, whereby man is brought to maturity: so likewise food is required for the preservation of life. Consequently, just as for the spiritual life there had to be Baptism, which is spiritual generation; and Confirmation, which is spiritual growth: so there needed to be the sacrament of the Eucharist, which is spiritual food.”




Is the Eucharist a sacrament?




What is the reason why the Eucharist is a sacrament?


There is a need for the preservation of the spiritual life.


A summary of Aquinas’s argument?


P1:  The purpose of the sacraments is to help man in the spiritual life.

P2:  The spiritual life patterns the corporeal life in generation, growth, and preservation of such life.

C1:  Therefore, there should be sacraments that correspond with generation, growth, and the preservation of such life.

P3:  There are sacraments that correspond to generation and growth—baptism and Confirmation respectively.

C2:  Therefore, there must be a sacrament that corresponds to the preservation of life—i.e., the Eucharist.


  1. Reasons Given for Why the Eucharist is Not a Sacrament (Objections and Replies)




  • Each of the objections provides a reason why the Eucharist is thought not to be sacrament.
  • Each of the objections basically takes the form of a modus tollens argument:
    • “If the Eucharist were a sacrament, then X. But not X. Therefore, the Eucharist is not a sacrament.”
      • g., If raining, then wet; not wet; therefore, not raining.


  1. Reason #1: Confirmation and the Eucharist would be ordained to the same end of perfection, which can’t be.


“Objection 1.

  • It seems that the Eucharist is not a sacrament. For two sacraments ought not to be ordained for the same end, because every sacrament is efficacious in producing its effect.
  • Therefore, since both Confirmation and the Eucharist are ordained for perfection, as Dionysius says (Eccl. Hier. iv), it seems that the Eucharist is not a sacrament, since Confirmation is one, as stated above (III:65:1; III:72:1).”



P1:  If the Eucharist were a sacrament, then it wouldn’t be ordained to the same end as Confirmation, i.e., perfection.

P2:  But the Eucharist is ordained to the same end as Confirmation, i.e., perfection.

C1:  Therefore, the Eucharist is not a sacrament.


Reply: The objection runs on a vague understanding of “perfection”


Reply to Objection 1. “Perfection is twofold . . .

  • The first lies within manhimself; and he attains it by growth: such perfection belongs to Confirmation.
  • The other is the perfection which comes to manfrom the addition of food, or clothing, or something of the kind; and such is the perfection befitting the Eucharist, which is the spiritual



P1:  The Eucharist would have the same identical end as Confirmation, and thus not be distinct from Confirmation, if and only if the perfection that the Eucharist achieves is identical to the perfection that Confirmation achieves.

P2:  But the perfection that the Eucharist achieves is not identical to the perfection that Confirmation achieves.

  • [Recall, perfection of Confirmation lies within man himself. The perfection of the Eucharist comes to man from the outside].

C1:  Therefore, the Eucharist doesn’t have the exact same end as Confirmation and thus is distinct from it.


  1. Reason #2: The species of bread and wine would produce Christ’s true body like water produces spiritual cleansing, which can’t be.



  • Note on “species”—The Latin word species means, “a seeing, view, look; a sight; an external appearance; a show or display.”
  • It’s in this sense that he’s using it. He’s not using it in the Aristotelian sense of a species that divides up a genera.


“Objection 2.

  • Further, in every sacrament of the New Law, that which comes visibly under our senses causes the invisible effect of the sacrament, just as cleansing with water causes the baptismal character and spiritual cleansing, as stated above (III:63:6; III:66:1,3,7).
  • But the species of bread and wine, which are the objects of our senses in this sacrament, neither produce Christ’s true body, which is both reality and sacrament [res et sacramentum], nor His mystical body, which is the reality only in the Eucharist [res tantum].
    • Commentary: Aquinas is drawing on scholastic threefold dimension of each of the sacraments: sacramentum tantum [sign only], res et sacramentum [reality and sign], and res tantum [the reality only, which basically refers to the primary and secondary effects].
    • For the Eucharist, the sacramentum tantum [sign only] is the bread and win. The res et sacramentum [reality and sign] is the actual body and blood of Christ. The res tantum [reality only] is the union of members within the body of Christ, which is the primary effect. The secondary effect is spiritual refreshment.
  • Therefore, it seems that the Eucharist is not a sacrament of the New Law.”


Reply: The objection operates on a flawed assumption as to the nature of the sacrament of baptism and the cause of its spiritual efficacy


“Reply to Objection 2.

  • The water of Baptism does not cause any spiritual effect by reason of the water, but by reason of the power of the Holy Ghost, which power is in the water.
    • [evidence #1] Hence on John 5:4, “An angel of the Lord at certain times,” etc.,
    • [evidence #2] Chrysostom observes: “The water does not act simply as such upon the baptized, but when it receives the grace of the Holy Ghost, then it looses all sins.”
  • But the true body of Christ bears the same relation to the species of the bread and wine, as the power of the Holy Ghost does to the water of Baptism:
  • hence the species of the bread and wine produce no effect except from the virtue of Christ’s true body.”


  1. Reason #3: The Eucharist would be perfected by the use of the matter instead of the consecration, which is absurd.


“Obection 3.

  • Further, sacraments of the New Law, as having matter, are perfected by the use of the matter, as Baptism is by ablution [ablutione—act of washing], and Confirmation by signing with chrism.
  • If, then, the Eucharist be a sacrament, it would be perfected by the use of the matter [the bread and wine], and not by its consecration.
  • But this is manifestly false, because the words spoken in the consecration of the matter are the form of this sacrament, as will be shown later on (III:78:1).
  • Therefore the Eucharist is not a sacrament.”


Reply: The Eucharist is unique in relation to the other sacraments such that the sacrament is completed by the words of consecration without the use of matter being applied to the recipient.


  • “A sacrament is so termed because it contains something sacred.
  • Now a thing can be styled sacred from two causes; either absolutely, or in relation to something else.
    • The difference between the Eucharist and other sacraments having sensible matter is that whereas the Eucharist contains something which is sacred absolutely, namely, Christ’s own body;
    • the baptismal water contains something which is sacred in relation to something else, namely, the sanctifying power: and the same holds good of chrism and such like.
  • Consequently, the sacrament of the Eucharist is completed in the very consecration of the matter [the absolute option], whereas the other sacraments are completed in the application of the matter for the sanctifying of the individual [the “in relation to something else” option].
  • “And from this follows another difference.
    • For, in the sacrament of the Eucharist, what is both reality and sacrament [the body of Christ] is in the matter itself. But what is reality only [the effect, in this case the secondary effect], namely, the grace bestowed, is in the recipient;
    • whereas in Baptism both are in the recipient, namely, the character, which is both reality and sacrament, and the grace of pardon of sins, which is reality only. And the same holds good of the other sacraments.”


  1. ARTICLE 2: Is the Eucharist one sacrament or several?


  1. Aquinas’s Answer: One


[For his appeal to authority, he appeals to St. Paul]

On the contrary, The Apostle says (1 Cor. 10:17): “For we, being many, are one bread, one body, all that partake of one bread”: from which it is clear that the Eucharist is the sacrament of the Church’s unity. But a sacrament bears the likeness of the reality whereof it is the sacrament. Therefore the Eucharist is one sacrament.”


“I answer that, As stated in Metaph. v, a thing is said to be one, not only from being indivisible, or continuous, but also when it is complete;

  • [e.g.,] thus we speak of one house, and [e.g.,] one man.


A thing is one in perfection, when it is complete through the presence of all that is needed for its end;

  • g., as a man is complete by having all the members required for the operation of his soul, and
  • g., a house by having all the parts needful for dwelling therein.


And so this sacrament is said to be one.

  • Because it is ordained for spiritual refreshment, which is conformed to corporeal refreshment. [this is the end]


[He now moves to the articulate all that is needed for the end of spiritual refreshment—Christ’s body and blood]

Now there are two things required for corporeal refreshment, namely, food, which is dry sustenance, and drink, which is wet sustenance.


Consequently, two things concur for the integrity of this sacrament, to wit, spiritual food and spiritual drink, according to John: “My flesh is meat indeed, and My blood is drink indeed.”


Therefore, this sacrament is materially many [all that is needed for the end], but formally and perfectively one.” [because there is one end]




Is the Eucharist one or several?


It is one!


What is the reason why the Eucharist is one sacrament?


Upon the consecration of bread and wine the sacrament has that which is necessary to make it complete and thereby perfect for spiritual nourishment—namely,  Christ’s body and blood.


A summary of Aquinas’s argument?


P1:  When a sacrament has that which is necessary for it to be complete and thereby perfect it is one.

P2:  The Eucharist requires both Christ’s body and blood to be complete for spiritual refreshment.

P3:  The Eucharist is both Christ’s body and blood.

C1:  Therefore, the Eucharist has that which is necessary for it to be complete and thereby perfect.

C2:  Therefore, the Eucharist is one.


  1. Reasons Given Why the Eucharist is not One (Objections and Replies)



  • Each of the objections is a reason why the Eucharist is not one.
  • Unlike the previous article, not all of these objections take the form of a modus tollens.


  1. Reason #1: The Collect of the Mass speaks of the Eucharist as a plurality of sacraments


“Objection 1.

  • It seems that the Eucharist is not one sacrament but several, because it is said in the Collect [*Postcommunion “pro vivis et defunctis”]: “May the sacraments which we have received purify us, O Lord”: and this is said on account of our receiving the Eucharist.
  • Consequently the Eucharist is not one sacrament but several.”


Reply: There is a sense in which the Eucharist is many and yet in another sense in which it is one


“Reply to Objection 1. The same Collect at first employs the plural: “May the sacraments which we have received purify us”; and afterwards the singular number: “May this sacrament of Thine not make us worthy of punishment”: so as to show that this sacrament is in a measure [quodammodo—in a certain manner] several, yet simply one.”


  1. Reason #2: There are many signs of the Eucharist (bread and wine).


Objection 2.

  • Further, it is impossible for genera to be multiplied without the species being multiplied: thus it is impossible for one man to be many animals.
  • But, as stated above (Question [60], Article [1]), sign is the genus of sacrament.
  • Since, then, there are more signs than one, to wit, bread and wine, it seems to follow that here must be more sacraments than one.”


Reply: Materially many but formally one due to the single end of spiritual refreshment


  1. Reason #3: The Eucharist involves a double consecration.


“Objection 3.

  • This sacrament is perfected in the consecration of the matter, as stated above (Article [1], ad 3).
  • But in this sacrament there is a double consecration of the matter.
  • Therefore, it is a twofold sacrament.”


Reply: Materially Many but not formally


III.  ARTICLE 3: Whether the Eucharist is necessary for salvation?


  1. Aquinas’s Answer: No


“On the contrary, Augustine writes (Ad Bonifac. Contra Pelag. I): “Nor are you to suppose that children cannot possess life, who are deprived of the body and blood of Christ.”


I answer that, Two things have to be considered in this sacrament, namely, the sacrament itself [the sign alone], and what is contained in it [this is going to refer to the reality of the sacrament below—the primary effect of the sacrament. We might think of “reality of Sacrament” to be Christ’s body. But for Aquinas, that’s the reality and the sacrament together—res et sacramentum].


Now it was stated above (Article [1], Objection [2]) that the reality of the sacrament [the primary effect of the sacrament] is the unity of the mystical body, without which there can be no salvation; for there is no entering into salvation outside the Church, just as in the time of the deluge there was none outside the Ark, which denotes the Church, according to 1 Pt. 3:20,21.


And it has been said above (Question [68], Article [2]), that before receiving a sacrament, the reality of the sacrament can be had through the very desire of receiving the sacrament.


Accordingly, before actual reception of this sacrament, a man can obtain salvation through the desire of receiving it, just as he can before Baptism through the desire of Baptism, as stated above (Question [68], Article [2]).


Yet there is a difference in two respects.

  • First of all, because Baptism is the beginning of the spiritual life, and the door of the sacraments; whereas the Eucharist is, as it were, the consummation of the spiritual life, and the end of all the sacraments, as was observed above (Question [63], Article [6]): for by the hallowings of all the sacraments preparation is made for receiving or consecrating the Eucharist. Consequently, the reception of Baptism is necessary for starting the spiritual life, while the receiving of the Eucharist is requisite for its consummation; by partaking not indeed actually, but in desire, as an end is possessed in desire and intention.
  • Another difference is because by Baptism a man is ordained to the Eucharist, and therefore from the fact of children being baptized, they are destined by the Church to the Eucharist; and just as they believe through the Church’s faith, so they desire the Eucharist through the Church’s intention, and, as a result, receive its reality. But they are not disposed for Baptism by any previous sacrament, and consequently before receiving Baptism, in no way have they Baptism in desire [children that its]; but adults alone have: consequently, they cannot have the reality of the sacrament without receiving the sacrament itself.
  • Therefore this sacrament is not necessary for salvation in the same way as Baptism is.




Is the Eucharist necessary for salvation (i.e., will not be saved without actually receiving the sacrament)?




Why is the Eucharist not necessary for salvation?


Because man can be joined to the unity of the mystical body, the Church, by their desire to receive the sacrament.


A summary of Aquinas’s argument


P1:  If we can be joined to the unity of the mystical body of Christ without receiving the sacrament, then it is not necessary for salvation.

P2:  A person can be joined to the unity of the mystical body of Christ through their desire for the sacrament without receiving it.

C:    Therefore, the Eucharist is not necessary for salvation.


Note: This is not to say that belief in the Eucharist is not necessary to be saved for those to whom it is revealed. As a divinely revealed truth, we must believe it if we we come to know its truth.


  1. Reasons Given Why the Eucharist is Necessary for Salvation


  1. Reason #1: Jesus says it’s necessary for salvation in John 6:54.


“Objection 1. It seems that this sacrament is necessary for salvation. For our Lord said (Jn. 6:54): “Except you eat the flesh of the Son of Man, and drink His blood, you shall not have life in you.” But Christ’s flesh is eaten and His blood drunk in this sacrament. Therefore, without this sacrament man cannot have the health of spiritual life.”


Reply: Jesus is speaking of the fellowship among the members of His mystical body, which can be had without receiving the sacrament. 


“Reply to Objection 1. As Augustine says, explaining Jn. 6:54, “This food and this drink,” namely, of His flesh and blood: “He would have us understand the fellowship of His body and members, which is the Church in His predestinated, and called, and justified, and glorified, His holy and believing ones.” Hence, as he says in his Epistle to Boniface (Pseudo-Beda, in 1 Cor. 10:17): “No one should entertain the slightest doubt, that then every one of the faithful becomes a partaker of the body and blood of Christ, when in Baptism he is made a member of Christ’s body; nor is he deprived of his share in that body and chalice even though he depart from this world in the unity of Christ’s body, before he eats that bread and drinks of that chalice.”


  1. Reason #2: The Eucharist is our spiritual food, which is necessary for salvation as natural food is necessary for bodily health.


“Objection 2. This sacrament is a kind of spiritual food. But bodily food is requisite for bodily health. Therefore, also is this sacrament, for spiritual health.”


Reply: The comparison between bodily food and spiritual food doesn’t hold—although analogous, they’re not an exact one-to-one match.


“Reply to Objection 2. The difference between corporeal and spiritual food lies in this, that the former is changed into the substance of the person nourished, and consequently it cannot avail for supporting life except it be partaken of; but spiritual food changes man into itself, according to that saying of Augustine (Confess. vii), that he heard the voice of Christ as it were saying to him: “Nor shalt thou change Me into thyself, as food of thy flesh, but thou shalt be changed into Me.”


But one can be changed into Christ, and be incorporated in Him by mental desire, even without receiving this sacrament.


And consequently the comparison does not hold.”


  1. Reason #3: Like Baptism, the Eucharist is the sacrament of our Lord’s Passion, without which we can’t be saved.


“Objection 3. As Baptism is the sacrament of our Lord’s Passion, without which there is no salvation, so also is the Eucharist. For the Apostle says (1 Cor. 11:26): “For as often as you shall eat this bread, and drink the chalice, you shall show the death of the Lord, until He come.” Consequently, as Baptism is necessary for salvation, so also is this sacrament.


Reply: The objection wrongly assumes that the Eucharist enables us to share in Christ’s Passion in the exact same way as Baptism.


“Reply to Objection 3. Baptism is the sacrament of Christ’s death and Passion, according as a man is born anew in Christ in virtue of His Passion;


but the Eucharist is the sacrament of Christ’s Passion according as a man is made perfect in union with Christ Who suffered.


Hence, as Baptism is called the sacrament of Faith, which is the foundation of the spiritual life, so the Eucharist is termed the sacrament of Charity, which is “the bond of perfection” (Col. 3:14).”


  1. ARTICLE 4: Whether the Eucharist is suitably called by various names?


  1. Aquinas’s Answer: Yes


On the contrary, is the use of these expressions by the faithful.


I answer that, This sacrament has a threefold significance.

  • [PAST—SACRIFICE] One with regard to the past, inasmuch as it is commemorative of our Lord’s Passion, which was a true sacrifice, as stated above (Question [48], Article [3]), and in this respect it is called a “Sacrifice.”
  • [PRESENT—COMMUNION] With regard to the present it has another meaning, namely, that of Ecclesiastical unity, in which men are aggregated through this Sacrament; and in this respect it is called “Communion” or {Synaxis}. For Damascene says (De Fide Orth. iv) that “it is called Communion because we communicate with Christ through it, both because we partake of His flesh and Godhead, and because we communicate with and are united to one another through it.”
  • [FUTURE—VIATICUM] With regard to the future it has a third meaning, inasmuch as this sacrament foreshadows the Divine fruition, which shall come to pass in heaven; and according to this it is called “Viaticum,” because it supplies the way of winning thither.
    • [EUCHARIST] And in this respect it is also called the “Eucharist,” that is, “good grace,” because “the grace of God is life everlasting” (Rm. 6:23); or because it really contains Christ, Who is “full of grace.”
  • [ASSUMPTION] In Greek, moreover, it is called {Metalepsis}, i.e. “Assumption,” because, as Damascene says (De Fide Orth. iv), “we thereby assume the Godhead of the Son.”




P1:  A sacrament is suitably named according to its significance.

P2:  The Eucharist is significant in a variety of ways.

C:    Therefore, the Eucharist is suitably called a variety of names.


  1. Reasons Given Why the Eucharist is not suitably called by various names


  1. Reason #1: The Sacrament is one thing


“Objection 1: It seems that this sacrament is not suitably called by various names. For names should correspond with things. But this sacrament is one, as stated above (Article [2]). Therefore, it ought not to be called by various names.”


Reply: A single thing can be called various names in virtue of its various properties and/or effects.


  • The Eucharist has such various properties and/or effects.
  • Therefore, it can be called by various names.


  1. Reason #2: The Eucharist cannot be called by names that are common to all the other sacraments.


“Objection 2: A species is not properly denominated by what is common to the whole genus. But the Eucharist is a sacrament of the New Law; and it is common to all the sacraments for grace to be conferred by them, which the name “Eucharist” denotes, for it is the same thing as “good grace.” Furthermore, all the sacraments bring us help on our journey through this present life, which is the notion conveyed by “Viaticum.” Again something sacred is done in all the sacraments, which belongs to the notion of “Sacrifice”; and the faithful intercommunicate through all the sacraments, which this Greek word {Synaxis} and the Latin “Communio” express. Therefore, these names are not suitably adapted to this sacrament.


Reply: Such names are reserved to the Eucharist because it is the most excellent



E.g., “Saint” reserved to saints in heaven even though we’re technically all saints.


  1. Reason #3: Host is the same as sacrifice, which is not its proper name.


“Objection 3. A host [From Latin “hostia,” a victim] seems to be the same as a sacrifice. Therefore, as it is not properly called a sacrifice, so neither is it properly termed a “Host.”


Reply: It is called “Host” in virtue of Christ who is the victim.


Reply to Objection 3. This sacrament is called a “Sacrifice” inasmuch as it represents the Passion of Christ; but it is termed a “Host” inasmuch as it contains Christ, Who is “a host (Douay: ‘sacrifice’) . . . of sweetness” (Ephesians 5:2).



  1. ARTICLE 5: Whether the institution of this sacrament was appropriate?


  1. Aquinas’s Answer: Yes


On the contrary, This sacrament was instituted by Christ, of Whom it is said (Mark 7:37) that “He did all things well.”


I answer that, This sacrament was appropriately instituted at the supper, when Christ conversed with His disciples for the last time.


First of all, because of what is contained in the sacrament:


for Christ is Himself contained in the Eucharist sacramentally. Consequently, when Christ was going to leave His disciples in His proper species, He left Himself with them under the sacramental species; as the Emperor’s image is set up to be reverenced in his absence. Hence Eusebius says: “Since He was going to withdraw His assumed body from their eyes, and bear it away to the stars, it was needful that on the day of the supper He should consecrate the sacrament of His body and blood for our sakes, in order that what was once offered up for our ransom should be fittingly worshiped in a mystery.”


Secondly, because without faith in the Passion there could never be any salvation, according to Romans 3:25: “Whom God hath proposed to be a propitiation, through faith in His blood.”


It was necessary accordingly that there should be at all times among men something to show forth our Lord’s Passion; the chief sacrament of which in the old Law was the Paschal Lamb. Hence the Apostle says (1 Corinthians 5:7): “Christ our Pasch is sacrificed.” But its successor under the New Testament is the sacrament of the Eucharist, which is a remembrance of the Passion now past, just as the other was figurative of the Passion to come. And so it was fitting that when the hour of the Passion was come, Christ should institute a new Sacrament after celebrating the old, as Pope Leo I says (Serm. lviii).


Thirdly, because last words, chiefly such as are spoken by departing friends, are committed most deeply to memory;


since then especially affection for friends is more enkindled, and the things which affect us most are impressed the deepest in the soul. Consequently, since, as Pope Alexander I says, “among sacrifices there can be none greater than the body and blood of Christ, nor any more powerful oblation”; our Lord instituted this sacrament at His last parting with His disciples, in order that it might be held in the greater veneration. And this is what Augustine says (Respons. ad Januar. i): “In order to commend more earnestly the depth of this mystery, our Saviour willed this last act to be fixed in the hearts and memories of the disciples whom He was about to quit for the Passion.”




Is the Eucharist appropriately instituted?




Why is the Eucharist appropriately instituted?


  1. It is appropriate to have Christ who is the God-man.
  2. It is appropriate to always have something to show forth in the New Testament that in which our salvation lies, namely, our Lord’s Passion, as the Passover and the paschal lamb showed forth the salvation of the Israelites in the Old Testament.
  3. It is appropriate to have that which most enkindles our friendly affection for Christ to be impressed in our memories.


  1. Reasons Given Why the Eucharist is not Suitably Instituted



  • The reasons vary here.
  • One says the Eucharist was pointless absolutely speaking.
  • The others have to do with the suitability of the timing, whether it be the specified time in relation to the Old and New Covenants or the time before our Lord’s Passion.


  1. Reason #1: We are already nourished by the regeneration of baptism.


“Objection 1. It seems that the institution of this sacrament was not appropriate, because as the Philosopher says (De Gener. ii): “We are nourished by the things from whence we spring.” But by Baptism, which is spiritual regeneration, we receive our spiritual being, as Dionysius says (Eccl. Hier. ii). Therefore we are also nourished by Baptism. Consequently there was no need to institute this sacrament as spiritual nourishment.”


Reply: The objection fails to distinguish between “being nourished by the same thing” and “being nourished by the same thing in different ways.”


“Reply to Objection 1. We are nourished from the same things of which we are made, but they do not come to us in the same way; for those out of which we are made come to us through generation, while the same, as nourishing us, come to us through being eaten. Hence, as we are new-born in Christ through Baptism, so through the Eucharist we eat Christ.”


  1. Reason #2: God’s people were united to Christ as Head even before the Last Supper


“Objection 2. Further, men are united with Christ through this sacrament as the members with the head. But Christ is the Head of all men, even of those who have existed from the beginning of the world, as stated above (III:8:6). Therefore, the institution of this sacrament should not have been postponed till the Lord’s supper.”


Reply: The objection fails to consider the perfect nature of the Sacrament of the Eucharist.


“Reply to Objection 2. The Eucharist is the perfect sacrament of our Lord’s Passion, as containing Christ crucified; consequently it could not be instituted before Incarnation; but then there was room for only such sacraments as were prefigurative of the Lord’s Passion.”


  1. Reason #3: The Eucharist can’t commemorate that which hasn’t happened yet.


“Objection 3. this sacrament is called the memorial of our Lord’s Passion, according to Matthew 26 (Luke 22:19): “Do this for a commemoration of Me.” But a commemoration is of things past. Therefore, this sacrament should not have been instituted before Christ’s Passion.”


Reply: The objection wrongly assumes that Jesus intended the memorial aspect of the sacrament at the Last Supper.


“Reply to Objection 3. This sacrament was instituted during the supper, so as in the future to be a memorial of our Lord’s Passion as accomplished. Hence He said expressively: “As often as ye shall do these things” [Cf. Canon of the Mass, speaking of the future.”



  • Note that the scripture doesn’t have the words, “As often as ye shall do these things….” Jesus simply says, “Do this in remembrance of me.”
  • But at least the future action is implied, since we know Christ didn’t intend for the Apostles to perform the action then and there.


  1. Reason #4: The Eucharist doesn’t map on to the chronological ordering of events that involved Baptism


“Objection 4. “A man is prepared by Baptism for the Eucharist, which ought to be given only to the baptized. But Baptism was instituted by Christ after His Passion and Resurrection, as is evident from Matthew 28:19. Therefore, this sacrament was not suitably instituted before Christ’s Passion [in other words, it should have come after He instituted Baptism].


Reply: The institution of the Eucharist maps on to the order of intention relative to Baptism


“Reply to Objection 4. The institution responds to the order of intention. But the sacrament of the Eucharist, although after Baptism in the receiving, is yet previous to it in intention; and therefore it behooved to be instituted first. or else it can be said that Baptism was already instituted in Christ’s Baptism; hence some were already baptized with Christ’s Baptism, as we read in John 3:22.”


  1. ARTICLE 6: Whether the Paschal Lamb was the chief figure of this sacrament?


  1. Aquinas’s Answer: Yes


On the contrary, The Apostle says (1 Cor. 5:7,8): “Christ our Pasch is sacrificed; therefore let us feast… with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth.”


I answer that, We can consider three things in this sacrament: namely,

  • that which is sacrament only, and this is the bread and wine;
  • that which is both reality and sacrament, to wit, Christ’s true body; and
  • lastly that which is reality only, namely, the effect of this sacrament.

Consequently, in relation to what is sacrament only,

  • the chief figure of this sacrament was the oblation of Melchisedech, who offered up bread and wine.

In relation to Christ crucified, Who is contained in this sacrament,

  • its figures were all the sacrifices of the Old Testament, especially the sacrifice of expiation, which was the most solemn of all.

While with regard to its effect,

  • the chief figure was the Manna, “having in it the sweetness of every taste” (Wis. 16:20), just as the grace of this sacrament refreshes the soul in all respects.

The Paschal Lamb foreshadowed this sacrament in these three ways.

  • First of all, because it was eaten with unleavened loaves, according to Ex. 12:8: “They shall eat flesh… and unleavened bread.”
  • As to the second because it was immolated by the entire multitude of the children of Israel on the fourteenth day of the moon; and this was a figure of the Passion of Christ, Who is called the Lamb on account of His innocence.
  • As to the effect, because by the blood of the Paschal Lamb the children of Israel were preserved from the destroying Angel, and brought from the Egyptian captivity; and in this respect the Paschal Lamb is the chief figure of this sacrament, because it represents it in every respect.




Is the Paschal Lamb the chief figure of this sacrament?




What is the reason why the Paschal Lamb is the chief figure of this sacrament?


It foreshadows al three aspects of the Sacrament of the Euchairst:

  • The sacramentum tantum (bread and wine)—unleavened loaves were eaten with the flesh of the Lamb.
  • The res et sacramentum (Christ’s true body)—the Passover lamb was immolated.
  • The res tantum (the effect)—the blood of the Passover Lamb preserved children of Israel from angel of death.


  1. Reasons Why Passover Lamb is not the Chief Figure



  • Aquinas states that his answer in the corpus is sufficient to answer the objections.
  • We’re just going to briefly summarize the objections and highlight how his answer above overcomes the objection.


  1. Reason #1: Christ is a priest according to the order of Melchizedek, who offered bread and wine.


Reply: Melchizedek’s offering prefigures only according to the sacramentum tantum (the sign only).


  1. Reason #2: The Manna fits the order of the Sacraments, not the Paschal Lamb—The Eucharist comes after Baptism. The Red Sea is a figure of baptism. It was the Manna that came after the Red Sea, not the Paschal Lamb, which came before it. Therefore, the Mann is the chief figure.


Reply: The Manna prefigures only according to the res tantum (the effect).

  1. Reason #3: The sacrifice of expiation matches the principal power of the Eucharist, which is to bring us into the kingdom of heaven


Reply: The expiation of sin prefigures only according to the res et sacramentum.


About the author, Adam

Adam is the Director of Communications for the Diocese of Tulsa and Eastern Oklahoma, CEO of St. Michael Catholic Radio, Co-host of TCMS, Author from Ascension Press, Husband and Father of 5 children.

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