Liturgical Time Bombs
in Vatican II: Excerpts
The Destruction of Catholic Faith 
Through Changes in Catholic Worship 
by Michael Davies

Published on the Web with Permission of the Author.

Omission of the Term "Transubstantiation"

  Articles 5 to 13 of the CSL, which deal with the nature of the liturgy, contain much admirable doctrinal teachings but also some which seem disturbingly lacking in precision. Christ's substantial presence in the Blessed Sacrament is referred to as if it is simply the highest (maximal) of His many presences in the liturgy, which includes His spiritual presence through the reading of Holy Scripture or through the fact that two or three are gathered together in His name. The CSL states only that Our Lord is present "especially under the Eucharistic species" (Praesens . . . maxime sub speciebus eucharisticis). (Article 7).

       "Transubstantiation" is the classic Catholic term which the Church uses in order to express the Catholic teaching [ that in the Eucharist, the whole substance of the bread is converted into the substance of the Body of Christ, and the whole substance of the wine is converted into the substance of His Blood, with only the appearances of bread and wine remaining.

       One fact which is made very clear in my book Cranmer's Godly Order is that all the Protestant Reformers agreed that Christ was present in the Eucharist; what they rejected was the dogma of His substantial presence. If there is one word which was and is anathema to Protestants, it is the word "transubstantiation." Protestants will profess belief in Christ's "real presence," in His "eucharistic presence," His "sacramental presence"-----Lutherans even profess belief in His "consubstantial presence"-----but what they will not accept, what is anathema to them, is the one word "transubstantiation." It is, therefore, astonishing to find that this word does not appear anywhere within the text of the CSL. This is a scarcely credible break with the tradition of the Catholic and Roman Church, which has always insisted on absolute precision when writing of the Sacrament which is her greatest treasure, for it is nothing less than God Incarnate Himself.

   The contrast between the traditional precision of the Church and the CSL can be made clear with just one example. Compared to the wording of the CSL, the following would seem to be an extremely comprehensive definition of Christ's Eucharistic presence: "Christ is, after the Consecration, truly, really and substantially present under the appearances of bread and wine, and the whole substance of bread and wine has then ceased to exist, only the appearances remaining." Readers will be surprised to learn that this definition was condemned by the Church as "pernicious, derogatory to the expounding of Catholic truth about the dogma of transubstantiation, favorable to heretics (perniciosa, derogans expositioni veritatis catholicae circa dogma transsubstantiationis, ravens haereticis)." This definition was, in fact, the definition put forward by the Jansenist Synod of Pistoia; it was condemned by Pope Pius VI specifically for its calculated omission of the doctrine of transubstantiation and of the term "transubstantiation," which had been used by the Council of Trent (1545-1563) in defining the manner of Christ's Eucharistic presence and in the solemn profession of faith subscribed to by the Fathers of that Council ("quam velut articulum fidei Tridentinum Concilium definivit [v. n. 877, 884], et quae in solemni fidei professione continetur [v. n. 997]"). [H. Denzinger, Enchiridion Symbolorum (31" edition). No. 1529.] The failure to utilize the word "transubstantiation" was condemned by Pope Pius VI "inasmuch as, through an unauthorized and suspicious omission of this kind, mention is omitted of an article relating to the faith, and also of a word consecrated by the Church to safeguard the profession of that article against heresy, and because it tends to result in its being forgotten, as if it were merely a scholastic question." [Ibid.]

While discussing this particular point, it is impossible not to note what could be described as the truly supernatural correspondence between what Pope Pius VI wrote in 1794 and what Pope Paul VI wrote in his encyclical Mysterium Fidei in 1965. This encyclical aroused considerable hostility among both Protestants and liberal Catholics, who did not hesitate to stigmatize it as incompatible with the "spirit" of
Vatican II!

     A Protestant Observer mentioned earlier, Dr. Robert McMee Brown, complained:

       On the eve of the fourth session he [Paul VI] issued an encyclical on the Eucharist, Mysterium Fidei, that seemed to most interpreters to be at best a backward looking document and at the worst a repudiation of many of the creative insights of the already promulgated constitution On the Sacred Liturgy. [Robert McMee Brown, Ecumenical Revolution, pp. 171-172.]
      The encyclical Mysterium Fidei was, to quote another Protestant Observer, the Anglican Dr. J. Moorman, "disappointing to those who felt that the Council was really trying to break away from medieval scholasticism and Tridentine theology and speak to the modern world in language which it could understand." [J. Moorman, Vatican Observed (London: Darton, Longman & Tod, 1967), p.157.] The ultra-liberal peritus Father Gregory Baum, a convert from Judaism, commented: "Since Pope Paul's terminology is so different from the Constitution on the Liturgy, it is not easy to fit his encyclical harmoniously into the conciliar teaching of Vatican II." [Herder Correspondence, 1965, p. 359.]  A few quotations from Mysterium Fidei will make it clear why the encyclical was considered by liberals to be a terribly retrograde statement of Catholic dogma. Pope Paul condemned certain opinions that were current during the Council:
       Such opinions relate to Masses celebrated privately, to the dogma of transubstantiation and to eucharistic worship. They seem to think that although a doctrine has been defined once by the Church, it is open to anyone to ignore it or to give it an interpretation that whittles away the natural meaning of the words or the accepted sense of the concepts.
    The Church teaches us, the Pope insists, that our blessed Lord "becomes present in the sacrament precisely by a marvelous change of the bread's whole substance into His Body and of the wine's whole substance into His Blood. This is clearly a remarkable and singular change, and the, Catholic Church gives it the suitable and accurate name of transubstantiation."

   Pope John XXIII had stated in his opening speech to the Council: "The substance of the ancient doctrine of the deposit of faith is one thing, and the way in which it is presented is another." Pope Paul VI appears to differ from his predecessor when he writes:

       This rule of speech has been introduced by the Church in the long run of centuries with the protection of the Holy Spirit. She has confirmed it with the authority of the Councils. It has become more than once the token and standard of orthodox faith. It must be observed religiously. No one may presume to alter it at will, or on the pretext of new knowledge. For it would be intolerable if the dogmatic formulas which ecumenical Councils have employed in dealing with the mysteries of the most holy Trinity were to be accused of being badly attuned to the men of our day, and other formulas were rashly introduced to replace them. It is equally intolerable that anyone on his own initiative should want to modify the formulas with which the Council of Trent has proposed the Eucharistic mystery for belief. These formulas, and others too, which the Church employs in proposing dogmas of faith, express concepts which are not tied to any specified cultural system. They are not restricted to any fixed development of the sciences nor to one or other of the theological schools.
     Not withstanding the deplorable absence of the term transubstantiation from the CSL, Articles 5 to 13 do contain much orthodox teaching, teaching which must have gone a long way toward prompting conservative Fathers to vote for the Constitution and diverting attention from the time bombs in the text. The Council of Trent is quoted to the effect that "The victory and triumph of Christ's death are again made present" whenever the Mass is offered (Art. 6), and it is quoted again in stating that the Mass is offered by Christ: "the same one now offering through the ministry of priests, Who formerly offered Himself on the Cross." (Art. 7). "Rightly then is the liturgy considered as an exercise of the priestly office of Jesus Christ." (Art. 7). It is "the summit toward which all the activity of the Church is directed; at the same time it is the fountain from which all her power flows." (Art. 10).


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