This is a very long section, but there are important points that give us a good perspective as to the early post-conciliar approach to liturgical reform. In order these would be:
- The sense of the Paschal Mystery as central to both liturgy and Christian activity in the world
- The principles of sacrifice and meal are not in conflict, but “closely” bound.
- While the Mass is an action of Christ, it is also an action of the Church, of the people who profess faith and call themselves Christians.
- Every liturgy is a public action of a human society we know as “the Church.”
- The Mass is source and summit of both the Church’s worship and the exterior life of Christians.
- The importance of Eucharistic reverence.
- Therefore, this document will cover the inseparable mystery of both the Mass and of formal Eucharistic devotion.
3. Among the doctrinal principles formulated in the Church’s recent documents concerning the eucharist, it is useful to cite those that follow: they address the attitude of Christians toward this mystery and, therefore, have direct bearing on the purpose of this Instruction.
a. “In the human nature united to himself the Son of God, by overcoming death through his own death and resurrection, redeemed us and refashioned us into a new creation (see Gal 6:15; 2 Cor 5:17). By communicating his Spirit, Christ made us his brothers and sisters, called together from all nations, to be mystically his own Body. In that Body the life of Christ is bestowed on believers, who suffered and was glorified.” [Lumen gentium no. 7.]
Therefore, “at the Last Supper, on the night he was betrayed, our Savior instituted the eucharistic sacrifice of his body and blood. He did this in order to perpetuate the sacrifice of the cross throughout the centuries until he should come again and so to entrust to his beloved Bride, the Church, a memorial of his death and resurrection: a sacrament of love, a sign of unity, a bond of charity, a paschal banquet in which Christ is eaten, the heart filled with grace, and a pledge of future glory given to us.” [Sacrosanctum Concilium art. 47.]
Hence the Mass, the Lord’s Supper, is at once and inseparably:
-the sacrifice in which the sacrifice of the cross is perpetuated;
-the memorial of the death and resurrection of the Lord who said: “Do this in memory of me” (Lk 22:19);
-the sacred banquet in which, through the communion of the body and blood of the Lord, the people of God share the benefits of the paschal sacrifice, renew the New Covenant with us made once and for all by God in Christ’s blood, and in faith and hope foreshadow and anticipate the eschatological banquet in the Father’s kingdom as they proclaim the death of the Lord “until he comes.” [See Sacrosanctum Concilium art. 6, 10, 47, 106; Presbyterorum ordinis no. 4.]
b. In the Mass, therefore, the sacrifice and sacred meal form part of the same mystery in such a way that the closest bond conjoins the one with the other.
In the sacrifice of the Mass the Lord is offered when “he begins to be sacramentally present as the spiritual food of the faithful under the appearance of bread and wine.” [Paul VI, Encycl. Mysterium fidei.] The reason that Christ entrusted this sacrifice to the Church was that the faithful might share in it both spiritually, by faith and charity, and sacramentally, through the sacred meal of communion. A sharing in the Lord’s Supper is always a communion with Christ offering himself to the Father for us as a sacrifice. [See Pius XII, Encycl. Mediator Dei: AAS 39 (1947) 564-566.]
c. The celebration of the eucharist at Mass is the action not only of Christ but also of the Church. It is Christ’s act because, perpetuating in an unbloody way the sacrifice consummated on the cross, [See Sacrosanctum Concilium art. 47.] he offers himself to the Father for the salvation of the world through the ministry of priests. [See Council of Trent, sess. 22, Decr. de Missa cap. 1: Denz-Schon 1741.] It is the Church’s act because, as the Bride and minister of Christ exercising together with him the role of priest and victim, the Church offers him to the Father and at the same time completely offers itself together with him. [See Lumen gentium no. 11; Sacrosanctum Concilium art. 47-48; Presbyterorum ordinis nos. 2, 5. Pius XII, loc. cit.: 552. Paul VI, Encycl. Mysterium fidei.]
In this way, especially in the great eucharistic prayer, the Church gives thanks together with Christ to the Father in the Holy Spirit for all the benefits he gives us in creation and in a singular way in the paschal mystery and asks the Father for the coming of his kingdom.
d. Hence no Mass, in fact no liturgical service, is a merely private act, but the celebration of the Church as a society composed of different orders and ministries in which all the members have an active part in keeping with their proper order and office. [See Sacrosanctum Concilium art. 26-28 and no. 44 of this Instruction.]
e. The celebration of the eucharist in the sacrifice of the Mass is truly the origin and the purpose of the worship that is shown to the eucharist outside Mass. For the sacred elements that remain after Mass come from the Mass and they are reserved after Mass so that the faithful who cannot be present at Mass may be united to Christ and the celebration of his sacrifice through sacramental communion received with the right dispositions. [See no. 49 of this Instruction.]
Hence the eucharistic sacrifice is the source and the summit of all the Church’s worship and of the entire Christian life. [See Lumen gentium no. 11; Sacrosanctum Concilium art. 41; Presbyterorum ordinis nos. 2, 5, 6; Unitatis redintegratio no. 15.] The faithful participate more fully in this sacrifice of thanksgiving, expiation, petition, and praise not only when they wholeheartedly offer the sacred victim and in him offer themselves to the Father with the priest, but also when they receive the same victim in the sacrament.
f. It should be absolutely clear “that all the faithful show this holy sacrament the worship of adoration that is due to God himself, as has always been the practice recognized in the Catholic Church. Nor is the sacrament to be less the object of adoration on the grounds that it was instituted by Christ the Lord to be received as food.” [Council of Trent, sess. 13, Decr. de Eucharistia cap. 5: Denz-Schon 1643.] For even in the reserved sacrament he is to be adored, [See Paul VI, Encycl. Mysterium fidei. Pius XII, loc. cit.: 569.] because he is substantially present there through the conversion of the bread and wine that, following the Council of Trent, [See Council of Trent, loc. cit. cap. 4: Denz-Schon 1652.] is most accurately termed transubstantiation.
g. Therefore, the eucharistic mystery must be considered in its entirety, both in the celebration of Mass and in the worship of the sacred elements reserved after Mass in order to extend the grace of the sacrifice. [See the treatment of the Mass in the documents already cited; all of them deal with the twofold aspect of the eucharist: Presbyterorum ordinis nos. 5, 18. Paul VI, Encycl. Mysterium fidei. Pius XII, Encycl. Mediator Dei: AAS 39 (1947) 547-572; idem, Address at Assisi: AAS 48 (1956) 715-723.]
The principles stated must be the source of the norms on the practical arrangements of the worship of this sacrament even after Mass and of its correlation with the proper arrangement of the Mass in conformity with the directives of Vatican Council II and of other pertinent documents of the Apostolic See. [See Paul VI, Encycl. Mysterium fidei. Pius XII, Encycl. Mediator Dei: AAS 39 (1947) 547-572. Sacred Congregation of Rites, Instr. de musica sacra, 3 Sept. 1958: AAS 50 (1958) 630-663; idem, Instr. Inter oecumenici, 26 Sept. 1964.]
As I wrote: lots to digest. Do you agree with the list? Anything the Consilium should’ve covered in addition? Instead of? Is the devotion to the Eucharist outside of Mass really an ideal priority? How can you account for its lack of emphasis after the Council? Were the first five principles listed exhausting enough for priests and liturgists that they rested on point six?