Priesthood and Eucharist through the Lens of St. Paul of the Cross'

A Reflection on some of the treasures of our Catholic Faith,  as seen through the head, hands, and heart of St Paul of the Cross,  and others.

by Fr. Joe Mills

When Mother Catherine asked that we pick a project for some research on St Paul of the Cross,  I asked myself what might benefit me the most from studying St Paul, in my ministry as a diocesan priest, and as a Passionist Oblate.  I decided to look at something of what St Paul teaches us about the  priest, and the Holy Eucharist..    The  Church tells us that the Eucharist is the “source and summit of the Chrisitan life.”  I wanted to see what  Paul would say about this.   How would St Paul’s  be lief in and appreciation for Eucharist in 18th century Italy anticipate the Vatican Coucil II’s 20th century teaching on this central mystery of our Catholic faith? I found it hard not to look at the Vatican II Documents, as well as the writings of Pope John Paul II, and our  present Pontiff, Benedict XVI.

This effort seems to have become a kind of collage,  a gathering of  reflections of St Paul  and several others besides. I can’t vouch for any particular logic or sequence. In fact I  found it difficult to cover such a vast territory in a few words.   How can one even begin to do justice to the topic of St Paul’s writings on topics as rich and abundant as Eucharist, priesthood, church?  Some personalities who loved these mysteries more than most of us possibly could will be touched upon as well. 

The Letters of St Paul will be the principal  focus, but I will lean on certain authors who have shown a special interest in this topic.  See the notes at the end of this article.

Fr Jude Mead  makes an exhaustive survey of St Paul’s letters, and concludes that our Saint wrote thousands of letters, mostly to lay people. But he wrote  perhaps forty percent of his letters  to clergy persons, including the popes, cardinals, archbishops, bishops, seminary heads, as well as to the rank and file members of the clergy, to priests, both religious and diocesan.  In this correspondence, what does he say about the sacraments of priesthood and  the Eucharist? (The two sacraments are so related that we will at times combine the two in these reflections.) (cf  op cit  pp100)  (1975)

For St Paul the most significant element of the priesthood was its sacramental nature.  He writes that in the sacred Cenacle, Jesus not only instituted the Eucharist but also ordained the apostles to continue the work he had begun. St Paul says that Jesus wanted to console the apostles in preparation for his coming passion and death. (op.cit.p 108). Jesus tells Simon Peter that Satan had asked for him, but Jesus has prayed for his protection.  The priestly power that our Lord would give Peter and the others would give them strength for themselves and for those to whom they were to minister.

St Paul adds that in ordaining them priests, Jesus wanted to show them his special love for them and for their flocks.  Both the apostles and their people would need this love that Jesus shared with them in this their first Eucharist.

St Paul teaches, along with St Thomas Aquinas, (+1274) and the Council of Trent (1545-63), the threefold function of the priestly office. A) to offer the Eucharistic Sacrifice  B) to  remit sin and C) the preach the word of God.   Mead, p. 111

The writings of a prelate of Paul’s time, Cardinal Bona, had a profound impact on St Paul of the Cross. Our Passionist saint follows the material of Cardinal Bona’s Treatise entitled  the Sacrifice of the Mass.   From this vademecum of St Paul (Mead, p. 114),  we  read:

 On the dignity of the priest:

There is no dignity, no excellence, among men to which the sublimity of the priesthood can be compared. . . Hence it was taught by the Apostle, that the priest is taken from among men that he may offer gifts and sacrifices, and so he is lifted above others and excels the ordinary condition of men as mediator between God and man in those things which pertain to God. . . He has the power of absolving from sins and of confecting the Body and Blood of Christ.  

On the excellence of the Sacrifice:

 Since sacrifice is the primary function of Religion, hence it is becoming that the Christian Religion. . . should have the most noble Sacrifice. . . By the consecration itself, bread and wine are transubstantiated into the Body and Blood of Christ. . . The value of this Sacrifice is as infinite as the merits of the Passion of Christ and equally pleases God, as His Death on the Cross.

 On the action of the priest:

 Therefore it is most clear from these things, that there is nothing greater in this life, nor any more worthy action to be performed  by mortals, than to offer the Sacrifice to God. . . Thus the priest indeed offers this Sacrifice in the person of Christ, so that he ought to celebrate it so that nothing in him would bring dishonor on the person of Christ.

Cardinal Bona’s writings had a profound impact on St Paul. (Mead, p.114)

 St Paul spent time working with seminarians and young priests, urging them to be as prepared as possible for the celebration of the Mass. To one young priest he wrote: ‘Become accustomed to celebrate Holy Mass with great reverence and with exact observance of the rubrics.” (Mead, 118) St Paul often addressed the issue of following the rubrics exactly, not to a legalistic level, but rather so as to free him “for the realization of the mysteries he was performing.”  The spirit of prayer would not be impeded by any anxiety about the rites to be performed.  He urges care so as not to fall into scruples, especially in saying the words of consecration: “Say them slowly and very clearly with the deepest reverence.”

 For St Paul the priest must always be preparing to celebrate the Eucharistic Sacrifice.  He quotes a “Cardinal Bona” who says that the  

“best preparation of all. . . consists in purity and sanctity of life, since whatever you do, whatever you think, whatever you undertake, centers around this goal, that you make yourself worthy of this heavenly banquet.” (Mead, 120) 

Mead points out that the added concept of total surrender and full acceptance of God’s will is an overarching theme in all the writings of St Paul.   St Paul spoke of  clothing oneself “in the Passion of Christ.”  This meant two things. The first was to become so filled with the mystery of the Passion that one would be “literally wrapped up in it.”  This would include a dialogue of love and compassion which was to continue, despite the dryness or aridity one might feel in his soul.  “This dialogue was to be continued in a most calm manner.”  Mead comments “What a challenge to every priest . . . to be personally conformed to this mys tery in his own life.  (P.121)  St Paul of the Cross echoes here the words of St Paul the Apostle, (Col 1:24) “In my own flesh I fill up  what is lacking in the sufferings of Christ.”

Another effect of being clothed with the suffering of Christ is a compulsion to reach out to the needs of all men, even as Christ himself had reached out to embrace all people.   This includes the need and the intention to take to the altar the needs of the whole world, “especially those of the Congregation of the Passion.”

Kelly (pp. 103-4)says that today in our Catholic culture, it is becoming more and more common that those who go to Mass go to Communion. Communion is considered a normal part of the Mass, not an exceptional practice. It can be easy to forget that this has not been the  case for very long and that it was far from being the case in Paul’s culture. We do not find those Paul directed being urged by him to go to Mass, since presumably  they were already going as often as they could. But we do find him urging them to go to Communion frequently, since frequent Communion was not the custom of the time. In fact, even cloistered nuns had to be urged at times to go at least once a month. Weekly and especially daily Communion was a rarity.  Those w ho did go often were likely to be looked down upon as ostentatiously flaunting their holiness.

In this climate we find Paul going contrary to his culture and recommending frequent Communion, even daily when possible.  Paul writes to Agnes Grazi ‘Regarding Communion, go every day if you can.” (1,109). He also tells her that she doesn’t have to go to confession every time, since many thought then and some still do today, that this was necessary.”

We see that Paul was way ahead of his time.  Paul knew the importance of daily Mass in  his own spiritual life and he wanted to stress the importance of daily Eucharist in the lives of those he counseled. Daily Mass, for Paul, included the reception of Hoy Communion.

Some  even in our day will separate the reception of Holy Communion from Mass.    Some today, when speaking of the fervor of a particular Catholic, will say “He’s a daily communicant,” meaning usually that he/she assists at Mass daily, and receives Communion. 

When I was first ordained, it was customary in our parish that not everyone went to Communion at Mass. At the late Mass, on Sunday, there were few, sometimes none at all,  who approached the Communion rail. (This, in part, due to the fast-from-midnight rule.)  There were particular Sundays set aside for the Altar Society to sit up front for their Sunday, or for the Holy Name men to be up front. Usually there would be a banner placed near the front of the Church, posting the Holy Name Society, or the Altar Society Sunday.  Most likely, they would have gone to confession (sic) the day before.  By having these special Sundays set aside,  it was almost assured that at least some of  these members would go to Communion at least monthly. 

Today we bemoan the fact that so few of our people are receiving the Sacrament of Reconciliation while almost everyone goes to Communion. What does this say about our current practice?  What does it say about the reception of Holy Communion when attending Mass? What might it be saying about our use/non-use of the Sacrament of Reconciliation?

Kelly  (loc.cit.)  mentions that Paul asked Agnes Grazi to go to Communion on Sundays, Wednesday, and Fridays and on feast days. On the other days, he recommends an act of spiritual Communion.  Kelly says that today when even daily Communion is possible, we see fewer uses of this spiritual Communion.  (Is this a loss in our day?)  On the local Catholic radio WIMM, on the occasion of their broadcasting daily Mass, someone addresses those present there and in the cyberspace who cannot go to communion. This voice, usually feminine, prays an act of Spiritual Communion.

St Paul recommends to Thomas Fossi (1,572) that he goes to Communion every week.  To a cloistered nun, he encourages her to go daily, if her confessor lets her.  It was customary in those days to get permission from one’s confessor to go to Communion. Kelly says that is hard for us to imagine such a practice today. He adds that perhaps one reason that people thought they had to go to confession before every Communion was to get this  permission from the priest.  I remember teaching people, when I was first ordained, that we should think Mass and Communion, rather than Confession and Communion. (Kelly p.105)

The Eucharist in Papal Documents

Pope John Paul II, elected to the papacy in 1978, began, the following year, writing a letter to priests on Holy Thursday. His letters covered such topics as priestly vocation, morale among the clergy, spirituality and priestly celibacy. His last letter to priests,  written in 2005,  focused on the importance of the Eucharist.  He signed this last one just three weeks before he died.   The following is an excerpt of this final message to priests:

We priests are the celebrants, but also the guardians of this most sacred mystery. It is our relationship to the Eucharist that most clearly challenges us to lead a "sacred'' life. This must shine forth from our whole way of being, but above all from the way we celebrate. Let us sit at the school of the saints! The Year of the Eucharist invites us to rediscover those saints who were vigorous proponents of Eucharistic devotion (cf.Mane Nobiscum Domine, 31). Many beatified and canonized priests have given exem plary testimony in this regard, enkindling fervor among the faithful present at their celebrations of Mass. Many of them were known for their prolonged Eucharistic adoration. To place ourselves before Jesus in the Eucharist, to take advantage of our ``moments of solitude'' and to fill them with this Presence, is to enliven our consecration by our personal relationship with Christ, from whom our life derives its joy and its meaning

I wanted to quote this because the Holy Father specifically urges us to study the saints and their devotion to the Eucharist. St Paul of the Cross knew how essential the Eucharist is in our spiritual lives.  He was forever urging his directees to grow in their love for the Eucharist.

In the spring of this year 2007, Pope Benedict wrote an apostolic exhortation, SARCAMENTUM CARITATIS – Sacrament of Charity –  on the the Holy Eucharist.  He wants to share with us the importance of this Sacrament. It is to believed, to be celebrated, to be lived.  It is a rich reflection, too lengthy to be summarized in a few words, but here are some quotes worth pondering: 

The sacrament of charity (1), the Holy Eucharist is the gift that Jesus Christ makes of himself, thus revealing to us God's infinite love for every man and woman. This wondrous sacrament makes manifest that "greater" love which led him to "lay down his life for his friends" (Jn 15:13). Jesus did indeed love them "to the end" (Jn 13:1). In those words the Evangelist introduces Christ's act of immense humility: before dying for us on the Cross, he tied a towel around himself and washed the feet of his disciples. In the same way, Jesus continues, in the sacrament of the Eucharist, to love us "to the end," even to offering us his body and his blood. What amazement must the Apostles have felt in witnessing what the Lord did and said during that Supper! What wonder must the eucharistic mystery also awaken in our own hearts.

His purpose in writing is to summarize the deliberations of the Synod of Bishops who met in 2005 to discuss the role and place of the Eucharist in the life of the Church.  The Holy Father also wanted to link this exhortation with his encyclical Deus Caritas Est.   He writes:

 I wish to set the present Exhortation alongside my first Encyclical Letter, Deus Caritas Est, in which I frequently mentioned the sacrament of the Eucharist and stressed its relationship to Christian love, both of God and of neighbour: "God incarnate draws us all to himself. We can thus understand how agape also became a term for the Eucharist: there God's own agape comes to us bodily, in order to continue his work in us and through us" (12).

Some of the following just happens to be some of what I underlined when I read the exhortation.  They may or may not come in logical order. Our Holy Father[ says:

Every great reform has in some way been linked to the rediscovery of belief in the Lord’s eucharistic presence among his people. Part I, 6)
The Eucharist reveals the loving plan that guides all of salvation history. (Part I, 9)
This leads us to reflect on the institution of the Eucharist at the Last Supper. It took place within a ritual meal commemorating the foundational event of the people of Israel: their deliverance from slavery in Egypt. (Part I, 10)

The Holy Father quotes the opening words of Pope John Paul’s Letter on the Eucharist: “The Church draws her life from the Eucharist.”

Each one of us could “amen” these words, whether we are married, single, professed, ordained.  We Oblates draw, or should draw our life from the Eucharist, as should the Knights of Columbus, the Serra Club, the Catholic University, the leadership people in government, the people who defend our country and values, those who have the zeal and energy to reach out to the poor, the victims of injustice, violence, abuse…  All of us draw our (Catholic Christian) life from the Holy Eucharist.

He speaks of the  link  between the Eucharist and the Church. 

 Hence, in the striking interplay between the Eucharist which builds up the Church, and the Church herself which "makes" the Eucharist (33), the primary causality is expressed in the first formula: the Church is able to celebrate and adore the mystery of Christ present in the Eucharist precisely because Christ first gave himself to her in the sacrifice of the Cross. The Church's ability to "make" the Eucharist is completely rooted in Christ's self-gift to her.

A rather fascinating insight from the Holy Father is the following:

15. The Eucharist is thus constitutive of the Church's being and activity. This is why Christian antiquity used the same words, Corpus Christi, to designate Christ's body born of the Virgin Mary, his eucharistic body and his ecclesial body.(34) This clear datum of the tradition helps us to appreciate the inseparability of Christ and the Church.

The Eucharist in St. Paul of the Cross

Perhaps it’s time to return to the central figure in this endeavor, St Paul of the  Cross, on the topics we’ve been looking at. 

Fr Jude Mead ( pp.129-130) gives a kind of compendium of the saint’s teaching on the sacrifice of the Mass, gleaned from the letters of St Paul.  St Paul notes some of the following:

  • a renewal of the Sacrifice of the Cross
  • highest mystery of our holy faith
  • the altar is a great treasure
  • treasure of treasures
  • the living font of holy love
  • to offer to the Eternal Father, His Divine Son
  • offer the Sacramental Jesus to the Eternal Father especially after  Holy Communion
  • during Mass immerse souls in the Precious Blood
  • counsels for the devout celebration of Mass
  • observe the rubrics exactly
  • continual preparation of rubrics
  • ought to celebrate daily
  • celebrate accompanying in spirit Jesus Christ in His Passion and Death.
  • Celebrate each Mass as the last
  • Sublime manner of thanksgiving
  • Special significance of vestments
  • Have the intention of assisting at every Mass that is celebrate in the world
  • The bosom of the priest is an interior tabernacle

Father Mead concludes this section with these words:

For St Paul of the Cross the offering of the Eucharistic sacrifice is the principal, continuous, and efficacious source of priestly spirituality. In this action of Christ and the Church the priest not only exercises his foremost function and prime duty but also has at hand a most powerful means of holiness of life, increase of grace, deepening the spirit and practice of prayer, a deterrent  from sin and a means of perfection, but above all the opportunity for configuration with Christ.

Fr Divo Barsotti (The Eucharist in St Paul of the Cross)  p21ff  suggests several things as St Paul’s original contributions to the theology of the Mass.  He notes the following items:

1. The soul is  a living tabernacle for Jesus because it makes present his death and resurrection. 

Even if the saint never explicitly affirms it, we could say that communion realizes the transformation of the believer into him who is so received that the mystical experience would be none other than the ever more conscious and profound insertion into the Mystery, the participation of the Christian in the death and resurrection of Jesus. By eucharistic communion the soul becomes a living tabernacle of Jesus, because  Jesus lives in him and makes present in him his death and resurrection.                                    .  .  .

The “mysticism of the Passion” is the transformation of the believer into the crucified and risen Christ; not contemplation as the act which one performs, but the grace of the Sacrament which takes one into the Unity of the Mystery

2. A second item under the “originality” of St Paul, according to this study by Barsotti.:  In St Paul of the Cross, death never transcends nor is it ever separated from the resurrection. (p. 22)

. . . The soul of Paul lives the mystery of the death in the solitude and silence of Jesus in the Host.

3. Participation in the unity and totality of the mystery.

 For him Christianity is not an adventure, a journey towards an uncharted future, not even a return to the font, but an insertion into a living Presence, who is the definitive Reality of everything.. . . As secret heart of the world, Christ draws the faithful to himself in death, but for a new birth in God. . . . The preaching of the Cross and the mysticism of the Passion are thus the proclamation itself of salvation, which the individual already experiences and lives by withdrawing himself from the world of dispersion and sin.  Before compassion is an asceticism and a psychological experience, it is an ontological participation in the Mystery. The presence of the dead and risen Christ in the Mystery becomes fully real in the Christian at the moment that Christ becomes present for communion.  Thus Eucharist makes the Church; Eucharist makes the Christian and the saint.

If Paul seems to prefer Holy Communion among the aspects of the Mystery of the Eucharist, it is because in communion the presence of Christ becomes intimate and complete in the person who receives him and this prese3nce makes him with Christ one sole sacrifice, one sole holocaust.

Barsotti concludes that the mysticism of St Paul of the Cross especially recognizes the centrality of the Paschal Mystery.

Barsotti concludes his study (p.26):

The mysticism of St Paul of the Cross not only recognizes the centrality of Christ, but more especially the centrality of the Paschal Mystery. The mediation of Christ is realized in the presence of that same Mystery in which death and resurrection become complementary aspects of one sole life that excludes the possibility of death and communicates God’s glory to man.

The Eucharist in Vatican 2

One aspect of this reflection for us Oblates  has to do with the words used by St Paul of the Cross to refer to the Mass, the Eucharist.  It strikes me that the labels, the titles, the expressions used to refer to the Mass,  as used by St Paul, were somewhat limited in the 18th century liturgical lexicon,  compared to the terminology we find today, say, in the teachings of the Fathers at the Vatican Council, 1962-65.

First of all, let’s look at the Vatican teaching on the Eucharist, specifically as to the titles used. From The Universal Catechism, we read:


1328 The inexhaustible richness of this sacrament is expressed in the different names we give it. Each name evokes certain aspects of it. It is called:

Eucharist, because it is an action of thanksgiving to God. The Greek words eucharistein and eulogein  recall the Jewish blessings that proclaim - especially during a meal - God's works: creation, redemption, and sanctification.

1329 The Lord's Supper, because of its connection with the supper which the Lord took with his disciples on the eve of his Passion and because it anticipates the wedding feast of the Lamb in the heavenly Jerusalem.

The Breaking of Bread, because Jesus used this rite, part of a Jewish meal when as master of the table he blessed and distributed the bread, above all at the Last Supper. It is by this action that his disciples will recognize him after his Resurrection, and it is this expression that the first Christians will use to designate their Eucharistic assemblies;  by doing so they signified that all who eat the one broken bread, Christ, enter into communion with him and form but one body in him.

The Eucharistic assembly (synaxis), because the Eucharist is celebrated amid the assembly of the faithful, the visible expression of the Church.

1330 The memorial of the Lord's Passion and Resurrection.

The Holy Sacrifice, because it makes present the one sacrifice of Christ the Savior and includes the Church's offering. The terms holy sacrifice of the Mass, "sacrifice of praise," spiritual sacrifice, pure and holy sacrifice are also used,  since it completes and surpasses all the sacrifices of the Old Covenant.

The Holy and Divine Liturgy, because the Church's whole liturgy finds its center and most intense expression in the celebration of this sacrament; in the same sense we also call its celebration the Sacred Mysteries. We speak of the Most Blessed Sacramentbecause it is the Sacrament of sacraments. The Eucharistic species reserved in the tabernacle are designated by this same name.

1331 Holy Communion, because by this sacrament we unite ourselves to Christ, who makes us sharers in his Body and Blood to form a single body. We also call it: the holy things (ta hagia; sancta)   - the first meaning of the phrase "communion of saints" in the Apostles' Creed - the bread of angels, bread from heaven, medicine of immortality, viaticum. . . .

1332 Holy Mass (Missa), because the liturgy in which the mystery of salvation is accomplished concludes with the sending forth (missio) of the faithful, so that they may fulfill God's will in their daily lives

Do these titles,  cited in the  Catechism,   appear in St Paul’s writings?  In a brief search of St Paul’s letters, I found the following:

  • Eucharist –St Paul himself  did not use this title. It does appear twice in the editor’s footnotes.
  • The Lord’s Supper-  is not used by St Paul. “The Last Supper” is used but once.
  • The Breaking of the Bread – does not appear in his letters.
  • The Eucharistic Assembly- does not appear in his writings
  • The Memorial of the Lord’s Passion and Resurrection – is not found.
  • The Holy Sacrifice -   This phrase appears in six letters.   Sometimes when Paul requests remembrance in the “holy sacrifices” of their lives. This may or may not be at times pointing to  the Sacrifice of the Mass, in addition to the above appearances.
  • The Holy Sacrifice of the Mass – is found in two letters.
  • Sacrifice of praise – is used in two letters of St Paul.
  • Spiritual Sacrifice – is not found in his letters.
  • Pure and Holy sacrifice – is not found in his writings
  • Holy and Divine Liturgy  is not found in his letters. The word liturgy itself is mentioned twice in footnotes  of the editors.
  • Sacred Mysteries – is found in two of his letters. 
  • Most Blessed Sacrament –  is not found
  • Blessed Sacrament – is found 79  times
  • Holy Communion – is mentioned 41 times
  • Holy Mass is used 33 times
  • The Mass, the word used most frequently by St Paul (153 times).

Since many of the Catechism’s words used  for the Mass are from the earliest days of the Church, I found it interesting that St Paul did not make  use of some of the titles used over the centuries for the Mass/Liturgy of the Eucharist.  I was  somewhat surprised that my “search”  brought no references to the four evangelists or the Acts of the Apostles. Apparently, even the word “bible” does not appear in his Letters, although the word “scriptures” and “holy Scriptures” are mentioned a few times.  He surely did not have access to  many books that we have now, from the Fathers of the Ch urch, from the study of the Scriptures.   His library was surely limited. Books were very expensive, and he probably did not take time for much personal enrichment from a library. His wisdom was a gift to him and to the Church from the Holy Spirit, and from our Crucified Savior, Jesus.

Searching for “Holy Scriptures” in his Letters brought but two references in his letters. The word “Scripture” was mentioned in seven letters.

Normally, when St Paul refers to scriptures, he does not list any book or name.  He usually says “as the scripture says…” 

Some further reflections:

I wondered about St Paul’s use of the Fathers of the Church.   There was no apparent reference to Sts Augustine, Ambrose, Jerome, St Thomas Aquinas.  A search for the names of the four evangelists  and the Acts of the Apostles  listed nothing in the Letters. St Paul used the word  Saints frequently, but there’s no mention of the Communion of Saints.

The words “Holy Gospels”  appear  but twice in his many letters. The Acts of the Apostles is not mentioned.  The name of St Paul the Apostle is not found among his letters, although Paul refers to him indirectly. The words  Old Testament and New Testament are not to be  found either in his writings.

It’s hard for us to comprehend the difficulty St Paul must have had in obtaining a copy of the Bible. The early copies were made by hand and were very expensive. The first printed bible appeared around 1456, a couple of hundred years before Paul’s time.  They too were costly.  We’re suggesting that he possibly had limited access to the scriptures, and did not rely on them very much.  It was surprising to me that the scriptures were apparently rather marginal in his situation and circumstances.  Could there have been some negative reaction regarding the use of the scriptures, given the recent phenomenon of the Protestant revolt, and the Protestants’ almost exclusive reliance on the scriptures?

Add to this the frequent references to the Pope (s).  Given his proximity to the city of Rome, and  his seeming reluctance to rely on the scriptures, we should not be surprised at his dependence on the Holy Father (s). He mentions the pope 137 times. He refers to the pontiff 37 times.  I would surmise a definite bias on the part of St Paul towards papal authority and a far less dependence on the scriptures.  Keep in mind that the reading of the Scriptures by Catholics was not strongly emphasized, for the most part, until the time of the Second Vatican Council which met in 1962-65.

I believe that St Paul himself had a great love for the scriptures.  After all, he prayed his breviary   every day, and the spirit of the scriptures permeates his every letter.  His whole life was founded on the person of Jesus Christ, crucified and risen.  St Paul knew and loved the word of God, the Word made flesh. Without a love for God’s word, he would never have become the Voice and the Witness for Jesus Christ in the eighteen century like he was. 

St Paul of the Cross was a good and holy priest who loved the Church, the priesthood, the Eucharist. Our prayer is that he will intercede for us “moderns” in the twenty-first century, and help us share his love and example with all our people today.  St Paul drew his life from the Eucharist.  May we follow his example to the best of our abilities.    Amen





--SACRAMENTUM CARITATIS, Sacrament of Charity,  Benedict XVI


From the Vatican Council’s Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy, 12/4/63

7. To accomplish so great a work, Christ is always present in His Church, especially in her liturgical celebrations. He is present in the sacrifice of the Mass, not only in the person of His minister, "the same now offering, through the ministry of priests, who formerly offered himself on the cross" (20), but especially under the eucharistic species. By His power He is present in the sacraments, so that when a man baptizes it is really Christ Himself who baptizes (21). He is present in His word, since it is He Himself who speaks when the holy scriptures are read in the Church. He is present, lastly, when the Church prays and sings, for He promised: "Where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them" (Matt. 18:20) .            

47. At the Last Supper, on the night when 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 spouse, the Church, a memorial of His death and resurrection: a sacrament of love, a sign of unity, a bond of charity (36), a paschal banquet in which Christ is eaten, the mind is filled with grace, and a pledge of future glory is given to us (37).