Words of Institution

Words of Institution

The Words of Institution are those used, inserted into a narrative of the Last Supper, in Christian Eucharistic liturgies to recall those used by Jesus on that occasion. Eucharistic scholars sometimes refer to them simply as the "verba" (Latin for "words").

Almost all existing ancient Christian Churches explicitly include Words of Institution in their Mass or Divine Liturgy, and consider them necessary for the validity of the sacrament. The Holy Qurbana of Addai and Mari does not explicitly contain Words of Institution. This Anaphora is used by the Assyrian Church of the East and (often in adapted form) by the Chaldean Catholic Church and others of the same tradition. The Roman Catholic Church has explicitly recognized its validity, saying that "the words of Eucharistic Institution are indeed present in the Anaphora of Addai and Mari, not in a coherent narrative way and "ad litteram", but rather in a dispersed euchological way, that is, integrated in successive prayers of thanksgiving, praise and intercession." [ [http://www.vatican.va/roman_curia/pontifical_councils/chrstuni/documents/rc_pc_chrstuni_doc_20011025_chiesa-caldea-assira_en.html "Guidelines for Admission to the Eucharist between the Chaldean Church and the Assyrian Church of the East"] ]

No formula of Words of Institution is claimed to be an exact reproduction of words that Jesus used, presumably in the Aramaic language, at his Last Supper. The formulas generally combine words from the Gospels of Mark, Matthew and Luke and the Pauline account in bibleverse|1|Corinthians|11:24-25. They may even insert other words, such as the phrase "Mysterium fidei" which for many centuries was found within the Roman Rite Words of Institution, until removed in 1970.

Roman Catholic Church

The Words of Institution are presented in the 1973 English translation of the Roman Missal in the form given in the following italicized text. The distinction here made by bolding is not found in the Missal.

:::"Take this, all of you, and eat it::::"this is my body which will be given up for you."

:::"Take this, all of you, and drink from it:":::"this is the cup of my blood,":::"the blood of the new and everlasting covenant.":::"It will be shed for you and for all":::"so that sins may be forgiven.":::"Do this in memory of me."

From the time of Peter Lombard on, the prevailing theology of the Catholic Church considered the words in bold above to be "on their own" the necessary and sufficient "sacramental form" of the Eucharist. This, however, was never the Church's defined doctrine, and does not appear, for instance, in the Catechism of the Catholic Church. Especially since the publication of the 17 January 2001 decision by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith in favour of the validity of the Holy Qurbana of Addai and Mari, which is the oldest Eucharistic Prayer still in use, and which does not contain the Words of Institution in explicit form, attention is given to the rite as a whole, not just to a few words within it, although these words or their equivalent are considered to be essential.

The theology of the ancient Eastern Churches generally believes the Epiclesis also to be the central portion of the sacramental form, relegating the "verba" to a secondary though essential position. This is a reflection of the differences in the underlying soteriologies.

Eastern Christian Churches

In the Eastern Orthodox and Greek-Catholic Churches, the Words of Institution are the only portion of the Anaphora that are spoken aloud by the priest.

The specific words spoken by the priest differ, depending upon which form of the Divine Liturgy is being celebrated:

*Liturgy of St. John Chrysostom:

"For the bread": "Take, eat: this is My Body, which is broken for you for the remission of sins."

"For the wine": "Drink of it, all of you: this is My Blood of the New Testament, which is shed for you and for many, for the remission of sins."

*Liturgy of St. Basil the Great:

"For the bread": "He gave it to His holy disciples and apostles, saying: 'Take, eat: this is My Body, which is broken for you for the remission of sins.'"

"For the wine": "He gave it to His holy disciples and apostles, saying: 'Drink of it, all of you: this is My Blood of the New Testament, which is shed for you and for many, for the remission of sins.'"

Orthodox Christians and some Eastern Catholic Churches do not interpret the Words of Institution to be the moment the "Holy Gifts" (bread and wine) are changed into the Body and Blood of Christ. In fact, they do not define a specific moment of change; however, they understand the process to be completed (perfected) at the Epiclesis (the calling-down of the Holy Spirit upon the Gifts.

The Liturgy of the Presanctified Gifts does not contain the Words of Institution, since it is actually a Vespers service at which the faithful receive from the Reserved Mysteries (Sacrament) which were Consecrated the Sunday before (hence the name: "Pre-sanctified").

Protestant Churches

Protestant Churches generally, with the exception of the Anglican Communion and Lutheranism, rely exclusively on the words of St. Paul as recorded in 1 Corinthians 11:23-26. ("ESV"):

:"For I received from the Lord what I also delivered to you, that the Lord Jesus on the night when he was betrayed took bread,":"and when he had given thanks, he broke it, and said, 'This is my body which is for you. Do this in remembrance of me."':"In the same way also he took the cup, after supper, saying, 'This cup is the new covenant in my blood. Do this, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of me."':"For as often as you eat this bread and drink the cup, you proclaim the Lord's death until he comes."

Protestantism has typically utilized the words of institution as a central part of its Eucharistic liturgy, though precise traditions vary by denomination. The debate over the force and literalness of the words of institution underlies the arguments between consubstantiation and transubstantiation. Most of the established churches in the Protestant tradition employ a mirroring of Paul's words surrounding the words of institution, while Congregationalist and Baptist churches use the words themselves without the full citation of Paul's wording.

Current trends in Methodist thought would require both the "verba" and an epiclesis for a Prayer of Thanksgiving, which bridges Western and Eastern thought.

= Lutheran Church =

The Lutheran liturgy differs from that of other Protestants by using a conflation of the four versions of the words of institution. Luther's Small Catechism shows this,

The holy evangelists, Matthew, Mark, and Luke, and St. Paul write thus: "Our LORD Jesus Christ, on the night in which he was betrayed, took the bread, gave thanks, and broke it and gave it to his disciples and said, 'Take; eat; this is my body which is given for you. Do this in remembrance of me.' In the same way he also took the cup after the supper, gave thanks, and gave it to them and said, 'Take, and drink of it, all of you. This cup is the New Testament in my blood, which is shed for you for the forgiveness of sins. Do this, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of me.'" ["The Small Catechism" VI.4; cf. "The Book of Concord: The Confessions of the Evangelical Lutheran Church", Robert Kolb "et al.", eds. (Minneapolis: Fortress Press, 2000), 362]
By doing so, they include the phrase "My blood, which is shed for you for the forgiveness of sins..." This reflects Lutheran sacramental theology in which the sacrament is a means of grace and actively forgives sins.


*cite web
last = Fortescue
first = Adrian
year = 1908
url = http://www.sanctamissa.org/en/resources/articles/canon-of-the-mass-fortescue.html
title = Canon of the Mass
work = the Catholic Encyclopedia
publisher = Robert Appleton Company

*cite web
last = Guéranger
first = Prosper
year = 1885
url = http://www.sanctamissa.org/en/spirituality/saints-in-the-roman-canon.html
title = Explanation of the Prayers and Ceremonies of Holy Mass

* [http://www.sanctamissa.org/EN/tutorial/ordo-missae-4.html Canon of the Mass of the 1962 Roman Catholic Missal with MP3 Audio] "(with English translation)"

External links

* [http://www.vatican.va/archive/catechism/p2s2c1a3.htm Catechism of the Catholic Church - The sacrament of the Eucharist]
* [http://www.vatican.va/roman_curia/pontifical_councils/chrstuni/documents/rc_pc_chrstuni_doc_20011025_chiesa-caldea-assira_en.html Guidelines For Admission To The Eucharist Between The Chaldean Church And The Assyrian Church Of The East]


*Cross, F. L., ed. "The Oxford Dictionary of the Christian Church". London: Oxford UP, 1974.

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