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An Exposition Of the Epistles Of Saint Paul And Of The Catholic Epistles Volumes 1&2

Analysis

The Apostle undertakes, in this chapter, the correction of three abusive practices, which prevailed at Corinth. The first was, the indecorous practice on the part of the Corinthian females of appearing in the churches with heads uncovered, while the men appeared with their heads covered. In order to combat this abuse, he shows the relation of inferiority and subjection which the woman holds towards the man; whence he infers the deordination of the man appearing with covered head, and the woman with head uncovered, and from other reasons of congruity, and finally, from the practice of the Church, he demonstrates the same (1–16).

The second regarded their conduct at the Agapes, celebrated immediately before Holy Communion. He reproves the Corinthians for their dissensions on such occasions. He taxes the rich with a want of consideration for the poor, when they assemble together; and in order to bring them to a sense of what they owed this divine banquet, he relates the history of the institution of the adorable Eucharist (16–26).

The third regarded the sacrilegious impiety of unworthy communion. He points out its enormity (27), its antidote (28), and in order to stimulate them to greater diligence in their preparation for this divine banquet, he again depicts the enormity of unworthy communion (29). He refers to instances of its punishment even among themselves (30). He shows the mode of avoiding these punishments (31), and again reverts to the subject of the Agapes.

Paraphrase

1. (Since, then, regardless of my own temporal ease and profit, I have had always in view, the glory of God, and my neighbour’s spiritual advantage); be you imitators of me, as I have been of Christ.

2. Now, I have reason to praise you for being mindful of all my precepts, and for observing all my ordinances, as I have delivered them to you.

3. But I wish you to know, that Christ is the head or superior to whom every man is immediately subject; and the man is the immediate head or superior to whom the woman owes subjection; and God, or, the blessed Trinity, is the head or superior to whom Christ, as Man, is subject.

4. Every man who prophesies or prays, having his head covered, disgraces his head.

5. While, on the other hand, every woman, who publicly prays or prophesies with head uncovered, disgraces her head; it is just as bad as if she were shaved.

6. Now, if a woman be not veiled, she might as well be shorn; but if it be disgraceful for a woman to appear shorn or bald (as it surely is), then, let her be veiled.

7. The man ought not to cover his head, because he is the subject in whom God has cause to glory, as in his most perfect work, and the glory of God is to be manifested and not concealed; he is also the image of God, made after God’s likeness; having, therefore, no superior on earth, he should, as a mark of pre-eminence, keep his head uncovered. But the woman is the subject wherein the man has cause to glory; and hence, in token of subjection to him, whose glory she is, and whose control she is to acknowledge, she should be veiled.

8. For, that the woman is the glory of the man, whose superiority, therefore, she should acknowledge by wearing a veil, is clear from the fact, that she was formed out of the man, but not reciprocally, the man, in the first instance, out of her.

9. The same is clear from the end of woman’s creation, which was the service of man, to be a helpmate to him; but the woman was not the end of the man’s creation. As, then, subserviency implies inferiority, and the means are inferior to the end; hence, the superiority of the man over the woman.

10. She ought, therefore, wear a veil on her head, in token of her subjection to her husband’s power, on account of the angelic spirits, who are present in our temples, and prostrate before their annihilated God, encircle our altars during the celebration of the divine mysteries.

11. But the man should by no means grow insolent on account of the superiority which we have asserted for him over the woman; for the ordinance of the Lord has been, that the man requires the assistance of the woman, and the woman, that of the man.

12. And as the first woman was formed from the man, so now, in turn, is man born of woman, and this by the arrangement of God, the primary source and fountain of all things, in order to secure for them reciprocal dependence and mutual love.

13. I appeal to your own sense of propriety, if it be becoming in a woman to appear at prayer without a veil in the public assemblies of the faithful.

14. Does not a sense of natural decency, manifested by the repugnance which men commonly feel to nourish their hair, show us, that it is a disgrace for a man to nourish his hair in a womanlike way.

15. For the God of nature has given her long flowing hair as a natural veil (which should, at the same time, remind her of putting on a head-covering, in token of submission to her husband).

16. But if any person, anxious for superiority in argument, will insist on the propriety of woman appearing unveiled in public, my only reply to him—(and this is the last and the strongest that can be adduced, viz., that of authority)—is, that neither we Apostles (or Jewish converts), nor the Church of God, know any such custom.

17. But with regard to what I am now about to prescribe to you, I enter on the subject, instead of praising you (as heretofore, verse 2), rather disposed to censure you, for causing your religious assemblies to be attended with greater spiritual detiment than profit.

18. For, in the first place, I hear, that when you assemble together in the church, especially destined for the sacred meetings of the faithful, instead of being united in brotherly concord, you, on the contrary, have schisms and divisions among you, and I am inclined to believe these charges to be true of some of you, or some of these charges to be true of you all.

19. Nor does it cause me surprise to witness such breaches of charity and concord amongst you; for, looking to the nature of man, there must be divisions even in the dogmas of faith, which divisions in faith God permits, in order that those who are genuine and sincere amongst you may be made manifest by the contrast with those who err.

20. When, therefore, you assemble together in the meetings referred to, it is no longer to eat the Lord’s Supper.

21. For each one takes with him beforehand his own supper to eat; the consequence is, that while one party, viz., the poor, stands by hungry, another, viz., the rich, drinks to excess.

22. If you wish to enjoy your private suppers, have you not your own houses?—or do you despise the house of God by such profanation, and the whole Christian congregation, by outraging and causing shame in those who have nothing to contribute? Surely, for conduct like this I cannot praise you.

23. For I have received by revelation from the Lord himself immediately and directly (as, indeed, I have the entire Gospel, of which the doctrine of the Eucharist forms a prominent part), what I have already described to you by word of mouth touching this subject, viz., that the Lord Jesus, on the very night on which he was betrayed, took bread into his venerable and creative hands;

24. And giving thanks, broke and said: Take ye and eat, this is my body which shall be delivered for you. What I have now done, do you and your successors also to the end of time, in commemorat on of my bitter passion and death.

25. In like manner, after having first partaken of the Paschal supper, and also of the ordinary Jewish supper, he took the chalice, saying, this chalice, i.e., the contents of this chalice, is the authentic instrument of the New Testament, sealed and sanctioned in my blood, or, the thing contained in this chalice of my blood, it is, that ratifies and confirms the New Testament. As often as you shall drink of this, do it in commemoration of me.

26. As often, then, as you shall partake of this bread (transubstantiated into the body), and drink the chalice (changed into the blood of Christ), you shall announce the death of the Lord until he comes to judge the world.

27. Whosoever, therefore, shall eat this bread or drink the chalice of the Lord unworthily, i.e., in the state of mortal sin, shall be guilty of the body and blood of the Lord.

28. If, then, a man feels conscious of being in mortal sin, let him prove himself by good sacramental confession; and, then, he may eat of this flesh and drink of this chalice.

29. For he that eats and drinks unworthily, eats and drinks judgment—that is to say, entails damnation on himself, in punishment of his not discerning the body of the Lord, treating it with no more respect than he would treat common bread.

30. In punishment of these bad communions, many amongst you are afflicted with divers maladies and infirmities, and many, punished with death.

31. If, then, we would examine and prove ourselves, and expiate our sins by a good confession, we would avert these judgments and punishments from us.

32. Whilst, however, we are thus punished, we are only experiencing the correction which the Lord administers to us as children, to save us from being involved in the same judgment of condemnation with the sinners and infidels of this world.

33. Wherefore, on the occasion of all your future meetings at your Agapes; let them be in reality the Lord’s suppers, common to all, and wait for one another.

34. If any man be too hungry to remain fasting so long, let him eat at home, in order that your meetings may not serve as so many occasions of damnation on account of your excesses, your pride, and contempt of the poor. Other matters connected with this subject, I will prescribe and arrange as soon as I shall have come amongst you.

Commentary

1. This is connected with the preceding chapter, in the last verse of which the Apostle encouraged the Corinthians to perform certain laudable actions after his own example. In this verse, he gives the reason for proposing his own example, viz., because he imitated Christ; and it is only inasmuch as they imitate their heavenly model, that we are to follow the example of superiors.

2. Before entering on the disagreeable duty of denouncing abuses, the Apostle, in order to soften down the harshness generally involved in their correction, with apostolic prudence, first compliments the Corinthians for what was deserving of praise in them. “That in all things you are mindful,” &c. “All things,” must be taken with some limitation; for, in this very chapter, the Apostle censures them for the violation of some of his precepts (verse 22). Hence, the words must be confined to the more religious among them; or, if they be understood to extend to all, then, they must mean, on the whole “you are mindful of me and keep my ordinances.” By “ordinances,” as appears from the Greek word, παραδοσεις, are meant oral instructions. The word “delivered” also, as appears from the Greek word, παρεδωκα, means, orally delivered.

3. The first abuse which he wishes to correct is, that of women appearing with heads uncovered in the Church, either at times of prayer or public instruction. It is not unlikely that, among the several questions proposed to the Apostle by the Corinthians (7:1), he was consulted about the propriety of women appearing in the Church without veils. In order to point out more clearly the impropriety of such conduct, he shows the place which the woman holds with regard to her husband, at the same time he shows the relation of subjection which the husband holds in regard to Christ, and following up the order of subjection, he brings it to the supreme headship and high dominion of God. “The head of every man is Christ.” He is the head of every woman also; but the man is her immediate head or superior. “The head of Christ,” as Man—it is under this respect that the Apostle considers him—“is God,” or the Blessed Trinity. This is said of him in the same nature, of which it is said, “Pater MAJOR me est.” Hence, all dominion is ultimately referred to God.

4. “With his head covered.” The Greek is κατὰ κεφαλῆς ἔχων, having on his head; of course, covering is understood; hence, our version expresses the sense. “Disgraces his head.” because, as the covering of the head was, according to the usage prevalent in the days of the Apostle, a sign of subjection to those before whom it was covered, the man, by having his head covered, would imply that he had a superior on earth; and hence, he would be disgracing his dignity, as lord of creation. It is observed by Commentators, that a different and contrary meaning is now attached to covering and uncovering the head. It is hardly necessary to remark that, with us, the inferior keeps the head uncovered before the superior, in token of reverence and respect. Even of old, the Jewish High Priest, in the discharge of his sacerdotal functions, wore a tiara on his head, with his feet naked; but this was done for a mystical reason, to signify that in the Old Law things were obscured and veiled in mystery.

5. It is a matter of dispute what the word “prophesying” means. It is clear, the Apostle is censuring a fault committed in the public assemblies convened either for the purposes of prayer or instruction, &c. But how it comes to pass that the Apostle censures women merely for prophesying or speaking publicly with heads uncovered, instead of preventing them from speaking at all in the temples, as he does (14:34), is a matter of difficulty; to solve which some say, that by “prophesying,” is meant joining in singing psalms, in which women could take a part. This is a signification of the words not uncommon in SS. Scripture (v.g.), “Saul amongt he prophets” (1 Kings, 19:24), i.e., the singers of God’s praises. Others, by “prophesying” understand, not the predicting of future events, but the explaining of the Scriptures in an extraordinary manner, as the result of the inspiration of the moment. These say, that the Apostle censures the women who SPEAK publicly in the Church, for two reasons: First, for doing so with heads uncovered—and this is the reason expressed by him here; and, secondly, for doing so at all, which he reserves for chap. 14 verse 34; whereas, the women who PRAY in public, he censures only on the ground of appearing with head uncovered; and this is a fair reply; because a person may censure one bad quality of an action, without entering into a condemnation of all the evils which it involves, if his scope do not require it, as is the case here with the Apostle. Others understand the word “prophesying,” of the prediction of future events, as in the case of the daughters of Philip.—(Acts 21:1). The former is, however, the more probable view of the case; for, although it was a fault in them to speak at all in public; still, that was not precisely the fault which the Apostle intended to censure here.

The Corinthian women were remarkable for immodesty in dress, and after their conversion, they adhered to the same, as a matter of fashion in the country. This proved a source of offence to the converted Jews, whose women always appeared with, veils in the temple; and, as this immodesty in dress was the result of improper conduct, to which it also served as an incentive on the part of the Pagan population, it might be, that the Pagans, on seeing Christian women appearing in the same dress with the uncoverted females, would regard the morals of both in the same light, to the detriment of Christian faith and morality. As a city dedicated to Venus, Corinth was the very seat of impurity. Hence, the zeal of the Apostle in remedying this evil. Of course, the meaning attached to covering or uncovering the head, depends on custom, which is always variable. The Apostle argues from the meaning of the usage in his own time. This much, however, is to be inferred, as a precept binding at all times, that women should always appear in modest, becoming dress, whether in the church or elsewhere; but particularly when assisting at the Adorable Sacrifice, and, above all, when approaching Holy Communion.

6. “If a woman be not covered, let her be shorn,” i.e., she might as well be shorn. It was the general feeling that women should be veiled. This was indicated by her natural veil or long hair, which nature gave her as an emblem of that veil which modesty should superadd, and if she throw away this latter veil, she might as well throw away the former or natural one; and so, be shorn. “But if it be a shame to a woman to be shorn,” &c., as it surely is, being adopted only in case of extreme grief, or inflicted as a mark of infamy on harlots or adulteresses. This, of course, contains no argument against the propriety of religious females cutting off their hair; because they lay aside their hair in token of their total renunciation of the world, and their entire devotedness to a better, a heavenly lover. Moreover, the natural disgrace attached to cutting the hair regards those females only who engage in the world and mix in society.

7. He assigns a reason why the woman and not the man should wear a veil; the man should not wear a veil. “because he is the image and glory of God,” i.e., the glorious image of God; or perhaps, it is better to read the words, “glory” and “image” separately, on account of the following words “the woman is the glory of the man.” She is a subject of glory to him, having been formed from his side. Hence, Adam cried out on seeing Eve: “Hoc nunc os ex ossibus meis,” &c.—(Genesis, 2). Is not the woman also the image of God? Moses says of both: “ad imaginem Suam creavit Deus hominem. Mascuium et feminam creavit EOS.”—(Genesis, 1:27). But still, the image of God is more clearly reflected in the man, his faculties having been more vigorous, and his dominion over creation more universal, than is the case with the woman; for, she herself is subject to man’s control. Moreover, he refrains from calling the woman, the image of God, because she is immediately the image of man, having been formed from man for an assistance like unto himself. Hence, she is the image of God, in the same way as she has Christ for her head, i.e., mediante viro.

8. The Apostle points out the reasons of the inferiority of the woman, in point of nature, having been formed from man, and having been consequently posterior to him in the order of creation.

9. Another ground of inferiority: the purpose of her creation was to be a helpmate to him; and hence, as the woman is, in a certain sense, from the man, as the man is from God, and as she was created for the man, as the man was, in a certain sense, for God, she is the glory of the man, and should acknowledge his superiority by wearing a veil.

10. “A power over her head.” The thing signified, viz., “power,” is used for the sign, viz., a veil, which is a sign of power, one the one hand, and of subjection, on the other. He appeals to the women to guard against impropriety in dress, on account of the angelic pure spirits who are present in our temples, and shall one day appear as witnesses before God, of their immodesty and disorderly conduct. St. John Chrysostom, as we are informed by his disciple, St. Nilus (Epistola ad Anastasium), saw the temple filled with hosts of angels during the celebration of the divine mysteries. And St. Chrysostom himself assures us, that the Cherubim and Seraphim assist at the divine mysteries in prostrate adoration.—(Homilia de Sacra Mensa). St. Gregory (Libro iv. Dialog. chapter 58) asserts the same. How great, then, should be the feelings of awe and reverence which we ought to carry with us into the house of God, in which the Lord of glory remains really, truly, and substantially, on our altars. Quam terribilis est locus iste; non est hic aliud nisi domus Dei, et porta cæli.—(Genesis, 28:17).

By “angels” others understand the bishops and priests who may be endangered in their ministry, unless the woman appear clad in modest dress. The Prophet, Malachy, (2:7) calls the priests “the angels of the Lord of armies.”

11. Lest the man should grow insolent on account of the superiority which has been asserted for him over the woman; and the woman, on the other hand, should despond and undervalue her position too much, the Apostle now asserts that the ordinance and disposition of God—“in the Lord”—is, that they should mutually depend on each other; and this holds particularly in the management of the household and the education of their families—they should, therefore, live in indissoluble union.

12. And as the first woman was formed out of the man; so, now, man is born of woman, God, the first source and principle of everything, so arranging it, ex ipso et per ipsum, et in ipso sunt omnia.—(Rom. 11).

13. He now appeals to their own sense of propriety in proof of what he has been saying; “yourselves,” in Greek ἐν ὑμιν αὐτοῖς, in yourselves; “to pray to God, uncovered.” He omits the word “prophesying,” because veiled, or unveiled, this latter would be improper in her, as he shows (14:34).

14. “Nature” may also refer to the usage or custom, which is a sort of second nature. The custom among the Greeks or Hebrews was, for the woman to wear long, and the men, short hair. Of course, the Apostle does not contemplate the case in which men may have particular reasons for wearing long hair.

15. This precept of observing propriety in dress is obligatory on women, not only on occasions of public prayer, but at all times.

16. His last and most forcible argument on this subject, is the practice of the Church—the safest rule that can be followed in all matters appertaining to either faith or morals. “Contentious.” The Greek word, φιλονεικος, means, fond of superiority in argument. “No such custom,” may either refer to the custom animadverted upon, of men wearing long hair, and of women appearing in church without veils, or, to the custom and practice of pertinaciously resisting apostolic authority. “Nor the Church of God.” In Greek αἱ εκκλησιαι, the churches.

17. The Apostle now proceeds to treat of another abuse of a still more serious nature, which called for the most rigorous measures of correction. It appears that for the purpose of perfectly representing the institution of the Adorable Eucharist at which our Divine Redeemer, in common with his Apostles, had first partaken of the ordinary Jewish Paschal supper, and afterwards (as we learn from the Evangelists), gave them his adorable Body and Blood, the primitive Christians were wont to go in the evening to the church or room set apart for religious meetings, and there partake in common, rich and poor, of an ordinary repast, to which the rich principally contributed and invited the poor.—(Vide Calmet, Dictionnaire de la Bible). These suppers—termed Agapes, or Charity feasts, from commemorating the love of the faithful for one another—were intended to represent the Paschal and ordinary Jewish suppers, of which our Redeemer and his Apostles partook, before he gave them the Holy Eucharist. The Eucharist itself sufficiently represented its own institution. These banquets were made the occasion of very great abuses; for, the rich, instead of joining in the Agapes, and contributing towards them, according to the primitive institution, brought with them, to the Church, each one, his own supper, and indulged to excess in eating and drinking. On this account, they disedified the faithful; they sowed divisions, in consequence of excluding from their tables the poor and hungry, and immediately after received the body and blood of the Lord, unworthily, to their own condemnation. What wonder, then, that the Apostle should have exerted all his zeal to put a stop to such fearful evils. “Now this I ordain.” Some Expositors join these words with the preceding, thus:—these injunctions I have given about women wearing veils, &c., and then, they say, he commences the subject of the Eucharist in the words, “not praising you,” &c., as if he said: while praising you in general (verse 2), I must except your conduct in reference to the following abuse. The arrangement adopted in the Paraphrase seems to be the more natural. In the common Greek, the words, “this I ordain, not praising,” &c., run thus: τοῦτο δὲ παραγγελλων ουκ επαινω, while ordaining this, I praise you not. The Vulgate is the reading of the Alexandrian and other MSS., and of the ancient versions. The Codex Vaticanus has, τουτο παραγγελλων ουκ επαινων, “while ordaining this, not praising you.” The meaning is the same in all.

18. “In the Church” (εν εκκλησια, in church—the article is wanting in the chief MSS.) may either mean the place set apart for sacred assemblages (as in Paraphrase), or, the collection and assemblage itself. So that the words may mean, when you meet together in the assembly of the faithful, which assembling together is calculated to bind them firmly in concord. “There are schisms among you.” What the cause of these “schisms,” or divisions, was, the Apostle does not explain. It appears, however, from the context, that they were occasioned by the manner in which they assembled and celebrated the Agapes: the rich not waiting for, nay, excluding the poor. “And in part I believe it.” “In part,” may refer either to the people; and mean, I believe these charges to be true of some of you; or, to the charges, and mean, I believe some of these charges to be true of all of you.

19. “There must be also heresies.” (In the Greek is added, ἐν ὐμιν, among you). By “heresies,” are commonly meant, errors in faith. St. Chrysostom understands the word here to signify the same as “schisms” (verse 18), but improbably; for, by saying, “there must be heresies ALSO,” the Apostle implies that they are different from the others. They “must be,” as a matter of consequent necessity, considering the corruption of human nature; just as “scandals must be.” “That,” may mean the consequence, or, the final cause which God has in view in suffering heresies to exist. “Melius judicavit de malis benefacere quam mala nulla esse permittere.”—(St. Augustine, Enchirid., 27). “Who are approved.” The Greek word, δοκιμοι, means those who are tested and tried, like gold in the furnace, the genuine, sterling believers.

20. “Therefore,” is resumptive of the subject referred to, verse 18. “The Lord’s supper.” This was a supper of charity, concord, and love; a supper celebrated in common, to which even Judas was admitted; whereas, their banquets were the occasion of divisions; private banquets from which the poor were excluded. By “the Lord’s supper,” it is clear he means the Agape, and not the Eucharist itself; for, no one would be permitted to drink to excess of the Eucharist, as the ministers of religion would not have given it so abundantly. Moreover, the abusive practice of not waiting for each other could not regard the Eucharistic supper, which was not celebrated until all were assembled. Again, the excesses on account of which he taxes them with unworthy communions, must have preceded the Eucharist; for, though the circumstance of sinning after the communion would aggravate the sin, it would not still prove the preceding communion to be bad or sacrilegious. Hence, from his charging them with bad communions, in consequence of the excesses which took place at the “supper of the Lord,” these excesses, and the supper consequently, must have preceded communion.

21. “The abuse which the Apostle here denounces was occasioned by the fact, that the rich, instead of partaking of a supper in common with the poor, brought their own suppers to the church, and partook of them apart, without waiting for, or inviting the poor; nay, even excluding them.” The consequence was that some of them committed excess (“is drunk”), approached holy communion in mortal sin, and thus became guilty of the body and blood of the Lord.

“One man is hungry,” who probably fasted until evening, and hoped to join in the Agape, from which he is excluded.

“And another is drunk.” This word here simply implies excessive indulgence, which, however, did not reach a deprivation of reason.

22. “The church of God,” may either mean the congregation, or the place of meeting (as in Paraphrase). Respecting these Agapes, to which reference is made here, it is to be observed, that at the time referred to by the Apostle, they were celebrated immediately before holy communion, as is clear from this entire passage, verse 20 (although St. Chrysostom and others are of a contrary opinion), and continued to be celebrated in the same way, for a considerable time after, in some churches. Sozomen relates, that such was the case in some churches of Egypt, even in his own time; and from the decree of the third Council of Carthage, at which St. Augustine assisted and over which Aurelius, Primate of Africa, presided, prohibiting all who were not fasting beforehand, to receive the Holy Eucharist, Maunday Thursday excepted (canon 29), it is inferred, that the contrary usage generally prevailed throughout the several churches of Africa. It is, however, asserted by many, that those Agapes were, after the time referred to hear, celebrated throughout the church generally after holy communion; and some assert that this change in the time of the celebration was one of the points of reformation promised by the Apostle (verse 34). St. Augustine (Epistola ad Januarium), and others, refer the discipline of fasting before holy communion to the age of the Apostles. This is, however, called in question by many. But although the precise period at which this discipline of fasting before holy communion was introduced, cannot be defined for certain, it is universally agreed that it is of the highest antiquity. In consequence of the abuses to which these Agapes or charity feasts gave occasion, whether they were celebrated before or after communion (and we are told by Baronius, ad annum Christi 57, that they were frequently celebrated on the feasts of the martyrs, and on the occasion of the dedication of churches), the Council of Laodicea (canon 28) prohibited them altogether in the church, and forbade any such banquets in the house of God. The same prohibition was renewed by the Council of Quinisextum (canon 14).

23. In order to point out the enormity of the sacrilegious communions, which were the great evils resulting from the excesses committed at the Agapes, the Apostle repeats the loving history of the institution of the adorable Eucharist, which he had already, when among them, described orally, and to their forgetfulness of which, as well as of the sanctity of the mystery they were about to approach, their irreverences, their contempt of the entire church, their neglect of the poor, their excesses might be attributed.

“The same night on which he was betrayed.” This circumstance the Apostle mentions, in order to commend the excessive charity of Christ for us in this adorable institution, wherein our amiable Saviour poured forth all the riches of his Divine love for man (Council of Trent, SS. 13, ch. 2), and exhausted all the treasures of his infinite riches, all the inventions of wisdom, and all the efforts of infinite power.—(St. Augustine). Oh! how calculated is not the frequent consideration of the boundless love of our Blessed Jesus in the Sacrament of the altar—wherein he makes it his delight to remain with the children of men, even unto the end of the world, although the greater part of mankind are quite insensible to the incomprehensible prodigy of love, which he there never fails to exhibit—wherein he is prodigal of himself, to an extent that the mind of man could not fathom, and faith alone could believe—to draw us, to force us to love this disinterested lover who first loved us. What is the gift bestowed? On whom is it bestowed? How long is it to last? When was it given? Why was it given? At how great a sacrifice was it given? Shall not the consideration of these and the other circumstances of this Divine institution, force us to love our Lord Jesus in the Holy Eucharist!

24. “And giving thanks.” These words express the act of returning thanks to his Heavenly Father, as well for his great benefit, which he had long pre-ordained, and which he is now immediately about to give, as for all his other blessings bestowed on mankind. The Evangelists add, in the history of the institution of the Eucharist—“he blessed”—the object of which benediction was, to implore upon the bread which he was about to consecrate, the Divine beneficence. In the Canon of the Mass, wherein the whole action is minutely and circumstantially detailed, are added the words, elevatis oculis in cœlum, which he is presumed to have done on this as well as on the other occasions when he performed miracles; he did so in multiplying the bread (Matt. 14), and in raising Lazarus from the grave (John, 11)

“Broke.” According to some Expositors, he did this before consecration. These say, there was a two-fold breaking, the one referred to here, the other in the words, “this is my body which shall be delivered for you,” or, as in the Greek, which is broken for you, very expressive of his immolation and subjection to great tortures on the altar of the Cross. It seems, however, more probable that only one breaking took place, viz., that which occurred at the consecration, and of which the Apostle only gives a summary account, neglecting the order in which things took place.

“This is my body, which shall be delivered for you.” In Greek, τὁ ὑπερ ὑμῶν κλωμενον, which is broken for you, of course in the external species or appearances. The words, “which is broken,” although in the present tense, are used for a proximate future; they have a pregnans significatio, equivalent to “broken and given.” It corresponds with διδομενον, in St. Luke (22:19). Hence, it is well expressed by the Vulgate, tradetur. The word, κλωμενον, is wanting in the Vatican and Alexandrian MSS. From these words is derived a most solid and unanswerable proof of the real presence of the body and blood of our Lord in the blessed Sacrament.—(Concil. Trid. SS. xiii. c. 1). The words must have been understood in their plain, literal sense by the Apostles at the Last Supper; for, the Redeemer gave them no clue, that we are aware of, for understanding them, figuratively. On the contrary, the words of promise, which they had heard a year before (John, 6), and of which the fulfilment was deferred to the present moment, should have made them expect, that he would leave them his real body and blood, which it is clear, from the offence his words caused them, they understood him to promise.—(John, 6:62, &c.) Hence, our Blessed Redeemer could not have employed figurative language on this occasion, unless he had forewarned his Apostles, that he intended doing so; since, according to all the acknowledged laws of language, the man would be guilty of a he, who would employ language, in a figurative sense, which he knew his hearers were prepared to understand, literally. Now, the Apostles could be prepared to understand our Redeemer’s words, in the literal sense only: and his words, therefore, could be uttered in that sense only by our Divine Reedeemer. Taken literally, they clearly enunciate, and, therefore, prove the real presence. “Which shall be delivered for you;” according to this reading, adopted by the Vulgate, reference is made in these words to our Redeemer’s death upon the cross. If we follow the Greek reading, which is broken for you, the words express the present breaking of his body under the appearance or species of bread; and this breaking, which affects only the species, is referred to the substance contained under them, viz., the body and blood of Christ.

“This do for a commemoration of me,” i.e., in commemoration of his death and passion (as in verse 24). It is to be observed, that the three Evangelists (Matthew, chap. 26.; Mark, 14.; Luke, 22), and St. Paul here, give the same precise words in the consecration of the bread, “THIS IS MY BODY;” to which St. Luke adds, “which is given for you,” and St. Paul here, “which shall be delivered for you.”

25. “After he had supped.” These words are added in the account given by St. Paul of the consecration of the chalice; because, as is clear from the history of the Last Supper by St. Luke (22:17–20), there were two different chalices used on the occasion; one, the cup employed by the Jewish householder, before the Paschal supper; the other, the Eucharistic chalice, which is not to be confounded with the former—for, it was only after the Paschal Supper, and after the Jewish common supper also, that the Eucharistic chalice was consecrated. It is to be borne in mind, that it was only after the Paschal and the Jewish common suppers, which were used on the occasion of the Pasch (for the Jews had two suppers on this occasion, the Paschal and the common one), the bread also was transubstantiated; but this circumstance is omitted by the Apostle when describing the consecration of the bread; because, no confusion would result from such omission; whereas, if omitted in the history of the consecration of the cup, this Euchariastic cup might be confounded with that used at the common supper.

“This chalice,” the container for the thing contained.

“Is the new testament.” It is a “testament,” being the instrument through which a dying testator bequeathes a gift.

“New,” in opposition to the old, given by Moses; and, moreover, it conveys new blessings of a more exalted and spiritual character.

The form of the consecration of the chalice left us by St. Paul and St. Luke, is perfectly the same; “this chalice is the new testament in my blood,” to which St. Luke adds, τό ὑπερ ὑμῶν εκχυνομενον, “which shall be shed for you,” (chap. 22 verse 20). The form recorded by St. Matthew, which is the same as that of St. Mark, is somewhat different from that employed here by St. Paul and by St. Luke. In Matthew and Mark, the form is, “this is my blood of the new testament which shall be shed for many,” to which is added in St. Matthew, “unto the remission of sin.” The meaning of which is, that the new covenant of God with man, promising grace here and glory hereafter, on certain conditions, is ratified and sanctioned by the blood contained in the chalice; for it was by the effusion of the blood of Christ that these blessings were secured to man. The form here employed by St. Paul, and by St. Luke, “this chalice is the new testament,” &c., is reconciled by Piconio and A’Lapide with the form used by St. Matthew, “this is my blood of the new testament,” &c., in this way: they attach a different meaning to “testament,” in both cases. With St. Matthew, it means, the will itself. Here, according to them, it means the authentic instrument or copy of that will. Estius gives the word, “testament,” the same precise signification in both cases; he says, that the form here used by St. Paul means precisely the same thing with the form of St. Matthew. This chalice, or what is contained in this chalice of my blood, it is, that ratifies and confirms the new testament. Estius transposes the words, “in my blood,” as they are found in the form used here by St. Paul, and joins them with the word “chalice,” “this chalice in my blood,” which, according to him, means the same as “this chalice of my blood;” and he appears to insinuate that the difference of case “in my blood,” for, “of my blood,” is owing to some idiomatic peculiarity of language. This exposition has the advantage of giving the words used on this solemn occasion, the same fixed and definite meaning.

From this is clearly proved that the real blood of Christ was there; for, it was real blood that was shed in the testament of Moses, to which these words are allusive, and it would be perfectly unmeaning to suppose that the type was dedicated in real blood, and the antitype, only in the figure of blood.

“This do ye, as often as you shall drink,” &c. It is the doctrine of the Council of Trent (SS. xxii. chap. 1, de Missæ Sacrif.) that, at the institution of the adorable Eucharist, our Redeemer constituted his Apostles priests of the new testament, and commanded them and their successors in the priesthood to offer up (his body and blood), under the symbols or appearances of bread and wine, when he uttered the words, “Do this in commemoration of me.”

The precept conveyed in this and the preceding verses, by no means implies that the faithful are bound to receive communion under both kinds. For, our Redeemer directly addresses his priests, and commands them to offer sacrifice; to do, what he has done, to the end of time, in commemoration of his bitter death and passion. The only precept indirectly, or, rather, by correlative obligation binding on the faithful, is, to receive the Eucharist from the hands of their pastors, and in receiving it, to commemorate the death of Christ. But there is no command imposed on them to receive it under two kinds. Nay, the very conditional form in which our Redeemer speaks, when referring to the chalice, “this is ye as often as you shall drink.” &c., would imply the contrary; for why employ a condition if it were absolutely imperative? The command goes no farther in reference to the faithful, than to commemorate the death of Christ, when approaching to Holy Communion, and this may be done even under one kind. No doubt, Holy Communion was given in the early ages under both kinds; but, this was only a matter of discipline which might vary, but not of precept, which it was not in the power of the Church to change. She, for wise reasons, changed the discipline of former ages, and now allows Communion to be given to the faithful under one kind only. The precept of receiving under both kinds, only regarded the priests offering sacrifice, and the sacrifice most perfectly “shewed” forth the death of Christ, under the two distinct kinds.

26. In this verse, the Apostle explains the precept included in the institution of the Eucharist, as regarded the faithful, viz., that as often as they partook of the body and blood of Christ, they should announce his death, until he comes to judge the world. The Eucharist, therefore, is to continue till the end of time. “And drink the chalice,” the common Greek has, ποτηριον τουτο, this chalice, but, this, is cancelled by the best critics, on the authority of the chief MSS. “You shall shew.” The Greek is in the present, “you do show,” καταγγελλετε.

27. “Therefore,” shows the object which the Apostle had in view in referring to the institution of the Eucharist, viz., to impress the Corinthians with the enormity of the sin of unworthy Communion. As, then, the Eucharist is a real representation of the suffering and death of Christ (verse 26), “whosoever, therefore,” receives him unworthily in the Eucharist “is guilty,” &c.

“Unworthily,” by positive irreverence, in the state of mortal sin, such as was the state of those referred to here, who committed excesses, and were harsh to the poor at the Agapes.

“Guilty of the body and blood of the Lord.” These words evidently suppose his body and blood to be present: otherwise, how could so strong an assertion be warranted? Who could, with any degree of propriety, say, that by insulting or maltreating the picture of a king, a man is guilty of the body and blood of the king? Such a man might be justly charged with irreverence or disrespect to the king, whose image he abuses; but, surely, it would be preposterous to say of him, that he would be guilty of the body and blood of the king. Hence, the body and blood of Christ must be present in the Eucharist, to warrant so strong an assertion on the part of the Apostle.

From this verse it follows, that both species are not necessarily, as a matter of precept, to be taken together at Holy Communion. For, the Apostle supposes that a man may receive either one or the other unworthily; and as it is evident from the entire context, this unworthiness is made by him to consist, not in the separate taking of one species without the other, or in disjoining what should be taken jointly, but in the previous unworthy dispositions of the recipient; for, he speaks of the abuses against morals committed at the Agapes. Hence, it follows, that one part could be received worthily without the other, provided the previous dispositions of the recipient were worthy. In the Protestant Bibles, the words of this verse, contrary to the original Greek, are corruptly rendered. “Whoesoever shall eat this bread, and drink,” &c. The Greek is ἤ πίνη, &c., “or drink,” &c.

28. “Prove himself.” This proof is made by the Council of Trent (SS. 13, chap. 7). to consist, should a man be conscious of a mortal sin, in a good sacramental confession, and this the Council commands, should there be an opportunity of confessing—“and so let him eat of that bread,” &c. The meaning of the words is—he may then, after such proof, partake of that bread and drink of the chalice. The proof here required does not regard faith, as the sectaries pretend; for the Apostle is referring to breaches of morality.

29. “For he that eateth and drinketh” (or does one or the other, as is clear from verse 27, of which this is but a fuller repetition), “unworthily” in the sense already assigned—such a man “eateth and drinketh judgment,” i.e., damnation to himself. He receives his judge, Christ, who will condemn him.

“Not discerning the body of the Lord.” Now, if the body of the Lord were not really there, how incur guilt for not discerning it? This verse is the same as verse 27, the words of which, “guilty of the body and blood of the Lord,” show that the guilt of those who received him unworthily in holy Communion, was equal to that of those who crucified Christ; since receiving him in Communion, his death is commemorated. And a man is said to be guilty of the body and blood of another, not simply by killing him, but when he murders him in a cruel, barbarous manner. O God of mercy! pardon us the many outrages committed against thee in the Sacrament of thy love. Preserve us from murdering, by an unworthy Communion, Him who was tortured for our sakes, to save us from the eternal tortures of the damned.

30. Many were visited in the primitive Church, with corporal infirmities and premature death in punishment of unworthy Communions.

31. While referring to the visible punishments inflicted on many of them, he consoles them at the same time by the assurance, that these punishments were only the paternal and salutary corrections which God, as a merciful and tender lather, had inflicted on them for their greater good, viz., to save them from the eternal punishment of the damned, in store for the infidels and sinners of “this world.” The visible punishment here referred to is that of death, verse 30.

From this it follows, that although the guilt and eternal debt or liability of sin be remitted, as happened in this case, “that we may not be condemned with this world,” still, the temporal debt sometimes remains to be remitted, “whilst we are judged, we are corrected [i.e., punished] by the Lord.” This proposition, viz., that sometimes, after the remission of the guilt and eternal punishment due to sin, a temporal debt remains to be expiated, either in this life or in Purgatory, is, de fide Catholica, defined in the Council of Trent, (SS. xiv., chap, viii.):—“Sancta Synodus declarat falsum omnino esse, et a verbo Dei alienum, culpam a Domino nunquam remitti, quin universa etiam pœna condonctur;” and (Can. xii.):—“Si quis dixerit totam pœnam simul cum culpa remitti semper a Deo—Anathema sit.”

33. This shows that the Apostle does not intend to abolish the Agapes, but only to correct the abuses committed in them, and have them reformed.

34. “If any man be hungry,” i.e., unable to fast until evening, when the Agape was celebrated, “let him eat at home,” and not make these religious assemblies, intended for their salvation, the occasion of damnation. He is contented with inculcating this one point. He reserves all other points of reformation for his advent amongst them. What these were, cannot be determined. St. Augustine says (Epistle 118), that receiving the Communion in a state of fasting, was one of the points arranged by him.








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