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A Critique of the ‘Res Sacramenti’ (Fr.

Meuli), ie the thesis of Patrick Omlor on;


I. Fr. Meuli’s thesis of the res sacramenti.

a) The Thesis of the ‘Res Sacramenti’ says essentially

that :
• In the Holy Eucharist as in other sacraments, we must distinguish three elements : the
sacramentum (sacred species), the res et sacramentum (Body and Blood of Our Lord)
and the res tantum or res sacramenti (the union of Mystical Body).
• As in all other sacraments, the res sacramenti, ie. the first specific grace produced by the
Holy Eucharist, must be indicated in the words of the Sacrament which take place at the
• Among the words of the double Consecration, none other than ‘pro multis’ is fit to
indicate the res sacramenti of the Holy Eucharist.
• But such words were adulterated by the ICEL English version of the New Mass, which
used ‘for all’ instead of ‘for many’, up until recently when Rome requested that the
version be in conformity with the original ‘for many’.
• Therefore, the defective version of the Consecration of the New Mass did not preserve
the substance of the res sacramenti, and consequently could not produce the Real
Presence (res et sacramentum).

B) conditions for the validity of the ‘res sacramenti’

thesis :
Fr. Meuli’s thesis that the Novus Ordo in English has altered the ‘res sacramenti’ will be a watertight
argument if and only if each of the rings of the following chain are true, or better said if each of the walls of
the compartment is tight, and not only probably but absolutely tight :

• The res sacramenti of the Holy Eucharist is the union with the Mystical Body of Our
Lord. Obviously, if doubt is shed on this statement which is the rock foundation of the
argument, the whole argumentation would be shaky because riddled with doubt.
• The res sacramenti of the Holy Eucharist is not subsequent but simultaneous to the res et
sacramentum (Real Presence) because both are co-signified by the same sign (the sacred
species). If the res sacramenti was subsequent to, and the effect of, the res et
sacramentum, there is no way the argument would hold water since a cause can very well
exist without being followed by its corresponding effect when an obstacle blocks the way
(the sun does not burn my skin if I put clothes on).
• Because it is simultaneous to the res et sacramentum (the Real Presence), the res
sacramenti is to be found in the double Consecration, independently from Holy
Communion. On the other hand, If the res sacramenti were to occur after the double
Consecration, it could not invalidate it retroactively.

• ‘For many’ designates the res sacramenti, ie. the union with the Mystical Body of Our
Lord. In doubt of this being the case, the argument would fall to the ground.
• ‘For all’ instead of ‘for many’ is an alteration which affects the substance of the form of
the Holy Eucharist and invalidates the sacrament altogether. Again, if there was any
shadow of doubt, the argument would be affected by the same doubt.

iI. theological preamble

The three elements of a sacrament. Before entering the intricate argument around the res
sacramenti, it is important to define the three elements contained in each sacrament. Billot, who of
all the authors consulted, has at least something substantial about the question, will be our
theological guide.

About res et sacramentum, there is very little said among the Modern authors. However,
this is majus momenti.

A sacrament is the sensible sign (sacramentum) of a sacred thing ie. of grace, (which is
called res tantum or res et non sacramentum or res sacramenti).

The ancient authors gave a third element, intermediary between the two previous ones,
which they called res et sacramentum. It is a thing (res) because it is caused by an
external sign (sacramentum) but in such a way that it causes another thing, ie. another
and last grace (res sacramenti). Hence, there is a complex process which follows the
perfect subordination of signs and causes, and this subordination is at the heart of the res
et sacramentum.

Because of the subordination, the res et sacramentum is the proximate dispositive cause
of the res sacramenti. From this subordination, one can explain how some sacraments can
be both valid and unformed, ie. they have their practical signification without producing
the required justification, which revive as soon as the obex is lifted. One explains how a
matrimony between infidels becomes a sacrament through mere baptism, why holy
Orders is only one sacrament despite the various minor and major orders previously
received. One explains also that the sacraments which impress a character cannot be
reiterated. If one takes away this subordination, the res et sacramentum, being no more an
intermediary between the sign and the grace, becomes a side effect of grace without
utility and without meaning.

The res et sacramentum is also properly a sign or sacrament, as evidenced by the Fathers
of the Church using the term to indicate either the sensible sign itself (matter and form) or
the character of the sacrament (St. Aug. re. Baptism; St. Thomas Aq. suppl. 34 a.2 1um).
Res et sacramentum is a sign which is sensible only per accidens, by reason of its
necessary and infallible connection with the exterior sign sensible per se (sacramentum
tantum). Since Billot asserts that there are two signs in number, the sacramentum and the
res et sacramentum, this is liable to lead to serious ambiguities when one speaks of
sacramentum or sign.

The sacrament of the Holy Eucharist. Another theological question which is delicate touches again
on the term ‘sacrament’, taken as a whole as we understand it in our catechism as one of the seven
sacraments. What is the sacrament of the Holy Eucharist? Is the Holy Eucharist a sacrament only
when it is applied to the communicant, or in the very words of the double Consecration? This
question is raised especially against many Protestants who deny the Real Presence outside
communion. But the answer is enlightening for our further discussion :

From the moment it produces its first effect, the sacrament is performed, ie. the effect
which it is firstly ordained to, eg. baptism is validly performed from the moment it
impresses a character, not formally in the infusion of s. grace. But in the Holy Eucharist,
the first effect (the presence of Our Lord’s body) is performed prior to, and independently
from, its use at communion, in the consecration of the matter by pronouncing the words
‘hoc est corpus meum.’

This must occur at the Consecration because otherwise, the words of the form would not
be true, which enunciate something in present tense and independently from any use or
communion as such, since they simply say : ‘under these species, my Body is contained’.
Thus, the proposition would be false if the body of Christ was not yet present until the
reception of communion.

This is proper to the sacrament of Holy Eucharist, whereas all other sacraments are
performed in the act of being applied to the subject, as their form indicates : ‘te baptizo,
te absolvo, te confirmo....’

From this another difference follows. In the Holy Eucharist, the res et sacramentum is
contained under the matter itself (sacramentum) and the grace alone (res sacramenti) is in
the subject. In the other sacraments, both are in the subject.

What in the double Consecration is the essential form for the validity of the Sacrament (ie. of the
Real Presence)?

As to the historical terms which precede the Consecration, ST is categorical : ‘He who
would proffer only the words ‘Hoc est corpus meum’ with the intention of confecting the
sacrament, would produce the sacrament, because such words would be understood as
proffered by Christ Himself, although the previous words would not be proffered.’

As to the words of the Consecration, Billot favours the short version of the 2d
Consecration because :

The words which follow ‘This is my Blood’ are missing in many oriental liturgies the
validity of which cannot be doubted.

No reason can be given to explain why a greater determination would be necessary for
the consecration of the wine than for that of the bread.

The term ‘effundetur’ is in the future. Thus, it is said as a historical narrative and not as
an assertion. Thus, the entire phrase together with it is not essential to the form because
the form must signify what is performed hic et nunc.

What is the res sacramenti of the Holy Eucharist? This is how Billot introduces question 79 of St.
Thomas which treats of the effects of the Holy Eucharist.

q. 79 speaks of Holy Communion. All in this question indicates that St. Thomas has in
view the effects of the Holy Eucharist for those who use it, ie. those who communicate,
whereas q. 80 deals especially with the conditions requested from the communicants.

St. Thomas mentions actual charity first and foremost as the first and essential effect of
the Holy Eucharist for those who communicate. To such an extent that, further down, he
adds ‘Res huius sacramenti est charitas, non solum quantum ad habitum, sed etiam

quantum ad actum qui excitatur in hoc sacramento’ and ‘In hoc sacramento, non solum
confertur gratia habitualis, sed excitatur fervor actualis devotionis.’

The sacramental communion produces three other effects : 1) the union with Christ, 2)
the fruits of the Passion of Christ (remission of sins, sign of eternal life), 3) the union
with the Mystical Body (because the eucharistic symbols are both formed from a
multitude of grains joined into one mass).

iIi. a Reply to Fr. Meuli’s thesis

To reply to the ‘res sacramenti’ thesis, it suffices to take each of the walls of the compartment separately
and show that they are not so watertight after all. Without necessarily rejecting categorically each of the
points mentioned above, to destroy the so called watertightness of the argument, it will suffice that the
alternative be at least so probable to shed some doubt on the opposite sentence.

The res sacramenti of the Holy Eucharist consists in the union with the Mystical Body of Our

This argument was based on a passage from St. Thomas as mentioned by Fr. Meuli. Yet,
the same St. Thomas says something quite different in the precise question which treats
of the effect (res sacramenti) of the sacrament : “res huius sacramenti est charitas”, and
mentions in no way the ‘union with the Mystical Body’ in this question which should
speak exclusively or at least firstly and essentially of it.

The text of the council of Florence is brought in by Fr. Meuli among others, but he has
cut the quote short, whereas the entire quote brings out all the other effects of the
sacrament before coming to the last and apparently least, which is the union with the
Mystical Body. I say ‘apparently least’ since in the very words quoted by Fr. Meuli (#
36), it appears that the union with the mystical Body presupposes and is secondary to the
union with Christ : “the effect of this sacrament, which is brought about in the soul of
him who receives it worthily, is to unity him to Christ... Through this grace a man
becomes incorporated into Christ and united with his members”. Notice also that the
Council of Florence refers to the effects only in relation with the use of the sacrament, ie.
holy Communion posterior to the confection of the sacrament itself during the double

All the authors which I checked hardly mention the union with the Mystical Body, and if
so, only at the end of the series or as an appendix. Could they have all been so deluded as
to miss such an essential aspect of the sacrament, precisely while commenting on St.
Thomas’ explanation?

The res sacramenti of the Holy Eucharist is not subsequent but simultaneous to the res et
sacramentum (Real Presence) because both are co-signified by the same sign (the sacred

It is a pity that Fr. Meuli has not gotten deeper into the triple distinction (sacramentum,
res et sacramentum, res tantum) which he drew from St. Thomas, which is taken without
understanding where it comes from, and how they connect together. Because the
theological work has not been sufficiently dug up, no wonder such blunders are uttered to
make the res sacramenti something simultaneous and independent from the res et

Cardinal Billot’s explanation (he was created a cardinal by St. Pius X for his great merits
to the Church and considered by many as the greatest theologian of the XXth century)
has the advantage of making sense of all the questions which are related to the characters
and to the reviviscence of the sacraments, a thorny question to those a bit familiar with
them. It reduces to pieces the pretension that the res sacramenti would not be caused by
the middle sign (res et sacramentum).

Because it is simultaneous to the res et sacramentum (the Real Presence), the res sacramenti is
to be found in the double Consecration, independently from Holy Communion.

For all sacraments, the grace (res sacramenti) is given when it is applied to the subject,
and therefore it is present in the one receiving the sacrament, and here the Holy Eucharist
is no exception. Indeed, the grace of the sacrament is not a grace up in the clouds or
staying in the Tabernacle, but the grace of he who receives it. What differs in the case of
the Holy Eucharist is that the res et sacramentum and the res sacramenti are produced at
different times, the res et sacramentum at the Consecration and the res sacramenti when
applied to the communicant at communion.

It is during Holy Communion that all the texts of the authors consulted mention the
giving of grace/effect/res sacramenti, ie. in the moment of the use of the sacrament. The
Council of Florence brought as a witness to Fr. Meuli’s argument is the best witness to
demolish his own position. But I could give more than ten such texts, and I challenge him
to provide one text which clearly proves that the res sacramenti occurs at the
Consecration, and his extensive work has not proved this vulnerable aspect of his thesis.

‘For many’ designates the res sacramenti, ie. the union with the Mystical Body of Our Lord.

Our Lord speaks of ‘For many’ to designate those He wishes to save through His Passion.
So, rather than the ‘union with the Mystical Body’, it fits perfectly into the ‘fruits of the
Passion of Christ’, ie. the remission of sins etc. as mentioned by all others prior and
independently from the union with the Mystical Body. Fr. Meuli needs to force texts to
make them say what is not clearly present.

The authors explain that the ‘union with the Mystical Body’ is one of the graces signified
by the union into one mass of a multitude of grains for both species (wheat and grapes). If
the res sacramenti must be clearly signified by the sacramentum (matter and form
together) as occurs in penance (‘I absolve you from your sins’), we are entitled to ask Fr.
Meuli what, in the words of the consecration, indicates really that many are one, since the
form is not clear at all and the bread and wine have been confected from many grains a
long time ago?

Most serious anti-modernists exegetes explain that Our Lord at the Last Supper used
another term: ‘the multitude’, which in the original language means all of them rather
than a fraction or many. This is theologically quite easily understood since Our Lord
wanted the salvation of all in voto, in abstracto, antecedenter ie. abstracting from men’s
lack of correspondence to His gift. However, the Mass itself is not using the words of Our
Lord in the same sense as Holy Eucharist did at the Last Supper, since the Mass has the
function of applying the redemption, which application is limited de facto, in concreto
and consequenter. This remark does not exonerate the Modernists from scandal by
misusing the sacred Words of the Consecration since they have been codified so long ago.
But, at the same time, this remark puts things in another perspective also.

If ‘For many’ designates the union with the Mystical Body signified by the union of the
grapes into one liquid, should there not be symmetrically another ‘for many’ to designate

the union of the grains of wheat into one bread to prevent the double sacrament from

‘For all’ instead of ‘for many’ is an alteration which affects the substance of the form of the
Holy Eucharist and invalidates the sacrament of the Holy Eucharist altogether.

Regardless of the uncertainty of Cardinal Billot’s argument from ‘many oriental liturgies’
which use the short second Consecration, the fact of the matter is that it is, to say the
least, a disputed question, which according to him is not disputed at all anymore.

The other two arguments seem rationally cogent without having to delve into obscure
historical facts.

Moreover, the arguments brought by Fr. Meuli quoting St. Thomas and after that the
Marietti edition are far from peremptory. St. Thomas is always very cautious with his
words and he never affirms as certain what he is not sure of, and this is certainly the case
here (par. 93) where he says “it seems” and speaks not of essence but of “integrity” :
“Now, this seems incorrect... consequently they belong to the integrity of the form’s
recitation.” Marietti maintains the doubt which Fr. Meuli rejects peremptorily, making
Marietti a liar. After which, Fr. Meuli proves his own case on arguments which we have
just shown to be very dubious, and peacefully concludes that his position is right and has
not only superior value to the others, but invalidates and wipes them away, which seems
to say the least unfair.