1st Corinthians (11:23-29)

In Paul Turner's Blog by Paul Turner

Q:  A parishioner is leaving the Roman Catholic Church because of the 2nd Vatican Council omitting from 1st Corinthians (11:23-29).  They are said on the pivotal feasts of Holy Thursday and Corpus Christs.

 “Therefore, whosoever shall eat this bread, or drink the chalice of the Lord unworthily, shall be guilty of the body and of the blood of the Lord.” And, “But let a man prove himself:  and so let him eat of the bread and drink of the chalice.  For he that eateth and drinketh unworthily eateth and drinketh judgment himself, not discerning the body of the Lord.

 He says, a belief in the Real Presence inspired St. Paul to write these harsh words of caution.  How did Bugnini approach his task?  “We must strip from our Catholic prayers and from the Catholic  liturgy everything which can be the shadow of a stumbling block for our separated brethren. that is the Protestants.”  Annibale Bugnini, L’Osservatore Romano  3/19/1965.  Do you have any resolve to his observation?


A:  I’m sorry to learn that a Roman Catholic in your community is leaving the Church. One of the main themes of 1 Corinthians is maintaining the unity of the body of Christ, so such decisions always create regret.

I cannot explain why verses 27-29 do not appear in the Lectionary for Mass, even after extensively studying its formation for my book Words Without Alloy. Perhaps the compilers were aware of persistent Jansenism, which discouraged frequent communion, which, in turn, Pope Pius X had promoted.

The verses in question appear only rarely in the liturgy, as you’ll be able to see in the apparatus I’ve created for the Liturgy and Life Study Bible. Those verses do appear in the Liturgy of the Hours’ 1976 two-year cycle of scripture passages for the Office of Readings in Year 1 on Tuesday of the Seventh Week in Ordinary Time. Verse 27 is still part of the Roman Martyrology’s Short Readings for the solemnity of the Body and Blood of our Lord Jesus Christ.

Regarding Bugnini’s comment, I don’t have enough context to make a remark, but the liturgical renewal did evolve hand in hand with the ecumenical movement. Without giving ground on what Catholics believe, our theologians worked hard to affirm the points of agreement among all Christians, in keeping with Jesus’ desire that we all would be one. Bugnini was an archbishop of the Catholic Church entrusted with some of the most important work in history. He would have been well aware of unfounded prejudices that some Catholics harbored against Protestants, with whom we even share some sacraments in common.