Early Church Fathers on The Eucharist, Communion Supper | promovare-site.info
Rather, it's something like an early Church catechism: outlining just the basics of Church practice. Chapter 9 is on the Eucharist, and after. Quotations on the Eucharist by the early church fathers. Let no one who has a quarrel with his neighbor join you until he is reconciled by the Lord: "In .. When invited to an ordinary marriage, with a miracle He performed that glorious deed. I searched the indices for "Eucharist" in many volume sets on Early Christian writings, and I However, no one quarreling with his brother may join your meeting until they are .. It is known that he was one of the Fathers of the Syrian Church.
Christ's passover includes not only his passion and death, but also his resurrection. This is recalled by the assembly's acclamation following the consecration: The Eucharistic Sacrifice makes present not only the mystery of the Saviour's passion and death, but also the mystery of the resurrection which crowned his sacrifice. Saint Ambrose reminded the newly-initiated that the Eucharist applies the event of the resurrection to their lives: Before this mystery of love, human reason fully experiences its limitations.
One understands how, down the centuries, this truth has stimulated theology to strive to understand it ever more deeply. There remains the boundary indicated by Paul VI: The saving efficacy of the sacrifice is fully realized when the Lord's body and blood are received in communion.
We are reminded of his words: Jesus himself reassures us that this union, which he compares to that of the life of the Trinity, is truly realized. The Eucharist is a true banquet, in which Christ offers himself as our nourishment.
The Early Church Fathers and the Eucharist
When for the first time Jesus spoke of this food, his listeners were astonished and bewildered, which forced the Master to emphasize the objective truth of his words: This is no metaphorical food: Through our communion in his body and blood, Christ also grants us his Spirit. He who eats it with faith, eats Fire and Spirit Take and eat this, all of you, and eat with it the Holy Spirit. The acclamation of the assembly following the consecration appropriately ends by expressing the eschatological thrust which marks the celebration of the Eucharist cf.
The Eucharist is a straining towards the goal, a foretaste of the fullness of joy promised by Christ cf. For in the Eucharist we also receive the pledge of our bodily resurrection at the end of the world: This pledge of the future resurrection comes from the fact that the flesh of the Son of Man, given as food, is his body in its glorious state after the resurrection.
The eschatological tension kindled by the Eucharist expresses and reinforces our communion with the Church in heaven. It is not by chance that the Eastern Anaphoras and the Latin Eucharistic Prayers honour Mary, the ever-Virgin Mother of Jesus Christ our Lord and God, the angels, the holy apostles, the glorious martyrs and all the saints. This is an aspect of the Eucharist which merits greater attention: The Eucharist is truly a glimpse of heaven appearing on earth.
It is a glorious ray of the heavenly Jerusalem which pierces the clouds of our history and lights up our journey. A significant consequence of the eschatological tension inherent in the Eucharist is also the fact that it spurs us on our journey through history and plants a seed of living hope in our daily commitment to the work before us.
Very Early Church Fathers on the Eucharist – Shameless Popery
Theirs is the task of contributing with the light of the Gospel to the building of a more human world, a world fully in harmony with God's plan. Many problems darken the horizon of our time. We need but think of the urgent need to work for peace, to base relationships between peoples on solid premises of justice and solidarity, and to defend human life from conception to its natural end.
It is in this world that Christian hope must shine forth! For this reason too, the Lord wished to remain with us in the Eucharist, making his presence in meal and sacrifice the promise of a humanity renewed by his love.
It is this fruit of a transfigured existence and a commitment to transforming the world in accordance with the Gospel which splendidly illustrates the eschatological tension inherent in the celebration of the Eucharist and in the Christian life as a whole: The Second Vatican Council teaches that the celebration of the Eucharist is at the centre of the process of the Church's growth. At the same time in the sacrament of the Eucharistic bread, the unity of the faithful, who form one body in Christ cf.
By analogy with the Covenant of Mount Sinai, sealed by sacrifice and the sprinkling of blood, 38 the actions and words of Jesus at the Last Supper laid the foundations of the new messianic community, the People of the New Covenant.
The Apostles, by accepting in the Upper Room Jesus' invitation: From that time forward, until the end of the age, the Church is built up through sacramental communion with the Son of God who was sacrificed for our sake: Incorporation into Christ, which is brought about by Baptism, is constantly renewed and consolidated by sharing in the Eucharistic Sacrifice, especially by that full sharing which takes place in sacramental communion.
We can say not only that each of us receives Christ, but also that Christ receives each of us. He enters into friendship with us: Indeed, it is because of him that we have life: From the perpetuation of the sacrifice of the Cross and her communion with the body and blood of Christ in the Eucharist, the Church draws the spiritual power needed to carry out her mission.
The Eucharist thus appears as both the source and the summit of all evangelization, since its goal is the communion of mankind with Christ and in him with the Father and the Holy Spirit. Eucharistic communion also confirms the Church in her unity as the body of Christ.
Saint Paul refers to this unifying power of participation in the banquet of the Eucharist when he writes to the Corinthians: Saint John Chrysostom's commentary on these words is profound and perceptive: It is the body of Christ. And what do those who receive it become? The Body of Christ — not many bodies but one body. The Eucharist reinforces the incorporation into Christ which took place in Baptism though the gift of the Spirit cf.
The joint and inseparable activity of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, which is at the origin of the Church, of her consolidation and her continued life, is at work in the Eucharist.
This was clearly evident to the author of the Liturgy of Saint James: The gift of Christ and his Spirit which we receive in Eucharistic communion superabundantly fulfils the yearning for fraternal unity deeply rooted in the human heart; at the same time it elevates the experience of fraternity already present in our common sharing at the same Eucharistic table to a degree which far surpasses that of the simple human experience of sharing a meal.
The Eucharist, precisely by building up the Church, creates human community. The worship of the Eucharist outside of the Mass is of inestimable value for the life of the Church.
This worship is strictly linked to the celebration of the Eucharistic Sacrifice. The presence of Christ under the sacred species reserved after Mass — a presence which lasts as long as the species of bread and of wine remain 45 — derives from the celebration of the sacrifice and is directed towards communion, both sacramental and spiritual.
How often, dear brother and sisters, have I experienced this, and drawn from it strength, consolation and support! This practice, repeatedly praised and recommended by the Magisterium, 49 is supported by the example of many saints. Particularly outstanding in this regard was Saint Alphonsus Liguori, who wrote: A Christian community desirous of contemplating the face of Christ in the spirit which I proposed in the Apostolic Letters Novo Millennio Ineunte and Rosarium Virginis Mariae cannot fail also to develop this aspect of Eucharistic worship, which prolongs and increases the fruits of our communion in the body and blood of the Lord.
The Eucharist too is one and catholic. It is also holy, indeed, the Most Holy Sacrament. But it is above all its apostolicity that we must now consider. The Catechism of the Catholic Church, in explaining how the Church is apostolic — founded on the Apostles — sees three meanings in this expression.
It is in continuity with the practice of the Apostles, in obedience to the Lord's command, that the Church has celebrated the Eucharist down the centuries. At various times in the two-thousand-year history of the People of the New Covenant, the Church's Magisterium has more precisely defined her teaching on the Eucharist, including its proper terminology, precisely in order to safeguard the apostolic faith with regard to this sublime mystery.
This faith remains unchanged and it is essential for the Church that it remain unchanged. The Eucharist also expresses this sense of apostolicity. The assembly gathered together for the celebration of the Eucharist, if it is to be a truly Eucharistic assembly, absolutely requires the presence of an ordained priest as its president. On the other hand, the community is by itself incapable of providing an ordained minister. This minister is a gift which the assembly receives through episcopal succession going back to the Apostles.
It is the Bishop who, through the Sacrament of Holy Orders, makes a new presbyter by conferring upon him the power to consecrate the Eucharist. The Catholic Church's teaching on the relationship between priestly ministry and the Eucharist and her teaching on the Eucharistic Sacrifice have both been the subject in recent decades of a fruitful dialogue in the area of ecumenism.
We must give thanks to the Blessed Trinity for the significant progress and convergence achieved in this regard, which lead us to hope one day for a full sharing of faith. Nonetheless, the observations of the Council concerning the Ecclesial Communities which arose in the West from the sixteenth century onwards and are separated from the Catholic Church remain fully pertinent: This would result in slowing the progress being made towards full visible unity.
Similarly, it is unthinkable to substitute for Sunday Mass ecumenical celebrations of the word or services of common prayer with Christians from the aforementioned Ecclesial Communities, or even participation in their own liturgical services.
Such celebrations and services, however praiseworthy in certain situations, prepare for the goal of full communion, including Eucharistic communion, but they cannot replace it. The fact that the power of consecrating the Eucharist has been entrusted only to Bishops and priests does not represent any kind of belittlement of the rest of the People of God, for in the communion of the one body of Christ which is the Church this gift redounds to the benefit of all.
If the Eucharist is the centre and summit of the Church's life, it is likewise the centre and summit of priestly ministry. If we also consider the social and cultural conditions of the modern world it is easy to understand how priests face the very real risk of losing their focus amid such a great number of different tasks.
The Second Vatican Council saw in pastoral charity the bond which gives unity to the priest's life and work. Their daily activity will thus become truly Eucharistic.
The centrality of the Eucharist in the life and ministry of priests is the basis of its centrality in the pastoral promotion of priestly vocations. It is in the Eucharist that prayer for vocations is most closely united to the prayer of Christ the Eternal High Priest. At the same time the diligence of priests in carrying out their Eucharistic ministry, together with the conscious, active and fruitful participation of the faithful in the Eucharist, provides young men with a powerful example and incentive for responding generously to God's call.
Often it is the example of a priest's fervent pastoral charity which the Lord uses to sow and to bring to fruition in a young man's heart the seed of a priestly calling. All of this shows how distressing and irregular is the situation of a Christian community which, despite having sufficient numbers and variety of faithful to form a parish, does not have a priest to lead it. Parishes are communities of the baptized who express and affirm their identity above all through the celebration of the Eucharistic Sacrifice.
But this requires the presence of a presbyter, who alone is qualified to offer the Eucharist in persona Christi. When a community lacks a priest, attempts are rightly made somehow to remedy the situation so that it can continue its Sunday celebrations, and those religious and laity who lead their brothers and sisters in prayer exercise in a praiseworthy way the common priesthood of all the faithful based on the grace of Baptism.
But such solutions must be considered merely temporary, while the community awaits a priest. The sacramental incompleteness of these celebrations should above all inspire the whole community to pray with greater fervour that the Lord will send labourers into his harvest cf. It should also be an incentive to mobilize all the resources needed for an adequate pastoral promotion of vocations, without yielding to the temptation to seek solutions which lower the moral and formative standards demanded of candidates for the priesthood.
It is not by chance that the term communion has become one of the names given to this sublime sacrament. The Eucharist thus appears as the culmination of all the sacraments in perfecting our communion with God the Father by identification with his only-begotten Son through the working of the Holy Spirit. With discerning faith a distinguished writer of the Byzantine tradition voiced this truth: Saint Teresa of Jesus wrote: The celebration of the Eucharist, however, cannot be the starting-point for communion; it presupposes that communion already exists, a communion which it seeks to consolidate and bring to perfection.
The sacrament is an expression of this bond of communion both in its invisible dimension, which, in Christ and through the working of the Holy Spirit, unites us to the Father and among ourselves, and in its visible dimension, which entails communion in the teaching of the Apostles, in the sacraments and in the Church's hierarchical order.
The profound relationship between the invisible and the visible elements of ecclesial communion is constitutive of the Church as the sacrament of salvation.
Consequently it is an intrinsic requirement of the Eucharist that it should be celebrated in communion, and specifically maintaining the various bonds of that communion intact. Only in this way do we have true communion with the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. Keeping these invisible bonds intact is a specific moral duty incumbent upon Christians who wish to participate fully in the Eucharist by receiving the body and blood of Christ.
The Apostle Paul appeals to this duty when he warns: Saint John Chrysostom, with his stirring eloquence, exhorted the faithful: The two sacraments of the Eucharist and Penance are very closely connected.
Because the Eucharist makes present the redeeming sacrifice of the Cross, perpetuating it sacramentally, it naturally gives rise to a continuous need for conversion, for a personal response to the appeal made by Saint Paul to the Christians of Corinth: If a Christian's conscience is burdened by serious sin, then the path of penance through the sacrament of Reconciliation becomes necessary for full participation in the Eucharistic Sacrifice.
The judgment of one's state of grace obviously belongs only to the person involved, since it is a question of examining one's conscience. However, in cases of outward conduct which is seriously, clearly and steadfastly contrary to the moral norm, the Church, in her pastoral concern for the good order of the community and out of respect for the sacrament, cannot fail to feel directly involved.
It is not possible to give communion to a person who is not baptized or to one who rejects the full truth of the faith regarding the Eucharistic mystery. Christ is the truth and he bears witness to the truth cf. The ecclesial communion of the Eucharistic assembly is a communion with its own Bishop and with the Roman Pontiff.
The Bishop, in effect, is the visible principle and the foundation of unity within his particular Church. As Saint Ignatius of Antioch wrote: Hence the great truth expressed which the Liturgy expresses in a variety of ways: The Eucharist creates communion and fosters communion.
Saint Paul wrote to the faithful of Corinth explaining how their divisions, reflected in their Eucharistic gatherings, contradicted what they were celebrating, the Lord's Supper. The Apostle then urged them to reflect on the true reality of the Eucharist in order to return to the spirit of fraternal communion cf. Saint Augustine effectively echoed this call when, in recalling the Apostle's words: The Eucharist's particular effectiveness in promoting communion is one of the reasons for the importance of Sunday Mass.
I have already dwelt on this and on the other reasons which make Sunday Mass fundamental for the life of the Church and of individual believers in my Apostolic Letter on the sanctification of Sunday Dies Domini.
The safeguarding and promotion of ecclesial communion is a task of each member of the faithful, who finds in the Eucharist, as the sacrament of the Church's unity, an area of special concern. More specifically, this task is the particular responsibility of the Church's Pastors, each according to his rank and ecclesiastical office. For this reason the Church has drawn up norms aimed both at fostering the frequent and fruitful access of the faithful to the Eucharistic table and at determining the objective conditions under which communion may not be given.
The care shown in promoting the faithful observance of these norms becomes a practical means of showing love for the Eucharist and for the Church. In considering the Eucharist as the sacrament of ecclesial communion, there is one subject which, due to its importance, must not be overlooked: I am referring to the relationship of the Eucharist to ecumenical activity.
We should all give thanks to the Blessed Trinity for the many members of the faithful throughout the world who in recent decades have felt an ardent desire for unity among all Christians. Our longing for the goal of unity prompts us to turn to the Eucharist, which is the supreme sacrament of the unity of the People of God, in as much as it is the apt expression and the unsurpassable source of that unity.
Precisely because the Church's unity, which the Eucharist brings about through the Lord's sacrifice and by communion in his body and blood, absolutely requires full communion in the bonds of the profession of faith, the sacraments and ecclesiastical governance, it is not possible to celebrate together the same Eucharistic liturgy until those bonds are fully re-established. Any such concelebration would not be a valid means, and might well prove instead to be an obstacle, to the attainment of full communion, by weakening the sense of how far we remain from this goal and by introducing or exacerbating ambiguities with regard to one or another truth of the faith.
The path towards full unity can only be undertaken in truth. In this area, the prohibitions of Church law leave no room for uncertainty, 92 in fidelity to the moral norm laid down by the Second Vatican Council. While it is never legitimate to concelebrate in the absence of full communion, the same is not true with respect to the administration of the Eucharist under special circumstances, to individual persons belonging to Churches or Ecclesial Communities not in full communion with the Catholic Church.
In this case, in fact, the intention is to meet a grave spiritual need for the eternal salvation of an individual believer, not to bring about an intercommunion which remains impossible until the visible bonds of ecclesial communion are fully re-established.Dr. Scott Hahn talks about the Early Church and the Eucharist
This was the approach taken by the Second Vatican Council when it gave guidelines for responding to Eastern Christians separated in good faith from the Catholic Church, who spontaneously ask to receive the Eucharist from a Catholic minister and are properly disposed.
In my Encyclical Ut Unum Sint I expressed my own appreciation of these norms, which make it possible to provide for the salvation of souls with proper discernment: And the opposite is also true: Catholics may not receive communion in those communities which lack a valid sacrament of Orders.
There is an episode which in some way serves as its prelude: A woman, whom John identifies as Mary the sister of Lazarus, pours a flask of costly ointment over Jesus' head, which provokes from the disciples — and from Judas in particular cf.
The Early Church Fathers Speak about the Eucharist - Catholic Faith and Reason
But Jesus' own reaction is completely different. Reflecting at least in part the Jewish rites of the Passover meal leading up to the singing of the Hallel cf. In the wake of Jesus' own words and actions, and building upon the ritual heritage of Judaism, the Christian liturgy was born. Could there ever be an adequate means of expressing the acceptance of that self-gift which the divine Bridegroom continually makes to his Bride, the Church, by bringing the Sacrifice offered once and for all on the Cross to successive generations of believers and thus becoming nourishment for all the faithful?
O sacrum convivium, in quo Christus sumitur! The bread which is broken on our altars, offered to us as wayfarers along the paths of the world, is panis angelorum, the bread of angels, which cannot be approached except with the humility of the centurion in the Gospel: With this heightened sense of mystery, we understand how the faith of the Church in the mystery of the Eucharist has found historical expression not only in the demand for an interior disposition of devotion, but also in outward forms meant to evoke and emphasize the grandeur of the event being celebrated.
This led progressively to the development of a particular form of regulating the Eucharistic liturgy, with due respect for the various legitimately constituted ecclesial traditions. On this foundation a rich artistic heritage also developed. Architecture, sculpture, painting and music, moved by the Christian mystery, have found in the Eucharist, both directly and indirectly, a source of great inspiration.
The designs of altars and tabernacles within Church interiors were often not simply motivated by artistic inspiration but also by a clear understanding of the mystery. The same could be said for sacred music, if we but think of the inspired Gregorian melodies and the many, often great, composers who sought to do justice to the liturgical texts of the Mass. Similarly, can we overlook the enormous quantity of artistic production, ranging from fine craftsmanship to authentic works of art, in the area of Church furnishings and vestments used for the celebration of the Eucharist?
How could we not give particular thanks to the Lord for the contributions to Christian art made by the great architectural and artistic works of the Greco-Byzantine tradition and of the whole geographical area marked by Slav culture?
In the East, sacred art has preserved a remarkably powerful sense of mystery, which leads artists to see their efforts at creating beauty not simply as an expression of their own talents, but also as a genuine service to the faith. Passing well beyond mere technical skill, they have shown themselves docile and open to the inspiration of the Holy Spirit. The architectural and mosaic splendours of the Christian East and West are a patrimony belonging to all believers; they contain a hope, and even a pledge, of the desired fullness of communion in faith and in celebration.
Irenaeus was faced with a second Eucharistic heresy: Salvation, to these heretics, consisted of being liberated from flesh and blood. That part is fantastic. His argument is simple: Then, again, how can they say that the flesh, which is nourished with the body of the Lord and with His blood, goes to corruption, and does not partake of life?
Let them, therefore, either alter their opinion, or cease from offering the things just mentioned. But our opinion is in accordance with the Eucharist, and the Eucharist in turn establishes our opinion. For we offer to Him His own, announcing consistently the fellowship and union of the flesh and Spirit.
For as the bread, which is produced from the earth, when it receives the invocation of God, is no longer common bread, but the Eucharist, consisting of two realities, earthly and heavenly; so also our bodies, when they receive the Eucharist, are no longer corruptible, having the hope of the resurrection to eternity.
This passage is also helpful in that Irenaeus mentions that the bread ceases to be common bread at the point it becomes the Eucharist. He became a Montanist later in life, and may have even died outside the Church.
But we still can see quite clearly that he shares the same Eucharistic faith as those others we explored above. He also notes, as many of the above Fathers before him noted, that the Eucharist is truly a Sacrifice offered to the Father: Does, then, the Eucharist cancel a service devoted to God, or bind it more to God?
We also see them articulating that the bread and wine become the Eucharist at the prayer of consecration, and that once consecrated, the bread and wine cease to be common bread and wine.
The rest of theology was understood through this prism of the Eucharist: The Christians would stop communing with you, and if you were a priest, you could no longer offer Mass in good faith.