Early Church Beliefs In the Eucharist



Q. Did the Christians in the first three centuries believe in the Real Presence in the Eucharist?

A. Yes. They certainly did!

110 AD–St. Ignatius of Antioch, a disciple of the Apostle John wrote:

“They abstain from the Eucharist and from prayer, because they do not confess that the Eucharist is the Flesh of our Savior Jesus Christ. Flesh which suffered for our sins and which the Father, in His goodness, raised up again.” (Letter to the Smyrnaeans 6,2)

“I desire the Bread of God, which is the Flesh of Jesus Christ…and for drink I desire His Blood, which is love incorruptible.” (Letter to the Romans 7,3)

150 AD–St Justin Martyr wrote to the Emperor of Rome :

“We call this food Eucharist; and no one else is permitted to partake of it, except one who believes our teaching to be true…For not as common bread nor common drink do we receive these; but since Jesus Christ our Savior was made incarnate by the word of God and had both flesh and blood for our salvation so too, as we have been taught, the food which has been made into the Eucharist by the Eucharistic prayer set down by Him, and by the change of which our blood and flesh is nourished, is both the Flesh and the Blood of that incarnated Jesus” (First Apology 66,20 )

180 ADSt. Irenaeus, was the bishop of Lyons, France and a student of St. Polycarp who sat at the feet of the Apostle John. St. Irenaeus wrote :

“He (Jesus) has declared the cup, a part of creation, to be His own Blood, from which He causes our blood to flow; and the bread, a part of creation, He has established as His own Body, from which He gives increase to our bodies.” (Against Heresies, 5,2,2 )

350 AD St Cyril of Jerusalem, in a teaching to those coming into the Church wrote in:

Do not, therefore, regard the bread and wine as simply that; for they are, according to the Master’s declaration, the Body and Blood of Christ. Even though the senses suggest to you the other, let faith make you firm. Do not judge in this matter by taste, but be fully assured by the faith, not doubting that you have been deemed worthy of the Body and Blood of Christ.” (Catechetical Lectures:(Mystagogic 4) 22,6 )

Thus we see that the Christian Church, at the very beginning of its history taught and believed that the bread and wine of communion was transformed into the body and blood of Jesus Christ in fulfillment of Jesus’ discourse on the Bread From Heaven in John 6 and the plain sense of His words at the institution of Communion at the Last Supper. “This is My Body” This is My Blood”

This is the same Church that Jesus founded on Peter and the Apostles.

This is the same church that Jesus promised the Gates of Hell would never overcome.

This is the same Church that chose the books of the Bible out of all the other books floating around the ancient world, at the end of the fourth century.

This is the same Church that was called Catholic at least as early as 110 AD.

This is the One, Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic Church. Ancient, but ever young.

Miracle of Yom Kippur/Miracle of Eucharist



Several years ago I read Roy Schoeman’s book Salvation is from the Jews. He tells the story of his conversion to the Catholic Faith. He was formerly a devout Jew. I was struck with his story about the Jewish Day of Atonement/Yom Kippur. I had never heard of this before and I was skeptical. So I contacted a university library and paid for copies of the references in the Talmud (Yoma 39) and Zohar ((Vayikra, Section 3). Mr. Schoeman’s quotes were absolutely accurate. I would like to share it with you on this Good Friday.

Excerpted from:Salvation is From the Jews by Roy Schoeman pp. 130-132.

Both the Talmud and Zohar contain accounts of how in the days of the Temple, the High Priest would once a year–on Yom Kippur, or the “Day of Atonement”–enter the Holy of Holies and offer sacrifice for the atonement of the sin of all Israel. Both mention the “miracle of the scarlet thread, in which a scarlet thread would miraculously turn white as the sign that God had accepted the sacrifice. From the account in the Zohar (Vayikra, Section 3, condensed)

All the sins are (taken) away…. on this day, the defilement of the soul and of the body…All that day…God makes atonement for Israel and purifies them from all their sins and they are not accused before Him…On this day the priest….makes atonement for himself and his house and the priests and the sanctuary of all Israel…They used to know by a certain thread of scarlet if the priest had been successful…It was known by the thread changing its color to white, when there was rejoicing above and below. If it did not, however, all were distressed, knowing that their prayer had not been accepted.

The scarlet thread turning white would be the sign that God had accepted the sacrifice and forgiven the Jewish people their sins (“though your sins be like scarlet, they may become white as snow; though they be crimson red they may become white as wool”–Isaiah 1:18) Yet the Talmud itself reports that forty years before the Temple was destroyed, this great miracle, which gave divine confirmation that the High Priest’s sacrifice had been accepted taking away the sins of the Jewish people, ceased to occur. The passage from the Talmud reads (Rosh Hashanah 31b):

Originally they used to fasten the thread of scarlet on the door of the Temple court on the outside. If it turned white the people used to rejoice, and if it did not turn white they were sad…For forty years before the destruction of the Temple the thread of scarlet never turned white but it remained red.

The Temple was destroyed about 70 A.D.; hence the miracle ceased to occur at about 30 A.D., which is precisely when the crucifixion took place—the crucifixion that replaced the sacrifices of the Old Covenant with that of Jesus on the Cross. According to the New Testament at the very moment that Jesus died on the Cross the curtain of the Temple that separated off the Holy of Holies was rent in two, symbolizing the end of the efficacy of the sacrifices of the Old Covenant. It is the Talmud itself that unwittingly confirms this when it recounts that from that time on—forty years before the desruction of the Temple in 70A.D.–the scarlet thread never again turned white.

And in the New Covenant we have the miracle of transubstantion at every celebration of the Sacrifice of Christ.

Below are two online sources of this practice and it’s extinction.

Tabernacle in Branson
Later on in Temple history a certain ritual was added to all of this, using three scarlet woolen ropes. One scarlet rope was tied to the horns of the sacrificial goat, one was tied to the horns of the scapegoat and one hung from the front of the temple. After all the Yom Kippur sacrifices were completed by the High Priest a mighty miracle took place. The scarlet rope hanging from the temple supernaturally turned “white”. This was God’s sign to the Israelites that their sins were forgiven, conforming to Isa. 1:18, “though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be white as snow”.

However, immediately after the crucifixion of Yeshua (Jesus) and for the next 40 years until the Temple was destroyed by the Romans in 70 A.D., the scarlet cord never turned “white” again. This, too, was God’s answer to the Israelites – that there was no need for that to happen any longer because the sacrifice of Yeshua, the “blood of atonement” that He shed on the tree of sacrifice, put an end to the Mosaic sacrificial system.

Wild Olive
The Talmud, the Jewish sacred writings second only in importance to the Tanach, record that one of the sacrificial animals had a scarlet cord tied around its neck, which turned white when GOD had accepted atonement for the people. This miracle occurred every nearly every year for around 1500 years but did not occur again from the year Jesus was crucified until the Temple was destroyed and all Temple worship ceased. (Talmud yoma 39a)

Killing Jesus Over and Over



Q. Is the Mass a communal meal or a sacrifice?
A. It is both.
First, it is a re-presentation of Jesus’ sacrificial death on the cross. At the mass, the scrim of time is pulled away and we communally leave “Now” and enter the precincts of the Eternal. Everything looks normal. But, the spiritual reality is that we are transported “back in time” to the foot of the Cross, with Holy Mary and St. John, as well as, the angels and archangels. All present themselves to adore our Blessed Lord’s sacrifice at calvary.

And then, in obedience to Jesus, we partake of a communal meal of His body and blood under the appearance of bread and wine.

“Jesus said to them, “I tell you the truth, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you have no life in you. Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day. For my flesh is real food and my blood is real drink. Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood abides in me, and I in him.” John 6: 53-58

Q. Then, is Jesus dying over and over?
A. No.
For Christ… died for sins once for all” (I Peter 3:18)
The sacrifice of Christ happened once, in time, and is an historical fact. Unlike the sacrifices in the Old Testament, Christ’s sacrifice is eternal. It is we, who are in time, who must return over and over in thanksgiving to adore Him and be nourished for our journey to heaven.

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Why Do Catholic Priests Sacrifice Jesus Again & Again & Again…?



Q. Is the Mass a communal meal or a sacrifice?
A. It is both.
First, it is a re-presentation of Jesus’ sacrificial death on the cross. At the mass, the scrim of time is pulled away and we communally leave “Now” and enter the precincts of the Eternal. Everything looks normal. But, the spiritual reality is that we are transported “back in time” to the foot of the Cross, with Holy Mary and St. John, as well as, the angels and archangels. All present themselves to adore our Blessed Lord’s sacrifice at calvary.

And then, in obedience to Jesus, we partake of a communal meal of His body and blood under the appearance of bread and wine.

“Jesus said to them, “I tell you the truth, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you have no life in you. Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day. For my flesh is real food and my blood is real drink. Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood abides in me, and I in him.” John 6: 53-58

Q. Then, is Jesus dying over and over?
A. No.
For Christ… died for sins once for all” (I Peter 3:18)
The sacrifice of Christ happened once, in time, and is an historical fact. Unlike the sacrifices in the Old Testament, Christ’s sacrifice is eternal. It is we, who are in time, who must return over and over in thanksgiving to adore Him and be nourished for our journey to heaven.

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Passion of the Christ & New Again Youtube


New Again – Brad Paisley & Sara Evans

Mass as a memorial



Q. I’d like to comment on your “anamnesis” article, if I may. The word may indeed always be used in a “sacrificial” context, but this in no way makes communion / the Lord’s Supper –a SACRIFICE. The reason for the “sacrificial” context is simply because Jesus wanted us to “remember” Him by looking BACK to His work /sacrifice on the cross. OF COURSE it has sacrificial overtones!But what do you do with verses like

Hebrews 10:18“Now where remission of these is, there is no more offering for sin.”

The penalty for sin has already been paid in full. The sacrifices offered today are of our total selves, our obedience, our praise and thanksgiving. THAT type of “sacrifice” is acceptable. But there is no more sacrifice to offer for
SIN (as the RCC views the Eucharist).

A. You make a good point and if one is confined to scripture alone it cannot be proven one way or the other. However, historically the mass WAS referred to as a sacrifice in the very earliest writings before the Bible was even canonized. Therefore, the same Church that called the mass a sacrifice decided which books would be canonized and closed the canon of Scripture. If one accepts the canon of scripture how can one exclude the Faith as practiced by the very same Church that defined the canon?

But of course the sacrifice of the mass is not another sacrifice, as clearly stated by John Chrysostom in 403AD. Our masses are Re-Presentations of that ONE Sacrifice.That Once and for all sacrifice.

The Didache

“Assemble on the Lord’s day, and break bread and offer the Eucharist; but first make confession of your faults, so that your sacrifice may be a pure one. Anyone who has a difference with his fellow is not to take part with you until he has been reconciled, so as to avoid any profanation of your sacrifice [Matt. 5:23–24]. For this is the offering of which the Lord has said, ‘Everywhere and always bring me a sacrifice that is undefiled, for I am a great king, says the Lord, and my name is the wonder of nations’ [Mal. 1:11, 14]” (Didache 14 [A.D. 70]).
Pope Clement I

“Our sin will not be small if we eject from the episcopate those who blamelessly and holily have offered its sacrifices. (Letter to the Corinthians 44:4–5 [A.D. 80]).

Ignatius of Antioch

“Make certain, therefore, that you all observe one common Eucharist; for there is but one Body of our Lord Jesus Christ, and but one cup of union with his Blood, and one single altar of sacrifice—even as there is also but one bishop, with his clergy and my own fellow servitors, the deacons. This will ensure that all your doings are in full accord with the will of God” (Letter to the Philadelphians 4 [A.D. 110]).

Justin Martyr

“God speaks by the mouth of Malachi, one of the twelve [minor prophets], as I said before, about the sacrifices at that time presented by you: ‘I have no pleasure in you, says the Lord, and I will not accept your sacrifices at your hands; for from the rising of the sun to the going down of the same, my name has been glorified among the Gentiles, and in every place incense is offered to my name, and a pure offering, for my name is great among the Gentiles . . . [Mal. 1:10–11]. He then speaks of those Gentiles, namely us [Christians] who in every place offer sacrifices to him, that is, the bread of the Eucharist and also the cup of the Eucharist” (Dialogue with Trypho the Jew 41 [A.D. 155]).
Irenaeus

“He took from among creation that which is bread, and gave thanks, saying, ‘This is my body.’ The cup likewise, which is from among the creation to which we belong, he confessed to be his blood. He taught the new sacrifice of the new covenant, of which Malachi, one of the twelve [minor] prophets, had signified beforehand: ‘You do not do my will, says the Lord Almighty, and I will not accept a sacrifice at your hands. For from the rising of the sun to its setting my name is glorified among the Gentiles, and in every place incense is offered to my name, and a pure sacrifice; for great is my name among the Gentiles, says the Lord Almighty’ [Mal. 1:10–11]. By these words he makes it plain that the former people will cease to make offerings to God; but that in every place sacrifice will be offered to him, and indeed, a pure one, for his name is glorified among the Gentiles” (Against Heresies 4:17:5 [A.D. 189]).

Serapion

“Accept therewith our hallowing too, as we say, ‘Holy, holy, holy Lord Sabaoth, heaven and earth is full of your glory.’ Heaven is full, and full is the earth, with your magnificent glory, Lord of virtues. Full also is this sacrifice, with your strength and your communion; for to you we offer this living sacrifice, this unbloody oblation” (Prayer of the Eucharistic Sacrifice 13:12–16 [A.D. 350]).

Cyril of Jerusalem

“Then, having sanctified ourselves by these spiritual hymns, we beseech the merciful God to send forth his Holy Spirit upon the gifts lying before him, that he may make the bread the Body of Christ and the wine the Blood of Christ, for whatsoever the Holy Spirit has touched is surely sanctified and changed. Then, upon the completion of the spiritual sacrifice, the bloodless worship, over that propitiatory victim we call upon God for the common peace of the churches, for the welfare of the world, for kings, for soldiers and allies, for the sick, for the afflicted; and in summary, we all pray and offer this sacrifice for all who are in need” (Catechetical Lectures 23:7–8 [A.D. 350]).

Ambrose of Milan

“We saw the prince of priests coming to us, we saw and heard him offering his blood for us. We follow, inasmuch as we are able, being priests, and we offer the sacrifice on behalf of the people. Even if we are of but little merit, still, in the sacrifice, we are honorable. Even if Christ is not now seen as the one who offers the sacrifice, nevertheless it is he himself that is offered in sacrifice here on Earth when the body of Christ is offered. Indeed, to offer himself he is made visible in us, he whose word makes holy the sacrifice that is offered” (Commentaries on Twelve Psalms of David 38:25 [A.D. 389]).

John Chrysostom

“When you see the Lord immolated and lying upon the altar, and the priest bent over that sacrifice praying, and all the people empurpled by that precious blood, can you think that you are still among men and on earth? Or are you not lifted up to heaven?” (The Priesthood 3:4:177 [A.D. 387]).

“Reverence, therefore, reverence this table, of which we are all communicants! Christ, slain for us, the sacrificial victim who is placed thereon!” (Homilies on Romans 8:8 [A.D. 391]).

“‘The cup of blessing which we bless, is it not communion of the blood of Christ?’ Very trustworthy and awesomely does he [Paul] say it. For what he is saying is this: What is in the cup is that which flowed from his side, and we partake of it. He called it a cup of blessing because when we hold it in our hands that is how we praise him in song, wondering and astonished at his indescribable gift, blessing him because of his having poured out this very gift so that we might not remain in error; and not only for his having poured it out, but also for his sharing it with all of us. ‘If therefore you desire blood,’ he [the Lord] says, ‘do not redden the platform of idols with the slaughter of dumb beasts, but my altar of sacrifice with my blood.’ What is more awesome than this? What, pray tell, more tenderly loving?” (Homilies on First Corinthians 24:1(3) [A.D. 392]).

“In ancient times, because men were very imperfect, God did not scorn to receive the blood which they were offering . . . to draw them away from those idols; and this very thing again was because of his indescribable, tender affection. But now he has transferred the priestly action to what is most awesome and magnificent. He has changed the sacrifice itself, and instead of the butchering of dumb beasts, he commands the offering up of himself” (ibid., 24:2).

“What then? Do we not offer daily? Yes, we offer, but making remembrance of his death; and this remembrance is one and not many. How is it one and not many? Because this sacrifice is offered once, like that in the Holy of Holies. This sacrifice is a type of that, and this remembrance a type of that. We offer always the same, not one sheep now and another tomorrow, but the same thing always. Thus there is one sacrifice. By this reasoning, since the sacrifice is offered everywhere, are there, then, a multiplicity of Christs? By no means! Christ is one everywhere. He is complete here, complete there, one body. And just as he is one body and not many though offered everywhere, so too is there one sacrifice” (Homilies on Hebrews 17:3(6) [A.D. 403]).

Fulgentius of Ruspe

“Hold most firmly and never doubt in the least that the only-begotten God the Word himself became flesh [and] offered himself in an odor of sweetness as a sacrifice and victim to God on our behalf; to whom . . . in the time of the Old Testament animals were sacrificed by the patriarchs and prophets and priests; and to whom now, I mean in the time of the New Testament . . . the holy Catholic Church does not cease in faith and love to offer throughout all the lands of the world a sacrifice of bread and wine. In those former sacrifices what would be given us in the future was signified figuratively, but in this sacrifice which has now been given us is shown plainly. In those former sacrifices it was fore-announced that the Son of God would be killed for the impious, but in the present sacrifice it is announced that he has been killed for the impious” (The Rule of Faith 62 [A.D. 524]).For more see Catholic Answers at catholic.com

ANAMNESIS



Q. Jesus said, “This is my body given for you; do this in remembrance of me.” How does our Catholic Church get from remembrance to the idea of calling the mass a sacrifice?

A. The Greek word ANAMNESIS is the Greek word that translates into English as REMEMBER. It would seem to the casual reader of the Gospels that all Jesus is asking for us to do is to Remember his sacrifice.

Luke 22:19

19And when He had taken some bread and given thanks, He broke it and gave it to them, saying, “This is My body which is given for you; do this in remembrance of Me.

But you may not be aware that, in all of scripture, this word only occurs 8 times. All but once (Wisdom 16:6) it is in a sacrificial context. (Lk 22:19. I Cor 11:24, Heb 10:3 Lev 24:7, Num 10:10 & Ps 30 and 70)

In Lev 24:7, for example, 12 loaves of bread were offered to the LORD each Sabbath as a memorial portion or sacrifice. So this word has sacrificial overtones or connotations.

Lev. 24:1 The LORD said to Moses, 2 “Command the Israelites to bring you clear oil of pressed olives for the light so that the lamps may be kept burning continually. 3 Outside the curtain of the Testimony in the Tent of Meeting, Aaron is to tend the lamps before the LORD from evening till morning, continually. This is to be a lasting ordinance for the generations to come. 4 The lamps on the pure gold lampstand before the LORD must be tended continually.

5 “Take fine flour and bake twelve loaves of bread, using two-tenths of an ephah [a] for each loaf. 6 Set them in two rows, six in each row, on the table of pure gold before the LORD. 7 Along each row put some pure incense as a memorial portion to represent the bread and to be an offering made to the LORD by fire. 8 This bread is to be set out before the LORD regularly, Sabbath after Sabbath, on behalf of the Israelites, as a lasting covenant. 9 It belongs to Aaron and his sons, who are to eat it in a holy place, because it is a most holy part of their regular share of the offerings made to the LORD by fire.”

An interesting note is that these loaves were to be placed on a golden altar with a continuously burning lamp and eaten only by the priests “in the holy place because it is most holy of the sacrifices…” v.9

This corresponds to the Eucharistic Sacrifice given to us by Our Lord which is kept in the holy place with a continuously burning lamp, and eaten by the priesthood of all believers.