Early Christians on the Holy Eucharist
Clement of Rome (80 A.D.) in Corinthians 36:1 refers to the
Eucharist as the "offering of the gift.''
St. Clement, bishop of Rome, 80 A.D., to the Corinthians, 40:
Teaching of the Twelve Apostles (the Didache), 9:2; 14:1, circa 90 A.D.:
Since then these things are manifest to us, and we have
looked into the depths of the divine knowledge, we ought to do in
order all things which the Master commanded us to perform at appointed
times. He commanded us to celebrate sacrifices and services, and that
it should not be thoughtlessly or disorderly, but at fixed times and
hours. He has Himself fixed by His supreme will the places and
persons whom He desires for these celebrations, in order that all
things may be done piously according to His good pleasure, and be
acceptable to His will. So then those who offer their oblations at
the appointed seasons are acceptable and blessed, but they follow the
laws of the Master and do not sin. For to the high priest his proper
ministrations are allotted, and to the priests the proper place has
been appointed, and on Levites their proper services have been
imposed. The layman is bound by the ordinances for the laity.
Regarding the Eucharist ... Let no one eat and drink of your
Eucharist but those baptized in the name of the Lord; to this, too,
the saying of the Lord is applicable: Do not give to dogs what is
Ignatius of Antioch, Epistle to the Smyrnaeans, Chapter 6, 110 A.D.:
On the Lord's own day, assemble in common to break bread
and offer thanks; but first confess your sins, so that your sacrifice
may be pure. However, no one quarreling with his brother may join
your meeting until they are reconciled; your sacrifice must not be
defiled. For here we have the saying of the Lord: In every place and
time offer me a pure sacrifice; for I am a mighty King, says the Lord;
and my name spreads terror among the nations. [Mal 1:11,14].
St. Ignatius of Antioch, Epistle to the Smyrnaeans, 8:1, 110 A.D.:
Take note of those who hold heterodox opinions on the grace
of Jesus Christ which has come to us, and see how contrary their
opinions are to the mind of God ... 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 that Father, in his goodness, raised up again. They who
deny the gift of God are perishing in their disputes.
St. Ignatius of Antioch, Epistle to the Romans, 7, 110 A.D.:
Let that Eucharist be held valid which is offered by the
bishop or by the one to whom the bishop has committed this charge.
Wherever the bishop appears, there let the people be; as wherever
Jesus Christ is, there is the Catholic Church.
St. Ignatius of Antioch, Epistle to the Philadephians, 4:1, 110 A.D.:
I desire the Bread of God, the heavenly Bread, the Bread
of Life, which is the flesh of Jesus Christ, the Son of God, who
became afterwards of the seed of David and Abraham; I wish the drink
of God, namely His blood, which is incorruptible love and eternal
Justin Martyr, Apology, I.66-67, 2nd century:
Be ye careful therefore to observe one eucharist (for
there is one flesh of our Lord Jesus Christ and one cup unto union in
His blood; there is one altar, as there is one bishop, together with
the presbytery and the deacons my fellow-servants), that whatsoever ye
do, ye may do it after God.
St. Irenaeus of Lyons, Against Heresies, [5,2,2] 180 A.D.:
Communion in the Body and Blood of Christ
It is allowed to no one else to participate in that food which we call
Eucharist except the one who believes that the things taught by us are
true, who has been cleansed in the washing unto rebirth and the forgiveness
of sins and who is living according to the way Christ handed on to us. For
we do not take these things as ordinary bread or ordinary drink. Just as
our Savior Jesus Christ was made flesh by the word of God and took on flesh
and blood for our salvation, so also were we taught that the food, for
which thanksgiving has been made through the word of prayer instituted by
him, and from which our blood and flesh are nourished after the change, is
the flesh of that Jesus who was made flesh. Indeed, the Apostles, in the
records left by them which are called gospels, handed on that it was
commanded to them in this manner: Jesus, having taken bread and given
thanks said, "Do this in memory of me, this is my body.'' Likewise,
having taken the cup and given thanks, he said, "This is my blood'', and
he gave it to them alone.
The Sunday Assembly
Furthermore, after this we always remind one another of these things.
Those who have the means aid those who are needy, and we are always united.
Over everything which we take to ourselves we bless the Creator of the
universe through His Son Jesus Christ and through the Holy Spirit.
On the day called after the sun [Sunday] there is a meeting for
those dwelling in the cities or in the countryside come together. The
records of the Apostles or the writings of the prophets are read as long as
time allows. When the reader has stopped, the one who is presiding
admonishes and encourages us by a sermon to the imitation of those good
Then we all stand up together and lift up our prayers and, as I said
previously, when we have finished our prayer, bread is brought forth and
wine and water. The one who is presiding offers up prayers and
thanksgiving according to his ability and the people acclaim their assent
with "Amen.'' There is the distribution of and participation on the part
of each one in the gifts for which thanks has been offered, and they are
sent to those who are not present through the deacons.
We all come together on the day of the sun since it is the first day, on
which God changed darkness and matter and made the world. On that day,
Jesus Christ our Savior arose from the dead. They crucified him on the day
preceding that of Saturn, and on the day of the sun he appeared to his
Apostles and disciples and taught them these things which we have presented
also to you for inspection.
St. Irenaeus, Against Heresies, 180 A.D., 4,17,5:
If the body be not saved, then in fact, neither did the
Lord redeem us with His Blood; and neither is the cup of the Eucharist
the partaking of His Blood nor is the Bread which we break the
partaking of His Body . . . He 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.
St. Irenaeus, Against Heresies, 4, 18, 2, 180 A.D.:
Again, giving counsel to His disciples to offer to God the first-fruits from
among His creatures, not as if He needed them, but so that they themselves
might be neither unfruitful nor ungrateful, 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
He taught the the new sacrifice of the New Covenant, of which Malachi, one
of the twelve 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 offer to My name, and a pure sacrifice;
for great is My name among the gentiles,' says the Lord Almighty.'' (Mal
1:11). 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.''
St. Irenaeus of Lyons, Against Heresies, [5,2,2] 180 A.D.:
It is not oblations as such that have met with disapproval. There were
oblations of old; there are oblations now. There were sacrifices among the
people of Israel; there are sacrifices in the Church. Only the kind of oblation
has been changed: now it is offered by freemen, not by slaves. There is one and
the same Lord, but the character of an oblation made by slaves is distinctive,
so too that of an oblation made by sons: their oblations bear the mark of
We must make oblation to God, and in all things be found
pleasing to God the Creator, in sound teaching, in sincere faith, in
firm hope, in ardent love, as we offer the firstfruits of the
creatures that are his. The Church alone offers this pure oblation to
the Creator when it makes its offering to him from his creation, with
We offer him what is his, and so we proclaim communion and
unity and profess our belief in the resurrection of flesh and spirit.
Just as bread from the earth, when it receives the invocation of God,
is no longer common bread but the Eucharist, made up of two elements,
one earthly and one heavenly, so also our bodies, in receiving the
Eucharist, are no longer corruptible, for they have the hope of
St. Clement of Alexandria, The Instructor of Children [1,6,41,3] 202 A.D.:
If the body be not saved, then in fact, neither did the Lord redeem us with
His Blood; and neither is the cup of the Eucharist the partaking of His
Blood nor is the Bread which we break the partaking of His Body . . . He
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.
St. Clement of Alexandria, The Instructor of Children [2,2,19,4] 202 A.D.:
When the loving and benevolent Father had rained down the
Word, that Word then became the spiritual nourishment of those who
have good sense. [42,1] O mystic wonder! the Father of all is indeed
one, one also is the universal Word, and the Holy Spirit is one and
the same everywhere; and one is the Virgin Mother. I love to call her
the Church. This Mother alone was without milk, because she alone did
not become a wife. She is at once both Virgin and Mother: as Virgin,
undefiled; as a Mother full of love.
Calling her children about her, she nourishes them with
holy milk, that is with the Infant Word. . . . The Word is everything
to a child: both the Father and Mother, both Instructor and Nurse.
`Eat My Flesh,' He says, `and drink My Blood.' the Lord supplies us
with these intimate nutriments. He delivers over His Flesh, and pours
out His Blood; and nothing is lacking for the growth of His children.
O incredible mystery!
Tertullian's The Resurrection of the Dead [8,2] A.D. 208-212:
The Blood of the Lord, indeed, is twofold. There is His
corporeal blood, by which we are redeemed from corruption; and His
spiritual Blood, that with which we are anointed. That is to say, to
drink the Blood of Jesus is to share in His Immortality. the strength
of the Word is the Spirit, just as the blood is the strength of the
body. [20,1] Similarly, as wine is blended with water, so is the
Spirit with man. The one, the Watered Wine, nourishes in faith while
the other, the Spirit, leads us on to immortality. The union of both,
however, --of the drink and of the Word,--is called Eucharist, a
praiseworthy and excellent gift. Those who partake of it in faith are
sanctified in body and in soul. By the will of the Father, the divine
mixture, man, is mystically united to the Spirit and to the Word.
Tertullian [ca. 200/206 AD] in his treaties on Prayer [6,2], quotes John
6 in connection with a spiritual understanding of the Lord's prayer "give
us this day our daily bread." In a spiritual sense Christ is our daily
Bread, presumably because of the practice of the daily reception of the
The flesh, then, is washed, so that the soul may be made clean. The flesh
is anointed, so that the soul may be dedicated to holiness. The flesh is
signed, so that the soul too may be fortified. The flesh is shaded with the
imposition of hands, so that the soul too may be illuminated by the
Spirit. The flesh feeds on the Body and Blood of Christ, so that the soul
too may fatten on God. They cannot, then, be separated in their reward,
when they are united in their works.
Later in that same treatise [19,1] he writes;
Likewise, regard to days of fast, many do not think they should be present
at the sacrificial prayers, because their fast would be broken if they were
to receive the Body of the Lord. Does the Eucharist, then, obviate a work
devoted to God, or does it bind it more to god? Will not your fast be more
solemn if, in addition, you have stood at God's altar? The body of the
Lord having been received and reserved, each point is secured: both the
participation in the sacrifice and the discharge of duty.
Regarding worship on the Lord's Day Tertullian also writes; [The Crown
[3,4] AD 211]:
We take anxious care lest something of our Cup of Bread should fall upon
Origen, Contra Celsum, 8:57:
Origen Homilies on Exodus 13,3:
We are not people with ungrateful hearts; it is true, we do not sacrifice ...
to such beings who, far from bestowing their benefits upon us, are our enemies;
but to God who has bestowed upon us an abundance of benefits ... we fear being
ungrateful. The sign of this gratitude towards God is the bread called
St. Cyprian of Carthage, the Lord's Prayer, 252 A.D., chapter 18:
I wish to admonish you with examples from your religion. You are
accustomed to take part in the divine mysteries, so you know, when you
received the body of the Lord, you reverently exercised every care lest a
particle of it fall, and lest anything of the consecrated gift perish. You
account yourselves guilty, and rightly do you so believe, if any of it be
lost through negligence. but if you observe such cation in keeping His
Body, and properly so, how is it that you think neglecting the word of God
a lesser crime than neglecting His Body?
St. Cyprian, Letter of Cyprian to a Certain Magnus, 6 (76), 5; 255 A.D.:
As the prayer proceeds, we ask and say: 'Give us this day
our daily bread.' This can be understood both spiritually and simply,
because either understanding is of profit in divine usefulness for
salvation. For Christ is the bread of life and the bread here is of
all, but is ours. And as we say 'Our Father,' because He is the Father
of those who understand and believe, so too we say 'our Bread,'
because Christ is the bread of those of us who attain to His body.
Moreover, we ask that this bread be given daily, lest we, who are in
Christ and receive the Eucharist daily as food of salvation, with the
intervention of some more grievous sin, while we are shut off and as
non-communicants are kept from the heavenly bread, be separated from
the body of Christ as He Himself declares, saying: 'I am the bread of
life which came down from heaven. If any man eat of my bread he shall
live forever. Moreover, the bread that I shall give is my flesh for
the life of the world.' Since then He says that, if anyone eats of His
bread, he lives forever, as it is manifest that they live who attain
to His body and receive the Eucharist by right of communion, so on the
other hand we must fear and pray lest anyone, while he is cut off and
separated from the body of Christ, remain apart from salvation, as He
Himself threatens, saying: 'Unless you eat the flesh of the Son of man
and drink His blood, you shall not have life in you.' And so we
petition that our bread, that is Christ, be given us daily, so that
we, who abide and live in Christ, may not withdraw from His
sanctification and body.
St. Cyril of Jerusalem, Mystagogic Catechesis 4,1, c. 350 A.D.:
Finally, the sacrifices of the Lord proclaim the unity of Christians, bound
together by the bond of a firm and inviolable charity. For when the Lord, in
speaking of bread which is produced by the compacting of many grains of wheat,
refers to it as His Body, He is describing our people whose unity He has
sustained, and when He refers to wine pressed from many grapes and berries, as
His Blood, He is speaking of our flock, formed by the fusing of many united
St. Cyril of Jerusalem, Catecheses, 23 (Myst. 5), 8-18; 350 A.D:
`I have received of the Lord that which I also delivered unto you, that the
Lord Jesus, the same night in which He was betrayed, took bread, etc. [1 Cor
11:23]'. This teaching of the Blessed Paul is alone sufficient to give you a
full assurance concerning those Divine Mysteries, which when ye are vouchsafed,
ye are of [Eph 3:6] and blood with Christ. For he has just
distinctly said, [1 Cor 2:23-25] Since then He Himself has declared
and said of the Bread, , who shall dare to doubt any longer?
And since He has affirmed and said, , who shall ever
hesitate, saying, that it is not His blood?
2. He once turned water into wine, in Cana of Galilee, at His own will, and
is it incredible that He should have turned wine into blood? That wonderful
work He miraculously wrought, when called to an earthly marriage; and shall He
not much rather be acknowledged to have bestowed the fruition of His Body and
Blood on the children of the bridechamber?
3. Therefore with fullest assurance let us partake as of the Body and Blood
of Christ: for in the figure of Bread is given to thee His Body, and in the
figure of Wine His Blood; that thou by partaking of the Body and Blood of
Christ, mightest be made of the same body and the same blood with Him. For
thus we come to bear Christ in us, because His Body and Blood are diffused
through our members; thus it is that, according to the blessed Peter, [2 Peter 1:4]
4. Christ on a certain occasion discoursing with the Jews said, [1 John 6:53] They
not receiving His saying spiritually were offended, and went backward,
supposing that He was inviting them to eat flesh.
5. Even under the Old Testament there was showbread; but this as it
belonged to the Old Testament, came to an end; but in the New Testament there
is the Bread of Heaven, and the Cup of Salvation [cf. Ps 116:13], sanctifying
soul and body; for as the Bread has respect to our body, so is the Word
appropriate to our soul.
6. Contemplate therefore the Bread and Wine not as bare elements, for they
are, according to the Lord's declaration, the Body and Blood of Christ; for
though sense suggests this to thee, let faith establish thee. Judge not the
matter from taste, but from faith be fully assured without misgiving, that thou
hast been vouchsafed the Body and Blood of Christ.
7. The blessed David also shall advise thee at the meaning of this,
[Ps 23:5] What he says, is to this effect. Before Thy coming, evil spirits
prepared a table for men, foul and polluted and full of all devilish influence;
but since Thy coming, O Lord, When the
man says to God, , what other does he
mean but that mystical and spiritual Table, which God hath prepared , that is, contrary and in opposition to the evil spirits? And very
truly; for that had fellowship with devils, but this, with God. . . .
9. These things having learnt, and being fully persuaded
that what seems bread is not bread, though bread by taste, but the
Body of Christ; and that what seems wine is not wine, though the taste
will have it so, but the Blood of Christ; and that of this David sung
of old, saying, [Ps. 104:15], `strengthen thine heart',
partaking thereof as spiritual, and `make the face of thy soul to
shine'. And so having it unveiled by a pure conscience, mayest thou
, and proceed from [2 Cor 3:18], in Christ Jesus our Lord:--To whom be honour,
and might, and glory, for ever and ever. Amen.
St. Cyprian wrote to the Ephesians circa 258 A.D:
After the Spiritual Sacrifice, the unbloody act of worship
has been completed. Bending over this propitiatory offering we beg
God to grant peace to all the Churches, to give harmony to the whole
world, to bless our rulers, our soldiers, and our companions, to aid
the sick and afflicted, and in general to assist all who stand in
need; and then we offer the Victim also for our deceased holy
ancestors and bishops for all our dead. As we do this, we are filled
with the conviction that this Sacrifice will be of the greatest help
to those souls for whom prayers are being offered in the very presence
of our holy and awesome Victim. . . In the same fashion, when we offer
our prayers to God for the dead, even though they be sinners, we weave
no crown, but instead we offer Christ slaughtered for our sins,
beseeching our merciful God to take pity both on them and on
Pope St. Gregory the Great, Dial. IV,58:
The priest who imitates that which Christ did, truly takes
the place of Christ, and offers there in the Church a true and perfect
sacrifice to God the Father.
St. Ephraim Homilies [4,4] AD 338-373
Although He (Christ) who rose from the dead shall die no
more - death no longer has power over Him - still, although He is
immortal and His living form incorruptible, He is being slaughtered
for us in this mysterium of the holy sacrifice. Because there His
body provides nourishment, His flesh being divided up, His blood pours
out - no longer into the hands of non-believers, but into the mouths
St. Ephraim Homilies [4,6] A.D. 338-373:
Our Lord Jesus took in His hands what in the beginning was
only bread; and He blessed it, signed it, and made it holy in the name
of the Father and in the name of the Spirit; and broke it and in His
gracious kindness He distributed it to all His disciples one by one.
He called the bread His living Body, and did Himself fill it with
Himself and the Spirit.
St. Hilary of Poitiers, The Trinity [8,14] A.D. 356-359:
After the disciples had eaten the new and holy Bread, and
when they understood by faith they had eaten of Christ's body, Christ
went on to explain and to give them the whole Sacrament. He took and
mixed a cup of wine. Then He blessed it, and signed it, and made it
holy, declaring that it was His own Blood, which was about to be
poured out . . . Christ commanded them to drink, and He explained to
them that the cup which they were drinking was His own Blood: `This is
truly My Blood, which is shed for all of you. Take, all of you, drink
of this, because it is a new covenant in My Blood. As you have seen
me do, do you also in My memory. whenever you gather together in My
name in Churches everywhere, do what I have done, in memory of Me.
Eat My body, and drink My Blood.'
St. John Chrysostom, Homilies on the Gospel of Matthew, 82, 4, 370 A.D.:
When we speak of the reality of Christ's nature being in
us, we would be speaking foolishly and impiously--had we not learned
it from Him. For He Himself says: `My Flesh is truly food, and My
Blood is truly Drink. He that eats My flesh and drinks My Blood will
remain in Me and I in him [John 6:56-57].' As to the reality of His
flesh and blood, there is little room left for doubt, because now,
both by the declaration of the Lord Himself and by our own faith, it
is truly Flesh and truly Blood. And these Elements bring it about,
when taken and consumed, that we are in Christ and Christ is in us.
Is it not true? Let those who deny that Jesus christ is true God be
free to find these things untrue. But He Himself is in us through the
flesh and we are in Him, while that which we are with Him is in God.
St. John Chrysostom, "Homilies on the Second Epistle to Timothy," 2,4,
c. 397 A.D.:
Let us submit to God in all things and not contradict Him,
even if what He says seems contrary to our reason and intellect;
rather let His words prevail over our reason and intellect. Let us
act in this way with regard to the (eucharistic) mysteries, looking
not only at what falls under our senses but holding on to His words.
For His word cannot lead us astray. . . When the word says, `This is
My Body', be convinced of it and believe it, and look at it with the
eyes of the mind. . . How many now say, `I wish I could see His
shape, His appearance, His garments, His sandals.' Only look! You see
Him! You touch Him! You eat Him!
St. John Chrysostom, "Homilies on the Treachery of Judas" 1,6; d. 407 A.D.:
I wish to add something that is plainly awe-inspiring, but
do not be astonished or upset. This Sacrifice, no matter who offers
it, be it Peter or Paul, is always the same as that which Christ gave
His disciples and which priests now offer: The offering of today is in
no way inferior to that which Christ offered, because it is not men
who sanctify the offering of today; it is the same Christ who
sanctified His own. For just as the words which God spoke are the
very same as those which the priest now speaks, so too the oblation is
the very same.
St. John Chrysostom:
It is not the power of man which makes what is put before
us the Body and Blood of Christ, but the power of Christ Himself who
was crucified for us. The priest standing there in the place of Christ
says these words but their power and grace are from God. 'This is My
Body,' he says, and these words transform what lies before him.
St. John Chrysostom (PG 59:261)
Why does (the Apostle) say, `The bread which we break'? (1
Cor. 10.17). We can see this during the Eucharist, but not at the
cross. Yet what He has suffered on the cross, He is suffering for you
at this Sacrifice. He allows himself to be divided, so as to nourish
all (participants in the sacrifice of the Mass.)
St. Ambrose of Milan, "On the Mysteries" 9, 50-52, 58; 391 A.D.:
This blood is the salvation of our soul; it cleanses our
souls, it beautifies our soul; ... it makes it shine even more than
gold. Through the pouring out of this blood, it becomes possible to
walk the path of heaven.
St. Ambrose, De Sacrametis:
Let us be assured that this is not what nature formed, but
what the blessing consecrated, and that greater efficacy resides in
the blessing than in nature, for by the blessing nature is changed. .
. . Surely the word of Christ, which could make out of nothing that
which did not exist, can change things already in existence into what
they were not. For it is no less extraordinary to give things new
natures than to change their natures. . . . Christ is in that
Sacrament, because it is the Body of Christ; yet, it is not on that
account corporeal food, but spiritual. Whence also His Apostle says
of the type: `For our fathers ate spiritual food and drink spiritual
drink.' [1 Cor 10:2-4] For the body of God is a spiritual body.
St. Augustine, Sermons,  A.D. 391-430:
Whenever the blood of Christ is being poured out, it flows for the
forgiveness of sins.
St. Augustine, Sermons,  A.D. 391-430:
... I promised you, who have now been baptized, a sermon in
which I would explain the Sacrament of the Lord's Table, which you now
look upon and of which you last night were made participants. You
ought to know what you have received, what you are going to receive,
and what you ought to receive daily. That Bread which you see on the
altar, having been sanctified by the word of God, is the Body of
Christ. That chalice, or rather, what is in that chalice, having been
sanctified by the word of God, is the Blood of Christ. Through that
bread and wine the Lord Christ willed to commend His Body and Blood,
which He poured out for us unto the forgiveness of sins. If you
receive worthily, you are what you have received.
St. Augustine, Explanations on the Psalms, [33, 1, 10] A.D. 392-418:
What you see is the bread and the chalice; that is what
your own eyes report to you. But what your faith obliges you to
accept is that the bread is the Body of Christ and the chalice the
Blood of Christ. ... How is the bread His Body? And the chalice, or
what is in the chalice, how is it His Blood? Those elements,
brethren, are called Sacraments, because in them one thing is seen,
but another is understood. What is seen is the corporeal species, but
what is understood is the spiritual fruit. ... `You, however, are the
Body of Christ and His members.' If, therefore, you are the Body of
Christ and His members, your mystery is presented at the table of the
Lord, you receive your mystery. To that which you are, you answer:
`Amen'; and by answering, you subscribe to it. For you hear: `The
Body of Christ!' and you answer: `Amen!' Be a member of Christ's
Body, so that your `Amen' may be the truth.
St. Augustine, Explanations on the Psalms, [98, 9] A.D. 392-418:
`And he was carried in his own hands [3 Kgs 20:13 LXX?
corrupted].' But, brethren, how is it possible for a man to do this?
Who can understand it? Who is it that is carried in his own hands? A
man can be carried in the hands of another; but no one can be carried
in his own hands. How this should be understood literally of David,
we cannot discover; but we can discover how it was meant of Christ.
For Christ was carried in His own hands, when, referring to His own
Body, He said: `This is My Body.' For He carried that Body in His
St. Augustine, Explanations on the Psalms, A.D. 392-418, [98, 9]:
And adore the footstool of His feet, because it is holy
[Psalm 98:9, LXX 99:9]. . .In another place in the Scripture it says:
`The heavens are my throne, but the earth is the footstool of My feet'
[Isa 66:1] Is it the earth, then, that He commands us to adore, since
in this other place the earth is called the footstool of God's feet?
. . . I am put in jeopardy by such a dilemma (Anceps factus sum): I
am afraid to adore the earth lest He that made heaven and earth
condemn me; again, I am afraid not to adore the footstool of My Lord's
feet, but because the Psalm does say to me: `Adore the footstool of My
feet.' I ask what the footstool of His feet is; and Scripture tells
me: `The earth is the footstool of my feet.' Perplexed, I turn to
Christ, because it is He whom I seek here; and I discover how the
earth is adored without impiety, how without impiety the footstool of
His feet is adored. For He received earth from earth; because flesh
is from earth, and He took flesh from the flesh of Mary. He walked
here in the same flesh, and gave us the same flesh to be eaten unto
salvation. But no one eats that flesh unless he adores it ; and thus
it is discovered how such a footstool of the Lord's feet is adored;
and not only do we not sin by adoring, we do sin by not adoring.
St. Augustine, The Trinity, [3, 4, 10] A.D. 400-416:
`Unless he shall have eaten My flesh he shall not have
eternal life. [John 6:54-55]' [Some] understood this foolishly, and
thought of it carnally, and supposed that the Lord was going to cut
off some parts of His Body to give them ... But He instructed them,
and said to them: `It is the spirit that gives life; but the flesh
profits nothing: the words that I have spoken to you are spirit and
life' [John 6:64]. Understand spiritually what I said. You are not
to eat this Body which you see, nor to drink that Blood which which
will be poured out by those who will crucify Me. I have commended to
you a certain Sacrament; spiritually understood, it will give you
life. And even if it is necessary that this be celebrated visibly, it
must still be understood invisibly.
St. Augustine, 172,2, circa 400 A.D.:
Paul was able to preach the Lord Jesus Christ by means of
signs, in one way by his letters, in another way by the Sacrament of
Christ's Body and Blood; for when we speak of the Body of Christ and
of His Blood, certainly we do not mean Paul's speaking, nor his
parchments nor his ink, nor the meaning of the sounds issuing from his
tongue, nor the signs of letters written on skins. By the Body and
Blood of Christ we refer only to that which has been received from the
fruits of the earth and has been consecrated by the mystical prayer,
and has been ritually taken for our spiritual health in memory of what
the Lord suffered for us.
St. Augustine, "Homilies on the Gospel of John", 26, 13, 417 A.D.:
For the whole Church observes this practice which was
handed down by the Fathers: that it prayers for those who have died in
the communion of the Body and Blood of Christ, when they are
commemorated in their own place in the sacrifice itself; and the
sacrifice is offered also in memory of them on their behalf.
St. Augustine, The City of God, 10, 5; 10,20, c. 426:
O Sacrament of piety! O sign of unity! O Bread of love! He
who desires life finds here a place to live in and the means to live
by. Let him approach, let him believe, let him be incorporated so
that he may receive life. Let him not refuse union with the members,
let him not be a corrupt member, deserving to be cut off, nor a
disfigured member to be ashamed of. Let him be a grateful, fitting
and healthy member. Let him cleave to the body, let him live by God
and for God. Let him now labor here on earth, that he may afterwards
reign in heaven.
St. Cyril of Alexandria, Commentary on the Gospel of Matthew 26,27, 428 A.D.:
The fact that our fathers of old offered sacrifices with
beasts for victims, which the present-day people of God read about but
do not do, is to be understood in no way but this: that those things
signified the things that we do in order to draw near to God and to
recommend to our neighbor the same purpose. A visible sacrifice,
therefore, is the sacrament, that is to say, the sacred sign, of an
invisible sacrifice. . . . Christ is both the Priest, offering
Himself, and Himself the Victim. He willed that the sacramental sign
of this should be the daily sacrifice of the Church, who, since the
Church is His body and He the Head, learns to offer herself through
St. Cyril of Alexandria, "Catecheses," 22, 9; "Myst." 4; d. 444 A.D.:
Christ said indicating (the bread and wine): 'This is My
Body,' and `This is My Blood,' in order that you might not judge what
you see to be a mere figure. The offerings, by the hidden power of
God Almighty, are changed into Christ's Body and Blood, and by
receiving these we come to share in the life-giving and sanctifying
efficacy of Christ.
Synod in Constantinople (Jan. 1156-May 1157):
We have been instructed in these matters and filled with an
unshakable faith, that that which seems to be bread, is not bread,
though it tastes like it, but the Body of Christ, and that which seems
to be wine, is not wine, though it too tastes as such, but the Blood
of Christ . . . draw inner strength by receiving this bread as
spiritual food and your soul will rejoice.
Council of Trent:
Today's sacrifice is like that offered once by the
Once-begotten Incarnate Word; it is offered by him (now as then),
since it is one and the same sacrifice.
In the sacrifice of the mass, Christ's sacrifice on the
cross is made present, its memory is celebrated, and its saving power is
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