Friday, November 27, 2009

The Fathers on the Eucharist as Sacrifice

"And on the Lord's own day gather yourselves together and break bread and give thanks, first confessing your transgressions, that your sacrifice may be pure." - Didache, 14, 1 (AD 60)

"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." - St. Clement of Rome, Letter to the Corinthians, 40, 1-2 (AD 95)

"Accordingly, God, anticipating all the sacrifices which we offer through this name, and which Jesus the Christ enjoined us to offer, in the Eucharist of the bread and the cup, and which are presented by Christians in all places throughout the world, bears witness that they are well-pleasing to Him." - St. Justin Martyr, Dialogue with Trypho, 117 (AD 150)

"And what have I to do with holocausts, which God does not stand in need of?--though indeed it does behove us to offer a bloodless sacrifice and reasonable service." - Athenagoras of Athens, A Plea for the Christians, 8 (AD 175)

"Listen to what happened in my presence, before my very eyes. There was a baby girl, whose parents had fled and had, in their fear, rather improvidently lift it in the charge of its nurse. The nurse took the helpless child to the magistrates. There, before the idol where the crowds were flocking, as it was too young to eat the flesh, they gave it some bread dipped in what was left of the wine offered by those who had already doomed themselves. Later, the mother recovered her child. But the girl could not reveal or tell the wicked thing that had been done, any more than she had been able to understand or ward it off before. Thus, when the mother brought her in with her while we were offering the Sacrifice, it was through ignorance that this mischance occurred. But the infant, in the midst of the faithful, resenting the prayer and the offering we were making, began to cry convulsively, struggling and tossing in a veritable brain-storm, and for all its tender age and simplicity of soul, was confessing, as if under torture, in every way it could, its consciousness of the misdeed. Moreover, when the sacred rites were completed and the deacon began ministering to those present, when its turn came to receive, it turned its little head away as if sensing the divine presence, it closed its mouth, held its lips tight, and refused to drink from the chalice. The deacon persisted and, in spite of its opposition, poured in some of the consecrated chalice. There followed choking and vomiting. The Eucharist could not remain in a body or mouth that was defiled; the drink which had been sanctified by Our Lord's blood returned from the polluted stomach. So great is the power of the Lord, and so great His majesty!" - St. Cyprian of Carthage, On the Lapsed, 25 (AD 254)

"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." - St. Serapion of Thmuis, Sacramentary, 13 (AD 350)

"Then, after the spiritual sacrifice, the bloodless service, is completed, over that sacrifice of propitiation we entreat 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 a word, for all who stand in need of succour we all pray and offer this sacrifice." - St. Cyril of Jerusalem, Catechetical Lectures, 23, 8 (AD 350)

"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, Homilies on 2 Timothy, 2 (AD 397)

"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 of Hippo, Homilies, 172, 2 (AD 400)

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