Friday, November 27, 2009

The Fathers on the Real Presence of Christ in the Eucharist

"They [the heterodox] abstain from the Eucharist and from prayer, because they do not confess the Eucharist to be the flesh of our Saviour Jesus Christ, which suffered for our sins, and which the Father, of His goodness, raised up again." - St. Ignatius of Antioch, Letter to the Smyrnaeans, 7 (AD 107)

"And this food is called among us the Eucharist, of which no one is allowed to partake but the man who believes that the things which we teach are true, and who has been washed with the washing that is for the remission of sins, and unto regeneration, and who is so living as Christ has enjoined. For not as common bread and common drink do we receive these; but in like manner as Jesus Christ our Saviour, having been made flesh by the Word of God, had both flesh and blood for our salvation, so likewise have we been taught that the food which is blessed by the prayer of His word, and from which our blood and flesh by transmutation are nourished, is the flesh and blood of that Jesus who was made flesh." - St. Justin Martyr, First Apology, 66 (AD 150)

"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." - St. Irenaeus of Lyons, Against Heresies, 4, 18, 5 (AD 180)

"And the blood of the Lord is twofold. For there is the blood of His flesh, by which we are redeemed from corruption; and the spiritual, that by which we are anointed. And to drink the blood of Jesus, is to become partaker of the Lord's immortality; the Spirit being the energetic principle of the Word, as blood is of flesh. Accordingly, as wine is blended with water, so is the Spirit with man. And the one, the mixture of wine and water, nourishes to faith; while the other, the Spirit, conducts to immortality. And the mixture of both--of the water and of the Word--is called Eucharist, renowned and glorious grace; and they who by faith partake of it are sanctified both in body and soul. For the divine mixture, man, the Father's will has mystically compounded by the Spirit and the Word. For, in truth, the spirit is joined to the soul, which is inspired by it; and the flesh, by reason of which the Word became flesh, to the Word." - St. Clement of Alexandria, The Instructor of Children, 2, 2 (AD 200)

"When, therefore, He says, that whoever shall eat of His bread shall live for ever; as it is manifest that those who partake of His body and receive the Eucharist by the right of communion are living, so, on the other hand, we must fear and pray lest any one who, being withheld from communion, is separate from Christ’s body should remain at a distance from salvation; as He Himself threatens, and says, 'Unless ye eat the flesh of the Son of man, and drink His blood, ye shall have no life in you.' And therefore we ask that our bread—that is, Christ—may be given to us daily, that we who abide and live in Christ may not depart from His sanctification and body." - St. Cyprian of Carthage, On the Lord's Prayer, 18 (AD 250)

"Our Lord Jesus took in His hands what in the beginning was only bread; and He blessed it, and signed it, and made it holy in the name of the Father and in the name of the Spirit; and He 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. And extending His hand, He gave them the Bread which His right hand had made holy: 'Take, all of you eat of this; which My word has made holy. Do not now regard as bread that which I have given you; but take, eat this Bread, and do not scatter the crumbs; for what I have called My Body, that it is indeed. One particle from its crumbs is able to sanctify thousands and thousands, and is sufficient to afford life to those who eat of it. Take, eat, entertaining no doubt of faith, because this is My Body, and whoever eats it in belief eats in it Fire and Spirit. But if any doubter eat of it, for him it will be only bread. And whoever eats in belief the Bread made holy in My name, if he be pure, he will be preserved in his purity; and if he be a sinner, he will be forgiven.' But if anyone despise it or reject it or treat it with ignominy, it may be taken as certainty that he treats with ignominy the Son, who called it and actually made it to be His Body." - St. Ephrem of Syria, Homilies, 4, 4 (AD 350)

"For as to what we say concerning the reality of Christ’s nature within us, unless we have been taught by Him, our words are foolish and impious. For He says Himself, 'My flesh is meat indeed, and My blood is drink indeed. He that eateth My flesh and drinketh My blood abideth in Me, and I in him.' As to the verity of the flesh and blood there is no room left for doubt. For now both from the declaration of the Lord Himself and our own faith, it is verily flesh and verily blood. And these when eaten and drunk, bring it to pass that both we are in Christ and Christ in us. Is not this true? Yet they who affirm that Christ Jesus is not truly God are welcome to find it false. He therefore Himself is in us through the flesh and we in Him, whilst together with Him our own selves are in God." - St. Hilary of Poitiers, On the Trinity, 8, 14 (AD 356)

"You shall see the Levites [Deacons] bringing loaves and a cup of wine, and placing them on the table. So long as the prayers of supplication and entreaties have not been made, there is only bread and wine. But after the great and wonderful prayers have been completed, then the bread is become the Body, and the wine the Blood, of our Lord Jesus Christ." - St. Athanasius the Great, Homily to the Newly-Baptized (AD 370)

"Since then He Himself declared and said of the Bread, 'This is My Body,' who shall dare to doubt any longer? And since He has Himself affirmed and said, 'This is My Blood,' who shall ever hesitate, saying, that it is not His blood?" - St. Cyril of Jerusalem, Catechetical Lectures, 22, 1 (AD 370)

"We see that the Saviour took [the bread] in His hands, as it is in the Gospel, when He was reclining at the supper; and He took this, and giving thanks, He said: 'This is really Me.' And He gave to His disciples and said: 'This is really Me.' And we see that It is not equal nor similar, not to the incarnate image, not to the invisible divinity, not to the outline of His limbs. For It is round of shape, and devoid of feeling. As to Its power, He means to say even of Its grace, 'This is really Me.'; and none disbelieves His word. For anyone who does not believe the truth in what He says is deprived of grace and of a Savior." - St. Epiphanius of Salamis, The Man Well-Anchored, 57 (AD 374)

"The bread is at first common bread; but when the mystery sanctifies it, it is called and actually becomes the Body of Christ." - St. Gregory of Nyssa, Orations and Sermons (AD 383)

"Perhaps you will say, 'I see something else, how is it that you assert that I receive the Body of Christ?' And this is the point which remains for us to prove. And what evidence shall we make use of? Let us prove that this is not what nature made, but what the blessing consecrated, and the power of blessing is greater than that of nature, because by blessing nature itself is changed." - St. Ambrose of Milan, On the Mysteries, 9, 50 (AD 390)

"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, Homilies on the Treachery of Judas, 1,6 (AD 400)

"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. The chalice, or rather, what is in that chalice, having been sanctified by the word of God, is the Blood of Christ." - St. Augustine of Hippo, Homilies, 227, 21

"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." - St. Cyril of Alexandria, Commentary on the Gospel of St. Matthew, 26-27 (AD 428)

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